In Memory of RasBhai


In Memory of RāsBhāi

Today, I received unfortunate news about the death of my friend and colleague Srī Rās Bihārī Desāī, whom I called Rāsbhāi.
When I heard the news, my mind immediately went back to a morning long ago when I received a phone call at 5am.
It was Rāsbhāi on the other end.
“Divyāng bhāi, please listen to this. I know I’ve woken you up, but you must listen to this. We’ll talk after,” he said. Before I could really say anything, I heard the sound of drumming on the line. The patterns were set in miśra jāti.
After about 50 seconds, he came back on the phone.
“Who is that?” I asked.
“It is a bird. It is on the water bowl for birds. It’s actually dancing on it. I’ve been watching him for the last 40 minutes. I was thinking that I must call something and realized that I had to share it with you. That is why I called you so early in the morning.”
He actually recorded the bird dancing that day. I told him when we met next that I wanted to hear the whole thing. We met several times soon after that, but never at his home. Time, as it always does, passed by and today when I heard of his passing, I recall our agreement to listen to the bird dancing together and how that never came to be.
Rāsbhāi and I shared many memories together. He was one of my favourite Gujarātī singers. He was a good-hearted and knowledgeable person with a deep interest in philosophy. For the last 30 years, he has been using my students as his tabla player whenever possible. He was always a supporter of my work and I of his.
I pray to God that his soul will have the greatest place in heaven.