Recently was very moved by a BBC documentary about Ravi Shankar. The music is great of course, and he is another artist who inspires by his dedication. He also offers a new perspective on the religion of work, the true ethic of our culture. It seems to be universal and trans-cultural, not a western invention at all. And, as Shankar explains, it has something to do with religion itself. He refers to his teacher, Allaudin Khan, as his “guru.” There is more to say about this, but for now just to observe that Shankar emerged from a truly cosmopolitan Indian culture, in which Moslems and Hindus both shared artistic aspirations of the highest order. Here are some words from his autobiography, describing his teacher:
“Allauddin Khan was one of the sons of a quite well-to-do peasant family in Bengal. His family were Bengali Muslims, converted to Islam only three or four generations before. The village they lived in was predominantly Hindu, and they all spoke Bengali. And so, even though his family were Muslim, Baba knew all the ways of Hindus and was well acquainted with their customs and ceremonies. Later, he was to follow a way of life that was a beautiful fusion of the best of both Hinduism and Islam”
If art has an ethical or religious value, this is it, to completely reject sectarianism and religious war.