In the world of foreign seekers who dedicate their lives to classical Indian music

I grew up in the company of European music and I was always fascinated by classical music. The journey that started from Iran in search of it came to a halt in India. I listened to Indian music wholeheartedly. At the same time, the deep voice of Pakhawaj touched the soul, and the mind gave consent – This is my instrument. I stayed in India for about four months. But today all the wisdom till now has been erased by this time. Discipline, perseverance, unconditional love. What did I not learn here? In this culture, I was constantly changing.

A student of biophysics working as a researcher in an environmental optics laboratory in Budapest Hungary and an artist who learns pakhawaj from a devout guru like Guru Pandit Mohan Shyam Sharma. These two dimensions are in the same person. An angle that is very different from each other and yet connected by a different bond. When my friends, who are looking at me from the outside, often ask me such questions, I see a different level of relationship between these two spaces within me.

Saying that science subjects like physics and biology are only useful in the laboratory and for answering physical questions, it hurts to be surrounded by a fence. It would not be necessary to know the logic behind everything. However, how chaotic it would be if there was no science in the traditional rules of Indian raga singing and the movement of tones in it. Even the visible rhythms have subtle calculations of the volumes, and the rhythm has the exact math, so it has all the thrill.

This is all I have been experiencing for the last ten years.

In this sense I came to the realm of Indian music a long time after I was born at the age of eighteen or nineteen, listening to European music and growing up in the music of guitar and drums. I had a passion for traditional art, so I thought I should listen to the music of the world beyond Europe, and that’s how it started, starting with Iran. The journey to India was inevitable, or in fact, Iranian music aroused my curiosity about Indian music.

But when I started listening to Indian music, I saw the deep-rooted thoughts in it, the evergreen seeds of its association with nature, and realized the uniqueness of this music. Then I started listening to Pandit Nikhil Banerjee Vilayat Khansaheb Ustad Shahid Parvez and of course Pandit Ravi Shankar playing the same instrument in different styles. I was fascinated by the Indian sound and the musical elegance in it, but this relationship was not going to be one-sided by me, so I decided to make friends with it and the way to understand it was education.

I indeed got a guru who taught tabla in my own country, but I soon found out that this teaching created more curiosity in me. During this time all other music was closed to my mind and of course my ears too and I took a strict vow to listen only to Indian music.

It was a vow taken by a man like me who grew up in a foreign land and was raised on different music to understand Indian music. While listening to Dhrupad in this music, I felt that the powerful sound of Pakhwaza coming with the accompaniment of voices is touching not only the mind but also the soul.

In the concert in front of the Guru, I saw Pandit Mohan Sharma accompanying many eminent artists. Our first meeting was on skype. The Guru had an instrument and the disciple who wanted to learn it was sitting empty-handed. Listening to the history of Pakhwaja, I was confused as I did not understand the context of many things I heard.

It was created by Brahma, played by Lord Ganesha in the Tandava dance of Lord Shiva, and so the worshipers later adopted the instrument to recite the verses of Vedas and chantings. It is not enough to have a guru to learn the music of any country. The country’s beliefs, traditions, culture, and traditions have to be understood. When I got the instrument I had ordered without any advice from my guru, I felt the urgency of my visit to India. I had tied rather an average musical instrument around my neck at a hefty price. Every experience I had in India was a living lesson for me.
This country and my guru have taught me that you can focus on your studies when living is a simple minimum need.
The simple fact that there is no such thing as an item of unbranded clothing and food in a simple home is not necessary for happiness. Standing on the threshold of the truth was very shocking to me. And what was even more amazing was the amazing neutrality of my guru. They were teaching me from the heart without asking me anything.
In a world where only the language of exchange is in circulation, it was humbling but amazed me.
I stayed in India for just four months but all the wisdom that I have been taught and felt by my experience so far has been erased by these four months. I learned discipline from Guruji, saw what it was like to carry a subject, and felt the unconditional love that you are currently throwing at yourself, and as all this was happening, I was changing immensely as a person. I understood with the Guru why Indian music cannot be learned in a group of fifteen to twenty students and why it has to be learned in the company of the Guru. The journey of recognizing the raga as one’s own and expressing it in a language we understand is individual, but there is a sea of Guru’s rites on it. Lack of comforts in the living environment is not very difficult for me now.
Learning the language of the pakhawaj was a test for me. Pakhawaj is an instrument used primarily to praise the deity. So much matter is recited in their playing. I was very sad that I did not know Sanskrit at such a time. I also often feel ashamed that I cannot read the Vedas and Upanishads which are the basis of Indian philosophy and values. The next focus of my education is language learning and then reading these texts.
My guru introduced me to the stage very early on. I got a chance to accompany those who introduced me to music by listening to Dhrupad. Guruji’s performance helped me to understand how to recognize and handle the mood of the raag in the concert. When I say all this, I am most aware of my place and understanding in this field. The science I learned taught me that a value in mathematics depends on its position. It is not my intention to increase my value, it is my interest to keep my understanding of music as deep as the roots of trees.
Balázs, a young Hungarian percussionist, is one of the few artists to turn to ancient percussion – Pakhawaj which is considered to be the father of all percussion instruments. He is currently in the process of setting up the first school in Hungary to teach Indian music.