Memories from my Ganda-Bandhan ceremony
As far as I can remember, even from a very young age, I was searching for something beautiful and divine. With time, the subject of this search has become more explicit, taking the form of sound. My search started at the place where I was born, Israel, but quickly expanded towards the east. During my teens I was going through phases of listening to Arab music, Persian music, and Pakistani music. At that time, I was also listening to some Indian classical music, but I was not fully captured by it, perhaps due to the fact that the Indian classical music which was available in the west was essentially on the lighter side. It was only at the age of 25, when I was finishing my first degree in Mathematics, that I came across an album by Ustad Amir Khan. Listening to his performance of Raag Nand, I was completely captivated. I remember it took me less than a few minutes to understand that this is the sound I was searching for my whole life. In retrospect, I view this incidental listening as the first crucial junction in my music life.
Following this life changing experience, it became clear to me that I must travel to India to learn more about the mysteries of this music. Indeed, two weeks later, I took a break in my studies, took my financial savings, and went to India. My initial thought was that I would avoid the large populated cities as much as possible, and try my luck in the mountains of the Himalayas. This trip initiated without a particular objective musical instrument in mind, as every Indian instrument I considered seemed fascinating. I therefore decided to study the instrument of the first inspiring teacher that I encounter. Near Dharamshala, this approach finally led me to the Banares-style Tabla player Ashoka Rehela from whom I started taking Taleem (practice/training).
About a year later, while pursuing my Master's degree in Mathematics at Stanford University, I met Parag Chordia, a sarode disciple of Pt. Buddhadev Das Gupta, and a big connoisseur of classical Indian music. Through him, my knowledge has expended significantly. At that time, I was taking further Taleem from the musical Farukhabad Tabla player Debopriyo Sarkar.
The second crucial point in my music life was a concert I saw in 1999 at California, featuring Pt. Buddhadev Das Gupta on Sarode accompanied by Pt. Nayan Ghosh on tabla. I remember that concert till this very day, and believe that, that particular Tabla accompaniment was the best accompaniment I have ever heard. It became clear to me that Nayan Ghosh is the person I want to learn from. Shortly after, I took the opportunity to ask guruji to study under him. Perhaps due to my non-hidden passion, guruji agreed.
From around the year 2000, when I started my Ph.d at the Weizmann Institute of Science, until these very days, I have taken opportunities to take intermediate short breaks in my academic career and come to Mumbai to learn under guruji. He has always been very patient with me, and always welcomed me to his family. I remember numerous wonderful moments with guruji, during lessons, accompanying him to concerts, and in simple everyday life. Some of the most memorable times were during lessons. I remember he had said on several occasions that while giving me Taleem, he had suddenly remembered rare compositions, that he had forgotten for many years. This made me feel extremely proud.
Guruji has been like a father figure to me. Indeed, feelings such as admiration combined with an urge to receive positive feedback are typically associated with father-son relationship. For me, growing up in a family where compassion was not abundant, the Guru-Shishya relationship had played that role. This is partially the reason why I feel that the Ganda-Bandhan ceremony is of such a great importance. Receiving the blessing of my Guru, and preceding Gurus, has, to my perception, connected me to the most prestigious existing lineage.