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Region 4 - Sathsang with Mr T.V Hariharan in Leicester

We, devotees in UK were very fortunate to have Shri T V Hariharan visiting us in the month of August. Mr Hariharan is one of the first few students who joined the Sri Sathya Sai College in Prashanti Nilayam in 1979, two years even before the Sri Sathya Sai University (SSSU) was formally inaugurated. He worked in the Administrative Block of the newly opened up SSSU for two years until 1984. He pursued further studies in Bangalore and worked in a pharmaceutical company for 3 years. But in 1989 he resigned from work and ever since he has been involved in spreading our Beloved Bhagawan’s message through naamasmaran – bhajans, music, workshops and talks at different Sai centres and other spiritual gatherings throughout the globe.

Brother Hariharan comes across as an embodiment of devotion and humbleness, two of the many hallmarks of Swami’s teachings. This article is based on Hariharanji’s bhajan workshop in Leicester on 11th August 2013 and the Heart to Heart article called “FROM THE JOY OF SYMPHONY TO THE BLISS OF SAI” (By Mr. T. V. Hariharan). He had the good fortune of being part of the first bhajan group in Prashanti and also learnt and played the Carnatic violin. Bhagawan had gifted him a violin and asked him to accompany Smt. M S Shubhalaxmi for the jhoola darshan (when Swami used to sit on a swing) on the occasion of Swami’s birthday in 1982.

Brother started with expressing his deep gratitude towards Swami and related how little we actually need to live and to always be grateful to the Lord for providing us so much abundance in our lives. During the workshop brother Hariharan rendered many soul-inspiring bhajans and lifted all the devotees to new heights of spiritual bliss. The strong vibrations were felt by many who happened to be present in the audience. That is the strength of real devotion transmitted through a bhajan singer when it makes the audience forget their ‘individual’ selves. Hariharanji, cautioned all of us during his talk about over emphasising on mere musical ‘expertise’ by saying, “It is not the expertise of bhajan singers alone…..but their hearts which they use to pour out (devotion to Lord)” He reiterated that he often prays to Swami to give him enough Shakti (strength) to lose himself in His Love, something we can all learn to aspire to.

How fortunate we are that we are born in the time when an Avatara walked on this very earth! We cannot emphasise this fact enough times. Moreover Swami as the Avatara always sends His chosen instruments to inspire, guide and thrill us with divine ecstasy and brother Hariharan is undoubtedly such an instrument. He expressed sweetly his gratitude in the bhajan, “Kaise bataayen hama kitne dhanya, kaise sunaayen bhaagya hamaare” (How can we express how blessed we are, what good fortunes we have!) but also reminded us how we all should aim for perfect purity in another of his rendition, “Mailee chaadar audh ke kaise, dwaara tumhaare aavun” (O Lord, how can I come to your door with my impure mind?)

Hariharanji gave some very useful and relevant advice and tips for singing bhajans. Bhava (feeling, emotion) for God is central of them besides being clear about the reasons for singing bhajans. Along with bhava, comes drishti (the way we look at the world). It is not mere physical nearness to the Lord but our bhava for Him which can result in His Grace. Bhajan singing is seva (service) for all listeners and not an instrument for aggrandising our ego(s). Brother Hariharan advocated practising bhajans hundreds of times and refining them to such an extent that we lose ourselves completely in it. About ego, brother amusingly related Bhagawan’s dictum that only God was one and we were all zeroes without God.

“Swami often says that if you sing Meera bhajans, you should become a Meerabai yourself; if you recite Kabir’s couplets, you should transform yourself into a Kabir; and if you render a Tyagaraja keertana, you should be filled with the devotion that Tyagaraja had for Lord Rama.”

He emphasised the need to keep bhajans simple so that they can be easily followed by all and also they enable relevant and powerful expression of devotion. “Endeavour to match the correct meaning and emotion to the bhajan that you are singing. Feel the bhava behind the meaning of the bhajan.” Brother Hariharanji and also pointed out to the strange fact that though Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Lord Jesus incarnated such long times before, we still sing their glories since they are more eternal principles like righteousness and love and not mere historical personalities. He remarked that even more complicated classical bhajans can be sung in simple ways.

Hariharanji’s example about purity was powerful and reached straight to our heart. He compared our body and our being like a (Godrej) safe and reminded us that we would only keep very valuable items in such this safe – so only pure and divine thoughts and feelings need to be there. Another essential element in our spiritual practice is unflinching faith in Swami like the simple-minded devotee who had no doubt that God can do anything - He can even send an elephant through the eye of a needle if He can create a large Peepul tree from a small seed!

Intelligence, though useful, is not the primary purpose in devotional singing as Hariharanji remarked, “Intellectual capacity shouldn’t lead us to egoism or we lose the very purpose or goal – be it singing bhajans, seva….He (Swami) is operating through us, singing through us, working through us.”

Our dear Swami brings us all together – no limiting boundaries of time, language and space through His boundless Love. Brother Hariharan reminded us that to Baba, the whole world is a family, whether we consider ourselves devotees or not and He was, is and will be taking care of us always. Let us all be inspired and let Swami sing through us, Let Swami listen through us.

|| Om Shantih Shantih Shantih ||