Volume 16 - Issue 04
April 2018
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Posted on: Apr 10, 2018



Part - 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The Sai Pancharatna Kritis being offered at the Sannidhi on April 24, 2014

The Heart-Stopping Moments before the Preliminary Recording of the Kritis

After the first two kritis were presented in April 2014, there was silence. There was a lot of pressure and we were asked, “What's happening to the next three kritis?”

We were praying to Swami and I requested Bharathi Sir. He said, “Prakash, you don't worry. When it has to happen, it will happen.” He is so clear!

We initially thought of presenting all the five kritis for Swami's birthday in 2014 but that did not happen. Today if we listen to the kritis, we go “Wow!” but then we went through a lot before they were composed! It's not been a jolly, straight road or national highway ride.

BP: Well, it is never like that with Bhagawan!

CG: At every bump your ego is knocked down and, in every jump, your pre-conceived notions are broken! Every time you think someone is wronging you, at the end you realise it is only Bhagawan's will. He leads you to that level of surrender - “Swami, please! Now You do it!” Then things work like magic!

I asked Sir just once or twice, “Sir, how about the other three kritis?”

He said, “Yes, I am working on them. Whatever Swami inspires I will do.” Months were going by and I was under tremendous pressure. But I decided not to call him for weeks, even though I knew he would not mind if I did.

On New Year day, January 1, 2015, I dialled him again and wished, “Sir, happy new year!” 

He said, “Happy New Year. I am working on the kritis. Some ideas have come.”

I was relieved that there was some progress.

Then came early March 2015 and I thought, “From cold to warm, warm to hot, hot to burning! Swami, now if I don't call up Sir I will evaporate before April 24.”

With a lot of trepidation, one day I took the phone. Again, we see Swami's hand! I called up Sir and he said, “How do you know I am thinking of you just now?”

BP: Oh my God!

CG: I said, “Sir, I don't know. I just called you.” He said, “Just now I've taught the three kritis to a well-established Carnatic singer, Vidya Kalyanaraman.”

Sir had requested her to learn the three kritis and sing the rough tracks. He had taught her for about two weeks. She then took one week each to learn and rehearse the three kritis. She then came back to Sir and showed him what she had picked up.

Sir said, “Yes, now you have reached a level where we can record the tracks. Let me call Sai Prakash and fix a date for recording.” And Sai Prakash calls up! Can it get more dramatic than this?

I'm not exaggerating. I am not telling a nice story! This is exactly how it happened.

Sir told me, “Let us fix a date for the recording.” So, we fixed March 12, 2015. We had no idea then that Poornahuthi of the Ati Rudram in Brindavan was on that date.

However, since we'd already fixed the date we thought we should not delay further. The kritis had to be sung on April 24, 2015 - three songs which are in no way easier than the first two!

SVV: Four notches tougher!

CG: We just prayed to Swami, “If not March 11, at least on March 12 we should do it; we can't postpone further.”

Sai Shravanam was abroad and so we could not record the tracks in his studio in Chennai. We thought we will just take a microphone, laptop and a pre-amp, go to Sir's house in Chennai, record the three tracks and send them out as soon as possible.

SVV: That was soon!

CG: That was the earliest we could do! So, we went to Brindavan. We thought, “Why should we take a 12-hour direct journey to Chennai? Let's break at Brindavan, have darshan of the Poornahuthi of the Ati Rudram going on, take Lord Shiva's blessings and possibly bribe Him to control time a little bit.”

“Oh Kalateeta, Controller of Time! Please stretch the time in our favour! We are so late this time!”

So, we went to Brindavan and on the morning of March 12, 2015, we discussed whether we were dishonouring Ati Rudram by cutting halfway through and leaving for Chennai because the Poornahuthi was to go on till 12:30 or 1:00 pm.

If we stayed till the end, we would not reach Chennai on time for the recording. We had fixed it at 5 pm. We said, “This is Swami's work. That is also Swami's work” and decided to go.

Something incredible happened that day.

  Ms. Vasantha Lakshmi - As the purity of her devotion to Swami took the shape of words and phrases in Telugu and Sanskrit, an epic composition got divinely manifested

We planned to start around 9:30 am from Brindavan. The Ati Rudram was going on but we silently slipped out. Our car had come. There is an opening under the bridge right opposite the Brindavan ashram gate.

I had suggested to the car driver, “Don't park right on the road because there's quite a bit of traffic. Turn under the opening under the bridge and park there comfortably, so that Vasanthalakshmi Madam can cross the road and get into the car.” Given that she is 67, we had to do things slowly.

Our colleague Sai Prasad also was with us. He's the one who really worked very hard on the notations. We had to bring out a notation script for each kriti. Then it could be read like how Western musicians read music. He worked behind the scenes to make this happen.

So, I was in the front of the car and he sat behind. Madam put her bag in the car and the driver thought she was already seated and started the car. In the process, her saree got stuck in the door and then the disaster happened! She slipped and fell!

BP: Oh my God!

CG: There was pandemonium all around. People were shouting and scolding the driver. He was so nervous that he just stopped the car. In that split second a person standing in the corner came rushing and held Madam's head and didn't allow her head to hit the ground.

I was in front and was wondering why people were shouting. As I looked back, I could see her just falling down. By the time I could open the door and come, she was already down on the road.

In all this confusion, the driver stopped the car. And where? Right on Madam's leg! The back tyre was on top of her leg! Even now it just sends shivers when I think of this!

I just shouted, “Sairam! Sairam!” when I saw this. Half the people said, “Take the car forward.” The others said, “No, take it backward.” Some sense prevailed, and the driver took the car back slowly and that was the right thing to do!

I thought, “That's end of our recording! Let's go to the hospital, admit her and we'll tell Sir we'll come later.”

Madam said there was some burning sensation and so very carefully we put her in the car and rushed to the General Hospital. We went to the orthopaedician. He checked her leg, pressed it at a few places and asked, “Is it paining?”

She said, “No!”

I said, “Aunty, it's ok. The whole car was standing on your leg. If it's paining, you please tell.”

She said, “If it's not paining, why should I say it's paining?” It was totally astounding!

Her leg was under the tyre for at least 10-15 seconds and she was saying she was not hurt at all.

Then the doctor told her, “Good you didn't panic because if you had panicked and tried to pull your leg out, half your foot would have got stuck and only the other half would have come out. We have seen cases like this before.”

Then she said, “Even if a mosquito bites me little hard, I am very fussy. I can't imagine how a whole car was standing on my leg and nothing happened!”

The doctor said, “There is nothing wrong. Since the car tyres are rough you have their impact. Just put ice on your leg and you can continue your travel.”

We didn't want to believe him. I said, “Let's go to the X-ray department. I'm sure something has broken.”

We went to the X-ray department but that day the technician was on leave and was happily enjoying Ati Rudram.

So, I said, “Swami, anyatha sharanam nasti (Other than You, refuge there is none)!”

Then Madam said very emphatically, “See Prakash, if it is paining I will tell you. It is not paining. Let us travel.”

You won't believe it, but for the next 6-7 hours we travelled from Bangalore to Chennai with just some ice on her leg. We went to Sir's house, did the track recording and Madam immediately left for Tirupathi that night.

She reached late around 1 or 2 am. Next morning promptly she went to the hospital to get an X-ray done and found out that her leg was perfectly fine.

A dedicated servitor whom the Lord had prepared for so many years to bless her with the honour of writing about His beauty and majesty in music and poetry

What more can we say? When Swami says, “I am there and looking after you.” He really shows it!

BP: Well, you asked Lord Shiva, the One who is beyond time, space, birth and death to take care! And He did it!

CG: Yes! That's how we recorded the three tracks and sent them to all the musicians.

SVV: But only after the notations were written!

CG: Yes. That took a few more days. I remember that the thought in me at that time was, “We just have one day less than a month.”

On March 25, 2015, there was some clarity on the tracks and the notations because even to notate these songs is so difficult.

SVV: After listening to the Todi Pancharatna kriti, my cousin who is a gold medallist in Carnatic music said, “It is very difficult to write notations for this. Whoever has done this has done a Herculean task because there is no fixed swara sthanam (position of swaras) for this. He has put in a lot of dedication and really Swami must have guided him because it's very difficult to write when you listen to these kritis.”

CG: There is one statement which Sir told me which I'll never forget in my life. I asked, “Sir, how did you choose these ragas for these songs?”

He said, “Prakash, I didn't choose the ragas. The ragas chose the songs.”

It's as if these ragas are some living entities who said, “Ok let me choose this song.” You just cannot have a substitute raga for these songs!

The ragas have gelled in so well that anybody listening to the songs will think they have been composed by one person. Nobody will know that there are two people who have composed - the lyricist in Puttaparthi and the music composer in Chennai! Only Swami can do this!
BP: Amazing confluence of raga, bhava and tala! And Divine grace working through so many people!

CG: That's the point. In perfect synchronicity!

The more you know about the background story, the more you will appreciate each kriti when you listen to it. That is because these were composed with so much of love for Bhagawan and with total surrender to His will. Virtually, He did it!

BP: If you read Tyagaraja's life and then sing any of his kritis, it will be a completely different experience. Similarly, when you know how Sai made the Sai Pancharatnas happen, you'll know how you should put your heart and soul into every kriti because Sai has put all His heart and soul into it!

CG: So true. Maybe we should discuss each kriti, one by one, in detail.

BP: Definitely.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

- Radio Sai Team

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