Ravi Shankar, born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, aka Pandit

Shankar, born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, aka Pandit

Indian Contemporary Musician, Sitar Player and Composer

Author Quotes

Our country is so rich with a living tradition unlike anywhere in the world. The whole world looks up to India to enrich themselves with the rich cultural heritage of our country, and yet we try to ape the west. They call it globalization but it really is Americanization. It is good to absorb the good points of any culture, but to lose our own is a shame. Like anything we need a good balance. In the west, you may have pop music which attracts thousands of people, but at the same time they also have great auditoriums, which is sold out for ballet, western classical program or opera.

'Ravi' means 'sun.' It's a Sanskrit original word. And 'Shankar' is another name of Shiva, one of the holy trinity god that we worship.

Superior quality always wins and lasts. Students need to be dedicated to their Guru and before you start learning be positive that you have the talent and patience as it is a life time of dedication. Today everything is so advanced that you can have lessons on a computer and I feel appalled when I hear students learning from a tape. How can anyone even compare the foundation and solidity of knowledge learned for years directly from a Guru to today's hourly lessons and computer culture?

Teachers can be a living example to their students. Not that teachers should look for students to idealize them. One who is worth idealizing does not care whether others idealize them or not. Everyone needs to see that you not only teach human values but you live them. It is unavoidable sometimes you will be idealized -- it is better for children to have a role model, or goal, because then the worshipful quality in them can dawn.

The music that I have learned and want to give is like worshipping God. It's absolutely like a prayer.

Then came the gramophone, the radio and then the television. But now with the age of computers and instant access it is really overwhelming. I am not saying that this is good or bad but it is a fact. Every kind of music has and in fact is going through changes more rapidly now than ever before, and who am I to say if its for better or worse.

There are thousands of ragas, and they are all connected with different times of the day, like sunrise or night or sunset. It is all based on 72 of what we call 'mela' or scales. And we have principally nine moods, ranging from peacefulness to praying, or the feeling of emptiness you get by sitting by the ocean.

Knowledge is a burden if it robs you of innocence. Knowledge is a burden if it is not integrated into life. Knowledge is a burden if it doesn't bring joy. Knowledge is a burden if it gives you an idea that you are wise. Knowledge is a burden if it doesn't set you free. Knowledge is a burden if it makes you feel you are special.

There are two points I want to make and emphasize; 1 - Classical music was never appreciated (in west as well) by the masses. It was always, cherished, developed and patronized by a ?class? of people in the same way as in literature with Shakespeare or Kalidas, and hence the term classical, and not musical or pop, which unfortunately many people expect it to be. Of course, I do want our Hindustani music especially today to have larger rasikas - listeners, as carnatic music in the South enjoys. In the South at any given time and especially during the festival season there sveral sabhas or concert venues having music from morning till late night with sold-out audiences. 2 - Our music has always gone through changes becoming more and more developed and sophisticated through centuries. We today feel the onslaught of disturbing elements because the changes are very rapid for us to adjust. Those days the media of communication was limited to live concerts.

Life is nothing to be very serious about. Life is a ball in your hands to play with. Don?t hold on to the ball.

To me, you know, from my childhood I always had a fascination for United States.

Life works on strange laws of nature (Karma). One never knows when a friend turns enemy and vice-versa. Rely on your Self; self-reliance

Today is a gift from God - that is why it is called the present.

Love is not an emotion. It is your very existence.

What is it that makes a great musician as well as a super star? There were always great musicians at all times who were revered and will always be remembered and few were lucky to have heard them. We don't even have any recordings of some of the great legends because at that time the facilities were not available. What I am talking of now is about Indian classical music. Learning Indian classical music and performing is not easy. It takes years of sadhana and learning under the guidance of a good guru. If a young person wants to take this as a career and become famous, one has to stop and think whether one has the talent necessary. Then comes the question of money to live and learn. I myself have never taken a penny from any of my students, nor do I teach by the hour. Sometimes my classes can go on for a whole day with just a break for lunch. This is where industrialists can help by sponsoring a student. This way the student does not have to think about going to work and earning. And when it comes to girls, it is so important that she is supported first by her parents and then by her husband and in laws . I have had some extremely talented female students who ended up giving up everything after they got married.

Many people, especially young people, have started listening to sitar since George Harrison, one of the Beatles, became my disciple.

When people say that George Harrison made me famous, that is true in a way.

Music has evolved like always. But as far as I am concerned, 1950's and 60's were the golden for Indian classical music. We had the best of the great senior musicians, middle aged and the younger ones. The whole attitude of the music world was different. The senior musicians may not have been very rich, but they were adored and revered.

When you share your misery, it will not diminish. When you fail to share your joy, it diminishes. Share your problems only with the Divine, not with anyone else, as that will only increase the problems. Share your joy with everyone. Listen to others; yet do not listen. If your mind gets stuck in their problems, not only are they miserable, but you also become miserable.

My brother had a house in Paris. To it came many Western classical musicians. These musicians all made the same point: 'Indian music,' they said, 'is beautiful when we hear it with the dancers. On its own, it is repetitious and monotonous.'

Wise is the one who learns from another?s mistakes. Less wise is the one who learns only from his own mistakes. The fool keeps making the same mistakes again and again and never learns from them.

My music has a very spiritual background, a sanctity that is almost like worship.

Worrying doesn't make any difference, but working does and spirituality gives one the strength to work

One single raga can be performed for two hours, three hours.

Yes, I performed with Yehudi Menuhin, composed 2 concertos (in the process of writing my third) experimented with jazz, far eastern music, Phillip Glass, ballet, orchestration film music, music theatre and so much more-from 1945. But I guess all those were much before time!! If you listen to my CD "Tana Mana," I have worked with electronic music 25 years ago. But I did all this without compromising on the solid foundation of our classical music. If few musicians didn't understand me then it was their problem. I have no regrets. When you are doing something new, go ahead but don?t talk about your gharana and lineage, which has nothing to do with it. When you go on stage people don't care who your grandfather was! They have come to hear you and the only way you can impress is with your music.

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Shankar, born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, aka Pandit
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Indian Contemporary Musician, Sitar Player and Composer