Co founder – Satvic Day
“In the middle of this materialistic world,music can help people slow down and reconnect with their own self and find meaning in life,” – Dr. Rajnandini
How do you think educational qualifications have helped you develop a deeper understanding of Indian music?
I started learning music at a very young age because of my mother. I met my guru when I was five or six years old. I spent almost ten years learning from veteran classical singer Dr Pushplata Chaturvedi. I graduated in Music from Delhi University followed by a Masters degree and M. Phil in Hindustani classical music. I did PhD from the same university. In a way, my education helped me grow a deeper understanding of Indian classical music.
What drew you towards classical music and singing?
I always loved the sounds of the birds around my home and would copy that chirping. I did the same when my mother would sing. And when I met my first guru, I started listening to all great Indian classical maestros. There was something in their sounds and rhythms that pulled me towards classical music. And when I started liking the ragas and understanding the literature and spiritual poetry in Indian classical music, it became very clear to me that I wanted to follow this path.
Who have been your gurus to guide your path in your musical journey?
The literal translation of a guru is someone who is a ‘Dispeller of Darkness’. The darkness here is ignorance. My first guru was Dr Pushplata Chaturvedi, a lecturer at BAK Inter-College, at Moradabad. She sowed the seed of music in me. She is a motherly figure to me and a spiritual guide. I give her full credit for my achievements. She is a deeply spiritual woman but also very strict and disciplined about music and practice. The biggest learning I have from her is to be a disciplined disciple. When I moved to Delhi, I got an opportunity to meet and learn from Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj Ji. I learned many thumris and compositions and also got a chance to understand the aesthetics of the Kathak dance form. Around the same time, I met Professor Sushil Kumar Saxena who was an Indian musicologist, academic, and scholar and taught me philosophy and aesthetics. I have also learned some ragas, thumris, ghazals, Sufi, and classical compositions from Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan of Delhi Gharana. He had a profound knowledge of classical music and singing. I learned Kathak from Vidushi Mamta Maharaj, a daughter of Pt Birju Maharaj. For the last few years, I have been learning from Vidushi Uma Garg from Kirana Gharana. She is a great singer and I have found a similar care and devotion as I had with my first guru. She is the greatest inspiration for me. All my gurus have been the oceans of knowledge, a guiding light for me throughout my creative pursuits.
You have learned different styles of classical music. Which of the art forms do you enjoy the most?
My primary love is singing which I really enjoy. But I don’t want to be bound by one kind of music because I have learned thumri, bhajan, and ghazal which I really enjoy. My present guru says I have that tonal quality to approach all these forms of music; maybe because of it I never felt that it was challenging but a part of exploring my own creative path.
You are a co-founder of Satvik Ayurveda Yoga in Barcelona, Spain. What were the initial challenges to connecting with people in a foreign land?
My primary challenge, in the beginning, was actually the language because I did not speak Spanish at that time. But my husband has been teaching yoga and Ayurveda in Barcelona for more than 25 years, so people were already familiarized with his teachings so they were keen on learning our traditional Indian healthy practice.
What is the core philosophy of Satvik Ayurveda Yoga?
The essence of our centre is rooted in traditional Indian culture. Our centre is mini India in Spain. We offer holistic training combined with yoga, Ayurveda and music, which is very unique in Barcelona. This is our way of sharing our Indian tradition and culture.
Is it restricted to Indians residing in Spain?
It is open to everyone who wants to live healthy and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
When we talk about holistic health, how do you think music can help one attain mental peace and keep one spiritually inclined?
Music is very peaceful because of the beautiful sounds. It connects us to our true essence. In the middle of this materialistic world, music can help people slow down and reconnect with their own self and find meaning in life,”
As a classical singer, what are you most proud of?
I think music is not about achieving something but enjoying the path of deepening my understanding of this world through music. Music is not meant to achieve anything or feel proud about that achievement, it is beyond that.
Is there any live performance that you hold close to yourself and that you have enjoyed the most?
I have had very nice experiences in Barcelona but my dearest performance so far is the concert that I did in Andorra in Europe. The event was organized by the Indian Embassy. Every concert is actually special for me because it is always a new chance of exploring and meeting with a new bunch of audience.
Do you have any messages for aspiring classical singers?
Every person has their own intentions and aspirations for singing. I always tell my students to be honest with the music and surrender to it and to your guru.
It’s very important for a woman to have a strong support system to live her dreams. Who all have been your cheerleaders? And who all have inspired you the most as a creative person?
Ever since I began my journey as a child, both my parents have been in full support of what I wanted to do. Now my husband, who is very passionate about my music and practice. He, in fact, ensures I take out time for practice from daily household chores. He is the happiest person when he sees me doing riyaz or yoga. There are many people who have inspired me. All my gurus and teachers have been a great source of inspiration. And I have always looked up to my parents for inspiration.
Did you or do you have many expectations from your life partner?
So many! (laughs). We are committed partners and we are learning a lot from each other. For instance, he has helped me develop a more disciplined lifestyle. He is very honest in his work and a very disciplined individual. I really appreciate these qualities in him.
Does his (partner’s) discipline help you stay fit and energetic?
I guess yes. Yoga and my mindful lifestyle around Ayurveda are surely a great aid to my energy and healthy living. Moreover, I have always been a happy person so, that also adds to my overall health and appearance.
The majority of musicians are introverts, for they are very good at observation and connecting to their environment on an emotional level. Do you identify yourself as one?
Absolutely. I am an introvert.