Esraj Story part 1

This is the story how Pramodan and I became instrument builders. We posted this story already on Sri Chinmoy Inspiration Group. On some parts I am speaking and on some Pramodan, you will find out yourself.

It was November 2002. My friend Pramodan and I were working together in Germany on an electronic musical instrument - a sampler. To make instruments is not at all our profession, but since 1994 we made quite a few instruments which gave us enormous joy. They were all specially made for our spiritual master Sri Chinmoy. He plays on all kinds of instruments, and is always very happy to receive new ones. So while being in the middle of doing this sampler, all of a sudden the phone rang. It was Minati who gave us a message from Sri Chinmoy. At that time she was visiting Sri Chinmoy in New York. She told us that after a special meditation Sri Chinmoy said: "If they can build me an esraj I will be grateful from the beginning to the end of creation." An esraj is an Indian stringed instrument where the sound is produced by using a bow. She added that Sri Chinmoy spoke this in a very soulful way and then repeated the message two more times.

We immediately agreed on building one! We had experienced many times that doing something for our master is a real blessing and a golden opportunity to make progress. I believe that a real master is not in need of anything. He has everything that makes life meaningful. He has peace and joy in infinite measure. So when the master asks a student to do something, it is because he knows that by doing this very thing the student will make progress. So we were very happy to be blessed with this new task.

A few days later we went to New York to see Sri Chinmoy and to give him the sampler - which we finished there. The sampler is a story in itself, so we will write about it later. Anyhow, when we finished it we started to think about the esraj. Minati called again and told us Sri Chinmoy's "instructions" for the instrument: It should be light, loud and sweet! The next day she told us that Sri Chinmoy played the conch after he said: "Now I play the victory conch for the two boys, sampler is now perfect." Then a few times he repeated again "I would be so grateful, if they can build me an esraj."

So far we have built a few electronic instruments. Pramodan learned something about fine mechanics and I am an electronic engineer. Now at that moment, we came to realize that we knew actually nothing about building an esraj. We did not even have experience in woodworking, and we also never built any acoustic instrument. It started to become a big challenge for us.

Being German, we thought about doing some research first. So still in New York, we went to the public library. We did not expect to find anything about the esraj. It is a rarely played instrument, even in India! But we looked and found books on acoustics and instrument building, especially violin and guitar making. Oh God, when we browsed through the books we found out that for a violin it takes a whole year just for the first layer of paint to dry, and that the wood which should be used for excellent instruments must have dried at least 30 years or more. And so on and on. Everything in acoustic instrument making seems to take a long time. This information was quite shocking to us because we know that Sri Chinmoy always likes to have things done in a timely fashion.

On the same day there was an evening function with Sri Chinmoy. The function was almost over. We took prasad, went back to our seats and started eating. Suddenly Sri Chinmoy asked us a few questions. It took us a few moments to realize that he was actually talking to us. "I heard you have been in the library," he smiled at us and continued: "First you have to become Einstein, then you can become Beethoven." "Did you buy already all the material?" - "Did Minati tell you that it should be light, loud and sweet?" - "When will it be ready?"

We really had no idea how long it would take us. The only thing which came to our mind was, that we had already booked our flights to see Sri Chinmoy on his trip to Australia in January 2003. So we said "We are coming in January to the Christmas trip. We will bring it there!" This was only five weeks away. And of course we also had our respective jobs on returning home. After a short pause Sri Chinmoy said in a very special way which I will never forget: "Good luck!" Somehow it was like he fired the starting gun but we still did not see the path where to run.