Learning with Maestro: Microtones

Chandrika Kamath

Durlabh2 004Guruji (Pt. Rajshekhar Mansur) and I were travelling from Bhopal to Gwalior. I looked forward to a journey with Guruji because he passed on nuggets of insight in music even when we were not in music session. I had been asked several times that why did not maestros of Jaipur Atrauli sing in Drut (fast-paced tempo)? I decided that this might be the occasion to learn the answer to this riddle. Once we had settled down I posed the question to him. Rightly enough, with a contemplative look in his eyes, he said, music is Shravana Vidya (aural art) and it has to be learnt Guru Mukhi (through mouth of teacher). No amount of theory can teach you a raga. Suppose I said the two notes in this raga are shuddha (natural note), how will you know how shuddha they must be? I did not understand and looked askance.

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Trial, Sole certainty!

 

One certain way to seek (and sometime, find) a solution is trial and error. Philadelphia 018Conceptually, it appeared destined for oblivion as bulk of human knowledge grew to lessen the sea of unknown. As, a large part of knowledge created increasingly grows dated, the degree of uncertainty remains the same. Some might even say that over the past decade, it has grown!

Knowledge may also be defined on scale of certainty. If in a particular village the sun would rise between one specific tree on left and another specific tree (or rock) on right, one could be sure that this direction may safely be called east. Mystics have always made fun of the idea of such ‘ascertained’ knowledge.

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…part of sixthness

“h equals ten raised to the power of minus twenty seventh part of 6.6thness” With similar mathematical abstractions weaving near-concrete images, Taj Masood continues the oral tradition of poetry. He holds that poetry, born in head should reside there till other heads are ready to lend an ear. The images form and dissolve to reappear; they resurface, honed and enriched by flow of life meanwhile.

Orality carries an authenticity not found in the paper-rigid fixity of the material world. It is authenticated by life itself. The Classical traditions aim to capture human achievements; the oral traditions merely allow them a playground.

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Cycling to learn

Archana Somshekhar

As an academic investigator I had visited Shikshantar, an NGO in Udaipur, to see their work on alternative education. Shikshantar believes in zero-schooling, which means not admitting a child into a school at all, but letting him/her learn on his/her own if and when the child is interested. 

Shikshantar is also associated with ‘Swaraj University’, a new concept in today’s world, though an old concept if you look into ancient history. Swaraj University does not give any degrees, believing that a degree is not necessary for one to become successful in life. One can successfully practice a trade/ profession/ occupation to meet one’s livelihood needs without a degree. Students who join Swaraj University come from backgrounds and may even be school dropouts. Called ‘Khojis’, or seekers, these students interact with various experts from varied fields, seek to find out what they are most suited for themselves, and then train as apprentices under an expert in the field to learn the skills of the trade, so that they can earn their livelihood.

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Heart of light…

Chandrabhushan Varde

Looking into the heart of light, the silence. (Eliot. Wasteland)

Greene’s characters are what Fredrick Karl calls, the ‘demonical heroes’, who by turning all accepted values upside down have come to understand God through the knowledge of the devil.  Literary characters are a source of serious, humorous pursuits of satire and parody – find your own place in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Characters created by Saul Bellow are a superb gallery of self-doubting, funny, charming, disillusioned, neurotic, and intelligent observers of the modern American way of life that seem to warn against impending doom. Title phrase of Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ ironically parody an irony – an excited Miranda welcoming possibilities of human form after being brought up in company of servants and slaves.

Greene’s Pinkie in ‘Brighton Rock’ arrived at his conceptions and convictions about life through contact with the darker side of life — sin, shame, misery and squalor, as was the case with Greene himself who learnt more about the dark and the evil, the primitive and hellish, in his formative years, than the sunnier side of things.

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Dialog Method for presentations

Archana Somshekhar

INTRODUCTION:

Conferences make one wonder whether they are of any use at all. Whether the amount of money and time spent on them in terms of arrangements made and the fares for all the participants was worth the effort and money, considering that nothing concrete seems to come out of them as far as implementable recommendations, etc are concerned. Continue reading

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Indian Poetics — Theorizing the Creative Principle

A. K. Awasthi,
Professor of English & Chair,
Dr. Hari Singh Gour Central University, Sagar (MP)

 

When wise men affirm that spirituality is an experience, they assume that they are dealing with the abstract and metaphysical. They claim that mental activity is only a condition. They also distinguish spirituality from materiality. But what intrigues the rational judgment is that any experience, realization, attainment or becoming happens only in the mind, never outside of it. But mind is a material reality and anything taking place there will carry its property along. However, any production of the mind may contain any degree of fineness but it would be born of material entity nevertheless. Mind is only an enclosure in the material body. The mind feels anything in the form of ideas (dhyan). This is what mental activity is. The question arises, what is that phenomenon, which fills in the mind just to make mental activity possible? What is its nature? Continue reading

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