Amid the storm of viral social media reels, Rishab Rikhiram Sharma’s sitar playing provides soulful serenity. His “classic cool” music breaks through cacophony with a gentle pace that invites you to stop and listen and soak in the magic of music. It’s in those moments that the 24-year-old is getting closer and closer to what he’s trying to achieve. Using my passion for music to spread mental health awareness. The last disciple of sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar, Rishab has taken sitar experiences for mental health offline and even brought them to the White House, using the sounds of Indian classical music as a tool for transforming the minds of people. was reintroduced to
Music is literally in his blood. As the fourth generation of the famous Rikiram family of Luthiers, Rishabh’s encounter with music came early in his life.
“I was born… surrounded by instruments, seeing how they were constructed, watching my father tie the frets. I would often wake up to sounds or my father tapping on the frets, and I was very interested in making so many noises so beautiful,” he says in a reflective note.
HealthShots has caught up with New York-based Rishab Rikhiram Sharma. It took place at his family’s musical instrument store in New Delhi, in the midst of his whirlwind tour of India. While the walls and glass cabinetry showcase the family’s rich musical ties, Rishab has transformed his art with contemporary yet culturally rooted ideas.
The health benefits of music are not unknown. Sound and healing complement each other. Music not only enhances mood and emotional health, but also uses its healing powers to treat certain ailments.For Rishab, music was a coping mechanism to combat anxiety and grief stages. From classic ragas and his Lo-Fi music to popular Bollywood covers of his songs, pink his panthers and Game of Thrones classics his themes, there is so much he does. I have.
Read an excerpt from the HealthShots interview with Rishab Rikhiram Sharma on sitar for mental health.
Q. What was your first attempt with music?
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: As part of the family tradition, all children take lessons in classical Indian vocal music.My father made my brother and I take these lessons. She was nine years old when I picked up a guitar…my first encounter with a sitar was when a package of broken sitars arrived from overseas. My father was in awe of the instrument, so he quickly fixed it and dried it. The sitar was a very popular instrument. She had made up a story in her head that you had to be a very pure person to play the sitar. I don’t mean to call the sitar the forbidden fruit, but it was always a hoot, so I felt unprepared. I was watching a sitar one day and asked her father, “Would you like to try it?” he was open to it. Within minutes, I understood her Sargam. He said, “I see, lessons start tomorrow.” My father became my first teacher.
Q. When did your sitar training get serious?
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: When I went to Guruji (Pandit Ravi Shankar), he spent hours with me. It was then that I realized that such great figures and dignitaries were spending their time teaching me. I must take responsibility for moving this forward.
I fear the pressure. As a child, I was immature and took it pretty lightly. I could not understand how great the responsibility was to carry the family tradition on my shoulders and carry the Guruji tradition on my back. One makes an instrument and the other plays it. As I get older, I have to be very conscious of how I present the music I play.
Q. Tell me about the mental health sitar.
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: We use Sitar for Mental Health to create more awareness, generate more conversations, destigmatize, and talk about mental health on a human basis. Mental health is an issue that concerns everyone. No one is immune from mental health problems.
Q. But there also happens to be a bigger bias when it comes to men’s mental health issues.
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: I used to be a guy who looked down on mental health like that. But I had my own episodes of anxiety and depression, so I had to learn it the hard way. We must also take responsibility for our health. It’s just as important, if not more.
Watch the full HealthShots interview with Rishab Rikhiram Sharma here!
Q. When did you realize sitar was your coping mechanism?
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: Ever since I was a kid, the sitar has been my coping mechanism. After a bad day at school, I went home to practice and let my emotions flow. But what I was feeling and how I was reacting to it was not clear to my conscience. When I realized what was happening to me, I was at my peak and sought help from a therapist. But when I returned to practice, I realized that the sitar was my happy place and music was my therapy.
We also have a great support system, which we are very grateful for. My friends and family supported me in seeking help. When I don’t feel like it, I meet someone. Don’t be shy to ask for help. It only makes you stronger, it doesn’t make you look weaker.
Q. What would you tell women about how to deal with men battling mental health issues?
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: I think some people call it Manspray (laughs). Well, it’s very icy ground when someone is going through something. I often don’t know how to operate it. Just be careful with your words. Check how you speak and how you say it. All you can do for someone who is feeling anxious or depressed is just be there and let them feel your presence. you can’t fix them. Don’t think you can fix it yourself. Just give them love and reassurance. And when something gets out of hand, leave it to the professionals.
Q. What do you do when you’re not playing the sitar?
Rishab Rihiram Sharma: I’m a pretty boring person. I am always surrounded by music. It’s my absolute life. When he’s not playing the sitar, he’s making music. Everything is around music.