Feb 23 ~ This article about Sri Swamiji and His music was published in the Star of Mysore newspaper
Passion: Pygmalion & Ganapati Seer
Recently, I attended a book release function organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The book, titled The Pygmalion Manager, authored by Prof. Moid Siddiqui, is about leadership and management. From the title of the book it is clear that the inspiration for the book has come from the Greek legend and the British writer Bernard Shaw’s famous play Pygmalion, which was later turned into a successful cinema ‘My Fair Lady’.
It is all about passion, its extreme form is called ‘divine madness’.
Therefore, it was not surprising that I could see the author of the book so passionately obsessed with his idea of ‘Pygmalion Manager’ just as the King Pygmalion of Cyprus, one who sculpted Virgin Galatea in ivory so passionately. He sculpted her so passionately, so beautifully and so perfectly that he himself fell in love with his creation equally passionately.
Be that as it may, there is a person in our city whom I consider as being equally passionate about his creation like Pygmalion, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashram. Only difference is that if Pygmalion was passionate about his sculpting and the creation of Galatea, the Swamiji is passionate about his Synthesiser and the music he produces out of it. For the last 20 years, the Swamiji has been at it, taking it all over the globe. After all, he has become a ‘flying Swamiji’!
His music is for healing and meditation unlike the music of all other kinds. While he himself sang and played on his Synthesiser for healing and meditation of his devotees, whose number is legion, he also got the famous musicians and vocalists to sing for him and his devotees in the sprawling Nada Mantapa in his Ashram in Mysore. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Amjad Ali Khan, L. Subramaniam, late Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer and many others.
Indeed music enthralls and enriches both the listener and the musician. Music is a sound vibration and energy in motion, says Swamiji. So he is using it for therapeutic purposes to help the ailing and sick amongst his devotees and the people who come to attend his concerts.
Swamiji says his music is purely devotional, therefore, used for spiritual energy transmission. He plays his own composition on a Synthesiser accompanied by classical musicians.
Once I asked a white lady by my side listening to Swamiji at Nada Mantapa how she felt about this music for healing. With-out batting an eyelid, she responded saying, ‘Well, it is divine. I was sailing in Swamiji’s spiritual boat meditating. Yeah, it was an experience.’ That was her passion, maybe, towards Swamiji or his divine music.
As for me, I was not in the Swamiji’s ‘Spiritual Boat’. I was in the Nada Mantapa figuring out what the strange new music was all about. A real Doubting Thomas that I was and I am.
But Swamiji is emphatic that he is not a miracle-maker. Yet, he passionately believes in the miraculous power of his music in healing many of human ailments.
On 3rd of this month I was in New Delhi and attended Swamiji’s ‘Music for Meditation and Healing’ held at the Siri Fort Auditorium, Khelgaon Road, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Swamiji’s plunge into this new world of music for therapy. After the programme, I went to see the Swamiji and I noticed a middle-aged woman wearing specs pushing herself towards Swamiji and saying ‘two blood clots in my eyes gone’ even as she looked at us standing close to Swamiji. ‘I thought I would go blind. I contacted Swamiji two-three times on telephone and he blessed me.’
Well, well, well. Faith can move a mountain, I thought. Thanks to Jesus. But Swamiji says “I suggest that along with your regular dose of medicine, you treat yourself with my music too.”
Of course, we have heard of the efficacy of music in increasing the yield of milk from cows, if music is played to them or increased yield of flowers, fruits and vegetables, if music is played in the garden or field. Fine. But for an ordinary layman, music is pure entertainment. It is also a way to please the mighty Gods in high heavens.
Which is why our classical music is mostly in praise of Gods and Goddesses. Which is why Nada Upasana is considered a direct method to reach God. According to Sri Ramana Maharshi, just as a child is lulled into sleep by lullabies, so also Nada soothes one to the state of Samadhi.
No wonder, I saw at New Delhi concert a famous film Director Mani Shankar with closed eyes, sunk in his purple seat, lost to the world, swaying his head to what for him must have been the music of the spheres. My friend Dr. N. Nithyananda Rao was about to wake him up from his trance-like condition. But I stopped him saying “No doctor. No. No coitus interruptus please. He is in a state of orgasm and let him be.” My bone doctor-friend was understanding. God’s grace was indeed upon that film Director!
Sri Ramana Maharshi, the sage of Thiruvannamalai, was right when he says that ‘just as a King sends his Court musicians to welcome his son on his return from a long, tiresome journey, so also Nada (music) takes a devotee into Lord’s abode in a pleasing manner.’ Yes, I found the truth in this when I saw that film Director that evening and wondered why it did not happen to me.
Does not matter, but when I read what Dr. L. Subramaniam, one of the greatest violin wizards of our times, has opined about Swamiji, I was amazed. He has said of Swamiji:
“I have been a witness to some of the miracles performed by Sri Swamiji and have often found myself sitting in rapt attention as Sri Swamiji made ‘the impossible’ suddenly possible.
“I cannot imagine my life without Swamiji. There was a time in my life when I thought that I would never play the violin again. Sri Swamiji invited me to his Ashram where I stayed for six weeks and I can say that Sri Swamiji is very much responsible for my playing the violin again. Sri Swamiji spoke to me every-day and helped me understand things and put my life in a totally different perspective.”
Again that’s passion of the kind narrated in the opening paragraphs above.
Now let me conclude by narrating the legend of Pygmalion and also one from our Hindu mythology, Purana, to put in perspective the power of passion in achieving our objective. First, the Pygmalion from where I left off.
Pygmalion was passionately in love with his creation the ivory statue of Galatea as if it was alive. She looked seductive and charming to his eyes, forgetting she was just a statue. His love for Galatea was so intense and passionate, he was infatuated with it and wished the statue became alive! Opportunity came on the festival day of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love. He passionately prayed to Aphrodite:
“Please give life to my statue of Galatea. Give her life so that I can live with her happily for ever.”
Aphrodite, appreciating Pyg-malion’s passionate love, grants his prayers. Galatea, who was silent in the bosom of ivory just the previous day, comes alive in flesh and bones as a virgin beauty. Pygmalion’s passion has paid off.
Similarly, in Hindu mythology there is a story about a bhakta’s (devotee’s) passion for his Lord.
“A great devotee (bhakta) had prayed passionately for many years to Siva to give him darshan, the divine appearance. Nothing happened. One day, fearing that he may not live long, the devotee decided that he would no longer repose his faith upon Siva, but turn to Vishnu, who he had heard was kinder.
So, he moved the idol of Siva kept on the altar to one side and in its place kept the statue of Vishnu. He did not have the heart to throw away the Siva statue, because in his heart of hearts he still was a passionate bhakta of Siva. He lit incense in front of the Vishnu statue as he started his worship.
He found to his annoyance that the incense smoke was going towards the Siva statue instead of Vishnu. He got up and pinched the nose of Siva saying, ‘This is not for you. I don’t pray to you any more.’
Instantly there was manifestation of Siva and the bhakta had His darshan. He broke down and cried, ‘Oh Lord! For years I worshipped you passionately as per tradition. You never appeared. Now, I cast you away. Worse, I insulted you by pinching your nose. Still, you appeared. Why?’
Siva said, ‘It is only now that you really felt me as reality. You felt it so strongly, that you pinched my nose so passionately as if it was real. Till now, I was only an idol to you’.”
It was passionate love in the case of Pygmalion, it was passionate devotion in the case of the Siva bhakta. The moral is: You can attain what you dream of, what you desire if your dream is passionate, your desire is passionate, so passionate that it is unconditional and sans an iota of doubt. Yes. It was not a statue for Pygmalion, so also to Siva bhakta it was not a life-less idol. What was tho-ught to be unreal, becomes real if you are passionate about your desire.