Spotlight: Music is an important ‘food’ for the intellect

As the youngest child of my father and guru Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan sa’ab of Gwalior, in my childhood, I only heard the sound of the sarod around me. It is like a guru mantra for me. Gradually I realised the musical responsibilities of my life.

I cannot remember a particular day that I was initiated into the world of music. It was a part of me from as early as I can remember. Indeed, I cannot think of a moment when music has been separated from my life.

Today, a wise man does not train his son to become a classical musician, because of the uncertainty and insecurity of livelihood. That is why in the past; only Sufi saints and fakirs could dedicate their lives to music or to God. For my father, though, there was no question of a life outside music.

Life itself was music. And the music was life. Since my childhood, I always wanted my instrument, the sarod to be able to express the entire range of human emotions…to sing, shout, whisper and cry.

It has been a long journey so far and by the benevolence of the heavens, the sarod has become far more expressive than it was 25 years ago. Those moments are a profound reminder of the blessing it is to be in the position of loving — and living — your life’s work.

Without a doubt, music is the best way to connect to the supreme power that we have never seen. Across cultures and faiths, music has always been the pathway to spirituality.

Indian classical musicians improvise and whatever performance takes place on the stage cannot be repeated again. While performing on the stage, cosmic powers are conducting and controlling us.

Whatever we receive, we are transmitting to the audience so definitely there is spirituality involved in Indian classical music as there is no written score.

For our country, music is not just a form of entertainment. Historically, we always give respect and worship through music. Over so many years we have been saying ‘Swar hi Ishwar hai’.

Every human being is born with sound and rhythm. Some realise this and some don’t. The heartbeat is an indication of rhythm and what we speak; conversation, recitation, chanting and singing are all part of the music.

Musicians and listeners of music have been communicating with each other across all barriers through this ‘language’ from time immemorial.

As we use flowers in worship, welcoming, honouring, departure, and celebration no matter what our race, origin, religion or language, we similarly arrange musical notes into 'bouquets' or compositions which display all our human feelings and emotions.

Musical vibrations can convey moods and emotions and have the ability to mould and shape our consciousness. Different types of music can have different effects on the mind - both positive and negative.

Our mind is like any living organism. It must be nurtured and needs stimulation to develop and grow. Music is one of the most important ‘foods’ for the intellect.

Life itself is a learning experience, it is much more beneficial to remain a student. In Indian classical music, swar sadhana is very important for every young musician to realise what kind of practice they have to do.

It is very important for every young musician to realise the weak points and work on them. Music has taught me to be tolerant and patient and this is the mantra I have learnt from my guru and father, that to achieve your goal of life you have to be tolerant and patient.

Through the music only, I realised God and again with the help of my guru and father, I realised that all of us have a common God and we all are a common race.

We are all messengers of God. Our missions are different and we have different agendas. I am also trying to achieve my goal of life and my manzil. I hope the journey never ends.

— Co-ordinated by Reagan Gavin Rasquinha