Love on Mountain – A Subtle Saga unfolds… – by Gautham Narendran

Sairam,

On the 8th of November 2014 (Akhanda Bhajan day), when my friend and Back Ground Music (BGM) partner from Parthi called me and asked if I can make it to Parekh Studio (Bengaluru) for recording, I was a bit surprised! I asked him which recording he was referring to, he said the recording was in progress for the Drama based on the life of Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat (Madiyal anna) to be staged on Nov 22nd evening at Muddenahalli! I couldn’t be more excited – firstly, its dramatics. Further, a drama to be staged in Swami’s presence! What more could I ask for. He said there were wanting only voice-overs, and urged me to rush to the studio in an hour! But in two hours, the Global Akhanda Bhajan (GAB) 2014 was about to begin. Nevertheless, I rushed to the studio.

The moment I reached, I saw the ever-gleaming face of our dearest Kamath anna, who handed over a copy of the script of the drama. I did not have time to read through the entire script as I was supposed to give voice-over to one of the characters in the drama in just five minutes time. I felt so blessed and thanked Swami for this opportunity. I was even more excited to find few senior alumni brothers of SSSIHL, who are all stalwarts in the field of dramatics. After finishing the entire recording, we rushed to Brindavan Ashram and we just made in time for the alumni bhajans at midnight. Well, we thought the story would end here.

But the Lord, in His infinite compassion, sent word for us to be there at Muddenahalli a week before His birthday. He wanted to speak to all those who gave voice-overs, the directors and the script writers. We were all excited when we landed at Muddenahalli (MDH) on Nov 16th (Sunday). On reaching there we got to know that Swami would be coming to auditorium to watch the drama rehearsal, hence, our ‘session’ with Swami was little doubtful. Nevertheless, we were at least happy that Swami had called us there. Meanwhile, just five minutes before Swami had arrived in the auditorium, the Parthi alumni brother who was directing the drama asked me if I can do the background music for the drama! And this time my excitement grew multi-fold, for, BGM is something that I would always love to do. As Swami arrived in HIS car, he called only the script writer along with the two alumni brothers who directed the drama inside the auditorium. On enquiry I got to know that whenever Swami comes to auditorium to watch the rehearsals for Rama Katha or the drama, nobody is allowed inside just to ensure that there is enough silence in the hall. Luckily for us, the senior alumni brothers prayed on our behalf and Swami allowed us too to be a part of the audience. We were sitting behind Swami on the chairs! For a moment, it was just like I was in Prashanti Nilayam Campus auditorium where Swami comes to watch our rehearsals and gives HIS feedback for fine-tuning. The drama was simply superb – fine script, great acting and smooth screenplay. The whole drama was based on the life of Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat (Madiyal anna). Some scenes were very emotional and powerful. On enquiry I got to know that Swami Himself wrote script for two scenes. And I was excited! Swami used to script dramas or at least some scenes of a drama during the eighties and nineties. And here is the Lord who continues to script our lives too.

During HIS feedback session, Swami did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. He always does that without mixing words. He suggested few improvements and applauded the performance of the main roles. The Divine Director pointed out that one scene out of the whole drama was not nice and that they would need to raise their standards. Swami, out of His Love, called each and every actor and gave them all chocolates as Divine Prasadam. He was generous enough to bless us too, Parthi Alumni too with chocolates. Most of us were happy that Swami did bless us if not grant a session. Meanwhile, Kamath anna and the Alumni brother started editing the final script as per Swami’s feedback. Once the final track was ready, they gave it to me for starting the BGM work. Since it was a sunday, I had whole day to work on it and complete it. But as I progressed I understood it wasn’t that easy. There were scenes of vision granted by Bhagawan. And I had never dealt with vision scenes before. Anyways, I had to take leave off work the next day, a Monday to complete the BGM work. And it was worth all the effort, for, the Divine Director did not leave any stone unturned. He sent word through an elder alumni as well as Kamath anna that He wanted Hamsadhwani and Revathi ragas to be used for Shankaracharya scene. He also instructed that an Instrumental piece of the bhajan ‘Manase Bhajare Guru Charanam’ to be used as the BGM for another scene – a scene wherein Secretary Sri Narayana Rao sir informs Madiyal anna about Sathya Sai Baba for the first time. I was thrilled, for, it was first time that I was receiving direct instructions from Bhagawan on BGM. I couldn’t be more grateful to Him. Each and every scene was filled with varied emotions and I could put myself into the shoes of each character rendering their dialogues. Swami had blessed me with several chances to perform in dramas in His presence. And always He always ensured that HE let us know that HE is the doer and not us. Every time I worked on BGM, Swami ensures that the best of music pieces are in place at the right situation.

The next day, Tuesday, I decided to rush to the studio for final placing and mixing, which was another half day’s work.

Meanwhile, I was eagerly awaiting the 89th Birthday Celebrations of our beloved Lord Sai since the drama was to be staged on the 22nd Nov (Saturday). Clearly, Kamath anna alone was running around doing all the work for the drama. Parthi alumni brothers who had helped with the direction and script decided to help out the drama boys on the final day. When we arrived in Muddenahalli on Saturday (22nd) morning, we could see all the actors sleeping in a big hall – all of them just lying on the floor, trying to take sufficient rest before the final performance – a custom that we follow at Parthi too. 🙂

When it was time for the evening programme, we proceeded to the back stage to help with the drama. There were four of us. And Kamath anna too to guide them all regarding their entry and exit of all actors. That evening’s programme started with the welcome address by Shiv Subramanian sir, followed by Swami’s discourse. And HE was particular that His discourse be translated to Kannada as well. So along with Murthy sir translating to English, Kamath anna too was translating to Kannada. Rarely, have I seen His discourses being translated into two languages simultaneously. As usual, HIS words were suffused with Love and Compassion. He started giving the gist of the drama story, and that’s when I thought to myself “Oh my God! Spoiler Alerts by the Lord Himself!” He did not reveal the plot, but started speaking about Madiyal Anna and his noble ideals.

There were two programmes scheduled for that evening, after the Lord’s discourse – Rama Katha followed by the Drama. By now, I was super thrilled! Rama Katha is something which I would have listened to more than a 100 times, and yeah, I am not exaggerating, a 100 times. Swami loves Rama Katha a lot.

(It was a garland of songs sung in praise of Lord Rama and His glorious Avataric acts, sung by His own prema putras – Lava and Kusha. A song which was originally sung by Smt. MS Subbalakshmi garu in a movie, these songs were later taught by Bhagawan Himself to two students of His Institute back in the 1970s or 80s. The two singers were chosen by Swami Himself. He grants them interview for days together, just to train them. He explains the meaning of each line, he corrects the singing style, he teaches them the right pronunciation, he then lectures on the inner meaning of each and every line – a great spiritual exercise in itself. Blessed are those two souls, who are, thus trained by the Lord himself. If I am not wrong, there have been more than 4 such pairs of Rama Katha singers ever since Swami had started that tradition at Parthi. I was fortunate enough to witness one such Rama Katha in His physical presence in the year 2005 on the occasion of Guru Poornima. The whole of Prashanti Nilayam was immersed in ultimate bliss by the soulful rendering of the glory of Lord Srirama.)

Coming back, the Rama Katha was all set to begin. Those mellifluous voices invoked Lord Ganesha, and in seconds, I was transported to Parthi. The same songs, the same sequence, the same orchestration, the same bliss, the same divine vibes! It dawned upon me that I was sitting in the presence of Lord Sai Rama Himself. Only Swami could have done that – getting the best out of the two young lads. Their voices were as mature as senior college boys. The rigour in Swami’s training was very evident in their rendition. The people who accompanied the singers were all senior alumni brothers from Parthi. Some of them were part of the first batch of Rama Katha group whom Swami had trained back in the 80s at Parthi. It was an overwhelming experience to see them all being part of this programme again. The Rama Katha tradition was once more revived by the Lord Himself.

The drama was to be followed immediately after this programme. And I was waiting eagerly to watch the drama, as I was keen to see how well the BGM fit into the scenes. The drama started off on a high note, and as each scene came by, it was getting more awesome. The whole backdrop to the drama was an LED screen – a big one. The visual effects were par excellence and so too the sound systems. Of course, they were all professionals. Still, the glamour it portrayed and the impression it gave to the audience was astounding. I have hardly seen such visual effects in Swami’s presence. That made this drama all the more unique. The songs were composed and sung most beautifully by a sai brother – Prasanna. Just for the record, Swami had composed a song last year for Sai students and he had conveyed the same through 2 schools teachers at Parthi. That song was orchestrated by this brother Prasanna. An extremely talented composer and singer – His voice was very similar to Udit Narayan – a famous Indian playback singer. The drama which was based on Madiyal Anna’s life took us through the entire timeline of events till the recent past. The boy who played the role of Madiyal Anna – ufff… He was looking exactly like Madiyal Anna. Hats off to Kamath Anna. The credit of that boy’s make-up goes to Kamath anna.

The drama bowled us over totally!! One of the best. It was too much bliss to take in a single day. At the end of that evening, we were all thanking Swami inside our hearts, for giving us an opportunity to be a part of this programme. We thought its going to be a different experience, but NO. It was all the same Swami, with the same love and compassion. Words are actually failing to express what I wanted to convey. With a heart filled with bliss and joy, I started for my friend’s house near Muddenahalli. I was supposed to sleep there and come back early next morning for the birthday Seva. While on bed, it occurred to me how fortunate are we to still continue to receive His blessings in abundance. I could hardly sleep that night as I was still intoxicated by Love, so divine. I knew the next day was even more unique and historic, for, Muddenahalli was to host the 89th birthday celebrations of the Lord. And gradually I fell asleep.

(…….to be continued!)

Regards,

Gautham Narendran,
Alumus of:
Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Pre-University College, Muddenahalli – Pre-University Education
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prashanti Nilayam – B.A (Hons. in Economics), M.A (Economics), MBA (General)

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