Volume 10 - Issue 03
April 2012
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Posted on : Apr 16, 2012


 

A star in the firmament of light classical music in India, in 2006 Sumeet was one of the four artists selected to perform at India’s most prestigious ghazal festival called khazana, where he sang with Indian music legends like Anup Jalota, Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz and so on.

Drawn to music at a very early age, he started performing when he was seven and released his first album at the age of 11. Since then, he has been pursuing music passionately, and has sung at various concerts all over the world from U.S.A and UK to Australia. With a dozen devotional albums to his credit, and a recent debut in the Indian film industry, Sumeet is now carving a niche for himself in the world of music as a singer, composer and a song writer.

What is more significant is that he has been an ardent devotee of Bhagawan Baba right from his childhood. In fact, love for Swami is in his blood - three generations of his family have been Sai devotees. He was born in Fiji, educated in Australia and currently lives in Mumbai. But as he says for him Puttaparthi is his home.

Presented below is the edited transcript of a conversation between Sumeet and Radio Sai's Bishu Prusty recorded on November 17, 2011 for the Radio series “Tryst with Divinity”. Two other episodes were recorded for the same series with Sumeet, which we will shortly make available to our readers.

 

audio

Part - 1

 

Radio Sai (RS): Welcome Sumeet to the Radio Sai studio.

Sumeet Tappoo (ST): Thank you. Sairam.

RS: First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the soulful performance last evening (November 16, 2011). There were some songs which really touched the innermost chords of my heart, and I am sure it would have been the same experience for many devotees as most of us could relate to those songs and the feelings expressed through them.

Truly, it was a beautiful beginning to the 86th birthday celebrations of Bhagawan. So how was the experience for you?

Singing for Baba on His 86th Birthday Celebrations

ST: Thank you for the kind words. Since Bhagawan’s Maha Samadhi, I had found it tough to come to Prasanthi Nilayam. There were so many times when I would book my flight to come here, but I wasn’t even able to board the plane from Bombay. Everyone has their own journey with Sai and even though we know He is with us, still the physical departure is something that took some time to deal with.

But I told Bhagawan recently: “Swami, I want to do something special now when I come to Puttaparthi.” This was just a thought when I was looking at a photograph of Swami. Puttaparthi has been home for me for the past so many years, right from  my childhood, and since 2003, I have been coming here every month. Though I live in Mumbai where I pursue my career in music, I have been coming every single month. So for me, this is home - the real home.

About two months ago, I looked at Swami’s photo and said: “Swami, I want to go home.” And last week, I got a phone call from the All India President, Mr. Srinivasan who asked me to come and perform on November 16; I saw this as a calling from Swami. I had performed on the occasion of His 85th Birthday but  was more nervous last night. Singing at the Samadhi was a very different thing.

Prof. Anil Kumar mentioned my name and of the members who were accompanying me. So we went to place the flowers at the Samadhi, and made our way to the stage. And all of a sudden, there was this confidence, and this energy, which just came flying from Bhagawan’s chair towards me and that gave me so much strength to perform.

Sumeet Tapoo performing in the Sai Kulwant Hall during the week-long 86th Birthday Celebrations of Bhagawan, 16 Nov 2011

“Sai Baba bolo...” is a very emotional song – in this you are calling Sai, waking Him up. And I had said to myself: “I will not sing this song because I will get too emotional. If I do sing it, I will sing it later on.”

I actually started with a prayer in Telugu, which I had composed for the 85th Birthday with Swami’s blessings. And after that there was a small prayer to Swami in Hindi and I got the whole Sai Kulwant Hall to sing with me.

But at the end of this chanting, I don’t know, my fingers just went to F minor chord, and I started “Sai Baba bolo...”

It was just a mesmerising feeing. I didn’t even know how time flew! I found out this morning (Nov 17, 2011) that I had performed for 70 minutes! And my programme was scheduled for 55 minutes! I was saying: ‘Sorry Swami!’ because discipline is always so important to Him! I was totally lost because the presence of Swami is felt so immensely that it is unbelievable! Obviously, there is an element of sadness, I do miss Him; I am not singing to His physical form. But it was incredible yesterday! I don’t know how good was my performance technically!

Offering Talent to God

RS: Actually that was the most important part - the bhava or the feeling; that is what everyone felt connected to.

ST: It is actually His mercy. To be able to perform for Him when He was physically here was a whole different experience! Those memories can never be replaced! They will remain there forever. I didn’t know what to expect from performing at the Samadhi. But it was really beautiful; you now experience Swami in a whole different way.

I have been performing for the devotees around the world since the Maha Samadhi, and it has been a wonderful journey. I performed in the Fiji Islands - that concert was actually blessed by Swami in a dream.

Baba had said: “In two weeks, you have a programme! You are singing for Me. All My devotees around the world are thirsty and hungry for Me after I have left physically. Music is what will fulfill their thirst and hunger. And all of you artists, who have been given the talent, utilise it for this purpose.”

That was such an amazing message for me! I have dedicated my life in singing His Glory; this was such a direct message! And two weeks later, I was performing for Him! Nothing is a co-incidence with Swami. This happened on May 24, exactly one month after Swami's left His physical frame; the date wasn’t planned, it just happened. There were a series of eight concerts and it was just on that day that the Sathya Sai Organisation of Fiji had organised this concert.

Sumeet in the Radio Sai Studio
Sumeet Tapoo in the studios of Radio Sai, Nov 2011

Then I performed in the U.S.A, London and South Africa. And the yearning for Swami is so amazing! The devotees are really feeling Swami’s presence in their daily lives. I found so much inspiration in performing for these devotees of Bhagawan. They have so much of resolve that Swami hasn’t gone anywhere! He is with us! This is so incredible; it was like a healing process for me! I was just a catalyst for them but actually, I was myself getting cured. Their determination and firmness to practise His teachings and take His mission forward is so phenomenal.

So, yesterday was a whole combination of that.

Heart to Heart Connection with Sai, Thanks to Radio Sai

I am in touch with Puttaparthi every day, I get to know what’s happening on a daily basis and the medium of Radio Sai is incredible! It's heart to Heart! I am sure all of you who work here know that the seva which is being done through this medium is fabulous! It is reaching millions around the world!

RS: Interestingly, this Birthday will be the 10 years of Radio Sai.

Sumeet Tapoo and his accompanying artists after the concert in Sai Kulwant Hall, 16 Nov 2011

ST: Yes, I know. Whatever Bhagawan did was grand! Even this medium is incredible! The impact it has, when devotees listen to His message, watch His videos and pictures and read His stories, is massive! So, this has been an inspiration even for me. Every morning, religiously, I log on and see what’s happening - apart from receiving SMSs from all my friends here! But really, it is so nice to see pictures from here!

Yesterday was incredible! For me personally, to sing for Him, and have a nice conversation with Him was beautiful.

RS: And it enabled every devotee also to have that conversation with Swami.

ST: Music is a medium, as Swami said. I will share an experience that explains it. There was a time in 2006; I was just coming up in my music career. Swami had asked me to move to Mumbai from Fiji Islands in 2003. I was born in Fiji and did my education (MBA) in Australia, and then returned to Fiji to join my family business.

It was always my dream to record an album for Swami. So, for the 78th Birthday, my group, Sri Anup Jalota and I did an album together, called Sai Charanam. This was produced by the Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Maharashtra, and released through Times Music, which is the biggest music company in India.

The Unforgettable Launching of Sai Charanam

I had brought that album to be blessed by Swami on the birthday in 2003. But, a few days prior to that, Baba had called me and said: “Where are you living?” So, I said: “Swami, I am in Fiji Islands working for the family business.”

He then asked: “Bombay shift nahin hua abhi? (You haven’t shifted to Bombay yet?)” I was stunned!

 

said: “No, no Swami.” He said: “Achha, what is in your hand?”

“Swami, the CD. I want You to release it on Your birthday.”

He said: “What is it?” and started looking at the mock cover. He liked the title - Sai Charanam (meaning, Sai's Lotus Feet).

Swami used to come in a red car during those times. After a while He said: “From today, you sit here (pointing to an area in the verandah).” It was November 18, 2003. So He told Mr. Chakravarthy that I should be sitting there from that day.

RS: On the verandah…

ST: Yes, He gave me a seat there. And then as He was going inside in His car, when His feet were still out He looked at me and said: “Eh! Your album title!” And He lifted His robe, and said: “Sai Charanam!”

RS: Wow!

Sumeet Tapoo's album, Sai Charanam

 

ST: Oh my God! I was in tears; I bowed down and took padanamaskaar. It was such an incredible experience, He was so happy with the title! The smile on His face, the glow was incredible! So we launched the album on the 78th birthday after the cake cutting. That started a very new and different journey for me with Swami as well.

 

- End of Part 1 -

 

 

 
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