Withering Arts

murals-cc-thelivingna.jpgSince time immemorial, art and culture have been quintessential elements of our society. Be it the mural paintings of the Ajanta and Ellora, depicting the life of Buddha or the Jataka Tales, to the current generation artists, culture of elite erudition has been a part and parcel of our society. Be it singing, dancing, painting or any other form, we have involved and reinvented ourselves in various ways. Those days’ knowledge and art wasn’t restricted to books as a prescribed syllabi or curriculum as is the case today. The artists were given full freedom to reinvent themselves in all dimensions. This is clearly visible in the architecture of The Khajuraho Temples and other forms of architecture of that era.As we moved on in history, interests varied but the zeal didn’t die off. Architecture was at its pinnacle during Mughal rule, of which Taj Mahal is a living example. The existence of Indian drama and theatre can be traced back to the 5th veda (natyaveda), which attained heights in the fourth century through the works of Kalidasa. In the medieval period, our nation had its own classical dancing and singing styles. Kathakali, Kathak, Bharat-Natyam are few of the earliest exponents of the culture. With the variety of musical forms and musical instruments, India has an enriching cultural heritage, one of its own types. Eminent personalities, like Pt. Ravi Shankar (sitar), Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan (sarod), Ustad Bismillah Khan (shehnai) have been commendable instrumentalists. These art forms boasted of rich culture and innovation in the field of performing arts. These were not the means of earning but the way of living & learning life. It used to be their extreme forms of worship, duly acknowledged and appreciated by the commoners, attainment of which was daunting, then & even now. But priorities have changed. Earlier, knowledge used to be means of exploring human mind, learning & developing by delving deep inside, but today it has become a means to earn & live. The idea behind the word “Knowledge” has changed with time. The race of getting ahead in life, to be a big shot with a six digit pay package, has forced man to give up the affinity for such art-forms.
Parents discourage their children, suppress their interest for art, to settle for more lucrative jobs, as art is not considered a viable career option. The new education system has become a burden for the students, leaving no time to be devoted for co-curricular activities. Gradually, tastes have changed and the existence of such art forms is at the verge of extinction. And if some space is left for it, video games, pop music, instant availability of cd’s & vcd’s, developing media, discotheques, partying leave no stone unturned in worsening the present situation by distracting the young minds towards futile activities. Art exhibitions, classical & folk music concerts have become sparse means of entertainment. The urbanization of ideas & thoughts, commercialization of needs are acting as dormant seeds in languishing art from our lives. As a consequence, people involved in these art works are losing their interest and are being perniciously discouraged. In the dash of technology overtaking the mankind, humans are forgetting the importance and realization of such art that exists as an untapped talent waiting to be explored. “To progress is not bad, but to forlorn the culture is not acceptable.”
Times have changed and art is not given the respect and admiration that it once had.Thus, it is of vital importance and our responsibility to revive art forms so that we don’t lose them forever.

Karanvir Gupta