That’s exactly the words he used. “I am taken over by it, I don’t know what. Perhaps you know. Otherwise why does Pagal Baba have so much respect for you? I have never seen him touch anybody’s feet except yours. All the great musicians come to him just for his blessing, and to touch his feet.”
Pagal Baba introduced me to many people, not only flutists. Perhaps in some circle of my story they will come in. But what Pannalal Ghosh said was very significant. He said, “I become possessed. Once I start playing, I am no more; something else is. It is not Pannalal Ghosh.” I am quoting his words. He then said, “That’s why it takes such a long introduction before I play. I am condemned everywhere because of my long introduction…because flutists are not known to have such long introductions.”
He was the Bernard Shaw of the flute world. With George Bernard Shaw…his book may have been only ninety pages long but the introduction would be three hundred pages. Pannalal Ghosh said, “People cannot understand, but I can tell you, that I have to wait to become possessed, hence the long introduction. I cannot start playing until it comes.”
These are truly the words of an authentic artist, but only the authentic artist, not the journalistic type, the third-rate artist. It is better not to call this type an artist at all. He writes about music, but knows nothing of the experience; he writes about poetry without ever composing a single poem; he writes about politics and has never been in the thick of the struggle. It is tooth and nail in the political world. Just sitting in his office, the journalistic type can manage to write everything. In fact it is the same person who one week writes about music, and another week about poetry, and another week about politics, using different names.
I have been a journalist once, out of sheer necessity, otherwise I would not have suffered it. I had no money and my father wanted me to go to a science college. I was not interested in science, neither then nor now. And he was so poor that I could understand that he would be risking too much. Nobody in my family had been well educated. One of my uncles, my father’s brother, was sent to university by my father, but had to be called back because there was not enough money to keep him there.
My father was ready to send me to university. Naturally it was a sacrifice for him, and he wanted to do it in a businesslike way. It had to be an investment.
I said to him, “Listen, is it my education or your investment? You are thinking of making me an engineer or a doctor; naturally I will earn more. But what I am planning to do is never earn anything, but to go on learning and never begin earning.” I then told him, “I am going to remain a hobo.”
He said, “What! A hobo?”
I said, “In respectable words – a sannyasin.”
He was still shocked. “A sannyasin! Then why do you want to go to university?”
I said, “I hate those professors, but naturally, first I have to know their profession so that my whole life I can condemn them perfectly.”