Tuesday, May 26 2020
FROM NEW JERSEY WITH LOVE
We humbly submit ourselves at the Divine Lotus Feet of
Our Beloved Bhagavan and offer our love to Him.
Growing up in the Sai organization, a group of us Sai brothers have always shared a heartfelt connection with each other which stemmed from our mutual love for Swami and a passion for music. Swami has always said that Keertanam [singing] is one of nine forms of Bhakti [devotion]. We felt driven to follow the path of music to reach Him.
Our priceless experience commenced early, around January of 2002. At this time, one of the members of our music group from New Jersey got the sudden idea to put together and attempt to perform a musical program for our Dearest Swami. Although all of have always wished to perform for Him, the actual thought of doing it had somehow never occurred to any of us. When it was discussed, we naturally agreed and soon informed all known singers and musicians who could make this a dynamic performance. And of course, as always with Swami, we were not sure what to expect. Our group consisted of two main singers, one harmonium player, two tabla players and a dholak player. We frequently sent registered letters to Swami, praying to Him for an opportunity, each of us signing our letters as "Music Boys". We wished to establish a heart-to-heart connection with Swami, using letters as a vehicle to His Lotus Feet. As musicians, singing His praise to Him is the greatest form of worship and love that we could offer to Him. With His Grace, five of us arrived in Parthi by the first week of July; the plans of the sixth were a bit disturbed. There was a great deal of uncertainty whether the sixth member of the group, who was a lead singer, would come or not. Moreover, when we arrived in Parthi, he reconfirmed his inability to come to Parthi. Although initially dejected, we kept strong, sturdy faith that he would indeed come, somehow.
The first morning that we sat together, wearing gold-colored scarves, we proceeded to Darshan and sat in the second and third row. Bhagavan came over, glanced at us, casting a look of recognition and sending a signal that things were in motion. He took our letters and sweetly said "Choostanu" [meaning "I will see" in Telugu] and coolly walked off.
Practices began, although incompletely manned and spirited without the other singer. Overall, all were worried and unsure, as he was not only the lead singer, but also the leader of our group. We became more and more concerned as the days rolled by. On a brighter note, Darshans were absolutely spectacular. Bhagavan looked more and more like the God Supreme than ever before, glowing in ecstasy and shining brilliantly in beauty.
While in Parthi, we called the missing member of our group and we learned that he had a beautiful experience. While meditating, he saw us sitting in Darshan lines, wearing gold-colored scarves, the very color that we selected!! We knew that Bhagavan had a plan for us; only time could unveil it to us.
Everyday, we flooded Bhagavan's mailbox with our prayers. Perhaps He heard our prayers.perhaps He is simply too kind to us. We were thrilled when we received word that our group leader was on his way to join us in Parthi.
There was a story behind his miraculous change in plans. Our leader's boss was extremely insistent that he should not leave because of major layoffs and two major projects that needed to be completed. If he left, his job would be in danger. However, if he was able to finish his role in the two projects, he would be able to leave for Parthi. On the 12th, he went to his boss, asking what additional responsibilities he had to take on while his boss was on vacation. The boss immediately told our leader that there was no need for him to take on any responsibilities; he did not understand why he was talking as though he wasn't going on vacation. Our leader then reminded his boss that it was the boss who told him not to go, but his boss was insistent that he did not recollect any such statement. Furthermore, he told our leader to "modify his plans" and leave immediately, reminding him that he must be back by July 25th for an extremely important meeting. In a fluster of confusion, he immediately left and instantly saw Bhagavan's intervention in the whole process.
Practices continued and on the 16th, at about 3AM, our group was finally united, donned in our gold-colored scarves, ready to draw our Lord through our love as best and as fast as we could, for we only had four days together as a group.
It didn't take too much of an effort on our part- He did it all. We sat in two rows of three's, three in the front and three in the back, in both the second and third lines. With bated breath we waited for Bhagavan to come, praying, crying and begging for His mercy to be showered on us. Finally, He did come, slowly and magnificently. He saw us from a distance and came closer and closer, and as He did, the prayer in my mind and heart grew louder and stronger and more vigorous! He accepted our group letter and then looked at us and asked one of the other main singers where we were from. He replied " USA , Swami." Swami took a few steps to our right and then turned back and asked "Music Boys?" Our hearts jumped and our joy was transparent. He asked:
"When is the program?"
"As You wish, Swami."
"What is the time?"
"At Your Will, Swami." He turned for a moment and then turned back and asked our leader: "When are you leaving?"
"On the 19th, Swami."
"No, Swami. Boys are leaving later. Swami, should I change my plans?"
"Very happy. Good boy," as He patted his cheek, "No, no. President se pucho. Srinivasan.( All India President of the Sai organizations) I will also speak to president."
"We love You, Swami."
"Yes, yes. Very happy."
He continued to walk towards the verandah. Half of us broke down into tears, half of us were starry-eyed, all of us were dumb-founded. In a few seconds, Swami summoned Mr. Srinivasan from the verandah and told him to speak with us, that we were the Music Boys and that we were from USA . Those words were simply ringing in our ears, minds and hearts. Mr. Srinivasan came over and called us aside. Mr. Srinivasan asked us when we wanted to perform, suggesting the 17th evening in Poornachandra Auditorium, upon Swami's approval. He also insisted that we get the approval of Dr. Bill Harvey, an official representative of USA . Further, he also suggested that we perform for Mr. Leonardo, who was in charge of all of the cultural programs during the Seva Conference, which was around the corner. Somewhere in the confusion, Mr. Leonardo mistakenly assumed that we wanted to be a part of the cultural programs and wished to be slotted into the timings. In any case, we performed for Mr. Leonardo and Dr. Harvey, who both gave their approval, most graciously. Mr. Leonardo immediately informed
Mr. Srinivasan of his approval, also taking with him to Mr. Srinivasan, the book that we prepared for Swami with our request. Mr. Srinivasan took with him the consent of Leonardo and the book to Swami that afternoon for lunch.
That evening, we met Mr. Leonardo & Mr. Srinivasan, who informed us that Bhagavan took the book, looked through it and told Mr. Srinivasan that He would personally inform the boys of His decision and give us His instructions, directly. Thinking beyond the words that were used, we felt completely confused and anticipated the worst. We stepped up the power of our prayer and each of us gave it every ounce of intensity that we had in our capacity.
The next morning, we sat again in the same place, but a little more towards the front. Swami came by and asked:
"Did you speak to Srinivasan?"
"When is the program?"
"As You wish, Swami."
"No, no, that is not my business, sir!"
"No, Swami, only heart-to-heart connection, Swami. No one else. Please tell us, Swami."
"Yes, yes, very happy.
Okay. Tomorrow evening. Here, [pointing to the dais] in the front."
"Thank you, Swami. We love You."
"Yes, very happy."
Our hearts were filled with elation. Once again, there were tears and smiles.The joy was uncontainable. But at the same time, we knew to maintain discipline and therefore closed our eyes and sat quietly after Swami went inside. As the pandemonium and confusion of post-Darshan mania began, Mr.Srinivasan descended from the verandah and approached us. He asked how many we were. We replied six. He told the six of us to come up and follow him and he made us sit at the front of the verandah, right in front of the Interview Room. He stepped inside for two to three seconds and summoned us inside.
As we filed into the small room, we were simply taken aback by the sudden proximity to our Dear Lord, whose bright orange robe caught our immediate attention. He was standing there, in His full glory: the essence of purity, beauty and wonder, with His thumb, index & middle fingers atop the bridge of His nose- totally lost, absolutely not there; revealing His innate Divinity, exploding and transcending all worlds before our very eyes; an image, forever the screensaver of our minds.
Among other things, Swami asked us to sing the songs for Him, so that He could get a preview, as it were! We did and He seemed pleased. He went through each song and selected the ones He wanted us to perform. He reminded us that it was a public performance and that we must have a group name. We of course requested that He Himself give us a name. And so He named us, "Music Boys of New Jersey . New York ." He advised us to practice well in preparation for the next day's performance. He most sweetly put us all at ease by calling us in, talking to us, asking each of our roles, discussing the songs, etc. He was concerned about our health and made us some Vibhuthi, which seemed to have a medicinal effect. We repeated over and over how much we loved Him and He reciprocated that love a thousand fold!
After the interview, some of us were crying, others could not wipe the smiles off of our faces! But we still had work to do. We practiced to the best of our ability all day and the following morning. Finally, afternoon Darshan on July 18th approached and we were all jittering with joy. We arrived well before Darshan and put our instruments in the Mandir, all instruments, voices, minds and hearts tuned to Swami's rhythm and rhyme. After Swami came out for Darshan and called some people for an interview, He came out and told us to come to the dais and commence the program.
We prepared a bouquet of flowers to offer to Swami and He graciously accepted them. Before we began, Swami asked us where we were from and then announced to the students and to the rest of the gathering that we were the Music Boys from NJNY; what a grand way to begin by having the Lord of the Universe as our Master of Ceremonies! We were and still are eternally honored and grateful, for we may never know for what reason we were given such an opportunity! His love and kindness transcends anything that we have ever experienced.
The program went over well and when we finished, Swami most graciously gifted us with white clothes and even allowed us to be photographed with Him. He then asked one of our boys to speak to the gathering. He spoke about Swami's infinite love and compassion, how Swami brought us here and allowed us to perform, simply by being pure love. He mentioned that we knew no one coming to Parthi and came with no connections, only our heart-to-heart connection with Him. Indeed, it was that heart-to-heart connection that brought us to Swami and that allowed us to perform. It was Swami who prompted us to desire to perform; it was Swami who encouraged us to write letters to Him; it was Swami who inspired us to love Him. Undeniably, it was Swami who arranged for the entire program, from the first practice, down to the details of the songs. We can do no more than humbly submit ourselves at His Lotus Feet and thank Him for all of His Love. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Swami for the pure love He showered on us. This experience will always remain as a precious and indelible mark in our memory.
New Jersey Boys
New Jersey, USA