The shocking allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against (late) Ramakant Gundecha and Akhilesh Gundecha have shaken the Hindustani music firmament.
Fuck off. Nobody was shocked at all. The Gundechas, who were not 'khandani' blue bloods, did Dhrupad- a musical style so boring that only some equally boring, hippy dippy, Europeans bother with it. Such goras are constantly sexually propositioned because, back in the Sixties and Seventies- i.e. when the Gundeschas were growing up- drug addled, vacant eyed, prostitutes of this description were a common sight even in the smaller cities. Since they were very very cheap, they were constantly being badgered to give it up for free.
T.M, cretin that he is, immediately contradicts his assertion that 'the firmament had been shaken'. He admits that people would have thought it odd if female students of Dhrupad were not being harassed- at least by elderly crooners in mofussil towns. Elsewhere, hard eyed Ukrainian whores have raised the prestige of White prostitutes in India, just as Israeli drug dealers have raised the level of professionalism and sociopathy in the drug trade. Still, it is good to know that there are backward parts of the country where the grand tradition of molesting ugly White chicks is kept up.
But truth be told, many have in private acknowledged that these stories are not exceptions. So many instances like this are spoken of only in whispered tones by people fearful that the well-oiled gossip network of Hindustani music will carry their words to the powerful within this close-knit community.
Gossip is generally whispered so as to add piquancy. If the gossip network is 'well-oiled' then everything within it would be 'common knowledge'- i.e. everyone within the network would know everyone knows that everyone knows etc.
In 2018, when similar allegations were made about Carnatic musicians, all was quiet on the northern front.
But nobody gives a shit about Carnatic music. Only the Brahmin NRI market props it up. But that prop depends on the link between Spirituality, Music and Brahminical mores. Once TM succeeds in convincing everyone that the tradition is supported entirely by sodomy or other types of sexual or other exploitation, the art form will be reviled. It is one thing for some sweaty middle-aged man to caterwaul kirtans coz Krishna be so cool. It is another for him to do so in commemoration of the horrible wailing he first set up when inducted into the ranks of the catamite by his paedophile of a Guru.
I recall my Mother losing her respect for Jeddu Krishnamurti when my Uncle explained to her that the fellow's imbecility arose not from the achievement of nirvikalpa samadhi but incessant buggery by Leadbetter. TM may kill off Carnatic Music in the same manner that the paedophiliac foundations of Krishnamurti's Messiahood killed off interest in Theosophy.
TM was instructed in Carnatic not Hindustani music. He may succeed in convincing us that he was sexually abused by his Gurus because, after all, why would he lie about something like that? But we don't believe that robust North Indians would submit to sodomy as readily as TM- even at a tender age, when his morale had not been destroyed by training in a repugnant profession.
The name of one Hindustani musician cropped up, only to disappear in a jiffy, and nothing more was said.
Gallantry is compatible with a romantic conception of Music. TM's genius is to suggest that Carnatic Music is produced by resentfully ageing catamites.
The world of Hindustani music — though to all appearances more modern compared to its southern cousin — is actually more deeply entrenched in the patriarchal and medieval mindset that besets both systems.
Did Europeans study either type of Music till the Sixties? No. Were middle class kids who were forced to study a bit of that shite sexually harassed? No. There may have been exceptions but then some kids got fucked by the chauffeur or the chowkidar. The truth is, Classical Music in India survives by giving 'tuition'. The matron who pays the poor Ustad or Pandit to teach her adolescent daughter will beat the fuck out of him if he tries to seduce her. Anyway, the sort of girls who study that shite are 'homely' to a fault. A big dowry has to be provided for anyone of her own caste to deflower her.
The patriarchal, medieval, mindset was to treat Musicians on a par with prostitutes. It was to kill anyone who tried to get fresh with your daughters or sisters.
At the heart of this rot is the worshipful regard in which the guru-shishya parampara is held.
No doubt, this cretin will say that rape is caused by worshipful regard of the lingam and the yoni. What the accusers of the Gundechas say is that some students kept quiet for fear of harming their careers- pathetic though those careers were. In other words, this is 'Me-too' of a type that occurs in low-paid Service employment. It has nothing to do with 'worshipful' spiritual or aesthetic traditions.
Some senior Hindustani musicians literally walk around like they are avatars of some deity or the other!
Because they claim that 'Nada Brahma'- Music is a theophany. Their performances are equal to sublime sermons given by a Swamy. Sadly, Musicians have a long way to go to catch up with our delinquent Godmen in terms of rape and murder and enslaving the credulous.
The pedestal on which gurus are placed by Hindustani musicians is far higher than any seat given to their counterparts in Dakshin Bharat.
Nonsense! Both are considered merely a step above Mirasins. It is a different matter if they have made money and are of high lineage. Still, there is a large element of hypocrisy in any respect they are accorded. Moreover, journalists get away with being very rude to them whereas a Swamy's henchmen will beat the shit out of you if you insult their boss.
Hindustani Music is actually quite good. But there is a serious over-supply of talent and so canny musicians give themselves airs and graces. But, cultivating spirituality and dialing down the pedophilia is the best bet long term.
Equally, despite all the differences and petty politics between musicians, the “tradition” of watching each other’s back is far more prevalent in the Hindustani world. In fact, Carnatic musicians always talk enviously about how Hindustani musicians come together to put up a unified front when needed.
Shame the Carnatic singers can't put up a united front against this cretin. He is shitting where he eats and making the whole profession look bad.
TM has a gift for contradicting himself immediately. Thus he says-
In such a context, it has been heartening to see Hindustani musicians, old and young, come out and speak up against sexual harassment.
Only to add-
Unsurprisingly, none of the superstars, such as Amjad Ali Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia or Zakir Hussain, have thought it necessary to even make an obligatory comment.
Notice his use of the word obligatory. For him, it means optional.
But what intrigues me is that many who condemn the sexual harassment simultaneously demand that the guru-shishya parampara be protected.
Why does this intrigue him? Presumably because he thinks 'Guru-shishya parampara' means 'fuck your students.' Would it surprise him to learn that this is not in fact the case? The Guru is supposed to be a father, a spiritual and moral preceptor, to his students. TM may say, 'but surely Daddy must fuck his Sonny boy? Isn't that Patriarchalism, and Medieval 'mindset'?
The answer is 'No. Patriarchy is not about fucking those who look upon you as a father. Medieval relationships were not about trading sex for career advancement. '
The question in my mind is: What are we saving?
Your face by not laughing in it.
An inquiry into this question must necessarily be dispassionate, our mind shorn of all that we shared with our guru or gurus and all we treasure about them.
Did TM's Guru fuck him in the ass? If not, why pretend that the Guru-shishya parampara was about sexual harassment? The fact is, if you want your students to achieve excellence, it is probably not a good idea to fuck them. You will end up with syphilitic catamites not virtuosos. Those 'paramparas' which concentrated on fucking kids failed to perpetuate themselves in competition with others which were more abstemious in that regard.
A system cannot be evaluated based on personal experiences.
It must be evaluated according to outcomes. That's the market's job.
What must be determined is whether the system — its core structure — is safe, respectful, and non-abusive of, students.
We know that one College Department, or Branch Office, can be unsafe and abusive, whereas another Department or Office, with the same 'core structure', is not. Thus, TM is talking nonsense.
That is, irrespective of the nature of the guru, does the system provide security and strength and empower the student emotionally and psychologically to stand on her or his own?
We know that some people, irrespective of their upbringing or vocation, can't stand on their own while others with worse experiences can do so in an exemplary fashion. Gurus don't matter very much. Indians may pretend they do for Religious reasons. But then Indian Classical Music only enjoys a cachet for those same reasons. Otherwise, it is somewhat shite. The only subcontinental vocalist to have gone global was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He belonged to a family tradition, not a guru-shishya parampara. However there are other Qawwal troupes which are not family based. But then they aren't as boring as shit and, what's more, genuinely appeal to religious sentiments.
Once this question is asked, the answer is self-evident. Like most relationships, the guru-shishya relationship is grounded in a power imbalance, but here, crucially, the inequality is celebrated.
The Mummy-Baby and Deity-devotee traditions are grounded in power imbalance. Inequality of this sort is celebrated. We bow down before both Mummy and God with increasing fervor till the day we die. If we are academically very successful, we may show a similar adoration to our teachers- more particularly if we have students of our own. With spiritual instruction, this is more or less de reigueur.
The need to be subservient to, indeed submit to, the master is an implicit necessity.
For TM. It seems, anyone who employed him, or who taught him, could have got a b.j off him because he is a submissive.
Let me say it as it is: The parampara is thus structurally flawed.
Because submissives like TM will offer up their arsehole to any 'master'. However, this is a flaw in this asshole, not the nature of Human Society.
No doubt there will be claims that I seek to destroy something ancient.
No. The claim is that this asshole is shitting where he eats. He is saying 'Gurus fuck shishyas. When you are going to a Classical concert you are hearing the wails of a catamite. Fuck that shite. Only listen to artists who went to a proper Music College or who got started imitating singers they heard on You Tube till they got so good that their own uploaded tracks went viral. '
But a storied past must never be a defence against criticism.
Unless that is the u.s.p of your brand of shite in a crowded market.
I seek not to destroy but to question.
But you are a cretin. Your questions destroy the mystique of your own stock in trade.
It is not enough to punish abusers; an entire overhaul of how we teach these art forms is imperative.
Smartphone apps would do a better job than Gurus. But once you go down that Voice Training road why bother with boring and stupid artforms whose prestige derives from an ancient spiritual tradition which can only be transmitted in the one way TM says it ought not to be?
As Kalidasa said about poetry: “Not all poems are good because they are old. All poems are not bad because they are new. Good and wise people examine both and decide whether a poem is good or bad. Only a fool will be blindly led by what others say.”
This fool is quoting Kalidasa only because Kalidasa's poetry is very very old. This is a blind belief in the wisdom of the ancients. All old poems are good poems provided they have been transmitted continually. Why? Because they have accreted 'dhvani' resonances. All new poems are bad till their ancient dhvani is discerned. Only fools are guided by TM's quotations.
The guru-shishya structure is inherently prone to abuse — of all sorts — yet, so often, the abuse is romanticised. When students are forced to commit to hours of household chores just to receive those few moments of wisdom, it is celebrated as sacrifice and commitment and endurance — “the guru testing the student”, we are told.
Back in the Seventies and Eighties, I heard this complaint from people doing PhDs in I.R etc at JNU. Now I hear it from the kids of my posh friends interning with 'PR Gurus' or 'Wealth Management mavens'.
There is a wider problem of 'information asymmetry' and 'incomplete contracts' such that students committing to a long period of training can't be sure they won't be cheated. Mechanism Design can alleviate this problem. TM can't- because he is a cretin.
The practice is then normalised when we say “it was all worth it”. All of us practising these art forms know of the psychological manipulation and emotional trauma that prevails, and all we have said is, “This is part of the learning process. You have to go through it”.
Maybe that is why TM is shite. The fact is abusive 'paramparas' will die out because the successors won't be able to go the distance. Their market share will decline. Incestuous families don't necessarily go extinct. But they do degenerate.
I am not judging musicians of the past by today’s ethical norms, but there is no reason to accept the standards of the past.
Unless you claim to be a Classical Indian Musician in which case you need to pretend that the standards of the past were higher and closer to God. Otherwise just weep copiously and warble- 'Guru fucked me when I was small. I fuck my students now I'm big and tall'- in Raag Neelambari, till everybody wakes up and goes home.
The least we can do today is to admit that “it was just wrong”.
Why stop there? Why not add 'Gurus smelled bad. They had horrible voices. Indian Vocal Music is ugly and cacophonous. That is why non-Indians run away from it- except for some dippy Europeans who learn Dhrupad and get pressed up against by greasy gundus. Let us make a solemn vow to stop singing this shit- even in the bathroom.'
Such an acknowledgement is a step forward. Even today, students and teachers see the service of the guru as a guru dakshina.
While gurus see it as hypocrisy or sycophancy.
Service is a dangerous idea and often traverses many domains of abuse.
Gurus would prefer to be well paid and to be able to buy sexual services from those proficient in that field.
It is also true that abuse increases exponentially when the student comes from an economically poor or socially marginalised community.
So, India is saddled with shite Music because it is so poor. If per capita Income increases, this horrible cacophony will be displaced by something more salubrious which does not involve fucking over ugly, stupid, very very poor, young people.
It is possible to have a deeply involved relationship that is not toxic.
It is not possible to eat shit without getting a tummy upset. What TM has described is shit. Those who deal in it are diseased.
But for this to happen, we need to reimagine our structures of learning.
Nonsense! Almost everybody reading TM's article has some learning which involved relationships which were not toxic. Thus everybody can imagine what should be avoided- e.g. forcing your students to suck you off- in order to prevent a teacher-student relationship from turning toxic.
The system must begin with respect for students, and recognition of their independence and rights as individuals.
Students should respect themselves. If they don't, even if they aren't sucking off teacher, they are sucking off the janitor or the dog or a part qualified Cost and Management Accountant who asked them for directions to the Post Office.
This is vital because the power structure is naturally tilted in favour of the guru.
Like the power structure between Mummy and Baby or Employer and Employee.
But for this to happen, we need to first “humanise” gurus.
By shitting on them? Please say 'by shitting on them'!
The parampara that demands obedience and unquestioning deference, only because someone is a guru, needs to be demolished.
This can be done cheaply by shitting on gurus.
Simply put, gurus must be respected for being domain experts —
respect them as you would a toilet which is very very good at disposing of your feces
nothing more. If the respect grows beyond this, it must come from a mutually evolving relationship.
like when you carry around a potty and introduce it to your parents and take it to the Company Christmas Party as your date
A problematic area in Hindustani and Carnatic music is the informality in the learning.
It is difficult not to be all formal and buttoned up in your style of instruction if most of your teaching occurs while getting a rim job
And this extends to the institutions that musicians build. This informality is justified on the basis that it creates a unique, unconditioned space for learning.
not to mention carpet burns
Informality can take so many forms, sometimes resulting in episodes of incredible learning, while on other occasions, there are just demands made by the guru because he is in a position to make them. Therefore, we have to be very careful while treading this territory. Am I advocating for the institutionalisation of these art forms? No, I am not. There is a lot to learn beyond the school-university-class framework, but such an arrangement cannot be an arbitrary, uncaring, student on-call system. I won’t go into the possible redressal mechanisms because they will remain ineffective until we lift the veil on the guru-shishya parampara and see it for what it is.
On the basis of TM's own testimony, we know what he thinks it isn't- viz. a relationship between a master of an essentially spiritual art and an acolyte who wishes to attain a similar stature. If Indian Classical Music isn't spiritual, then all that matters is whether we like it or not. Knowing that it is produced by sexually exploited pinheads may cause you to like it less. But the thing matters as little as what flavor crisps is your favorite.
It must also be put on record that all we celebrate about the guru-shishya parampara — the intimate learning, sharing that goes beyond the syllabus — is far from unique to Indian culture. Or indeed even to music. In every sphere of activity, there have been and there are students and teachers who share a bond that goes beyond what the university demanded of them. And there are stories of great gurus and famous shishyas across disciplines and geographies. Learning is not time-bound or tied up in official seals. The little things that the teacher says during a walk or over a cup of tea could make a world of difference.
Sure. A really good tele-marketeer or cost and management accountant may have had a mentor of this sort. But we don't care. But 'apostolic succession' is important if it is a question not of a narrow type of virtuosity but something approaching theophany. TM doesn't get that if you secularize Indian Classical Music then it loses what little cachet it retains. Nobody believes anymore that singing a particular raag will cause rain to fall. In any case there are quicker and more effective ways of stimulating urination or going to sleep than hearing a particular Raag which causes you to wet yourself while sleeping through one of TM's Concerts.
The problem with our concretised version is that this promise of magic is used as an excuse to normalise inequality.
Because the thing is a cult whose God is shit.
In other fields, teachers and students have drifted apart, even vehemently disagreeing with one another, each finding their own areas of influence. But in the guru-shishya parampara of Indian “classical” music and dance, rarely can a shishya stand up against her or his guru and hope to survive another day. Therein lies the story.
No. The story is that Indian Classical Music is ab ovo spiritual and directly linked to Hindu soteriology and metaphysics in a complex manner. Gurus are devout and represent an Apostolic Succession. To have been trained in a tradition is to be able to reproduce it with fidelity. That is why the thing can flourish not just as performance but also as paideia.
The story TM is telling is quite different. Indian Classical Music is a shitty little means to a shitty little livelihood. Those entering it are either very poor or have complex mental and psychological problems. The result is that they are bound to get shafted by sociopathic Gurus who originate amongst the dregs of Society. They are charlatans who pretended devotion to some paedophile so as to pass themselves off as masters of a complex Art form.
TM says 'reimagining' Classical Music will help. But he has destroyed its image. Why reimagine the Child Brothel? Just ban the thing- or if that isn't legally possible then defund it.