Wednesday evening we had a Memorial Function for the late Ravi Shankar. A beautiful shrine was set up on one of the stages with two large photos, one of Ravi Shankar and Sri Chinmoy embracing as brothers, and one with his wife Sukanya and their daughter Anoushka with Sri Chinmoy. Since they had both lost their last brothers many years ago they started treating each other as dear Bengali brothers from that day on.
Having first met in 1973, they were reunited again in 2002 and the friendship from then on just grew and grew. Anoushka and Sukanya also met with Sri Chinmoy quite a few times over the years and even came to Aspiration-Ground for a special private concert here in 2002.
Last night at the function we watched a video of some of this immortal performance by Ravi-ji, Anoushka and their accompaniment. It brought back deeply moving memories of that incredible night when the rain was pounding on the tent and Ravi-ji was creating new sounds on the sitar to accompany the rain. By the end of the night everyone was rapt in awe at the amazing immortal melodies and sounds coming from Ravi-ji's and Anoushka's mortal instruments.
Anoushka accompanied her father and performed with him in many truly uplifting, immortal sitar performances. Whenever they performed in the New York, New Jersey area some of us were fortunate enough to have been asked to accompany them and assist them with their traveling and their instruments. At last night's function a few of us related some of the experiences we had with Ravi-ji and his family in this regard.
Since my teenage years in the late 60's when I was introduced to Indian music through Ravi Shankar's sitar playing here in the West, I always had a fascination and appreciation for this haunting, spiritually based form of music. To be able to assist him and his family for a few years was truly an honor and a dream come true for which I will always be grateful.
At the Memorial function last night we all had an opportunity to offer a candle at the shrine set up for Ravi-ji. Some of us sang some songs composed by Sri Chinmoy for Ravi-ji as well. We also sang a song of his words put to music by Sri Chinmoy. The words by Ravi Shankar are:"The highest form in music is spirituality."
The English translation to one of Sri Chinmoy's songs for Ravi-ji written in August 2002 are:
"Ravi Shankar, to you I offer my soulful obeisance.
You are the Lion-Sitarist.
In the world of hallowed music-pilgrimage,
Immortal you are in every heart.
From high Heaven the Cosmic Gods descend and garland you.
At every moment they illumine your life-road.
Two sleepless friends you have: Heaven's Fragrance, Heavens's Glory.
Rapt in dance at the Feet of the Absolute Lord Supreme
Is your outer frame." Sri Chinmoy
During the function we also watched a video of Ravi-ji and Sri Chinmoy at their re-uniting function in San Diego in 2002. Sri Chinmoy honored Ravi-ji and his family by lifting them up on an overhead platform. This type of program was called 'Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart' and was performed by Sri Chinmoy for many years to honor people who have contributed to the progress of humanity in various and significant ways in their lifetime. Ravi-ji also received the U Thant award that night.
By the end of the Memorial Function for Ravi-ji I think we all felt reunited with him and his strong friendship with Sri Chinmoy. It was as if these two spiritual brothers and immortal musicians were once again playing together and having fun as they lifted our spirits and brought joy and music into our lives.
Now they will be joined forever in the higher worlds, and for those of us lucky enough to be still on this earth we can always have free access to their most illumining and inspiring music which they left here for all to enjoy.