is a Prayer
An interview with Hariprasad Chaurasia by
New Renaissance caught up with Hariprasad
Chaurasia, the world's premiere Indian flautist,
after his master class in Cosmopolité
NR: Hariprasad Chaurasia, I am very grateful
to you for this gift of your time. Are you
touring the world at the moment?
HC: No, at the moment I am just here in Norway.
I have had some programs in Oslo and Fredrikstad.
On Wednesday I have another concert here in
Oslo and in the meantime I was free so I wanted
to meet my friends, those who were interested
in Indian music.
NR: How long have you been playing music?
HC: Well as I remember, I started my journey
when I was nine years old. And this journey
is still going on. Now it is about fifty years
long. I don’t know how long it will
take or how many lives it will take.
NR: Over these fifty years, how have you felt
that your music has changed and developed?
HC: I don’t think that I have changed
My teacher was not a flute player-fortunately!
She was a subahar* player and she wanted me
to play a different music, a music that is
uncommon on the flute. So I am trying to satisfy
my teacher and to satisfy my soul.
I feel that she is not very happy with me
and that she will not be happy with me in
this life. Sometimes I think that she is right.
If she becomes happy then I will not think
about further studies and further research
into music. I think I am still a student and
will be a student for I don’t know how
many lives, till I fulfil my teacher’s
desire. It is going on still.
NR: Your own CD, Rivers**, brought new sounds
and ideas into the mainstream of Indian music.
Can you tell us something about it?
HC: That was the record company’s idea.
They chose me out of several musicians because
my music is very natural. They asked me how
would I treat the theme of water.
So, my instrument there is simply bamboo.
The sound is straight from nature and it connects
me to nature.
A drop of water when you are thirsty gives
such relief. The same drop in a fountain inspires
you with its beauty. The same water in a dirty
drain is repelling. And the same drop in the
river makes you want to swim there and take
a bath. And when the same water goes in the
sea it thrills you with its power.
NR: When you play a raga what are you trying
HC: First of all I choose a raga that gives
me musical satisfaction. When I choose that
raga then I welcome and invite the raga. To
do that I have to meditate on the raga to
understand its structure. When I get the structure
then I can enjoy playing it. When I play a
few beautiful notes, the spirit of the raga
feels happy and comes and blesses me. Then
the real music comes.
NR: How do you think that Indian classical
music influences one as a person?
HC: Whoever gets involved in this field becomes
spiritual because the music itself is purely
spiritual. The music is a prayer, a rare kind
of prayer. Music is created by the Supreme
entity (‘Brahma’) so that we can
get an understanding or a view (‘Darshan’)
of that entity.
NR: What is the role of spirituality in your
HC: When I play music, that is my best yoga,
the best meditation, the best prayer.
NR: What is music to you?
HC: Music is my love. And because it is my
love, music has become my religion.
* a stringed instrument like a sitar
** see review in NR vol.5 no.3
Ian Gottstein was one of the founders
of New Renaissance magazine. He passed away
in June, 2002. This article was printed in
New Renaissance, Vol. 10, No. 4, issue 35,
Winter, 2001-2002 Copyright © 2002
by Renaissance Universal, all rights reserved.
Posted on the web on October 15, 2002.