Shankar was born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury on 7 April 1920 in Varanasi, to a Bengali Brahmin family as the youngest of seven brothers. His father, Shyam Shankar, a Middle Temple barrister and scholar who served as dewan of Jhalawar, used the Sanskrit spelling of the family name and removed its last part. Shyam was married to Shankar’s mother Hemangini Devi, and later worked as a lawyer in London, England. There he married a second time while Devi raised Shankar in Varanasi, and did not meet his son until he was eight years old.Shankar shortened the Sanskrit version of his first name, Ravindra, to Ravi, for “sun”.
Ravi association With Music :
At the age of ten, after spending his first decade in Varanasi, Shankar went to Paris with the dance group of his brother, choreographer Uday Shankar.By the age of 13 he had become a member of the group, accompanied its members on tour and learned to dance and play various Indian instruments.Uday’s dance group toured Europe and the United States in the early to mid-1930s and Shankar learned French, discovered Western classical music, jazz, cinema and became acquainted with Western customs. Shankar heard the lead musician for the Maihar court, Allauddin Khan, in December 1934 at a music conference in Kolkata and Uday convinced the Maharaja of Maihar in 1935 to allow Khan to become his group’s soloist for a tour of Europe.Shankar was sporadically trained by Khan on tour, and Khan offered Shankar training to become a serious musician under the condition that he abandon touring and come to Maihar.