Music & Ikigai

“How do you find a balance between your passion and career, when they’re not the same?”” This was one of the questions posed to percussion artist Vinod Seetharaman when he appeared as a guest speaker at Ahmedabad University. Students in my Musical Traditions of India course, many of them engineers-in-training were able to relate to Vinod, who by day works as mechanical engineer at Ford Motor company.

“How did learning mridangam since childhood help you to be who you are?” “Why has there been a dearth of women percussion players in Indian music?” were some of the other questions he faced, all of which made for an interesting set of discussions. Vinod spoke of the importance of finding a work-life balance even while pursuing our passions. The interaction reminded me of the Japanese concept of Ikigai—a reason for being. It teaches us of the need to find and balance what we are good at, passionate about, what the world needs, and is willing to pay for. The sweet spot that lies where these four overlay one another, if we are lucky enough, is Ikigai.

Thank you Vinod Seetharaman for your time and effort in opening a new world for the students while introducing the carnatic mridangam to them even as they learn to appreciate different musical traditions.

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