It is important for aspiring artists to realise that art, knowledge and learning are boundless… there are no goals here.
Speed...speed... a rush in everything we do. The need to reach ‘there' fast… What is the target and why should it be the target?
A child is fondly produced before a dance teacher by her doting parents. The sole objective is that she must have her arangetram ASAP, preferably within a year or two.
A young student of music must be made fit to take the stage in one or more platforms in the city, with a full repertoire of songs, raga alapana, niraval et al. He must be drilled through an abundance of impressive complicated swara korvais that will make the audience draw in their breath. The guru must see to that.
The goal is the stage, and in course of time, more and more concerts. Little thought is bestowed on music itself, much less to musical values. A young dancer who can't tell the difference between the mood of a varnam from that of a padam, turns up with loads of accolades after having ‘performed all over India and on several stages abroad.” The race is on among different students, different gurus and different parents.
Sabhas use their own formulae to decide which artist to champion, and vie with one another to award titles. Often the exercise revolves more round devising a good-sounding title than on defining the criteria for awarding the title. Many fail to see that a performer needs to possess a certain degree of experiential maturity to be able to relate to the ethos of the composition rendered and to its composer. Shorn of this ingredient, a concert cannot reach to its full brilliance. There are of course the rare ones, the geniuses, to whom sensitivity is inborn, but against n such, there are 10n mediocrities.
Speed is one of the by product of technology, and it no more avails us to bemoan it than raise our arms against the latter. And it is not as if technology has not made its wholesome contributions to art. Opportunities abound today; numerous talents have been uncovered, which in earlier times would have gone unnoticed. Many have found their niche in a musical or dance career, often far more conducive to the building up of their personality than any commercial or industrial occupation to which they may be suited academically. The presence of art at homes generates a glow in many a household. Technology enables faithful live and recorded reproduction of concerts, sometimes enriching them, communicates art lessons and regimens across the seas, making available to the interested listener a host of musical treasures often resulting in an abundance of choices to daunt us, with our limited allowance of 24 hours a day.
Culture cannot remain stagnant The old order will necessarily change and must needs yield place to new, a truth the outgoing generations of rasikas need to remember, “lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” This pattern is pervasive – in music, dance, drama, literature, films, academics, professions or in the corporate world. Speed, range, competition, rivalry… all these are the order of the day. Facilities to appreciate the arts as also the opportunities to practise them have grown so far and wide; so much so that hardly anyone can claim that he cannot access sources and resources. Knowledge and learning have lost their esoteric status.
Veda mantras - once a bastion of the elite - are available now on CD, with appropriate pronunciation and intonation. We have ‘Learn Sanskrit in 30 days,' ‘Master Maths in a month' and so on. The dedicated guru has given way to dedicated software.
We cannot, however, gainsay the fact that short-term packages and shortcuts to proficiency/success have their advantages, but the advantage of easy accessibility is gained only at the cost of calibre and profundity. All those who may be flushed with the experience of ‘success' (by their own definition) will do well to remember that art, knowledge and learning are boundless, and there are no goals, such as prizes, awards, titles or medals. They should not stop with extensiveness, but find a path out of excitement, to tranquillity, by probing deeper into intensiveness and discover the true value of these.