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Viewpoint | Shakti’s Grammy Victory: Uniting Indian Philosophy and Music to Bridge Gaps in Society

<p>I had the wonderful opportunity to see Trilok Gurtu, who is regarded as the finest percussionist of all time, perform live in 2018 at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai. Padma Bhushan T.H. Vikku Vinayakram and his son V. Selvaganesh graced the same occasion. Known by many as the God of Ghatam, Vikku Vinayakram plays Carnatic music on an earthen pot, and he is also credited with introducing Ghatam to a worldwide audience.</p>
<p><img decoding=”async” class=”alignnone wp-image-397317″ src=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/theindiaprint.com-viewpoint-shaktis-grammy-victory-uniting-indian-philosophy-and-music-to-bridge-gap.jpg” alt=”theindiaprint.com viewpoint shaktis grammy victory uniting indian philosophy and music to bridge gap” width=”1077″ height=”718″ title=”Viewpoint | Shakti's Grammy Victory: Uniting Indian Philosophy and Music to Bridge Gaps in Society 9″ srcset=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/theindiaprint.com-viewpoint-shaktis-grammy-victory-uniting-indian-philosophy-and-music-to-bridge-gap.jpg 510w, https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/theindiaprint.com-viewpoint-shaktis-grammy-victory-uniting-indian-philosophy-and-music-to-bridge-gap-150×100.jpg 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1077px) 100vw, 1077px” /></p>
<p>In the first row, I also saw Taufiq Qureshi, Zakir Hussain’s younger brother. Following the ceremony, I was fortunate enough to shake hands with V. Selvaganesh, ask Vikku Vinayakram Ji for blessings, and speak with Taufiq Qureshi, one of the nation’s top djembe musicians. It was the closest I had ever been to the divinity of music, and I am also interested in percussion instruments.</p>
<p>Not only was I thrilled to hear that Shakti Band had won a Grammy, but it also brought back memories of the occasion I was fortunate enough to see these legendary performers perform live. The Indian violinist L. Shankar, the English guitarist John McLaughlin, and the Ghatam and tabla players T. H. “Vikku” Vinayakram established the fusion group Shakti in 1973. The band was originally called “Turiyananda Sangit,” which translates to “The pinnacle delight in music” in English. They were experts in acoustic fusion, a genre that combined jazz with Indian classical music. The meanings of the name “Shakti” include “creative intelligence, beauty, and power.”</p>
<p>With Hussain’s origins in northern India and the other Indian members coming from the south, Shakti represented a synthesis of the Hindustani and Carnatic music traditions in addition to fusing American and Indian musical genres. The band formed in 1973 and went on quite a few tours between 1975 and 1977. Following that, the maestros pursued their own musical endeavors during the band’s decades-long absence. With the same idea, John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain formed Remember Shakti in 1997. This band included mandolinist U. Shrinivas, vocalist V. Selvaganesh, and finally Shankar Mahadevan.</p>
<p>To the pleasure of all music lovers, the original Shakti have now reunited to work their magic once again. This Moment, their first album as Shakti in 46 years, was released on June 23, 2023. At the Grammys, this record made India proud and demonstrated that it was worth the wait.</p>
<p>In addition to representing the height of musical ability, the band Shakti also represents an unprecedented partnership between the east and the west. They further demonstrate how music transcends national boundaries and, as Zakir Hussain so eloquently stated in his Grammy speech, “without harmony, without music, we are nothing.”</p>
<p>John McLaughlin has always had a strong interest in Eastern music traditions. In the 1970s, McLaughlin was the leader of the electric Mahavishnu Orchestra, which included drummer Billy Cobham, bassist Rick Laird, pianist Jan Hammer, and violinist Jerry Goodman. Collectively, they produced a musically demanding and nuanced sound that combined Eastern and Indian themes with electric jazz and rock. This group was crucial in influencing fusion’s development as a new genre. During this time, McLaughlin’s performances were distinguished by quick solos and the use of non-Western musical scales.</p>
<p>Zakir Hussain, the greatest tabla musician of all time, is the son of the renowned tabla player Ustad Allah Rakha. He is deeply ingrained in Indian spirituality as well. He once said that, contrary to norm, his father began reciting rhythmic syllables into his ear when he was given him as a newborn. His father said that the rhythmic syllables constitute his prayer and that is how he connects to the holy, in response to his mother’s insistence that you must recite the prayer. Even though he hails from a Muslim background, Ustad Zakir Hussain has said that he had a great deal of respect for Lord Ganesha, the God of Rhythm, and Maa Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. This demonstrates the close ties he and his family have to their ancient culture and their spiritual triumph via music.</p>
<p>The father of Ghatam, Vikku Vinayakram, was born in South India and brought a wealth of Carnatic music expertise and knowledge with him. In addition, he serves as the principal of the Sri Jaya Ganesh Tala Vadya Vidyalaya in Chennai, India, which his late father, a teacher, founded in 1958. It keeps turning up fresh talents in Carnatic percussion. He was initially nominated for a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best World Music Album for his role in “Raga Aberi,” which included Zakir Hussain on the table and L. Shankar on the ten-string double violin.</p>
<p>The band Shakti is particularly amazing since it not only combines elements from the east and the west but also from Hindustani and Carnatic music, which are India’s two most prominent musical traditions.</p>
<p>On that memorable night, India won more Grammys than just the one Shakti took home. To make his tally for the evening three Grammys, Zakir Hussain also took home awards for Best Global Music Performance and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. With five of these accolades overall, he now ties the records held by the late sitar great Ravi Shankar and the virtuoso conductor Zubin Mehta, who are all ranked first on the list of Indians with the most Grammy victories. Together with his congratulations, PM Modi said of the musicians, “Your extraordinary talent and dedication to music have won hearts worldwide.” India is happy! These accomplishments are proof of the consistent hard work you do. It will also encourage upcoming musicians to pursue their dreams and succeed in the music industry.</p>
<p>The meeting of renowned Beatles guitarist George Harrison and sitar master Ravi Shankar in India is another exquisite illustration of the fusion of east and west. Shankar’s great admirers, American vocalists Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, brought Shankar’s music to George Harrison’s attention first. Harrison was profoundly impacted by this introduction and was left with a lasting memory. Subsequently, in the 1960s, he was crucial in making Shankar famous and in introducing Indian instruments into mainstream music. His wife Olivia Harrison provided further details on George’s response, saying, “It was like a bell going off in his head when he heard Indian music.” It not only made me want to listen to more music, but it also made me want to learn more about Indian philosophy. It was an unusual distraction.</p>
<p>Deep ties exist between Indian philosophy, spirituality, and music, expressing a comprehensive view of life and the human condition. Indian philosophy views music as a powerful tool for spiritual inquiry and transcendence, especially in schools like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism. From complex classical masterpieces to religious chants and hymns, music is a means of communicating with and experiencing the holy. In Indian classical music, ragas are melodic frameworks that are said to elicit certain feelings and states of awareness. They are associated with the notion of rasa, or aesthetic mood, and they reflect the cyclical aspect of life.</p>
<p>In addition, Nada Yoga, often known as the yoga of sound, emphasizes the ability of sound vibrations to modify the mind and promote spiritual consciousness. Bhakti, or the path of devotion, places a strong emphasis on using music and kirtan, or devotional singing, to foster love and devotion for the holy. Similar to this, Sufi music, which is distinguished by ecstatic melodies and lyrical lyrics, provides a means of entry for those seeking to enter ecstatic trance states (dhikr) where they might experience unity with the divine. Overall, the relationship between Indian philosophy, spirituality, and music highlights the notion that all things are interconnected and that music has the power to greatly enhance spiritual experiences and inner growth.</p>

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