By Anonymous (not verified) on December 21, 2012

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 of 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 unto his own. 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 worshiping 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 a young Ravi's talent when Khan toured with the ballet troupe of Ravi's illustrious dancer brother, Uday Shankar, and took the teenager sitarist boy in as a disciple. Khan -- the Homer of Indian classical music who lived to be more than 100 years old -- also trained Shankar on 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 practiced 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 can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.

Now's a great time to subscribe to The Progressive magazine. You'll get a FREE copy of our 2013 "Hidden History of the United States" calendar when you subscribe for just $14.97 for the whole year. That's 75% off the newsstand price, and the calendar is yours for free. Just click here.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter