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Today, I feel like sharing one of my innermost quest and challenge of understanding the "Sur". As I observe masters and beginners alike, trying hard to get hold of the "Sur", I wonder, why is that so many intellectual, emotional, and spiritual people dedicate their lives in trying to understand this very "Sur"? What is so special about this concept of "Sur"?

As the student of science I can always get into the nitty-gritty of harmonics, frequencies, overtones, undertones, sound spectrums and so on and so forth. It is a vast subject in itself and many masters have contributed immensely in this subject. But though science is capable of forming postulates and theories, and gives a logical explanation about the phenomenon of "Sur", for me, it still leaves gaps in realizing the real crux.

For me "Sur" is not only a sound wave but a live entity with all its physical, emotional and intellectual properties associated with it. I can also go a step further and also realize spiritual aspect of it. When I say physical I consider the physics of sound wave. When I say intellectual, I mean the different depths and complexities "Sur" and its combinations. When I say emotional, I mean the appealing and pleasing characteristic of a nice melody to my body and soul which arouses different emotions. And off course the spiritual aspect which means getting one with "Sur".

For me the progression of music or "Sur" happens through these four stages and when I observe great masters and musicians I see that pattern prevailing in almost all cases. When anyone starts learning music, one needs to give attention to the physical aspect of "Sur" first. It starts with getting the frequency of the "Sur" right, getting the playing technique of the instrument right (I consider voice as one of the instruments) and then getting the technique to the level of precision and fineness to be able to reproduce "Sur" anytime every time with same quality. This is the stage I feel requires a close attention of Guru and a very methodic "Riyaz". Patience is the virtue in this stage as it is terrible to hear your own "Riyaz" sometimes.

When the technique is acquired to a good degree of mastery the intellectual piece begins. This is where music gets into the format, grammar, combinations and intricacies of "Sur". This is where thorough study of music theory actually starts. Study of different styles, "Gharanas" their differences, similarities etc. helps the learner in getting the width and depth of music. This is a challenging stage as this the first glimpse of how unending music is. I feel the virtue during this stage is capacity to memorize and synthesize the information, along with patience and a lot of positive attitude as it might be frustrating sometimes to realize that more you know more you don't know. I feel for hobbyist this is the last point of return as once you pass this stage it's a point of no return in the world of music.

The third stage I would consider is the most crucial one. This is where you have a good hold of first two stages and musician acquires a good degree of mastery on his or her instrument. Musician starts getting the recognition in the social circles and starts establishing himself. This is the stage where he starts to gaze beyond grammar. He starts thinking about the emotions that his music creates in the minds of his listeners. This I feel is the exploratory phase of one's emotions. I feel the success in this phase depends on how open, receptive and sensitive the musician is about his own as well as others emotions. I remember a very beautiful quote when I think about this phase. The quote says " To understand the beauty of the rose, your heart should be like a rose". I think this quote sums up the crux of this stage.

The next stage is something I have seen and heard very few musicians attain. This is the stage I feel person is so sensitive towards "Sur" and beauty of "Sur" that he tries to be one with it. It is like a complete surrender to "Sur". I guess this is the time where musician realizes that only "Sur" is supreme entity and untouched by worldly wisdom. It is the state where musician finally accepts the human limitation and begs the very "Sur" to bless him with its entirety. This is the stage where musician does not care about worldly honors, wealth, fame or status and sometimes renounces everything to be one with "Sur". I think of some musicians who I feel have reached that level. Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Ustad, Baba Allauddin Khan, Swami Hari Vallabh. These are some of the example which I am sure are some of many I don't know.

To conclude this article with the final comment, I feel these are the sequential phases and have to be followed in the sequential manner. There are no shortcuts and also no parallel processing too. I wish luck to myself after writing this article as I realized how long a journey I have ahead of me.

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