Saturday evening soirees at Dilip-da's house

At the Ashram, only a small garden separated the house where I lived from Dilip-da's house. He lived on the same block. Our house was at one end and his was at the other end. Every Saturday evening, he would sing and I went to hear him many, many times. My brother Mantu attended on a regular basis. He never, never missed. I started going there when I was quite young, at the age of thirteen or fourteen. Sometimes I stayed for an hour, or an hour and a half.

Thirty or forty Ashramites would be there to appreciate Dilip-da's singing. And the tabla player was either Anil Kumar or Nolini Sarkar. Nolini Sarkar did not stay permanently in the Ashram in those days. He was a great literary figure and a great singer as well. Dilip-da set to music two of his immortal songs — one about Sri Aurobindo and one about the Mother. These two songs have become so famous. He was Dilip-da's very dear friend and also the friend of Kaji Najrul Islam. It was Nolini Sarkar who took Dilip-da to see Barada Charan, the great occultist. Sri Aurobindo said about Barada Charan, "The greatest Yogi of Bengal."

Dilip-da used to play the harmonium while singing. When he was young, he used to play on the violin. He was an excellent violinist. Then he gave up. He said harmonium is best. He said the violin needed practice, whereas the harmonium does not need practice. The harmonium anybody can play.

When we used to go to his place, Dilip-da would sing four or five songs. They were short songs, but each one would take fifteen minutes at least. First he would sing the melody, without using words. Then he would add the words. Such a sweet voice he had. Dilip-da went on, went on, in his own inimitable way. Each time he sang the words, his devotion used to come to the fore, and he used to become more soulful. This was not fake devotion, but sincere devotion. And those who could identify themselves with him used to feel that they themselves were singing.