One of the best albums from Ravi Shankar, the infamous Indian sitar player who introduced Indian classical music to Western audiences through his collaborations with the Beatles – most notably George Harrison – and through his European and American tours, which spanned from 1956-2011.
In a 1967 interview with KRLA Beat, Shankar described his music as “tremendously spiritual” with a “tranquil mood.”
“Then it drops into romantic, and, in the end, it is very playful and joyous,” Shankar said, according to The Guardian.
Speaking to a largely counterculture audience in the 60’s, who were known for their experimentation with mind-altering substance, Shankar urged the listener to first give his music a listen while completely sober, suggesting that the sounds of the Sitar alone can have a profound and transformative effect on consciousness.
“If one hears this music without any intoxication, or any sort of drugs, one does get the feeling of being intoxicated. That’s the beauty of our music. It builds up to that pitch. We don’t believe in the extra, or the other stimulus taken, and that’s what I’m trying my best to make the young people, without hurting them, of course, to understand,” Shankar told KRLA.
“I have nothing to say. No, it’s the people’s business if they want to drink, or smoke or take drugs. All I request is that these people just give me a couple of hours of sobriety or sober mind. That’s all I request of them. Whatever they do before or after is not my business.”
Give the album a listen below:
Musicians featured on “The Spirit of India” album:
Ravi Shankar – Sitar
Alla Rakha – Tabla
Mrs. Jiban, Mrs. Widya – Tambura [Tanpura]