Monday, March 13, 2017

We have one life to live so much to give and so much to share....

He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in.

'Outwitted' by Edwin Markham 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Aren't we all fools on the hill trying to derive meaning?


                           Growing up in a dynamic household where everything else was drowned in the strains of music...'music' the oasis in the desert...'music' the night replete with stars of an otherwise vacant day.....'music' the soothe-balm to many an agonizing event....the loud chaos of the 'music' on headphones on the walkman, somehow blocking the real chaos outside and offering a peaceful retreat......yes, thanks are due, to parents who made available the means to keep sanity in the midst of the madness that is popularly  known as, growing up.

Over the years the flow and ebb of life take precedence and one moves on from ashram to ashram (stages of life: refer Notes), learning,  stumbling, growing,  learning some more. People come and people go and some people and memories just stay forever. Dear reader, I am certain that you too like me, believe that people and events happen to you to teach you important aspects of life and to rekindle your interest in subjects you might have forgotten existed in you. In that, each encounter in life is a learning cry you learn, you bleed you learn....Once I am aware of this reality, life becomes a joy to surrender to, in all its wonders.

Here's one I love :

And so it is that circumstances allow such an exploration of the self. My father says that we must be open to experience, whatever be the challenge life throws at us, with elan and strength and go away from each/any situation having made the most of it, in that I learnt early, to learn something of value from even the most adverse situations I found myself in. No point crying and fretting about things I can not change, so I strive to make the best of what I can from the situation. On many such occasions, it was M.S.Subbulakshmi that I heard in that walkman :) (How deeply indebted am I, of being part of this vastly magical Indian civilisation that has allowed me to have been touched by her divinity so early in life, and through her singing, of an understanding of life itself). Today, I share her divine voice with you, it is almost as if I share a deep secret with you :) but I am happy to do so, in the hope that you too, my dear reader, develop/ rekindle your interest in meaning in the chaos, heaven knows the world needs it today. 

Bhaja Govindam by Subbulakshmi:

(If the Link does not play here please cut paste into the browser)

Amongst the many genres of music one picked up, the above bhajan (hymn) in Carnatic paddhati (method) was and continues to be one of my many favourites of M.S. S

 This bhajan Bhaja Govindam is a collection of  ~thirty-one verses. It is a fantastic insight into Hinduism from one of the spiritual giants of Hinduism Adi Shankaracharya. Here is a picture  of Adi Shankaracharya from a  wall in my home. Many an evening I have sat just staring at this painting from the Ravi Verma press, just gaining, I do not know what, from it. But, it is part of my being.

The above beautiful image of a guru with his disciples belongs to the 8th century. It was then that India was in the midst of  the chaos that pervaded all through, in matters of religion and philosophy, the social order and the economy of feudalism. There were close to seventy-two sects in constant conflict. The caste system which had been at its peak. Basically, a rapid disintegration of all that a society holds dear and of value was on the rise. It was in this backdrop that the philosopher and theologian Adi Shankara wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon, the Brahma Sutras, the Principal Upanishads and also the Bhagwad Gita. He was also the one who explained the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, in that Hinduism asserts  that the "Atman: Soul, Self: exists", while Buddhism asserts that there is "no Soul, no Self". Incidentally, this was the same stage of my very favourite period of the Bhakti and Sufi movements. More on that later. Oh! Joy! 

So, the popular story about how Adi came upon composing the verses, so beautifully rendered by M.S. Ssubbulakshmi, the Bhaja Govindam, is that when he was on one of his wanderings in Varanasi, he came across  an aged scholar reciting the rules of Sanskrit grammar repeatedly on the street to earn more money from any students who would be interested in learning it. On watching this, Adi Shankaracharya in anger went up to the scholar and advised him not to waste his time on "Drukrukarane", rules of grammar, at his age, but to turn his mind to God in worship and adoration which alone would  save him from this vicious cycle of life and death and not the money earned through the teaching of the rules of grammar. The bhajan "Bhaja Govindam" is said to have been composed on this occasion.

In the next post, if you will permit me, I will try to partake with you, some of the verses, especially one from the Bhagwadgita from this Bhaja Govindam bhajan that I like, and their meaning, as I see it, but till then, let me just put here for you, my dear reader, the first verse, the chorus, and it's understanding, which is this. Please read it in the light of the above-mentioned story.

Lift the heart up to Govinda, lift the heart up to Govinda,
Lift the heart up to Govinda, O foolish mind!
The rules of grammar which you are trying to master will be of no avail when the appointed time arrives.

( Interpretation: Govinda, or Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, here being the spirit as opposed to the material body, rules of grammar being material pursuits )

It is quite relevant, just this chorus. How easy it is for us humans to get lost in the nitty-gritty of day to day life and just stay lost in them forever without once stopping to think about what the deeper meaning of the life that we have been gifted with, is. 

And so what is this so-called meaning of life that has been bestowed upon us?

In it's most simplistic understanding, the meaning is to be derived from an understanding
of the Self. Who am I and what it is that brings me happiness? Shankara proposed that lasting happiness that humans seek lies within and not out there in the world. No amount of worldly knowledge, referred to by Shankara as grammar-rules, gives us sustainable joy. True happiness comes when we are able to rise above our little selves and our egos to a higher level of awareness. For me, the higher level of awareness comes through a feeling of the world in its totality. Of the acceptance of the way things just are.

It is believed that when the ‘appointed time’, death, stares us in the face, the only things we are able to carry forward with us are our spiritual assets. We are unable to take the wealth we worked so hard to accumulate, the relationships we developed or the ‘grammar rules’, worldly knowledge, we have assimilated through the course of our lives. 

Even so, in my understanding, one must realise that an attention on the self, does not in any way mean we have to stop what we are doing and give it all up. What Shankara means is that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, the focus must be on improving ourselves, in controlling our desires when they prove to be hindering self-development   and moving towards the ultimate goal of self-realization. Utilizing our talents to improve ourselves.

Shankara refers to humans as moodha matey (foolish brained/ fools). He calls the human existence foolish for focusing on the transient, on the temporary aspects of life, while completely missing out on the permanent factor, (for Shankara, it is) Govinda, the self in our lives. According to Shankara in their short-sightedness, humans tend to choose the trappings of immediate pleasure over long-term satisfaction. 

Another one I love :

(If the Link does not play here please cut paste into the browser)

Therefore Shankara asks us to invest in ourselves, simplistically putting it, urging us to not only build a healthy bank balance but to create spiritual assets that we can carry forward with us. Lead our lives in such a manner wholistically. It implies in day to day living that we look not only at taste fulfillment but nutritious eating, not looking at short-term gains but long-term fulfilling relationships, looking at creating happier healthier generations rather than insecure individuals. 

And I end here, with the thought that I think that I would not fully endorse the view of Shankara about human relationships ......He says that we are unable to take the wealth we worked so hard to accumulate, the relationships we developed or the ‘grammar rules’, worldly knowledge, we have assimilated through the course of our I am also a strong believer in human relationships as being more than just mere physical connections. A meaningful connection to my "self" for me requires a connection with others in my life. I think this thought needs more analysis and I hope to do that analysis at some point. 

Until next time then, my dear's been a somewhat heavy post!! :) 

Pictures courtesy the internet.

Monday, July 11, 2016

On Yoga

First off I am not a huge expert on Yoga, just a practitioner and someone who has experienced the benefits of following most of, or at least most of, the 8 aspects of Patanjali Yoga. Asanas being one of the 8 disciplines within yoga. Yoga is actually “Yog” a way of being, of achieving the highest in self awareness and self perfection. Simplistically put Yog is a totality of behavior , 2.inner discipline, 3.body postures that are not simply postures but a careful mind-body balance act, 4.breathing techniques, 5.control of the five senses, 6.focus or concentration, 7.meditation and finally 8.Samadhi which is the state of egolessness, of bliss. Yoga philosophy encompasses the merging of many many many things. For instance, the dualities of material versus cosmic (purush-prakriti), of the ‘gunas’=innate tendencies of humans It is too deep a subject actually. A good study would need a lifetime. Also, the vast country that India is most of our Again, I am not an expert but to my knowledge Patanjali ( From early AD/ 2000years ago) Yoga is the main source of Modern Yoga as we are (very briefly, tip of the iceberg kinds)  familiar with it. It has been studied and propagated in different forms by many different scholars. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989)  for one, yes, he is referred to as Father of Modern Yoga sometimes (though if you ask the majority of Indians will never have heard of him or Taimni) Another person who was in North India was I.K.Taimini (1898-1978) He too interpreted Patanjali’s Yoga.  (Side Note: South of India has more of a tendency towards scholarly endeavours as compared to North India that too has reasons in history. North was always fighting the onslaughts from the Himalayan side whereas our Dravidian belt was cut off from the North by the Vindhyachal ranges and had more to do with pursuits of research and study.Ok: digression end) Now, why I mention the two scholars (I have read neither and am sure there are many more) their interpretation of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras will be very different based on their experiences with it. B.K.S.Iyengar (1918-2014) was related to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and was briefly his student. Now the thing is that even Krishnamacharya changed the postures to suit individual needs, as I said there are many many factors, based on a body’s doshas, gunas, prakriti etc…an individual manifestation of any given asana will differ. Also, please know that there are layers and layers of work that is needed to get to the so called difficult asanas. Basic ones can be done by almost all but the ones that seem very tough need just that, a tough mind and a tough mental determination. So why are they so tough and like the ‘mallakhambh’ which is a sport actually. You see, many a times men would congregate at the mallakhambh (a place to practice the pole excercises) and there it would be convenient to teach the Yoga asanas also, both the mallakhambh and yog needing strength of both body and mind. But, honestly I doubt if the Iyenger yoga was developed for the boys at the mallakhambhs. The toughness of the asanas would surely be more to do with mind games than anything else. Pushing oneself to run and think being comparable…….Brings us to the question…Is it for tough people not satisfied with the simple asanas…not so simplistic as all that I would think….It is not so much for tough people more the tough minds as the complicated asanas, teach the doer the finer tunings of the body, brings one closer to creation and an understanding of meaning of being, simplistically put help give the practitioner a deeper lesson in patience, an insight into what the Gita syas..…karmanye vaadhikaaraste…ma phaleshu kadachanah….keep at the work in the right manner…following the correct principles (breath is essential part of the asanas)….. do not work for the results, for the tougher asanas…just concentrating on the moment with the simultaneous  awareness of the journey, the path to reach the final pose (the goal) and stay in it and in doing so savour the path too. It’s an understanding of life and beyond, that's 'yog' or yoga as it is popularly called,…..and as I said we are still at the tip of the iceberg. 

Making happy happen....

My very dearest of friends and family. I have a confession to make! Hahahahaha! now I got your attention!! Eh? Well, nothing too dramatic, nor too scandalous (tho knowing the Saggi in me, most of you jumped to that conclusion, I am certain hahahaha!!). So, what I wanted to confess was that it is not that I am always happy and partying, nor am I at picnics or vacations everyday. It just 'appears' to be so. Why you ask me? Why do I do it? I'll tell you why, it's because I learnt early in life from a fabulous man in my life, my father, that one of the most important things to keep happy in life is to train one's mind to be "santosh" , "satisfied", "There is no end to wanting he says, where do you stop?". Hmmmm, it is easy to use these words papa, I said to myself. How does one make these words happen then? My father uses his work as his mainstay, his focal point, his most cherished moments of the day are when he is deeply engrossed in Physics and music. (He just had his latest co-authored paper published in Science Direct! Bravo, papa!) Yes, so how do I make my happy happen, everyday, day after day...I do it like this. I relive my happy. I revisit my vacation that I had a month back and the happiness comes flooding back. I relive cherished moments with friends till the next moments fall into my lap, I recall the sadness that was in me when I did not have what gives me joy in this moment...It is all a conscious effort at "being". The Lord has been kind to us humans and given us the power to remember and recall and rejoice in our joys of the past. Even as we all have our own ways to deal with things/ life/issues/work/deadlines/ health I cope like this.Yes, happiness, vacation, picnic, beauty..... is indeed a 'state of mind'.It is posting old pictures that made you happy, moments that fired your imagination, days that made you want to sing....and that my darling friends is my confession. ( Post Script: I too am working hard each day at my work and my home and my health, dealing, coping, and...and....and....yet, it appears that I am partying....well, maybe I am, then again maybe I'm not!! Hahahahaha!! Gotchya!!) Yes, everybody hurts...I got my share too....but let's all try be happy shall we, there's enough sadness to go around without me adding to it.......

Friday, January 1, 2016

I am responsible for my rose.....

"Who is in the house of my heart", I cried in the middle of the night.
Love said, 
"It is I,but what are all these images that fill your house?"
I said, "they are the reflection of Your beautiful Face".
Love asked,
"But what is this image full of pain?"
I said, "it is me lost in the sorrows of life"
and showed Love my soul full of wounds.
Love offered me one end of a thread and said:
"Take it so I can pull you back,but do not break the delicate string".
I reached towards it but Love struck my hand.
I asked,
"why the harshness?"
Love said,
"To remind you that whoever comes to Love's holy space proud and full of himself, will be sent away....Look at Love with the eyes of your heart."

And how it comes to in life that what one reads and understands and feels at different points in one's life all collapses as one:

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: 
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Sunday, November 29, 2015

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know one thing. 

You know how this is: 
if I look 
at the crystal moon, at the red branch 
of the slow autumn at my window, 
if I touch 
near the fire 
the impalpable ash 
or the wrinkled body of the log, 
everything carries me to you, 
as if everything that exists, 
aromas, light, metals, 
were little boats 
that sail 
toward those isles of yours that wait for me. 

Well, now, 
if little by little you stop loving me 
I shall stop loving you little by little. 

If suddenly 
you forget me 
do not look for me, 
for I shall already have forgotten you. 

If you think it long and mad, 
the wind of banners 
that passes through my life, 
and you decide 
to leave me at the shore 
of the heart where I have roots, 
that on that day, 
at that hour, 
I shall lift my arms 
and my roots will set off 
to seek another land. 
if each day, 
each hour, 
you feel that you are destined for me 
with implacable sweetness, 
if each day a flower 
climbs up to your lips to seek me, 
ah my love, ah my own, 
in me all that fire is repeated, 
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, 
my love feeds on your love, beloved, 
and as long as you live it will be in your arms 
without leaving mine.

Analytical Response, Corde:
Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, was recognized for being one of the best worldwide. Neruda, with his South American roots, has won us over with words that leave lingering feelings in our hearts. Neruda favored communism, and often wrote politically influential poetry. Furthermore, even though Neruda was highly successful by the age of 20, he was still struggling financially, and had four unsatisfying relationships; these came to inspire many of his conflictive love poems. Neruda in the poem “If You Forget Me,” expresses himself through the art of poetry, leaving behind subtle hints of his true theme: love is mutual and both parts of the relationship have to put equal effort for it to work, he shows this by using literary devices and distinctive diction to prove this theme.
Pablo Neruda constantly uses metaphors that are symbolic to the message of his poems. Metaphors can be strong and useful because they’re a comparative point where the reader manipulates the metaphoric object, then sees how it resembles the emotion the writer is trying to convey. Most of what Neruda writes in the poem “If You Forget Me” is metaphoric of his relationship. For example, “If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots (…) ” The first part uses a metaphor, which he then uses to explain what he believes she will do, which is that if she overthinks all their love’s downfalls she’ll end up focusing on the negative side thus leaving him forever. Through his metaphors Neruda describes an inner message about people and how they will only look at the negative side of things when it seems most convenient. Additionally, the second metaphor in this stanza is, “Shore of the heart where I have roots” is so deep, and perfectly describes how lost he is because he is restricted to loving her; she whom he has loved so much and perhaps for so long that it seemed as though the “roots” of his “tree” were deep inside her heart. In other words, he could never really stop loving her; you can never stop loving someone you once loved that much. Brilliantly, Neruda handles metaphors that explain so much in just a few words.
 Pablo Neruda writes strongly about his loved ones at specific times in his life, so we must also rely on his diction to find out his true meaning. For example, “Remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land.” That fragment right there can be interpreted in so many different ways; some may say his relationship was lacking passion or perhaps she didn’t really love him back when he needed her to etc. But, when analyzing his word choice it was led to believe that Neruda was tired of living in doubt, of not knowing if she really loved him or not; but if she were to accept she didn’t have feelings for him, he says this: “On that day, at that hour” meaning that he would begin to forget her in that instant then, “My roots will set off to seek another land” he would begin to find someone else worthy of his love. Another example, “But if each day, each hour, you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness, if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me, ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten.” When I read this passage I see a theme, or idea, that the writer is trying to communicate to us; in the passage above, he rephrases the beginning as, “But if each day, each hour.” This is significant because he is implying that he could forget any doubt he had of her if she could just love him back. Through these lines, Neruda shows that his great diction expresses the true meaning of his poems.
 Meaningful metaphors and a specific diction are some of the many techniques Pablo Neruda uses in his writing to enrich his poetry. He says so much in so little, and his words are so carefully crafted to exploit a variety of emotions, and feelings without losing any value in trying to explain his meaning directly.  All that Neruda went through, all of his values, ideals, principles, beliefs, relationships; all of the ups and downs in his life; the moments of desperation and seeking for help, and the years he had to hide below basements because of the warrant for his arrest, or when his first wife left with his only child or perhaps the happier times when he loved a women so much. All of those experiences, everything that life taught him, he poured his heart into his poetry leaving us with writing so meaningful and substantial it leaves us stunned.
Pictures courtsey: Pineterest
More on Neruda here:

Friday, October 9, 2015

..somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly....

Lennon Tribute- Lucy in the sky ft. Ilina & Ishrita

In a world riddled with hatred, insecurities and turmoil, a small contribution to peace from us comes in the form of children who are brought up appreciating the finer tendencies of the human nature. Loving the arts in all its manifestations, painting, literature, poetry, design, appreciating good music and contributing to the world by loving and respecting peace towards all fellow men and animals alike.I am proud to be one such parent....Here's a small tribute to a man who spread the message of peace and who imagined a world without boundaries hoping that all humans can live as one.We love you Lennon, and hope to take your message forward!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Somebody's knocking at your me a favour...let 'em in.

Aren't there cracks in everyone's life that have no easy fillings? And so we allow pain and denial to settle in the cracks. Well, to me even these cracks are dear as they define me and give my being 'meaning' and it is through these very cracks that I am able to develop an understanding of philosophy, poetry, art, life, relationships and appreciation of nature. In dealing with the cracks one poet I have come to love is Rumi.I know many of you read him too :) I sometimes write my interpretations of Rumi, here is one such.So come, let us then think of ourselves as a 'soul with a body' instead of a 'body with a soul'. The body is only constantly running towards it's end. Coz that is the ultimate truth.

Picture Coursey: Pineterest 

The Guesthouse: Rumi

This 'being human' is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a mean memory,
some momentary awareness of a time gone past,
suddenly arrives as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain all! 
Even if it's a crowd of sorrows,that violently sweeps your house empty of its belongings,
Even so, treat each guest with honour
Who knows, he/she may be clearing you out
for some new delight, some new adventure....
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever that comes,
as each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(With major edits to the English translation made by me)

Sunday, September 6, 2015 soul belongs elsewhere, of that i am certain.....rumi

Most times life takes one to a place from where one understands things differently.
The constantly changing and transient nature of life is such that many a times things, words, phrases, poetry, philosophy, spirituality, events, take on completely different meanings. I say this because of late I am able to understand meanings where earlier I did not see them. This is one such song, a song I have really liked and sung all my life and only now I felt it so differently, and it's meaning as I understand it from my 'now' perspective.....whatever that means!! Hahahahaha! 

Meri jaan, mujhe jaan na kaho meri jaan
Meri jaan!
Jaan na kaho anjaan mujhe, jaan kahan rahti hai sada 
Anjaane, kya jaanein, jaan ke jaaye kaun bhala
 Sookhe saawan baras gaye, itni baar in aankhon se 
Do boondein na barsein, in bheegi palkon se
 Honth jhukein jab hothon par, saans uljhi ho saanson mein 
Do judwa hothon ki, baat kaho aankhon se.....

How does one translate poetry like this? 
How do I explain the depth of meaning of each word, each line.....

Well, let me try....this is my personal understanding......

My beloved, call me not your life,
oh!my dearest!
    Oh! you ignorant one, don't speak of me as your life, cause where is the permanence of life?
      An ignorant may not understand this, but who would take this path knowingly?
                                          Oh! the many times I have cried with dry eyes,
But my moist eyelids have never allowed even two tear-drops to escape (cause that would be an insult to our love)
With your lips bent upon, to meet mine, and our breaths entangled 
Let not the lips speak of what passes between us, allow our eyes to do the talking.....

  Gulzar, the beautiful poet at his very sensual and soulful best......

Monday, August 31, 2015

I really want to see you but it takes so long my lord.....

I desire you more than food or drink.
My body, my senses, my mind,
hunger for your taste...
I can sense your presence in my heart.
Although you belong to all the world,
I wait in silent passion,
For one gesture, one glance from you.

~ Rumi

I struggle for just some moments and then the answer it comes to me on it's own accord and all is well with the world again....

Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion? 
~ Rumi