By Life Positive November 1998 By Kishori Amonkar, Hindustani classical vocalist, as told to Rupali Patil I am a vocalist dealing solely with musical notes. I strive hard to perceive, understand and present them in all their purity and vitality. The credit goes to my gurus. ‘Teach yourself,’ they said, ‘to be a good human being before you call yourself an artiste.’ According to them, music is a balm that relieves pains and miseries. Its purpose is to put us in touch with ourselves. My mother told me: ‘Sing for nature and everything will respond to you.’ How true were those words! Birds, animals, trees, the grass and even the sun seem to reciprocate when I sing. Whenever I feel this, I feel convinced that I am giving divine music to the world. Today, music is treated as a commodity. Those who sing for the gallery add further fuel to fire. They don’t realize that just gathering a repertoire does not necessarily make them knowledgeable about the spirit of music. Music , according to our ancient treatises, has a medicinal value, provided we know when and how to use a particular note. We should remember the purpose of music, its beginning, its transit and its end. To understand and assimilate this, we should seek help from a guru. A guru always guides us into the deeper realms of knowledge. In fact, a guru reaches the ultimate and becomes an embodiment of the ultimate. Little wonder we call our guru: Guru Brahma, guru Vishnu, guru devo MaheshwaraGuru sakshat parambrahma, tasmaishri guruve namah I have tremendous faith in Guru Raghavendraji. To me, he is God. In fact, his presence is so kind that it is impossible to distance myself from him. I also respect Mother Teresa. She helped the needy till her dying day. In that sense she was extremely religious. I believe God is everywhere, even in my musical notes. Hence, it is important not to treat them but be treated by them. Whoever wants to know music should perceive the entire ocean of notes. Perseverance is essential. In fact, I see myself today as a sadhaka, a spiritually devoted learner, treating the subject as a sadhana, devoted practice, to attain the sadhya,the spiritual goal.
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