Sanjay Chakrabarty

After an intermission of almost six hundred years it is again a musico-cultural upsurge from the Indian subcontinent.

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Interaction > Why Acharya?

Interaction > Why Acharya?



The phoneme ‘Acharya’ dates back to centuries old tradition of Indian culture. It has been showing its presence both in the words of mouth and in written version down the times of Vedic age. The use of this phoneme had been most vibrant from that age of the Puranas through the Gupta period. Thereafter various foreign invaders took turns in erasing out this phonic syllable from the cultural canvas of India, and thus it came to a near extinct state during the Mughal period. Later, in the British regime a renaissance took place in India. The stormy winds of this renaissance had flown particularly being fanned by the fiery geniuses of Rammohan Roy, Debendranath Thakur, Rabindranath, Keshab Sen, Sri Ramkrishna, Vivekananda, Girish Ghosh and so on with the beacon-light of the messages and ideals of the Upanishadas and the Puranas of ancient India. Thus the phoneme ‘Acharya’ had been re-established.


Now let us examine who were called ‘Acharya’ in India of ancient Vedas and Puranas? ‘Acharya’ had been the kind of a person who would have achieved the ability of laying down a new path or direction in philosophy or science or any other track of knowledge grossly or partly in larger spheres of human life or civilization, and also who would survive by a string of followers. In short, the arch fellow of certain sect of people having faith and dedication for a particular path of science or a philosophy was called ‘Acharya.’ Thus Jagadish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Roy of Bengal, India had been dubbed ‘Acharya’ during the period of renaissance in India for their path breaking inventions and works.

Contrary to this, another phoneme ‘Ustad’ became popular among the Muslim communities during the Mughal period  and  was not traceable so far before the advent of the Mughals. In whomsoever the Mughals would find ‘Ustadi’ that is an exceptional quality of a skill or calibre, they would give them recognition as ‘Ustad.’ Even today  general grade tailors of Delhi, Lucknow or Kolkata address their gifted seniors in the trade as Ustad.’ Although the Muslims would generally recognize any higher grade talent as ‘Ustad’ they would specially tend in attaching this label or stamp of ‘Ustad’ to the genius figures among the musician fraternity. Since the Muslims mostly maintained a musical legacy through their successors it became almost their birth right for a son of an Ustad to be known as Ustad. The phoneme ‘Ustad’ had thus become absolutely a product with a narrow religious bent. The vast Indian subcontinent had two larger sections of people – Hindu and Muslim from the beginning but a typical psyche of rivalry grown out of religious divide had ultimately led to the heinous partition.

At this point of time the Hindus picked up a different phoneme ‘Pandit’ bearing a Hindustic flavor most probably as a fitting alternative or substitute for ‘Ustad.’ In Hindu religious ambience persons having knowledge and expertise in any particular work or any particular performance of high impact started being addressed as ‘Pandit.’ Although Swami Vivekananda proved before the world in Chicago Religious Conference that Hindu Religion is in essence a culture of extremely higher order chiefly because of its broader and generous approach to the point of Humanism prevailing in the core of all communities of different faiths, it is quite known to all how much harm it did to this Hindu culture due to excesses made by the Brahmin communities in the medieval period. Thus the phoneme ‘Pandit’ only reminds us of gradual decadence of Hindu culture confined within the narrow walls of that medieval practice. It is proverbial that ‘Truth’ must come to light even if it is late. Accordingly the path of ‘Humanism’ being churned out of the combination of all religious faiths had its highest manifestation in the perennial tradition of Indian culture. From the contemporary times of Upanishadas to the later period of Indian renaissance when the advancement of Hindu culture rose to its summit, the innermost meaning and scope of the phonic syllable ‘Acharya’ stood secular nearing closer to cultural fabrics free from any religious confines. When India is officially a secular country, conferring of any title here in recognition of a work or a skill of some exceptional calibre should arguably go independent of any religious bent.

In a vast country like India where millions of people are average or even below average as to their cerebral quotient,  their common ideas would definitely receive a massive shock if, for wrong reasons though, Omkar Nath Thakur is addressed as ‘Ustad’ and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan as ‘Pandit.’

But time changes. People have started thinking differently. Some from among the intellectuals have begun to pull out their legs from the long held superstitious ideas. Some such rebellions being followers of the philosophy ‘Praan Sangeet’ dealing with the psycho-physio-acoustics interfused among some variants of sound and silence of varied depth namely Baikhari, Madhyamaa and Pashyanti in the matrix of Indian perennial Raga music evolved out of the decades long researches by the iconic Indian musician Sanjay Chakrabarty, had impulsively fallen for calling him with the title ‘Acharya.’ With the passage of time more and more music lovers and connoisseurs began to take him as Acharya Sanjay Chakrabarty for his wonderful dual entities in a single journey of life – a philosopher showing new lights and direction to the world of tomorrow and a born performing artiste of enviable calibre in both vocal and instrumental music domains.

Just here, readers, you may be able to find a reason why Sanjay Chakrabarty could not be measured within the confines of  an ‘Ustad’ or a ‘Pandit’ which only represent a single particular skill as illustrated above. To look at it the other way round, Sanjay Chakrabarty being a conglomerate entity – a vocalist, an instrumentalist, a lyricist, a composer, a litterateur and above all a path finder research scholar in hitherto unexplored areas of sound, silence and Indian music, that is holding multiple skills – his place should  be regarded with a difference and so he is an ‘Acharya.’

Thus nobody knew when the silent workers of ‘History’ picked up on their back the little Sanjay of his early days, ever haunted by million restless ‘Whys’  and also nobody knew when they  metamorphosed him to a thoroughly changed colossus – Acharya  Sanjay Chakrabarty  at his forties like the most curious journey from cocoon to a butterfly. Isn’t it therefore wrong to pose a stop-cock in that free-flow fountain waters of ‘History’? And perhaps this is why Sanjay Chakrabarty himself didn’t find a reason to hesitate to be known as Acharya Sanjay Chakrabarty choosing not to hurt his followers and loving ones.