Amidst the cacophony of loud trending music, we seldom come across people who still believe in the history of Indian art forms and preserve that precious art culture which now seems to be diminishing. But there some who care about all these things and help us preserve and remember our art and culture. Pushkar Aurangabadkar is one such man.
Pushkar is an IIM Calcutta alum who leads a few socio-commercial initiatives of youth empowerment. As the director of Milastic Education Pvt Ltd, he works towards grooming inspiring perspectives within youngsters. He also builds social leadership and proactive team skills through his social initiative ‘Youth Catalysts’. He is also the founder of an interest-based collective development platform ‘Aspirations & Realizations’
Reacho in conversation with this most dynamic and divine personality:
1. Pushkar, you started performing Kirtans at a very young age. What was that motivational factor that drew you into this?
I am actually an heir of a kirtan gharana and this tradition has been followed in our family since the past eight generations. I am the 9th generation in my family to perform kirtan. It was my forefathers who built a legacy in this art form. My great-grandfather and my grandfather did social awakening for independence through their kirtans in the British era. Their stories have had a great influence over my thoughts and value system. I think that was the most motivational factor that drew me into this art form.
2. That’s inspiring! Having such a great legacy in your family, how has that process been for you? Was kirtan your only focus?
As a child, I grew up in a family where my dad worked professionally in the corporate zone and simultaneously performed kirtans. My grandfather was a full time professional kirtnakar. Since childhood, I accompanied my father and my grandfather in their kirtans as a sathidar (a person who plays the harmonium). I did take proper kirtan training at Narad Mandir (Sadashiv Peth, Pune) from some really eminent kirtankars, and also performed traditional kirtans. However, after a while I got completely occupied in my career and education. I pursued educational qualifications in the domain of finance. I completed my graduation, post graduation and a one year executive program from IIM Calcutta. I was working with an MNC, but the social and creative element within me dragged my attention towards some areas of our society that truly needed great attention. This led me to do something unique and effective in the domain of education and training. Today, I am a professional corporate trainer and an educationalist. However, I believe immensely in kirtan as an extremely powerful methodology for imparting education. It is more of a training methodology than a creative art form. Hence, I started integrating the philosophies and methodologies of kirtan in my lectures and trainings. They proved to be really very effective. Gradually, I decided to give this a formalised structure in order to address various challenges of the youth and corporates. This was how “Corporate Kirtan” was born.
3. That’s interesting! What according to you is the most challenging aspect in “Corporate Kirtan”?
Kirtan is a very beautiful art form which has evolved for over a couple of centuries now. Engaging today’s rational youth mindset through this spiritual art form is one of the most interesting and challenging elements for me. The vision to inspire them towards harmonious definitions of success through this form motivates me to take this legacy further. I sincerely feel it is possible only because of the sadhana of our forefathers.
4. Usually, the youngsters we come across are largely influenced by peer groups and western culture. How do you engage the youth that falls in this age bracket? How do you manage to get an overwhelming response from them?
First of all, we need to understand that today’s youth is not really influenced by western culture. I feel there is a great difference between being Western and being American. The lifestyle we are leading today is more or less an imitation of American lifestyle. Western culture on the other hand is a conscious thought process about many aspects of life. We have an absence of that conscious thought and that is the main reason why we mix up religion with spirituality.
I think there is a big difference between spirituality and religion as well. Spirituality is about our internal enhancement, whereas religion is more about a set of beliefs. Would you consider Yoga to be an aspect of spirituality or religion? Kirtanas are purely based on spiritual sciences. I try to relate them to our day to day corporate and career challenges.
There is an interesting way to deal with such challenges! When my students ask me a question, I prefer not answering them directly. Instead I raise counter questions. I think this unique style of teaching turns my students into seekers and not believers. I think that engages the youth in this age bracket.
Once I work on this clarity I always ask myself before my performance, am I answering the real time challenges of my target audience? I try to study them very well in advance. It is like a ground work research phase for me. So the subject and the content counts a lot. I usually speak about the challenges related to career planning, personality development, startups and entrepreneurship through my kirtans; and I think that engages youngsters. Moreover the examples, slide shows, film strips and the advanced creative methodologies of training also count a lot! I think that takes care of the youth response to my performances.
5. You are dealing with an age-old art form. Where do you think the other art forms lie? What scope do they have?
Well, in our nation you will find distinct traditions and distinct modes of expressions. That is the richness that we possess. Our age old art forms definitely have a great potential to engage, entertain and empower us. However, not all art forms have the equivalent economic opportunities. Hence, it is really difficult to sustain and inspire the people associated with these art forms. Right now one of my friends (a kathak dancer) and me are thinking over a concept where we can combine kathak and kirtan together in a performance. It is still in a very early phase of thought right now. The idea is very raw at the moment. Dance is a kind of art that makes us forget ourselves. It has the potential to drive our sub-conscious elements. Similarly every age old art form that we possess in our nation has it’s own beauty and potential. We should respect them and work really hard towards creating sound economic opportunities for people who perform them.
6. That’s very true! Simultaneously, we also observe that people abroad are really obsessed with Yoga and Ayurveda. Do you plan to take your efforts abroad?
Firstly I want to emphasize that Corporate Kirtan is not an event or a performance. It’s a spiritual training methodology that incorporates enriching and entertaining art forms. This is very true that foreigners are having a great inclination towards Indian spiritual sciences. However, I am in a phase of studying their challenges right now. I definitely have plans to take this abroad. But as I said this is not a stage performance or an event. It is a training methodology. Hence, we will gradually approach global markets when the time is right. Rather, we have already started our activities and promotions in Europe. So our promos will be out soon.
7: Wow! What role do you think your family plays in this process?
Oooh! They definitely play a very big role. I am a very difficult person to be handled. If by any chance I count myself as successful, it is only because of my family’s support and their blessings. My family, my wife they all have tremendously supported me, believed in me and stood by me when I was passing through some difficult phases of life. I owe my success to them.
8: Do you believe and practice meditation? Can you emphasize on the power of mediation from your perspective?
Meditation is a truly blissful process. I practice it regularly since many years now. I believe when we perform in front of an audience, we open our energy source for people. If we have to be charismatic all the time, we need to have a very substantial and constant supply of energy within us. I also believe that meditation practices help us a lot in maintaining the balance and composure of life in general. Due to this, sometimes I feel my life is on auto pilot mode! Meditation is truly a miraculous experience on all fronts. I think anyone who wants to be successful in life must do meditation for atleast 10 minutes regularly.
Reacho wishes Pushkar all the best for his future endeavours and we hope he keeps inspring the young minds!
Images sourced from: facebook