Dhyan Basho (27) is very much a young man of our times but with a difference. The 21st century rat race is not for him. An accomplished musician and teacher of music Basho is also into composing, organising music classes and workshops.
A versatile and extremely talented artist, he is an exponent of both Western and Eastern music.
Though not an artist himself, he is very much involved in the art scene in organizing events such as exhibitions and workshops. This is not surprising as his father is renowned Sri Lankan artist Anup Vega.
Space, peace and nature Space and peace are key words for Dhyan Basho as well as nature. And currently, his ’little piece of heaven on earth’ in rural Nalanda gives him all these . Basho lives with his parents, Anup and Devika in Nalanda, Matale District and the land is bounded on three sides by the beautiful Nalanda lake.
No wonder, Basho loves his home and feels it is the best place to be. Basho was born on September 3, 1996 in the cool and misty climes of Sri Lanka’s ‘Little England’, Nuwara-Eliya. Father Anup was working as a chef at the Grand Hotel while also pursuing a career as an artist. When Basho was born Vega decided to devote himself to art and gave up his culinary career.
The family moved to Kandy and it was here that Basho first had a taste of musical training. And the instrument, the traditional thammattama. An old guru who played the instrument in the Dalada Perahera taught Basho how to play it.
By now, Basho was becoming fascinated by many forms of music even though still a toddler.
Then, the family moved to Elabadagama near Pannala in the Kurunegala district. This was Devika’s hometown.
When Basho was five he got a precious gift from his parents, a sister, Isa. The siblings are very close and even though Isa is now married and domiciled in Perth, their bond is even greater.
Basho started schooling at the Elabadagama Maha Vidyalaya, the school that stood adjacent to his home on land donated by his maternal grandfather. He studied here till he sat his GCE Ordinary Level exam and passed it well. He then transferred to the Pannala Jathika Vidyalaya (National School) and aced his Advanced Level examination with Bs in Geography and Sinhala and a C in English Literature.
All this while Basho‘s fascination with music continued and he wanted to learn the piano. He looked for a teacher and found one in the neighboring town of Kuliyapitiya. So eager was Basho to learn the piano that he undertook the 45 minute journey up and down gladly. Under Marie Miss’ tutelage, Basho completed upto Grade 6 of the IWMS exams.
He was still in Elabadagama and he has many fond memories of that life.
He and Isa had ten maternal cousins and they had a rollicking time especially during the holidays. A highlight was joining father Anup at his yoga sessions. These happy days were enhanced by mother Devika’s delicious culinary concoctions using many home grown ingredients. Rice came from their own paddy fields and the gardens at Elabadagama had many varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs. They even grew their own tea. Basho says that his mother Devika’s cooking is absolutely delicious. Her polos (tender jak) curry and the Korean style kimchi pickle. So, it is only natural that Basho is an advocate of healthy food and a healthy lifestyle and is a vegetarian.
As he finished his school career the Colombo based ‘Music Matters’ music academy loomed on Basho’s horizon and he joined it. Though initially he joined as a student, realising his talent and passion for music they made him an offer. They asked him to teach the younger students and they would give him free tuition. Basho readily agreed. It was here that Basho met Isaac Smith from New Zealand who really inspired him. “The way he plays is really out of this world“ exclaimed Basho, his voice full of admiration.
By this time Basho had learnt to play the sitar, guitar, bass, drums and many more instruments and was virtually the ‘self taught musician’.
At this time, Basho began to focus his ambition on getting to the Mecca of Oriental Music, Shantiniketan in Calcutta, India.
This was a totally new, eye opening experience. Only Bengali was spoken and Basho did not speak the language. At first, he found it difficult. The common language that everyone spoke was music. There was music everywhere and Basho revelled in it.
Another unforgettable thing at Shantiniketan for Basho was the Bauls music. This music was created by a sect of bhikkhus who spent their time wandering around and staying in the forest and under trees. They go by the name of ‘Moner–Manush’ meaning ‘People of the heart’. All their worship was in song and poetry. Basho and others would offer these bhikkus alms and chat with them and experience Bauls music. While at this Mecca of music Basho also travelled the area going close to the Himalayan range, Darjeeling and Kalimpong were on his itinerary.
When he returned to Sri Lanka Basho went back to Music Matters and also played with various groups.
Then came another break for this talented and versatile young man. He was offered a place at the Hochschule-Rein Waal, Kamp-Lintfort in Germany to read for a degree in Environment and Energy. Environment being close to his heart Basho gladly accepted the offer. While studying Basho also enjoyed visiting places and basking with his sitar. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic Basho had to return home after one year.
Ever one to take everything in his stride, Basho plunged back into activity teaching and playing with various groups. One of his performance venues is Tracks in Ahangama.
Currently, Basho is focusing on the organisation of NAPS 2023. This is a joint art exhibition by artists Namali Real, Anup Vega and Pia Fernando. Scheduled to be held in November Basho plans to make it more than a mere art exhibition. He plans to introduce a music component with performances and workshops. There will also be art related events.
And what of the future for Basho? He plans to dance to his own beat doing the things he loves. He aims to showcase his compositions, continue playing and teaching music and above all create a gathering place for art and music lovers at his beloved home in Nalanda. There, they could enjoy his music and father Anup Vega’s art.
Basho says that he is what he is today because of father Anup Vega and mother Devika and is deeply grateful to them for their unending love and nuture. He is also very appreciative of the role sister Isa plays in his life.
In conclusion, Basho expresses his deep appreciation to each and everyone who has hel[ed him to dance through life to his own beat.