To be a Master of Indian Classical Music by Pandit Divyang Vakil

To be a Master of Indian Music

I am amazed at how many students I get who want master Indian music or tabla. The desire is commendable, but the effort that is made to achieve this aim does not reflect this goal. The world has changed. There was a time not long ago, when students of music would practice 7, 8, 10 hours a day. Besides practice, they did nothing. There were no weekends, no days off. It was single-pointed focus to become a master. There were no birthday parties and movies, no social commitments. For a period of time, they left behind the world in order to achieve greatness. And once that level is attained, a beautiful world opens up that cannot be described in words.

Today, I believe that there great distractions and more ways that a person can have their attention diverted, but human capacity of focus and determination still exist. And without fully utilizing them, greatness cannot be attained. I am not speaking of greatness in terms of becoming a star, being a star and having true mastery are two different things and don’t necessarily go hand in hand. To be a master requires the same qualities it did centuries ago, decades ago and a few years ago: focus, devotion and ability to leave everything. While the world may change, these qualities don’t change over time.

Here is a wonderful poem by Brahmanand that summarizes what a classical musician must do if they truly want to realize God through their music. Note that this can be applied to any field or work, if one desires to reach that level of mastery in it. This poem has been sung beautifully by Bhimsenji, who is a great model of a true sadhak.

Jo bhaje hari so sada
Wohi param pad payega
Chhod duniya ke majhe sub
Bhaith kar ekant mein
Dhyandhar guru ke charanaka
To prabhu mil jayega

Literal translation:

The one who remembers/praises God always
Will attain the Ultimate goal
Leave the pleasures of the world
Sit alone (in meditation)
Meditate upon the feet of your guru
And you will realize God

The actual meaning of the poem is:

The one who always and fully engages in ones work (this can be any work)
Attains the highest aim
Leave behind worldly pleasures
Sits alone with full concentration
Aspire to follow the path your guru(’s feet) have walked (upon)
And you will realize God