When I listened to Shri. Milind Sheorey for the first time, I remembered what Pt. Shivkumar Sharma said in ‘Antardhwani’, a documentary made by national film archives exploring the journey of this Santoor Maestro.
A Guru should not look at sculpting dozens or hundreds of disciples. Even if you are able to create one or two disciples who can understand the music of Guru and then add something of their own to it, that is more than enough.
As my observation goes, this is quite true. Musicians cannot be bulk produced. At the same time, three factors play their role simultaneously. The first is disciple’s hard work- both as a musician and a human being, second is finding a Guru and the third and the last is the divine grace.
I feel, when all these three factors work out together positively, a great musician is born. It is quite clear that rarely something like this happens. It happened with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, it happened with Pt. Nityanand Haldipur and yes, it is happening with Shri Milind Sheorey.
Gurumata Annapurna Devi- The river of knowledge
Gurumata Annapurna Devi, who is taking efforts beyond human capacity to transfer the treasures of knowledge which she has, is very lucky as far as getting disciples is concerned. I could meet and have a discussion with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. During our discussions with both the artists, we realized the tremendous efforts taken by Annapurna Ji and also the two disciples. Listening to Shri. Milind Sheorey made me realize that the chain does not end with these two artists.
Though Milind Sheorey learned music from same Guru, his style is very different than his two Gurubandhus. As Nityanandji had rightly said, Annapurna Ji crafted each disciple considering his personality and skills. As it is said, true Guru never forces his knowledge own disciples but tries to understand each disciple and cultivates him accordingly.
Being accepted as a disciple by Annapurna Ji is in itself a big thing- it certifies that you are honest with your art. Being accepted by a godly Guru is a difficult thing to happen. But, being with such Guru and trying to manifest her dreams is even more difficult. When a demanding Guru and a hardworking disciple comes together, the third factor has to come into the picture- the grace of the god.
Miilnd Sheorey and his Music
It is quite visible from Milind Ji’s performances that he plays Ragas which are generally not played on flute. It is a feast to listen to Ragas like Shuddha Kalyan, Puriya Dhanashree on flute which are generally played on string instruments. As one can imagine, the task is not that easy, I would say, it is not at all easy. Flute is a very different kind of instrument as compared to string instrument where the show is managed by artist’s breath.
Before this, I had listened to such ‘non flute’ Ragas being performed on flute but one could easily make out that something is missing and not fitting. When I gave a try to Milind Sheorey’s rendering, there was nothing missing. It had superb blend of stable breath, correct approach to play the notes, immense continuity.
I am sitting here, close to Annapurna Ji’s house, listening to Puriya Dhanashree, played by Shri. Milind Sheorey. It is a perfect evening, with winds blowing without any control and sea roaring. Milind Sheorey has reached to some different height, and his music is accommodating enough to take me also there, with him. The sun is about to collapse in the sea and the curtains are dancing. So are the notes, though a bit constrained by the rhythm.
Osho says music should bring you to your origin. It should make you look inside. That is what happening. At this time, I am experiencing the three factors pouring in- the hard work of this disciple, the perfect Guru and yes, the grace of the almighty, blowing around as wildly as these winds.
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!
As far as I can remember my past, I find some place for music. The oldest memories which I have about myself, have a tint of music, a unique flavour of records of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi that my father used to play in our house. Those days are still clear in front of me, now. Then came the days when I started practising music. I remember those days when my friends used to laugh on me; saying why you waste the time which you get to play. I do not know the reason, but I always loved sitting alone and practising my music than playing in a crowd of kids.
Almost always it happens with music students that they loose their touch with music when they face their tenth standard board exams. Same happened with me also. But, rare thing is, the thread connecting me and music did not break. It was a temporary separation. When favourable conditions came, the love for music sprouted up. The reason behind digging out all these things is, an interesting discussion with a friend. The friend very bluntly asked me to tell him what I got out of spending so much of time.
As for as I am concerned, the question makes no sense. We do not do all things because we get something. Rather, doing some things bring so much of joy with them that you do not need any other reason. But still, I can understand the mindset of my friend. He also needs an answer for his rational mind. So, I ask myself: leave the joy aside. What else did I get from spending so much of time on music?
The answer is quite big. There are many outputs, some minor, some significant but all of them are valuable. Playing flute taught me how to be stable. It taught me the art of being unaffected by the surroundings. Stability of breath makes one’s life stable in all the situations. Practising music taught me to sit silently at a place, without getting tired and distracted. I sit in front of my Guru, listening for hours what he teaches. Music has improved my concentration and awareness.
Through this passion, I came to know so many divine artists and could meet them. Each of them taught me something different. I have not met many artists; their music teach a lot even in their absence. Guruma Annapurna Devi teaches us highest level of dedication; towards Gurus, music and even one’s disciples. She is an goddess who takes us beyond all the material aspects, where music is pure, divine. Pt. Shivkumar Sharma taught me meditation. He is simply a yogi. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a perfect incarnation of lord Krishna. His love and affection towards his disciples is phenomenal. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur teaches us to devote ourselves to our Gurus. It feels really blessed to be among all of them. The list does not end here. Pt. C.R. Vyas teaches us to manage day-to- day life and music together. His dedication, hard work, devotion are beyond imagination. Pt. Suhas Vyas teaches us how a Guru should be in changed scenarios where there are newer challenges in front of music learners.
The list is unending. There is so much to learn; lives will be insufficient to contain all this wisdom. What music has taught me is beyond all the books and scriptures. It needs a blessed one to get all this.
Life is really strange. I am always fascinated about Indian Classical Music performers. I always attend the concerts, listen to the records and am submerged in the world. As the years passed, this affection moved to a higher state. I entered a state where I wanted to meet the artists and talk to them.
I am not sure if this is going to do anything better for me; still, I like to meet all these artists. I was quite successful at this. I could meet almost all of these artists. Indian Classical Musicians are magical. They carry a grace with them. Many times, the artist is not a famous artist, but still I meet him because fame does not define an artist.
While being on this journey, I came to know about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Annapurna Devi is the highest peak in the world of Indian Classical Music. I have not been fortunate enough to listen to her performance. But, I am fortunate enough to listen to and also understand the music of her disciples like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur.
I remember those days when I was honestly trying to know more about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Though I could not meet Guruma, because of this thirst, I could know more about three beautiful persons on this earth- Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, Pt. Suhas Vyas and Prof. Roohikumar Pandya. At that time, I had taken tremendous efforts to find out the place of Annapurna Devi. I went to her apartment and was fortunate enough to meet Prof. Rooshikumar Pandya.
Today, I have my house at a distance of ten minutes walk from her place. My apartment faces the same sea. When I go to Mumbai, I cross her apartment twice a day. Guruma Annapurna Devi is so close. The tall Akashganga Tower is so close. But still, Guruma is far away, inside her apartment.
Every time, when I pass from Akashganga. I sadly laugh on this coincidence relating to Annapurna Devi. So close, and still, so far. I am trying to reduce the distance from my side. I know, there is no distance created from Guruma’s side. I am the reason for the distance. It will vanish some day, I am sure.
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.
This is for the first time that I am talking about Rakesh Chaurasia. I liked him the moment I saw him for the first time. As far as i am concerned, I feel that every artist carries some aura around him. There are many great musicians, who are truly great artists but I don’t like their aura. In case of Rakesh Chaurasia, his presence spoke much about him. One can feel freshness, energy, openness from his being. So is his music.
Well, I never missed his single concert in Pune. The reason is his unparalleled flute performance. He is unmatched, in true sense. Rakesh Chaurasia comes with exceptional skills. He has really mastered the flute. His patterns are also out of mind. His entire performance is like a power pack. When he starts, he is unstoppable. In all the concerts I attended, he played different Ragas without repetition. Every Raga was mastered. It was not like a few Ragas mastered. We sat 4 feet away from him in one concert at Bedekar Ganpati Temple in Pune and he played Raga Durga. It was really unimagined version of Durga. I could never imagine that some one will be able to play this Raga so ably.
Rakesh Chaurasia is a humble person. humble nature cannot be an excuse for lack of skills but it complement your skills. Same happens in this case. Everything meets to make a perfect blend- talented, skilled, humble and humorous artist. Apart from this, he has deep respect for his Guru and his uncle, Pt. Hariprasad Chauraisa. When we met him, most of the time he was engrossed in talking about his uncle and not about himself. It is really rare to find all these qualities together in an artist of today’s generation.
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.
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…..
Yesterday night, on 8th January 2012, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia was going to perform at Swarjhankar Festival in Pune. From my sources, I came to know that he will be coming in a Vintage Austin car owned by a person in Nashik. I tried to capture it with which ever camera I had. Here the entire bunch of photos….
SPICMACAY is an organization which organizes concerts of various maestros across India for students to spread awareness about Indian Classical Music. Yesterday,we had Arti Ankalikar Tikekar in our college auditorium under the banner of SPICMACAY. I had a glimpse of how two people behave differently, how two giants act differently. Please note that I am not criticizing anyone, but telling the facts.
After Arti Ankalikar sang a Raga and a Chaiti, she declared that the concert was concluded. A boy from the masses just requested her to sing her famous song, ‘Mi Radhika’ . It was the song to which student had come to listen. Arti Ankalikar said, who is the boy named Radhika here, and please listen to the record. When one of the organizers requested, she sang just 2 lines for half a minute.
I had an opportunity to listen to Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasua in Pune a few months ago. He performed Miya Malhar and Des and then had a look at his watch. Hariji said, “One minute is still remaining. Please tell me what you want to listen to. I will play it for you.” Some one from the crowd shouted Raga Hansdhwani and Hariji played it for 10 minutes.
This is not an attempt to criticize Arti Ankalikar, but, the humbleness of Hariji really touches my heart. He cares so much for his audience even he is so busy and also, so much tired.
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…….