Three Zen monks took abode on a Himalayan peak for doing penance. They selected a spot as close to the heavens as possible with nothing at all to disturb them at least for a hundred years! They closed their eyes and went into meditation. Time rolled by and at the end of the tenth year one of the monks opened his eyes, looked around and said," Nothing much has changed here." There was no response from the other two who kept their eyes tightly shut. Ten more years passed and the second monk opened his eyes, looked around and said, "You are right! Nothing much has really changed." Another ten years later, the third monk opened his eyes, gave a stern look to the other two and said, "If you people keep chattering incessantly, how do you expect me to meditate?” The Zen monks really like their existence to be extremely quiet as one of them expressed: “Dense bamboo shades my windows, thick moss covers the steps in front, desires die in the quiet, cares disappear-it’s so quiet!” In the same vein, I recall another incident that took place several years back when the famous Ustad Vilayat Khan gave a sitar recital at The Music Academy. It was a packed audience and quite a number of young men could be seen in a pyjama and kurta with a jolna bag hanging from their shoulders and sporting an unshaven face. The combined aroma of incense sticks and flowers filled the hall and created an ethereal atmosphere. The Ustad took an interminably long time to tune his sitar and finally started playing the evening raga of Puriyadhanashri. Just as he was warming up to the alap of the raga, a child wailed in the hall. The Ustad became as mad as a wet hen, stopped playing and left the hall in a huff. No amount of persuasion could bring him back to resume the concert until the wailing child and his mother were sent out of the auditorium for good. In the latest issue of a well known periodical, there is an interview of a young music director who has taken the music world by storm. Answering one of the questions, he says that the outside noise levels do not bother him as long as he is mentally relaxed and is at peace with himself. It is in this state of mind that he is able to conceive new melodies by the dozen. When I read this interview, I could not help thinking of our Vidwans singing at the wedding receptions unmindful of noise levels that usually exceeded Central Station's at peak hours. I once asked a young girl who was fast becoming a carnatic music sensation if she did not feel disturbed singing at wedding receptions. She answered me that once she became one with the songs she was rendering, she became oblivious of outside noises. Hinduism believes in noisy worship. For example, at the climax of the Deeparadhana in temples, the noise level reaches a crescendo and that noise level itself lifts us to a different plane altogether. The ecstasy and joy, not to talk of the tears of joy, that we feel are in no small measure due to that combined noise of the temple bells and an assortment of musical instruments. Noise has become an integral part of our divine worship. The Zen monks, despite choosing the quietest place on earth for meditation, could not succeed as a few words spoken once a decade went on causing such ripples in their minds that they could never settle down to serious meditation. The Ustad also proved no match to our "reception" Vidwans in the matter of looking for quietness inwardly. The moral is that when you turn inwards and experience the yogic attitude, no amount of outside din disturbs you. That's why I consider an average middle class Indian the best of Yogis. No one can go about his job better than him considering the all-round chaos in which he has to carry on his daily routine. He is at total peace with himself, at all times!