I want to share with you an experience I had with Sri Chinmoy.
When I first met him, I was studying my Bachelor's Degree in Music Theory at Manhattan School of Music.
I was also singing in the elite choir at that school, the Madrigal Choir. I could sight-read very well, thanks to a teacher I had in Puerto Rico, Mrs. Irma Isern, who had also studied at Manhattan School of Music in her youth.
In 1980 I moved to Puerto Rico, after having studied with Sri Chinmoy for 2 years. In the Puerto Rico Centre we loved to sing! But there was one man, Orlando, who could not keep a tune. He would come with his wife and son, Orlandito. Wonderful people.
Once, when I came to New york for our Celebrations, Sri Chinmoy suddenly addressed me and told me that he wanted me to have a non-singers group. I was shocked. I could not fathom why the Master would put me through such an experience!
I think the year was 1982 or so...I remember, when we sat down for our first meeting at Progress-Promise, how Databir was so cheerfully enthusiastic about it! I could not understand how he could be so cheerful about something so terrible as people singing out of tune!
Our group was bad. It was so bad, we were a Circus act at one point! And every time Orlando sang, he was completely, absolutely out of tune! I don't think I ever heard him sing one melody in tune, not even one phrase or note.
A year passed, maybe two....and we were supposed to sing at Progress-Promise.
Guru called for our group to sing. The stage was small, and we were about 15 people....so we formed three lines. I was in the front line....we started to sing...and suddenly, I start hearing the most angelic, perfect, soulful voice I ever heard in my life. It was incredibly delightful to the ear. It was as if Heaven had come down and manifested itself through that voice! But this was impossible! There was no singer that good in my group! None of them could do this kind of thing! And besides, the person standing right behind me was Orlando! But the angelic voice was coming from where he was standing! We sang. We finished. We bowed....
As we left the stage, Adarsha, one of the greatest solo singers ever in our Sri Chinmoy Centre, approached me and asked: "Who is that?" in true admiration of what he had just heard.
I don't remember what I said to Adarsha, because I was speechless!
It seems to me that Orlando's soul took over for a few minutes, and his devotion and love for the Divine manifested through his voice. Ah! The lessons the Master gives! I finally found out why he wanted me to have a non-singers group!
with gratitude, Kamalakanta