Season 3: Ep. 1: Surrendering to Hope and Joy with Sandeep Das

 

This conversation with Sandeep Das explores the generosity of musical service and the wisdom explored within the HUM ensemble’s album, Dehli to Damascus. This conversation centers on the notion of incompleteness and our need for each other. In our longing, we find beauty as we lean into the belonging of our admiration and compassion for each other. This conversation enters belonging to take a deep look at notions of “surrender” in a bhajan beloved by Mahatma Gandhi and the HUM ensemble’s musical realization of surrender, longing, balance, and cyclical hope. This is a beautiful, honest conversation interspersed with recordings of Dehli to Damascus.

Sandeep Das by Luke-ZvaraSmall.jpeg
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A Guggenheim Fellow and Grammy-winning musician, Sandeep Das is one of the leading Tabla virtuosos in the world today. Since his debut concert at the age of 17 with legendary Sitar player Ravi Shankar, Das has established himself as one of India’s leading Tabla maestros, building a prolific international reputation spanning over three decades. Das has collaborated with top musicians and ensembles from across the world such as Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, with whom he has performed for the past 21 years, as well as Paquito D’Rivera, Bobby McFerrin, and iconic orchestras like the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, and Chicago Symphony, among others. His original compositions have been performed in over 50 countries, including events at the Forbidden City Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Sydney Opera House; for the 150th anniversary of the United Nations; and by university and children’s ensembles across the globe. 
 
Das is the founder of Harmony and Universality through Music (HUM), a nonprofit organization in India that has promoted global understanding through music performance and provided learning opportunities and scholarships for visually-impaired children with artistic potential since 2009. 

Keywords: Delhi, Tabla, Indian, Raga, Maqam, Gandhi, Hope, Cycle, Balance, Belonging, Surrender, Longing, Yo-Yo Ma, bhajan

HUM Ensemble
Listen on Apple Podcasts
 
 

Discussion Questions

1. Harmony and Universality through music was birthed from a wrestling with understandings that sometimes music is too protected, and too separate from diverse communities. How have you also sensed the importance of music as a form of service that should move outside the boundaries of the concert hall?


2. Aafreen comes from the notion that one word can hold many different meanings in language and literature traditions. In the same way a single note, or a phrase can be imbued differently within different styles or harmonic contexts. How might we pause in teaching or peacebuilding to recognize the complexity of meanings that words and music carry?


3. In exploring longing and belonging, John O’Donohue wrote of a balance of distance (separateness, longing) and closeness (belonging). He stated, “we need the others to complete the circles of identity, belonging, and creativity.” How do you sense longing and belonging in your work? Why is belonging incomplete without longing? Why is longing awash in a sea of anxiety without belonging?


4. This episode explores “surrender” as a fundamental act of a move toward love and community. How does recognizing our incompleteness bring us to a realization that leans us toward community?


5. The episode concludes with reflections upon balance (Shiva-Shakti) and cyclical hope (Usha and the repetition of the sunrise). How are balance and cyclical hope a sense of grounding and mooring in your work?

Podcast Chapters:

2:20 Album Background
6:09 HUM Mission
9:14 Dehli to Damascus
11:59 Aafreen
17:59 Virah
19:48 Longing/Belonging
21:40 I came, I saw, I surrendered
26:07 Bhajan Ending
30:23 Usha-Shiva-Shakti Balance
36:50 Musical Service
39:22 Closure-Blessing

Resources

O’Donohue, J. (1999). Eternal echoes: Celtic reflections on our yearning to belong. New York: Harper Perennial.

Gandhi, M. (2002). The essential Gandhi: An anthology of his writings on his life, work, and ideas (Thornton & Varenne, Eds.). New York: Vintage Books.

Rumi, M. J. (2010). All through eternity. Retrieved December 22, 2021 from https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/all-through-eternity/

Sandeep Das and the HUM Ensemble (2020). Dehli to Damascus. In a Circle Records. ASIN: B084P8SLN1

Sandeep Das Website.

 

Sandeep Das and the HUM Ensemble

Transcript

 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

sandeep, music, album, das, peacebuilding, concert, playing, people, tabla, taka, bhajan, temples, delhi, kid, reaching, instrument, musician, belonging, surrendering, ensemble

SPEAKERS

Kevin Shorner-Johnson, Sandeep Das

 

Sandeep Das  00:00

We are nothing in isolation. Nothing has grown in isolation. There is good and bad there is you know light and dark. As long as we are able to leave them with these thoughts, there is hope and we will die with hope.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  00:13

You are listening to season three of the music and peacebuilding podcast, a professional development network at music peacebuilding.com Exploring intersections of peacebuilding, sacredness, community, creativity and imagination through research and story. A Guggenheim Fellow and Grammy winning musician Sandeep Das is one of the leading tabla virtuosos in the world today. Since his debut concert at the age of 17, with legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar, Das has established himself as one of India's leading tabla maestro's building a prolific international reputation spanning three decades, Das has collaborated with top musicians and ensembles from across the world, such as Yo Yo Ma, and the Silk Road Ensemble, with whom he has performed for the past 21 years, as well as paquito de Rivera, Bobby McFerrin and iconic orchestras, like the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, and Chicago Symphony, among others. His original compositions have been performed in over 50 countries, including events at the Forbidden City concert hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Sydney Opera House, and for the 150th anniversary of the United Nations, and by university and children's ensembles across the globe. Das is the founder of harmony and universality through music hum, a nonprofit organization in India that has promoted global understanding through music performance, and provided learning opportunities and scholarships for visually impaired children with artistic potential since 2009. This conversation focuses on Sandeep das and his album Delhi to Damascus. A second episode will follow this one with Dharma tradition scholar, Dr. Jeffrey long as He illuminates the magic of the stories that color and inspire this album.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  02:21

Yeah, if I can, I want to start with your intentions. And I have loved this opportunity to be able to sit with your album and listen to it on repeat and really dive deep into this album. So in the liner notes, you write, or somebody writes, inspired by yo yo mas vision to create a more inclusive world you founded harmony and universality through music or hum to promote global understanding through music and provide scholarships so specially abled children interested in music. So would you tell me about the genesis of this ensemble and how you arrived at Harmony universality through an Oud sarangi sitar and Tabla.

 

Sandeep Das  03:03

Sure. So I would say the Genesis is absolutely inspired by him. And and you know, the great human being that yo yo, ma is, you know, I personally consider the cello that you see in his hand is just an excuse to make him human. It's like, oh, what does he do? He plays the cello. But he, he is so much more than the cello that we hear. So in my personal life, I call him the greatest human being that I've met. So this happened. Almost I would say, you know, 20 years back, I was going to a press conference with him in Chicago, we were in residency in Chicago, with the city of Chicago. And as I was walking with him, he and I were talking, and he mentioned how only a very small percentage of young kids in Chicago, make it to high school. So he was we were talking about the large number of dropouts, and you know, it suddenly hit me that what am I doing, to carry forward this amazing thing that he has, you know, introduced me to, I felt very selfish, I felt, I come here and you know, back then I used to live in India. I've been playing in the US since 1990. But I've never lived here. I've only started living here nine years back. So back then I would I felt that I just come here, play these amazing concerts with Yo Yo Ma. And go back and forget about doing anything, you know, doing my bit. That really stirred something inside me and I went back and I started talking to my wife and to some of my very, very close friends that you know what, I want to do something different here rather than just play concerts. I sat down with my friends and you know, we started thinking how best to do it. A memory came back into my heart from I think 1991 or 92, I was invited to play a concert for the Indian National spastic society. I had said yes to it just like a regular concert. And when only when I got up on stage and two kids came up to give me a bouquet. I realized what this organization was about, and I said, Oh, my God, I can't take money from these people. So end of concert, when the lady who had invited me came with a check, I said, you know, I don't I can't take this money from you. She said, Well, we have issued this check to you. So you, you have to take this check. But you can write us a check back of you know what, however, whatever amount you want, back then, that thought crossed my head that you know what, if ever I reach a stage where I can do something to make a difference? I will do it.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  06:01

Sandeep das described his journey within India to realize a mission to serve children with visual impairments.

 

Sandeep Das  06:09

I meet this little kid who is now I think, 17 years old, or 16 years old, or maybe older. But at that time is like probably nine years old, or eight years old. He's playing this folk instrument called the dholak. Little kid playing dholak. He can't see me. So he doesn't know who I am, what I do. And his principal introduces Oh, we have this very, extremely talented kid who plays this drum. And I asked him to play and he plays it wonderfully. So I'm like, oh, so how did you learn this? And he says, Oh, I think there is a temple near my house. So I hear people playing it. So I have picked it up by listening across the street. So I was like, so touched. So I looked at the school principal, and I said, Do you have a tabla or something by any chance here? And she said, Yes. So I pulled up, I got a tabla. And I played for him. And he followed the sound and he, like turned towards me and said, Hmm, you are not bad. And, you know, that was the moment of love, I immediately cracked up. And I was like, Oh, my God, I said, this child is mine. And that's how it started. We started with that just one kid. And I'm very proud that we have grown to nine children now. And that one little kid is actually now playing and playing very well. And my hope is to get him some scholarship or something that so that I can move help him move to the US and continue teaching him and he probably could be the first, you know, visually impaired Rockstar tabla player in the world. So it started with good intentions. And that's why it still exists. And it has only grown there is a saying in Hindi, or actually, it's Urdu neat SAF to Monza la Sol, which literally translated means that when intentions are clean, or intentions are good, Mancillas destination, the destination is easy. But I tweak it, I say near staff, if your intentions are clean, the destination comes to you. You know, I feel I feel that's what I'm learning that destinations come to me and like almost 15 or more years now, or probably 17 years now and it's growing and we have now nine visually impaired kids that's how you know inspired by yo yo Silk Road and to a certain amount my own feeling of shame that I wasn't doing anything that's started that organization and then my friends jumped in and hum came into existence

 

Sandeep Das  09:14

this album, Delhi to Damascus is a result of a direct result of an image that I saw which I'm pretty sure all of you also saw of this little kid wearing nice clothes lying dead facedown on a beach in Italy during the ISIS crisis. So this body had floated you know, onto this beach somewhere in Italy and that picture was splashed all around the world. I saw that picture one morning and while in Boston and and you know the ISIS problem and everything was going on. I have friends I have musician friends from all those countries and that were getting affected and I just couldn't take it anymore and I picked up the phone. And yeah, I'm very lucky that I almost can, you know, say that yo-yo ma is like my older brother, that I can pick up the phone and talk to him, ask him for advice. And so I just picked up the phone and I said, Yo-yo, we just, I just cannot sit, feel upset, feel sad and feel angry about this. What should we do? And yo-yo being who he is, you know, he immediately said, well, Sandeep, let's do what we are good at, let's make more music. And that switched on something in my head in my heart. I was like, Yes, that's it. I got in touch with friends, you know, who are from Syria, and I did a Facebook Live, you know, way before Facebook Live was, has become so common. But yeah, we did something. And then I, you know, made this combination and started traveling traveling with my ensemble, across the US. And to some countries in Europe. And everywhere we went, the message was very subtle, that we are not different. We we we are just normal human beings. And my friends on stage are also just like you and me. And amazingly, without making any political statement. People got it everywhere.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  11:27

This excerpt from Aafreen from the album Delhi to Damascus is provided through the generous permission of Sandeep Das, the hum ensemble and his record label.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  11:59

So if I start moving through some of the tracks I want to talk about, I thought maybe the we could start with Afreen because I think, somewhere I had read that you had encountered this understanding that with just the change of one little note, a raga can start to become a Maqam or you know, there's this there's this beauty and a sense of diversity along these these ancient roads. And so this particular song is about this word that is colored differently, whether it's in Kurdish Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Egyptian or Tamil. Yes. So tell me about the diverse and beautiful ways that this word changes and how you sought to realize this in music.

 

Sandeep Das  12:39

So yeah, you know, to your question, I was actually doing some teaching at DePaul University in Indiana, and coaching different kinds of bands. And there were other faculties too. So you know, like, I would work with a couple of bands and teach them in musics related to my background, which is traditional Indian classical. But there is a amazing musician from China. And she has taught them some Chinese music, and then someone from Mali. And he has taught them some Malian music, you know, and so I, at the end of this global musician workshop, when the student student bands were performing, this thought just hit me that, you know, with the slight change of a note, I didn't need a passport, I didn't need to get on a flight. I didn't need visa, I didn't have to go through immigration control. Nobody's saying, You're not welcome. Nobody, nobody's saying you are different. And I was traveling seamlessly from one country to the other with just change of one note. So that's how you know like, the deli to Damascus. And you know how I said, yo, yo, inspired me to do something about it. I started this project called transcending borders one note at a time. So Delhi to Damascus is my first attempt. The next one that I'm going to do is Delhi to Shiraz in Iran, for which I got the Guggenheim Fellowship, and working on Delhi to Karachi. So yeah, so my hope is, you know, to create an encyclopedia of music that, you know, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, when we are all gone, somebody can still pick up an album and whatever related to it, and get a feel of how everything is related. So based on that same thing, when when you think of language, or music or who I am, you know, when I first came and started playing in the West, I came as a very proud Indian classical musician. It's only when I started collaborating with other musicians, I would feel like hey, wait a second. That sounds very Indian. And the person is like, no, no, no, that's very Persian. I'm like, No, that's very Indian and So, you know, like, it took us some time, but we were all, you know, young, in our 20s, when you come with one, very strongly formed idea that I realized that, oh, it's so beautiful, that even slight change of accent, three of us are saying the same thing. That's the beauty and then you know, musically, it's this the same thing, what's what's in tune for, you could sound out of tune for my ears if my ears are not prepared. And what's in tune for me could be out of tune for you if your ears are not prepared. So I feel it's very easy. How do you approach it musically, first of all, if your hearts are open, if you are ready to learn from one another, if you are ready to listen to the other, there is nothing that's not a shared culture. There is nothing that's not shared heritage. I don't think any, any music, any culture for that, from from that point of view can ever say that oh our culture or our art grew in isolation with no influences from the other. So it's all about opening you know those windows into your minds, those windows in your hearts, and reaching out.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  16:21

Like a crystal that paints different refractions of light as it is gently turned, afreen opens windows of meanings in diverse languages. imbued with a spirit of beauty, the word can be a most powerful rose, bravery, an expression of praise or thanks, a humble prayer to Allah, a form of creation or a name to signify beautiful daughter. To Rumi beauty is a multifaceted diamond, a cypress a rose, as beauty resides in a garden of love, love lights beauty from within, side by side, step by step.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  17:19

So, so Virah might be my favorite track on the album. And I think it might be my favorite just because it has, it has offered a chance a space for reflection on me about the importance of longing and what longing means. And as I've sat also with the story of Radha and Krishna that inspires this there's this meta story across the Silk Road of the the importance of longing and what longing means and how it's a relation to the Divine as well as to each other. Tell me about your reflections about longing as you encountered this recording and maybe it also moves to to a sense of belonging to and how you set out to explore and imagine this in a musical form. I think it's it's done so beautifully by the player of the sarangi.

 

Sandeep Das  18:09

So first of all, you know if you play the sarangi you have a very bad advantage I always joke with him I said, you know, like I don't like you I don't like you when we crack up you know, it's like I don't like you, you just pull this instrument out and you like you just put your bow to that this instrument and everything is done. You know. So, first of all, you know to those listeners who don't know what a SARANGI is SARANGI is this bowed instrument that comes from India. And the name SARANGI comes from the term saw rangi.  saw is 100 and rangji is colors. So an instrument with 100 colors it's an instrument if you haven't listened to it, go Google it and you know, find some recordings or find our recording Delhi to Damascus and listen to this young master. It's very close to the human voice. Actually, this instrument is close to the human soul. So when you play this instrument, actually it doesn't matter what you play it affects your soul or the soul of the listener of straight away so that's the unfair advantage that I was joking about. You know the other instrument I feel that that has a similar unfair advantage is the bamboo flute the way it's played especially in India, you know these two instruments I'm very jealous of if I could go back and learn something I would learn one of these two instruments

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  19:48

in Celtic wisdom,

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  19:50

Irish poet and mystic John O'Donohue, reflected that, quote, distance awakens longing. closeness is belonging yet they are always in a dynamic interflow with each other. Longing comes from a sense of our incompleteness and the relations that uphold being. O'Donohue writes, quote, The one who dreamed the universe, loved circles and created everything with such beautiful incompletion that we need the others to complete the circles of identity, belonging, and creativity. Life is full of magnetic interims that call what is separate and different, to become one to enter into the art and presence of belonging.

 

Sandeep Das  20:42

Next time when you hear this track, or whoever is listening to it for the first time, there is that sense of longing and belonging and, you know, stories of Radha and Krishna and the usual love, and you know, the love lost. But for us, it was questioning why we human beings cant just see reason and be, you know, one and only spread love, so that there is no question of losing someone, or being separated from someone which we were seeing so much at that time. I don't know if I'm making sense, but I'm just telling you, what was going through our hearts.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  21:40

So if we move to a bhajan, I came I saw I surrender. So maybe you can talk about the title first, I think it's a fun, it's a fun translation of a Latin phrase of domination into one that embraces maybe a more countercultural act of surrendering and embracing the Gandhian idea that's there. So it can you talk about the title first, maybe?

 

Sandeep Das  22:02

So, so of course, you know, when we were thinking of titles, so if you see, you know, the liner notes are also very powerfully written. A lot of people, you know, the label and my friends, they were like, oh, no, no, we don't have you know, there's no such need for liner notes. And then, you know, thinking of  so hard about titles, and I was like, No, you know, when someone picks up an album, I personally would want to know why Kevin is recording this, this is just another piece of music that he created, or there is something. So there is that personal, you know, thought process that went through helping, you know, get that liner note written. Same thing happened when we were thinking of the titles. Of course, you know, we didn't agree on a lot of titles that we were throwing at one another, surprisingly, this this title, it came into my head, and I shared, I said, you know, what, can we think of this title as I came, I saw and I surrendered. And this was one of the titles that all of us just said, Oh, yes, that's it, that probably, you know, that whole whole thought process of surrendering that of letting go of our egos, you know, our stupidity. So the lyrics of that poem also, you know, says that very, very easily that you know, issuer Allah pero Nam sub kasangati de Bhagwan, you know, like, the names are different, but all he's praying for son Mati is good, good sense, or translated is common sense. Like, why do we fight about temples and mosques and this, we name our gods differently, whereas they're all the same. So I felt that you know, we all felt that this, this title was apt, and if we just surrendered to common sense, we probably can find a common place common space, where we will, we will see reason and we will find love and spread love again. So that's what I hope every time I'm playing not only with my ensamble everywhere I'm playing I always ask the audience that you know, if you have loved what I presented, if you have felt love in what I've presented, each one of you go out and just promise me that you will spread love to one another person. And if we do that, you know, like my hope with anything I do, Kevin is to start something like this album is not the end. This project transcending borders one note at a time is not The end, my hope is that it's the beginning, all I'm doing is throwing a pebble in the water. And hopefully the ripples will get larger and bring some positivity, happiness and love and it leaves people so the last track, that's why we feel that we leave the people with a positive experience, musical experience, philosophical experience, you know, a moment of repose. But in the turn in return, it starts them on a journey that spreads positivity, love and happiness. And maybe you know, five years from now, 10 years from now, they have to take an important decision. And this one moment helps them take a positive decision.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  26:07

To me, there is something magical that happens at the end of this bhajan as the intensity increases. And it's it's this pulsating sense of sound that I don't think that I've experienced in many bhajan And I was just curious about your intentions in creating kind of the soundscape at the end of that bhajan. It's, it's gorgeous.

 

Sandeep Das  26:26

Thank you so much. And amazing, you know, congratulations to you for noticing it. So traditionally, when bhajans are sung, in temples around the country, that's what we have grown up hearing that, you know, they will start, so people get together, you know, like, sometimes when it's organized, then it's not real, then it's not true. Because then there is a starting time, there's a finish time, and then there is this thing that has to happen. But in the most natural settings in India, when bhajans are sung, it's just people getting together, early mornings, or early evenings, somebody pulls out that very folk instrument, I was talking about the dholak, and they start playing it, and they start slow, you know, [musical example] and, whatever bhajan they want to sing, and somebody runs and finds, you know, cymbals, we call them Manjeera. And they go [music example]. But as the evening progresses, as they almost get more meditative, I would say two words you know, getting into a trance like situation. And from [music example] it ends up within that. And then I almost have heard, like, as a little kid, I would remember, you know, these songs floating into my ears while I'm trying to play soccer inside getting scolded by my mother not to break things. It turns into this amazing frenzied rendition that literally by the towards the end, you don't even know if they're singing or not. All you hear is [music example recited very fast] and the I wanted to replicate that. So what happens usually when people read, you know, do a rendition of Bhajans in a concert situation, it's very, you know, tailor made to an aud..., you know, like, I don't know what the word is, it's like, kind of edited and tailor made to suit the needs of an auditorium, you know, concert going audience, and I was like, Nope, you know, let's let's go for it. You know, this is more earthy as you write, you know, you're feeling it, it's more earthy, it's more real. And let's let's go for it. And the first place I can't remember which city we tried it, people just went crazy. You know, like they jumped off their seats. And when we ended, like, yeah, there was like an explosion in the auditorium with the the way people stood up and and wouldn't stop clapping. And we were like, Yeah, this is it, you know, and, and for us also, if you see some of those clips, there are some clips on my website of that ending. We are also you know, as we are going through the motions, we hit a zone that sometimes it's it's crazy that sometimes we push it so hard that our hands feel like like are ready to drop off. And but yet we keep going. So yes, it's very earthy, it's very real. And it's straight from the villages. You know, it's straight from the villages. Its not a modern temple where it's been curated. Yeah, that's the word you know, curated and edited. For a specific audience who don't have more than 15 minutes in their life. It's more from Those small temples in smaller cities where the people are just there, they're not looking at a watch. They're not looking at time. And they will go on for however long they want to go on. So yes, yes, that's what it is. Very good, very good, very good observation

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  30:14

So I think this is kind of my last question that brings people close. Yeah. I want to hold Ushas and the Shiva and Shakti side by side, because I think that these two pieces, at least from the texts that they're based on, speak to a balance of either creation and decay or masculine and feminine, consciousness and energy, and the whole idea that these operate in cycles and I think that there may be some lessons of hope and compassion and maybe cyclical resilience that are within these texts. And this performance, would you be able to speak to this and speak to my peacebuilding audience about what this what this speaks to?

 

Sandeep Das  31:05

So you know, it's amazing that even our music has this element of the balance, which I don't see in a lot of other music you know, for example, let me recite a composition you know, that will give you an amazing insight. This is a composition which is a fixed composition just for my drums that I play the tabla and see how it's balanced. So [music example starts] ta ke Naga Takita again, Agatha de Kitakata cardigan and Nadina Nagi Nikita gi Naga datca tiki taka taka de ganar. The second part is [music example] Ta ke nakikita kina KatataK the tiki taka taka Tegan and Nandina Nagi Nikita Guernica, Tata Contiki taka taka de Gala. So now if I take it apart the first part the sounds are da you know like it when I show you my instrument it's also has the sound from my left hand so da ki Naga Takita grenagh. In the second it becomes pa kynoch Takita kynoch So da de Naga Takita Geena the TA ke Naka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, Taka, taka taka Tichenor. So da ki Naga, Taki, Taki, Naga, Taka tiki taka, Taka Deegan and Davina Nagi, the tacky tequila Dhaka tiki taka taka Deagan ta Kena Cutta Cutta Cutta Cutta Cutta Cutta tikkanen Nandina Nandina Tuckett again, [music examples recited at faster and faster speeds]. So that's how this composition is supposed to be played in these three layers, but see how beautifully it's balanced. The DA is getting balanced by the TA and there are so many compositions, both compositions that you can expand, compositions that are fixed, each have this element and in the way we were taught. That's the DA ghina is the male part. But it's incomplete with the feminine side, which is the TA ghina akattak it so it's this poetic justice, poetic balance. So that's, I would say it's very integral to the philosophy to just the sheer awareness with which I grew up, you know, I lived with my guru for 12 years, and that was always drilled into us that you have to create this balance, create this balance, and also to your point, you know, the cyclicalness, our music is very cyclical in nature. So, when we go on a journey, we never forget the roots, you never forget where you started. So, this thing also that I recited, starts on beat one in a 16 week cycle, but I am always aware where that one is because I have to come back. So Indian ragas, Indian rhythm, poetry, these compositions have that inherent philosophy drilled, so it's always there and at the end, Usha, you know, the morning the light, you know, and so, if you put all that together, there is hope. There is always hope that we are merely you know, we are merely trying to keep the cycle and the balance not hoping we are praying that if we are able to maintain the cycle, maintain this balance. You know, music is just a tool for us to to express. But I think the deeper message here is, let's all do our bit and see the elements that make us whole that make us to you know, complete. We are nothing in isolation, nothing has grown in isolation. And there is good and bad there is you know, light and dark. There is winter that's around the corner. But there's still a spring as long as we are able to keep that in our hearts, share that I feel the biggest biggest thing that I have become very passionate is going out and talking to younger people, you know, reaching out to the next generation. As long as we are able to leave them with these thoughts. There is hope, and and we will die with hope that yes, we haven't lost it completely.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  35:41

The next episode will illuminate stories of Radha and Krishna, Shiva and Shakti and Ushas that color this album. Drawing on the story of the bringer of dawn. We know that embracing the majesty of the morning requires a simultaneous embrace of the quiet night. In the delicate balance of energy and consciousness. There lies the beauty and hope of creation, as moments are created anew at the birth of each cycle of sunrise.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  36:50

I close the interview by asking Sandeep if there was anything I hadn't asked him. He asked to speak beyond his album to his search for meaning and service as a performing artist. Speaking of playing soccer with children in Brussels, taking an 8.1 mile walk in memory of losses with Nebraska Yazidi communities, and in reaching out to Native American communities. Sandeep finds life to be meaningful as an expression of service, reaching beyond the walls of the concert hall to reach and connect lives in humane ways.

 

Sandeep Das  37:28

I watched a movie Teata, out of nowhere on Netflix, if you haven't seen it, please watch it. It's a real life story of movie based on a real story of a woman from Oklahoma, I think in the 1800s and immediately by something has happened and I'm like, why not Delhi to Chickasaw Nation? Why not Delhi to you know, Mashpi nation, you know, suddenly, God is showing me directions. So I'm going to play a tabla concert with the Oklahoma orchestra, North Arkansas, Lima, rock, every orchestra, I'm saying, you want me to do an outreach work? Yeah, we have spoken with the library. I said, Great. How about the Native American museum there? And you know, they're loving it. They were very excited. I say, You know what, I will still do what you're asking me to do with the library there. How about reaching out to the Native American museum? Let's just go. Let's see what we can do with them. So you know, I am excited about that. I'm looking forward. And I just am thankful that God is showing me those paths. God is opening those windows and those doors and saying, Hey, you don't think that you have done a lot. There's so much more to do. But that's what keeps me excited. And that's what keeps me up at night. And that's what I look forward. So I look forward to you know, coming to Elizabethtown and wherever and whenever and going and doing our bit. So that's what that's what excites me.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  39:10

I'm very grateful for that spirit. I think it's so important that

 

Sandeep Das  39:13

absolutely, yeah, I feel it's no longer an option. Kevin, I think it's become our duty.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  39:22

May we open ourselves to the incompleteness of our being, refracting a diversity of languages, sounds, into many faceted palettes of color, finding balance and completeness in relation. May we be moved to action, surrendering the self into generous compassion. Special thanks to Sandeep das for his time and thoughts in this generous conversation. Thank you to the communication and recording efforts of Bailey O'Donnell Special thanks to Sandeep does the HUM ensemble and their record label for generous permissions to use recordings in this podcast. I highly recommend his album, Delhi to Damascus, available where albums can be streamed or purchased. More information can be found at Sandeep das.com. This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson. At Elizabethtown College, we host a master of music education with an emphasis in peacebuilding. thinking deeply we reclaim space for connection and care. Join us at music peacebuilding.com