What did you think of the show tonight?
“I had very little expectations, because there were so many uncertainties, but it came off very well.” Still wearing his wig of long flowing white hair Kaivalya answers me. Minutes earlier he and his 2 sons, along with a large cast had just taken their bows before a large and very enthusiastic audience.
I caught up with him as he was making a hasty exit from the performance space and heading back to his room in order to change out of his costume. Taking quick strides up the hill he was approached every few meters by excited and happy audience members, who would either call out their congratulations, or reach out to shake his hand. He is clearly moved by all the very real and fervent enjoyment that so many had for his project. Which was the once only performance of a play entitled, Jai Hind (Indian independence victory slogan), based on a play by Sri Chinmoy called, The Descent Of The Blue.
For the moment he still eerily resembles the great Indian spiritual Master Sri Aurobindo. The loud roar of approval from the crowd of several hundred, who had just watched his performance over several enjoyable hours seems to still linger in the warm still air of this New York night. It was an unequivocal triumph, but it was also a performance that resonated with an even deeper meaning. For it was in many ways a promise at last fulfilled. One that had taken its natural rich course of 15 years to finally arrive on the auspicious night of August 25th at the Aspiration Ground in New York.
“In 1999 Sri Chinmoy phoned me up directly, and he said, I want you to do, Descent of the Blue. Take as much time as you like. 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours, what do you think?”
“I said, I don’t know Guru. He said use as many people as you like. Spend as much money as you like but do a very big production. So I said fine. It was the fall and Sri Chinmoy wanted it in August. I can’t remember the time sequence but I was calling people all over the world. Particularly people who looked Indian to take part. I was preparing and researching, and reading books and going to the Sri Aurobindo society in London.”
But then an unforeseeable set of circumstances arose that winter and the project was shelved, for what appeared to be an indefinite time period. Gradually slipping away out of reach and almost tumbling into oblivion.
The passing of Sri Chinmoy in 2007 could easily have been the absolute end of any hope of the production ever finding its way to the stage. Kaivalya however never completely gave up hope, as it was clearly something direct and significant that his Spiritual teacher had asked of him. But over time his once powerful commitment had been reduced he says to just a small inkling.
But like so many of the great seeds of inspiration that Sri Chinmoy carefully planted and nurtured in the hearts of his students this one was to finally find new life. He says that while visiting Portugal in early 2013 he performed in a short performance where he played the part of Sri Aurobindo. Someone remarked afterwards. That they liked the play but that they had also seen and enjoyed Kaivalya years earlier portraying Sri Aurobindo in another play. His reaction to their compliment, “my heart leapt, You know, you are right.”
It was in 1958 while still living in the Sri Aurobindo ashram that Sri Chinmoy had written the original play, The Descent Of The Blue.” He and his brothers and sisters had first come there in 1944. He was just 12 years of age when he first arrived. From then until he left the ashram in 1964 he grew up and developed in its very powerful spiritual, cultural, and athletic environment.
Sri Chinmoy’s play is a devoted and soulful appreciation of the life, of not just one of the towering figures of India, but also one, who through his divine wisdom, was also a source of inspiration to the world. Sri Chinmoy was able to capture the transformation of a man from Indian revolutionary to one who became an enlightened spiritual teacher to the world. A task in which the young Sri Chinmoy was uniquely placed, living in Pondicherry, to carefully and devotedly write about.
Between 1958 and 1962 the play was originally published in installments in an ashram publication. In 1974 it was published intact some 10 years after Sri Chinmoy had established his own spiritual community in New York. But now as Kaivalya pondered the challenges of at last bringing a lengthy play to a western audience, he came up with the best possible strategy.
“So I handed over the directorship to my son, (Devashishu), who has more energy than I have. Both sons in fact said it is much too long a play for one evening. So why don’t we split it in half. We will do the political bit now and next year in August we will do the super mind bit. I said fine.”
“So Devashishu took over the directorship, and he wrote in bits to explain what was happening politically, he added lots more. So the play was completely rounded off.”
For several days leading up to the big night Devashishu was rehearsing the play in a large back yard a few blocks from the performance space. I spoke with him earlier.
“The project is a performance based on a play by Sri Chinmoy called The Descent Of The Blue. It is the story of Sri Aurobindo a great Indian Spiritual Master, who was Sri Chinmoy’s master.”
Abhinabha plays the young Aurobindo
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