Life Lessons from Musical Maestros

Yesterday, I was the chosen one as I got an opportunity to see legends like Pt. Birju Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, and Amitabh Bachchan together. I experienced a beautiful jugalbandi between ghungroos of 79 year old Kathak wizard Pt. Birju Maharaj and tabla of forever young Ustad Zakir Hussain.

I learnt some lessons for a lifetime.

Humility is a choice, the most worthy one: When Ustad Zakir Hussain entered, Pt. Birju Maharaj had already come. Zakir sahib straightaway went and did Sashtang Pranam in his feet before taking his seat beside him. When both masters reached the stage, Ustad Zakir Hussain commented in an honest, childlike way, “I am not performing today, I am playing in Sewa of Maharaj ji”.

Humility is a choice that legends like Ustad Zakir Hussain make each time they interact with anyone.

Life Long Learning is a way of Life: When I introduced my daughter to Hussain Sahib, I said, “She is learning Classical music”.

He smiling looked at her, “Oh! Even I am learning music. What a coincidence.”

He gave her a high before blessing her.

If he is a student of music, what are we harping about our expertise?

Passion is the fuel for fulfilling life: Pandit Birju Maharaj was walking cautiously with a stick off stage. When he reached on stage, we expected him to do a symbolic 4-5 minutes performance.

He danced with deep poetic grace and electrifying footwork for around an hour. His passion surpassed his physical concerns and he mesmerized everyone with his awe inspiring performance.

Excellence is a zero option philosophy: Both the maestros were meeting each other after years. It simply meant that they had neither rehearsed nor performed together in near past.

Without any pre practice, their synchronized and effortless performance was pitch perfect. Each ‘thaap’ on the tabla and each ‘khanak’ of the ghungroo were in unison. They listened to each other intently and followed each other.

When Pandit ji explained a taal or gat, Ustab Zakir Hussain listened and then played to perfection. When Zakir Hussain got into his musical crescendo, Pandit ji tapped with grace. Their individual mastery over their craft led to a harmonious act together without any upmanship. There is no alternative to excellence in whatever we do.

Hold on to yourself: In the middle of a sea of talent, I learnt a big lesson from the host of the event, Shailesh Lodha. Though he is my husband, I am generally his worst critique.

However, his poetic words and anecdotal lines kept everyone hooked during the four hour long event. His eloquence and sense of timing won him blessings from everyone including the three stalwarts of art – Pt. Birju Maharaj, Ustab Zakir Hussain, and Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.

He held on to his belief in graceful humour, poetry and pathos among these doyens and contributed immensely to the success of the show. (I don’t want him to read this, though).

May these stalwarts stay around to bless our lives with their unending creativity and authenticity!

Ardhnarishwara Symbolizes Level 5 Leadership!


As per the responses given by the recruiters in this year’s Wall Street Journal / Harris Interactive Business School Survey, male MBA’s are more forceful, sometimes over pushy leaders while women tend to be better communicators and generally shirk numbers.

A survey respondent commented, “Female MBAs have a bias to nurturing team building while male MBAs to a more analytically driven focus on success and independence.”

Therapist Mark Sichel says that he needs to guide men over and over again to understand and practice humility while telling women to show more confidence.

Though we find several exceptions to these generalizations, majority of men talk very well about themselves, take credit with aplomb while women excel at recognizing the efforts done by others.

As men are result driven logicians, they have stronger will power and fiercer resolve. But women give in easily and look for consensus rather than holding their ground.

I am talking about ‘humility’ and ‘strong professional will’ because I was discussing Level 5 Leadership with Management Students and a girl remarked that one attribute i.e., humility is a feminine trait while strong power will is a masculine trait.

Jim Collins, author of ‘Good to Great’ coined Level 5 Leadership as the highest level of leadership which can be achieved by only a few leaders.

Though this book doesn’t mention even a single women leaders as a Level 5 Leader, the attributes show that it is a perfect mix of androgyny.

Just as Ardhnarishwara, the mythical united form of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati symbolizes the union of male and female attributes as the best combination for a balanced life, Level 5 Leadership also sums up the attributes of man and woman to succeed as Level 5 Leaders.

Though women drop out of the corporate ladder before reaching to the higher echelons due to many reasons, they have higher chances to succeed as Level 5 Leaders. Those who reach up there, do they appreciate or practice Level 5 Leadership?


Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

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