On Apr 23, 2008, at 2:03 PM, Shabda Kahn wrote:
> My dear family,
> I have very sad news to share, my mureed, the very glorious Indian
> Classical vocalist, Shanti Sharma, took her own life yesterday. We
> will miss her friendship, beauty and sophistication, her beautiful
> I request that any of you who feel called, please join me in using YA
> SALAAM and/or OM NAMAH SHIVAYA in sending her peace and safety and
> support on this next part of her journey. She leaves behind her 17
> year old son, Bhanu, and husband Dinesh, and all of her friends both
> in India and in our family, to whom we also send our prayers and
> support to.
> Much love, Shabda
This is sad news indeed. My heart is full of emotion, sadness and
beauty mixed together, as I believe Shanti’s heart was. I am
heartbroken. She was my friend, my music teacher.
I first met her at a house concert at La Sagrita in New Delhi. I was
mesmerized by her art, her deep feeling, and her beautiful voice.
After a few years, she shared some of her deep feelings of life with me.
She allowed me to be present when she took Bayat with Shabda, the late
afternoon Indian sun angling across the Dargah of Inayat Khan- the
sound of birds mingling with the sounds of children of the basti in
She gently corrected me when I made a cultural gaff, or sang a note
wrong. She showed me her wit, her sharp insights into life and into
She trusted me when I took her into the wilderness of New Mexico, so
different from her home in Delhi! She wanted to leave the first
night, but agreed to stay at least that first night. Each day was a
challenge, but she stayed, even after finding the foot long lizard in
her small bedroom. She opened up so beautifully to our sufi family on
that visit, and also to my own family, my daughters and my wife.
One evening, she looked up at the night sky in that remote place, and
she was like a child in wonder at the millions of stars overhead.
That same innocent wonder appeared again as we watched sunset over the
Grand Canyon, and as she first bit into chocolate cake.
She invited me to sing with her during her concert in Prescott, and
who could refuse that? We sang back and forth, a musical
conversation; I, a child, she, the kind and wise teacher.
I offer all these memories in gratitude for the time and life we
shared together, all too brief, yet a priceless gift, nevertheless.
When Shanti was at the Southwest Sufi Community, she wanted to offer a
gift to her new-found sufi brothers and sisters. She rather prided
herself on English translations of Urdu, so she stayed up late at
night, with the single bulb burning in her room, silence all around,
and translated some verses of Mirza Ghalib, the Urdu Poetry Master of
late 19th century Delhi. I pass this gift along
There’s a whirlpool in each wave-
crocodiles with jaws open in each;
let us see the changes to the drop
by the time it turns into a pearl.
It takes a lifetime for a sigh to communicate,
and who lives long enough to caress the length
of the Beloved’s Locks?
Who can say how long the Beloved’s hair is?
It’s only a heart, not a stone or a brick-
Why should it not overflow with pain?
I will weep a thousand times-
Why should anyone trouble me about it?
When the Brilliant Beautiful One,
like the dazzling Sun at mid-day,
is Himself the One who sheds light,
Why should He hide His face behind a veil?
Not a Mosque, or a Temple,
Not a Shrine, nor a Holy Place
It’s the roadside I sit by-
Why would anyone drive me away?
Even without the broken-hearted Ghalib,
The work of the world, does it stop?
Why weep in torrents?
Why lament on and on?
The drop finds its bliss
being annihilated in the Ocean,
pain becomes a cure
Shanti Sharma, who passed on April 22nd 2008, was unsurpassed among female raga singers in her native India. She was a Sufi in our lineage and a good friend of Pir Shabda among many, many others. In 2007 many of our Sufi family met her, heard her and studied with her while at the Urs of Hazrat Inayat Khan in New Delhi, and later when she traveled to the Southwest Sufi Community and to Marin