Just like any other child begins life as a unified, impulse driven creature, I began mine. But complexities of the world around, made me a troubled teenager and by the time teenage ended, it split my consciousness from a seemingly unified one. I was hurled into a chaos of gigantic proportions, in no time declared a bipolar in disorder (called manic depression those days). The enormity of the chaos only became bigger with that classification and the tag in no way diminished the suffering, or bring any  help.

Several things happened with that- first of all my whole life became cut-off from the regular life of those around and I was engulfed in the deepest of gloom, peppered with occasional expansions, time and again- of psychosis, as psychiatry called it. I felt, the suffering of the human race, reflected in me- as though I was some sort of a radar for it. That gave birth to the poet me. In fact, my real birth and my consciousness awoke to itself from that spontaneous stirring and coursing of the Kundalini through my body. I was in no condition to harness that force, which was so big that it could only put me in a rapturous madness– that much later when it visited me again and again and again, I could pin down in some of my poetry. But that was only when it no longer could make me go berserk. So that was the birth of the first aspect of me, the beginning of a unified consciousness, that was one of a poet.

Konark temple, Orissa...carving on the walls
Konark temple, Orissa…carving on the walls. Just like many spokes of equal strength make a wheel, many strands of an equal strength and length make my mind. And considering that I come from an expanded consciousness, it should be no surprise and no reason for envy for anyone…for just as a sculpted stone has been hammered into shape, so has my mind been, or constantly still faces the Maker’s chisel’n hammer.

Musical training started at age nine-ten and continues – though more than three decades have passed doing this or that. Somewhere along the way I became a performer, in addition to a teacher (if students found me), a writer- researcher and poet whose poetry was rooted firmly in musical ideas and notes.

Research happened by accident, and brought me into many allied domains where intersections do not seem so obvious. By now the researcher in me is so alive that it takes me not long to morph any problem into a philosophical dilemma and therefore an intellectual quest of an academic nature. I frequently cave into it and  keep joining dots, coming from diverse directions.

One of the reasons that I founded the Hansadhwani Foundation, a non-profit, became a research for ideas that could transform the experience of education by the inclusion of the arts in a meaningful way for more. It is not easy to manage a non-profit, especially for someone who does not know the ropes, and where at every step governmental apparatus is only too eager to entwine you in it’s never ending paperwork and verbiage, and where it seems you keep dancing to the tune of funding partners to be sure that they are happy with what you do. It broke my spirit somewhere and I let go of my dream to be a non-profit entrepreneur, with an office and a staff of my own.

But I am a crazy coot, be assured, for whatever idea I take up, I am so convinced about it that I am wedded to it for life, no matter what, even if nobody believes in me. So though I did not ‘grow’ Hansadhwani beyond my own home, my mind or my room  to include many, I certainly hid the thing within me, as though incubating a baby for long years…many years have passed by since April 2010, when it was officially founded. I have gained a lot of failure and much experience in the meanwhile and yet still believe that I am not wrong, even though not a hint of life seems visible anywhere, except for some research/publications.

At the end of writing one, which lasted from September 2012 to Sep 2013, when the first draft got over and after which much else is happening still…I figured that if I had to make myself financially solvent I ought to consider ‘selling’ some of my musical ideas and not really the research that nobody was paying me anything for anyways. And that brought me to create a new enterprise called Hamsadhwani– my dream of another organization that would work in applied musicology, while getting the grips on this one.

So why this makes me multipolar is that though I am a musician by training, I also work in mental health – from the experience of spending close to two decades in its arms and miraculously finding a way out. From that richness of insights that I gained and got out, I join the multifarious dots that it takes for anyone to get out and also examine and deconstruct the stories of others who similarly suffer as well as look at the latest research that happens in mental health globally in any field of interest- whether psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, sociology, linguistics or anything else, or even the arts, including music etc.

Music and research in mental health are two completely different planets. Imagine a world of musical notes, ragas and bandishes on the one hand and a different planet where you are thinking of clinical trials and their outcomes, or qualitative research. They have nothing in common, unless I bring them together in the context of music therapy in mental health. Of course it makes perfect sense to me. As well as look after my home, my dogs, my plants and my books, family, or what have you- just like anyone.

The long and short of it is that I have my tea boiling in a lot of kettles and I am somewhat of a brewer, who can at least brew some of them well and some just passably. The professional sides are all looking fine for now, though the home is an occasional mess and the exercise that I have been wanting to do regularly, ever since I became a teenager has not yet started. But I hope to get there someday. Insha’allah.

Each side of me and my work has roots that go deep- for the simple reason that I do not have to waste any time in going out of my home to travel, meet anyone, go for work in an institution or anything. I simply have to move from my kitchen or dining table to either my musical instrument or my computer. Not a lot of labour, but just the labour of love, because it really takes a lot to work by yourself for years and years and not get visited by any more madness, for this is madness enough. However, this is what I have written about myself in a journal paper-

Persistence is among those attributes of creativity that I see in myself too, though it does not mean that I am someone great at doing something, I am simply holding the question in my hand for long enough and puzzling over it. I do not even actively go in pursuit of any problem, but just keep looking at it from various positions. This attitude has helped me in a long span of time, not quickly.

So this is what I mean by multi-polar: someone who operates on many poles of knowledge, with a certain ease, expertise and humility. There is so much more to learn and gain that I am sure by the time my time to say goodbye to this world comes, I would be weighed down by knowledge and not by age hopefully, but the lighter for it too.

always will a learner be
always will a learner be

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