Discussing Zakir Hussain, the Philosopher, with Lulu

Discussing Zakir Hussain, the Philosopher, with Lulu

“Zakir Hussain,” I told Lulu, my parrot, “is not only a great Tabla-Nawaz but also a great philosopher. He talks of his music and his philosophy.”

“A great artist is a philosopher” Lulu observed as he took a bite of guava. “Haven’t you read ‘The Tao of Physics?’”

“Nah! Among the subjects that caused me stress during my student days, this subject of physics ranks numero uno, terrible!”

“Hmmm….  I remembered ‘The Tao of Physics’ because the author says that at a certain level physicists and philosophers talk the same language.”

Lulu, my parrot

“Are you suggesting that at a certain time in their life, music maestros also speak like philosophers?”

“Yes. Why single out music maestros? Even a common person talks like a philosopher when he or she crosses sixty or reflects on life. Many saints have composed poetry with conveying their philosophy of life. Even Bahinabai, the unlettered poetess, composed many a poem reflecting her philosophy of life.”

“My guess is people in their sixties start reflecting on life and reach this conclusion that everything is predestined. Life is preordained! Remember that Zakir spoke about preordained life when he was sixty-nine.”

“Several persons reach that conclusion. Maybe some think that they got more than their due. Life has given them more than their competence would justify. Humility!”

“The converse may also be true. Some may think that life was unjust to them. They did not receive their due share of fame, name, achievements and wealth, and that they deserved much more. ‘Life is preordained’ may be a way of rationalizing the reality and accepting it.”

“That’s a good point. The third category may be those who just accept what the life held in store for them. They give their best. And feel grateful. Zakir seems to suggest that in his interview though it is not explicitly said. But what point Zakirbhai was making?”

“He said ‘The meeting between Guru and his disciple is preordained. Guru knows when Disciple is ready to receive. The disciple must take as much information from Guru as possible. But he interprets it in his own way.”

Zakir Hussain with his father (Pic courtesy: poetryondrums.com)

“That is interesting. Zakir said ‘the disciple interprets in his own way.’ Does that remind you of Heisenberg? “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” Heisenberg said this, and doesn’t it carry the same undertone. Do you get me?”

“I knew parrots were intelligent. But I did not know you were also a philosopher.”

“Ha ha. Why did Zakirbhai’s observation appeal to you? It has touched you, right?”

“That’s a googly. Let me think. I certainly feel that I got more than I deserved. Surely, I have my strengths. But looking back, I realized that I sleep-walked through life. Considering that, I have been rewarded disproportionately higher than my efforts. And I think I woke up to this after my retirement.”


“I think what you said is right. We rationalize our current state – I concluded it could have been worse.”

“It’s okay. Even Nani Palkhiwala, India’s greatest jurist, also reached the conclusion that everything is preordained. He goes on to say, in his book, that a man has as much free will as a dog on a leash!”

“What? As much free will as a dog on a leash?”

“Yes! Since you have become a believer in predestination, do you know what Stephen Hawking said?”


I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”

That set me thinking. And Lulu rubbed his head on my cheeks and hopped on to the table to resume eating guava.

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

“Aroehan: Creating Dream Villages in Mokhada by 2025: “No Malnutrition Deaths, No Child ‘Out of School’, Reduction in migration by 50%.”