Greatness is displayed with humility – Ode to 2 Maestros

Mohanji casual

Hello friends, I hope you have enjoyed the previous podcast.

Today, I’m here to talk about two music Maestros who touched my heart, at various points in time. These are two great Masters of music, Indian music, with whom I interacted at different points in time. One is Pandit Jasraj; he left his body yesterday, at the age of 90. From the age of 10, he started learning and practising Hindustani music. He was truly a maestro; amazing voice; amazing rendition; amazing feeling he could deliver with his music. I’m not very knowledgeable in Hindustani music; except if I hear music, I can say whether it touches the heart or not; only as a connoisseur. I don’t know the intricacies of music.

The first memory is when I was working in Dubai. I was invited to a concert at the Indian Consulate. It was a concert by a few maestros. At that time, I used to do my podcast; my radio shows called Mohan’s World, and the theme music of those radio shows was from U. Sreenivas – the Mandolin Maestro, a prodigy. Remember, this was in the mid-2000s. I was doing these radio shows in Dubai, for a channel called ‘Pod Me’, and we wanted theme music for it. So, the producer told me to find music that is not copyrighted, and which I like. I was listening to various music. I love the Beatles; I love Elvis Presley, I love U2; many different music bands I like, but they were not really non-copyrighted, they were all copyrighted, so, I couldn’t use that music. Remember, this was the time when I was not known as Mohanji. I was still working in a company and I was known as ‘Mohan’, my official name. And just around that time, a friend of mine who had met U. Sreenivas told me about him and told me about his philanthropic mind, apart from being a musical genius. And I happened to listen to U. Srinivas’s mandolin in the car. I loved it.

I contacted my friend and said, “I would like to speak to U. Srinivas. Can you introduce me?” He called U. Srinivas; he had met him a few times and he knew him. He said that his friend Mohan would like to speak to him, and he gave me the number.

Mandolin Srinivas
Mandolin Srinivas

I called him and I told U. Srinivas that I would like to use a part of his music for my radio shows. And I asked him, “Since it’s copyrighted, should we have an agreement or some kind of a paper you’d agree to me using it.” Before I could complete this sentence, he asked me, “Mohanji, Are you Mohanji?” I said, “Yes, I am Mohan of Mohan’s World.” He said, “Yes, I know, I know you through this brand, of course, we have not met.” And he said, “For you, no copyright. Use any music you like as much as you want, from my albums.” He gave me a blanket approval; verbal approval. And I used a piece of his music for my shows.

Much later, or probably a few months later, I had been to Vrindavan in Bangalore to visit Sathya Sai Baba, and I had His darshan and I was going to a friend’s home.

Meanwhile, I can’t remember whether I called him or he called me. I spoke to Mandolin Srinivas. He asked me, “You were there at the Vrindavan?” I said, “Yes, I came to see Baba.” Then, he said, “I was there as well. How come we did not meet?” And we agreed to meet at a different time. What hit me deeply about him, the most striking thing about Srinivas was his humility, deep humility. He was a child prodigy and a Maestro but humble to the core. This is very important to understand; greatness is displayed much more with humility. He is not in the body. I could not meet him physically, he left his body. I did the podcast for about one and a half years – about 59 or 60 episodes, that’s it. This is one part of the story. One Maestro, one great musician, I could physically interact with.

Now, Pandit Jasraj, left his body yesterday; that is the 17th of August 2020 in New Jersey. Most of you know that I used to use his music, ‘Govind Damodar Madhaveti’, often in my programs because it used to really stir emotions inside and bring things out.

Pandit Jasraj
Pandit Jasraj

I wanted to tell him this and take his permission as well because I don’t like to use any music without anybody’s permission. So, I wanted to meet him. Before that, just to rewind. I did meet ‘Mandolin’ Srinivas. There was this concert at the Indian Consulate where I was invited.

It was Pandit Jasraj, Mandolin Srinivas, and a few other maestros together. Beautiful concert. And Pandit Jasraj’s daughter, Durga Jasraj, was compèring this program. After the program, I walked towards Durga Jasraj and I introduced myself and I said, “I would like to meet Mandolin Srinivas because I’m using his music.” She said, “Absolutely. Please come.” So I went on stage, I met him, and he was very, very nice and kind. He said, “We must meet again.” And I shared that I was really, really impressed with the music and Pandit Jasraj was there. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on the stage because other people were also coming in, dignitaries, so I congratulated Mandolin Srinivas. I thanked him for allowing me to use his music, and he said, “At any time, no problem.” That was it, and then I came back, that was the only time when I met him.

That was also the only time when I met Pandit Jasraj also. Later on, as I was using his music in my shows, I wanted to meet him and thank him. And Madhu organized a meeting with him in Bombay, a couple of years ago. He was not too well at that time. I met him. I told him about his music which I’m using, and he was very happy. I said, “I would like to have your permission and blessing for me to use it.” He said, “I’m honoured that you’re using my music. Thank you for using it. You don’t need any permission. Please use.” He was so kind, so humble, and so full of love. He said many things to me, he discussed so many things. I gifted him our books which I was told he kept in his personal library, and some people contacted us after seeing my books in his library. He appreciated us visiting him.

I went with Madhu, and he said, “Mohanji, I have a concert two days later, and I’m not well. My throat is not okay, just pray that I can do this concert.” I said, “Panditji, it’ll all go well. Nothing to worry.” And when I was leaving, he came up to the elevator and thanked me. It was a very beautiful heart to heart connection. And he kind of delivered himself so profusely without expectations, and he doesn’t even know me that well because that’s our first time we were meeting and talking. And then he said, “Please do visit me more, whenever you come here, or we will keep in contact.” So all those beautiful things, he said. Then he said, “Bless me”, and I said, “No, no you’re such a maestro.” He said no, he took my hand and put it on its head; so humble, so much humility. And then we parted. Later, when we released different books, we sent a copy to him, which he received. Then later he went to New Jersey.

Pandit Jasraj and Mohanji

What I want to tell here is that when we are gifted with a skill or talent, we should accompany that with humility. All the great masters I have come in touch with, come in contact with are humility incarnates; those who are not so humble are also insecure. Here, both these maestros were amazingly secure, stable and they deserved all the following that they had, or that they have and their music will continue. People will cherish it. People will carry their music in their hearts. They delivered amazing stuff to the world. They made the world brighter, they were positive. They brought positivity.

So, we can all do something positive and brighten up this world within our capacities. We don’t have to be a maestro, we don’t have to be a greatly talented person; within our capacity (all of us have it), we can change the world for the better.

I would like to offer my humblest greetings and gratitude to these great maestros. These maestros will live forever through their music, through what they have delivered to the world, and through their humility, and kindness. Just like I remember them as humility incarnates, the world will remember them as bright stars on the horizon of mankind.

Thank you for listening to me. Wish you happiness and peace always. Wish you purposefulness, and also inspiration, self- inspiration to lead your life purposefully.

This is Mohanji for you.

Mohanji driving

Transcribed by Ulla Bernholdt

Proofread by Rekha Murali

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