*Written by Parvati*
I have always loved to sing but had a really difficult time trying to learn Sri Chinmoy’s songs — which were mostly composed in his mother language, Bengali. In 1999, on the Christmas Trip to Brazil, Sri Chinmoy invited me to form a group to learn some of his songs written in English.
Coincidentally, that evening his students were asking Sri Chinmoy questions and I asked about the quality enthusiasm. Specifically, what should I do about the fact that I did not find it appealing?
Well! Thus began my destiny with being forever tied to this quality. In the first set of songs Sri Chinmoy taught our newly formed group is one which has the lyrics: “Enthusiasm, enthusiasm, God’s Main Food. He begs me to eat, for my good!”.
Since 1999, our song group’s informal name was either “Parvati’s Group” or the “Enthusiasm Group” — we wore t-shirts that said “Enthusiasm” and the songs that Sri Chinmoy taught us were published as “Enthusiasm Songbooks”.
On 27 July 2007, Sri Chinmoy surprised us by giving us our formal name “ Enthusiasm-Awakeners” — which is the anniversary we are celebrating today. That day, he gave us new t-shirts imprinted with bird drawings and his handwritten “Enthusiasm-Awakeners”.
This is how it came about that we started singing at the 3100 Mile Race. In 2006, the singing group wanted to honor Sri Chinmoy’s 75th birthday by singing the 1,200+ English songs we had learned from him over those past 7 years. We decided to sing 75 songs a day for 19 consecutive days. Since the 3100 Mile Race was going on in our neighborhood we decided we could meet there early each morning and sing. We hoped it would not bother the runners too much and thought they might even be somewhat entertained by us.
Sri Chinmoy, who visited the Race every day, noticed that we were there and was very pleased with our presence there. Towards the end of our project he started to stop his car in front of our group, call Paree and me to the car, and teach us a newly composed English song. Once we learned it, the rest of the group —who were close enough to hear us— would come up and we’d all sing it together for Sri Chinmoy and then for the runners. That year, I believe we learned 23 new songs.
The next year, in 2007, Sri Chinmoy asked me if our group would again go and sing at the 3100 Mile Race. I said, ‘We were not planning to. We had just been doing that to honor your 75th birthday.” His response? “What? 76 is not special?” So later I told the group this and we decided that it was the right thing to do to go sing at the race.
That Race, Sri Chinmoy stopped each morning and taught us a new song in the same manner he had done the previous year. This year, he also handed each of the singers Prasad. We learned 65 new songs this way. It was an amazing summer, which I have since called “the summer of Grace”. We received so much kindness, affection and blessings from Sri Chinmoy that we will be nourished the rest of our lives.
Thus began our commitment to sing at the Race each morning.