Mission Delhi – Tribhuwan Narayana Singh, Ghaziabad
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Such honeyed voice. An assistant general manager in Bharat Electronics Limited, he sings exceptionally well. That’s the opinion within his friend circle, especially among his weekend groupies.
This evening Tribhuwan Narayana Singh has already set up the stage within the isolation of his fourth floor home in a Ghaziabad apartment complex—complete with sound mixers, harmonium, earphones and mike.
It’s Mr Singh’s hour for satsang, a weekly tradition he observes with his satsang comrades, in which they together sing devotional songs.
“This has been my routine for 10 years,” he says. “Every Saturday evening I freshen up on returning from the office, and leave for the satsang”—which would be hosted in the house of one of the many members.
Coronavirus disrupted the routine early last year. “Initially, during the lockdown, we were too involved with our new routines to pursue our sessions, but eventually we started again.” This time, it was online, and the session moved from Saturday to Sunday.
Having recently celebrated his 50th birthday, Mr Singh lives with wife, a designer, and daughter, a grad student, who lets him use her study as his studio. As one of the group’s lead singers, Mr Singh offers bhajans devoted to Krishna, Shiv and Ganesh. A UP native, he recalls his childhood days of singing sacred chaupais (verses) of Ramcharitmanas in his village.
Mr Singh’s conversational tone is tinged with a melodious rhythm, as he shows reluctance to open up and be in the spotlight. For all the group members are equally important, he notes. The purpose of satsang, he remarks, is for its attendees to attain—together—a higher state of consciousness through music and words of wisdom. Sadly, the pandemic forced this togetherness to splinter into a multitude of zoom screens. “When we chant shoulder-to-shoulder within the same space, the energy multiplies,” he concedes.
Now the assistant general manager turns to his desktop. Some faces on the screen are familiar, a few aren’t—“Earlier we would be from nearby localities, but now people have joined from as far as Vizag, in south India.”
Minutes later, Mr Singh is completely immersed in his rendition of an Amir Khusro poem. His expressions dissolve into the song’s spirit, as he and his audience of 35 satsangis draw closer while still staying isolated.
[This is the 406th portrait of Mission Delhi project]