BASURI OR the flute is one of the oldest existing instruments of music, said Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, adding that, “It could be because the instrument is without a hide or strings, and the sound produced by it justifies that such an instrument can only be carved by the Lord.”
Pandit Chaurasia was in a conversation with Amarendra Dhaneshwar during the first segment of ‘Antaranga’ at the 67th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav. The legendary flautist’s wit, juxtaposed with his down-to-earth demeanour, had the audience in splits when he said no one knew whether the instrument was folk or classical as there was no audio recording from the “era of Lord Krishna”.
“The instrument was an integral part of people’s lives. After a day of toiling over farms, they played the flute and along with the rhythm of the drums, they made merry,” he said.
Pandit Chaurasia added that due to the small and compact nature of the instrument, the flute can now be seen across towns and regions, even countries. “One can just pack a flute in a suitcase and take it along and play it wherever they go,” he said, adding that the popularity of the woodwind instrument had resulted in its inclusion in bhajans, ghazals, folk and classical music.
He shared an anecdote of a time when he decided to play the flute at a professional level and had to shift to Cuttack. His father was a professional wrestler and he had tears in his eyes that his son was leaving home to pursue his career, said Chaurasia.
“… I teach several interested students the technique. I teach students in Holland who played the saxophone or the trumpet, and later picked up the flute. I believe that the flute is also beneficial for you as it strengthens your lungs and helps you gain control over your breathing pattern. Additionally, it is wrong to say women cannot play the flute. Anyone can pick up the instrument and play it,” he said.
In another tongue-in-cheek statement, he quipped, “The sound produced by the flute is calming. I would suggest the politicians keep one in their homes and play it to relax.”