Our beloved guruji, philosopher and guide, Who brought the gift of music into our lives.

We offer to you an ikebana arrangement, just as the Buddhist monks did in the temples of Japan, centuries ago.

We, the Indiana sitar-moms, Retnem Potti, Sarala Unni, Girija Pillay, Ranjan Dave, Shakuntala Sarma, and Maya Sasi, and our families, wish to express a very special gratefulness to God for having blessed us with Masterji's grace and music. We are very grateful to "Amma" for giving Masterji and his students peace and love. We are very grateful to Margaret for being there for Masterji, always, and especially in the later years. We are also grateful to Retnem Potti and her family for extending themselves to make Masterji an integral part of their family, particularly in the later years, thus enabling us to have Masterji in our midst at so many events and gatherings.

For me, it all started on a rainy day in 1977, when I had completed my residency and was moving to Indiana, to join my husband of six months. He was picking me up from O'Hare airport, and on the drive home he told me that there were three Malyalee doctors in the area and that their wives were learning sitar. He had uttered the magical phrase, "Their wives are learning sitar," and my heart was thrilled with anticipation and I have been fascinated ever since.

For some thirty odd years, Masterji brought to each of us, despite our varied scheme of life and scenarios, the full measure of the meaning of music, and although we perhaps lacked the ambition for public performances, we were always willing to perform for private groups, especially when we could provide them with a good meal to follow. Learning music enriched our lives and enhanced our level of musical appreciation. A very special joy was the ability to recognize some of the common ragas or scales, which is the basis of Indian classical music.

Perhaps some folks, especially those who had never ventured to attempt learning music, perhaps feel that the sitar-moms did not accomplish the level of dexterity, even after several years of assiduous practice; however, I wish to remind these people that at the end of three years training, you can become a pediatrician, and in four years you can be a pathologist, and after five years of training, you can become a general surgeon, but gaining competence in music requires a much longer time frame. I, personally, can affirm that learning music was the hardest and most elusive endeavor of my entire life.

Over the years we took lessons every Thursday; Masterji would come from Chicago, driving for an hour and a half, with the help of a fuzz-buster, and it must have been such a tedious task for him to go from household to household to give sitar lessons to mothers preoccupied with managing the activities of their children and other family issues. To the sitar-moms of Indiana, Masterji brought joy and sunshine into their Thursdays, and the sitar lesson was the high point of the week.

Gradually, as the children grew up, there came the next generation of sitar-learners, who surpassed their moms and slowly took prominence, as the mothers faded away into the backdrop. The joy of music was thriving and well, and our versatile Masterji taught the children, sitar, tabla, mandolin, keyboard, harmonium, vocal, etc. and brought knowledge, discipline, happiness and peace to his young students. But time cycles on, and in due course, that generation went off to college and their subsequent careers, and slowly, little by little, the third generation began to appear upon the face of the earth. But our dear Masterji was nowhere to be found, for a beautiful white swan appeared upon the lake, gathered him up in her prow, and gently bore him away.