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Famous Musicians of India

Interview: Tabla Maestro Nishikant Barodekar

For a long time, I wanted to interview this radiant and joyful Tabla Maestro, Nishikant Barodekar. I heard him first when he accompanied Rakesh Chaurasia at a concert in Pune. What a coincidence it was! I, my wife Dakshayani, Rakesh ji and Nishikant Barodekar- all of us came out together from the parking area. As Rakesh Chaurasia is a good friend, we exchanged a few words with him. After this brief conversation, Rakesh Chaurasia and Nishikant Barodekar went to the green room and I and Dakshayani to the auditorium!

Mandar and Dakshayani with Nishikant Barodekar
Mandar and Dakshayani with Nishikant Barodekar

At that time, I was unaware of the fact that Tabla Maestro was Nishikant Barodekar, grandson of the great Kirana Gharana vocalist, Smt. Hirabai Barodekar. It took us almost three years to meet in person after the concert that day!

Anyway, meeting Nishikant Barodekar was a totally new experience. Nishikant conveys certain things very clearly- he is humble, calm, devoted to the purity of his art and is well aware of his role in the world of music- not only as an artist but also a person and more importantly, as a teacher.

For almost one and half hour, Nishikant Barodekar took us on a ride, touching various aspects right from music, riyaz, spirituality to his observations about the young generation. Though he hails from a musical family, his musical journey was as tough as anyone else’s.

“For three years, I used to travel every day to Mumbai to learn Tabla from Abbaji (Ustad Allarakha) and come back to Pune. It was after three years of testing, that Abbaji asked me to stay at Mumbai”, humbly Nishikant unfolds the efforts which he has taken to master the art.

Nishikant started learning vocals and had to switch to Tabla due to some reasons. Under the initial guidance of Ustad Ghulam Rasool Khan, he began his Tabla lessons and was awarded national scholarship for three years. After this initial study, later he was accepted as a Gandabandh disciple by Ustad Allarakha.

“Ustad Allarakha was a great artist and had very simple personality. Ammaji (Abbaji’s wife) looked after us like mother. She always ensured that we are not hungry even if we were practicing late in nights.”

In this digital age, where many students of music meet their teachers only through Skype, the point made by Nishikant makes us realise that somewhere, the love and intimacy between Guru and Shishya is spiralling down.

When we asked him about who his favourite artist is or who are the artists he likes to listen to, he opened up his wide canvas.

“I am listening to all the great artists right from my childhood. Hence, there is no comparison. I just learned to pick up good things from each one of them.”

Nishikant Barodekar is a seasoned artist and his contribution to the field of art is significant. He has accompanied greatest of the great artists including Pt. Kumar Gandharva, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Vilayat Khannad many many more. He is a teacher passionately sharing his art and knowledge with students. Nishikant also conducts workshops regularly.

“How is your experience with the young students who learn from you?”

“Well, there are lot many distractions which keep them away from focusing”, he tells.

“When we were kids, television was the only entertainment and distraction. Today, life is so fast and there are so many things to keep you away. But in spite of that, due to this, the speed of understanding and grasping has also improved.”

Nishikant Barodekar is a devotee of Satya Sai Baba and teaches Tabla at Music College at Puttapurthi. I appreciate his concern about music and his art which is not limited only to performing in concerts but also stretches to openly sharing his knowledge with students.

Meeting Nishikant Barodekar has left behind many impressions and has given us many things to reflect and contemplate on. He has invited us to Puttapurthi, and we are much excited to see the place and the work which he is doing over there.

After a long chat and filling dinner, we got up. I was a bit upset as hotel management insisted on visitors picking up their plates and keeping them at the washing counter.

“This is very similar to our place (Puttapurthi). Here at least you do not have to wash your plates!” commented Nishikant, with twinkle in his eyes, gauging my anxiety. We came back home with memories which will be cherished for long!

Visit Indian Classical Music Section 

Read Interview with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

Read my entry on Ustad Zakir Hussain

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Random

Power or No Power?

I stumbled upon a very interesting quote, by Homi J. Bhabha, which he made much ahead of the time. The quote is about power, made by this genius scientist from India around 20 years ago. Bhabha made this comment when someone argued that nuclear power was too costly and hence India should not go for it. The quote is as follows-

No power is costlier than ‘no power’.

This statement is an eternal truth- being true for all the times throughout the human history and future. Power opens up the doors to progress and prosperity. In India, we can observe that the states which assured uninterrupted power supply at affordable costs, became home to the industrial growth and hence prosperity. Efforts to install inter country gas pipe lines, thirst for the nuclear power, tall windmills and wide-spread solar plants coherently tell us the same point- no power is costlier than ‘no power’.

Does this quote stand true in spiritual context?

In his book ‘power’, Bertrand Russell has thoroughly explained the role power plays in our lives. I trust in his theory, but somehow, I find what Kabir says to be more realistic as far as the inner world is concerned. In his nice two liner, Kabir says-

 Soil tells the potter, “you might think that you are squeezing me under your feet; but surely will come a day when you will be squeezed under me!”

In these two lines, Kabir tells us how fragile we all are. This Doha of Kabir also enlightens us about the fluctuating nature of power. It will sound too philosophical if I say nothing in this world is permanent. The blunt fact is, the power has no place in spiritual world! Power is the driving factor in today’s world; in the inner world, power has no value.
I would even go a step ahead and would dare to say that the spiritual journey starts when one realizes that no power is going to last forever- be it power accumulated through knowledge, force, money or whatsoever.
Lord Buddha leaving his palace at a tender age realized this truth at a very early stage; we have not yet! Homi J. Bhabha is so true if we look at the physical world; truer are the Kabir’s words if we look within us.

Categories
mysticism

The magic of relaxed control

Generally, people look at life in two different ways. They either assume that everything which happens around is for the sake of good, inevitable and cannot be changed or they assume that everything around us can be and needs to be changed. On the occasions of different talks, given to different audiences, I always receive one common question –

What is the correct way of looking at life? Do all the things which happen with us are good? If yes, then should we accept the things which are wrong, not so favourable?

Each one of us has this conflict inside him or her. People either want to change things which are around them or they just give up trying to change the things. While I was in engineering, I had many friends who had surrendered their lives and had stopped taking any efforts. It is very surprising to see these brilliant students sleeping in their rooms- saying that nothing is in our hands. On other hand, we had even a bigger number of students who tried to change everything. One may wonder, what is wrong if someone tries to control things around him? The problem with second group of people is very subtle- they become very insecure when things start going beyond their control. As we all know, very few things are truly under our control and we human beings are unable to control even smallest of the things around us in spite of advancements in technology. So, I always used to wonder, what can be the right attitude? I think, we have to treat the physical world around us and the turbulence inside our minds in different ways.  I have come up with a golden rule-

In case of external affairs, we should always assume that they are happening for something better. In case of internal matters, we should always keep on looking for improvement.

At first sight, this may sound very absurd and impractical. My experience says, this is the best way to sail ahead. As far as outer events are concerned, we should always carry the approach that it is happening for making things better. But, while doing so, we should always have a keen eye matters inside us- our thoughts, our desires, ego and should always try to improve. As far as our mental and emotional status is concerned, we should always have a sense of incompleteness which calls for continuous improvement. The differentiation helps in many ways. First of all, it tells us that not many things are in our hands. It makes us comfortable with this reality. At the same time, it allows us to focus our energy on what’s there in our hands- self improvement. In most of the cases, we keep on wasting our energy thinking about things which are not in our hands and keep on neglecting the things which are under our control. This golden rule helps us to focus our energy on what can be improved by us and keeps us relaxed about things are anyway not in our control.

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Famous Musicians of India

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – Silencing the mind

When I meet music lovers around, I always have one question ready for them. The question is, “Why do you listen to music?” Of course, every person has a unique answer. Some of them listen to music to forget their worries and hassles of the life. Some of them have approach of a learner- they try to learn and improve their own performance. If someone asks me this question, I have quite different answer. For me, music is a meditation. Not only playing music, but also listening to someone else’s music.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur
Pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Can music help you to meditate?

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur is a unique flute player as far as meditative quality of music is concerned. Very few artists have this quality in their music as it is quite difficult to inculcate it in one’s music. I often face this question by many of the music lovers- what is meant by meditative music? How do we come to know if the music is meditative or not? I have a very simple answer for this question. The answer is, meditative music makes your mind silent. The activity of mind simply drops down. Many times, all of us find it very difficult to cut down the thoughts. During my talks, many students ask me this typical question- we sit silent for hours but we are never silent.  The fact is, it is always very difficult to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to cut the supply of energy going to thought process. Listening to some good music can always be useful.

As I mentioned earlier, Pt. Nityanand Haldipur carries this unique ability in his music. His music is like a constant flow. As soon as you start listening to it, you are dragged in it. Your mind just cannot function.  Almost all the masters who have ever walked on this earth, in some way or other ask us to silent our mind. Zen masters say, drop the mind. For hundreds of years, Indian Classical Music is being used as a gateway to god- in form of worshipping god and also in form of meditation.

If we go a step down, silencing mind is an outcome of breath stabilization. We need to stabilize our breath. So, when you listen to someone like Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, who plays flute with a steady and controlled breath, you are bound to be like him. I always keep on telling many of these students and friends to listen to such kind of music. Many of them report that it helps!

Read All Articles on Pt. Nityanand Haldipur 

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mysticism osho philosophy Random

Do you want to sustain?

When someone from completely different field enters some other field, he looks at the things in a totally different perspective. I am in somewhat similar position. I never took efforts to read typical corporate literature. Somehow, I am trying to make myself comfortable with all these terms. The result is, I end up interpreting the established proverbs and statements in a completely different way.

Today, I came across one line, which is very attractive and at the same time very important for those who are in corporate world. The line is something like this-

If you do yesterday’s things today, you won’t be able to survive tomorrow.

This line is so true, if you look at it from the view of normal life. By normal life I mean all the things which normal human beings like us do. It holds true on all the walks of life, equally applicable to students, managers, entrepreneurs, businessmen etc. In today’s world, as we know it very well, one has to move ahead of time, innovating new things. To be honest, it is difficult to survive today if you do today’s things today. One always has to keep on doing new things, new experiments, new products, new services and new thoughts.

As it can be clearly seen, many companies are investing their huge cash reserves to invent and realize tomorrow’s products. There is no final destination as we are moving ahead very rapidly. As I said earlier, this is true for ‘normal humans’. Are their any dimensions of our life where this line is not applicable?

Yes, there are many. One of the most striking example is that of music. Of course, musicians are creative and they keep on doing new things. But, the fact which one should keep in his mind is, they never run behind creating new things. They are effortlessly creative. That creativity does not have any purpose. I am not at all comparing which one is good and which one is bad; they are just different ways of different fields. In classical music, we have many great artists and musicians who just focused on understanding their master’s knowledge. In that complete surrender, many creative compositions came out.

One more walk of life, where I think this line would not be applicable is meditation. In meditation, the meditation is old, ancient; the experiences are new and unique. It wont make any sense doing new new meditations each day, for being creative. You have to do the same, yesterday’s meditation every day. In case of human consciousness, we run to new things not out of creativity but to escape the old things. In meditation, there is no escape. You cannot run away, you have to face same things, the same ‘you’ everyday.

I guess, here the ‘MadhyamMarga’ mentioned by Lord Buddha or the concept of ‘Zorba the Buddha’ coined by Osho comes into picture. Is it possible to survive in both material and spiritual world together? One step ahead, does the word ‘survival’ has meaning in spirituality?

At this stage, I am asking myself, ‘Do you want to sustain?’

 

Categories
osho

Osho : The poor story teller

Many times, you find gems where you expect least to find them. As they say it rightly, diamonds are found in coal mines. In India, a local proverb rightly says that lotuses flower in mud.

Same was my reaction when I found a nice statement in a very artificial and cunning write-up which was a guide to win people. I always laugh on such books and write ups which tell you how to influence and win people. From the very beginning, I do not like to influence people. Anyway, this nice statement I am talking about, reads like follows-

First tell them that you will tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them that you have told them.

This statement, though was made to train people on how to influence others, it created a lot of turmoil inside my heart. This statement throws some light on human consciousness. I have heard Osho pointing out this very fact that people just do not listen. The statement made above will hold true for corporate reasons. As all of us know, we have to tell same things again and again. And hence, it is valid in that context. I can imagine how Osho would have reacted when someone would have told him this proverb. He was telling same things again and again through out his life. He was making same points again and again, to be honest, he made them not just twice or thrice but infinite times. But, we could not realize it from within.

This proverb talks about superficial things- those which fit in your heads when they are hammered twice or thrice. Things which Osho spoke about were so burning that people just neglected them. Many times, Osho himself said that it is very easy to wakeup individuals who are really sleeping; it is very difficult to wake up those who pretend they are sleeping. Through out his life, he was telling people that they were just pretending that they were sleeping.

This is worth giving a thought- why we dont listen to things which are being told? I am not saying ‘why we cant’. The thing is, we dont. Of course, there are many reasons, created by us. One of the most prominent is the cruel fact that we never live our lives in present. We can see thousands of persons roaming around us, in their own hurry, in their own worries. Many of them are well drowned in their thoughts- about future, about worries and ambitions. How many of them are present in the present while something is being told?

Another major factor- many times just listening to something is not enough; it should bring some changes inside. This applies to Osho’s discourses. He told many things which were not just philosophical statements but they expected you to bring some change in your being. As all of us know, very few of us like to do the same.

Yes, we know it very well; hundreds of masters will come, tell things many times, and will go back….Do we wish to change ourselves?

Back to the Osho Section

Other articles in the series-

Osho : ahead of all crackpots 

Osho: do not wake up the slave

Author- Mandar Karanjkar

Categories
osho

The ultimate method

Whenever I need genuine meaning and authentic commentary on works of any of the saints, I try to find out what Osho says about the person. He has the ability to understand and put in words what the saint exactly wanted to say. The tragedy is, we can only read the works of many great saints of the old days. We are not fortunate enough to listen to the discourses of saints like Kabir, Dadu, Paltu Rahim and many more. Nothing remains in our hands except reading their literature. The common problem which all of us face is interpreting these words.

Every time when I go through some unique poetry of such passed away saints, I feel absolutely clueless and helpless.  The difficulty is not finding out meaning, but it is to find out the exact meaning which the creator had in his mind.  These ancient works are so absurd and so wide in their scope that finding the relevant meaning becomes almost impossible. I stumbled upon this one liner from Buddhist saint Atisha

One method will correct all wrong

How ordinary human beings like us are supposed to find out this one unique method which corrects all wrong? It can be love, truth, awareness, meditation, sacrifice, Sakshibhav, non violence or anything else. It depends on the preacher. If you ask Gandhiji what is this one method, he will point at non violence. If you raise this question to Ashtavakra, his answer would be Sakshibhav (being witness to everything that happens).Of course; there cannot be many ‘one method’s which will correct all wrong. I was quite tempted to get insight from Osho on this on liner of Atisha, but somehow I controlled the urge.

Though truth, love, awareness, meditation, sacrifice etc. can be the correct answers, how are all these terms linked with each other? What is the root of all these terms? For the moment, just think of one question- of all the above mentioned answers, which answer can be a starting point? Which way when followed will bring all others as a result?

I feel it is meditation. Meditation can bring all of the other values in you. When we meditate, awareness comes as a byproduct. Only a meditative person can be loving and caring and compassionate in true sense. To perceive the truth, one has to be aware. From where does the awareness come? The answer is meditation. Sakshibhav, the core of Ashtavakra’s teaching is nothing but a type of meditation. I would say, meditation is a flower with all the other qualities as petals. When the flower of meditation blossoms, all the other values bloom up automatically.

It is a proven fact that meditation can correct all the wrong. It can purify a person inside out. Such a person will never have to remember other values mentioned. He will never have to remember that he has to be non violent. Non violence will become his nature. I won’t have to remind himself every moment that he should speak truth; truthfulness would be his nature.

After all the contemplation, I simply opened up commentary given by Osho. Love and meditation are the values which Osho preached throughout his life. Again, love is a fruit of meditation. I opened the book and the answer was correct. Meditation is the ultimate method which will correct all the wrong.

More about Osho-

Osho: do not wait for right time

Osho Zen insights for doctors

Read all articles about Zen 

Categories
Zen

Dogen – The Zen Master

The way of Zen has given the world many unique masters. Zen flowered and blossomed without limits. Many Zen Masters have attained the peaks of consciousness and helped hundreds of their disciples to attain the same. Zen is so unique, so alive.

Osho tells us about the Zen Master Dogen. Like all other Zen masters, Dogen was unique. It is said that Dogen could read Chinese Poetry at the age of 4. Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to understand and read and write. And still, Dogen used to get absorbed in the poetry books. But soon, both of his parents passed away in short intervals and the day passed, Dogen left his place and went for the search of a master.

Dogen stayed with many masters and practiced all the techniques advised by them. Still he noticed that something is missing. Finally after switching from one teacher to another, he found his master and attained enlightenment.

Dogen says,

To study the way is to study yourself.

This statement of Dogen, explains the quality of his being. What is there in the world other than you? As Kabir says, whatever there is in the world, same is inside you. So, Dogen says, to study the way to divine is to study yourself. Go in, focus within and you are arrived.

I find this message of Dogen , the Zen master very suitable for today’s man. Its very truthful advice- go within. study yourself and the divine is revealed to you. When you work on yourself, the divine knocks your door.

Read all articles about Zen 

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Key to healthy relationships love mysticism

Find your focus

A long night of thoughtfulness gives me many answers. I love night because it answers my questions. Not all, but even a few questions being answered is enough for me. I don’t want all of the rains, a few soothing drops satisfy me.

For whom I live this life? This was the long question which was being answered by the night. If a constant enquiry is made, answers come from void. Void does not exist somewhere else, but, you are so united with the enquiry, that inside you, you get a void. So, this was the question. Does life need focus? If yes, who should be the focus? Is this focus inside or is it outside?

Night answered all of these. It gave me many strange answers. No, life does not have a focus but, but, to reach this point, we need some focus point. Now, where this focus point lies? Inside me or outside me?

I would say, grossly, there two kinds of spiritually inclined people. One kind is those who love themselves and like to live for themselves. The other is those who like to live for someone they love.  The wonder is, everything moves on love.

The person on his spiritual journey has to decide what his attitude is. And then whatever tendencies of him come against this attitude, he should work on them. For example, if I love myself, then to fulfill my needs, I should be able to fight with even god. If I like to live for my loved one, I should be able to leave away all the heavens and pleasures on earth.

I have found my focus. Have you?

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J. Krishnamurti

J. Krishnamurti : the most perfect

There is a beautiful story about Buddha. It is said that when Buddha attained enlightenment, he reached the gate of heaven. When guards at heaven opened the doors to welcome Buddha, it was found that Buddha was standing there with his back pointing to the entrance of heaven looking at the earth. The door keepers were surprised. People die to enter heaven. And here was a madman, who deserved heaven and still was standing with his back pointing to the heaven. The guards asked Buddha why he was not entering into the heaven. Buddha said, “I cannot come unless all my fellows on earth do not come here. I will enter only when all of my fellows enter the heaven. I will be the last person entering heaven.”

I think, J. krishnamurti is one of those very few masters who care so deeply for humanity. J. Krishnamurti is the pick of sincerity. It is often said that J. krishnamurti writes very complex. It is always told that you will end up having frustration if you go on reading him. These are all immature comments. J. Krishnamurti when talks to laymen, he talks very simply. I would say as simply as Osho. His descriptions of nature and human behavior have intrinsic beauty and rhythm which any poet will strive to attain.

The most important and striking point about J. Krishnamurti is he thinks at the same time for individual and also for the whole life on earth. Most of the mystics always point out that one should always think for oneself first and then for the society. It is true. When you see light yourself only then you can lead others towards light. So, almost all the mystics try an individual to cut away from the society and look for himself. Many of them advice to go in seclusion and contemplate. J. Krishnamurti is among those very few mystics who approach this problem on both the levels- individual and social. Many persons used to visit him. Many of these had political interests and many of them were social reformers. J. Krishnamurti always used to say if you are doing  all this for the benefits of your self, your ego, you will end up in misery. He would even say that such social reforms will only give birth to more reforms and in continuity, will make the situation even worse.

J. Krishnamurti was easily accessible to all- from poor to rich, from young students to old fellows. He used to make the most honest effort to show individuals how they are again becoming victims of their fragmented minds. He was very patient with all of these people. Many a times, his questioners were poor villagers, illiterate, uneducated fellows. He never tried to just give them some difficult answer and cut them away. He would go with their pace. Many times, his questioners would say that they were not able to understand what he said. J. Krishnamurti would not leave them so. He used to go even slower, simplifying his language till the questioner understood.

J. Krishnamurti

One more point to note is, he used to talk to people of all backgrounds- from scientists like David Bohm to small kids of different schools and cities. While putting forward his point, he never hurt anyone, never hurt anyone’s feelings. Though his points were very true, genuine, showing fragmented nature of thought which everyone has, he never bluntly hurt anyone. He said it so truthfully and with so much affection that the questioner would understand that fact without hurting himself.

One more blame which people accuse J. Krishnamurti of is  that he was a dry man having lost all of his interests. I, along with other also thought on similar lines. But when I started reading J. Krishnamurti, I in moments came to know how false this blame is. J. Krishnamurti was a lover of all sorts of arts. He had a deep understanding of beauty. Descriptions of nature and humans written by him at Rajghat and other places are highest level of poetry. In these descriptions he made, one can easily see the totality of his being.

He used to go for a walk, would mix in common people, would chat with students and teachers, would sit observing rivers and nature. All this has a beauty which can be felt when you read J. Krishnamurti. All this shows his genuine concern, his sincere efforts, his sincere affection not only for humans but for everything that is really makes him most perfect for today’s times.

This is the time that more and more people, especially students turn to his writings, his dialogues, discussions and all. The life today is full of self centered activities which finally bring misery. I can see J. Krishnamurti standing very close to me holding cup of bliss for all in his hands.