The Maestro Speaks

Unity in Adversity

By Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

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A word that in sudden vogue is Recession; I feel sad to see and realize that the whole world is facing an economic crisis. I hear that things are only supposed to get worse in the months ahead; at the same time elections were held in USA. I am very happy that Mr. Barack Obama has won the elections and became the President of the US. I am also happy about Mrs. Hillary Clinton giving full support to Mr. Obama. I hope Mr. President uses his magic wand and sorts out the problems of so many people who are facing and feeling the pains of recession. We know from history that a similar kind of recession took place between the years 1929 – 1932 in the US.

In our own country, we are facing a similar recession at a lower degree than in the US, because in today’s world, economies are interlinked. However, we are also facing a recession due to conditions created by the fact that from the time of our independence, and it has been nearly 62 years- no political party has been able to provide water, electricity, food or shelter to every Indian who lives in villages or small towns across our country.

Considering our chronic problems and the present recession, could we not have postponed these elections for a year or two? Though It would be unconstitutional to say this first line and I am aware that the constitution requires that the elections are conducted every 5 years to preserve democracy in the country, I am sure that even after the elections, we are going to face much greater problems and more poverty and miseries, especially among the poorer section of people.

Our country is so sensitive because we have so many religions, casts and sub-casts. Yet, we depend on each other and this dependence is our strength – Whenever elections are there, the political parties destroy and break the unity and trust for their selfish political interests, which last only five years. In fact they break and destroy the age old relationships that have spanned 5000 years.

In today’s strife torn world, the world of music, with its intrinsic philosophy of ‘Sound is God’ comes as the only solace. In the purist form of music, there is not much to understand, but only to experience. It’s a joy to realize the beauty of sound. I often thank God that I belong to this world of sound which uplifts the soul and connects one to the Almighty.

In spite of the presence of some bigoted and communal people in every religion, the world can be viewed as harmonious. By the benevolence of the heavens, we have more peace loving people in the world as compared to the destructive, hatred-spreading kind. The best representatives of any religion are those who are compassionate, kind, forgiving and benevolent. Today it is imperative that everyone, especially the educated people interpret religious books according to their intelligence and not follow every letter blindly. It is sad indeed that in many cases, education has not been able to make better human beings out of us nor has it been able to create compassion and brotherhood among men.

We need like-minded religious and social leaders who can convey the message of one common God, universal brotherhood and the intrinsic truth of “Atma hi Parmatma hai”. I strongly feel that all political leaders of the world, including Mr. Barack Obama, must collectively and appealingly, convey the message of a common God to the world to rid us of the scourge of fundamentalism, hatred, terrorism and senseless violence.

The time has come when political leaders across the world have to come out of this narrow mentality of using religion as a base. Political campaigns ought to be based only on the quality and ability of leaders, and on no other consideration. If the political leaders do not take this initiative, then the fundamentalist elements present in every religion will continue to divide and create more hatred and violence.

We are all like one family. “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam.” This has been the greatest motif of our culture. We all belong to the same race as we come into this world in the same way and go away from it in a similar process. After all the battles and destruction is over, the ultimate truth which remains is water, dust, ashes, air and stones. As my guru and father, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb often said, “The reality of life is air, water, fire, fragrance, colors and music; they are eternal. They do not belong to any one religion. Rather they are the precious gifts of God to all his sons and daughters”.

Traditionally too, the Indian ethos has always revolved around spiritualism. For a majority of our people, religion still remains a highly personal thing. It is not a public sentiment, but destructive elements often seek to give it that color in order to further their own vested interests. For those who travel long distances to reach a place of worship, a prayer is a personal communion with God, a time when an individual seeks his personal time with the Almighty. This remains common to all religions.

Go to any place of religious worship and this sentiment becomes apparent: people from various faiths meet at places like these and exchange ideas, ideas that ultimately form the core of human essence and which bring out the richness and the great humanist values which lie at the base of every religious order. That then, is the prevailing sentiment, for the majority of people. It becomes doubly exasperating that just a small, skewed minority of arsonists can manage to create an atmosphere of so much distrust and insecurity. Surely there is a solution to this problem and the solution lies within us. Just as music liberates us from the clutches of narrow-mindedness and bigotry and opens our souls to the all-pervading warmth of universal brotherhood, similarly an inspired leadership can guide us out of this morass that threatens global peace and harmony.

I hope that we have peaceful election. I also hope that which ever political party the people of India select, sincerely surrenders and dedicates itself towards fostering prosperity, development and unity in India.

This article courtesy of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and The Week.


June 20 Amjad Ali Khan and
Rahim Alhaj
Swallow Hill, Denver, CO
June 19 Amjad Ali Khan and
Rahim Alhaj
Keller Hall, Albuquerque, NM
June 12 Amjad Ali Khan and
Rahim Alhaj
Keller Hall, Albuquerque, NM
June 8-July 3, 2009 Amjad Ali Khan Summer Music Course, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursdays 4 days a week 1:00 -3:30 PM.
24 May, 2009 Amjad Ali Khan Town Hall, Middlesbrough
21 May, 2009 Amjad Ali Khan Kings Place, London
18 May, 2009 Amjad Ali Khan Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall, Istanbul


Ancient Sounds
Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and Iraqi oud virtuoso Rahim AlHaj come together to deliver a musical dialogue of peace for our world.

Tracks Duration
Journey 12:11
Celebrations 10:34
Water 9:36
Common destination 7:55
Release of the dove 10:28
Missing you 4:19
Dancing rivers 17:12

Released by UR MUSIC 2009

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