It is not about reaching the top, it’s about how you enjoy the process: Narendra L Nayak


Artist Narendra L Nayak is one of the great Harmonium player of southern India and he has accompanied many well known musicians like Jayateerth Mevundi, Pt.Venkatesh kumar, and has given performances in most of the prestigious music festivals in India. He is the vice president of a Hindustani Classical music organization," Sangeet Bharati Foundation".  Under his guidance top level programmes have already been conducted in Mangalore including the performances by legends like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt. Vishwamohan Bhatt, Ustad Rashid Khan, Ustad Sultan Khan, Ghazal singer Hariharan and many more. He is also a very successful entrepreneur and has been giving education to thousands of young students through “Expert PU College”.

It is not about reaching the top, it's about how you enjoy the process: Narendra L Nayak | Beauty Wall Spot

This week Artist Narendra L Nayak spoke to BWS CEO Vishwas Krishna in Expert PU College, Kodialbail Campus, Mangalore. They spoke about music and other things, and Artist Narendra L Nayak shared some of his memories with Vishwas Krishna.

One should develop the interest in music. You should put effort. On itself it cannot develop. So put effort. For us during our younger days we had musical atmosphere at home. You should know what is good for you. Your parents should know what is good. In whichever field you put your effort that will be of use to you in your life.  If you develop interest in art forms that will be there through out your life.  So put efforts on the good things in life.

- Artist Narendra L Nayak

VISHWAS: Namaste Sir 🙂

VISHWAS: Yesterday I spoke with your friend, Artist Ustad Rafique Khan and we planned to have an interview with you and asked him to get an appointment with you. Today here we are 🙂 So quick. Impressive 🙂
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: Ha ha [laughs]. Ustad Rafique Khan is my friend since 1991-92. He is a very great musician of India and more to that he is a very good human being and a humble person.

VISHWAS: You are right. He is a very good person. I couldn’t prepare myself as this appointment got momentum very fast. Yet I tried to go through your earlier interviews with others. Almost everyone was asking you questions on Expert institutions only. But I feel there is an artist behind the Expert Institutions, a popular personality loved and respected by the people. Tell me something about that Narendra L Nayak.
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: See, in every human being there is a musician hidden in him. To what extent? Music talent is a boon from God Almighty. It all depends on how much one utilises it. It may be the art of listening, or performing or viewing. There is no one who will not respect music. Our elders has said, "Sangeeta Sahitya Kala Viheenah, Sakshath  Pashu Puccha Vishana Heenaha”  It means a person having no interest in any of the forms of art like music, literature, art, etc.he is worse than an animal.  Even animals have interest in music, they also enjoy music. God has given us the talent, but we have to nurture it.  We should have the patience to listen to the music, and enjoy the art forms.  From my younger days I was having interest in music. I used to sing, play the harmonium, participate in Bhajans, etc.  Today I have accompanied for some of the well known musicians of Hindustani Classical Music on various stages across the country.

VISHWAS: You are from an Agri based family.  Along with your Profession and your entrepreneurial life how did an artist take birth?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: When I was very young say, 4,5,6 years of age, my elder sister was attending to music classes in a local school, about 1.5 to 2 km away from home. My father told her not to go to the classes alone as a grown up girl.  She was told to take some one along with her.  So I was chosen to be her companion to her classes. I used to be around the classes with childish plays and pranks with friends.  I used to take shots at the harmonium whenever it was taken to and out of classes or to the teachers home on a bicycle.  My sister used to practice her musical lessons at home and I tried to imitate her and these became my first lessons. In between her practices whenever she left the harmonium free I used play on it.  This in reality incorporated the music in to me. Those days our GSB community members started a Bhajana Mandali named Brahmalingeshwara Bhajana Mandali. Our community people have natural love for Marathi Abhangs, which helped me to listen to  these Abhangs by Lata Mangeshkar, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, and many other legends of Hindustani Classical Music, and this naturally invoked the musical connections in me. I started singing these bhajans on my own. Though I went to the classes of Carnatic classical music, my most exposure was on abhangs. Both forms of music attracted me.  The Carnatic music is more on calculations and the Hindustani on melody. Calculations and melody both are correlated. When I was in my seventh standard I learnt the art of playing the Harmonium independently. Till then I was experimenting and was not perfect. Thereafter there was no looking back. Till my 10th, I performed on small stages. During these days I was called to perform on All India Radio in Vanitha Vani programme. Those days I was also singing well.

It is not that important if I sing well at this age, but when a young boy sings well it is an attraction.  Thus it got developed.  By the end of 1st PUC I got opportunity to perform through out India on many stages. That is a great experience. I have come from a small village of Udupi, Sasthan and it really matters to travel through out India, normally we villagers don't get such opportunities.  I could not get any right training under any Guru.  I performed all these  through listening to the performance of great artists.  In my performance there were good as well as negative aspects.  There was nobody to tell me whether my playing has any negative aspects or if any improvement was required or if there was any good aspects in it.  But I was enjoying.  I was good in my academic studies also.  During my second year PUC my music had a break due to my academics, as I had chosen Science subjects. My 2nd PUC results came.  I got admission to Malnad Engineering College, Hassan and in the second list I got admission for MBBS also. There was nobody to guide. So I chose my engineering admission. In Hassan there was one Bharathiya Vidya Mandir, where there were regular bhajan sessions on Saturdays.  Again GSB community people were managing it. For music there is no barrier of region or language.  I was befriended by many elders there, who were interested in music. They shared their musical knowledge with me.  I could view many great artist's performances on video, Bismillah Khan, Amjad Ali khan, Zhakir Hussain, Sarod Ali Akbar Khan, and many more which inspired me.  I got to know the taste of excellence in music.  I came out of the engineering college with distinction in 1986.  Then I joined as a lecturer in KREC Surtkal (today's NITK).  Here also I used to go for Bhajans.  Till 2000 I was singing.  During 1991-92 I met Ustad Rafeeq Khan, who was working for All India Radio.  He is a great personality in music.  A learned man who inherited music from his fore fathers , he has music in his blood.  His contact helped me a lot in my music endeavours.  In 2003-2004 I invited my master Pt. Vasant Kant Thakur to come down to Mangalore and guide me.  He is my guru.  I was too pre occupied with my KREC job and my expert tuition classes.  He obliged and came to Mangalore for 3 days in every month and stayed with me and taught me.  For 5 years he came to Mangalore and taught me.  I will never forget him.  These lessons polished my raw music in to a finer tune.  I could enjoy classical music in a still better way.  I am grateful to my guru and Ustad Rafeeq Khan for guiding me properly.  Today I am enjoying music in the form of listening or playing.

VISHWAS: Wow 🙂 That’s very inspiring. Sir, how could you build this great institution "Expert" in such a grand manner? And what was the goal behind this Expert?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: During 1986 December, my final year engineering examinations were over.  During those days there were no campus interviews.  Till next February results will not be announced.  During the same period my elder brother came out with his CA degree from Bombay.  He suggested to start a coaching classes for CA students.  I was asked to teach Mathematics and statistics and he offered to teach the remaining accounting related subjects.  I had studied availing educational  loan and other borrowing. I was badly in need of funds. So we started the coaching classes. Till then I never knew that I also can teach well. I never knew that there is a teacher in me. We started with 7 students. In the next 15 days the student strength grew to 50.

ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: In the next 2.5 months my engineering results were announced. Immediately I saw the announcement calling for Asst. Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in KREC.  I applied. After the interview I got  the appointment.  I had a busy schedule on those days Early morning coaching classes here  and then entire day in KREC and again in the evening coaching classes.  During those days I did not have a vehicle, so had to depend on buses.  We had rented out a house in Dambel, a remote place of Mangalore. We both were bachelors. We had to do our cooking also. Those were difficult days. But that was our real comfort in that situation.  For the next 3 years the coaching classes improved. I used to give classes in Mathematics and statistics for the CA Intermediates and for the finalists, I gave classes in Operations Research.  We had many batches. We could secure ranks in CA examinations including first rank.  During 1990 the CA intermediate had lesser importance for mathematics and statistics, instead of two papers it was combined to one paper. In CA final Operations research's significance also was brought down.  100 marks paper was changed to Quantitative techniques with reduced marks of 40.  By this my brother told me that he will be busy in his practice and he is not interested in the coaching classes. So I started PUC Coaching. I taught Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics to all the students.  It could become possible for me because in my younger days I was good in my studies. My basics were strong. If you are strong in your basics you can learn any thing, you can do anything.  Let it be in academics or music.  Same way if your basics in grammar is strong you can speak very well. After starting PUC coaching my schedule became very busy. I appointed another lecturer. Thus it got developed. We started getting ranks in PUC also.  It continued till 2006.  Even now we are getting ranks. In 2007 we started “Expert Pre University College”.

VISHWAS: Sir, really great. So, what makes Expert Institution Expert and Excellent than others?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: For two years students remain with us, so we wanted to have a better PU college. It should not be just another PU College. Even today we give them special atmosphere here. Daily 20 minutes Yoga, Pranayama and Swara-yatra, these are our specialities apart from the excellence in teaching. All the 6 days in a week before lunch on empty stomach we insist the students for 20 minutes yoga and pranayama and Dhyana with very beautiful and melodious background music.  After lunch there is Swara-yatra for 10 minutes. All these are under supervision so every one is bound to listen  it and feel it.

VISHWAS: Wow. Students really get such a beautiful opportunity here? Thats wonderful. Sir, I am curious, what is “Swara-yatra”?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: Swara-yatra is where we take our students on a musical journey, on a daily basis. We have recorded 45 ragas on CDs’ and play these every day. Each raga is an episode. Every episode will have a popular Hindi film song composed in the raga. For example, Raag Bilawal (In Carnatic style, raga Shankarabharanam) we explain Aroh and avaroh, the time at which this Raag Bilawal is better sung and the popular film song based on this Raag. Then for two minutes we make them listen to some Star musician’s music, then a recent film music on this Raag, then some instrumental music based on this Raag. We give some more information on the Raag like say the rhymes the children learn, the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, London bridge is falling down, Rain Rain Go Away and the National anthem song or Happy Birthday Song etc are based on Raag Bilawal, and some general knowledge questions like the name of the hindustani artist having won the Padmavibhooshan Award, the International Tabla Award winner etc.

VISHWAS: Never heard this before. What an Impressive and creative way of developing a student!!
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: This kind of information nobody gives. Our students get to listen to these 45 episodes every day for two years. Each episode gets repeated after 45 days. So the student get to know about the music and learns to listen to music. This kind of repetition inculcate the habit of listening and enjoying the music. It was our unique idea of making the students involve in music and help them in their studies. Students enjoy this kind of exposure. Ustad Rafeeq Khan has helped us to develop these episodes. I wish every college include this system in their daily syllabus. People complain that children don't listen. Nothing happens for itself, so we should strive for that. Self discipline in the young mind is very difficult to achieve.  It has to be under supervision and proper invigilation. Music and our science learning is going together here. How a mobile needs a charger, the learning of science needs to be charged and it is achieved by music.

VISHWAS: Great. I admire and appreciate your efforts. Sir, how do you feel of achieving this height?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: No no, I don't consider that I have reached the top level. We are enjoying what we are doing.  If we consider we have reached the top then I feel we will be egoistic.  My parents used to tell me, to every mountain there will be another one taller than it. It is not important to reach the top, but how much you enjoy what you are doing. Let it be teaching, let it be music, let it be speaking or anything, you should enjoy it. When I speak to you if I speak with the ego I will not be communicating whatever there is in my mind.

VISHWAS: Well said sir. As a good teacher you have taught many students. In all these years of teaching what have you learnt from the students?  Since when we teach we get to learn something, this is what my sir told me and even I have observed it while teaching music and violin.
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: Learn by teaching, you should learn first to understand something. To learn more of a subject it is better to learn while teaching. Ofcourse you should have your basics strong. When we teach, the students should be able to grasp what we teach, that is the teaching process. To be frank, till 10th standard I studied in Kannada medium. In villages there was no influence of English medium schools, or rather we did not have English medium schools. Even during my Engineering, language was not that important.  So my fluency in English language was not that good. When I started coaching classes, all the students were from English medium schools and they were asking questions in English. As their teacher I should be better or at least I should match their skills in my communications with them,  so I developed my English speaking skills. This I learnt from students. Apart from the subject knowledge I gathered during teaching, this is a special skill I Learnt from my students.

VISHWAS: Sir, what is the most valuable advice or suggestions you got from your elders or parents?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: My parents might not have given me wealth, but they have given me a rich cultural heritage.  My parents have advised me to develop the capacity to recognise the right and the wrong in the society.  They also taught me to excel in whatever I do.  They asked me to do the best in life.  Do it to the appreciation of the society. In short they told me to do the best in whatever field I work.

VISHWAS: Which is your favourite art form?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: Obviously it is music.

VISHWAS: Your favourite artist?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: During my engineering student days I was mostly influenced by Ustad Bismilla Khan Shehnai. Presently I like Pt. Venkatesh kumar, Shri Jayatheerth Mevundi, these are great singers. I am very much proud to say that they are from our Karnataka. Even in Carnatic Classical music great singers like Balamurali krishna, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Kunnakkudi Vydyanathan, I was very much impressed by the music of these musicians.  Their violin was great.   There are many artists.  The musical world is like a ocean.  There are many great stalwarts.  In my younger days I wanted to listen to these artists though I could not fulfil my wish in total.

VISHWAS: What is your favourite Raag and Song?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: In my younger days I grew with listening to bhajans and songs.  Any bhajan with classical base attracts me. I liked Raag Hamsadhwani very much in my younger days. Now Raag Patdeep is very attractive. It is a rag sung in the evenings.

VISHWAS: Sir, if the God Almighty gives you only two options, music or teaching which will you choose?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: When you make sweet payasa you need both sugar and milk. If you ask which one you want, it cannot become sweet payasa. You need both. With out a charger you cannot have the mobile working. Without my profession and music it is not a life for me. Your question is like whether you will choose heart or brain, I will say I need both. A human being needs both for his survival as a human.

VISHWAS: Very well said. Sir, as an artist what is your suggestions to the youngsters?
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: One should develop the interest in music. You should put effort. On itself it cannot develop. So put effort. For us during our younger days we had musical atmosphere at home. You should know what is good for you. Your parents should know what is good. In whichever field you put your effort that will be of use to you in your life.  If you develop interest in art forms that will be there through out your life.  So put efforts on the good things in life.

VISHWAS: Wonderful advice 🙂 Today I had the opportunity to be with you with my questions and it was an interesting interaction with you. Thank you sir, for this great interview.
ARTIST NARENDRA L NAYAK: Thank you, Vishwas. I wish you every success in your great concept of Beauty Wall Spot.

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