The Ananthpur episode:

It was 1989. I had just completed my SSY program and was fortunate to be initiated in the presence of Guruji. My mind was fl ooded with questions and I asked a few of them to Guruji. All he told me was, ‘You be with me for 2 years and come every month for an AMC’.

I agreed and my journey towards my inward Silence started. Within two months in 1989, Guruji called all of us for a grand AMC at Ananthpur, which we refer to as Vishwa Hriday Sammelan. We all reached Ananthpur district at two in the morning and Nina, my sister Rita and I, decided to catch up on some sleep. We had hardly slept for a few hours when we heard all sorts of sounds from various places.

We were surprised that everyone had woken up, started taking their bath, started doing pranayam and by 4:30 in the morning everybody had assembled down in the street.

We were quite shocked, as we were coming from a different world. We had never been exposed to this sort of gathering. By 5 in the morning we saw Guruji arriving and everyone lined up for Nagar – Sankirtan.

Nagar – Sankirtan, is quite common in the south. It means a whole troupe of people go around the village singing and dancing in the early hours of the morning.

Everyone was lined up in rows of three. Nina, Rita and I were last in the line. We were very sleepy and tired and had made up our master plan of running back to the Ashram and sleeping as soon as this Nagar – Sankirtan takes off.

People started to sing Bhajans and as the tempo increased so did the energy. Everyone started moving forward. The three of us looked at each other and as the group moved forward, we were as per our plan, going to move backward and complete our night’s sleep. We were extremely excited to run away from this odd gathering.

As soon as the whole group moved forward we turned around and headed back towards the venue but there we saw Guruji, right behind us dancing his way towards the group.

Our first expression was, ‘Oh My God!’ Seeing Guruji there we simply turned back and joined the group for the next few hours. That was my first introduction to singing Bhajans.

Prior to that moment, for 26 years of my life, I had not even sung the ‘B’ of the Bhajans. Then I started to ask Guruji various questions in the topic of singing

Bhajans. ‘Guruji, how should I sing Bhajans?’ He looked at me, smiled and with a gesture of his hand told me to just go along. After 5 more minutes, as Ganapati

Bhajan was going on, I inquired, ‘Guruji, should I visualize Ganapati?’ He further smiled at me, and with a gesture of his hands urged me to go along.

After 5 more minutes I ran after Guruji and asked, ‘Guruji, tell me how to sing Bhajans?’ I have never sung Bhajans in my life and I fi nd it very awkward as I was more of an MTV person singing only English songs.

He further laughed, took his hand, hit me on my head, lovingly gesturing – Damn it! Just sing! Don’t use your head so much! Then I started singing, singing, singing and my journey of singing started that day!

Thereafter I took up classes in singing at the request of Nina who emotionally blackmailed me to take one class of singing and somehow I managed that one class and thereafter another and another and another.

Today my hobby, my passion, my love is singing! Anything which inspires me, whether it be Bhajans, Ghazals, Philosophical songs, English songs or anything that elevates my spirit.

In this area, I thank my Guru in music Shri Ravi Juleji who has taken so much pain in bearing patiently with me in my initial days of training. Hats off to him for his perseverance and calmness in putting up with my so called sense of sur and taal which later he shared with me as being terrible.

He once told me, I would have never continued with a student having such a terrible sur and taal but he saw some Samskars and qualities in me which made him further take me along as his student. Those samskars and qualities I received from SSY and Guruji.

Coming back to what I learnt from Guruji at that time. I learnt how simple he was and always has been really caring for the whole village, whether it was Clean India or Development of the whole village.

I learnt from Guruji, how to drop my left brain, to stop analyzing, logical thinking of whether to sing or not, how to sing and what to sing. That little loving tap on my head

taught me everything… that when you are with a Guru, a Sadguru, don’t use your head, just surrender and follow him.

Guruji has often said, ‘Don’t use YOUR brains but use MY brains and just see life will become effortless and beautiful.’

This has been my journey for the last 25 years, effortless, beautiful and immensely joyful!

If you are reading this chapter, you too can surrender yourself to a sadguru and your journey too will be the same. Everyone must have a living Guru where you can drop your head and get a loving tap which you just receive with as much love and surrender and your journey of life also turns out to be one of love and surrender.

Life is beautiful! Let’s all learn to drop our left brain to at least one such person in the world whom we can call as our sadguru.

Once again my pranams to my music Guru Shri Ravi Jule and my sashtang pranams to Guruji for the gift of surrenderfulness, that I received through this experience at Ananthpur. I learnt when to use my head & when not to.

I have internalised this teaching fully in my life. This quality of surrenderfulness has helped me to learn from so many enlightened teachers – be it any topic – moksha, money, marriage whatever !

Thank you, Guruji!