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“Inner peace comes through classical heritage”
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“Inner peace comes through classical heritage”

Mridul pixClassical Heritage

Mridul UpadhyayClassical heritage plays a vital role in development of individuals, writes Mridul Upadhyay, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from New Delhi, who argues in favour of investing time to learn about culture that has been built up over many generations.

A monk decides to meditate alone, away from his monastery. He takes his boat out to the middle of the lake, moors it there, closes his eyes and begins his meditation. After a few hours of undisturbed silence, he suddenly feels the bump of another boat colliding with his own. With his eyes still closed, he senses his anger rising, and by the time he opens his eyes, he is ready to scream at the boatman who dared to disturb his meditation.

But when he opens his eyes, he sees it’s an empty boat that became untethered and floated to the middle of the lake. At that moment, the monk achieves self-realisation, and understands that the anger is within him; it merely needs the bump of an external object to provoke it out of him. From then on, whenever he comes across someone who irritates or provokes him to anger, he reminds himself, “The other person is merely an empty boat. The anger is within me.”

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Can classical heritage really uplift human beings and make them more peaceful and tolerant? I’m not sure if it is valid worldwide, but surely it is for the Indian subcontinent and a few other Asian countries like China, because these countries have among the oldest living civilisations, where heritage was continuously developed for thousands of years, keeping peace in the centre of the process, and passed on from one generation to another.

In the technology of the computer, which developed almost 60 years ago with the first computer being as big as a room, each scientist worked on a single component. Now we have better and compact technology in our hands. It is the same with classical heritage and music. For centuries, many legends and generations of families dedicated entire lives to improving elements of this heritage by bits and taking it to higher levels. Now in its purest and highest form, it surely has that essence of leading us to inner peace.

Also, if an accounts student does not understand physics laws and theories such as black holes, or if an artist doesn’t understand economics terms such as balance sheet and repo rate, it doesn’t make either physics or economy useless or less important. It’s only that their minds are not developed in a way to understand these subjects quickly. They just need to try more, and soon they’ll also start enjoying these too. Indian classical heritage and its experience also have same merits. We just need to try harder to develop our minds to understand and learn its teachings.

Believe me, it’s not just music. At the end of watching a good performance, you clap and say ‘wow’. But if you could experience it, you just feel ‘ah’, unable to move a fraction. Moreover, you can understand  this phrase of the Dagar family, whose 19th generation has been following the unbroken tradition of Dhrupad genre, the oldest existing form of north Indian classical music, or Hindustani classical music. They say, “We do not let the child come on the stage for 40 years, so that he doesn’t forget why he is playing or singing, and for what.”

In India, for generations there has been writing, singing, playing instruments and dancing on Hindu praying songs. Thus Indian classical heritage serves as a form of integration, art archive, education and inspiration, not just entertainment.

But what if you wake up suddenly and find there is no computer and electricity in the world, and the related knowledge has been forgotten by everyone! How panicking it is to think about living without a technology that is just a century old – and having to start everything once again! This makes the preservation of classical heritage important, and why the failure of youth to appreciate and learn traditional classical art forms is alarming. We are at the edge of losing a great treasure.

A non-profit organization, SPIC MACAY (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth), is a voluntary movement that organises more than 5000 free events annually, worldwide,  of classical music and dance, folk arts, and crafts through heritage festivals, conventions and lecture demonstrations. With a unique emphasis on the Guru-Shishya model, their week-long convention aims to provide participants a holistic experience in line with classical Indian tradition through inner self-realisation, food, early rising, avoiding cellphones, yoga, volunteer work, harmony, and peace.

All in all, SPIC MACAY facilitates hundreds of participants  to find not only the awareness of ancient classical heritage and culture but also its ethos, its deeper and subtle meaning and values, inspiring them to become better human beings.

Reach me on Twitter  @Mridul_upadhyay

Photo credit: Mridul Upadhyay

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About me:
A thinker, a social volunteer, a mechanical designer, a theater artist, a guitar player, a lyrics-writer, an amateur sketch artist, a cook, a traveler, a wannabe civil servant – there are many phrases I enjoy trying on me to describe what I see myself as.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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