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Music is for whole being, not just for sighted: Visually-impaired musician Baluji Shrivastav

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Music is not just for the sighted, as it stems from the body's rhythm, visually-impaired multi-instrumentalist said at his performance "Antardrishti: Inner Vision" at the here. The Indo-British was appointed the of the Order of the (OBE) -- a Queen's honour -- for his services to music in 2016.

Uttar Pradesh-born Shrivastav, who has been visually impaired since he was 4, said he grew up listening to his heartbeats and the flow of his blood.

"I could feel my heart is thumping, and so is everybody else's, and that was the metre of music for me," he told IANS on the sidelines of his performance, elaborating on the inner vision he developed.

"Music itself is not designed only for sighted people, but the whole being," he said, adding that everything is music for him.

"You're speaking, I'm speaking. That's also music."

His two-hour group performance last week essayed the eleventh chapter of Bhagavad Gita, which carries the essence of the epic Mahabharata, through music, dance and

"I was excited to choose because of Dhritarashtra, who himself was blind. The eleventh chapter of Gita because it's here when Lord shows his 'Vishwaroopam' (grand avatar) to Arjuna, and makes him look beyond the obvious" the master sitarist explained.

The 67-year-old artiste, who has been away from for over 30 years, seems to be equally fluent in Hindi and English, and recites couplets with ease.

Why the

The widely-heard said that his father taught him one Gita 'Shloka' (verse) each day, when he was young.

"It took me few years to learn the entire Gita by heart, now I can recite it fully," said the founder.

He has also founded the Inner Vision Orchestra, UK's only blind ensemble -- which performed with him -- the idea for which occured to Shrivastav when he was learning at the blind schools in Gwalior and Ajmer.

As his Orchestra played striking music at the here, it was accompanied by the graceful gestures and body movements by an Indian classical dance group headed by Arunima Kumar -- all feeding into a beautiful recital of Gita's 11th chapter "Vishwaroopam Darshana".

The performance held the audience's attention, as an audio-visual accompaniment played street sounds -- that of a coconut being cut, a street being swept and being sieved -- to which the ensemble played the tabla, sitar, flute, piano and violin.

It was produced by with support from Arts Council England, and

Towards the conclusion of the performance, a poignant Shrivastav said it's a misconception that visually-impaired music artistes cannot play for a dance performance.

As British Council's put it, the performance celebrates the "equal contribution made by differently-abled people to communities".

For Shrivastav, music also remains a way to instill confidence in the visually impaired community.

Mentioning his tour, which concludes next week, he also said the joy of coming back to his motherland remains unparalleled.

In his usual style, the broke into a shloka to illustrate his point: "Janani Janma-bhoomi-scha Swargadapi Gariyasia", translating it to explain that mother and motherland were better than heaven.

His next performance is scheduled to be held at the in Mumbai on Monday.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at <>)



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, September 16 2018. 13:04 IST