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Famous Musicians of India Personal Interviews Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia

Enlightening Interview- Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

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 Karanjkar with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. At Vrindavan Gurukul, 2011.
Mandar Karanjkar with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia.
At Vrindavan Gurukul, 2011.

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!

 

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Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia Pune

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia in Pune Festival 2013

Generally, in India, Kerala is considered to be god’s own land. For me, Pune is gods’ own land. Of course, my context is totally different. Kerala, one of the most beautiful states in India is blessed with incomparable natural beauty. Pune has its own reasons to be called as gods’ own land. Pune is gods’ own land because gods often come to Pune.

Who are these gods? For me, they Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar and many more artists are these gods. They come to Pune and have blessed this city with their divine music. For many days, we did not have a single good concert in Pune and hence, I was desperately waiting for some concert. This thirst is soon going to be fulfilled. Pt. Jasraj and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia are performing a concert Panchtatva in Pune Festival. I again got a reason to consider myself blessed.

I keep all the activities of the day aside and travel a lot to get passes. After getting the passes I am really happy. This situation is worth thinking. Why it makes music lovers so happy if they get an opportunity to listen to their loved artists? The credit goes to both; the artists as well as the listeners. I just came across a video recording of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. He is old. He looks to be tired. But when he is playing, he is at ease. His breath is relaxed; as natural as wind blowing through woods. His ease, the flow in his breath, the flavor created by his fingers and his breath, his steady, firm exploration are all beyond human capacity.

Each Raga has a unique nature. Its unique nature and presence is the identity of the raga. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia gives you the perfect taste of the Raga. You can almost personalize the Raga. It gets a perfect personality, with emotions and nuances.

Pune Festival is having a performance of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. I am eager to feel his meditative breath resonating in the Bamboo energized with hours of this meditative resonance.

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Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – A living wonder

If you consider may be thousands of people, out of them two can appreciate music. If you take thousands of such music appreciating people, out of them one or two will take up some instrument and practice. Out of thousands of such such persons who sit and practice, one or two become great artists. And out of thousands of such great artists, one becomes Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia.

Osho and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia
Osho and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

Why Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is so special for me or for all music lovers? Not only that, he is very famous even in the circle of artists. What is so special about this person named Hariprasad Chaurasia? What he is made up of? Even enlightened soul like Osho was in Love with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. The reason is, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a unique soul. He is not just an artist, he is much more.

Pt.  Hariprasad Chaurasia has a breath which is more beautiful than any person breathing on this earth. At the same time, he is one of the most humble personalities which have. He is very positive human being. What is an artist’s music? For me it is nothing but the benediction of your being, your skills, your thoughts as a person and essence of what you are apart from your thoughts.

Whenever I see hariji anywhere, his presence is so pleasant. So, his music is also bound to be pleasant. He is much more than an artist. He has taken efforts to ensure that the stream of music goes on. He has taken enough care that he leaves his music, flute in right hands.

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is surely an incarnation of Lord Krishna…..

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music mysticism Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia

Kirwani – Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia

Human being are blessed as far as one context is concerned. Human can sense the superhuman quality of something which apparently seems totally human. A  nice example of this is that some small phrases, or some short lines given by great people which apparently not at all seem     great, attract us. Those lines are ordinary, but have become famous or rather immortal as they carry within them a glimpse of super humanity which their author had.

The same thing holds true for any art. A mere line drawn by a legendary painter like Picasso has a magnetism in it and can attract people. Same is true with music. In Indian classical music there are many many ragas, each having its own flavor, each created by a different person. Through my journey of music, I have came across numerous ragas, each having a different  impact on me or rather each pulling out different emotions from me. But this above  mentioned raga, Kirwani,is something different. The thing which I have written about poets and painters, applies here to Kirwani.This small tune, a combination of Suras,has really a magic within. There are two possibilities, either it is a man made tune or a raga derived from a folk tune.But whosoever has created it was an enlightened one.There  are hundreds of beautiful ragas…..very beautiful….created by intelligent people…….clever people……..genius people. The quality of creator can be easily  seen through the raga he created. But as far as Kirwani is concerned, I can’t even think of commenting on the quality of its creator….it is beyond my scope.

I have heard this raga for at least  a hundred times…..I sometimes continuously hear it for 7-8 times. But juice of this raga is eternal…..which can never exhaust and I think this is possible only because of immortality of the creator of Kirwani. Numerous artists have performed this raga.I can say that Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia has understood it completely……totally. Hearing Kirwani  of  Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a meditation……a realization…..how life moves…….circles within circles…….the game of mind…….everlasting……….the illusions………..at bottom, how they are created by us……..how we know this fact and then how easily we ignore it…….how we are attracted to our own people……how they go away from us……what betrayal means…..what love is …..how we bring it down…..while doing an effort of taking  ourselves high….Kirwani is a puzzle…….completely solved for you…….so you can see, that how everything moves……….how things are fitting in each other……Kirwani is a realization…….highest realization…….

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