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 Children of One God - 2

Published in Hindustan Times on 17/02/2006 under INNER VOICE Column


IN DELHI, 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 bhajan session.

Another custom 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.


Rajneesh Batra




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