Wednesday 20 May 2015

Article - Our heritage, our identity - Ananda Shankar Jayant

(This article first appeared in The Times of India’s edition of Essence called Vijayibhava, Vijayawada, May 4, 2015)
Have you ever noticed? Whenever any country showcases its strength, presence and intent, it does so with its culture! From the Olympics to our own Republic Day Parade; it is culture in its entirety that gets encapsulated and presented. Culture, creativity, entertainment; all these are slippery concepts. Culture in its broadest terms, demands an engagement of the actor and the viewer, the performer and the audience: engagement being the key word here.

Our world, today, celebrates the genius of scientists and technology pioneers, and uses their discoveries and inventions with panache. Yet, this still is the outside world. There is another world - the internal that stays alive with the creativity of centuries, a world that is the collective unconscious of a society, which sometimes precludes even formal learning, distilled as it is over eons of transmitted knowledge. A world, that is being snatched away from the young generation.

Stop any young iPod holding, jeans clinging, sneaker scuffing, young lad or girl, and ask any of these three questions :
■ Who is Annamacharya?
■ What language did Thyagaraja sing in?
■ What are the two major styles of Indian classical music?
■ Which place does Kalamkari painting come from?

What do we get? A perplexed look, mumbled and unsure answers, something on the lines of, “I am not interested in this old stuff”. Replace the questions with all things related to western culture, and you will have your answers pat!

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