Dilip-da performs my song for the Mother

A few years later, a superlative singer visited the Ashram. His name was Swami Chinmoyananda. He was a great admirer of Dilip-da, so he stayed at Dilip-da's place. He used to wear an ochre cloth.

It was decided that there would be a physical demonstration, a display of sports. In Gujarat, there is a kind of stick dance. Gujaratis call it gorba dance. It became almost compulsory for us to learn that dance.

I was inspired to compose a special song for the stick dance. I showed the words to Swami Chinmoyananda. By that time, I had learnt from him quite a few songs. Kaji Najrul Islam's famous song, "He Paratha Sarathi", I learnt from him. Swami Chinmoyananda liked my singing voice and he was very kind to me. He agreed to set my Bengali words to music. The song was about sixteen lines long. Only the first three lines I still remember:

Chal, chalre O bhai chal,
Peyechhi amara mayer ashish
amita sahasa bal
Satyer jai manrite chal chalre
chuite chal...

One funny story: I translated the poem into English. My English teacher at that time, Norman Dowsett — who was very, very kind to me — changed a few words and made it into metrical form. At the bottom, he wrote "Translated from Chinmoy's original Bengali by Norman Dowsett." Then the song went to the press. The manager of the press was extremely nice to me. He said, "Does he know one word of Bengali?"

I said, "He knows a little."

Then the manager said, "For God's sake, say 'adapted', not 'translated'." So he changed it to "Adapted from the Bengali song by Chinmoy." This is Norman-da's most beautiful version:

Forward, comrades, ever forward

Forward, Comrades, Forward!
On to Victory —
On to Truth and glory
With sincerity,
We have the Mother's courage,
Her strength leads now the fight.
Forward, Comrades, ever forward
Forward to the Light.

Forward, Comrades, ever forward
To The Golden Morn
With our Lord and Mother
March on to The Dawn.
Hark to the voices calling
Calling to Her Truth —

Sing, Comrades, sing the chorus
Of eternal youth.
We fear no death no sorrow,
All falsehood we have slain —
Forward, Comrades, ever forward
To the fight again.

Forward, Comrades, ever forward
To The Golden Morn,
With our Lord and Mother
March on to The Dawn.

Forward, Comrades, Forward
On to Victory
Our code of life is amity
And equality.
Faith flames within each beating heart
And each heart beats as one —
Forward, Comrades, ever forward
Till the Race is won...
Forward, Comrades, ever forward
To The Golden Morn,
With our Lord and Mother
March on to The Dawn.

– Norman 19th June 1948

[Adapted from the Bengali Song by Chinmoy]

It was decided that this song would be performed by a group of fifteen or sixteen selected boys and Swami Chinmoyananda would conduct us. Dilip-da allowed us to practise at his place in the late afternoon. He had a very big house, like a mansion. Now it is one of the nursing homes. Anyway, while we were singing, Dilip-da used to be in an adjacent room.

Swamiji made repeated requests to Dilip-da to come and sing the song with us, but Dilip-da's reply was, "No, it is enough that you are there. They are all kids! How can I sing with them?" He never came, but he was gracious enough to give us his home. It was fine with us; he was such a great singer and we were all useless by comparison. For about two weeks we practised the song.

The day of the performance arrived. The Mother was there at the playground and about five or six hundred people had gathered to watch. Many, many children were performing different things. Boys and girls did their performances separately. The girls had various kinds of drills. Our group only had two things: first we danced with the sticks. Then we did a dance with a kind of sword or small dagger — not real daggers, but wooden daggers. We did karate-type movements—full of enthusiasm!

Then the time came for us to sing my song. It was around five o'clock. We were all ready. In front of us, our leader — Swami Chinmoyananda — was ready with his harmonium. Suddenly, like a storm, Dilip-da came running, panting and huffing, and practically pushed poor Swamiji aside. Swamiji did not mind at all. On the contrary, he felt so proud, so blessed, so fortunate. He had been one hundred per cent sure that Dilip-da was not going to sing the song because we were all kids.

The Mother was only seven or eight metres away when this incident occurred. But Dilip-da was the Mother's darling and Sri Aurobindo's darling. Who could say anything? According to them, whatever Dilip did was perfect, perfect, perfect. Dilip was always right. In the case of others, that kind of behaviour the Mother perhaps would not have appreciated.

When Swami Chinmoyananda was pushed aside, we became so nervous! Dilip-da had never practised with us. Then Dilip-da started singing the song and accompanying himself on the harmonium. O God! He knew the song so well. We were standing behind Dilip-da. We were about sixteen singers and we could also sing correctly and confidently, but our voices were nothing, nothing, in comparison to his voice.

Usually he had the sweetest voice, but on that day his became the loudest voice as well! He sang so beautifully, so powerfully. He literally drowned us out! Only Dilip-da's voice could be heard. It was as if we were all silent Brahmans! He was singing and singing at the top of his voice. That was Dilip Roy. We were not at all upset. We were the proudest human beings because Dilip Roy had sung with us.

The Mother was very, very happy with the performance. Then, as soon as it was over, Dilip-da came running to the Mother and fell flat at Her feet like a three-year-old child. His whole body was prostrated on the ground right in front of the Mother and he put his head on Her feet. The Mother, with Her infinite affection and love, bent down and pressed his head again and again.

This was Dilip-da's childlike heart. He was like the most affectionate child. He took away all the glory from Swami Chinmoyananda.

Then, while getting up off the ground, he took his time. While placing his head on the Mother's feet, he did not take time, he came running. But getting up, he took his time! How can I ever forget this incident!

After our performance was over, there were other performances, but Dilip-da did not wait for them. He went home.

See how life changes. Once he was angry with me and he would not allow me to sing. Then, a few years later, he was not going to sing my song. But he gave us his place to practise singing. He never, never came into the room to practise with us, but somehow he learnt the song. And, at the time of the real performance, he came running and threw the leader out!

Regarding Swami Chinmoyananda, I wish to add one very sad experience, perhaps the saddest experience. As you know, after leaving the Ashram, Dilip-da became a Guru. I, too, did the same. Swami Chinmoyananda cherished the desire to become a Guru. He was all the time wearing ochre cloth and beads. Now it happened that five or six seekers came to the Ashram from Sri Lanka. When they saw Swami Chinmoyananda, they invited him to come back with them to Sri Lanka. They said they would open up a centre and he would be their spiritual leader. So Swamiji left the Ashram and went to Sri Lanka with these seekers. They found in him a Guru but, unfortunately, this Guru could not satisfy them. After only six months, they beat him black and blue. Then Swamiji returned to the Ashram and begged the Mother to accept him once more. Alas, for various reasons, the Mother did not take him back.

My fate was fortunately otherwise. After five years in America, I went back to the Ashram for a short visit. The year was 1969. On the day I went to see the Mother, there was a long line of Ashramites waiting to be blessed by Her. The Mother meditated on each person for two or three seconds. Thirty people were ahead of me in the line.

All on a sudden, the Mother's main assistant, Champaklal-ji, came to me and said, "Mother wants you to stand in front of Her for as long as She wants."

My turn came. I stood in front of the Mother for Her blessings. Five long minutes She kept me there! Three times the Mother brought down my head and put it on Her knee. Then, when She raised my head, She examined my eyes, my forehead, my head — everything — with such compassion and affection. After five years' absence, how much affection She poured into me!

And about the disciples, Dilip-da is so fortunate to have found so many devoted and self-giving disciples. They call him Dadaji. I am also fortunate to have so many devoted and self-giving disciples.