Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Playing the harmonium for Sai's bhajans - student S.V.Satheesh's experiences_ PART 2

When the Divine Mother opens doors...

It was with a heart full of fear of losing something very valuable that Satheesh landed in Brindavan after completing his M.Tech exams. In the meanwhile, Swami had initiated the exercise of preparation for the annual Convocation drama, guiding a few select teachers and students.

That year, Swami had insisted on having the Burrakatha as part of the drama. (Since then, Burrakatha has flourished as another art form among the students. In fact, for a few students, Burrakatha has been the experience of their lives!) So, apart from the main cast for the drama, three singers too had been chosen. These actors and singers would be called into Trayee Brindavan, Bhagawan’s residence in Brindavan, daily for practise sessions. Though the Burrakatha had three main singers, it required a host of others to act as the supporting-music team. And Satheesh was part of that team.

(If you have come straight to this article, it is highly recommended that you read the first part of this story before proceeding ahead. the first part is located at the below link:

“One evening, after the actors were called inside Trayee, we were waiting and praying outside. After sometime the singers were called in. I was waiting near the trees. As I was looking at Trayee, I remembered Swami's words to a Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee in Trayee,
"This is your home, your Mother's home; you can come here anytime.”
Tears filled my eyes as I realised that after a few months I may not even be able to step into these hallowed Trayee grounds once I pass out of Swami's college. Would these be my last few days? Would I never get a chance to enter my Divine Mother's home again? Within moments, I was fighting to hold back my tears.”

“Knock and it shall be opened unto you” is a popular biblical verse. It appears that it is best to ‘knock’ through tears of love and pining because even as Satheesh was battling his tears, the twin doors of Trayee Brindavan were throw open. The teacher who walked out beckoned to Satheesh and Sharath, a student of grade XII who played the tambourine, to enter. Swami, who till date, heard the Burrakatha songs with just the pocket-keyboard accompaniment of Sailesh sir (the music group in charge), had today asked for the harmonium and tambourine accompaniments! Ah what divine mercy! Satheesh rushed in along with Sharath. Both were right in realizing that it was just Swami’s grace that was getting them this opportunity. But they had not imagined the extent of that grace.

Nataraja’s dance lessons

Satheesh was under the impression that he would get to play the harmonium in the divine presence of his dear Swami. It was much more because his presence inside was not restricted to the Burrakatha alone but for the entire drama practise! And then, when the unforgettable session ended, Sailesh sir conveyed something that gave a second shock to Sharath and Satheesh - would they be ready to dance for the Burrakatha?

Satheesh had never imagined that he would even be part of the drama leave alone dancing in it. The first reaction was that of fear and worry. He had danced before in groups. But this was an almost-solo performance and he had to dance the classical style. He looked at Sharath who was a trained classical dancer himself. He had already nodded in agreement. Satheesh reasoned that Sailesh sir would not have put forth this 'suggestion' had it not been Swami's desire.
“Yes sir! I too shall learn and dance”, he said.

No stranger to hard work, Satheesh began to put in hours with Sharath to learn the dance. But the Dancemaster was using this to teach him a far greater dance- the dance which Satheesh would need for life! Days passed as he practised early in the mornings, late at nights and in any free time that he found. He would practice till he dropped exhausted and all his focus was on ensuring that he would dance well on the D-Day. He did not want the dance to be cancelled because of him or worse, the dance to proceed as a solo by Sharath without him!  It was during that situation of severe physical strain and mental pressure that the Dancemaster’s lesson seeped into his heart.

Satheesh in his dance costume on the eve of the Convocation drama.
“As I was putting more effort and thought into this, a different feeling started filling me. I began looking at this not just as my performance, but as Swami's convocation drama as a whole. In the physical plane, Swami used to spend a lot of time fine-tuning every aspect of the drama, taking pride in His students' performances. The thought that this was Swami's convocation drama and that it MUST be performed very well constantly pulsated in me. Though I didn't realize it consciously, I was aware of it and remained in that wonderful emotional state. Gradually, the tensions of and stress about my own dance performance came down and I was only praying that Swami's drama should come out very well. I was also surprised that I danced without much inhibition on stage during the rehearsals at Poornachandra auditorium.”  

“I am Nataraja—the dance master, the first among dancers. You are all dance pupils. I alone know the agony of teaching you each step in the dance!” - Baba

That day, Satheesh learnt that important step in the dance of life that when he aligned his will with the divine will, he lost all fear and worry. His performance and his success then became a part of the performance and grand success of the Divine Mission. As the rehearsals progressed, he was able to dance without the slightest fear or hesitation. After one such rehearsal, as Swami was returning to His residence, the boys lined up either side of the carpet. Satheesh was the last in the line and as Swami passed by him, he took the Divine hand in his palms and gently kissed it. Swami stopped immediately. He turned, patted him on the cheek and said,
“You both dance very well. I want you two to perform like this nicely.”
Satheesh was in 9th heaven (or in any other heaven that lies above that!)

When the final day of reckoning came, Swami was there backstage to supervise everyone’s costumes. He checked the costumes of all the drama boys and then came to Sharath, the lead dancer. Smiling, He asked, “Where is the second dancer?”
Again, Satheesh’s heart rejoiced. It was indeed a moment of great profundity - the culmination of a journey which had started with a question as to whether he would get to enter Swami’s home. It had climaxed with him getting a place in Swami’s heart and recognition too from the Nataraja that he was a good dancer.

Even when he completed his education, Swami ensured that Satheesh would always have an entry into the hallowed grounds of Trayee Brindavan by giving him a job at His hospital in Whitefield, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. More than that, Swami gave him the conviction and faith that anytime and anywhere, He was just a prayer away from him.

The reward of His silver tumbler at the end of the Convocation drama.
Naming the CD - the Perfect Name!

Returning to the present from that beautiful memory, Satheesh decided to pray and seek from Swami to christen the CD. Closing his eyes, he said in silent prayer,
“Swami, this is my offering to you. Please give a name for this CD of bhajans.”
His heart was stilled in the faith that his job was done. And indeed it was because as he looked at the list of the bhajans, the first bhajan itself seemed to stand out as a name for the CD. With a smile, Satheesh named the CD after the first bhajan and got up from his seat to get ready for the morning darshan.

It was the 16th of March, his birthday, and Satheesh felt that there could be no perfect occasion than this to offer his love and gratitude to Swami. Gearing up and getting ready, he took his place along with the birthday boys in the Sai Ramesh hall. Fatigue from the hours of hard effort made him drowsy but the excitement of offering his gratitude to the Lord kept him awake.

That day turned out to be an apparent disappointment. Swami walked the entire length and breadth of the Sai Ramesh hall but did not come anywhere near where Satheesh was seated - right in the front! It is only in retrospect that he realized Swami’s purpose in doing that - He wanted him to be fresh and alert for another beautiful message.

The next day, with slight nervousness, Satheesh sat with a decorated tray to offer the CD to his Lord. Today, it was a different story. Swami came straight to him and picked up the CD from the tray. He smiled and blessed Satheesh too. However, instead of taking the CD along with Him as Satheesh expected, Swami put it back in the tray. As Swami was about to walk away, Satheesh picked up the CD and tried offering it to Him. It was his desire that Swami should listen to the CD sometime.
Swami looked at him, smiled and said,
“I need not take it. It is heart to heart.” As He said that, His finger pointed to His heart and then to Satheesh's heart, twice. After that, Swami turned and walked away.

A heart-to-heart connection exists between every devotee and God and that is the best way to connect - ALWAYS. 
Antaranga Sai

One cannot say that Satheesh was not happy. Still, he was not feeling fulfilled.
“If only Swami would have taken the CD, it would be good”, he thought. Once the session was complete, he slowly walked back to the hostel. In his expectation and disappointment, he had missed the message that Swami had given him. But the supremely loving Swami had decided to deliver the message anyway. It happened in an instant.

Dr.T.Ravikumar, a lecturer in the college, came rushing to Satheesh to congratulate him. Shaking his hands, he said,
“I couldn’t help but notice the name of the CD. It must be such a special blessing for you that Swami said that right?”

It hit Satheesh like a ton of bricks. He looked at the CD in the tray and remembered Swami’s words, “ It is heart to heart...”. The CD’s name was “Antaranga Sai” (The indweller Sai). In one single gesture and sentence, Swami had summed up not only Satheesh’s thoughts and feelings while creating the CD but also his relationship with Him for life.

UPDATE: Satheesh very lovingly offered the entire CD - Antaranga Sai - instrumental bhajans, for use in Radiosai. They are used regularly. You can access and download those bhajans via Radiosai's audio search page:


Type the words "Antharanga Sai" (careful about the spelling) and download the link which says, 'Instrumental Bhajans'.

Radiosai's audio search page :)


As a seva and an offering of love to his dear Swami, S.V.Satheesh who currently resides in Chennai, India, volunteers his time and energy to teach aspiring musicians how to play the harmonium. Now, Chennai non-residents need not feel bad because he even does these tutorials over Skype! So, if you are interested, please mail Satheesh at this id: satheeshsv@gmail.com

I can vouch for the awesomeness of this person and teacher! :)

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

1. Seeing the big picture: Intent matters more than content.

2. God has no need of memory beads for He never forgets - an experience with Sri Sathya Sai and the green Mercedes Benz

3. Trusting God's Wisdom: When my mother sought a 'strange' boon from Sri Sathya Sai

For all readers:

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  1. a Sai educational journey via the wonderful Satheesh - thanks!

  2. Nice Read. Keep them coming!

  3. Sairam, such pious experiences of devotees reinforce our belief in the existence of our Lord and our best friend Saibaba. Heartfelt thanks to Baba for sharing his leelas through his chosen instrument Aravind. The articles are so well written that one can really feel to be part of the events presented in articles. It to to some extent fills us with a spiritual fulfillment, at the same time ignite desires for more. Thanks Baba.

  4. Sairam brother Aravind... this is yet another proof that when you put your heart and soul to make Swami happy, he acknowledges and appreciates it... I am very happy for Satheesh and swami makes all of us as his instrument in his divine hands. Thanks again for sharing this lovely experience...

  5. Sairam. Can you pls teach me Harmonium.


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