I was about 16 years old and profoundly lost.
I was so lost that if God herself had turned up wearing Search and Rescue gear I would have turned away. My head was up my backside and I didn’t know it.
I was an arrogant, traumatized teenager, too armored to allow anyone to see my pain.
I loved my father more than anyone in this world. He was more than a hero. I practically worshiped him—all the more for his unavailability.
And we played chess together. He taught me to play chess when I was about six years old, and that was what we shared most throughout our time together.
What I wouldn’t do for one more game of chess with him.
I’d even let him win.
“But where does Ravi Shankar fit in with this?” you ask.
Well, it wasn’t until 12 years later that I trained as a Yoga teacher. At 16 I had barely even heard of Yoga — I certainly had no clue what it was. And I was sitting there playing chess with Pops when he got up and put on Ravi Shankar’s “Chants of India”. He played me the 15th track on that album: Prabhujee*. Go ahead – press play on the video below.
As the music filled the room all my wounds were soothed.
Balm for the soul.
Now, looking back, I realize that that moment was my first experience of Yoga. The sweet yearning, the devotion, at once melancholic and uplifting. Yoga.
Years later I would learn all the traditional vedic mantras on that CD as I trained in India. I would understand those feelings that Prabhujee evoked in me, and where they came from.
But perhaps without that moment when I was 16 years old none of that would have happened. And I’d perhaps still be lost and arrogant and armored.
So, thank you Ravi Shankar. RIP.
*Prabhujee, original composition by Ravi Shankar—scroll down from English translation.
Prabhujee Dayaa Karo,
Maname Aana Baso.
Tuma Bina Laage soonaa,
Khaali Ghatame Prema Bharo.
Tantra Mantra Poojaa Nahi Jaanu,
Mai To Kevala Tumako Hi Maanu.
Sare Jaga Me Dhundaa Tumako,
Aba To Aakara Baahan Dharo.
Oh Master, show some compassion on me,
Please come and dwell in my heart.
Because without you, it is painfully lonely.
Fill this empty pot with the nectar of love.
I do not know any Tantra, Mantra or ritualistic
worship—I know and believe only in you.
I have been searching for you all over all the world,
please come and hold my hand now.