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Sunil Bhattacharya

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(3.11.1920 30.04.1998), author of music for Savitri.

Sunil was born on the 3rd of November 1920 in Krishnanagar, a small town situated about 90 Km north of Calcutta, West Bengal. His youth was spent in a wide range of studies; literature, science, mathematics (and chess) were serious interests. He took the Bachelor's degree in Chemistry with honours from Saint Xavier's College, Calcutta.

Sunil came to Pondicherry in 1942 and joined the Ashram's Centre of Education as one of its first teachers. He taught mathematics and botany. His love for these subjects was avid as well as contagious.

Although Sunil had no formal musical education, during his youth he received classical training on the sitar from his brother. Sunil was a gifted player, and after hearing him play the Mother sent him no less than three sitars as gifts. His musical career began in the Ashram, composing original music and orchestrating traditional Indian instruments for dance dramas.

Sunil was a footballer and was captain of the Ashram team. In what was to be his last competition, he sustained a serious fracture of the right hand. The fracture healed badly and forced Sunil to put aside his beloved sitars. It was then that he took up keyboard instruments in earnest, first the harmonium, then the electric organ and later, modern analog and digital synthesizers.

Sunil's New Year's Music had its genesis with the Mother. At the beginning of each new year, the Mother gave a special message and played original themes on the organ. In 1958, the Mother asked Sunil to orchestrate something based upon the broad outlines of one of her organ compositions. This became the New Year's Music of 1959. The Mother was so pleased with the music that beginnning with the year 1965, she asked Sunil to compose the annual new year music himself. This he did until his passing in 1998.

In 1966, the Mother asked Sunil to set her readings from Sri Aurobindo's epic masterpiece Savitri to music. She wrote to him, "Toi seul peut faire cette musique comme il convient." (You alone can do this music as it should be done). Continuously for over thirty years, this music was Sunil's preoccupation and labor.

"...it is wonderful! Music itself pure and high and strong... It is delightful and leaves you waiting and wanting to hear more... It is beautiful, very beautiful..."

"...this music opens the doors of the future and reproduces admirably the musical vibrations of the higher regions."

"Oh not just once but very often, while listening to his music, a door is immediately opened onto the region of universal harmony, where you hear the origin of Sounds, and with an extraordinary emotion and intensity, something that pulls you out of yourself. It's the first time I've had this while listening to music I myself have it when I am all alone. But I never had it while listening to music, It's always something much closer to the earth. Here, it is something very high, but very universal, and with a tremendous power. A creative power. Well, his music opens the door..."

The Mother

In the mid-sixties, the Delhi Music Archives approached Sunil for recordings of his music and asked him to say something about it. The following message was recorded in his voice and subsequently broadcast on All India Radio:

"Some twenty years ago I heard for the first time, the Mother of our Ashram improvising on the organ. In the beginning, the music seemed strange to me. It was neither Indian nor Western, or shall I say it sounded like both Western and Indian to my ears? The theme she was playing came very close to what we know as Bhairon, the whole closely knit musical structure expanding melodiously. Then suddenly, notes came surging up in battalions, piled one on top of another, deep, insistent, coming as if from a long way down and welling up inevitably, the magnificent body of sound formed and gathered volume till it burst into an illumination that made the music an experience.

Thus She revealed to me the secret of a magic world of music where harmonies meet and blend to make melodies richer, wider, profounder and infinitely more powerful. I have tried to take my music from Her.

My music is my labour and my aspiration for the Divine and what I try to convey through it are voices of my inner experience.

My grateful thoughts are with Her who has been my Guide, Guru, Mentor and Mother. One day it was Her Light that sparked my heart, it is Her Light that has sustained its glow, it is Her Light that I seek through my music. If this music brings some comfort, some delight or some message to someone, I have achieved that for which She has placed Her trust in me."

Sunil

 

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Bibliography

In English

In English

Gayatri Mantra / Words By Sri Aurobindo

   AUDIO

In English

New Year Musics

   AUDIO

In English

Savitri

   AUDIO

In Russian