The Song

Sri Chinmoy: This is the song they are going to sing.

Mr. Menuhin: When you see it that way, you realise the great chasm there is between the printed notes and the actual act of singing.

Sri Chinmoy: They will be singing it now.

(Singers perform the song.)

Mr. Menuhin: Thank you. You learned that by heart? It's wonderful. You know, it's a dreadful habit to look at music. One should forget about it. It's wonderful that you sing it from memory. (To Sri Chinmoy) Did you teach it?

Singer: Yes, he taught it to us personally. He always insists that we not use the music.

Singer: Last night he taught it to us.

Mr. Menuhin: What was the process? Did you think of the music?

Singer: No, he writes the words and then he composes the music to the words. He wrote the entire song on a little keyboard.

Mr. Menuhin: And then you chant it?

Singer: He teaches us the music and we write it out in Western notation and learn it. He has written thousands of devotional songs. And just as you said, he encourages us not to use the music because when we look at music, we're using our minds, whereas when we sing without the music, we're using our hearts. This is what he encourages us to do: sing these songs with our hearts and souls.

Mr. Menuhin: Yes, I think it's amazing the way you sing together, and without having music. So none of you ever looked at the music?

Singer: We studied the music and learned it by heart.

Singer: Sri Chinmoy has us sing it over and over until we get it as he wants us to sing it.

Mr. Menuhin: Yes, that is very effective. And you probably have quite a repertoire.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, literally hundreds and hundreds of songs they know by heart. I have composed about 6,000 songs in Bengali and another 3,000 in English. Here is the song I wrote during the day. They had to go to work this morning, so they could not learn this.

(Sri Chinmoy reads the words to the second song he composed in Mr. Menuhin's honour.)

Mr. Menuhin: I don't deserve anything.

Sri Chinmoy: May I sing it for you?

Mr. Menuhin: I should get on my knees for this.

Sri Chinmoy (sits down at the harmonium): And also, I have set to music two most significant utterances of yours. (Reads words.)

Mr. Menuhin: How do you teach your group?

Sri Chinmoy: We live in Jamaica, Queens, and meet together at least two or three times a week to pray and meditate. We take soulful music as part of our spiritual life. When we sing soulfully, we feel we are praying to God.

Mr. Menuhin: Do you also give lectures, or is it just prayer, meditation and singing?

Sri Chinmoy: I have given talks all over the world-in most of the major universities. The talks are about Indian philosophy and our spiritual way of life. I have been praying and meditating since my childhood.

Mr. Menuhin: Yes, I can believe that.