Thursday, 23 February 2012


We are all modern Indians. Modernized Indians. Modernizing Indians. Modernized up to that extent that we do not even know what our culture is and what our traditions are. You ask a young urban going on the road, “What is the next album of Shakira?”There will be an instant reply. You ask another question, “Do you know who Tansen and Thyagaraja are?”The upcoming citizen of India thinks and thinks, but I am sure he finally gives it up. Such is the fate of Indian traditional music today, but ONLY IN INDIA. There is an excellent patronage to this music in most other countries of the globe. Cleveland Thyagaraja Aaraadhana is the best example to this. The migration of the traditional Indian musicians to these far off places suggests a considerable amount of lack of encouragement in the mother land though some of them had gone there with the motive of spreading our culture. It is fortunate that they are successful there.
However, did you know that there are foreigners who are proficient in our music? I too did not till very recently. The other day when I was casually turning some Wikipedian pages, I landed on the “List of Carnatic Singers”. I found one ‘Patrick’ among the orthodox names like Deekshithars, Murthys, Sastris, Nairs, etc. At first I checked my impulse of considering him a foreigner thinking he may be one of those Keralite Christians who gave a fair patronage to the traditional Carnatic music. But when I saw his last name ‘Ngcobo’ a moment later, I was indeed surprised and thinking of a possible African descent, I immediately clicked on the link attached to his name.
I came to know that he is indeed an African of Zulu lineage living in South Africa. I wondered how he came to be a seeker of Indian music.
The increasing curiosity made me click on the BBC news page link located at the bottom of the Wikipedia page.
Sri Patrick Ngcobo
There it was written, the whole saga of Sri Patrick Ngcobo and his Carnatic music. It was mentioned that Ngcobo was once very much impressed by a song of Sri K.J.Jesudas and being himself inclined to music, decided to pursue the style of music that was very pleasant to his ears. He was fortunate to find Sri Jesudas who being a wonderful human being had instantly agreed to teach him on the only condition of Patrick coming to Madras.
Then there is the mention of hundreds of hurdles and adversities Patrick had faced, starting from the poverty that made it difficult even to cross the boundary to the difficulties in practicing the great intricacies of Carnatic music.
After his formal training with Sri Jesudas he left India to his home place planning to make this as his profession. He believed his thoughts are justified by the presence of a large Indian population in South Africa. But much against to his idea, he did not receive that amount of encouragement which he had expected though he has sung in many concerts in Botswana. He says he want to sing in South Africa and it is remarkable that he expresses a lot of hope in singing Carnatic songs throughout the world.
Now the story is over. What is its moral, then?
It is a lesson to all those youngsters, who are running madly after the foreign customs and traditions, drastically endangering the culture of homeland.
It is a point of proof of the virtues of our traditional music when it had made a foreigner strive for it.
It makes us salute the individual who has become a patron of such an alien music, fighting the countless adversities that came his way. He could have been very peaceful without all these. But he did not care for all these and was finally very successful in pursuing his goal. This indeed showers us in a great inspiration.



  1. This is how we respect our culture.

  2. There are also foreigners in our country that are more proficient in our music. It is often very embarrassing to see them love our own culture, our own music, while we give very little significance. I think it is now time that we change our values to promote nationalism.