Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shankar's genius underappreciated in the West

  • Print

We need to give proper credit to Ravi Shankar, the Indian music legend who recently passed away at the age of 92.

Many westerners know about Shankar's association with the Beatles' George Harrison in the 1960s, when Harrison took sitar lessons from Shankar and promoted both the instrument and Indian classical music to the West.

But Ravi Shankar did not become Ravi Shankar the world-renowned musician because of George Harrison. Shankar was a genius in his own right. Had he been an American or European and not a Bengali-Indian musician, his genius would have been more readily appreciated in American and European living rooms. He would not have had to find fame at select, elite liberal homes and even more select, elite university music departments.

Nor should we neglect the message of his art, for the music he played all his life was about peace and soul. It was about humanity. It was about an ancient, several thousand-years-old Indian civilization that taught the world how music can transcend the boundaries of man-made, artificial silos.

In India, music is a way of worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Music is a well-accepted spiritual yoga. One does not have to belong to a certain religious school to attain religiosity through this art form.

Few people know about the source of the spirituality Ravi Shankar brought from India to the West.

It was his mentor, Baba Allauddin Khan, a Bengali Muslim, who identified the young Ravi's talent when Khan toured with the ballet troupe of Ravi's illustrious dancer brother, Uday Shankar, and took the teenage sitarist in as a disciple.

Khan, the Homer of Indian classical music, who lived to be more than 100 years old, also trained Shankar in the lessons of a sacred yet secular lifestyle, a lifestyle of humility, spirituality and absolute peace. Khan inculcated this philosophy in his students, and Shankar carried that message forward.

Ravi Shankar bridged East and West and preached and practised world peace. For his music and his mission, we are all in his debt.

 

Partha Banerjee is a college teacher and a human rights and media activist in New York. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.

 

--McClatchy Tribune Services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2012 A13

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Publicity

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the suspensions levied against three bantam hockey players for abusing game officials?

View Results

Ads by Google