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Love and Light

Sai Jyothi Performances A reflection by Roopa Panesar

I had been earnestly yearning to go back to Prashanti since my last visit in 2011, so when we were invited to join the Sai Jyothi group and perform again, I was filled with excitement and gratitude. I felt the deepest gratitude to Swami in having listened to my yearnings as He always does. It was requested that I be joined by some more musicians so that we could represent the UK and to give opportunity to young talent in this country to visit the Lord's Abode.

It was fairly instant that we started feeling the grace of Swami as brothers, Kaviraj Singh (Santoor player and vocalist), Gurdain Singh (Tabla player) and Kirpal Singh (Taar Shehnai player) all happily and graciously accepted the invitation and felt honoured at having such an opportunity. Bearing in mind the title of the pilgrimage, the initial thought was to somehow perform "Antar Jyoth Jalao Swami", a beautiful bhajan composed in Rag Yaman Kalyan, a Raag that denotes an auspicious beginning. With further inspiration, we decided to take the theme of celebration, grace and joy and so took the popular bhajans "Hum Sab Mil Kar Mangal Gaye" and "Om Hari Om Hari Om" as the theme for playing further. It felt appropriate as these two bhajans are composed in Raag Megh which is a Raag of the rainy season and we interpreted this as a Raag that can signify the showers of Grace. Finally we felt inspired to end the piece with Raag Bahaar in which the pieces were composed by my Guruji (Ustad Dharambir Singh ji). The Raag is traditionally played in the Spring season but we felt that we could relate this to any time of the year when we visit Swami as He gives us a new beginning and a fresh lease of life.

For me personally, I felt Swami's unbound kindness in allowing me to perform there with my brothers and having been given such an honour. We were carried from start to finish and it was an experience that will stay with us forever. Although beloved Baba left His physical form, His presence is evermore present. His miracles are also still at play. There were a couple of things that happened during the performance which made us sure of this. At the end of our performance, on the very last note, my string broke! It was truly a miracle that the string had not broken earlier and literally snapped at the very end of the performance. It was clearly Swami's grace that it held until that very last point. Gurdain (the tabla player) later shared that during our performance he played a very difficult tukda (a short tabla composition) which he had never played before but had only heard in a recording long ago. All of the musicians left Prashanti having felt the grace and peace of Prashanti and said that it was the most memorable performance of their lives. We further felt the love of Swami through His beloved students who were so encouraging and it was so humbling as they wished to learn Sitar and to hear our experiences via a Radio Sai interview.

The day after the first performance, we had another opportunity to perform again with the UK group. It was a beautiful experience to come together with our UK brothers and sisters and sing and play.

I was deeply honoured as I had a third opportunity to play during part 2 of the pilgrimage. It was so moving to see the Grama Seva boys in action and to witness Swami's Work.

Finally I will forever be indebted to the UK Sai Organisation, Ajit uncle from Heart Valve Bank, all my UK brothers and sisters, my Guru, my parents and most of all Swami for everything that has been possible. This trip will be an unforgettable experience which I will cherish forever.

Roopa Panesar