there is an ashram called Ram Sharnam established by Swami
Satyanand Ji Maharaj about five decades ago. The custom
there is to hold a two hour session of bhajans every Sunday
morning, which is very popular with the affiliates of the
ashram. Indeed, for a long time now, it is normal to see
thousands of people register their presence for the Sunday
of this ashram is that, before the bhajans begin, all the
assembled people will sing a composition of description
slokas called Amrit Vaani (a spiritual term for sacred sound
or words with spiritual values and messages). This session
usually lasts for about 35 minutes. The verses of Amrit
Vaani explain in very simple and joyous terms, the
miraculous properties of Lord Ram's name. It is a type of
verse found in many faiths that enumerates the phalashruti
(benefits that accrue to mankind by chanting a sacred name).
Since most of
the visitors are regulars, they have memorised the Amrit
Vaani. However, for others, there are small books available
to help them join in with the others.
My first visit
to the ashram was on last Sunday and a single experience
made me bow before the spirit of that place. And before the
spirit of our country because I discovered another reality
of spiritual unity and mutual respect among our people, a
private side of India which is not chronicled by large,
angry world of news and politics.
Since I did
not know the Amrit Vaani, I was reading out from the book.
Suddenly I saw somebody reading something out of an Urdu
book in the same rhythm. I asked him what he was reading and
he replied matter-of-factly that it was the Urdu version of
Amrit Vaani. It catered to those who could not read Hindi.
And, incidentally, the man was a Muslim.
I thought, I
may or may not be granted a darshan of Lord Ram during my
life-time but on Sunday, I certainly saw his shadow.