Priya Darshini is a Brooklyn based singer, athlete and philanthropist. In this episode of A Show of Hearts, Priya discusses her experience growing up in India, how she and her family began taking care of pediatric cancer patients and how she became the first Indian woman to complete the Himalayan 100 Mile Ultra Marathon. Listen to her and host Rosemary talk about having the courage to follow your heart and pursue your passions without sacrificing practicality and about how they believe music is a form of magic. Though she has musical influences from all over the world and sings in 18 languages, her roots are in Indian Classical music. She describes the inspiration her Indian upbringing provides her to this day, particularly her grandmother, an accomplished singer and dancer whose name was also Priya Darshini.
Priya belongs to several bands that mix genres, cultures and languages, including The Epichorus, the Karsh Kale ensemble, and the recently launched Priya Darshini Trio. She co-leads Women’s Raga Massive, with whom she co-produces a festival called Out of the Woods, now in its third year. Priya occasionally sits in with her husband Max’s band, House of Waters, in which every member of the group is from a different country. In February, she teamed up with them at a house concert at Rosemary’s home in Miami, which was an extraordinary, intimate evening. Towards the end of the show, you’ll hear a clip of her from that night, singing a love song in Hindi. As you’ll experience, her otherworldly voice is multifaceted, pure and heartfelt. And, if you’re ever in New York, she regularly leads fascinating music workshops at The Met, explaining what’s going on in various forms of music, so you know what you’re listening to.
On top of a thriving music career, she helps run her family’s organization focused on pediatric cancer and education, adopting and operating schools in India. Priya also founded her own social venture called The Wind Chasers, which organizes ultramarathons throughout the Himalayas, and supports the livelihood of many Sherpa people. She explains how her intense experience as an ultramarathon runner has shaped her thinking and her life decisions. Listen and enjoy her singing, her life story and her reflections.
Priya Darshini’s website: https://priyadarshini.com/bio
Priya’s organization, Jana Rakshita: http://www.janarakshita.org
The Epichorus: http://theepichorus.com
The Wind Chasers: http://www.thewindchasers.com/
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Rosemary Pritzker: You’re listening to A Show of Hearts, the podcast about finding the courage to live a deep and magical life. I’m your host, life coach, Rosemary Pritzker.
Priya Darshini is a Brooklyn-based singer, ultra marathon runner, and pediatric cancer philanthropist who was born and raised in Bombay, India. Her roots are in Indian classical music, but she has influences from all over the world. She belongs to several bands that mix genres, cultures, and languages including the Epichorus, the Karsh Kale ensemble, and she recently started the Priya Darshini trio. She co-leads Women’s Raga Masive with whom she co-produces a festival called Out of the Woods now in its third year.
Priya also occasionally sits in with her husband Max’s band, House of Waters in which every member of the group is from a different country. In February, she teamed up with them at a house concert at my home in Miami which was an extraordinary intimate evening. Towards the end of this episode, you’ll hear a clip from her that night singing a song in Hindi. As you’ll experience, her other worldly voice is multifaceted, pure, and heartfelt. I hope you enjoy her singing, her life story and her reflections as much as I do. For now we’ll start with Priya with the Epichorus singing a song in Hebrew called Odecha.
When someone talks about following the heart, what does that evoke for you?
Priya Darshini: What does that evoke for me? Often times when someone says follow your heart, as I’m getting older, the first thing my brain says is, “Oh, but you also have to be practical.” I didn’t really think like that when I was much younger. When I was younger, I just did anything that I wanted to and I just had this complete confidence. It felt like I had the world ahead of me and the entire world was … It was available for me to explore, and anything was possible. I just did all of that, and so when someone says that to me now, I do have that extra like this thing in my brain that says, “Yes, follow your heart, but also make sure that you’re making practical moves.” I often go back and tell myself that, “Hey, you’re here today because you followed your heart all your life, so don’t forget that and you’re going to be fine.”
Rosemary Pritzker: Yeah. It’s both like, yeah, you really do need to follow your heart in order to create a really wonderful life, and you do have to be practical so it’s got to be a balance.
Priya Darshini: It has to be a balance, definitely. I also think that when you really, really want something very bad, the universe conspires to make it happen for you, and you make that happen for yourself. If it doesn’t happen, you haven’t wanted it bad enough. I really believe that because when you really want something so bad, all your actions, and your thoughts, all of that just follows what you want and just everything starts to fall in place even if there are hurdles, when you’re in that passionate mode of really wanting something, hurdles seem so small. The biggest challenges seem small, and you really feel positive about it as well. If you don’t want it bad enough then even the smallest of hurdles, smallest of challenges just start to feel much bigger.
Rosemary Pritzker: I would love to know about your childhood in India, what that was like.
Priya Darshini: Wow.
Rosemary Pritzker: For those of us who have never been to India, and don’t know how different it is.
Priya Darshini: Oh, India is very, very different from any other part of the world, I would say. It’s hard to describe actually. I still struggle to find a word to describe what India is really like because every part of India is so different, and it’s so diverse. There’s so many languages, so many different types of cuisine. When they say Indian food in America or anywhere else, typically, everyone is talking about …
Rosemary Pritzker: Chicken tikka masala.
Priya Darshini: Yeah. From one state called Punjab. It’s all from one state. I’m saying every state has its own cuisine, and even within every state, there’s so many different versions of cuisines and you can imagine how diverse it is. I mean, if you try one dish, every day of your life, I feel like you could go on for years and not repeat a single dish. That’s how diverse the cuisine is. Cuisine, language, all of that, the kind of diversity that India offers, it makes us very unique type of person because you’re exposed to so many different things. You’re approach to life and the world just changes. India is also very difficult, it’s very difficult.
I thought when I moved from Bombay to New York, everyone told me, “Oh, New York is going to be so rough. It’s like it’s a big hustle.” When I got to New York, I was like, “Oh, I know this. I got this.” It’s actually way more convenient. The train comes on time. I have to walk only two minutes for a subway. Are you kidding me? That’s awesome. The hustle is totally fine. I got it. I grew up in Bombay, and I was born in Chennai, in the south of India, and I was in Pondicherry for about a couple of years, and then moved to Bombay.
Bombay, like I said it’s a lot like New York. It’s almost like New York on steroids or something. It’s crazy, but also it has this incredible energy about it. People are so positive about everything which I’m so glad that I had … I mean, I’m so glad I had that influence in my life. I used to go to school by train. I take a bus, and then a train like the local transport. I don’t know if you’ve seen those trains. It’s crazy. People are hanging out of the train. There’s no space to stand. I would take a bus and a train, and then walk to school, and even to college, I took these trains every day.
You’ll see on these trains that the women especially because it’s such a patriarchal society still, unfortunately, the women you’d see that these are women who are working, the middle class women are working because they have to … Bombay is also incredibly expensive. If you go out to a restaurant, I almost spend more than I spend in New York for a good meal. Yeah, you wouldn’t believe. Bombay can be very expensive, but you can also get meals very cheap, but it’s a lifestyle thing. Middle class women have to work to support their families but because it’s so patriarchal they also have to do the cooking, and the cleaning and things like that.
What I would find so inspiring is none of these women, they’re going to work, they’d come back from work and on the way in the train. On the train, firstly, there’s no space. We’re all crowded and cramped like this, and they’d be chopping vegetables, and singing songs. They would have women’s groups just like singing bhajans and all kinds of kirtans. Just movie songs playing this game called antakshari where you play like a tag thing that people play with songs. If you sing a song, then you immediately sing, the other team sings a song from the last letter or something like that.
Anyway, they would just keep that joyous positive energy alive while chopping vegetables. I know for a fact that these women have woken up at 5:00 AM getting their kids ready for school, cooking and getting their breakfast ready, packing lunch for the kids, and their husbands, and then getting themselves ready, going to work, on the way back, chopping all these vegetables, and so that they can get home and make dinner for their family again, and then do that over again, all over again, every day.
Just to see that kind of attitude is like that really … That’s why I’m talking about it’s just one example of what Bombay is like, and I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere in the world. Growing up in Bombay, what it taught me was I just don’t complain about anything. I’m like everything seems like a privilege. “Wow. This is a clean bathroom. That’s amazing.” India checks your privilege in a lot of ways. At least for me because I didn’t grow up rich or anything like that. That’s a whole different scenario. If you’re rich, that’s a different experience.
Rosemary Pritzker: In India?
Priya Darshini: Yeah. You did ask me how my life was growing up at home. That was very different because I’m very, very grateful to have had the most inspiring, giving generous kind parents in the world. We had a tiny … I think a one bedroom, or two bedroom really tiny apartment. We weren’t really that well to do, but my mother would bring in cancer patients that she found on the streets because this was even before we had a nonprofit organization. She just wanted to help in whatever way she could, and because we didn’t have money so she wanted to help … She wanted to serve. That was her way to help service so she would bring home patients who were actually getting treatment and they didn’t have anywhere to live. These were very, very underprivileged people and underserved people.
She’d bring them home, and they just live with us. I grew up like that. She’d train me and my sister to care for them and just share whatever we had. I mean, we didn’t have a room or anything, just like, “Okay. Here’s someone now. They’re going to be here for two weeks so you’re sleeping there in the kitchen or somewhere else in the living room like sure, okay.” I didn’t know it was a different kind of life until I started going to school, and I started talking about these things when I was older. I was like, “Oh, you don’t have strangers living in your home?”
My dad, he’s really all about education for girls, and also education just for everybody, so even though we didn’t have much, he was funding so many kids, their education for years, and then eventually as I got trained more and more, we were able to offer them a better place not just our apartment. We started a nonprofit, so now we … It’s called Jana Rakshita. Since 2004, we’ve been able to do it in a much more organized proper way. We work in pediatric cancer and now, we’re building schools. Especially focusing on Adivasi indigenous people. We’re building schools for them that focus on girls. Now, we’re focused on pediatric cancer. Earlier it was just adults, adolescent, and pediatric cancer now. We focus on pediatric cancer.
Rosemary Pritzker: How did you guys get focused on cancer in the first place?
Priya Darshini: Firstly, cancer is such a difficult disease. It’s so difficult, not just for the patient, it’s difficult for the whole family. It is so taxing financially. It’s a long, long oftentimes, not in every case of course, but it’s such a long disease in the sense like it takes years to … For recovery, oftentimes it comes back. How this all started was … There’s a very … There’s a really good hospital called Tata Cancer Hospital in Bombay, and it’s one of its kind in all of Asia. It offers subsidized treatment, and does not subsidize the quality of the treatment which is why there’s patients coming from all over the country, from Bangladesh, from everywhere, all over Asia the people come there.
That means that the hospital is overwhelmed with patients and there’s no spaces, no beds … When they’re getting chemotherapy for example, it’s over a period of five, six weeks maybe, two weeks, whatever. A lot of these patients come from really remote parts of the country, and they don’t have the money to travel back and forth while ongoing treatment. They can’t really even travel because it’s so hard on their bodies. They just sleep on the streets, and I’ve watched people like women give birth on the streets while their husband or someone is getting treatment. They’re all living on the streets.
That kind of thing is just insane. I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere else. My mother just started bringing them home. I think that’s how it all started. Also, her mother was a social worker. Her brothers are also social workers. The whole family they’re all beautiful people like that and are so giving. One of my skills was to be able to work with these kids in a very personal way. I was able to communicate with them in a way that really was helpful. I was working on the field a lot, and now that I’m so far, I’m in New York, and it’s been five or six years really.
I’m not working in the field. I miss that because believe it or not, I got way more than I was able to give. It’s always the case. Life made sense to me like that. It was also the kind of life I knew because I grew up like that, but now living in New York has been so hard. I’m not able to have that personal connection with the kids. I know so many of the kids, and they make that bond with you, and they want to see you, and I miss them. They miss me too.
From New York, now I’m able to do a lot of other stuff, backend stuff, and I keep going back so I can keep helping with newer projects. This time when I was there, I just got back last week. We adopted another school, it’s a government run school in the middle of nowhere in Maharashtra. It has nothing just like this is a really dilapidated building with just two rooms, and there’s like first, second, third in one classroom, and the fourth, and fifth in one classroom. They’re all studying together. They don’t have water. There’s no electricity. The building might fall apart anytime, and yet these kids are so invested in their education. They have such big dreams, and it’s …
Rosemary Pritzker: They’re probably more dedicated to their studies than most American kids.
Priya Darshini: You know what, yes.
Rosemary Pritzker: I’m sorry. American kids just, I feel like, mostly a lot of them take their educations for granted because it’s like this thing that everyone does and most American kids I feel like school is a drag.
Priya Darshini: Right. I mean, it is a privilege, education is a privilege. These kids, for them, they’re so hungry, so hungry. I’d bring them books and by the next week, they would read every single book, and they’d be able to answer every single thing. They’re hungry for … They’d be like, “Can you bring me that book? Can you bring me this book?” I’d be like, “Wow. You read all of it?” These kids are quietly like … Sometimes I’d hear nothing, and I’d be like, “Wait. Is the school open? Are there kids inside?” I would walk in, and every child is so quiet, and studying so well disciplined. It makes it so worth it.
Rosemary Pritzker: Often students in schools in underdeveloped areas, face challenges that are so basic. It’s something as simple and as complicated as a toilet can make the difference between dropping out and graduating. This is the case in many developing countries throughout the world.
Priya Darshini: A lot of the girls would drop out after fifth or sixth grade when they would get there, period because all these kids walk like 8 to 10 kilometers, and this is a jungle like nothing is around. They walk 8 to 10 kilometers. It’s not safe for the girls firstly, and then they’d come to schools and there’s no … This particular school didn’t have toilets, there’s no hygiene facilities, so the girls started dropping out. We just constructed toilets. Something as simple as that, all the girls started coming back to school. What is so interesting and fascinating about this is that the schools that we’re working with, they’re literally about an hour and 15 minutes away from Bombay from the city.
You’d go to the city, and like you find some of the wealthiest people in the entire world. The wealthiest people who have everything. The economic disparity is so much, you have everything. Then you get out, by one hour outside and they don’t have electricity. We want to bring in solar energy and solar panels and also trying to see how we can … A lot of the Adivasi children, they’re basically farmers, and now they’re all … The farmers’ suicide rate in India is insane and of course the corporations are coming in. Monsanto has arrived, so the small farmer is out.
Rosemary Pritzker: Well, I’ve heard that in India a lot of them why they’re committing suicide is because they’re being forced to use pesticides that they don’t want to use.
Priya Darshini: They don’t want to use. Also large scale production. They’re not able to beat that. How can they beat that? They don’t have the wherewithal for any of that. Like I was saying the Adivasis are also farmers, and by law they own the land, they’re indigenous people, but the corporations are finding ways to get around that. What if they die? Suddenly, there’s a highway they built through their village and all their cattle gets run over because there’s like a highway through a village, and the kids are walking across the highway in the middle of the night, and they get killed, and then there’s suddenly a huge industry that’s being built in their backyard, and chemicals are flowing their rivers.
Rosemary Pritzker: No wonder they have cancer.
Priya Darshini: Yeah. Boom. Not just that, there’s also other prolific ways in which their land is being taken away from them. What we’re also trying to do is we want to make them realize that being farmers, being a farmer is one of the most important things and they need to be proud of it, because I see that a lot of the Adivasi kids like, “What do you want to be?” “Oh, I want to be am engineer. I want to be a doctor,” which is great. I love that they have these big dreams. What do your parents do, the farmers? What do your parents want you to do? What would you actually like to do?” It’s like, “I would love to work on the farm. This is all I know, but it’s not going to bring me money.” So that’s why they want to become engineers often times, or doctors, and I’m like, “Wait, but you can be proud of who you are, and you can continue doing that.” But they don’t want to because they’ve seen what happens.
Rosemary Pritzker: Did you have any heroes or mentors besides your parents when you were growing up?
Priya Darshini: So many. My grandmother was one of my biggest heroes. I have her name actually. She was an incredible artist. She was a dancer, a Bharatanatyam dancer, and a Carnatic classical vocalist, and received this title called Chandrika Priyadarshini which is what you receive when you’re excelled in the field. She used to perform like two-hour performances on stage from when she was six or seven years old. Bharatanatyam was a very difficult classical form, and she would not only dance but she’d also accompany herself singing while dancing.
Rosemary Pritzker: What?
Priya Darshini: It’s crazy.
Rosemary Pritzker: That’s like some Beyonce stuff.
Priya Darshini: That is some Beyonce stuff, but we’re talking Bharatanatyam. We’re talking Carnatic classical which is so intricate. She would do all of that. She is amazing. She’s also an incredible cook. She was also again very generous. She worked at hospitals and dedicated her time helping people. She was one of my biggest inspirations. She is one of my biggest inspirations. Outside of that, I think inspiration from … I think everybody has something to give me, I feel. I meet so many people. The world is full of amazing inspiring people.
Rosemary Pritzker: Is that how you got into singing, is your grandmother?
Priya Darshini: Actually, I got into singing because as a South Indian, this is a thing we just do. I don’t think we have an option just like now you’re four years old, now you have to start learning how to sing classical music or you learn violin or you sing or you learn Bharatanatyam dance, or boys would learn Mridangam or a percussion instrument.
Rosemary Pritzker: Not everybody chooses it as their profession, and dedicates themselves that much.
Priya Darshini: Yeah.
Rosemary Pritzker: How did that come about?
Priya Darshini: I think that came from my grandmother. She quit performing professionally when she was very young. After she had kids and I think right after she got married she quit. There was a lot of reasons and now as I’m getting older, and I’m doing a lot of research about classical music from that time, and the patriarchy, and the Indian classical music world which has been a subject of interest for me in recent times. I’ve been doing research about that, and I found out a lot about the time that she was a professional musician. The society made it very difficult. Women were not looked at with a lot of respect if you were actually a performer, and dancing on stage.
Bharatanatyam for example today, it’s one of the most … It’s a classical, pure classical dance form and it’s so respected, and it’s like cultured. That’s today. But when my grandmother was dancing, Bharatanatyam was almost about to die. Around that time, I’m talking about 1930s, only the Devadasis danced and the Devadasis are typically the women like people would see them as sex workers or just people who are women who are lose or who are dedicated themselves to entertaining men. That conservatism came from the British, that came also from the missionaries that were in India around that time.
Then the Brahmans also were very conservative so the British, their conservative attitudes and the missionaries, that kind of really worked well with the Brahmans and so they were like, “Okay, cool. We’re going to take this.” The women were not really … They were not allowed to dance. Only in 1929 or 1930s when they started trying to break through that. Rukmini Devi and the Madras Academy, they were some of the foremost people who are trying to break into that whole scene, and saying, “Hey, this is a studding beautiful art form, and it’ll die if we don’t protect and save it.
My grandmother was a professional artist in those times. That was a difficult time to navigate. Even though she did perform a lot and she did a lot of Bharatanatyam performances as well, eventually I think she caved in, and gave up because also she was like, “I have kids I’m going to teach now.” I wanted to be a performer for her in a way also. In the beginning, that’s how it all started. It was like, “Oh, paati.” Paati is grandmother in Tamil. It’s like, “Paati, if you can do it, I’m going to do it for you. Don’t worry. I got it. I got your name so I’m going to do it for you.” I keep telling her before she passed. I always dreamt of being a musician, and a performer. I’m more a musician since I was a child. I couldn’t see a life outside of it.
Rosemary Pritzker: That’s lucky because a lot of people spend their whole lives searching for what is their thing. In my case, it’s like, “Ooh.” I get so passionate about so many different things and focusing is my issue, so to …
Priya Darshini: I have that too. I definitely have that. Especially now is a time when people are now beginning to see why that is a very special thing to have, to be able to do different things. Innovation comes from that it doesn’t come from doing one thing all the time. You have to have the ability to have talent and skills, and cross-disciplines.
Rosemary Pritzker: My ex-boyfriend used to say specialization is for insects.
Priya Darshini: That’s funny. Are you able to find a common thread between all the things you really like and are passionate about?
Rosemary Pritzker: Several.
Priya Darshini: That you can put together?
Rosemary Pritzker: Yeah.
Priya Darshini: The common thread is you, right?
Rosemary Pritzker: Totally.
Priya Darshini: You are the common thread.
Rosemary Pritzker: The common thread is like what I’m passionate about, and taking the different passions and seeing where they overlap. In my case a lot of times, it’s really exploring other cultures, and seeing how I can mix them in a way that’s colorful and alive, and beautiful, and really meaningful. I love doing that through food, through music, through culture in general, and just seeing the lines between cultures melting away. That’s why actually, that’s how I ended up in New York is I actually went to spend a summer in New York in 2004 and dropped out of college to stay because I was like this is the cultural capital of the world. I’ve always wanted to basically travel the world as much as possible and explore as many other cultures as I can, but I was like they’re all here.
Priya Darshini: They’re all here. That’s true.
Rosemary Pritzker: When you’re in New York, they’re all there. They get mixed …
Priya Darshini: There’s every kind of person.
Rosemary Pritzker: They get mixed together there in a way there that I haven’t seen to the same extent anywhere else. I mean, it’s why the Epichorus and House of Waters and all these things get to exist is because of a melting pot like New York.
Priya Darshini: Right. Even though the boundaries are blurring, it all gets mixed in New York, but I think New York also allows for each of these cultures to maintain its identity, and that’s necessary. That’s also a very beautiful thing.
Rosemary Pritzker: That’s one of the coolest things about New York is like … I feel like a big part of why New York is so liberal is because you move there and, you can’t help but have your eyes constantly opened because I live in New York for nine years, and every time I walk outside there, I marvel at how many languages I hear. I hear more other languages than I hear English, every single time.
Priya Darshini: Yeah. I mean, which is why New York feels like home to me as well because India has so many languages and just traveling from one state to another would feel like going to a whole different country. Yeah, and I sing with so many different bands. One of the reasons I moved to New York was to, again, learn and study all these different forms in music that exist out there and learn from it, and take inspiration from it, and bring that into what I do. My solo project that I’m working on is going to take a while, gig. I’m hoping for it to be a cross-disciplinary performance piece.
You’ll hear all of my influences, everything. Everything that has just made me, me, and it’s just my experiences from traveling and living in different places, and getting to know people from around the world. Again, in New York there’s some of the most brilliant musicians from around the world who live right there, and you can bump into them like a small venue down the street. They’re so open and warm and welcoming, and I sing and collaborate with them, and then I learn from them, and they’re going to give you lessons. It’s very beautiful like that. Sometimes we’ll exchange lessons. I’ll give them a voice lesson, or Indian classical lesson, and they’ll give me another lesson in return. It’s like it’s beautiful.
Rosemary Pritzker: I feel a good example of all that is Joe’s Pub.
Priya Darshini: Oh, yeah. I love Joe’s Pub.
Rosemary Pritzker: I love Joe’s Pub. I mean, that has been one of my favorite venues in New York for a really long time.
Priya Darshini: Me too.
Rosemary Pritzker: What I love about it is it’s small, and intimate, and the acoustics are great, and everything, but you can see everything from … I saw Sara Bareillis there. To see Sara Bareillis in such a small venue is amazing, but then you’ll hear obscure people that no one has heard of who just happen to be totally amazing.
Priya Darshini: The curation is really good.
Rosemary Pritzker: We talked about our mutual friend Bill Bragin who used to be the director of Joe’s Pub. He’s also the founder of a well known world music festival in New York called globalFEST which brings together cutting edge bands from all over the world. It’s a blast. I’ve been many times, and Priya has performed there as well. I’ve discovered a lot of my favorite music at globalFEST and it’s also where I got to know the founders of Afropop Sean and Banning who I interviewed for my show last year.
Priya and I discussed how incredibly talented Bill Bragin is at curating music. A few years ago, he moved away to become the executive and artistic director of the Art Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. I think Bill Bragin has brought a lot of wonderful stuff to New York. Bill, if you’re listening … I’ll have to send this to him. We love you.
Priya Darshini: Yeah, we do. Come back.
Rosemary Pritzker: Anyway, so tell me a little bit more about what is the Epichorus, what is Women’s Raga Massive?
Priya Darshini: The Epichorus was started by Zach Fredman. A really beautiful composer. He writes beautiful melodies. He’s a very good Oud player.
Rosemary Pritzker: Insane Oud player.
Priya Darshini: Yeah, and so talented. Just beautiful heart.
Rosemary Pritzker: And a really lovely rabbi.
Priya Darshini: Yeah, very. There’s only one of his kind in New York, definitely, in the world. He’s such a beautiful songwriter, and Max actually introduced me to Zach saying, “Hey, you guys should … I don’t know what’s going to happen, but you should do something together. At that point Zach was like, “Wait. I play middle eastern music. I play Oud. You’re using Indian classical music. I don’t know.” The work that he does, a lot of it is in Hebrew. I was like, “Well, I could sing in Hebrew.” He’s like, “Do you speak Hebrew?” I was like, “Nope, but I can learn.” I love learning languages.
Rosemary Pritzker: How many languages do you sing in, five?
Priya Darshini: I sing in about 18 or something.
Rosemary Pritzker: Oh my god.
Priya Darshini: I don’t speak all of those. I speak maybe seven or eight of those. Fluently maybe four.
Rosemary Pritzker: That’s impressive.
Priya Darshini: Conversationally seven or eight and it comes back when I start speaking with someone. A lot of the others I can just … I actually write out so the Hebrew script that I sing with the Epichorus, I write out in the Devanagari script. I’m working on creating own script actually, and I’ve been working on it for a while. I use diuretics, and a combination of the Latin and the Devanagari script to be able to pronounce any language. It’s still in the works but so far all the languages that I’ve been singing on, it’s really been very useful. I’m able to pronounce the words as close to original as possible.
How I know this is because when I’m done with the gigs, sometimes I’ll have the audience come up and start speaking in that language very fluently. I’m like I don’t understand a word of what you said. They’re like, “You sounded so authentic. You sounded like you speak it really well,” and I was like, “Nope. I just … ” Then I show them my script, and they’re like, “Wait. What?”
Rosemary Pritzker: It’s like you’re on secret language. Well, you were talking about the other night about, that you were talking about the other night of like when it comes to music it doesn’t matter if you understand afterwards. It’s the feeling. It’s the magic that it creates, and how it moves you.
Priya Darshini: Definitely. I mean, words are heavy. Words have a lot of meaning, lyrics, poetry, it’s beautiful. I feel like, yes, in a way, if you don’t understand the lyrics it could feel like it’s taking away something from the song, but I … Also a thing that it could add something because then you interpret what you’re listening to in our own way. Also, again, lyrics are so poetic, these words express emotion even just by the sound of it which is why I love language. Every language has … All the words carries so many emotions, and the way they … The melody with how they’re spoken itself tells you something. Certain words can be harsh and certain words can be soft. I think it just conveys the meaning and the emotion even just by the sound of it even if you don’t understand the meaning of the word.
Rosemary Pritzker: They’re like tools that you’re utilizing.
Priya Darshini: Yeah. For example sometimes in Indian classical music, I’m singing the names of the notes. It’s called Sargam, and it doesn’t need lyrics. Sometimes you’re just singing in Alap which is just like ah’s and oh’s and you don’t really need lyrics either. It depends on how you want to listen to a song I guess. I enjoy listening to music that I don’t understand the language for also. You see language is just a tool for communication. Yes, words are heavy, poetry is beautiful. You can express so much with very little. It’s an art form by itself. Language is an art form. Also, sometimes you can communicate without any words.
Rosemary Pritzker: I really feel like music is actually a form of magic. Honestly, I really feel that way.
Priya Darshini: Agreed. I would never argue that. Yes.
Rosemary Pritzker: I mean, with the magnitude to which it is able to move people. The other night when you were performing here, I felt it so much and then my friend Michelle came up to me afterwards and she was like, “I was moved to tears.” Multiple people said similar things.
Priya Darshini: I think intention plays a very big part in music. A lot of my study has been in Indian classical music and that study has taught me about how every single note that comes out of you has to be intentional. It has to have purpose. Even the silence has purpose so that has to be intentional. It shouldn’t just be like vomiting stuff. It has to be very intentional. Any classical music focuses a lot on that stuff because it’s entirely 100% improvised, so you can’t really … You have to be very, very present. You have to be incredibly in the moment and that’s why it’s so introspective like people are listening to it even if you don’t know how Indian classical music works.
It’s a very intellectual form of music, but at the same time when you’re listening to it, even if you don’t know that, you feel the spiritual … You get vibe. It’s a very introspective vibe. You want to close your eyes and just be in the moment. That whole music, because of the improvised nature of the music, and it forces you to be in the moment, not just the … The artist has to be in the moment, and that moment will never come back again which is beautiful because you’ll never be able to perform the same thing twice. None of it is memorized, not of it is … There’s no notation for this stuff.
Rosemary Pritzker: It sounds like it’s like its own form of spiritual practice.
Priya Darshini: It is. It’s definitely my spiritual practice. It’s meditative and it really … A lot of it is about dropping your ego because music is always going to be bigger, and the more that comes in the way, what I’m singing sounds worse like, “Oh, crap. I need to fix that.” A lot of how I’ve approached music comes from whatever I learned in any classical music, and the idea of being very intentional is important. I know several different cultures do that in their styles in music as well but intention really passes on so when I’m singing and there’s an audience that I can connect to and they’re looking at me, and I can … I want them to feel a certain way. I try and have that in my heart when I’m singing every note.
Rosemary Pritzker: I’ve noticed how present you are the whole time but also I feel like there are these little moments where you just … There’s this expansiveness where you’re so in it. It’s so hard to explain what I’m seeing in these moments. You know what I’m talking about?
Priya Darshini: Yes. I’m lost sometimes. I just lose myself.
Rosemary Pritzker: I feel like sometimes it’s the moments where you’re singing really softly. Not always, but that’s where I felt it the most. There’s this tenderness and sweetness but power to it at the same time which is an interesting balance to strike. I was wondering if you could speak to in those moments where you’re really transcending and just letting go and feeling it. What is that like? I know it’s beyond words to try and describe it, but what’s happening for you in those moments?
Priya Darshini: Those moments that you’re talking about, I think those are … I know exactly what you’re talking about because I get there at several points in time. I wish I could be there the whole time, and that’s what I’m hoping for. Those moments, I’m just so connected to myself, and I just am … I become a vessel. I’m not even there. It’s not me who’s doing the singing. It’s just happening through me. That’s really an incredible moment for me also. I feel so full and alive, and I also feel so grateful and humbled because it’s not me.
Rosemary Pritzker: I’m getting goosebumps just hearing you talk about it because I’ve witnessed you in those moments, and it … What you’re describing really comes through. I feel like those of us who are watching are basically just sitting there in awe of whatever it is that’s coming through.
Priya Darshini: I’m grateful. Playing is so beautiful. One of the things that I really enjoyed was not having … I wasn’t wearing my footwear. I was bare feet. That helped me stayed grounded. I also like that. There was no stage. That really takes away that separation from the audience and you, so you’re just one. I could feel what was coming back to me. I’m looking at everyone right in front of me just right there. When you’re doing something and you immediately see how it’s affecting someone, it really inspires you to keep doing that. That was it. That was human connection.
Rosemary Pritzker: Yeah. Just human to you.
Priya Darshini: How could I have that on Facebook?
Rosemary Pritzker: That’s beautiful.
Priya Darshini: I cannot have that on Facebook.
Rosemary Pritzker: Speaking of human connection, so tell me about Max. How did you guys meet? what’s the story there?
Priya Darshini: This is really funny. Max was actually studying in India. This was around 2010 or 2011. He got a grant to study in India with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma so he was there living in Bombay for two years, but when he was living there I was actually living in Nashville Tennessee. I was singing with Future Man Roy Wooten and that whole seen in Nashville. I was there and I was going back and forth. I also had a job in London so I just keep going back and forth.
One of the times that I was visiting Bombay, I met Max at this party. This guy who was really interested in dating me, he was like, “Come to this party, come to this party.” I was like, “Okay. Is someone playing … What’s happening there.” I didn’t really want to to go and he was like, “There might be music. There might be a jam session.” I was like, “Whose going to play?” He was like, “I don’t know.” Then he sends me Max’s website or something, and I was like, “Oh, okay. Sounds interesting. I’ll come.” I go there and Max shows up without an instrument and I was like, “Oh, okay. There’s no Jam Session.”
We chatted then and then there was this instant connection. It was we talked about music and we had this deep musical connection immediately because we talked about the artist that I really look up to, and I talk about Indian classical music and he’d been studying in classical music. He’s talking about introspection. Our first conversation became so deep, it was all about introspection, and I was like, “Okay, that’s cool.” The week after we connected and we had a jam session, and that was beautiful. To have a musical connection was again just really, really I felt like I knew him even though we hadn’t spend any time together.
Then I left. I went back to Nashville. Months later, many months later, in fact a year later, I was coming back to India and actually a couple of months after I came back to India, I didn’t really … I didn’t remember he was still there. I forgotten about that. Then I suddenly remembered, I was like, “Oh, Max was here.” I was trying to get back to all my music connections in Bombay, and I was like, “Oh, I should give him a shout.” When I called Max, he was actually moving back to New York, and we had one week. I was like, “Oh, dammit.” We spent that week together going to concerts, playing more music. We’re like, “Wow. I think there’s something here, but you’re leaving. I don’t know what’s going to happen but this could be anything. This could be a beautiful friendship.”
He left, we stayed in touch. We would talk every day on Skype. Again, it was all about very deep introspections of life and just wanting to be a better person, and trying to find the tools to call ourselves out on our bullshit. I feel like that’s the most important thing to recognize our own bullshit. We were on that process, and like that’s how we became best friends. Three or four months after chatting on Skype like that one day he’s like, “He had just left.” He’s like, “Okay. I’m coming to Bombay, to see you.” I was like okay. I was like, “Don’t expect anything.” He’s like, “No, no, no. I’m not expecting anything to come out of this, but I don’t want to regret that I didn’t try. I just want to know what this is. If this turns out to be just the most incredible friendship, I would be so happy with that.” I was like, “Okay. That’s really sweet.”
He showed up in Bombay and we spent … Actually, we traveled to a couple of national parks. I love wildlife, and all my holidays are typically national parks or just jungles, wildlife, mountains. I took him into a wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in India. He saw tigers and elephants, and he was like, “Oh my gosh.” We played music in the jungle. It was beautiful. He came back. We had a two-and-a-half year long distance relationship, and then eventually I moved. I was coming out of another long-distance relationship, and I was like, “Okay. I can’t. No more long distance relationship if this has to work. We have to be in the same city.”
Also, the fact that he lived in New York made a lot of sense because I’d been wanting to move to New York for music so it just made sense. I was like okay. I moved to New York, and I’ll have you also to be there. He was there, and for the first couple of years, we just tried to figure out what’s going on, how do we work this in the same city. We didn’t want to put any pressure on each other, and I wanted to make sure that I also have my own individual life. I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. He’s so easy. He’s just the kindest, sweetest person. I mean, that dulcimer, it sounds so sweet. He really is like that. He’s my best friend, he’s my collaborator, he’s my teacher, he’s my student. All of that. It’s just a really beautiful full of relationship. We got married two years ago.
Rosemary Pritzker: Where did you do that?
Priya Darshini: We got married in Bombay.
Rosemary Pritzker: That’s great. I feel like just having witnessed you guys making music together in a couple of different settings with the Epichorus here with House of Waters, it’s like not just a marriage of two people, it’s a marriage of sound that is making more of the magic that I was talking about. There’s something palpable there that’s really special. I mean, first of all, how many people in the US and most parts of the world get to hear traditional Indian singing, much less a hammered dulcimer which is such an obscure instrument, and the two together is like just mesmerizingly beautiful.
Priya Darshini: Thank you. Also, he’s traveled so much like it helps because I wouldn’t be able to connect that deeply with someone who hasn’t traveled and has an experience and lived, immersed themselves in different cultures. He has done that. He lived in synagogue for six or seven years. He moved to Bombay to study his music, so he really practices immersion which to me is very important. He’s like a child of the world and I feel that way to. It just made sense. I’m glad you were able to hear that in our music.
I love stories, I love knowing … I love history, I love knowing something came to be. You learn so much from just knowing that journey because for example, I’m talking to you, I want to know what made you, you because without that aspect, I can gauge you right now but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate because there’s so many layers of you that I could completely miss and all those subtleties and the things that you don’t talk about, the things that you don’t show on your face, all of those things, I wouldn’t know unless I knew your stories, and I knew your entire life.
In that same way, I feel like going back in time, going back years in time, centuries, to our forefathers, our foremothers, it’s so important because what they learned and what they tried to pass on is very important. They did that with good intention. They wanted the further generations to learn from it, and it’s stupid to make the same mistakes again, and again. There’s a lot of learning there, but also just that connection with humans from a different time that makes you feel like, “Wow. We’re actually the same. There’s something beautiful about knowing that we’ve been here for thousands of years and we’re going to be here for a long time,” and that knowledge, it helps me understand.
Sometimes the futility of things that I worry about, it helps me keep things real in a lot of ways like it’s just fine. My parents did this, my grandparents did this, their parents did this. We all have different set of challenges of course. We have completely different lives, completely different journeys. Again, there’s something to be said about how in that journey, there’s such a similar struggle for peace, or a quest for peace or a quest for just human connection. There’s this quest for community, there’s this quest for finding purpose, and meaning in life.
Rosemary Pritzker: I want to give the listeners a taste of a couple of the sings that you sing the other night, but I love if you could explain a little bit about them starting particularly with … There is a love song that you sang towards the end that is just so sweet.
Priya Darshini: That’s actually a composition that was written around 150 years ago, really old composition and it’s based on Rakul Kamaj. It’s a beautiful, again, poetry doesn’t translate very well from different language. I’ll do my best in trying to translate just a few lines of it. There’s one part that goes [Hindi 00:54:31]. It’s talking about lovers and one of the lovers is upset with the other. They talk about missing and longing for the other lover and saying, “Hey, you’re not talking to me. When you’re not talking to me, my playground is barren. My feelings feel empty.” It’s talking about how much they long for them to come back. I could translate line by line, but you know.
Rosemary Pritzker: What language is it?
Priya Darshini: It’s in Hindi, but it’s older version of Hindi, more poetic. Urdu, influenced Hindi. [Hindi 00:55:21]. It’s like the monsoon is now back to leave. It’s coming, it’s going. I got to sing this to remember the lines. (singing) [Hindi 00:55:31] is you left home for foreign lands (singing) [Hindi 00:56:05] is like I don’t find peace anymore. (singing) My lover doesn’t talk to me. (singing) As much as I try and long for you and pray for you, I’m constantly just hoping, hoping against hope that you will come back, but you don’t even talk to me.
I love that song. Again, talking about language. A lot of people came up to me and told me about that. I did tell them it was a love song. I think even if I didn’t tell them it was a love song, I think they would have still felt the same emotions. They came up to me and said that, that really moved them, and even though they didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, it really moved them.
Rosemary Pritzker: What’s your favorite song that you do with the Epichorus or a favorite?
Priya Darshini: I love Azlat that I did the other night. That was actually written by Zach Fredman. Oh my god, what a beautiful composition. It just takes me back. It’s in Aramaic, and it feels like it’s a story from thousands of years ago. There’s something so profound about the lyrics written by Israel Najara. I would translate it for you, but I would be better if Zach does that. In short it’s a hypothetical situation where Moses has died and Moses’ mother, Jochebed is looking for Moses. In a way, it’s also about a mother losing a child, and so it’s a very powerful, very powerful moving piece. Just the composition itself just takes you back in time when I’m singing it, and I feel like I have just transported to several thousand years ago.
Rosemary Pritzker: One thing that we haven’t talked about much yet is your racing, and your life as an athlete. Do you want to just tell us just a little bit about how you got into that?
Priya Darshini: Sure. I was always into sports since I was a kid. Thank god because it saved me so many ways. It became my go-to for everything whenever I was angry, sad, happy, upset, everything. Also, the work that we do, I hadn’t realize that it is traumatic so having children that you love, die in your arms is not an easy thing, and I’m so glad that I have music, and I have sports to just some form of …
Rosemary Pritzker: Expression?
Priya Darshini: … expression, yeah. As a kid, I was a competitive swimmer. In fact as a child outside of being a singer, I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. That was my dream. Every day I had to be involved in some form of some sport or the other. I played cricket, I played badminton, I played squash which is racquetball here, and every type of sport. If I may say so myself is pretty good at it. In 2007, I think it was a really difficult year for me. I was going through a lot and not just that but I was in some form of rut. I needed more, I needed something bigger in my life.
For some reason, everything felt like it was … I needed more challenges. I needed to challenge my brain, my mind. I needed to figure out what the corners of my mind were and what is this? Who am I? Pretty much that was it. Around that time, I met this person called Ram who had just run 160 miles in the Gobi Desert. It was self-supported race. He called me, and I was like, “What? 160, what?” That’s 250 kilometers. It was like “Holy crap. That’s a lot.” I was like, “Wait. Ram, how are you alive? What are you doing? You just run this two days ago?”
He sounded so joyful about that. He’s very good at it. He’s one of those guys. If he talks to you, he’ll get you to run in a week. We started talking about that, and just suddenly I was like, “Wow, I think that’s exactly what I need to do. I need to challenge myself. I need to push all of my boundaries. I need to figure out what this means for me, just who am I? What’s happening in my brain? What am I capable of? Within that 10-minute conversation, I signed up for my first ultra marathon. It was my first race ever. I do not advice anyone to do that, but my first race was 100 mile race in the Himalayas.
It is considered to be one of the most difficult challenging endurance races in the world. People have almost died trying this race. I almost died running it, first time. I had four-and-a-half months to train for it. I’ve always wanted to go to the Himalayas. I feel like I belong there so I was like that’s it, that’s where I’m going. My dream was to climb Everest. It’s not a dream anymore, but it used to be, so I thought this would be a great way to just go to the Himalayas and be like just be there, and find my home there.
I trained for it, and ran that and it changed my whole life. I finished the race which is amazing. I became the first Indian woman, the youngest woman, the youngest person to run the race, and all of that. I found it very strange because I was like that makes no sense. I’m not that good of an athlete because there’s way better athletes in India. I was like, “How could I be the first person to do this?” It makes no sense. Also, just that experience of discovering myself, doing that, this race, it starts at 6,000 feet, goes up to 12,000 feet and back, and you’re running through the most remote location. Basically it’s exactly on the border of India and Nepal.
It’s extreme. This was in November. I was running in negative 18, negative 20 degree temperatures with unobstructed winds from Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, four other world’s tallest peaks. You can’t carry too much gear either so I’m not wearing much. It’s like really fighting a lot of things. The distance becomes a very small challenge. All the other things are the big challenges. What it taught me, actually is also very cool. I took a little recorder with me. I’m so glad I did that because I wanted to make notes of my thought process, while I was doing that. I wanted to see how many times I want to give up or if I do give up or what my process was, I wanted to just learn myself. It was very interesting because after the first three kilometers I’m crying because I had already … it’s high altitude.
I didn’t know how … I was training for it, but I didn’t realize it would hit me so bad, it was like on the side. A lot of us were on the side of the road throwing up within the first kilometer or two. At the end of three kilometers, I was like, “What have I gotten myself into?” I have another 157 kilometers to go and I have to go up to 12,000 feet. Holy crap. From then on, just that experience taught me, I wasn’t even teaching myself. It was just that process, forced me to stop thinking off the finish line because at the beginning, it was all about finish line, finish line. How do I get there?
It’s important to be goal-oriented yes but that was in the training. That was the goal-oriented part, but when I was at the race, if I approached it like that, I would not get there. Then I slowly started thinking about, how do I get to that day’s finish line. Then it became about, “Okay. Forget that. If I think that far, I’m going to get overwhelmed and I’m not going to make it.” Then I start thinking about, okay, how do I just get to the next aid station? Eventually, it came down to how do I just put one foot in front of the other? And that was it.
Rosemary Pritzker: I feel like that everything you just said is a really good metaphor for life.
Priya Darshini: It was. That’s exactly what happened. I think I lived an entire lifetime because I went through every type of emotion, and I pushed my body beyond. Even if you were incredibly well trained, you can’t train really for altitude, you just don’t know how it’s going to affect you or that terrain. Himalayan terrain is like nothing else I’ve ever experience before. You have 70 degree inclines and it’s crazy. There’s cobblestones everywhere. The weather is ruthless. I had hypothermia, but if I look up, I would just see the most beautiful, beautiful divine, just the most stunning mountains, and it would just keep reminding me of why I was there.
Then another thing that I really liked was a part of the race would run through a Himalayan national park, and out here these birds every now and then sing like … There’s one bird that had this specific … I want to try doing that. It would do that. I just keep looking out for that bird. I said I’m making friends with little things that just kept me going, and then there’d be a little cloud just hanging. I wanted to run through that cloud. That experience made me realize the finish line is not an important thing at all. It’s just right now, what I do right now is all that matters. I’ve always been very interested in the life of Sherpas because the Himalayas always felt like home to me, and during that race, I saw how they were being exploited. This is common knowledge that Sherpas are exploited by …
Rosemary Pritzker: And misunderstood. Most people hear the word Sherpa and they think it’s a profession. Most people on earth don’t know that’s an ethnic group.
Priya Darshini: It’s just people.
Rosemary Pritzker: Basically on the border of Nepal and Tibet, right?
Priya Darshini: Yeah. India and Nepal just basically the people who live in the Himalayas. They’re some of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever come across, and super human, super human. Genetically, their lungs are bigger. They’re the most hardworking people I’ve ever come across and they just … They’re so humble about it. It’s amazing. They just amazed me. I wanted to do something for them because we need them to take care of the mountains. The Himalayas are being thrashed which is why I earlier said I wanted to climb Everest. Now, I don’t want to do it anymore. If I do, I want to go, just to clean the mountain because it is thrashed, not only with dead bodies but it’s also thrashed with shit and crap that people have left behind because everyone is trying to go to the top, and it’s this crazy ego thing.
It’s entirely an ego thing now. There are just companies that will take you like, “Oh, you got $50,000? I’ll take you to the top, to the summit of Everest.” You don’t have to even have climbing experience sometimes. It’s this thing everyone wants to put on their checklist like I climb Everest. The actual work that’s being done is by the Sherpas, and they get paid little to nothing for putting their entire lives and danger for running this whole thing. All of these big companies, adventure companies, and climbing companies that organize these expeditions, they are the ones who take all the money, and they thrash the place, and there’s no respect for the mountains.
Bring back all your crap, don’t leave it on the mountain. That’s one of another reason also the communities that were the tiny little three, four house villages that my race would run through. I wanted to bring some money to them also. I wanted basically to inspire more women to do this. In 2007, when I started running ultra marathons in India, I knew two other people who knew what ultra marathons were. Everybody else was making fun of me, they would lay bets on how I would not finish and things like that.
Running on the streets was not safe for me, and it was really against all odds for me to just train for this whole thing, and I wanted to change that, and I wanted to have other people have this experience because once you have those experience, nothing feels impossible anymore. It just feels like you redefine everything for yourself which is why I started this company called The WindChasers. It’s a social enterprise. Because of WindChasers, we’ve been able to support so many Sherpa families and pay them way more than any of these other expeditions would so they don’t have to do life threatening work.
They can start with their families, and we’re trying to bring education to the kids who live in that area, and solar panels, that kind of stuff, but also at the same time have runners experience this incredible thing, and clean up the mountain, raise awareness, environmental awareness, all of that. That’s how WindChasers was started. Also, a selfish reason because I just want to be in the Himalayas. I just want to be there. Any excuse.
Rosemary Pritzker: There’s a lot of intense scary stuff going on in the world right now, and I’m sure you probably have those moments like I do, like we all do of like, “Oh my god. This is like … How are we going to turn this around? There’s so many bad stuff going on. In those moments, what gives you solace or hope? What do you turn to for that?
Priya Darshini: I believe humans are intrinsically good, and I believe that we are all trying … Naturally we want to think positive. No one wants to think the worst for yourself, for the world even though we do think we feel like it’s going there. We always wake up wanting for this to be a good day for ourselves. I do believe that humans want to think positively and want a more positive experience in life. It’s the only thing that gives me some form of peace knowing that maybe it’s just a rough time at some point when this passes.
It’s the ebb and flow. There’s also this whole concept. It could be Kalyug, but whatever it is, it’s the acceptance of what it is, and I definitely believe that there’s more good people in the world. There’s so many good people in the world. The good people are going to make this world a better place.
Rosemary Pritzker: Especially if we have magical music to fuel the resistance of the patriarchy.
Priya Darshini: Oh my god, yes. Also, women are finely coming out of the woods, and hopefully we’ll bring this energy that is needed is so necessary. I didn’t know there was a term for this, ecofeminist, but I really believe that there’s something to be said about the violence towards the planet and towards women, towards the feminine. In general the masculine energy tends to naturally go towards … You go to war, it’s the men who go to war. It’s aggressive. Every person has both. We all have both energies. It’s important to accept that and allow for them both to coexist so that we can have this balance. Females, they nurture so we have the nurturing ability, and that’s what women do.
Rosemary Pritzker: It’s so important.
Priya Darshini: It’s so important. Right now the planet needs that. We need nurture. We need that energy because it’s been the other way for so long. This is not to say we don’t need the men at all, we need each other. We need all kinds of people. We need queer, we need no genders, we need genders. We need all of this, all of us to just be whoever we want to be and coexist and find that balance, but whatever it is, we just need something that is more nurturing.
Rosemary Pritzker: What gifts has music brought to your life?
Priya Darshini: Wow. I mean, that’s my spiritual practice. I feel like that’s my, for lack of a better word, religion. It’s what teaches me about how to see the world, about how to be a better human being, but how to work through my egos, and all of that stuff. Healing, it’s my home. It’s the only thing that I recognize as a safe place.
Rosemary Pritzker: You’re lucky because you have such quality outlets for expressing yourself and for catharsis through both music and athleticism.
Priya Darshini: Yeah. I’m grateful. It’s available to everyone, and not just music, every art form is like that. This is music for me. It could be painting for someone else. It could be poetry for someone else. It could literally be anything. My guru always tells me that it doesn’t matter what you do, even if you’re just raking leaves, you’re doing the dishes, do it with such beauty, do it with such … Give it all, and you’ll find poetry. You’ll find peace in that because that’s what it is. I’m definitely grateful that I have music, and sports, and all of the different outlets that I have, but I think we all have those choices. It’s just available. It’s there.
Rosemary Pritzker: Thank you for listening to Show of Hearts. If you enjoyed what you heard please subscribe in iTunes and share it with your favorite people. Visit our website, ashowofhearts.com where you can sign up for emails and explore all our episodes in depth. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @ashowofhearts. Remember to choose courage even when it’s scary, and join me in igniting the world with our hearts.