An Epic Journey….Performing the Sri Aurobindo Play…Installment 3

A great swath of time has passed since the project first began.  A lot of time.  Yet as Kaivalya and his sons and a troop of male actors prepared for the 3rd installment of the Sri Aurobindo play the goal was now almost in sight.  Though at best current estimates the final piece of the puzzle would not be in place place until August of 2018.

Sri Chinmoy standing before Sri Aurobindo samadhi in Pondicherry

Kaivalya was in the midst of some last minute costume preparation as he once again recounted the story of how it all began.   For certain episode 3 of the play was minutes from being performed.  He believes the whole great project was first was set in motion in 1998 when Sri Chinmoy called him and said, “I would like you to do my whole, Descent of the Blue. (his play dedicated to Sri Aurobindo).  Take as long as you like, use as many disciples as you like,  and spend as much money as you like and make it a big job.  So I said fine and started working on it.”

Unfortunately an unforeseen set of circumstances came up and the project was put on hold.  “As you know when something is intended to happen and then it doesn’t happen it never reoccurs for a long long time.”  It was only after many years when he was performing in a small scene from the play that the spark was once again reignited.  “Then it came back to me what Sri Chinmoy had first asked me many many years ago.”

The trajectory of the play from then until now has seen the project influenced by a number of inspirations.  Not the least of course were the crucial contributions of his 2 sons Devashishu and Sahadeva.  They felt that breaking the play into instalments would heighten the overall experience and tell the story better than in just one long 4 hour performance.  Devashishu volunteered to write the scripts and Sahadeva offered to provide musical accompaniment.

Ultimately the first section took place in August 2014 and was followed by part 2 the next year.  After a gap of of one year in 2016 part 3 followed this past August which will hopefully see the 4th and final installment performed in August of 2018.

“We felt the first 2 performances worked well, then last year didn’t happen and we were all quite happy to wait a year.”  Kaivalya then mentioned all the bits of the actual story that will have to be concluded in order for the story to at last be complete.

Kaivalya’s role during the play is to act as the narrator and performs in character as the elder Sri Aurobindo.  “I have a very strong feeling of the play.  I feel really strongly connected.  In the play what I do is recall my whole life through all the other actors.  It will be quite nice next year when the 2 Aurobindos meet in heaven. (younger played by Abhinabha)

Click on Link Below to Listen:

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Speaking with Abhinabha as he gets into costume in the final minutes before the performance starts it seems almost incomprensible to imagine that earlier in the day he was running a very fast marathon up at Rockland State park.  He says his race plan didn’t work out but he is being incredibly modest about his time for the race.  He was 3rd in a time of 2:39. “I was hoping to do a couple of minutes faster.”

He says that he was not in the least distracted by his role in the play which would follow fast on the heels of his marathon.  “Totally separate chapter.  The marathon was just a marathon and then when I came back this thing started.”  Abhinabha confesses that he had to learn a long and complicated script but that the blocking of the play and in a sense the one and only rehearsal took place only in the afternoon.  “It was the first real rehearsal.” Interestingly he suggests that running a fast marathon is a harder challenge for him then performing in a play.

“The marathon is a good reality check.  You can’t cheat it.”

This is now the 3rd time he has taken on the challenge of performing as the young Aurobindo.  “Every time I play the part something special happens, especially the first time.  It is not so much a mental or learning experience it is a spiritual experience I feel.  You are embodying a spiritual master of a very high caliber.  That does something to your consciousness.  The first time I felt tremendous peace, both after and during the performance.  I always feel so comfortable in that role.   It is a very very special experience.”

“I have always had an affinity for Sri Aurobindo both for his writings and his poetry.  So it was a huge honor for me and so it was a dream come true that I could play the part.” He also appreciates greatly how Devashishu was able to mold the original play into 4 self contained and meaningful portions.  “He knows how to draw a story into it while at the same time doing justice to the original play.”

Despite there being a gap of one year between parts 2 and now part 3 Abhinabha says, “I always had confidence.  I knew Devashsishu was planning for this year.  I was confident that it was going to happen.  I am looking forward to the last part because that is where Sri Chinmoy moves to the ashram with his family.   That is going to be very sweet for us. ”

Click on Link Below to Listen:

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“People need humor, especially after running 26 miles.”  Devashishu was speaking just after completing his own theatrical marathon.  One in which he had to overcome a different set of obstacles.   Namely writing a hour plus script and then having a minimal amount of time to rehearse.

A few days earlier he had at least expressed some doubts about the project all coming together but now after a flawless performance he can happily confirm, “yes it has worked.”

He confesses that one of the reasons there had been some doubts was that he had gotten sick shortly after arriving in New York for celebrations.  “I was just a little under the weather.” Having written and directed and performed in many plays over the years he describes the enormous amount of energy needed to make it all happen.  During celebrations in particular many are involved in many different activities.  “Some of these guys are in 2,3, or 4 singing groups.”

When I mention how his lead actor had run a very fast marathon just earlier he says, “I can’t imagine.  A 2:39 marathon, rehearsing for a concert that is tomorrow night, and he is in a singing group that is performing every day.  So to do this is something.  But part of the aspect that makes this all so fun is that people are so busy that they are in a mode that is just all giving.  You just have to give as much as you can when you can.”

“There is something about the dynamism that you pour into each of the events.  But you get on a role here during celebrations.  You are doing this and you are doing that. I think it makes you lighter, I think it makes you brighter.  It makes your mind clearer and it gives you tremendous joy.”

When the play is happening he says the most important thing for him to do is to maintain the feeling  “What I am really concerned about is that Sri Chinmoy’s play the Descent of the Blue has such depth and profundity in it, and how it captures Sri Aurobindo’s consciousness that you want to somehow bring that consciousness over.  That is the main thing.”  From both the audience’s point of view and his own he feels that play on this Warm August evening managed to do that.

“There were moments where you really felt who Sri Aurobindo is and what he gave to the world.  Sri Chinmoy captures that so beautifully in his play.” As for if the final installment will take place next August he is not yet certain.  “When I sit down to write the play sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t  happen straight away.  It can take a while and usually at some point some fire pushes it through.  Some ideas come and it all starts coming together.

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2017 Sri Chinmoy Swim-Run Trio

Instructions

Start

Heading out to first buoy

First turn

First out of the water

*Click On Link Below to See Rest of Post*

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Sri Chinmoy’s 47 Mile Race 2017

It has taken me a lot longer than I hoped to gather up all the bits and pieces of the 47 mile race this year and I apologize to all those who have patiently waited to see pictures and listen to the voices of those who took part that wonderful night.

For me the race holds so many precious memories, particularly of course in the years when Sri Chinmoy not only came to watch and inspire the runners but also on those 2 historic occasions when he actually ran himself.

In 1980 Sri Chinmoy ran the race for the 2nd time with a time of 11:27, which transcended his time from the previous year.   I also ran the race that night for the 3rd time.  I was able to complete the race in 6:19 and then get out my film camera to record this footage.

New generations of runners have come and found their own love and inspiration for an event that is like no other.

They are building upon their own memories and yet the core of inspiration that compelled us to stand on the dusty track for the first time, to head off into the unknown 39 years ago remains intact and continually transcendent.  To honor our beloved spiritual teacher on his birthday in a profound and tangible way.

To take part means one sets off running at midnight.  To complete those sacred 47 miles means for most the necessity of  calling forth all of who you are and all that you have within.  To uncover and reveal all of your heart’s dedication and perhaps step up even one tiny rung on our timeless self transcendence journey.

Pratyaya and Mantrita

It is a perfect night

Tarit directing traffic

*Click Below To See Rest of Report*

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Searching For Optimism

Remain not unrealised
In the sunlight of optimism.
Remain always realised
In your quiet and sweet optimism.
Optimism is the only ladder
To climb up God’s
Ever-transcending Height.

 

Sri Chinmoy At Circus April 1988

Question: I consider myself a tennis player, not a runner. On the one hand I get more joy from playing tennis, but on the other hand I get more satisfaction if I run a marathon. Why is this?

You can play tennis for hours and hours. It is easy for you to do well and you enjoy it. But people get more satisfaction from doing the thing that they find most difficult. On the one hand, we like to do things that are easy. On the other hand, we also want the joy that comes from doing whatever is most difficult.

The grass is always greener on the other side. To accomplish something that is more difficult for us to do gives us much more joy. If we have a tennis ball to play with, we will start looking for a basketball, just because we do not have one. But if we had a basketball, we would start looking for a tennis ball. Again, some people will say that they need both a tennis ball and a basketball.

There is also another aspect to this. Even though we may want to run only 100 metres, we want to get the glory that comes from running a marathon. When somebody runs a marathon, he is appreciated and admired. So we feel that a marathon is more important than a 100-metre run. The most difficult thing impresses us most. This is human nature.

72,000 Burning Candles: A Celebration and A New Guinness World Record

In was in 2005 when Ashrita first came up with the idea of setting a new Guinness world record in order to celebrate Sri Chinmoy’s 74th birthday.   At the time it seemed like an impossibly difficult if not dangerous thing to do.

All of the above of course were true but in the end it turned out to be an amazing and inspiring success.

Of course great records can never last for ever and a few years later Ashrita assembled another large team in order to try and take back the record this time with 48,000 candles.

Fast forward 11 years and once again the record is broken and the goal is to break the new record of 50,000 burning candles

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“It was very exciting all the candles merged into one single huge flame.  It was very exciting.”

*Click below to read the rest of this report*

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Swim Run Trio: Harriman State Park 2016

Video of the event

Registration

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registration-02976*Click Below to See Rest of Report*

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Sri Chinmoy’s 47 Mile Race 2016

The footage is less than 2 minutes long.  A mere fragment of much greater event that probably could never be captured adequately by a super 8 film very well anyway.

Yet it shows Sri Chinmoy completing the 47 mile race in 1980 for the 2nd time.  A performance that took him 11:27:24  to complete and which surpassed his previous best by  74 minutes.

*photo by Bhashwar

Now there is a new generation following in those same footsteps as their late spiritual teacher 36 years later.

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Many who have never even had the opportunity to see Sri Chinmoy little alone remember how powerfully he once used to run

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Pratyaya the race director remembers those early days

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Petra gets ready for a long night

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There is a profound sense of calm as people register

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Most have a clear sense of why they do this most difficult thing of running 47 miles starting at midnight on August 27th.

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The time of quiet does not last long

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Know that as much as it is gift to their teacher it is also something that will offer much more in return.  A dedication.

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Even for those who do not run tonight but who instead help there is a sense of purpose and dedication.

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The race is an opportunity for all to feel part of something great and beautiful that lies both within and without.

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*Please Click below to read the rest of this report*

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August 27th: Sri Chinmoy’s 74th Birthday 2005

This is a short film that captures some of the highlights of Sri Chinmoy’s birthday celebration in 2005

*Photo by Prashphutita 2003*

O my rainbow-heart-sky,
In you I see
The beauty of the Unknowable,
In you I feel
The silence of the Unknowable.

28 August 2005
New York

My Guru’s Smile

In February I heard Uddipan speak about those very precious early days, when he and his family first became students of Sri Chinmoy.  It all took place more than 20 years ago, yet he made it sound timeless and fresh.

His experience is one that is instantly recognizable to all those who have found and continue to maintain a deep inner connection to Sri Chinmoy.

Please click on the link to see a short film on his talk….*apologies for the poor sound quality*

Do you know
What you will eventually see?
You will see
The invisible power of love.
Something more:
You will see
Inside the invisible power of love
The Hour of God
Which unites earth’s crying heart
And Heaven’s smiling soul.