Amrita Rao – Quick 5

Amrita Rao

Amrita Rao

Amrita Rao – Quick 5

We have not heard of Amrita Rao in a while but in a quick chat, she reveals some interesting tid-bits.

Spiritual experience
When I was seven, and accompanied my aunt to Kodaikanal on a spiritual trip to Satya Sai Baba’s ashram. I was curious to know why she was a vegetarian. My aunt explained a few things to me and since that moment I have been vegetarian.

First Offer
When I was in high school and got a call from an event management team telling me that they have selected me from an audition of 54 girls to be face of their fairness cream.

First Project you signed?
When a representatives of music Films Company came to my door with flowers and a cake that said we will make you a star. I signed a three-year movie contract deal.

Big Break
When Gauri Khan saw one of my Coffee ads and asked Farah Khan to audition me for Main Hoon Na.

When MF Hussain pronounced me as his muse eleven years after Madhuri Dixit after watching me in Vivah and made me a part of his historic canvas.

Star Box Office Reference

Nasa Photograph Of Puttaparthi Reveals Sathya Sai Baba’s Face

Nasa Satellite Picture Of Puttaparthi With Sathya Sai Baba’s Face On It?

The following picture is an Nasa satellite photograph of Puttaparthi taken by Homer Young in 1972. Upon closer inspection of the image, it appears to show the face of Sathya Sai Baba in miles of terrain. The full story about the Nasa picture is discussed in Chapter 10 of ‘Living Divinity’, written by the journalist Shakuntala Balu:

Nasa Photograph Of Puttaparthi Area

The composite picture below shows the enlarged and relevant section of the Nasa Picture. The mage on the left is untouched. The image on the right is a composite image that reveals the striking resemblance to Sathya Sai Baba (including a mole on his left cheek):

Composite Nasa Photo Image Enlarged

Sai Baba Ashram – India To Play Two Tests Against Philippines

Sport – TennisNEW DELHI: India will play two Test matches in tennis against the Philippines on January 12 and 14.

The Indian challenge will be led by the National grass court champion Vishnu Vardhan and the National hard court champion Ashutosh Singh. The other member will be Divij Sharan.

The Philippines will have a two-member team of Patrick John Tierro and Johnny Arcilla.

The Tests, to be played at the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ashram at Puttaparthi and the DLTA Complex in Delhi, will feature two singles and a doubles each. — Special Correspondent


Sathya Sai Baba Birthday Events

Saibaba celebrates birthday on a low key
ANANTAPUR: The 82nd birthday celebrations of Satya Saibaba were held at Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi on Friday.

The fete was a low-key affair unlike which was used to be organised in a grand manner every year. He came to Sai Kushwant Hall on an elephant, Saigeetha, amidst chanting of mantras by Satya Sai Educational Institutions’ students.

He cut 82 cakes to mark his birthday and thousands of devotees across the world participated in the celebrations. Every year he used to deliver a spiritual lecture but on Friday he refrained from it. Malladi Brothers began their recital soon after the Baba came on the dais.

This year’s celebrations had a significance as it was announced that eight selected couples would anoint Baba as his mother used to do in his childhood.

The couples which had the rare honour were: Saibaba’s brother’s son R V Ratnakar and his wife, former Supreme Court chief justice P N Bhagavati and his wife, eminent industrialist Hindulal Shah and his wife, former chairman of Vysya Bank Gangadhara Shetty and his wife, Mr and Mrs Shaari and Mr and Mrs Margabandhu.

Thousands of devotees gathered at the place and waited patiently in serpentine queues from 3 am onwards to have the darshan of their bhagawan.

Elaborate arrangements have been made in Puttaparthi as a precautionary measure following a threat from extremists, while every nook and corner of the town was guarded by armed cops. Maharashtra Industries Minister Ashok Chavan and Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister J Geeta Reddy were present as chief guests.

Rayalaseema Zone IG R P Thakur, District Collector N Sridhar, district Superintendent of Police Ravindra and others were also present.


Sathya Sai Baba birthday celebration
Friday November 23 2007 12:41 IST

GURUVAYUR: The 82nd birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba will be celebrated at Shirdi Sai Mandir here on Friday.

The Sai Sanjeevani Trust had organised a seven-day long birthday celebrations and conducted various social service activities like ayurveda camp, homoeo camp, free distribution of rice etc during these days.

The birthday celebration will be inaugurated by Thekkemadom Moppil Swamiyar.


Sathya Sai Jayanthi celebrations conclude

Thekkemadom Mooppil Swamiyar inaugurating the Sathya Sai Jayathi celebrations at Sai Mandir, Mammiyoor, on Friday. K V Abdul Kader MLA, devaswom chairman Thottathil Raveendran, Karmayogi Harinarayanan and actor Koottikkal Jayachandran are also seen.

GURUVAYUR: The week-long Sathya Sai Jayanthi held in connection with the 82nd birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba concluded at Sai Mandir here on Friday.

Thekkemadom Mooppil Swamiyar inaugurated the celebrations. Karmayogi Harinarayan presided over the meeting. Guruvayur MLA K V Abdul Khader, Devaswom chairman Thottathil Raveendran, cine actor Koottokkal Jayachandran addressed the gathering.

Special rituals were also performed at the Sai Mandir. Doctors led by N P P Namboothiri conducted a free ayurvedic eye camp. A pirannal sadhya for nearly 2,000 devotees were also served at the temple.


Goal of education is to serve society: Baba
Friday November 23 2007 09:14 ISTPUTTAPARTHI: Education becomes meaningful only when students use what they have learnt for helping others, Sri Satya Sai Baba has said.Delivering the convocation address at the 26th convocation of Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a deemed university, in Sai Kulwant Hall at Prashanti Nilayam here on Thursday, the Baba said that students of the institute had a good name and they should ensure that they were not involved in unnecessary issues and waste time.‘‘Time is most precious and sacred and wasting it is akin to wasting life,’’ he explained. The Baba advised the students to control their desires and channel their energies for the benefit of the society, for they are the future. He asked them to respect parents and make them happy by being studious and bring glory to the schools and colleges they study at.

While other educational institutions worked for monitory gain, Satya Sai educational institutions worked for poor students and their development, he claimed and pointed out that safe drinking water scheme, education and health schemes were not meant for any monitory gain but were only service-oriented.

Students pursuing higher education should not sit idle but work for the benefit of the society by engaging themselves in social work. They should remember that higher education was not for them but for the society, he said. The Baba also emphasised on qualities like love, selfless service in the youth.

The convocation was a simple affair with minimal number of VVIPs attending it. For the first time, Sri Satya Sai Baba as chancellor of the deemed varsity delivered the convocational address. In all, 21 students received gold medals and meritorious certificates from Sri Satya Sai Baba.

Maharashtra Minister for Industries Ashok Chavan, AP Minister for Industries Geeta Reddy, industrialist AVS Raju and others were present.


Orissa Ministers meet Sathya Sai Baba

KalingaTimes Correspondent
Bhubaneswar , Nov 6: Four Ministers of the Naveen Patnaik Government met Sathya Sai Baba at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh late on Monday afternoon to seek his blessings and request him to set up a hospital in Orissa.

The group that met the Baba and handed over a letter from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik include Energy Minister Surya Narayan Patro, Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadai, Steel and Mines Minister Padmanabha Behera and Health and Family Welfare Minister Duryodhan Majhi, all belonging to the Biju Janata Dal.

Patnaik’s letter contained a request to the Sathya Sai to establish a multi-disciplinary hospital in the State. The State government would extend all support to the Baba, including 100 acres of land, for setting up the hospital, Patnaik promised in the letter.

The Baba reportedly blessed the four Ministers and accepted the Chief Minister’s letter with a positive gesture.

Five others Ministers from the State, two from the BJD and three from Bharatiya Janata Party, however, could not join the group of four Ministers during the meeting as they reached Puttaparthi late.

The five included Information and Public Relations Minister Debasis Nayak and Women and Child Development Minister Pramila Mallik, both of the BJD, and Industry Minister Biswabhushan Harichandan, Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal and Higher Education Minister Samir Dey, all from the BJP.

These five Ministers tried their luck to meet the Sathya Sai on Tuesday morning, but could not succeed in getting an audience as the Baba did not turn up at the gathering. They were likely to meet the Baba late in the afternoon.

Two senior legislators of the BJD – Damodar Rout and Kalpataru Das – have also reached Puttaparthi. They were likely to seek the blessings of the Baba along with the five Ministers.

The visit of the nine Ministers and two legislators to Puttaparthi at one time has raised many eyebrows in the political circles in the State.


The Sanctuary of Melody

Elie Wiesel once said of Hasidic singing that it will “drive your soul out of yourself in order that it may rejoin its Source and become one with it in the heichel hanegina, the sanctuary of melody.” As a musician, and especially as one who plays music in spiritual and other personal growth contexts, the “sanctuary of melody” has always intrigued me. What is the secret promise waiting for us in this hidden realm of music, the sacred sphere of sound? Is there a mystical message of melody that can transport the soul to places in consciousness that can never be approached through mere words? Which never-before-heard combination of intervals and tones will unlock the inner doors to the Divine realms simply when sounded by one’s own voice or another’s?

In certain Native American tribes, it is the custom for a pregnant woman to regularly sing a song of comfort to her unborn child, repeating it when the baby comes into the world, and again throughout the child’s early life. The melody becomes virtually embedded in the child’s DNA, such that in later years the very hearing of it (or singing of it to oneself) becomes an instant, reliable source of comfort, like a hard-wired lullaby. What if, I’ve always wondered, God Herself whispered such a song to us before the before, when we were merely a glimmer in the Ein Sof’s I? Like the proverbial pilgrimage to sacred sites in search of mystical revelation, one could embark on a musical journey inward, entering the realm of possible melodies, silently listening with a great yearning for that one deeply familiar series of notes, the original healing song of our soul. And once we identified it, we could sing it with all of our hearts, riding the contours of the personally tailored tune until we were restored to our original wholeness.

Spiritual romantic fantasy? Perhaps. Yet it is not by accident that the ecstatic Hasidic tradition has developed the practice of singing melodies without words, using only sounds and meaningless syllables to articulate the notes. For all words, even the holiest of prayers, cannot help but register in the mind’s linguistic meaning center, activating the realm of ideas and discursive thought. And even the most lofty, sacred thought by definition resides merely on the level of the conceptual, which is several steps removed—or worlds away—from that which utterly transcends intellect.

It is only the purity of melody itself that can transport one’s soul “out of itself” — and not just any melody, but those holy melodies that the great Hasidic rebbes are said to “bring down.” It is not accurate to speak of the rebbes as composers of the songs they give over, but rather, it is as if they have access to the very sanctuary of melody itself, and merely find their melodies, already whole and waiting for the right person to give them voice. Similar, perhaps, to how Mozart described hearing his symphonies already complete, and said that his job was merely to jot them down, as if taking dictation.

In the contemporary world of New Age psychics and channels, none of this is news. Rosemary Brown, who died in 2001, was considered by many to be a genuine spirit medium who seemingly “composed” new works dictated to her by dead composers, among them Bach, Chopin, Beethoven and many others. Given that she had had little or no musical instruction and only beginner’s piano lessons, it was difficult to explain the complexity of her music (which allegedly included Beethoven’s 10th and 11th symphonies!) in any reasonable scientific manner. The pieces each bore the unmistakable signature style of the composer she claimed had paid her a visit. In a similar vein, I once witnessed a Brazilian spiritualist named Luis Gasparito produce before my eyes new paintings in the style of Modigliani and Renoir. In a wild display of frenetic creativity, Gasparito used both hands simultaneously, on two different sheets of paper, madly grabbing paints, often with his eyes closed, and in a matter of minutes had created two works of art–upside-down!—whose styles one would immediately recognize.

Yet as intriguing as it is to contemplate the possibility of deceased artists still actively working through willing recipients (John Lennon, I’m ready when you are) it is even more mysterious to consider our exploration of wordless melodies which involve no personalities at all, alive or dead. For to approach even the outermost chamber of the heichel hanegina, one must humbly leave one’s ego at the door and enter with only a naked heart in search of its original song. The songs themselves, secret sequences of sound, exist unauthored, except by Divine Mystery or a hidden aspect of our own soul.

When I sat at Reb David and Shoshana Cooper’s High Holiday table in Jerusalem many years ago, nearly every night we were joined by one of our generation’s great carriers of melody, a wandering minstrel with a haunting falsetto who devoted his life to teaching mystical Judaism and passionately sharing the melodies of his beloved rebbe, Shlomo Carlebach. I’m referring, of course, to the late Reb David Zeller, who passed on earlier this year from a rather sudden illness, may he sing in peace.

Reb David passed along Shlomo’s melodies and stories, interweaving them with his own teachings and songs to form a unique presence characterized by a great and gentle love and sacred tenderness. I wept to hear his well-known rendition of “Return Again” for the first time, in Jerusalem, at the Cooper’s Rosh Hashanah table:

Return again,
Return again,
Return to the land of your soul.
Return to who you are,
Return to what you are,
Return to where you are born and reborn again.

It seemed clear that the “land of your soul,” was not a geographical location but a hidden terrain within, barely retrievable yet thankfully not entirely lost, and approachable through melody alone. It was a place that Shlomo used to call the “the deepest depths” of one’s heart and soul, and touching that place never failed to bring me to tears.

Reb Shlomo always made me cry within minutes of being around him. I met him at least seven or eight times, and on each occasion he greeted me like his closest, long-lost friend, even though I also knew that on a personal level, he never remembered me and believed he was meeting me for the first time each time. Somehow he managed to combine a first meeting with the emotional connection of a final one. And he did this with everyone in his audience. Shlomo was notorious for arriving two hours late for a scheduled concert, entering from the rear and greeting and hugging each person in the audience individually —“My brother, so good to see you, you’re the very best”–which would take another two hours, and his concerts would finally begin at midnight and go through most of the night, much to everyone’s utter delight.

To sit with Shlomo in a crowded apartment in Jerusalem at two in the morning as he wove one of his heart-wrenching stories through melody and song, one had the impression that if you listened carefully enough to every word and sang every note from the “inside of the inside” of your heart, it was possible you’d enter the center of the world itself where all of God’s secrets live.

I once served as organist in a small, Episcopal church, accompanying the hymns each Sunday. During the time of taking collection, I was asked to play background music, and I would always play a Shlomo melody. Every week, without fail, someone in the congregation would approach me afterward and ask, “What was that beautiful music you played during the collection? It was so haunting and moving.”

Nothing personal, I would think, but those are probably the two least likely words that would come to mind if one were trying to describe the Episcopalian hymns I had to learn every week. Not haunting, not moving. Perhaps stately, or vaguely patriotic, with Christ as the country.

Later, in my capacity as a hospital chaplain, I was responsible for leading Sunday morning services in the chapel periodically, and there, too, I got the Southern Baptist Sunday morning hospital churchgoers singing Shlomo’s Hasidic melodies, and David Zeller’s songs.

– – –

Several years after my stay in Jerusalem, I was traveling in India visiting various ashrams and monasteries. Toward the end of my journey, I took a typically wearisome 27-hour bus ride in order to visit the community of one of India’s most widely known gurus, Sathya Sai Baba. The ashram is huge, and had just hosted two million people from all over the world, to celebrate “Baba’s” 65th birthday. When I arrived, the numbers had dwindled to a mere 20,000.

Exhausted from my trip, I was anxious to get some sleep, and I was assigned to Bed #312 in Building #24A, one of the men’s dorms. I found my way there, and discovered an enormous structure much like an airplane hanger, jam-packed with hundreds of beds. I crawled under my mosquito net and closed my eyes. Within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, I began to hear the angelic sounds of a choir right outside my window, singing “Hinei Ma Tov.” This can’t be, I thought to myself, and rolled over. Then the strains of “Shema Yisrael” began. I was much too tired to get up and check it out, and I drifted off to sleep with the assumption that I was probably hallucinating.

The next day, as I wandered the grounds, I came upon a bearded man wearing a yarmulke and tallis. I approached him, and learned that he and his wife had in fact been celebrating the Sabbath the previous evening, as they had been for several weeks, with a group of about a hundred German Sai Baba devotees, in a goodwill effort to bring healing to the German and Jewish communities. And where had this Sabbath service taken place? Of the thousands of possible locations, they had set up an altar literally beneath my window, right outside Bed #312 in Building 24A!

The time was early December and Chanukah was fast approaching. This couple–Chedva and Shimshon–was preparing to return to the States, and the mantel of “Rebbe of the Week” somehow fell to me. I puzzled over where I would find a menorah in Puttiparthy, India, and my question was answered in a dream: I saw myself building a huge menorah out of stones, laid flat on the ground, with the candles placed right into the earth.

The next morning I gathered a pile of rocks, found an open, dirt field, and constructed the menorah. Before long, I was presiding over a nightly Chanukah gathering of perhaps a hundred Germans and half a dozen Jews, sharing songs and candle-lighting. The spokesperson and musical leader of the German contingent was a lovely woman named Gesine, who was very interested in Judaism, and was eager to learn whatever Jewish music I could share with her. Her favorite was one of the Shlomo melodies I had learned from David Zeller in Jerusalem. (“Sing the ‘yai deedai song,'” she would say, since it was a melody without words and I sang it with the traditional Hasidic sing-along syllables.) How would my ancestors make sense of this scene: a Jewish boy from New Jersey, son of a German mother who just made it out in ‘39, now dressed in a white robe at a Hindu ashram in India, leading Hanukah candle lighting and Hasidic songs for a hundred Gentile Germans?

Chedva and Shimshon were living in Ashland, Oregon at the time, and told Gesine and me about their wonderful Rabbi, Aryeh Hirshfeld, also a musician and singer. Several years after that trip to India, and seven years after I first sat at the Coopers’ table in Jerusalem, I was passing through Ashland and contacted Aryeh, who graciously invited me over for dinner with his family. When I introduced myself, he said, “Oh yes, I’ve heard of you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, incredulous.

“Several years ago I was performing in Germany, and a woman named Gesine taught me a wonderful melody. When I asked her where she learned it, she said ‘from Eliezer Sobel in India.'”

The following summer I attended a large Jewish conference in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and one evening there was a tribute to Shlomo, who had sadly passed away the previous year; he had had a heart attack on an airplane in the midst of a concert tour. As I sat there in the audience with eyes closed, I heard the familiar strains of the magical traveling melody as Aryeh played it for all assembled. And so a single enchanting musical form had come into the world through Shlomo in New York, traveled via David Zeller to me in Jerusalem, over to Gesine in India, on to Aryeh in Germany, back to Ashland, and was now returning to Shlomo after circling the globe and transporting people all over the world to the sanctuary of melody, fulfilling a secret promise.

As Shlomo would always say, “I bless you and I bless me” that we too can one day empty ourselves sufficiently to gain entrance to the secret sanctuary of sacred sound and bring back the primordial mystical melody that will mend the world: the singular song of our soul.

Images: Eliezer Sobel celebrating Chanukah at Sai Baba’s Ashram:


Puttaparthi Sai Baba Misses Date With Miracle

DNA Correspondent
Saturday, October 06, 2007 08:32 IST

HYDERABAD: Hundreds were injured in a minor stampede when thousands of Saibaba devotees gathered at the Sathya Sai aerodrome at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday evening to witness yet another “divine feat” that turned out to be a non-event.

Perhaps for the first time in decades, the 80-year-old godman of Puttaparthi could not even get out of his Mercedes due to the crush of devotees at the aerodrome 435 km south-east of Hyderabad.

Known for his magical abilities to produce ash, gold chains and wrist-watches from thin air, Saibaba has attained the status of a social worker in Andhra Pradesh after he funded a Rs250 crore drinking water programme, complete with mini-reservoirs, a 75-km pipeline, several hundred borewells and heavy duty diesel and electric motors.

After the evening bhajan at the Saibaba’s ashram — Prashanti Nilayam — at Puttaparthi, Baba’s assistant and translator Anil Kumar announced that the godman would give his “vishwaroopa darshan” between 6.30 and 8pm.

The news spread like wildfire among devotees all over the country and those in Puttaparthi town made a beeline for the airport to witness another “magical feat” from the godman.

The rush of people was so much that the godman himself was not able to reach the spot at the aerodrome from where he was supposed to perform the feat. Devotees stormed his vehicle to be closest to him while he performed the miracle.

Also See:
Is Sathya Sai Baba The Man In The Moon?
Hysteric Crowds Force Sai Baba To Differ Viwa Rupa