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


 

SAI – THE SOUL OF MY LIFE AND MY MUSIC

- a conversation with Sumeet Tappoo

audio

Part - 2

Righteousness Protects the Right and the Hardworking

ST: Let me come back to the incident that happened in 2006. So, three years had gone by then, and it was hard work. It is a very tough industry in Mumbai.

RS: Yes. And there must have been times when you would have faced roadblocks that could have been frustrating.

ST: Oh yes! Incredible roadblocks! And it was only because of Swami’s word that I had stayed back in Mumbai. Because for a newcomer - of course my Guru Sri Anup Jalota is there, but it is an industry where you have to prove yourself. People always say: “Bollywood is about who you know.” I don’t think it’s like that. It is God’s grace; whatever you are meant to get, you get.

It is about perseverance and hard work. You get in return what you put in and how good you are. The stars today are stars because they are brilliant! And that’s how it always is. So roadblocks are always there.

RS: How do you cope with these roadblocks?

ST: Bhagawan’s teachings are so powerful. I feel blessed to have been exposed to them since I was a child. And that’s my strength - the words of advice, the direction and the guidance given by Swami. He is actually the motivator. It is virtually the leading light in an industry which is quite different from the rest of the world. So, the only way I could cope is with Swami’s blessings and grace, His words, encouragement and teachings. Swami tests us like there is no tomorrow. Of course when you face them, you cry: “Swami, why are You doing this to me!”, “Why is this happening?” and so on. But really, they are exams for us.

 

Sumeet and Jalota
  Sumeet with legendary singer and his guru, Anup Jalota

Actually in the industry the two paths are very clear - Dharma and adharma (the path of righteousness and unrighteousness). With Bhagawan’s grace, I have always chosen the dharmic path.

One day I asked: “Swami, how do we know what is right or wrong?” He said: “Very easy! Before taking any decision, or thinking, speaking, or acting, just ask yourself for one second, ‘Will Swami be happy?’ That is your answer!” And that has always been a guide for me.

Whatever I do, I always ask myself: ‘Will Swami be happy with this?’ and the answer comes from within. That was how I have faced obstacles and challenges in life.

The Precious Gift of Voice

RS: He sent you to Mumbai, so He has a plan for you and He is holding your hand. So let's get back to the story of 2006.

ST: Absolutely.

RS: So let's get back to the story of 2006.

ST: Yes, three years had passed since I shifted to Mumbai, and from January 2006, I had developed some throat problems. It wasn’t a normal sore throat. I actually lost my voice. For a singer, that’s a catastrophe!

RS: I know!

ST: Because it takes two months to recover from losing your voice. So I recovered at the end of January, and the next month, the same thing happened. In March too, it repeated. It recurred in April and also in May! Every month I would come to Swami; He would sometimes ask: “Kaisa hai? (How are you?)” I would say: “Theek hai (I am fine), Swami.” I would never talk about it! But I was in pain inside because I couldn’t sing.

That’s how I realised how much music meant to me. I honestly realised how much this - a small voice box, meant to me. It was like my soul. When I couldn’t sing, I was in lot of pain. This was happening every month. In July, I got really fed up!

RS: So you could not sing for four to five months!

ST: Yes, all my recordings were postponed! Every time I would try to sing, I would not be able to do it in tune because I was so badly affected. So no concerts, no recordings - nothing. A complete zero! I was just sitting at home trying to recover my voice. There would be two to three weeks of recovery period, and for one week I would be okay and say: ‘Okay, let me get back to riyaaz (music practice), a very low level riyaaz'. But soon I would be down again with a sore throat!

Sumeet with Baba
A bond of sublime sweetness - Sumeet Tapoo with Baba after a concert in His presence

There is a photograph of Swami in my room. In July, I said: “Swami, I have had enough! I can’t take this anymore! Please do something!” And with that morning prayer, I woke up. I had taken antibiotics, tried all different things but nothing had worked!

On July 29, Swami came in my dream and said: “Come to Puttaparthi on August 18.” I woke up very happy the next day. I called up my travel agent, booked my flight for that date morning, from Bombay to Bangalore. During the first two weeks of August, nothing happened; the sore throat had completely gone and I was feeling fine.

I was doing an album, so I called my music director, and said: “Deepak, my throat is fine. Let’s record. But make sure, we do it after August 25. I will be out between August 18 and 25.”

He said: “Okay, that’s good, I will book the studio after the 25th.”

He came back by August 5, and said: “Hey! Good news! We have the studio from August 16 morning till the 25th.”

I said: “I can’t do it!”

He said: “Why?”

I said: “Because I have got a commitment.” But he said: “I have been waiting for eight months for you! Cancel all the other commitments and do this album!”

I said: “Okay, I will do it.”

I looked at Swami’s photograph and said: “Swami, You say 'Work is worship'. So on the 16th, the recording started. On 18th morning I thought, ‘Ah! Swami had called me, but I am sure He understands that I have to do my work.”

August 19, 20, 21 and 22 went by. On 23rd night, He came in my dream again. “Where are you? It has been five days I have been waiting for you in Prasanthi Nilayam. I told you to come on the 18th. Where are you?” He said. I didn’t say a word. This happened just before I woke up.

So on the morning of August 24, I am sitting on my bed, completely shocked! From 8 am till 10 am, I remained on the bed, just like a statue, not knowing what to do!  Because I have recordings and these are top recording studios, and some of the bookings are done months in advance!

You won’t believe, at 10 o’clock, I got a call from the engineer of the studio: “Sumeet, we have a problem!

 

Khazana Music festival
  Sumeet Tapoo performing at the prestigious ghazal festival, Khazana in 2006

The mixer has broken down! I have been trying to fix this since last night, and we don’t know what’s wrong with it. We are trying to reboot it and nothing is happening. We might have to send it away to get it fixed.”

I said: “Send it! It’s okay!” And I knew who had done this! It is only Swami! And then Deepak called: “Hey, I am so sorry about all this!”

I said: “No, it is okay; no issues.”

He said: “So when should we record?” I said: “Make it later on in August, September, whenever. It is important that the mixer is fixed.”

On the next day, the 25th, I landed in Bangalore in the morning and came to Puttaparthi and went for the afternoon darshan.

Swami came out of His car and as He was walking into the interview room, He turned left on the upper verandah, came to me and said: “Kab aaya? (When did you come?)”

I said: “Today, Swami.”

He walked inside the interview room. So I sat down. The door opened at one minute past four. It was August 25, 2006. He looked at me and just beckoned me. People around Swami were signalling me that Swami was calling for me. But I was completely frozen. So I took a few steps on my knees. Swami walked a few steps and said: “When did you come?” I said: “Swami, I came today.”

Paper Clipping

 

Swami walked a few steps and said: “When did you come?” I said: “Swami, I came today.” “How is your throat?”

“Swami, it is okay,” I said. Then He said: “Music is God; God is music. I am music; therefore I am God.”

I was completely stunned at what He had said. He asked again: “How is your throat?” I said: “Swami, it is okay.”

Then He asked: “How is everything in Bombay?” I said: “Swami, everything is fine.”

Again He asked: “How is your throat?”

I said: “Swami, it is not very good.” Then He enquired about some recordings and finally asked: “When are you leaving?”

I said: “Swami, whenever You say I will go back to Bombay.”

A paper clipping of an article in a newspaper in Fiji, describing
Sumeet's success as a musician, 2008
 

After this He again talked about some other things and one more time He asked: “How is your throat?” And then He came right down. So I touched my throat and said: “Swami, it is not good at all.” There is a photograph of this.

The next moment He waved His hand and materialised a chain and a pendant. He placed this around my neck. It is a short one; it just sits at the bottom of the throat. I was very emotional. I took padanamaskaar, and then He said: “Your birthday is in six days time, this is an early birthday gift.”

RS: Wow!

ST: My birthday is on August 31 and He said that it was an early birthday gift! I sat down. And this is the most amazing thing - since then, I have never had a sore throat! It has been five-and-a-half years now.

Mumbai is such a polluted city and really it is a nightmare for singers! But I haven’t had a single instance of sore throat after that! It has been incredible! It is only Bhagawan’s blessings; only He can do this.

RS: He is putting you through those tests and He is the one who is taking you out of them also!

ST: Yes. There is a verse in the Sathya Sai Chalisa that we did for Swami. It is: “Karta Sai, Kaaran Sai, Bhava Saagar ke taaran Sai” - He is the Doer, the cause and the One Who takes you across the ocean of delusion; He is Everything!

 

- End of Part 2 -

 
 
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