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 - 3

85th Birthday
Sumeet Tapoo seeking permission from Baba to start the 85th Birthday music programme (left). A number of renowned singers performed
that historic morning (right) and Sumeet was one of the artists who was blessed by Baba to coordinate the entire programme.

Tappoo Family's Early Tryst with Divinity

RS: Now, can you please tell us how He entered your life?

ST: I am blessed that I was born into a family who are Sathya Sai devotees. I am from the third generation. My aunt is Kanta Baala, who actually lives in Puttaparthi now; she knew Swami since the 60’s.

Fiji as you know is a long way from India; it is a remote Island - a paradise in the South Pacific. And in the 60’s, she came to know about Swami and told my grandparents that Avatar has come. So it just started from there; pretty straight-forward. We came not to see some Swami, but God who has taken birth; that’s it! They had only one small picture of Swami then. And in Fiji, the native Fijians have bushy hair like Swami.

RS: Afro hair.

ST: Yes, He looked like a Fijian. So it was confusing for people; they wondered who this Fijian man is? But she said: “He lives in India; God has taken birth. He is an avatar of Shirdi Sai.” So she told my grandparents and they came here in the late 60's. They were eight relatives who came - my uncles, aunties and grandparents.

Back in those days, in the late 60's and early 70's, nobody knew about Puttaparthi. It was a really tough journey to reach this place. But when they landed here Swami wasn’t there; He had gone to Anantpur. So they stayed that night in Puttaparthi, not knowing where Anantapur is.

But my relatives started saying to my aunt: “Where have we come! Where is this you have brought us to! It is such a remote village! I don’t think whatever you have read or seen is true!” Then they started praying and my aunt cried. And Swami responded through this other lady who said: “Tomorrow morning, there is another bus going to Anantapur.” So, all of them went to Anantapur and there Swami was waiting for them at the gate!

darshan

RS: This was at someone’s residence?

ST: No, at the Anantapur College; I think it was being inaugurated in 1971.

RS: Yes, the new college building was inaugurated in 1971.

ST: As soon as He saw them Swami said: “You have come from very far, and you haven’t eaten.” They had really not had any food.

Swami said: “Pehle petrol bhar lo pet mey! (First, fill your stomach with food!) And then come and see Me.” They did have a session with Swami later. So that is how the whole journey with Swami began.

So obviously, when they went back to Fiji, my father told the rest of the family about Swami. My mother came to know about Him when she was 14 years old! And so she always had this sincere desire to come and meet Sai Baba. And so for her too, it was always: “He is God!” So that’s how the journey started for my mom as well. After my mother and father got married, two years later, they came to India.

They came to Bangalore, and then met someone there who knew about Swami. They landed in Puttaparthi at 6:30 in the morning. Swami came for darshan at 7:00, and called them for an interview! My mother was three months pregnant and I was inside her womb. Swami then told her: “You will have a boy.”

So, I have been born into a Sai family; my middle name is Sathyam which was given by Swami. My full name is Sumeet Sathyam Tappoo. So, Swami has been there in this entire journey. Obviously, there is a connection that we all have.

Inexplicably Touched During First Darshan

However, I came to Puttaparthi for the first time on Dec 1989. I was very young and I remember pining to see Swami! I really wanted to see Him because I had seen Him only in photographs in Bal Vikas! As soon as we arrived in Puttaparthi, the taxi stood outside. All of a sudden, the sevadals were running. The driver said: “Get outside of your car because Swami will be coming.”

The next thing we see is Swami’s red Mercedes comes out of the Gopuram gate. And He is looking at my father, mother, sister and I. He did abhayahastha (hand raised in blessing) to us - within one minute of arriving in Prasanthi Nilayam! And that was like ‘Oh my God!’

I was just mesmerised by Him! And then I think I went mad because I started crying, like when you are a young child; I was 11. I was actually hiding from my parents and everyone because I was just crying when I was in Puttaparthi; I didn’t know why tears were streaming down - I thought something had gone wrong with me!

I went for darshan in the afternoon and was sitting in the third row. Hot sands! I was unprepared obviously because it was our first trip. I was sweating in the heat and yet crying!

When Swami walked out, that was my first darshan; He came down the steps. There was no Sai Kulwant Hall at the time. Seeing Him - I had kept the palm of my hand on my eyes to protect myself from the sun - I could see this amazing beam of Light just walk out. In my mind I always knew that He was God, but it was like a confirmation that ‘Yes! He is God!’

It was the way He moved and walked around. And I really wanted to talk to Him. ‘Swami, I want to talk to You! I want to talk to You!’ I kept praying and was crying, hiding from everyone else. ‘Why am I crying?’ was the question from within.

Swami didn’t look at us on our first darshan. We were there for three days. On the second day, Swami saw me and smiled. And that made me cry even more. I went back but I didn’t tell anyone about this experience. It had such a huge impact on me, but I didn’t know how to express it. For a young child, how do you actually deal with something like that? So, I started doubting myself, I said ‘Something must be really wrong with me.’

Many a times Sai youth ask me: “How are you able to talk to Swami?” “How are you able to have so many experiences?” I say: “I don’t think I am worthy enough for Grace. But God’s Grace is so huge!” It is!

Grace is something which is so massive! It is only His Mercy that He gives us this opportunity! But I can tell you that I really yearned for Him. That incredible feeling that ‘I Want God!’ - that’s when He responds. He melts like butter if it is from the heart!

Bhavanjali
Bhagawan releasing Bhavanjali Vol - IV, an album in which Sumeet sang a few Bhajans, 24 Nov 2010

 

I came back in 1992; it was the same feeling but I still couldn’t talk to Him. I used to see groups go in for interviews. But I wasn’t able to talk to Him. He used to always look at Me. He would smile and bless, and take my letters.

RS: Did you come every year?

ST: Yes. From my childhood years till recently, He took about 300 letters!

RS: You kept a count!

ST: Yes, about 305-306 letters. I kept a count of everything!

Enraptured by Sai During the World Youth Conference

Then, in 1997, for the World Youth Conference, Mr. Jagadeeshan came to Australia. I was studying there then. He said: “Son, are you coming for the World Youth Conference?” He was back then the World Youth Conference Co-ordinator and Organiser.

I said: “No uncle, I am not coming.” He said: “Don’t be foolish! Book your tickets, come to Puttaparthi. It is in July.”

I said: “Okay, I will come.” We had just moved to Australia two years prior. I was actually there for my education - the final two years of my High School and then University which I joined in 1997.

So my father asked the leader of the group: “Do you have space?” He said: “No, we have closed registration. Sorry, he can’t come.” This was in June, a month before the Conference. So I thought ‘Okay, maybe Swami doesn’t want me there.’ Then something happened.

I said: “I should go!” I called the organiser of the Conference: “I must come! There must be something there!” So I tried.

I asked my father: “Can I be part of the Fiji group?” So he called up the person in charge of the Fiji group, and the reply he got was: “Of course, we would love for him to come with us.” So, I joined the Fiji group. And that changed my life!

Because until then, the relationship with Swami was of a certain way. It was something that you were brought up with, like pre-conditioned thinking. But that trip was 'heart to heart'. I got to know about His in-depth teachings. Obviously, since bhajans were sung at home, I knew about the basics from Bal Vikas. I remember when we sat for darshan with the Fiji group on the first day, Swami was so happy seeing the youth.

That morning, Swami came and went straight to where the youth were seated. He was just taking letters and speaking to them. He was so glad! This was the day prior to the World Youth Conference. The next day, Swami gave a discourse and we were sitting in the fourth row from the front; the delegates were given special seating. Obviously, watching Him speak was mesmerising! And then, at the end of His speech, He sang Hari bhajan bina... I had never felt that energy and that feeling ever in my life!

I have tears in my eyes even when I think about it now! The entire hall was singing except for me! I couldn’t sing one word; I was just crying! The way Swami sang, honestly, I felt like I was in heaven!

And then He sang one more: Prema mudita mana se kaho... And then: Satyam Jnanam Anantam Bramha... He sang these three songs and then aarti was taken.

When Swami was leaving Sai Kulwant Hall, my heart completely drowned! I felt: ‘Swami! You are leaving! Don’t go please!’ And this feeling I always had until Swami was physically here.

I used to cry during aarti. It was like Swami was going and I would be seeing the back of Swami and that was painful.

So that is how my journey started. When I went back to Australia, I was buzzing with energy!

 

Sumeet in Radio Sai Studio
Sumeet Tapoo in Radio Sai Studio, Nov 2011

Swami had taken a few letters as well and had asked: “Where are you from?”, “When did you come?”, “When are you leaving?” and so on. It was beautiful to just have a conversation; I always wanted to talk to Him!

Constant Care by the Lord

I went back home, and a week after is when my life changed for sure! Because He started coming in my dreams. It was a minimum of three times a week; in some weeks everyday. This was from 1997 to 2001, for almost five years! And every step I took, every decision I made, everything I did, every word I said, He would come and tell me about it! He would say: “You did this right; you did this wrong! Do this!”  and so on. So much guidance and teachings through dreams!

Then, from 1998, every Sunday morning, He would come in the exact same dream. I started to understand what the purpose of my life is. He told me of my past births and why I was being born now and what role I have to play. With respect to music He said: “You were born to sing My Glory!” It was very, very clear! So, since then, I never had a doubt as to what the goal of my life is.

RS: Music!

ST: To sing His glory. And then the shaping of character began, bringing about refinement. By no means I am anywhere near the ideal He wants me to be.

He gave me such a beautiful experience! He talked about advice for youth regarding marriage and conduct in daily life.

RS: Maybe you can share one or two important things about this and then we will stop this episode; we definitely have to do many more episodes.

ST: Sure.

RS: I thought we will talk a little bit about music and a little bit about Swami, but it has turned out to be a complete satsang on Swami! And that is absolutely fabulous! No one knows how Swami has touched each person! And each person has an epic to narrate.

ST: Every person has their own journey. If you took a million interviews, you will have a million journeys!

  Xmas 2007
  Sumeet Tapoo speaking in the Divine Presence on the occasion of Christmas, 2007

Baba's Advise to the Youth

RS: True! So please share with us one important thing that Swami told the youth.

ST: Sure. Swami was talking about Ramakatha. And He narrated the marriage of Rama and Seetha. And then He took me to a completely different plane. Swami was acting as if He was Rama! He is Rama, of course! He started narrating: “I looked at Seetha, this is how she was dressed… this is how she was standing…what happened…how the marriage took place…how I felt when I first saw Seetha...” It was like instead of saying Rama, once or twice, it slipped and He was saying “I”! It was incredible the way He narrated the Ramakatha!

And then He talked about marriage. This is something I share with the youth as well. He said, if you like a girl, get blessings from parents and get married. Swami does not approve of short-term relationships; there has to be a long-term goal in mind, and you must get married.  He said: “The youth of modern age are not following this principle.”

Then He asked me: “Hey! Do I look 75?” I said: “No Swami!” “How old do I look?” He asked. I said: “Swami, You look very young; You’re so radiant!” “Why?” He asked.

I said: “Swami, You are God!”

“But why? Why do I look young?” He asked again.

When Swami asks a question, you should just keep shut. You are not supposed to say one word because anything you say, is going to be wrong! So I just looked up at Him and smiled. “Why?” He asked me again! I shrugged my shoulders.

Then He said: “Purity, Patience, Perseverance.” He said: “The youth of today do not have this. Human beings don’t have this anymore. There is no purity, patience and perseverance today.”

Again He asked: “What is Purity? Purity of thought, word and deed. Every thought must be for God. Every word must be for God. Every action must be for God.”

Concert 2011

“What is Patience? Everyone thinks like this today - one click and one must get it! That is not correct! You must always have the patience to wait for it to come. But, persevere for it.” And that was a message for me as well. “Act with purity, talk with purity, think with purity, have the patience, but persevere. That is a must!”

RS: That was the central message of Swami. I remember even during the 70th Birthday Discourse, He said: “That is the secret of what I am and if you also want to become God, all you have to do is follow these three things - Purity, Patience and Perseverance.”

ST: Exactly! And He really drove home the point. He said: “You must persevere. The goal must be on the mind and you should not detract from it at all. It has to be that one-pointed focus.” I try to practice, but I am not there yet! I wish I could live up to that ideal.

RS: That is the ideal that Swami has laid down for all the youth and in fact for everyone.

ST: Yes, Absolutely!

RS: I think we will end on this note. Let’s remember Purity, Patience and Perseverance, so that we too can become at least small specks of that Pure Love that Swami is. Let us reserve the rest of your experiences for the future episodes. It has really been a very enlightening and moving satsang.

ST: Thank you for having me. This conversation has brought back a lot of memories. Sairam.

RS: Sairam.

   

 

 

 

- Radio Sai Team

 
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