Dear Readers, a few years ago, I got a chance to interact with Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia for around one hour. As all of us know, Hariji is a towering figure in the world of Indian Classical Music. Apart from that, he is a very nice human being, trying to spread flute and music around the world. During this interaction, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia touches different topics- from his Guru to Osho. He also talks about his Gurukul, other musicians and the young generation taking the responsibility to carry forward the tradition. Presenting the first part of the interview.
Mandar- Our generation knows flute only as an instrument. But it is something beyond that. Can you please tell us something about this divine instrument, flute?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- Flute is the only instrument in the world which is associated with lord Krishna, made by the lord himself. In case of other instruments, you have to the factory, you have to buy and you have to choose. In case of a flute, you need not go to any factory. You have to go to the forests and get a bamboo. You have make holes according to your fingers and your breath. Flute is the oldest instrument; It is just a hollow piece of bamboo. There are no strings, no skin and no straining. In a way, it is the purest instrument. In case of other instruments, you have to tune the instrument to get the proper sound. In case of a flute, it is absolutely reverse. You have to tune yourself according to the flute. In case of other instruments like Sitar etc., you just have to tune it and play it with some practice. It is not the case with flute. You have to tune your entire breathing pattern according to it. It may take one day, one month or even years. So, it is the most difficult instrument.
Mandar- What do you exactly feel when you are playing the flute?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- Just like sitting and playing the flute. Music is certainly like a prayer and god also does not understand English or Hindi or Marathi or any other language. But, he understands my language.
Mandar- How is music connected to spirituality?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- It is very closely connected to spirituality. It is a form of meditation. Particularly, flute helps you to regularize your breath. It is Pranayama. It takes care of your devotion and health both at the same time.
Mandar- Can you please tell us something about your Guru?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- Shrimati Annapurna Devi is my Guru. She is my mother, she is my teacher. She is everything for me. She is more than a goddess.
Mandar- What was your schedule like when you were a student of music?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- My lifestyle was just as usual. I just used to play as a prayer. There was not any fixed schedule or time. It just depends. It was just like Pooja. You do it when you wish like doing it. You do not have to find a fixed time. Whenever you feel like doing it, you do it.
Mandar- It is said that music is a way of worshipping Nadbrahma. Have you ever experienced this vibe of Nadbrahma?
Panditji- Everyday! When I sit with my instrument, I feel it. When I play the flute, I feel the vibe. And remember; only when I feel it, my audience will feel it.
Mandar- In Indian Classical Music, there are hundreds of Ragas, for each and every human mood. What were then your inspirations behind the inventions of new Ragas like Haripriya and Kalaranjani?
Panditji- I thought about creating something new for the young generation. You know, sometimes, young generation wants to listen to something new, which is not written in any books. So, I wanted to create something for the young generation.
Mandar- Which is your favorite raga?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia– All are my favorites. It depends on ones mood, mindset and also the timing. But to be honest, all are my favorites. Like you have ten children. You cannot say that I should love this one only and not the other. The useless child we love the most!
Mandar- your latest Album was Kirwani- The message of the Birds. It was praised a lot by the listeners in India and abroad. Can you tell us something about this album?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – (Laughing) Yes! You, know, Kirwani is a south Indian Raga. But these days, we north Indian Artists also play this Raga. What I observe while playing this raga is that, it is appreciated very much by the people in Europe or you can even say in the entire west. They have similar notes in their music also. So, they just love it. When we play it in the Indian way, they love it even more! Also, I have noticed that people outside India understand and appreciate this raga even better. So, no wonder, the Album was a hit!
Mandar- Are there any activities other than music which you love to do?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – I do not have time to do any activity other than music. (Satirically) I would love to do some business so that I can earn money and become rich!! Whatever time I get, I spend it here, in my Gurukul, with my students. I try to make them musically fit! Whatever I have, I give it to this Gurukul. Many people are helping this Gurukul. Students do not have to pay anything here for accommodation. The supporters are working hard to earn their money and they give it to the Gurukul. So, I have to take care that it is being utilized properly.
About His Gurukul
Mandar- What is your vision behind this Gurukul?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – Because I love my teacher, I love my Guru. My teacher’s father had even a bigger Gurukul at Maihar.
Mandar- Are you talking about Ustaad Allauddin Khan?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – Yes, Ustaad Allauddin Khan, Annapurna Devi’s father and Guru. They used to have a great number of artists and students there. These students used to play music, sing music, write about music, and think about music. They used to compose new songs. There used to be many festivals arranged there. Various artists used to come and play. So, everything was just musical! So many activities were going on there. So, I thought, that I should try. I should just see if I can also do it, if I can do something. And yes, god is there. He is helping me. When god is there, many people come forward to help you. To help us, many people came forward. Mr. Rajeev Gandhi came forward to help us and he helped us a lot! Mr. Ratan Tata came forward. I cannot think of even one inch of land to buy here in Mumbai to make this kind of Gurukul. It is so costly. But when god is there, one need not worry.(Laughing) God must I have loved my business and the way I do it!
Mandar– Your favorite musician?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – Every musician I like very much. They are doing really very well. You know, everybody is doing his part in this world of Music. No one is the whole. I am doing my part of music; other artists are doing their part of music. I have something to tell. So, that is my part of music. Others are also having something to tell, that is there part of music. And I love the whole music. So, I love the each part.
Mandar- What are your views about the approach of young generation about the music?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – They are really very very hard workers. They try to do something, they try to learn something. They try to learn as much as possible, through the books, through the teachers. They are thinking wonderfully about music, they are writing thoughtful articles about music, they are composing very well. We were just dumb! They are very sharp.
Hariprasad Chaurasia on Osho
Mandar- Can you tell us something about Osho, who was a very intimate friend of you?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – What can I tell you about Osho? He was not one, but he was many He was the best speaker in the whole world. He was the best philosopher I have ever seen. He used to play flute very beautifully. I have not seen a person having so much knowledge of all kinds of activities going around. Very calming and down to earth. There was a time when were friends, when nobody knew him, he was not famous. But then, he became internationally famous, everybody knew him. But, he wanted to keep the friendship with me which we had earlier. He did not change, his love did not change. So, I used to come often to Pune to play for him, to record for him. When he left this world, when he left us, I do not go there anymore. It was he for whom I used to go to Pune so often.
Message for Young Generation
Mandar- What is your message for the young generation?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – It is the time they must do something about music; not by playing only, but also by listening, thinking, involving themselves in the world of music. There are many young people interested indie and outside India. So, it is now duty of teachers that they must take some time for the younger generation; they should put some efforts to create interest in the young generation about the music. So, it is your responsibility to take out not much but at least some time for the music!