Tuesday, May 5, 2009
BHAJAN IN MY LIFE
by Siddhartha Dasgupta
When I was very very young, Sri Sri Babathakur asked my parents to sing a few of His revealed bhajans every evening at home. He had predicted that the atmosphere thus built-up would attract my brother and I to join the bhajan sessions. This is how I got introduced to His revealed bhajans and today His bhajans are a very important part of my daily life.
In the beginning, my mother and my grandmother (whenever she would be visiting us from New Delhi) used to lead these bhajans, with me trying to follow along. I am told that our neighbors (Subbu uncle and Latha auntie) joined us on a regular basis. When the Sat Vilas cassettes were released, we began listening to the bhajans in our car. This became a ritual as we listened to the bhajans whenever we went for a car ride. As the subsequent cassettes were released (Cit Vilas, Ananda Vilas and Sambodhi), we got to listen to a richer variety of His bhajans. I also attended the bhajan sessions whenever I was in India. The bhajans rendered at the Guru Purnima functions were very enriching for me.
As we got exposed to a wider variety of bhajans, I attempted to lead some of the bhajans along with my mother. When I was 13 years old (2002), my voice broke and I could no longer lead the bhajans at our house. I used to lock my self in the Puja room and try to play the harmonium to the tune of the bhajans. I suddenly found that I could play the harmonium well and I began focusing on playing the bhajans on the harmonium. I also began listening to the cassettes every night as I went to bed. I also began to write down the lyrics of the songs in English since I could not read Bengali at that time. My grandmother also wrote down the lyrics of the bhajans in English.
After about a year, my voice started improving and I began singing the bhajans again – this time along with the harmonium. I gradually began to take over the role of leading our evening bhajans at home. I also began focusing on learning the bhajans based on the solo style of Mr. Kedar Narayan Bodas. Soon, I found myself spending a lot of time singing solo bhajans – which I had picked up by listening to the cassettes at night! When my grandmother visited us, we would host bhajan sessions with several of our family friends and relatives joining us. We also sung these bhajans at a couple of temples in the San Francisco Bay area.
From 2003 onwards, I began singing at some of the bhajan sessions in New Delhi and Kolkata. At that time, I also used to visit “Bombay Ma” frequently. I would sing some of her favorite bhajans for her. One of her favorites was “Mon re Amar Poran Khule …” sung in the baul style.
One of the happiest moments in my life was when I received the “MAIN KAUN” CD sung by Mr. Kedar Bodas. The music and tune of the bhajans were fabulous but I could not read the lyrics as they were in Hindi. When my father wrote down the lyrics in English for me, it became very easy for me to pick up these songs. Since that day, I have been listening to these bhajans almost everyday at bedtime. I have also sung these bhajans at various occasions both within India and USA.
Nowadays I begin my day by singing some of Sri Sri Babathakur’s bhajans in the morning. We continue to listen to these bhajans in the car. We sing these bhajans at home every evening and I go to sleep while these bhajans are playing in my room. I have loaded these bhajans on my iPod, so that I can listen to them while travelling. In short, Sri Sri Babathakur’s bhajans have become a very important part of my life.
Last year, when Sri Sri Babathakur had asked Partha uncle and my father to organize an evening of these bhajans in North America, I was extremely happy. I began preparing a list of our friends who maybe interested in the program. I began distributing copies of the “Main Kaun” CDs. I began researching airfares for the artists and looking up hotels for their accommodation. I really was looking forward to being close to artists like Kedar uncle. It was a big disappointment to know that his application for a US visa had been rejected. It looks like I may have to wait another year before attending an evening of His revealed bhajans in North America.