A few blogs ago I wrote about the role of discipleship in Indian music. About Ravi Shankar giving up his live as a musical dandy, an artistic jack-of-all-trades, for a live of asceticism and musical devotion. He traded a life—- of travelling the world first class with his older brother Uday Shankar’s dance troupe on luxury liners, hanging out with Picasso and the art world of mid 30’s Paris—- for a rigorous and total surrender to music under the tutelage of Baba Allaudin Khan, whom I wrote about in that earlier blog.
Ravi Shankar’s other guru, his spiritual guru, was Sai Baba, who just died at 84. He was considered a living god by millions of Hindus.
I didn’t know anything about Sai Baba when I first interviewed Ravi Shankar in 1979. He was my very first interview as host of Morning Becomes Eclectic. I thoroughly cleaned the funky middle school studio, put fresh flowers up.
Ravi was one of my idols, and still is.
I noticed a particularly large diamond ring he was wearing. It seemed a little odd for him to be sporting such a big hunk of bling. Now my late mother’s blue-white diamond was 3 carats. Big. Ravi’s must have been 5 or six. It was huge.
I asked him about it. Ravi said that his guru, Sai Baba, had “manifested” it. That meant he had materialized it out of thin air. I asked him about it a year later, when he returned, and he said he had Sai Baba re-size it—it had been too small. Ravi’s guru put it in his hand, prayed some sort of incantation, and it was resized to perfectly fit the famous musician’s hand.
Now if this were some mountebank on the Venice boardwalk, I would scoff and dismiss such chicanery. But this was a great musician and seeker of truth. So I was inclined to believe that such amazing things can and do happen, and that our scientific knowledge has its limits.