Shri Saraswataya Namaha!
Present with us in this sacred ceremony is Maharashtra Governor Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari ji, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Shri Devendra Fadnavis ji, Minister in Maharashtra Government Shri Subhash Desai ji, respected Usha ji, Asha ji, Adinath Mangeshkar ji, all the members of the Master Deenanath Smruti Pratishthan, all the distinguished colleagues from the world of music and art, other dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen!
Respected Hridaynath Mangeshkar ji was also to attend this important event. But as told by Adinath ji, he could not come here due to ill health. I wish him a speedy recovery.
I am not finding myself very worthy here, because I am not well-versed with such a profound subject as music, but from the point of view of cultural appreciation, I feel that music is both ‘sadhana’ (devotion) and ‘bhavana’ (emotion) and that which expresses the inexpressible is the word. One that fills the expression with energy and consciousness is ‘nada’ (sound) and the one that fills consciousness with emotions and feelings and takes it to the extreme of creation and sensitivity is ‘sangeet’ (music). You may be sitting motionless, but music can make tears flow from your eyes. Such is the power of music. Music can also give you a sense of detachment. Music can fill you with valour and motherly affection. It can take one to the pinnacle of patriotism and a sense of duty. We are fortunate to have seen this potential and power of music in the form of Lata Didi. We have had the privilege of seeing her with our own eyes and the Mangeshkar family has been making sacrifices in this ‘yagna’ for many generations. For me, this experience has been much more.
Harish ji made some descriptions about her, but I was wondering how old my relationship with Didi is. It must have been four-and-a-half decades ago when Sudhir Phadke ji introduced me to her. And since then, the immense affection and countless incidents with this family became a part of my life. For me, Lata Didi was the melody queen as well as my elder sister. What can be a greater privilege than to have received the love of a sister from Lata Didi, who has given the gift of love and emotion to many generations? Didi will not be there during this year’s Rakhi festival after so many decades. Generally, I choose to stay away from events in my honor as I am not very comfortable. But when the award is in the name of an elder sister like Lata Didi, it becomes a kind of obligation for me to come here because of her affinity with me and the rights that the Mangeshkar family has on me. And this is the symbol of that love when I received a message from Adinath ji asking me about my programs and how busy I was. I did not ask anything and said yes to him immediately, because it was not possible for me to refuse. I dedicate this award to all the countrymen. Just as Lata Didi belonged to the people, similarly this award given to me in her name also belongs to the people. I used to have frequent conversations with Lata Didi. She used to send her messages and blessings to me. Perhaps one thing that she used to say, which I cannot forget, can be useful to all of us. I used to respect her a lot. She always used to say - “A person does not become great by his age, but by his work. The more one does for the country, the greater he becomes”. We realize the greatness of a person who is at the peak of success and has such thoughts. Lata Didi was mature with age as well as through her deeds.
We know from the time we have spent with Lata Didi that she was the epitome of simplicity. Lata Didi achieved that position in music that people considered her to be the symbol of Maa Saraswati. Her voice left its mark on the music world for nearly 80 years. What a great journey the world of music has traveled along with Lata ji starting with gramophones, then from gramophones to cassettes, CDs, DVDs, pen drives, to online music and apps. She lent her voice to 4-5 generations of cinema. She was conferred with the highest honour ‘Bharat Ratna’ and the country became proud. The entire world considered her to be melody queen. But she did not consider herself to be a queen of notes, but a ‘sadhika’. And we have heard this from many people whenever she used to go for the recording of any song she used to take off her slippers. The practice of music and the worship of God was same for her.
If we try to understand Adi Shankara's theory of Advaita, then sometimes we get confused. But when I try to think about the principle of Advaita of Adi Shankara, and if I have to say it in simple words, then the utterance of God to that principle of Advaita is incomplete without music. Music is integrated with God. Where there is music, there is perfection. Music affects our heart and our conscience. If its origin is as pure as that of Lata ji, then that purity and emotion also dissolve in that music. This element of her personality is an inspiration to all of us, and especially to the younger generation.
Lata ji's physical journey was completed at a time when our country is celebrating Amrit Mahotsav of its freedom. She gave voice to India before independence, and the country's journey over these 75 years was also associated with her voice. The name of Lata ji's father Deenanath Mangeshkar ji is also associated with this award. All the countrymen are indebted to the Mangeshkar family for their contribution to the country. Along with music, the consciousness of patriotism that was within Lata Didi, her father was the source of it. Deenanath ji sang a song written by Veer Savarkar during a program held in the honor of the British Viceroy in Shimla during the freedom struggle. Only Deenanath ji could do this in front of the British Viceroy through music. He also performed on its theme and the song was written by Veer Savarkar ji challenging the British rule. This courage, this sense of patriotism was given by Deenanath ji to his family. Lata ji had probably once said that she wanted to go into the field of social service. Lata ji made music her worship, but patriotism and national service also got inspiration through her songs. Lata ji immortalized Veer Savarkar ji's song 'Hindu Narasimha' on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, or the poems of Samarth Guru Ramdas ji by recording the album of Shiv Kalyan Raja. The emotional tracks of "Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon" and "Jai Hind Ki Sena" have become immortal and are on the lips of the people of the country. There are so many aspects related to her life! It is our duty to take the contribution of Lata Didi and her family to the people during Amrit Mahotsav.
Today the country is moving ahead with the belief of 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat'. Lata ji was like a melodious manifestation of 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat'. She sang thousands of songs in more than 30 languages of the country. Lataji's voice is equally at home in every language, be it Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit or any other Indian language. She is ingrained in the minds of people in every state, in every region. She has demonstrated how music can become immortal with Indian-ness. She recited the Bhagavad Gita as well as the songs of Tulsi, Meera, Sant Dnyaneshwar and Narsi Mehta. Lata ji’s voice revived everything from the ‘chaupais’ (quatrains) of Ramcharitmanas to Bapu's favorite hymn 'Vaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye'. She had recorded a set of songs and chants for Tirupati Devasthanam, which is still played there every morning. That is, from culture to faith, from east to west, from north to south, Lata ji's notes have worked to unite the whole country. Globally too, she was India's cultural ambassador. Her personal life was also like that. She built Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune with her earnings and with the help of her friends, which is still serving the poor. Not many people are aware that Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune was one of the select hospitals which worked most for the poor during the Corona period.
Today, the country is reflecting on its past and is making new resolutions for the future during the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. We are one of the largest startup ecosystems in the world. Today India is moving towards becoming self-reliant in every field; this journey of development is part of our resolutions. But India's fundamental vision of development has always been different. For us, development means- 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas'. The ethos of 'Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam' (welfare of all) is also included in this spirit of development for all. The development of the entire world and the welfare of the entire humanity cannot be achieved by mere material capabilities. For this, human values are very important! For this, spiritual consciousness is critically important. That is why India is providing leadership in areas like yoga, Ayurveda and the environment.
I believe our Indian music is also an important part of this contribution. This responsibility is in your hands. It is the responsibility of all of us to keep this heritage alive with the same values, carry it forward and make a medium of world peace. I am sure that all the people associated with the music world will discharge this responsibility and give direction to a new India. With this belief, I thank all of you from my heart. I also thank the Mangeshkar family for choosing me for the inaugural award in the name of Didi. But when Harish ji was reading the acknowledgment letter, I was thinking that I will have to read it several times to make a note of how much I have yet to achieve, how many drawbacks are there in me and how to overcome that. With the blessings of Didi and the love of the Mangeshkar family, my drawbacks have been presented to me through the acknowledgment letter and I will try to overcome them.