Recently, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre performed a Songs of the Soul Concert in Denpasar, Bali; the event began with an interfaith prayer for peace.
“AUM Shanti Shanti Shanti AUM” – the atmosphere at Taman Budaya Art Center in Denpasar, Bali, was electric with spiritual energy on 5 February 2017, as over a dozen kings and representatives from the island’s royal families joined in chanting the traditional Balinese Hindu mantra, along with many religious and inter-faith leaders and over fifty visiting performers from the Songs of the Soul concert.
The concert, which featured the soul-stirring music and poetry of Sri Chinmoy, including songs he wrote for Bali and Indonesia, was presented in gratitude to Bali and all those who continue to nurture the spiritual and cultural traditions that are at the core of Balinese society and inspire all humanity with their love of peace and oneness. Over 300 members of the Sri Chinmoy Centres International were visiting the island for two weeks on their annual retreat; they had chosen Bali because, while he was alive, Sri Chinmoy loved Bali deeply and travelled there on several occasions.
In a moving opening blessing for the concert, prominent religious leaders representing all the major religious faiths of Bali gathered on stage, each offering a prayer for peace from their tradition. The religious leaders — representing Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism and Confucianism — clasped hands in unity and bowed to the applause of the audience, before they took their seats to enjoy the concert, which was soulfully and charmingly introduced by the Balinese MC, Suhasini Mirah Septiarini.
Of the several musical groups performing, a highlight was the Sri Chinmoy Bhajan Singers, an international vocal and instrumental ensemble that has enchanted audiences in Bali over the years with their devotional songs. One of their presentations was a song written by Sri Chinmoy about Bali. Translated from his native Bengali, the song says: “Bali, Bali, Bali, you make my mind tranquil emptiness-fulness… Only one race and one code of life, the quintessence of Truth’s pinnacle-heights.”
Another of the musical groups, the Sahadeva Ensemble, performed a dynamic, new medley of several songs that Sri Chinmoy wrote in honour of Hanuman, a central figure of the Ramayana epic that is so beloved in Bali. Between musical acts, inspirational poetry by Sri Chinmoy, translated into Bahasa Indonesia, was presented by Narottama Wayan Sidhakarya.
In the powerful conclusion to the concert, over a dozen representatives of the royal families from across Bali and Surakarta were invited to the stage, along with the interfaith leaders and performers, to join in chanting AUM Shanti Shanti Shanti AUM, in the Balinese tradition. Special guests were offered a book of Sri Chinmoy’s poetry as a gift, to take home and cherish some of the evening’s peace.
The political leadership of Bali joined in sharing the message of peace and oneness on other occasions during the group’s visit, when the Office of the Governor of Bali and the Office of the Mayor of Denpasar each hosted an event for the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, on 31 January and 2 February, respectively, with hundreds of local students participating. Upon presenting the Peace Torch and offering the Torch Bearer Award to Mayor Rai Mantra Dharmawijaya, Salil Wilson, the Executive Director of the Peace Run, read aloud the soulful tribute that Sri Chinmoy had offered to Bali: “Of all the places I have visited, Bali is undoubtedly the best. It has everything: sincerity, simplicity, purity, humility and peace. Is there any divine quality missing here? This place is Heaven on earth.” Addressing the government officials and international Peace Runners assembled, the Mayor, who is known for his efforts to preserve Balinese spirituality and culture in the face of modernization, commented with a big smile, “Sri Chinmoy is more Balinese than the Balinese!”
Similar appreciation was expressed by Agung Rai, the founder of the ARMA Museum in Ubud, at a reception on 1 February opening an exhibit of Sri Chinmoy’s Paintings for Peace and World-Harmony. Since 2009, the museum has hosted a larger-than-life bronze statue of Sri Chinmoy entitled “Dreamer of World-Peace”, set among the lush green gardens. The ARMA Museum also actively seeks to preserve Balinese culture by offering expert instruction in gamelan music and traditional dance to local children. On any given day, visitors who come to pray and meditate for peace at the statue can also enjoy the intricate rhythms of the gamelan gongs and the children dancing nearby, all in oneness with the vision of peace and harmony that Bali and Sri Chinmoy share and offer to the world.
- Peace Run – visits Sudaji, Indonesia Feb 2017.