Canadian Hindu Leader Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma Passes Away

Canadian Hindu Leader Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma Passes Away
By Karishma Patel

Mississauga, Canada (CHAKRA) – An important leader and pioneer of the Hindu religion, Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma has died. He was a prominent leader for Hindus in both Trinidad an Tabago and Canada. He was the one to start celebrating Diwali in Trinidad in addition to building temples, performing wedding ceremonies as well as taking trips to India.

He was 80 years old and settled in Canada in 1989 after many Trinidadians requested for him to live there. He lived in Mississauga and passed away on Thursday, March 1. A funeral with many attendees was held for him a few days later.

Sharma’s father, originally from the state of Madhya Pradesh, came to Trinidad in 1910 with his 12 year old son. Once in Trinidad, Sharma’s father became a certified priest and conducted many religious ceremonies. He had eight children of whom Sharma was the eldest. Sharma along with two of his younger brothers followed his dad’s footsteps and also pursued becoming priests.

Sharma was conducting his own public prayers and rituals by 1944. He married a woman named Badewattee Persad in 1962 and they had six children altogether.

He had begun to create temples by 1971 in Matilda, Princes Town, Barrackpore and Rio Claro of which one is the well known Moruga temple in Matilda.

Boodram Ramoutar, a close friend of Sharma said, “His family fully understood and supported his role as a pundit and community leader with little time for all else. One special aspect was that he was not driven by material rewards, and treated rich, poor, man, woman, child, young and old with empathy and respect. In Trinidad alone, he had officiated at 4,000 weddings and become the guru of over 5,000 godchildren after baptising them as Hindus. It is fair to say that Trinidad has become richer in Hindu traditions, culture, and spirituality by the presence and teachings of Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma.”

For the diaspora, Sharma organized the first tour to India in 1983 because many Trinidadians were more interested in their roots and where they came from due to listening to radio programmes as well as from watching movies associated with their cultural past.

His initiatives such as his visits to India increased the demand of people wanting to learn more about their ancestors, their religious leaders and temples. The Sathya Sai Baba following was one such example. He became so respected by crowds as well as a charismatic leader that Sathya Sai Baba himself requested to meet him and talk privately as well as give blessings to all Trinidadians that he represented.

Sharma was asked to address the opening at the first Diwali Nagar celebration in 1986 in Chaguanas. Hindu awareness was growing and thus this event since then became an annual function which not only drew Hindus but also people of other faiths who just wished to experience the auspicious occasion of Diwali.

Thereafter, on the island, every Hindu celebration began to be celebrated with high respect and grandeur.

Most Trinidadians who moved to Canada, Britain and the United States starting in the 1970’s and onwards all called Sharma to perform their religious ceremonies such as weddings, house warming’s and other related religious events that required blessings from a respected elder. Due to this increase and demand for him, Sharma and his family moved to Canada thereafter to settle in the province of Ontario.

In Canada, he started the Satya Jyoti Cultural Sabha while becoming more prevalent to Canadian Hindus at the same time, marking a presence of Hinduism in the Canadian society.

All levels of government in Canada praised and honoured him with certificates and recommendations for his service to the Mississauga and Canadian community as a whole. Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma had become Canada’s first swami and was also known as Swami Atmananda Maharaj Ji.

Chakra News Reference

Ten Commandments for Peace of Mind

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Ten Commandments for Peace of Mind

In the modern age , it would appear that most of us are in a state of perpetual restlessness despite enjoying good health care and basic economic security.

Analysing the causes of this restlessness has led me to find ten solutions to attain peace of mind. I have called them “ten commandments” because they need to be followed religiously if we are sincere in achieving perfect peace of mind.

Here they are with brief explanations:-

  1. Do not interfere in others’ business unless asked – Most of us create our own problems by interfering too often in others’ affairs. We do so because somehow we have convinced ourselves that our way is the best way, our logic is the perfect logic and those who do not conform to our thinking must be criticized and steered to the right direction, our direction. This thinking denies the existence of individuality and consequently the existence of God. God has created each one of us in a unique way. No two human beings can think or act in exactly the same way. All men or women act the way they do because they are prompted that way by the God within them. There is God to look after everything. Why are you bothered? Mind your own business you will keep your peace.
  2. Forget and forgive – This is the most powerful aid to peace of mind. We, often develop ill feeling inside our heart for the person who insults us or harms us. We nurture grievances. This, in turn results in loss of sleep, development of stomach ulcer and high blood pressure. The insult or injury was done once but nourishing of grievance goes on forever by constantly remembering it. Get over this bad habit. Believe in the justice of God and the doctrine of Karma. Let Him judge the act of the one who insulted you. Life is too short to waste in such trifles. Forget, forgive and march on.
  3. Do not crave for recognition – This world is full of selfish people. They seldom praise anybody without selfish motive. They may praise you today because you are in power but no sooner you are powerless they will forget your achievement and start finding faults in you. Why do you wish to kill yourself in striving for their recognition? They are not worth it. Do your duties ethically and sincerely and leave the rest to God.
  4. Do not be jealous – We all have experienced how jealousy can disturb our peace of mind. You know you work harder than your colleagues in the office but they get promotions, you do not. You started a business several years ago but you are not as successful as your neighbor whose business is only one year old. There are several examples like these in every walk of life. Should you be jealous? No, remember everybody’s life is shaped by his previous Karma, which has now become his destiny. If you are destined to be rich, not all the world can stop you. If you are not so destined, no one can help you either. Nothing will be gained by blaming others for your misfortune. Jealousy will not get you anywhere, will only give you restlessness.
  5. Change yourself according to the environment – If you try to change the environment single handedly, the chances are you may fail. Instead, change yourself to suit the environment. As you do this, even the environment which has remained unfriendly for you will mysteriously appear to be congenial and harmonious.
  6. Endure what cannot be cured – This is the best way to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Every day we face numerous inconveniences, ailments, irritations and accidents which are beyond our control. We must learn to put up with these things. We must learn to endure them cheerfully thinking, “God will it so, so be it”. God’s logic is beyond our comprehension. Believe it and you will gain in patience, in inner strength, in will-power.
  7. Do not bite more than you can chew – This maxim needs to be remembered constantly. We often tend to take more responsibilities than we are capable to carry out. This is done to satisfy our ego. Know your limitations. Why take on additional loads that may create more worries? You cannot gain peace of mind by expanding your external activities. If you have extra time, then spend it in an inward life of prayer, introspection and meditation. This will reduce those thoughts in your mind, that make you restless. Fewer the thoughts, greater is the peace of mind.
  8. Meditate regularly – Meditation makes the mind thoughtless. This is the highest state of peace of mind. Try and experience. If you meditate earnestly for half an hour every day, you will tend to become calm during the remaining twenty three and a half hours. Your mind will not be disturbed as much as before. You must gradually increase the period of daily meditation. You may think this will interfere with your daily work. On the contrary, this will increase your efficiency and you will turn out more work in less time.
  9. Never leave the mind vacant – Empty mind is the devil’s workshop. All evil deeds start in the mind. Keep your mind occupied in something positive, something worthwhile. Actively follow a hobby. Do something that holds your interest. You must decide what you value more; money or peace of mind. Your hobby, like social work or temple work may not always earn you more money but you will have a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Even if you are resting physically, occupy yourself in healthy reading or mental chanting of God’s name (Japa).
  10. Do not procrostinate and never regret – Do not waste time in wondering “should I or shouldn’t I?” Days, weeks, months and years may be wasted in that futile mental debating. You can never plan enough because you can never anticipate all future happenings. Always remember God has His own plan too. Value your time and do things. It does not matter if you fail the first time. You can rectify your mistakes and succeed the next time. Sitting back and worrying will lead to nothing. Learn from your mistakes but do not brood over the past. DO NOT REGRET. Whatever happened was destined to happen only that way. Take it as the will of God. You do not have the power to alter the course of God’s will. Why cry over the spilt milk?


By Gyan Rajhans

May the Merciful Sri Sathya Sai Baba always shower His grace on us and our families and remove our problems and anxieties by giving us all – strength , goodluck, success and happiness with peace of mind.
~ Sathya Sai bhakt, Deepa H

Can We Have The Cake And Eat It Too?

Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Can We Have The Cake And Eat It Too?

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam, the Sathya Sai Baba Ashram.

In recent centuries, humanity has experimented with three major socio-economic systems. They are: First the Capitalist System at one end and second the Communist System at the other extreme. In between is the third system namely, hybrid Socialistic System that India, for example, tried to operate for about forty years after its Independence. Each system has its passionate advocates and every system claims that it is the best option for Society, because it alone can provide good economic and social security besides keeping its citizens happy.

These are claims. If, however, one looks carefully at the scorecard, one would find that no system has emerged as the clear winner. The simple reason for this is that no modern socio-economic system is explicitly based on Morality. No doubt, implicit in every system is the idea that people would be honest, truthful and ethical in their behaviour. However, the enemies of man lurking inside are so powerful that they easily overcome the vague commitment to values that these systems demand. That is THE fundamental reason why all modern systems are doomed to fail; and the danger posed by such a failure can create grave crises in the future, if some core issues, hitherto swept under the rug are not frontally confronted.

Experts say that for any economic system to operate four major inputs are necessary: Trained human resource, financial capital, infrastructure and raw material. Where raw material is concerned, mankind draws from a ‘Bank’ called Nature. All the renewable as well as the non-renewable material resources that drive the engine called economy are drawn from Nature. For thousands of years, everyone laboured under the impression that Nature is a Bank with infinite resources and that one can draw as much as one wants, any time. Lately we have discovered that this assumption is not true, and therein lies a serious problem.

Planet earth is finite, and it simply cannot provide infinite resources, just because we want it to. Lately, this truth has begun to sink in, though only in a limited fashion. For example, many have realised that oil which is one of the principle movers in modern economy, can one day run out. One can go to town on this subject of finite resources but we will not . For the present it suffices to say that consumerism which is the engine of modern economy, is very wasteful and is placing on planet earth a burden it cannot carry for too long.

What is the alternative? Sathya Sai Baba has indicated this but before we discuss that, it is pertinent to call attention to a report published several decades ago, known popularly as the Club of Rome Report. In effect, it warns mankind as follows: ‘The present consumption pattern is UNSUSTAINABLE. Curtail consumption immediately and drastically; otherwise, one day, the Bank called Nature would go broke and you would not be able to draw from it.’ This is the warning given not by religious or spiritual leaders but by hard-nosed economists, based on cold reasoning, and pitiless statistics and all that.

What does Satya SaiBaba say? He of course has been telling us a long, long time to practice CEILING ON DESIRES, not from the point of view of the Club of Rome, but from much higher spiritual considerations. When we place a ceiling on desires, it means we stop buying things we really do not need – and let’s be honest, we can jolly well do without most of the gadgets of today. We get sucked into buying them because of heavy advertisement. OK, suppose we stop buying all sorts of video games, I-pods and so on; so what? Well, that would immediately decrease the demand for mercury, cadmium, copper-beryllium, lead etc., which go into all electronic gadgets. All these are deadly materials, when they get into the environment.

Take, for example, cell phones. There are nearly a billion of them; and the models change so often. What happens to old discarded phones? They end up in India, China, Vietnam and so on, where they are dismantled by unskilled people, in the process spreading a lot of pollution into the environment. There are so many of today’s evils that get automatically eliminated, once we cap our desires. Of course, the more important thing is that people who curb desires, develop detachment and get closer to God.

Sceptics would shake their heads and say, ‘This is stupid. Consumerism is the engine that drives the modern world. If we curb desires, markets would collapse, unemployment would shoot up, and there would be disaster everywhere. Ceiling on desires may be nice to be talk about but it will not work; in any case, we cannot give it up. In any event, what other alternative is there?’

We will not get into a debate here about the virtues of consumerism but focus instead on the alternative. To appreciate the significance of that alternative, we must realise that in a consumerist society, products are often created using mass-production technology. Superficially this might make sense but it leads to unemployment. In decades past, when the economy grew, it also meant increased employment. But these days, economists are talking of ‘jobless growth of economy’. In turn this leads to a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots, as is being seen today not only in China and India, but even in the United States. So what are we to do? We have to switch from mass production to production by the masses, and anchor social life to sharing and caring rather than competition and exploitation.

This is where an important teaching of Sathya Sai Baba comes into the picture. Sathya Sai Baba often says: ‘The proper study of mankind is man.’ This means that mankind must follow the same rules that Lord God has ordained for the human body. In the human body, there is no organ that is selfish. All organs perform their functions in a co-operative manner and in harmony with all the other organs rather than competing with each other and in being selfish. As Swami says, when a sweet is put in the mouth, the tongue tastes it but does not keep it to itself; it sends the sweet to the stomach. The stomach digests and send the digested matter to the intestines. The intestines allow the nutrition to leak to the blood vessels, which carry the nutrients to the muscles all over the body and so on. One can give any number of such illustrations.

So the main lesson that our body teaches us loud and clear is that individuals in society must care for and co-operate with each other instead of being ruthlessly competitive and selfish. Next, they must function in harmony for a common goal, the welfare of Society as a whole or mankind, even as the organs of the body function for the benefit of the body as a whole.

This is where the concept of Trusteeship comes into the picture. In essence, what it means is that individuals as well as groups function as Trustees of God. Both individuals and groups must take the following view: ‘Every skill and resource we have belongs really to God and has been given to us to be used judiciously for and on His behalf. In that sense, we are Trustees of God.’

And this is how the Trusteeship idea works. A doctor uses his medical knowledge to relieve suffering and NOT for making money. This does not mean he should not charge fees. He could and should, especially if he is engaged in private practice. However, he does not overcharge and treats for free, those who cannot afford. Whatever he does, he offers to God, as recognition of his role as a Trustee of God. Corporations too must operate in the same spirit. Thus, drug companies would focus on saving lives rather than maximizing profit as they do these days [with good PR to cover up the anti-social behaviour]. One can develop the idea in extenso, and we shall do so in Heart2Heart later.

One might ask: ‘But what happens to jobs?’ Presently, globalisation-driven economy tends to ‘improve’ the economy while decreasing the number of jobs at the same time. In the Trusteeship regime, mass production is replaced by production by the masses. Some might wonder: ‘Will this work?’ It does, and the Milk Revolution in Gujarat is proof of that. Here, thousands of dairy farmers joined together to form a successful milk co-operative. So successful has this co-operative movement been that India, which once used to import milk powder from Denmark has now become the largest producer of milk in the world; and the venture has given employment to thousands and thousands of people.

If we think carefully about it, mankind DOES have an alternative to the present consumerist way of life, which is wasteful and is leading us straight to disaster. That alternative of course demands the price of simple living and a spirit of cooperation, with people caring for each other and sharing with each other, exactly as the organs in a healthy body do.

Many dismiss such an idea with the comment: ‘All this is nice in theory but will not work.’ Well, it all depends on what people want. People go to great extent to make money, to take care of their children, to be successful in life and so on. That is because, they value the end objective. In every case, sacrifice is involved and success represents the triumph of will power, which is the key to discipline. If in the same way we attach great importance to the real purpose of human birth and life, then there should really be no difficulty in practicing a ceiling on desires and letting life be guided by the principle of Trusteeship. This principle calls for detachment and actually, in many things we do, we are detached without being aware of it. A cashier in a bank handles everyday, huge sums of money; yet he does not ever imagine it is his money. A taxi driver working for a cab company, does not think he owns the cab; and so on, there are many examples one could think of. With effort, one could extend this idea to things that one believes belongs to the person concerned. In the trusteeship regime, a rich man would regard the wealth he has as given to him by God for being used for Divine purposes.

People today might be very sceptical about such an attitude to life but you would be surprised to learn that when late Prof. Kasturi (Baba’s biographer) was born, his parents took the baby to the local Siva temple, placed the baby before the idol and prayed, ‘Oh Lord, You have given this child of Yours to us for looking after and bringing up. Please give us all that we need to do Your duty as best as we can.’

If we want, if we love God, if we want to avoid inflicting more wounds on Mother Earth, then we can and ought to be able to change our mindset. If we fail to do that, and want the present untenable life style then we must also get ready to pay the price for it. Scientists are very much concerned by the rapid melting of Arctic ice, and if the same happens with the ice in Antarctica also, then terrible things can happen, like half of Bangladesh getting swallowed by the sea. Experts say that even if humanity stops consuming oil today, it is not possible to stop global warming. The process started will stabilise at best; all that one can hope for is preventing of still further rises in the long term.

The bottom line is simply this: If we want to eat the cake, then it would disappear and we cannot have it! The options are clear and the time to decide is NOW. Tomorrow may be too late!

What do you think? Do you agree?

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team

You Cannot Always Oblige, But You Can Speak Obligingly

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

You Cannot Always Oblige, But You Can Speak Obligingly

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

Gandhi often said that he wanted to live till 120 but he died much before that, not due to natural causes but due to assassination. Gandhi preached and practiced non-violence, peace and love; but ironically, he died on account of the anger and hate in the mind of the assassin. Gandhi is remembered for many things but today, we would like to dwell briefly upon a few aspects most important for our times.

If there is anything that stands above everything else in the personality of Gandhi, it is his firm commitment to Sathya and Dharma. Where these two were concerned, Gandhi took no orders from anyone except his Conscience. As Sathya Sai Baba often reminds us, Conscience is our true Master. Even recently, Satya SaiBaba was telling a couple of people from overseas, ‘People worship my Form but that is not enough; God is Inside and they should listen to His voice which is always speaking and giving good advice.’

Getting back to Gandhi, one might ask: ‘We all have Conscience; God is in all of us; then how come we are not able to do what Gandhi did?’ This is a question we really ought to be asking ourselves all the time, especially when Sri Sathya Sai Baba often tells that we are very deficient when it comes to following His teachings. The answer to the question we have posed is simple: Gandhi practiced many of the things that Swami teaches even though he never met Swami and had never even seen Him – remember Gandhi died on 30th January 1948, when very few people in this country knew about Swamiji. We, on the other hand, pride ourselves in listening and reading Swami’s Discourses, but avoid practice.

Gandhi took God seriously, indeed far more seriously than most of us do, and that is what made him so very different. Now what are those things that Gandhi did that gave him such towering Inner strength? Firstly, he was always chanting the Name of the Lord so much so he literally died with God’s Name on his lips. Next, he tried his best to remain true to his Conscience, indeed even in politics. Chanting the Name and being true to one’s Conscience are precisely the things that Swami wants from all of us; yet we consistently deny exactly those two to Swami whereas Gandhi gave just Him that; and that is because he really loved God.

Gandhi was called Mahatma; what does that mean? All of us are embodiments of the Divine Atma, as Sathya Sai Baba often reminds us; but Gandhi made that embodiment come ALIVE, and that is why he was called Mahatma, which means a great Atma. Gandhi was not born a Mahatma but by strictly adhering to the command of God, he became one.

Sathya Sai Baba often talks of bookish knowledge and practical knowledge. Gandhi is a good example of a man who translated bookish knowledge into brilliant practical knowledge. And this is something we should pay careful attention to. Today, if anyone were to say that Sathya and Dharma are very essential in national and international politics, people would dismiss that person as a bloody fool. Gandhi showed, however, that indeed even politics must be pursued keeping in mind all the time, what we call human values.

When Gandhi launched the famous Sathyagraha [non-violent, civil disobedience] movement as a part of the freedom struggle in India, he made it very clear that the struggle would be non-violent. However, some misguided people let their passions run away and burnt a Police Station, which resulted in the death of many Policemen. Gandhi was stunned; he did not expect this. Promptly he suspended the Sathyagraha, publicly declared that he had made a huge mistake – a Himalayan blunder as he called it – and then went on a fast to purify himself.

In August 1947, the British partitioned the subcontinent into two countries, India and Pakistan. All the assets of British India were divided between these two new countries – the railways, the Central Bank [called the Reserve Bank], and so on. It so happened that as a part of this division, India had to pay Pakistan 550 million rupees [or 55 crores as we would say in India]. Immediately after partition, there was an armed conflict between the two countries and on that basis, India withheld the 55 crores. Gandhi criticised that action as being morally incorrect; the word having been given, must be kept, politics or no politics. Such was the respect that Gandhi commanded, that the Government of India yielded and did precisely what Gandhi advised.

Gandhi started off as like most of us, as an ordinary person. He was not a scholar of the scriptures, the Vedas and the Upanishads. But one thing he knew – in life, Truth and Righteousness are always of paramount importance. And he resolved that never would he compromise on these, even if it meant death. That is what firm faith is all about. In other words, Gandhi demonstrated beyond doubt that with firm faith and deep love for God, one can develop so much self-confidence that one can face any adverse situation.

It is no surprise that Gandhi attracted and continues to attract admirers and even followers. Speaking on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s 85th Birthday, President Clinton said that in politics he admired no one more than Gandhi. Martin Luther King never saw Gandhi but he showed that Gandhi’s principle of non-violence works even in modern times. And, in his own way, Nelson Mandela too demonstrated that non-violence is superior to violence.

These are days when people tend to dismiss Sathya and Dharma rather quickly, claiming that they won’t work in the age of globalisation. This is a myth and it is tragic that such falsehood is being actively peddled amongst the gullible.

If we concede that it is God who has created the Universe of which we are a part, and that God is Sathya, Dharma and Prema, then we too must have those genes of basic values. If we have come from the Creator, how can we not have at least some of the ‘Divine genes’. Under the circumstances, to deny Sathya and Dharma is to deny ourselves as well as God. Nothing could be more foolish. Today’s generation might tend to dismiss Gandhi but, as Einstein said of him, centuries hence people would wonder whether such a man did really walk on earth.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

When Sathya Sai Baba talks of values like Prema, Ahimsa etc., we nod our heads and clap but later dismiss them as irrelevant for this age. That is not true; as long as there are humans on earth, values are a MUST, and instead of dismissing them because we are too weak to follow them, we must take courage from the shining example of Gandhi and try to emulate him, in at least a small measure, by listening to our Conscience, for example.

Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,
RadioSai’s e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service

Sathya Sai Baba To Hand Over Houses To Flood-Hit On Ram Navami

Sathya Sai Baba To Hand Over Houses To Flood-Hit On Ram Navami
PNS | Cuttack

Bhagwan Sri Satya Sai Baba will offer keys of the newly-constructed houses under the Sai Kutir Yojana to the families which were severely affected by the devastating floods in the State last year.

He will hand over the keys of these housed on the occasion of the Ram Navami on April 3 at Puttaparti in Andhra Pradesh.

Six hundred two families of 14 villages in Cuttack, Puri and Kendrapara districts are included under the Yojna. Out of these, 200 families will be rehabilitated in the first phase. About Rs 6 crore is estimated to be spent in the construction of these 602 houses. Construction company L&T under the super vision of Chalpati Prusti and Ramkrushna Prusty, the engineers of the Prasanti Nilayam, is constructing these houses.

Heads of these 200 families along with their wives are invited to Puttaparti. Expenditure of transporting and lodging will be bore by the Satya Sai Sangathan.

They will get the blessings of Baba, besides new clothes and home appliances. The family members led by Sangathan’s State wing president Prof Harikrushna Das will start their journey on March 30.

The members in support of the Sangathan will present a cultural programme on their miserable conditions after the devastation by the flood and the grace of Baba.

In another programme, these beneficiaries through a song-drama based on the life of the Mythological character Sabari will request Baba to come to Orissa.

The Pioneer Reference

I Am Involved

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

I Am Involved

Fatal fate stared at her for a moment in a car accident before she was miraculously saved by men who responded to an ‘anonymous’ call…a thrilling account by Muriel J Engle of Santa Barbara (from Sanathana Sarathi 1979)

Once again, my humble thanks to Sathya Sai Baba for Life, for preservation, and for the miracle of close protection. A midnight return from visiting a friend brought me down mountain Drive, just up beyond the Mission in Santa Barbara, a very narrow road, a dark night and a light drizzle: An unyielding wall made of huge rocks rose sheer on my left, black limbo down the canyon on my right. The car was moving too fast; I geared down. Still too fast, approaching a spot known as “suicide curve”. Not enough rain to wash off the slick, I noted. I touched the brakes, and the car skidded. Heavier braking, wheels seemed to lock, as if no brakes at all! I could not believe what was happening. Over the curb, and then time slowed as motion accelerated. Everything in me screamed, “No, No! No… Baba!”

The car lurched, skidded, banged, leaped, but did not roll over. A huge limb loomed, and I thought “decapitation.” But the car slipped under and I heard the heavy branch and leaves brush roughly over the top. Another lurch into black abyss and light showed a great tree coming head on, but a slip to the left which smashed both doors on the driver’s side veered the car slightly to the right to miss the tree and wedge me between the trunk and a large rock. I could hear glass crashing, but it blew out, not in. Just a few very small flying splinters struck my face, to make me aware of my good fortune, I guess, at no disfigurement. A sudden stop, motor still running, full tank of gas under the right side of hood and no explosion.

I turned off the motor; no lights. It was not quiet. All the noises of the night tuned loud and, below, the rush of Mission Creek, the boisterous frogs and the crickets. Gingerly, I moved arms, legs, body. I was shaking, but whole. The door on the driver’s side swung out but I could not tell where I would drop if I stepped out, or whether I would dislodge the car, which now and then shuddered a little. In a quavering voice, I heard myself say aloud, “Oh, Baba, Baba, I can’t handle this myself. What will you do with me?”

The dash clock said one or two minutes after midnight. I could not see any escape, in any direction; no mark where I come down the embankment, or how I could get out; no clue to where the road was which I had left so abruptly. The car was tipped uncomfortably to the left but slowly I reached for my personal things that had been thrown violently around the car, including my slippers which had apparently detached. I could not see or hear any signs of civilisation near me. There had been no other car on Mountain Drive when I went over the edge. I expected, then, to stay there until daylight.

The clock showed almost 12:20, when suddenly a powerful light beamed down from about 45° above me. I moved carefully to the right door, rolled down the window and called for help. I could hear male voices behind that big searchlight and when they had determined that I was alive and uninjured, they identified as police officers and told me the Fire Rescue Team was on the way. I watched the first man come down on a security chain, then three others followed. It took half an hour with a winch and four firemen to bring me up on a safety litter and when they stood me on my feet on the road, no one, including myself, could believe I was intact.

“How did you find me, or even know where or how to look for me?” I asked the officer bringing me home. “I got the radio call from the station at 12:11. Somebody must have called in.” Because I was anxious to personally thank whoever reported the accident, the officer called his headquarters when we arrived at my home. Looking at me, he shook his head, with the telephone in hand, “An anonymous call,” he said. “Man or woman?” I asked. “Couldn’t tell,” and he hung up. “Why, would anyone make an anonymous call in a situation like this?” I queried. The Officer shrugged “Many don’t want to get involved, I guess”. I walked behind the officer to the door, then distinctly heard the words in my head, “I am involved.”

Baba, with all my heart I am grateful, and I thank you. I solemnly pray that for whatever reason you chose to save me, I will cooperate 100%.

Several times since, I have awakened re-living that terror—but the calm comes when, again, I hear the words, “I am involved.”


The Silver Map of India

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

The Silver Map of India

We all caught our breaths, as Sathya Sai Baba created a most powerful object. It had a round black onyx base and on it was a silver map of India. Surrounding the map were 18 jewels that glistened in the dark, from some mysterious inner light.

He said that on the map were inscribed 100 Sanskrit verses giving the history of the Avatar from birth to the time when it leaves the body. He said, “All great works of the Avatar and all leaders chosen from my students are recorded here”.

He took it around for all to see and touch. Spiritually it was very powerful and esthetically very beautiful. The writing was too small to decipher. When asked, He answered, “I will not reveal the future. Everything will be revealed in due time. Why do you hanker after this object when you have its creator? You have Me and I have you. You are all sacred souls and have roles in the mission. No force can delay this mission even by one instant. I will appear in many manifestations of my form. Wherever you are, there I will be”.

He was not just speaking to the students, but to all of us… fortunate souls whom He has gathered in. It continues to be a great wonder to me, that not only is Swami still quite easily accessible, but there are so very few who have committed to become His devotees and live His teachings. Swami said His devotees are one in a hundred thousand. He said that one among ten, you can find one truly good person; one among ten such has some deep feelings for god; one among such ten will yearn for a direct experience; and one out of such ten will be ready to let go totally, to renounce, and surrender completely to God. “That is My devotee, and He is very dear to me”, Swami said.

Al Drucker

From the book: Love in Action, Proceedings of the Meeting of Sai Organisations of Europe, Hamburg, 12-15 May, 1989

Shirdi Sai Baba Body To Take Action Against Duplicates

Sai Baba Of Shirdi

Sai Baba Of Shirdi

Shirdi Sai Baba Body To Take Action Against Duplicates
Published: February 5,2009

Lucknow , Feb 5 Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi (Maharashtra) will take legal action against all those who exploit Sai Baba‘s name by constructing “duplicate samadhi (mausoleum)” and putting up his “paduka (shoes)” in different parts of the country.

“We will be taking legal action against all those who have made temples in the name of Shri Baba and also made his samadhi and put his paduka there. Baba took samadhi in Shirdi on Oct 15, 1918. This is the place where his samadhi and original paduka (shoes wore by Sai Baba) exists,” Managing Trustee Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi (Maharashtra) Ashok Khambekar told PTI here.

He said that the organisation did not have any objection to shrines dedicated to Sai Baba but claiming that they were his samadhi and paduka” was not fair.

He said that that it had also come to their notice that some people claim themselves to be scion (descendent) of Sai Baba and earn money.

Indopia Reference

Jason Mraz: The full Q&A

Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz: The full Q&A
By George Varga
Pop Music Critic
2:00 a.m. February 1, 2009

This is San Diego Union-Tribune music critic George Varga’s complete Q&A interview with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. The published version appears in the Arts section of today’s paper.

QUESTION: I’m curious if you’re any relation to George Mraz, the great Czech jazz bassist?

JASON MRAZ: We’re no relation. I did meet his granddaughter once. She brought me a ‘Best of George Mraz’ compilation she made.

Q: How did you like it?

JASON MRAZ: I loved it.

Q: Your periodic surfing companion, Anna Troy, who is the roommate of your good friend, Aspasia, tells me you can – and I quote – ‘Shred some serious waves.’That brings up two questions: Do you always surf early in the morning and does it ever happen that you come up with any musical or lyrical ideas while surfing?

JASON MRAZ: Yeah, it can. The great thing about surfing is that, sometimes, it’s the non-idea time because you have to stay focused (on surfing). I do go early in the morning; that’s to me the best reason to get up and I can get home by 10 a.m. In the old days I wouldn’t have gotten up until 10. I do it for the physical fitness, to clear my mind, and because it’s the only thing that kicks my ass. It’s serious and it will beat you down. All I do otherwise is sing songs and I need that in my life to continue to make a man out of me. I wouldn’t say I shred some serious waves, but I definitely have fun. It’s been big (waves) this week, so it allows you to show your stuff, if you’ve got it.

Q: To continue, could we talk about your upcoming blues album, ‘I Hate the World and I’m Going to Kill Myself.’


Q: No. I made that up. But, seriously, your songs tend to make people feel good, kind of like a musical pick-me-up. What role do you want to fulfill as a singer-songwriter and what do you want to give your listeners when they pay to hear you perform live or buy one of your albums?

JASON MRAZ: Comfort, more than anything, I think. I’m certainly not a preacher and I’m a horrible salesman. The last thing I want to do is force people into any (line of) thought. But if (I write) a happy melody and a groovy rhythm that people can sing along to and participate in, and it might be infused with optimism or some inspirational message or Zen philosophy, it can allow people to just be within themselves. I don’t want to say lose themselves, because that’s the opposite.

The more I travel around the world the more I see people want the same thing – to be happy. We wouldn’t be in a monetary system if we didn’t have to work, so if my music can contribute to happiness, then that’s my main responsibility. I write those types of things for my own joy. It’s my own therapy. If I didn’t write (songs) I’d probably be insanely depressed, probably overweight, and who knows where I’d be? A mental institution?

Q: So music is really cathartic for you?

JASON MRAZ: Absolutely. It’s something I’ve relied on, writing, at least since I was 13. When I was in my late teens I started to infuse those lyrics with music and melody. You can make a special souvenir of a time in your life with music and songs. So that’s what I’ve always written (to achieve).

Even now, that I’ve entered the world of competitive music, which is what selling albums has become, I don’t like making albums for that reason. I make music out of a happy moment, a hardship I’ve overcome, a lesson I’ve learned, a love story I got to live.

So, for me, it’s just a chronicle of my life and putting reason to the voices in my head.

Q: Did you have any epiphany in your late teens that inspired you to add music to the words you’d written?

JASON MRAZ: Um, I guess it happened in college. That’s when I first really had a guitar in my hands every day. And what I noticed was that I could make up songs about anything, on the spot, and it became a party trick. People would come over and challenge me with objects or situations, and I would just make up a song about it and get a good laugh and make people really connect.

It was through that connection and gratification that I realized it was the only thing I wanted to do with my life. I (realized): ‘I don’t want to have to compete in the (theater) workshop or audition for jobs. I want to create my job.’

Q: So you kissed college goodbye?

JASON MRAZ: Yeah. I kissed college goodbye. I was in musical theater school, and said: ‘I have no need for this.’ I didn’t want to stand up in a line every day and say: ‘My name is Jason,’ and sing a song someone else wrote and then go be a waiter (at night). I had a better plan – to go write my own songs. It wasn’t even about making money. My dad always said: ‘Do what you love to do, and that’s it. It won’t feel like a job.

You could stop everything you’re doing now, and just do what makes you happy. And if you did it with passion, everybody would stop and react. And, one day, you’d say: ‘Why don’t I sell tickets to what I’m doing?’ Or put a hat down (for donations)? That’s as far as I thought it would go – ‘If I could just make enough to pay the rent.’

Q: Your latest album, “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things,” features collaborations with Colbie Caillat, James Morrison and Bob Schneider. What do you look for in a musical partner and what’s more important in a collaborator, good vibes or creative tension?

JASON MRAZ: Yep, good vibes. They’re all people who write from the heart and not from their pocket. Meaning, they’re not just trying to craft a crafty song to sell it. I like writing with people who really get off on it. And Bob Schneider, who did three of those (framed) drawings (hanging) behind you, has the mania.

And Colbie seems to have a little taste of that free spirit. I’ve been able to become more selective over the years. In the old days, when I got signed, I’d write with anybody and everybody, and walk away feeling like I was just raped and so many ideas were just being wasted. I was just looking for real people.

Q: How off the wall do some of the phrases get that Bob Schneider, your sometime songwriting partner, throws at you for inclusion in a song?

JASON MRAZ: Yeah, but the (songwriting) game I play with Bob, when you do get a phrase (from him) that is so, uncouth, I think would be the word, its almost like it’s a nice break rather than put all your emotions in it he’ll send you a phrase (that’s) something a little absurd, and that becomes a little challenge. ‘Oh, good, my challenge right now is to be a goofball!’

I welcome every challenge. Six of the 12 songs on the new album came from the word challenge game I play with Bob and other friends. And there are about 70 plus other songs that came from challenges performed on any and every instrument, or (with) sounds or screams. There are no rules.

Q: Some songs are partly autobiographical, some are inventions, some combine elements from real and imagined events and people. But your song, ‘Love For A Child,’ from your latest album, ‘We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things,’ sounds to me like it’s written entirely from first-hand experience. Is it?

JASON MRAZ: Yeah it is. But it’s based on loose facts, meaning that I did my best to recall my family actually living together. And my few memories are hearing my family behind closed doors, watching my parents sort through a house that was trashed. We got burglarized – burgled? We got robbed and everything was all over the house. And I stood there in awe while my parents stood there arguing and going though everything.

So when I wrote the song, I remembered what it was like. (One) line is from when my parents were busy not talking to each other. I could hide right down the middle (between them). I could tell my dad, ‘I’m going to my mom’s,’ and tell her, ‘I’m going to my dad’s,’ and then disappear for the weekend and learn (things) the hard way.

At same time, I had a great upbringing from two families. And the freedom I had, I’m grateful for. You can’t live the rest of your life carrying a pain because your parents couldn’t get along. I choose to spend my life crafting a joy.

Q: How old were you when this burglary took place?

JASON MRAZ: I was probably 4.

Q: There was a Broadway musical in the 1960s called ‘Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.’ Was that how you were feeling after you came off the road from your tour to promote your second studio album, (2005’s) ‘Mr. A to Z’?

JASON MRAZ: Yeah when I was making my second album, the whole thing felt like a homework assignment. I’d written the songs over a long period and tested all the material in coffee houses (before recording). I think every artist had difficulty with their second album. Your dreams are suddenly coming true, so (you think) ‘What the hell do I write about now?’

But even if your dreams are coming true, you have to pick yourself up to go to work. I didn’t realize that at the time. It was difficult. The second album had some beautiful songs. But it was like cramming or trying to get a project done the night before the second science fair, so it’s no wonder the album slipped under the radar.

Q: Looking back, was it a good lesson in what not to do?

JASON MRAZ: Sure, absolutely. I realized then that, for my third album I was going to go back to my original setting (for writing). I certainly don’t like what happens when I’m influenced by the music industry and all I eat is food from room service or an airport. Room service doesn’t provide music for the soul.

I learned a lot from that (‘Mr. A To Z’) tour. When it was done, I said thank you to everybody from the band and label. (Then) I took a year off, but I was busier than ever. The first thing I did as sign up every Sunday night for (open-mic night at the music room next to the University Heights coffee house) Twiggs, which – sadly – is no longer there.

And then the Mueller College of Holistic Studies (across the street) loved the show so much that they said, ‘You guys can come anytime on Saturday or Sunday (and play here).’ So I did that for a year, just working on my songs. I wanted to surf, work on this (home recording) studio and this house, and get away from what the record business can be.

It can also be fun. (But) I wanted to get away from the pressure or negative side. I don’t know if I could’ve gotten the third album without the second, so it was definitely required.

Q: Now a few very serious questions, beginning with: Any truth to the rumor that, when you opened a few concerts for the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards tried to give you a wedgie?

JASON MRAZ: Nope. Didn’t happen. We barely got to interact with those guys. We got about two minutes with the Stones. Luckily, I had my mother in tow and I kept her in front of me. I kept her in front because it’s her who listened to the Stones in her college years and had a crush on Mick, not me. I’m grateful I got to see them now – they are rocking more than ever. It was more fun to watch them charm my mom, Mick and Keith.

Q: Is it true that Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and the ghost of Rick James are recording a version of your song ‘I’m in Love with Mary Jane’?

JASON MRAZ: That would be nice, but I haven’t heard it.

Q: If I order a ring-tone for your song, ‘That’ll Do,’ will I be embarrassed if it goes off the at my book club meeting during the risque lines?

JASON MRAZ: You mean …? (Mraz says the risque line, which refers to 10,000 people with an oedipal complex.) I had no idea. You mean like you can actually download the ring-tone? Well, that’s cool. Is it monophonic? I wonder if it sounds like the recording?

Q: Don’t they have to get permission from you before they use it as a ring-tone?

JASON MRAZ: Well, they do have to get permission, but they don’t have to use your recording. A lot of times they use really cheesy recordings. They emulate the song, but it’s Japanese programming. I’ll have to download that.

Q: Your first Grammy nomination was, I believe, in 2005, for ‘Mr. A-Z,’ and you now have two nominations for your song, ‘I’m Yours.’ What does a Grammy mean to you, and did the Grammys have any resonance for you when you were growing up?

JASON MRAZ: Not so much. Every now and then, if I heard of a band I liked, I’d tune in. But growing up (in Virginia), we didn’t have cable. Watching the Grammys was like tuning into ‘Saturday Night Live’ – ‘I’ll get to see a live band.’ I attend the MusiCares (pre-Grammy all-star concerts) quite a bit, but I’ve never been to the Grammys. I’ve had to go to the press rooms (backstage) a couple of times, but I never attended the Grammys. I don’t know why that is. A lot of years, I’m just out of town. It’s just not on my list of ‘to do’things.

Q: How about this year?

JASON MRAZ: I’m going to go this year because I’d like to at least say ‘thank you’for the acknowledgment. And I’m taking my mom. I got to meet James Taylor in September (at a Los Angeles fundraising concert) and we had a great conversation. If I can at least introduce my mom to Taylor then I’ll score some big points. I met him at the ‘Stand up to Cancer’ event that all of Hollywood put on. James was walking by me, and I said, ‘I’m a fan of ‘Money Machine,’ a crazy disco song from his (1976) album ‘In the Pocket.’

Q: Was he taken aback?

JASON MRAZ: He LOVED that I brought up that song and told me he was trying to go for a ‘little disco dance flavor.’ I said, ‘Dude, that’s what I try to go for with my songs.’ I think he realized then that I wasn’t a little Jonas Brothers (fan). Then, the conversation started rolling and we started showing each other our tattoos.

Q: What kind of tattoos does James Taylor have?

JASON MRAZ: He’s got – was it a peace sign? It was some sort of celestial thing on his arm that he got instead of his sister getting it. You couldn’t even make out what it was anymore.

Q: At the risk of digging a hole and falling into it, when I listen to your singing I get the feeling you’re an admirer of the music of Graham Nash and Michael Franks. Are you?

JASON MRAZ: Funny you should say that. I was at Graham’s house two days ago in Maui. We had lunch. It was actually the first time I’d met him, but he worked on my photography book (2008′ ‘A Thousand Things’). He curated the book and wrote a really nice forward. And Nash Editions did the book. We worked on it but never got a chance to meet (before). His home is inspirational and got me jazzed up about my home here and the reasons we write (songs).

And then Michael Franks, who I’ve never met, is probably my idol. I didn’t hear him until I moved to San Diego. I got his (1976) album ‘The Art of Tea,’and that’s probably the only album I listened to for a year. I was so blown away by it, the playfulness and the melodies. It’s pretty awesome.

Q: Yeah, he’s a San Diego native. His album ‘Blue Pacific’ was inspired by his growing up here. Back to the Grammy Awards for a moment. If you were the producer of the Grammy telecast, what would you do to improve it?

JASON MRAZ: Um (long pause). It’s a good question. I’d probably recruit local acts from all over the country, acts that still load all the gear in their cars and try to fit it on stage, acts that are really going for it and are entertaining. They can remind the viewers at home that there is so much good music out there that you don’t just get in the music section at Best Buy, or hear on the only radio station left.

Get people inspired that there’s music, in the same way people like to watch ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ People love watching that because it’s real people, and it gets young people jazzed up about their talent. I think that would be cool. And then for all the (music) industry types that are there, it’s a reminder that, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of great talent out there – and remember the days we did it for free?

Q: ‘American Idol’ has trounced the Grammys in viewer ratings each time the two shows have aired at the same time. What does that say to you?

JASON MRAZ: Well, I think it’s the story ‘American Idol’ tells. If you tune in at the beginning of the season you can pick your favorite (contestant), see the small towns (they come from) and watch them develop. And there’s really a human story there. The Grammys, I haven’t seen them in a few years but it’s all about the red carpet and people showing off their bling. Those (all-star) musical mash-ups (they have on the Grammy show), a lot of times those people meet at soundchecks, so there’s no way they’ll sound good. ‘Give us some legends!’

But I’m not surprised. ‘American Idol’ tells stories and the Grammys show Kanye (West) some more.

Q: I see that you have a framed poster here in your studio promoting a lecture by Swami Yogananda. Have you ever read anything by Baba Ram Dass?

JASON MRAZ: His book ‘Be Here Now,’ yeah, absolutely. I guess my experience with Ram Dass is only ‘Be Here Now.’ And I’ve tried that avenue of Zen, that psychedelic avenue.

Q: How’d that work for you?

JASON MRAZ: Well, it works for about the 8 hours that you are occupied with any and everything. But what I’ve learned through my own experience is that nirvana isn’t all trippy, it isn’t a gooey place. Nirvana isn’t a place where you’re unable to operate a motor vehicle. Instead, you can experience that bliss – what I learned is (based on) ‘How can I have that state of euphoria in my everyday life?’ Good lessons, but (Ram Dass is) certainly not my guru.

But for many years I’ve dug many wells in different spiritual terrain, trying to find, to tap into, something – the art of happiness, what life is. I’ve always been an existentialist, through and through.

Q: Going back to (the writings of existential godfather) Jean-Paul Sartre?

JASON MRAZ: I want to know why we exist and what I can do while I’m existing. Basically. it’s learning how to exist, wholely, consciously. Growing up on fast food and television shows, you can easily forget to exist. You can even be treated as if you don’t. So, I think that’s why man’s eternal quest for – it isn’t necessarily spirituality, but just in my own lifetime, I’ve watched the fall of Christianity. Not the fall in that it’s gone, but (more) the fall of Catholicism and more people seeing how they themselves can still have the Christ consciousness and still be divine beings, without (following) a particular religious practice.

Q: How does music play into that for you?

JASON MRAZ: You can filter out what you want. It’s pretty direct. I’ve always used my (recording) studios to give me comfort and assist in my realizations. If I stumble upon a great realization I can’t wait to include that in a song. And a lot of times, I think people are listening to my songs and may not realize that it’s infused with Zen Buddhism or the teachings of Yogananda and Sathya Sai Baba, and many different avatars from the last 2000 years.

Q: Given all that, how important is humor in your music and your life?

JASON MRAZ: I just think that’s the most important. Humor first in all things. Because, otherwise, people say, ‘That’s not right, that’s not real.’ Providing comfort (through music), you give people a reason to laugh and make them think nothing is that important or serious, even death is not a serious subject. It’s so natural, to think we can cling to our lives and own it.

In Buddhism, they say attachment to anything only leads to suffering. So when we laugh, it’s our way of saying, ‘I’m unattached to that.’ You’re tickled by it, it makes your lobes do something on their own. So humor is very important to me. I always take that to the stage first. It originally appeared (in the stage patter) between the songs. Then as the shows got a little longer and my experience in music developed, I found it was just as effective to put the humor into the songs.

It’s the best thing, it’s the best medicine. It’s why people take drugs, it’s the easy way to laughter.

Q: I’m not familiar with your hometown in Virginia. What was the population in Mechanicsville when you were growing up?

JASON MRAZ: Maybe 50,000. It was a suburb of Richmond, so I’d say that the county we were in, just north of Richmond County, probably had 50,000 to 60,000. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 200,000 people there. More and more subdivisions are being built, more TGIF, Best Buy and Jamba Juice stores, and the city doesn’t have any sidewalks, so you get hit by cars (if you’re on foot). People who locally own restaurants or music stores can’t get people to see them, because there are no sidewalks to connect them. You have to drive your big-ass car to get anywhere and you feel like whoever’s developing these places probably doesn’t even live there.

They put a million town homes and tract homes in with no regard for the people living there. The schools are packed, the teachers retiring are not being replaced. My high school, according to my cousins who still go there, is now known for its Meth problem. I had never heard of Meth growing up. So it’s really unfortunate. But sadly I don’t think it’s just Mechanicsville. I think every other small town in America is headed there. But we could correct that if people stopped watching TV.

Q: From a musical and creative standpoint, did you find it was an advantage to grow up in a small town, in that you could develop on your own and make mistakes, without being in a highly competitive environment?

JASON MRAZ: I would agree with that. We had to go out and play. Growing up, my brother and I – before we got into instruments – we had a video camera and that was the greatest thing ever. And, even before that, my baby-sitter would give us plays and we’d have to act out scenes. So we found out at an early age that our own creativity was so much a better friend then any TV or anything like that.

Q: How much do the Grammys matter to you?

JASON MRAZ: It doesn’t matter a whole lot, but I’m grateful. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea just by going and saying thank you to whoever is there, just for the acknowledgment. But as an artist, the accolades that are coming from the Grammys is for work I did four years to a year ago. ‘I’m Yours’ was written four years ago-plus, and the studio version was recorded a year ago. So it’s not like I’m sitting around waiting to be acknowledged. I’m grateful, but I’d rather keep living life and writing meaningful songs.

You know, I’ve also been one to say I’d love to know what it’s like to be in a recording session or a creative – what’s the word – writing session with Paul McCartney. What’s it like to be creative with Paul McCartney? And maybe by going to the Grammys – and he’s going to be there – that might be my in.

When I was buying my house (here in Oceanside) 5 years ago, all I was listening to was (McCartney’s 1971 solo album) ‘Ram. That was my inspiration. I wanted to be in a place where I could make an album like ‘Ram.’

Q: I notice that you have several gold albums and other awards in the bathroom here in your recording studio. If you win a Grammy, is that where you’ll put it?

JASON MRAZ: It’s probably going to go in the bathroom. That seems to be the one spot where all of (my) sales awards seem to be stored.

Q: Deliberately?

JASON MRAZ: I mean, it is deliberate. I do think they are fun to share, but I certainly wouldn’t hang them anywhere else in my house. They are not THAT fun. They don’t need to be in my main house.

Q: So, after the Grammys, what do you have planned for the rest of 2009?

JASON MRAZ: We’re touring from Feb. 1 to mid-May, all over the world. And then June-September, you’ll probably see us touring the U.S. again, at great lengths, outdoor (venues) touring. And I’m hoping by September or October that we finally pull the plug and finish writing and recording the new record. Any time in between will be spent here (at home) and in between waves. And we’ll be working on the garden this year. We’re committed to getting the house off the grid.

Q: All solar?

JASON MRAZ: All solar. We get sun in abundance here. And, to me, there’s no reason the house should be cold in the winter or that my pool should be cold. We have so much sunshine, an abundant resource, and (let’s) stop feeding the crude oil business.

Q: You’re only 31, so you have a long way to go. But how would you like to be remembered?

JASON MRAZ: Hmmm. How would I like to be remembered? That’s a good question. (He pauses and eats from a bag of raw nuts.) Hmmm. I’ve been been hanging out with Bushwalla (singer-songwriter Billy ‘Bushwalla’ Galewood) for 14 years now. And anytime we have to go out and work or earn a little money at something, we’d always look at it as, ‘This is funding the adventure.’

We don’t do this for money. But when money comes in, it funds the party a little later. So if I’m to be remembered, it should be for, ‘He paid for this party, thank you.’ ‘He bought the train tickets that took me there.’

I’ve had 6-7 roommates since I’ve lived here. I never charge rent; the only thing you have to do is contribute creatively. Right now, we have a few a really good organic chef and a crazy clown rapper. I’d like to be remembered for my generosity, in hopes that it inspired other people to be generous. What good is anything, if you’re not going to share? What are you going to do with it?

Q: You’ve mentioned your mother and brother. what are their names?

JASON MRAZ: June and Chris. My brother gave me the sweetest Christmas present ever. He found a tape I had made. I used to be a janitor at an elementary school and my brother would meet me there at night. He’d bring his sax and I’d have guitar, and we’d jam on Dave Matthews and Bob Dylan songs, and record them. Well, he went and had that tape mastered and put it on a CD so you could hear the conversations. That’s what I got from him last year.

It was really trippy, because I could hear the room at the Liberty Christian elementary School in Mechanicsville. I was the guy who cleaned up the Kool-Aid – and all the paste and glitter.

Q: Do you have any other family members who are still in Mechanicsville?

JASON MRAZ: A younger brother and older sister. They are all there, in the same spot. My grandma lived in the same house for 55 years, where my dad was born, and he lives a mile from there; my mom 6 miles. But they love it here (in Oceanside, oh, boy!

Q: How old were you when you worked as a janitor?

JASON MRAZ: Twenty, 21. It was one of the last jobs I had before I moved (away), which is funny. The more musicians that I meet, the more of those jobs I hear that they had. There are tons of janitors in the music business! Tons of construction workers or people who had jobs where you show up and move something, a ‘do-as-you’re told’ job.

It’s funny to me when you see fans, and people put artists, or actors, or whoever, in a higher position. You know, if they hadn’t got this movie or record deal, they may very well be the janitor you ignore or the person serving you a daily special. (So) I don’t think of myself as special in any way, because I’m one job from being a janitor (again).

I named my company Mraz Discount Janitorial Supplies. It’s on my credit card, too. So, when I check into hotels (and) they say, ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘Oh, I’m in town for a convention.’ People always need their floors waxed.

Jason Mraz With Guitar

Jason Mraz With Guitar


It Was Well Done That It Was Not Well Done

Shirdi Sai Baba

Shirdi Sai Baba

It Was Well Done That It Was Not Well Done

While treading through the concepts of the eternal journey of an Individual Soul (Jeevatma) and its ultimate goal of regaining the consciousness that it is part of, the Supreme Soul (Shivatma), one finds that the Individual Soul passes through different bodies or forms during different births or incarnations, gradually updating and re-updating its consciousness. Somewhere in its eternal pilgrimage, the Soul gets guided by another experienced one, who has already attained the goal and beyond and filled with extreme level of compassion, takes the responsibility to guide the others in the desired path. This surely can be described as the most compassionate act in the whole universe. Probably for the Guide, the motto is “the Soul must go on…….”

Here, we would not discuss more about the journey of the Soul. Rather, we would discuss about the relationship between the Guide and the Pilgrim as mentioned above, going through some incidents from the lives of some able Masters (Guide) and their great Disciples (Pilgrims). Here, we would try and delve into the nectar filled intricacies in their relationships, the eternal longing for each other and the greatest milestones set by them for others to look up to.

Saint Sarmad used to be a well-to-do Parsi business man, visiting various parts of northern India for trade. Once while in Bihar, he saw a very good looking young man and was spell bound by his charm. It automatically struck him ‘If the creation of God can be so beautiful, how beautiful the God himself would be?’ Then Sarmad wandered in search of the most Beautiful God and after some time, he met the great saint ‘Bhikha’. The Pilgrim had found his Guide, or rather the vice versa…

After his companionship of the gross body with the Master was over, Sarmad wandered in the streets of Delhi, praising his all compassionate Master. Sometimes he used to utter verses, expressing sheer joy and ecstasy at the thought of the Master; sometimes praising the glory of the Master; and at times pensively longing for the Master.

For many he was a revered one and yet for some, a mad man. On this, in one of his Rubaiyats, Sarmad said, ‘they say that my life was not well done; but I say it was well done that it was not well done.’ Thus he had aptly justified that if he had put himself into the mundane chores of the world, then he would have missed the most important companionship of his Master. Once, condemning the worldly contacts and looking up to the Master’s compassion, Sarmad said, ‘For my misdeeds, I bow my head in shame. I pass my life in worries and doing what I should not. But O’ Master, your reputation for grace and mercy is at stake; not my reputation for misdeeds.’

Such was the intensity of love and longing ness of Sarmad for his Master that at times Sarmad used to utter words of confrontation, challenging the Master to prove wrong, Sarmad’s own conviction of the supreme greatness of the Master. In one Rubaiyat, Sarmad said, ‘Tell me the cause of my broken-heartedness; Tell me how long I shall endure this pain; I know I am a sinner and a supplicant at the door of your grace; And if you can not forgive me, lead me then to the door of another one more compassionate than you.’

With the passage of time, when Sarmad’s popularity grew as a holy saint, the priests and the advisors of Aurangjeb, the then mogul emperor became jealous and charged Sarmad with the act of blasphemy of Islam. In Islam, idol worship is strictly prohibited, yet Sarmad was going on and on with worshipping and praising his Master. When Sarmad was confronted with this charge of idol worship, he said,

‘Why do you seek His abode in the chapel or the mosque? Can’t you see His creation above and below? Wherein does He not abide? The whole universe made by Him recites His tale. He alone is wise, who for Him is mad….’

‘I am an idol-worshipper and not among the believers. I go towards the mosque, though I am no Moslem…’

Thus, Sarmad, amidst all the chaos of the mundane world, kept on praising the glory of his Master and eventually when Sarmad left his gross body, none other than his Master appeared before him to greet him into the other world.

As the disciple longs for the Master, the Master also longs no less for the disciple. The relationship between Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi and probably His greatest disciple Shri Upasani Maharaj is an apt example of the same.

When Upasani Maharaj came to Shri Sainath for the first time in Shirdi, Shri Sainath was already waiting for the arrival of Upasani Maharaj. When Shri Sainath asked for ‘Dakshina’, Upasani Maharaj gave Shri Sainath a coin, which was no longer valid. Immediately, with all love and compassion, Shri Sainath gave a hint about Upasani Maharaj’s future. Shri Sainath said, ‘You have given me this coin, but I will give you the most precious one.’ This kind of strange behavior did not impress Upasani Maharaj much and he wanted to leave Shirdi as soon as possible.

Before leaving Shirdi, when Upasani Maharaj asked for Shri Sainath’s permission, Shri Sainatn said, ‘You will return to Shirdi in eight days.’ And thus happened, on the eighth day, Upasani Maharaj reached Kopergaon, a place just eight miles away from Shirdi, to his utter confusion. He realized that during the nine days, he had actually lost his path and was roaming around Shirdi. At that moment, Upasani Maharaj understood the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Shri Sainath’s words. Filled with insurmountable love for the Beloved, he returned back to Shirdi. The ‘Guide’ had found His able ‘Pilgrim’ and the journey of Upasani Maharaj towards the pinnacle had just begun to end.

Upon Shri Sainath’s instructions, Upasani Maharaj started living in the Kandoba Temple, just adjacent to Shirdi. Shri Sainath seldom used to meet Upasani Maharaj physically. Through many visions and mysterious instructions, Shri Sainath carved a Perfect Master, the highest of the high, out of Upasani Maharaj, in just about four years!

Under the active observation of his Master, Upasani Maharaj started the final phase of his pilgrimage, practicing greatest levels of penance and other spiritual practices. On one occasion, sitting amongst some devotees, Shri Sainath declared with divine love for Upasani Maharaj, ‘For me, the whole world is one side and Upasani, the other.’ That is probably the greatest level of performance evaluation any disciple can never even dream of from his Master.

When Swami Vivekananda met with Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa for the first time, Shri Ramakrishna abruptly started crying like a child. Tears of the pleasure of finding a missing one were rolling down his cheeks incessantly. The disciples of Shri Ramakrishna remained dumbfounded at the site. Then to add to everybody’s surprise, Shri Ramakrishna said, ‘Where had you been? I have been waiting for you for so long?’ At that point of time Vivekananda did not quite understand what the Master had said. It took him some time to understand that actually at that very moment, the Guide had found His long lost Pilgrim.

Once, Shri Yogananda was sitting with his Master Shri Yukteshwar Giri. There was something in Yogananda’s mind, that he had kept to himself for long, to be expressed to the Master. On this occasion, Yogananda could not restrain himself any more and asked the master, ‘Master, till now, never ever have you told that you love me.’ Hearing this, Shri Yukteshwar Giri remained silent for some time and eventually expressed His unfathomable love for the disciple by saying, ‘But why do you wish to bring the warm feelings into the purview of the coldness of vocabulary?’ Upon Yogananda’s insistence, the master eventually said, ‘so let it be; I love you Yogananda.’ Then filled with gratitude, Yogananda said, ‘Ah Master that is my ticket to heaven.’

The above incident subtly describes the feelings the Master and the Disciple hold deep within their souls for each other. Those are never expressed and always understood and experienced with no words uttered and no questions asked.

The Master of the great Bulleh Shah was revered Shah Inayat. Bullah Shah served the Master with great zeal and assiduousness. Complete surrender and service to the Master with a life bubbling with renunciation and unswerving devotion, gained for him the grace of the Master. With the passage of time, Bullah Shah, unable to control his joy, began expressing his divine experiences before the uninitiated. That displeased Shah Inayat and for a time, Bullah Shah was expelled from the hermitage of the Master.

With the separation, the whole universe fell crashing down on Bullah Shah. His state of mind was no better than a mad man, not having any control whatsoever over his behavior. He did not have any sense of pain and pleasure; the feeling of agony and joy were the same for him. During this period he once wrote, ‘What was my fault that you forsook me and went away? I pass my nights and days in tears. More tense and brutal are the shafts of love than the canon shots and swords. None is cruel like love, it is very deadly and painful…’

Completely ignorant about what is to be done about the problem, and filled with unquenchable thirst of love, Bullah Shah started learning traditional dances of a dancing girl to impress the Master. Soon, after he became proficient in it, disguised as a dancing girl, he went to a congregation of Sufis held at Shah Inayat’s place and melodiously sang the following:

‘My Lord, my Guru has left me, what shall I do? He has left me, I must pursue Him. The flames of the fire of separation are leaping without sight of Him. Without my preceptor, I have lost both my worlds…’

The melody of the voice, the depth of the meaning and the piercing agony of separation made Shah Inayat recognize His disciple Bulleh Shah, despite the attire of Bulleh Shah’s disguise. And when the Master interrogated, ‘Is it Bulleh?’, the disciple answered, ‘Not Bulleh but Bhullah (meaning literally ‘the erring one’).’ An embrace followed and once again Bulleh Shah and Shah Inayat were together.

From the above one understands that once the Disciple finds the Master or vice versa, there is only room left for divine love and longing for each other. Irrespective of the physical proximity, both the emotions remain there till the Disciple and the Master become one and the same. For the Master, the divine welfare of the Disciple is the priority and for the Disciple, the Master prioritizes over the mundane world. All barriers with regard to the society, religion, custom and so on and so forth are of no relevance. Thus amongst and irrespective of all the chaos and anarchy, the Disciple is all concentration upon his Master. As the Disciple progresses in the path of love shown by the Master, his judgment towards the worldly life remains – ‘It was well done that it was not well done…’

Debabrata Satpathy