Bharat Mansata is the author of Organic Revolution and The Great Organic Challenge, co-founder of EarthCare Books and well-known eco-activist. Relatively unknown, however, is his love of the bansuri (bamboo flute). He studied under Debabrata Bannerji, a disciple of Pannalal Ghosh (1911 – 1960), the composer and flautist who established the humble bansuri as a solo instrument in Hindustani classical music. Bharat never performs in public.
As is typical in the presence of Ramana Maharshi, surrender, inspiration and its expression manifest in a moment. Either you hear it, or miss it. Chance, like destiny, seems to be an iron law (in other words, rusty) around Bhagavan.
Not that entertainments are alien to Sri Ramanasramam. Back in Bhagavan’s day, in the body that is, ashram inmates (sane to the last mind) were treated to the occasional movie. Those were the days when any Indian film, even ‘spiritual’ ones, delivered an all-in-one package of every emotion known to humanity, a formula that Bollywood today is still unable to renounce. Imagine gathering around Bhagavan of an evening, as the 16mm projector whirrs to life, all eyes on the flickering black-and-white screen within the Screen.
Bharat’s brief but mellifluous recital covered Raga Kalavati, a relatively rare Karnatic raga; Raga Bageshwari; and a ‘bhajan’ (devotional piece) set to Raga Bhairavi, all rendered in the Hindustani style. The audience sat on the granite flagstones in the New Hall, informally scattered about the space which is usually occupied by silent meditators. Under Bhagavan’s giant photo, the silence was the same; the meditations, as always, an inner affair. (A few more pictures here at Demotix).
This event was actually incidental to another occasion: the release of Revolutionary Gandhi the previous day. The book, originally written in Bengali by Pannalal Dasgupta (aka Panna Babu), is an insightful analysis of Mahatma Gandhi’s personality, referencing his sadhana (spiritual practice) which was inseparable from his equally extraordinary politics.
Revolutionary Gandhi was translated from the Bengali into English by yet another hidden talent, our very own inimitable polymath and Taoist sage, K.V. Subrahmonyan, better known as “KVS,” whose familiar visage is always a delight.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
Up hill, down vale, with friends who’ve met anew
When all at once we came upon
A concert just for You.