A learned, wise man once told me to dedicate everything I do and every note I sing to the Goddess Saraswati. For me, it is actually difficult to imagine the form of any one God/Goddess when I think of the creator. More often than not my God is formless. Yes I love many of the rituals and practices associated with my culture that has been passed down to me by my family, question some, but over all I am happy for the cultural identity that I have.
Once when I went back to this gentleman and was telling him about a struggle that I was going through, he said only one thing. Dedicate it all to the Goddess. She shall watch over you and though Saraswati might come across as a calm, peaceful Goddess, Saraswati would actually dance the dance of destruction on the ego of the one that causes the pain on her devotee. This of course stands true in the case of the devotee as well.
As they say a lot of this wisdom I have heard from mom but when it comes to me again from a different soul, its is reaffirmation and a case of dejavu. And of course, the "why didn't I practice this when mom told me a long while ago"?
On the previous post, I happened to ask that question to know what general opinion is like. At least as a dipstick opinion poll, if you may. There are some people who say no celebrity can exist if there are no fans. I had always honestly wondered what that means. In my humble opinion, a fanboy is someone who perhaps, religiously follows an artiste's work and more often even blind to any inconsistencies and worships the artiste. In our culture, especially in south India, this is not an unknown concept where the fan doesn't merely stick pictures of his favorite actor in his room, or the wallpaper/screensaver on his mobile device, watch the movies (at theaters mostly). But he is also the guy who will stick his body with a million needles and walk on fire if his favorite actor's health fails. Eat food from the bare ground. Get coconuts broken on his head. And we all know about all this. Of course this isn't the definition of a fan. There are definitely others who admire their favorite stars' work in a more peaceful fashion. But to me the ultimate fan was the kind who I saw everytime a Superstar film released. I thought it was stuff of legends until TV Channels showed it. And of course when he was going through a rough patch with his health, the kind of prayers and everything else was amazing. Of course, beyond south India, the actors of the North say no one gets the sort of adulation that stars in the south get. I am drifting, but coming back...
I was also told that it is my business to learn to sing, keep learning, singing and go about on related work. Everything - awards, praise, encomiums are all incidental. The only thing that will last is the art. I will only be a practitioner who will also eventually be lost in the sands of time or become the drop in the ocean.
To me, I shall humbly state that (in my case) only the sadhaka or the practice of music exists. Only music exists. Criticism, praise, compliments, fans, awards, money is all incidental. And one day I shall also cease to exist and become a statistic. That is all there is to it.
As for criticism or taking any, my greatest critic is my mother. Each of her words in relevant situations have been like a bitter pill but she has poured it down my throat and the taste will last a lifetime. This doesn't mean I disregard any criticism from others but based on my own personal life experiences only the words of my mother ring true "Azha azha solluvakka tham manusha... sirikka sirikka pesumaam ooru". As of now, my mother is the truest genuinest well-wisher.
Her words are honestly for my own good, my improvement and evolution as an artiste, musician, a woman, a human being. She wouldn't hestitate to slap me across the face to drive a point if there were ever a day that it had to come to that. To her I am Chinmayi, her daughter and perennially, a student. To the world, I can be anyone. Based on individual and various perceptions. I can be held responsible for what I do, but I can't be held responsible for what someone thinks of me. They are responsible for their acts/opinions.
To some I might come across as someone who doesn't accept views, but to this day every comment on this blog is co-vetted by my mother. I know a lot of people get very uncomfortable with this fact. But in the Indian culture there is nothing wrong in this. I love this in the culture in my home. For those who have not been able to have this sort of a comfortable equation with their family/parents, yup, it will be difficult to digest. Hey, I have a great mom who is a friend. Many allow access of their personal accounts to friends, but don't trust family or parents in particular in some cases. It is sad. The family is usually the last to know about an issue. Friends are the first to know. Of course everyone's family set up is different so I shall abstain from commenting further. As I myself have said before, the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.
Today there are more people who are envious of me that I have such a strong and capable mother as Mrs Padmhasini than for whatever meagre talent that I have.
I thank those who are kind enough to wish well for me. I thank those who criticize with genuine intent. I thank those who only wish ill for me too, because I derive joy from equipping myself, becoming more successful and going higher. They give me the proverbial fire in the belly. Thanks to them complacency has never crept up on me. There is always some challenge around the corner and I am grateful to God for that. I am grateful for my life, the opportunities, the composers' kindness because THEY are truly the ones who have kept me surviving as a playback singer.
And as for the post on criticism below, I'd like to clarify that I - as one of the so many million voices in this country and with the right to free speech as everyone else - disagree on then those who criticize with a malice. On those who don't know what it takes for someone to bring their work of art to the public. Of course no one wants to learn or know the other man's struggle. I criticize the one who just blabs and never attempts to learn the intricacies of the piece/work he criticizes. The one who is actually feigns expertise but honestly knows nothing. It is easy to talk. Tougher to walk the talk. Which is why in this country or, more so, in this world of so many billion people, only few are artistes. Creators. Only few have it in them to blaze new trails. Some follow them. Some criticize them. And the creators exist because God wills them to. And they'll exist despite anything and anyone.
And with that I end this post. Thank You for reading and God bless.