Religion and Work

Ravi Shankar’s teacher, Allaudin Khan, had an almost unbelievably heroic dedication to music. He ran away from home at the age of 8 because his parents wouldn’t let him become a musician. Here are more reminiscences by Shankar:

“Baba’s views on celibacy and especially on intoxication through alcohol or drugs are extremely rigid and severe. He strongly insists that the students follow brahmacharya – for the disciple, a traditional Hindu way of life that includes only the absolute essentials of material needs. This way, with no thoughts of fine clothes, fancy foods, sex or complicated love affairs or anything else that satisfies and encourages physical desires, the student can channel all of his powers and forces, both mental and physical, into the discipline of his music. Music, to Baba, is a strict, lifelong discipline that requires long and careful training, and if a student is not prepared to regard music in this way, he had better not take it up at all….He belongs to a school that seems so far removed from our modern industrial era, and yet, in every way, he has been ahead of his time, injecting a new significance and life into Indian instrumental music. With him will pass an era that upheld the dedicated, spiritual outlook handed down by the great munis and rishis who considered the sound of music, nad, to be Nada Brahma – a way to reach God.”

Allaudin Khan with his students Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, the layyer also his son.

Allaudin Khan with his students Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, the latter also his son, evidently posing for the camera.

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