Sathya Sai Baba And Devotional Music

Music Of Sai

Sathya Sai Baba And Devotional Music
By Dr. Sandipan Chatterji

Even as a young boy, Baba as young Sathya would lead the Pandari bhajan group – group of village boys going round villages in groups singing the glory of the Lord. On the 20th of October, when in his eighth standard at school, he declared that he is Sai Baba of Shirdi came again and led devotees to sing the bhajan, ‘Manasa Bhajara Guru Charanam.’

The first Akhanda bhajan group started in Bangalore in 1946 and today on the World Akhanda Bhajan Day in November, devotees around the world join in to sing bhajans for the whole night and day.

The Bhajan Mandali is the basic unit of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation the world over. In the early 60s, Bhagawan Himself would sing in the ‘Thyagaraja Aradhana’ – Thyagaraja festival of devotional singing – where great musical stalwarts would participate. In 1948, Bhagawan sang krittis on the marriage of Sri Radhakrishna Chetty’s daughter, Vijaya Kumari (author of Anyadha Sharanam Naasthi: Without You Refuge There Is None) at Kuppam, South India. Bhagawan’s musical performance there created waves everywhere.

Sai Bhajans are unique in the sense that they mainly consist of ‘namavalis’ (various names of the divine) that are highly suitable for collective singing by the devotees. The lead-singer sings a line and others repeat it after him. Feelings are of prime importance.

Baba does not very much encourage bhajans that are solo performances where the audiences are only listeners. The aim is to make the Divine names dance on the tongues of all the devotees and purify them.

As schools and colleges came up, Bhagawan personally trained students to sing devotional songs, which He sometimes scripted on His own. He is the music director for all the plays that Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning stages. The All India Musical Festival and International Music Festival celebrating various forms of devotional music were held in Bhagawan’s presence twice each. Each year, many musicians are fortunateto render devotional music at His Lotus Feet. Even today, Bhagawan leads a bhajan or two at the end of His divine discourse.

Today Bhagawan has set up the Sai Mirpuri College of Music (PDF) at Prasanthi Nilayam. In years to come this institution will uphold and preserve the tradition of devotional music in the world. World-renowned musicians will teach budding musicians the path of devotion through music.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, no doubt, is one of the greatest patrons of devotional music in the world today.