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In Law, as in Music WAY not Milestones Matter

I learnt my lesson. Law is the Way. Not a milestone. Learn to walk, walk on the Way as far as it may take you, regardless. It will take you to where ever you may deserve to be.

lalgudi jayaraman - Dhinasari Tamil

By Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

“Music is not a thing. But a WAY. If it was a thing, you can acquire it. When it is a way, you have to travel, travel and keep traveling. Some reach short. Some go far. Some go further. But no one, even at the pinnacle or zenith can reach the finish line. For there is no finish line. You keep traveling as far as you can go. So process, practice and more of it matter. And the milestones are also on the WAY. Do not get carried away by the milestones. Focus on the WAY. Always”.

When I heard it, the lawyer in me was tickled to replace – Music with Law. The parallels were striking. No difference whatever. Milestones hardly matter. The Way is long. Always there. It extends into the eternity. You keep going. Milestones are left behind. As if This too shall Pass. Dwelling on the milestones made or missed along the Way would be a milstone not a milestone. It had a huge personal connect too.

Those opening lines were heard by me in a Lec-Dem at the Music Academy on going into the ‘Amazing Mind of Lalgudi Jayaraman’. Forget not, he did not become a Sangita Kalanidhi at the very Academy where paens of praise were being bandied about with magnificent munificence. Yes, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award on 9th March, 2008 –  ‘The award is in recognition of and a tribute to the monumental contribution of this great veteran musician to Carnatic music over the last six decades — as an outstanding violinist, a teacher and a composer par excellence,” – as consolation prize! To console who? Him or the Academy!

The breathtaking sweep and vision of the man, artiste,composer, violinist wizard, the magician did not catch me. What caught me was the meticulous manner in which he ‘made’ it. There was no stolen focus of the Johann Hari construct with him. He was Focus itself in the Dan Coleman mode.

His children – G J R Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi – who were Sangita Kalanidhis (Academy possibly paying pennance or making amends) – took us into the ‘magnificent mind’ of their father. Lalgudi  was no ‘born’ genius. He was ‘bred’ into one, they said,lending huge scope and hope to us, ordinary mortals.

Lalgudi hails from Saint Thiagaraja’s legacy. And Lalgudi’s father Gopala Iyer was a strict disciplinarian and the son was a willing and obedient student. Lagudi’s diligence included ‘journalling’ every day like a Marcus Auriellus or Epictetus, the Stoic philosophers. Music is Meditation. Law too is or can be to those who care. Except those who knew the ‘Judge or law minister not law’ as Arun Jaitley mocked.

Lalgudi, it seems was Meditation itself. He did not have to practice it. He lived by it. The ‘Noise’ around hardly impacted. The silence was his music. Not between one Note to another. But each Note was Musical eloquence in silence. He became a creative genius and loved and loved as one.

Imagine this. He lived in remote Lalgudi in Tamil Nadu. There was no technology  or reach leave alone overreach. There was but one loudspeaker in a park. Broadcasting music now and then. And when Lalgudi heard western notes, he was fascinated. He heard. Ran home. He feared walking. Reached home Sweating and panting for breath. To  do what?

To pick up his fiddle. And play what he heard. Not once. Or twice. But again and again. Until ‘it’ became him. All that poured out from his subconscious mind of his ‘being’ when he sat, stood, walked, bathed, ate and slept. To ‘create,notate and teach’. It is always said of the ‘creative’ minds, that there is no one process,mindset, moment or office space that gets them into ‘creating’. It happens all the time, anytime and anywhere. I have heard of an American poet laureate, daughter of an agriculturist, who suddenly as a schoolgirl, used to run from her father’s farms to home. To pencil in poetic verses that ‘formed as a fussilade’, lest they left her.

I was particularly drawn to this epistle he sent to his father—guru from Bangalore. “ I am like the rocket launched by a scientist who is unknown. If I start assuming, as a rocket, it was all my making, what a fool I would be. I owe it all to you the Guru who launched me into space”. Amen.

I write this as a Lalgudi thillana in Maand raga is being danced on stage on 14th Jan,2023 at 17.45 hrs. I refrain from saying beyond as it is my daughter Kum. Ranganayaki, a disciple of Roja Kannan, on stage.

I learnt my lesson. Law is the Way. Not a milestone. Learn to walk, walk on the Way as far as it may take you, regardless. It will take you to where ever you may deserve to be.

Wishing all readers a Very Happy Pongal


(Author is Advocate trying to practice in Madras High Court)


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