Sri Chinmoy's esraj anniversary

Sri Chinmoy began playing the esraj on this date - 17 February -  in 1976. Despite being fluent in many instruments, the esraj soon became Sri Chinmoy's favourite musical instrument, and he would frequently play specially constructed esraj at his Peace Concerts offered around the world. Quite often Sri Chinmoy would give an esraj concert on 17 February to mark the date when he began to play.

Sri Chinmoy playing the esraj

The esraj, an Indian stringed instrument played with a bow, emerged in India over 500 years ago during the time of the Moghul Emperors. Compared to other Indian instruments such as the sitar or tabla, the instrument is relatively unknown, but can create a haunting, reverberating tone - evocative of deeper realities.

Sri Chinmoy was rare in playing the esraj solo, unaccompanied by any other instrument. He would play his own songs or improvised extemporaneously. A few of his esraj instruments were hand-constructed by his students, who sought to create an ever deeper and richer sound. When he performed on one particular esraj for Maestro Ravi Shankar during a private performance in New York October 10th, 2002, the great musician was deeply moved by the music and he gave the instrument the name "Chinmoy Beena".

Video
Sri Chinmoy plays the Chinmoy Beena esraj during a performance at Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand 2002/03.

I pray, I meditate, I contemplate while I am playing. I try to be in close communion with my Inner Pilot, who is the Supreme Musician. And according to my capacity of receptivity, I try to offer His Light and Peace to the world through my music. So when I play, the esraj is not the real instrument; it is I who am the instrument.

Sri Chinmoy

sri chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy playing the esraj in front of the Daibutsu Buddha in Kamakura, Japan.

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