...says 26-year-old Sri.U.Ve.Dushyanth Sridhar, who talks to us about his Upanyasam career and balancing it with his IT job
He's just 26, but Dushyanth Sridhar has already captured the imagination of Chennai's spiritually inclined. His Upanyasam and Harikatha sessions in the city have struck a chord with youngsters as well. During a recent visit to the city, this youngster — who works as a product manager at a software company in Mumbai — explains how he packages his sessions, the discerning city audience and more.
How did you get into Upanyasams and Harikatha?
As a kid, I used to listen to a lot of Upanyasams with my family. I also learnt Carnatic music at that stage. Slowly, I started getting interested in scriptures and spent a lot of time reading and understanding them.
Now that you're working and giving discourses, how do you manage your time?
Well, balancing the two worlds isn't tough, but it's not easy either. I spend at least three hours in the night to go to my Upanyasam world; during that time, I keep reading things that have been written in our scriptures. Giving discourses is also a profession; after all, we get paid for it as well. The good aspect is that we derive a lot of joy doing what we do.
Many say that packaging is the need of the hour when it comes to drawing youngsters to these sessions...
Yes, that's true. I try to talk in the language that the youth understand, if they form a good number in the audience. For instance, if I'm talking about the story of Krishna and Sudhama, I bring in references of Harry Potter and his tales. Sometimes, I talk science as for many youngsters, science is their religion. When I connect an old tale with a subject they know, it excites them and they're like, 'Wow, I didn't know this.'
How do you choose the subjects for your discourses?
Sometimes, it's the decision of the organizers and sometimes, it is mine. When I went to Jakarta recently, I chose to speak on Rama as people there connect with the tales in the Ramayana. One of my upcoming series in Chennai will be on Hanuman. It'll be titled Maruti TN 5221, a title that I hope will evoke curiosity and interest.
Your musical background must have helped during the Harikatha sessions...
Today, what we see is more of a Carnatic-based Harikatha with instruments like violin and mridangam. I have used flute and veena as well. It is an art form that's very simple in approach, taking the message to the masses.
Chennai should be the acid test for anybody in this profession...
Oh, yes, Chennai is a big challenge. A lot of stalwarts have delivered discourses here and the audience have grown up listening to them. They will know where I go wrong if I make a mistake.
A lot of youngsters, including school children, are taking up delivering discourses...
I feel they have the ability to speak, but when you're delivering a discourse in a hallowed institution, that's just not enough. They should all read a lot and train hard before they get on stage.