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Dakshayani Athalye and Mandar Karanjkar: A Jugalbandhi (Duet) with Life

A Jugalbandi (Duet) with Life

Speakers: Mandar Karanjkar and Dakshayani Athalye
Session moderated by Deven Shah and Shaalini Srinivasan

On Balance:

  • Maintain a balance between what is important to DO in life and what is important IN life.
  • There needs to be a balance between Occupation of the mind and Occupation for life.
  • If you dedicate a large part of your life just to fulfill your materialistic needs, running around and leading a stressful life and not paying heed to the body (hardware) or its balance, the hardware eventually will get damaged. Find balance and harmony in life.
On Children: Music can teach children to be more disciplined, not because of any external pressure but because of the effect of music itself. Music creates an internal need for discipline and focus.

On Getting entangled in just the skills: Music is about getting to the essence. When one just focuses outwards, on the intricacies of the skills and not pay attention to its inwardness, the essence is lost.

On Guru (Master):
  • When the disciple is ready, the masters appear (Resonating with the Buddhist saying: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”).
  • Even a fraction of wisdom given by the guru takes lifetime to digest.
  • Just being around your Guru is very humbling.
On his Learning from his Guru, Pandit Vijay Sardeshmukh:
  • Words are useless. One can convey volumes through silence.
  • Honour even the smallest of the commitments. Honour your words.
  • Music can be created with even one note/one breath. Keep things simple.
  • “Sing just one note, but sing it with the totality of your being. Whatever you have to say, can be said in a single note.”
On making positive changes in life:
  • It is not always about taking a leap of faith. Taking small steps, one at a time, will also lead to the desired path.
  • Sometimes, when trying to make a change, one gets caught in the cycle of fear which brings one back to the grind. It is then that one needs to be persistent in following the calling of the heart and doing whatever is needed to keep one going.
  • Move forward with faith and patience. Trust life and its power to take care of your needs.
On Maturity: Maturity in music as in life is a process and takes time and effort. It is like ripening. It comes through practice and patience.

On Music:
  • It is important to introduce the richness of Indian Classical music to a common man.
  • You don’t need to just keep practicing in order to be good at it. One must not only be engrossed in music but also be ‘in it’ to be able to reach its core and to learn it’s essence.
  • Music can be transformative and therapeutic in more ways than we can think of. It rewires the brain, creates new neural pathways, and helps activate different parts of the brain (One is reminded of the seminal work of the famous neurologist, Oliver Sacks, in the book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain).
  • One doesn’t need a lot of complicated notes to make beautiful music. For creating music, even two notes are enough. Similarly, one can do sadhana just with one note.
  • Music is listening to your breath/praan.
  • Singing is exploring the harmony of the sound.
On their NGO, ‘Baithak Foundation’:
  • It aims to bring Indian Classical Music to children by introducing music in schools through non-traditional and traditional ways.
  • It works on peaking the curiosity about performing art, by conducting concerts, workshops and events at schools.
  • The organization is working on digitizing old classical music along with curating for online exhibitions and playlist.
  • It promotes young artists by giving them opportunities to engage with music through the foundation and also monetarily helping them to sustain their interest.
On Performing art vs. Practicing art: All art forms can be categorized as performing art as their expression is outwards, be it music or painting or writing etc. However, to be able to express outward effectively, one has to first go inwards and create that harmony within oneself. Only than it will be projected outside. This needs practice/ saadhana of a lifetime and only than it becomes practicing art. Great Masters have been able to achieve this state of harmony through long saadhana and that’s why their music has a universal appeal.
On Positivity: There are many positive forces around us. Focus on them. If you want to follow your heart, make your intention known to the world and you would be surprised how people around you are willing to help you in fulfilling your intention (This thought echoes Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho’s lines from his famous book, The Alchemist: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”).
On Sewa (service):
  • Sewa happens unconsciously, without thinking of the gain or loss.
On Yog: Yog is the union of inward and outward. We need to work upon dissolving this separateness in order to become whole/ wholesome in life.

And also a few quotables from the call --

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