Wednesday, October 07, 2015

there's no separation...

Death and Departure are on my mind off late. There are mass exits across the globe, in Mecca, in the migrant populations fleeing across the Mediterranean, in everyday deaths--people losing loved ones. And it seems to intensify day by day. Then, there are deaths closer home. A distant relative passes away at a ripe old age. Memories of my granny. A few elders in the layout who are no more. Impending departures of others. Pets, teachers, friends. And a seer who looked and said when I would exit smile emoticon
Separations are as painful as death. Friends who are not on talking terms anymore. A few distanced over misunderstandings. You meet someone after 2 decades and realize that once upon a time you were so close to them and its been years without a thought about them crossing your mind. Every job you change, every house you shift--many familiar faces turn into strangers. On the tide of time you are a driftwood, moving closer, moving away. Change is the only constant in this play.If every arrival and union gives you joy, every departure/separation tugs at your heart-strings. Some... you never get over. 
Chew over it and slowly it dawns---look deeper, there's no separation! You come back, lifetime after lifetime, meeting those who're bonded with your heart. Forms and roles change. A Guru once, a friend again, then a brother somewhere. Friends coming again and again like flocks of migrant birds meeting in a distant continent. Familiar faces and hearts recognized in an instant. Every departure is an initiation to another threshold where a union awaits. We never lose sight of those we love, and we're never lost to those who love us. An invisible thread binds us all across life-times, across eons, transcending time and space.
Look beyond the forms into the essence and you sense a dance of Souls, united forever in one Source--the Light from where we emerge, incarnate, experience and merge back. There's no separation, departure or grief--just Love, Love and nothing but an unending torrent of gushing Love. A call to be aware of this union, this love, the unbreakable bonding between souls. A signal that at the highest level, we are always forged together, in a beautiful embrace of love and light, looking down at the dance of forms, their union and separation and union--with an amused smile and laughter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once upon a blog's the tenth year of my blogging. I'd almost forgotten that there's this tiny corner on the internet where I used to regularly take a 'walk in the drizzle', scribbling down thoughts as they occured, and also penned an occasional thought-out piece. And in the process, made a bunch of friends across the globe, some of whom I still follow elsewhere(ash, nick, val, jen). Can't believe the march of time.

Yea...I'm guilty of abandoning my lovely blog home, and spending extra time in the more vibrant(?) and more visited fb apartment. I meet more people on FB, get to socialize(??) more over there, receive instant feedback and can get into easy conversations---my pride gets a beautiful massage over there than in my shy blog palace. Add a bit of natural laziness...the home accumulates cobwebs and dust.

But think of the pre-facebook years--blogs were the place where the online socializing happened, at least for me. Not just recording life as it happened....but also checking out a wide variety of other blog homes regularly. Commenting back and forth, sometimes furiously. Writing memes and tagging friends. Picking up a idea from another blog and writing an elaborate post on it. Checkout the blogroll to see the latest update on our favorite blogs(much like the fb notifications). In short, blogs were the social media before twitter/fb.(They still are, for many).

If Facebook is the casual 'hi' on the way to the park, Blogs are the leisurely conversations on the park benches. FB is the pulpit for expressing opinions whereas the blog is my autobiography, a sketch and record of the past ten years of my life--the events, the view-point changes, the stories told and 'not-told'. Posts I read again to reminisce on an event long forgotten. Wondering at times why I wrote this, or why I didn't write that. Follow the comment link to another blog to see where they are in the stream of life.

Then it occurs...does it all matter? What you write, don't write, express, comment, argue, fight, put aside so much time and energy scribbling....does it matter, to anyone or yourself? As someone noted...'My writings and art -- paper boats in the raging river of time'. Will the world be poorer if I don't scribble my life down? Or do I add anything of value with my carefully crafted reflections on the events of my life?

Not just what we create, but we ourselves are paper boats in the raging river of time! So while being tossed by the rapid currents, if I have taken a while to make some small boats and set them afloat, enjoying their brief dance, I guess it's worth it---if not for anyone else, at least for myself. Guess I need to create more such blog boats and set them sail, just for the sheer pleasure of watching them skirt the currents.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Nalini Teacher...

 His name is Shakir. Mir Shakir Ali Khan! He stands first in the class, in every test, every exam. Totally studious. Gentle. Softspoken. Toast of the class. Pet of the teachers. Everyone wants to be his best friend. He's a bit weak, physically. Emotionally too. His dad has passed away and even a small reminder of that fact is enough to drive him to tears. A gentle 10 year old kid.

 Then there's this girl. Sumathi, if I correctly remember. She sits in the last bench along with a few other rowdy girls. A bit plump. Fair. Slightly loud mouthed. Good in sports, good in fights. Kinda opposite to shakir in every way.

One evening someone whispers a secret and we wait for the classes to get over, unable to control our glee. Then we hurry to the last bench, to the place where Sumathi sits and look under the wooden seat. There it is! A small pencil scrawl on the rough wood. 'Shakir, I love you'.

 Whoa! Its an absolute scandal and we are over the moon, gossipping, discussing, analysing, guffawing a lot amidst all this. Suddenly we spot her, Nalini teacher! We run to her almost screaming 'teacher, teacher, teacher'.....'Sumathi has written something under her desk'.... Nalini teacher has a slight smile. 'Teacher teacher, she has written, 'Shakir, I love you', and the small group starts laughing. She has an understanding smile as she says, 'Ok, I'll look into it, now you all go home'.

 The next day is judgement day and we want justice to be done! See sumathi punished for daring to cast her eye on our boy. Love!! At this age!! We wait for Nalini teacher and once she enters the class, our group is around her. She has an amused look observing our excitement. 'Nothing is there,' she says. 'No teacher,' we are horrified. Someone runs to the last bench and peers under the seat. The love signature is gone, neatly erased!!! 'But teacher,' I protest, 'it was there, I saw it with my own eyes. 'Shakir, I love you'. And it was sumathi's handwriting. She only wrote it and now she has erased it.'

 Nalini teacher just waves us off, gently. 'Its ok, you must have seen something else. I'll look into it. Now get back to your seats,' she says. We return in disappointment, our small adventure fizzling out before taking off. The whole class seems to have got wind of the issue but its soon forgotten. There are a thousand other things in the world of 10 year old kids.

What keeps this small memory fresh is the way Nalini teacher handled it. Not punishing the 'offender'. Not admonishing the 'adventurers'. Just understanding the curiosity, excitement and inquisitiveness of kids on the threshold of adolscence and being gentle about it. There were other teachers and pt masters who would have taken the same situation and created a huge mess out if it. But she was different.

 She taught social studies, just for less than a year before she was transferred out. But how the class loved her! How carefree we were when she was around. There's one lovely incident where, with any other teacher, I would have been skinned alive and scarred for life. A small assignment which we had to do at home, and I had faithfully flunked it. Nalini teacher picked me up and asked, 'Have you done the assignment?'. 'Yes, teacher,' I say, full of confidence. 'Ok, open your book and read it'. I open my homework book, and my hands begin to shiver. I open an empty page, and start saying something ....totally from memory. My voice is shaking and is on the verge of choking, fearing that I'll be found out. 'MN, stop for a while,' she says. 'Are you really reading from your homework book?'. 'Yes teacher,' (bloody guts!). 'Are you sure,' she has a smile, 'because, I feel that you are reciting from memory and not from the book'. I should have shut up and admitted, but being the reckless guy i was I stand my ground. 'No teacher, it is here in the book, see if you want', I hold the book towards her, covering the empty pages. She looks at me for a few moments. 'It's ok, sit down,' she says, before she moves to another student.

The whole class knows that I've made an ass of myself, and Nalini teacher saved me from further embarrassment. Did I dare do that mistake again? Hell no! Did I learn a lesson for my lifetime? Absolutely. It looked like any other incident then, but when I look back now, I sit back in wonderment at the way she took care of my budding self-esteem and ensured that I wasn't traumatised--just with a small gesture. And such gestures were a part of her daily interactions with everyone in the class, in other classes.

 When she left, there was probably nobody who didn't bid her farewell with a heavy heart. 'Write down something about me on a piece of paper', she told us on the last day. 'Anything...good or bad, what you liked in me, what you didn't like, whatever. And don't write your name, so that I'll not come to know who it is if you have written something bad about me.' We all faithfully scrawled our anguish and sorrow at having to see her go away, expressing our love and admiration for this gentle lady.

There have been many teachers since, but this lady....she remains in memory as one of the first persons I came across who had this very sublime, very unique and rare quality---'to influence and inspire others just by her presence, nothing else'. Somewhat similar to Him.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


you wanted the dream to never end
the moment to freeze, when the Earth and heaven met
the soft light streaming through dawn's window
the walk in the lanes, the talks and silence
caressing hands, adoring eyes, yielding hearts
the lips that whisper your name over and over

the dream halted when you escaped to another realm
to the strange land of battles
and plunged yourself into vengence and fights
of righting a wrong, answering a slight
but the dream lived on, untouched, unblemished
in its own abode of a million hues.
It remained tender and soft, vulnerable
waiting for the dreamer to return
and breathe life into the abandoned flute

the soft flowing yamuna remembers this dream
so do the loving eyes of the grazing cows
the murmur of the peepul leaves
the first breeze of dawn from Govardhan hills
the chirping birds, dancing peacocks
the cowherds, gopis...all remember the dream
and the one who invoked this dream for them
they remember you and wait for you
...the dark skinned mischief monger

and amongst them, awaits she
the one closest to your heart
the one who's your very heart-beat
and she knows that you'll arrive
straight from the battle-field, 
from the world of war and battles.
You will arrive to the moonlit nights
under the tree, next to the flowing river
where she waits for you

And when you arrive....the dream erupts
in an ecstatic vibrant splendour
exploding in blissful joy and abandon
the whole nature embracing the arriving beloved
not knowing how to express the unexpressable ecstacy
dropping into pregnant silence
while the joy erupts through gasps
the joy of having the dreamer, back in the dream

and the dreamer...his eyes search for the one
for whom he returned to the realm of the dream

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Three Mothers

(Couldn’t help translating this small piece from the book, ‘Mahanagara’ by Jogi. Call it a tribute to Motherhood or Womanhood, but for me, it’s nothing but lovely crispy writing, the kind I love to read and write myself)

That boy wasn't into studies but would watch his friends go to the ashrams, learn Vedas from the sages, and he too wanted to learn it all. So he goes to Gautama Rishi’s ashram. Gautama asks for his ‘gothra’. Not knowing his lineage, the boy comes back to his mother and asks ‘What’s my gothra?’

His mother says, ‘See, I was working as a maid in many houses and got pregnant in that period. So I don’t know exactly who your father is. Tell this to your guru.’

He goes and tells this to Gautama. While the other disciples laugh at him and taunt, the Guru appreciates his truthfulness and his mother’s frankness and names him as ‘Satya-kama’---a lover of truth. ‘You’re the son of Jaabaala, so you’re ‘Jaabaali’,’ he says. A Rishi is thus born in the name of his mother.

The nurturing mother, Jaabaala. She teaches her son to be truthful, and win over the World through this truthfulness. He becomes known by his mother’s name and she in turn, becomes famous through him. She is the one who nurtures.

Then, the second mother, Kunthi. She becomes a mother before marriage. And sets her son sail in the Ganges, fearing the Truth! Her son, Karna, becomes a benevolent giver. And places a higher value on his friendship than on the love towards his mother. The baby floating down the Ganges is picked up by a charioteer, and now grown up, Karna realises the truth of his birth. That truth doesn’t trouble him, nor does it make him pity his own condition. He doesn’t crave for his mother. Thus, she becomes the mother who makes her son transcend her necessity, who sets her child free from her bondage. If Karna had stayed with his mother he too would perhaps have lusted for power? But away from her, he never craved anything at anytime. He learnt to give not receive. He stayed with Duryodhana but never became like him. Such a life, he received from his Mother. Kunthi abandoned him and nurtured his greatness.

Jaabala is the Mother who nurtured and Kunthi is the Mother who abandoned. The third Mother is the one who destroys. The Mother of the Universe who also becomes the one who butchers mercilessly. A demon asks a boon that nobody but his mother should kill him. He’s sure that a mother will never kill. With that boon he unleashes havoc and suffering. Lord Krishna tries to kill him but fails. Then his wife, Satyabhaama, who’s born from an amsha of the Mother Goddess kills the demon. That Demon was Narakasura. When his troubles cross limits, the mother of the Universe arrives in some form to swallow him. To destroy is also a part of the Mother’s responsibility. Nurture, Abandon, Destroy—she knows all.
These three mothers, their strange stories—filled with pride, fortitude and fearlessness...and our puranas have various dimensions of this mother-son bonding. Just as you have a mother who killed her son, we also see a son who killed his mother. He is Parashurama. On the orders of his father, he cuts his mother down. Then when his pleased father confers a boon, he asks for the revival of his mother. He gives birth to his mother again. Now, is he a son to his mother, or is he a mother who birthed her again?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

In the land of chaos...

I am standing in a familiar place--a place with a sense of mild terror and impending chaos. This place, I know well enough because it used to be a constant reality for years together, almost a decade ago. I would think that this place has no exit, every door leading out would somehow lead back in, and I was resigned to staying here forever.

Yes, I had a wise and benign old man's guidance back then. But that never mitigated the anxiety even one bit. What took me out of that place of hopeless suffocation still remains a mystery. Maybe I'm banking on that mystery to bail me out this time round as well.

Sometimes you think you're all too powerful and in total control of the events and happenings in your life. And at times you feel, you don't have the strength to even move an inch, turn a finger or lift an eyelid. You could be right, but you could also be totally wrong both the times. When you think everything's in perfect control, something starts sliding down somewhere and your house of cards collapses. And when you think nothing's working, things start moving on their own. Rationality is a mess. I saw it happening twice when I was searching for a job--and something more than a job through the job-search.

I struggled for nearly 2 years, trying to break through one interview after another but in vain. I was in close proximity of clinching the deal but nope, something would crash. Then when I least expected it, there was a call, I walk in, get asked the right questions for which I have the perfect, confident answers, and in 2  hours I'm out, with a lovely offer letter in hand! Deliciously magical.

Giving up the struggle against invisible forces, I wait for the magic to strike again. I know it's a fantasy, but when the mystery arrives, I want to catch its tail and follow it...and see where it came from and where it returns to.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Union....

 (I had found these characters long back...and the story was in suspended animation for a while. Now they have concluded their story, sort of, in this way. Someday I want to fill up what happened in between then and now.)

‘What are you---a spiritual seeker or a warrior?’ she murmured to herself as her slender fingers caressed the deep cut on his right shoulder. He moved gently in his sleep, his rugged body glistening in the moon-light----the ruggedness which he seemed to have acquired from the Tibetan highlands to which he had departed 7 years ago. Yet, there was a softness about him. In the way he had handled her. In the way he had gently brushed away her falling locks. In his very tender kisses!

Yet, he seemed to combine this gentleness with a careless ruthlessness of a warrior. The entire ashram of the late Maharshi Kanva had erupted in an unspoken joyful celebration when Vishwa arrived, on the morning of Vyaasa Purnima. The day dedicated to the worship of the Guru, the supreme Lord. The day the beloved Kanva had departed, years ago, plunging the ashram into a deep turmoil. The day after which Vishwa had departed with the Tibetan monks, on a seven year sabbatical, seeking supreme spiritual wisdom. Now on his arrival, the inhabitants of the ashram surrounded and embraced him, welcoming home a long lost son. As if welcoming the warmth of the Sun on ratha-saptami after an unusually long winter.

 And Sakhi....she watched with astonishment, since his arrival, a strange warmth spread through her being, gradually intensifying with every passing hour. Her thoughts were incoherent yet a silent melody strung them together. The usual talkative bundle of joy that she was, she was surprised at her own silent movements.

He had come on the fourth dawn. The three nights leading up to his arrival, Sakhi had seen him in her dreams. Her beloved Vishwa with long flowing hair, riding a white horse galloping ferociously down the hill. Yet with a tender calm appearance. A golden ear-ring glistening in his left ear. Soft eyes. She would wake up with a start everytime.

Now on arrival, their eyes met. And their glances spoke a hundred thousand conversations. As if no other words were needed to bridge their bonding. Her eyes followed him throughout the day as he moved around interacting with the inhabitants of the ashram. She saw him with the learned sages and Rishis, engaged in deep spiritual discussions. And listening patiently as the exasperated old Gowthami narrate her travails in maintaining an ever growing ashram, giving her gentle suggestions. His ease and friendliness with the young monks and children growing in the ashram’s care. And the thundering determination and ferocity with which he warned off the wicked tribesmen who had arrived at the gates, seeking their share in the ashram’s produce. ‘Are you the same bumbling, unsure Vishwa that I knew,’ she wondered. ‘How much have you changed? Are you still the same boy I knew from my young days, perhaps from eons ago? Do you still feel....’

And the night had answered her. By the moonlit night, beside the gurgling Bhagirathi river, under the Parijatha tree which showered scented flowers every minute, they found each other. Entwining bodies, like two rivers uniting and becoming one, they merged.

She moaned softly when his lips brushed against hers.

 He watched with fascination at the way her body responded to his touch. She was lying on the grass bed, eyes closed, lips parted slightly, writhing in soft pleasure. A delicate cloth barely covering her! When a soft breeze caressed her she moaned again.

 'Sakhi....O my Sakhi,' he whispered gently.

 The garden was cloaked in the misty embrace of the full moon. A soothing fragrance of jasmine flowers wafted through the cool night air. The parijaata tree which shaded the lovers was in full bloom...sprinkling its flowers with every touch of the breeze ...unabashed shedding of modesty. A flower slipped and dropped gently on her naked bosom and slid on his fingers. But...Sakhi was oblivious to everything. She was lost in her world...a world deep inside the soft secure warm embrace of Vishwa.

 'Sakhi...', he whispered again, as his hands caressed her locks. The gentle yet fiercely independent Sakhi he had left behind in Kanva’s ashram. The confident, worldly-wise girl who stood as a pillar to a spiritual legacy which could’ve been blown away without its custodians. Responsible and mature, yet vulnerable—bursting forth and blossoming with youthful vigour in his embrace. An Ocean awaiting a wandering river without knowing if the river would return. Not aware that the river thirsted for her as much as she yearned for it.

Her eyelids stirred. Soft Aquarian eyes. Vast and the holy Mansarovar lake.

 'Are you for real?', she whispered. Her body ached with the intimate and intense pleasure it had just received in the passionate love with him. Every cell moaned in a sweet tiredness....craving for more, yet desiring to drop into a long relaxing sleep. Their eyes locked into one another and settled into deep conversations of stillness.

 She raised her hand slowly and caressed his cheeks, as if to reassure herself that she wasn't dreaming, that her beloved Vishwa had arrived back from across the Himalayas. 'Why did you come back?'  The very memory of their separation was enough to fill up her eyes. He bent forwards, kissed her eyelids--his lips wiped off her welling tears. 'I came for you, Sakhi.'

 And she raised herself to meet his lips...and their lips sealed and fused into one another. She clasped his head with her hands and amidst frantic gasps, allowed his tongue to push through her lips and explore her mouth, while his hands released and set free her clothes before going wild. Their bodies began to merge into one another, their breaths ebbed and flowed in rhythm, their heart-beats pulsated against one another in tandem. Hard rugged passion breaking through yielding softness--igniting hidden bliss vortexes, a scorching explosion coursed through their entwined heaving bodies, uniting them into one inseparable being. The fiercely passionate union reverberated across time and space and beyond, across multi-dimensional worlds and universes, across infinite life-times of a Soul---- a Soul which before time had split up into two Souls and, unable to bear the separation, would intensely seek a union again and again, merging and coalescing in multiple passionate ways. Tremendous energies bursting into one another, un-manifesting back into the Void.

 The river Bhagirathi which was witnessing their union, now splashed joyfully down the rocks below Kanva's ashram...hurrying towards the ocean...wondering, 'When I merge with my beloved, will my union be as magnificent? And will I too merge into the waiting arms of my beloved, never to be separated, like these two lovers?"

Friday, November 07, 2014

like....moving through a portal

 Suddenly I realise that, at the moment, I'm moving from one phase to another. I could've missed this realisation.

 And you look deeper and know that there are phases all over your life. Something ends. Something begins. It could be career changes. A shift from one house to another, one city to another. Moving out of school, out of college. Changing jobs. Ending friendships. Forging bonds. Building and starting something new.

 It's easy to feel sad and nostalgic for what you're leaving behind but I think one can say goodbye with immense gratitude and happiness. Give thanks for all the nourishment, growth, love, joy and lessons that the phase gave you. And let go before you move on to the new. Without bitterness or heaviness. Without emotional entanglements.

A new lesson learnt. Move through, without melancholy, with great Joy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Before you fly, reach out to the Edge....

On my way to office, I drive on the road that curves along the banks of Ulsoor lake, breathing in the fresh air moistened by the serene waters. And everyday i see him, sitting by the road side. He must be more than 70, in worn out dirty clothes, with his tools by the side. He repairs two-wheelers, mostly cycles and mostly fixes a punctured tyre. All the time that i've seen him, he's sitting there, looking nowhere, waiting for a broken bicycle to come his way so that he can fix it and make some money. A few times he lies down on the footpath, his toolkit becoming his pillow, the exhaustion of his age stretching on his fragile body. I pass by him wondering if I could be of help in any way, thinking about the inner fire that burns in this old man---the fire that keeps him going.

He's a man on the edge, and I see many such men and women, living on the edge. A fruit vendor who slices an assortment of fruits into a mouth-watering bowl for 20 Rs, a ground-nut vendor who fries nuts on his cart, standing all day, another lady sitting by the roadside stringing jasmine buds into long garlands, a family of husband, wife and girl frying bajji-bondas on a cold evening, an old muslim on weak legs pushing his vegetables cart over long empty roads.....  Their grit, their sorrow and anguish and fear, their hopes and beliefs and their helplessness---these intrigue me. What's their life like? How do they survive...on what hope? A day of rains and their business is washed out...maybe some of them have to sleep hungry. Yet they wake up the next day and promptly arrive at their place, with a hope of wading through another day. What is it that pushes them further or  pulls them along the rough and tough existence of everyday life? Is it an indomitable will? A tremendous love for life and its little-big joys? Or a harsh merciless existence that leaves them with no choice but to get up and fight each day? Or are they too numb to even think anything but to go on and on...just living, just existing.

And there's the crowd...the crowd to which I belong...the crowd that's secure in the center. A paycheck at the month end keeps them happy and calm. Their lives are secure and routine...and in a way dead! I can smell this death of life force....many times in myself. There's a yearning in this crowd, to reach out to something dangerous, something extra-ordinary...away from the humdrum of their bored, clock-work existence. This yearning perhaps drives them on weekends and on vacations, into hikes, journeys, expeditions...into entrepreneurial ventures....and again, they fall back into the comforting center, into the place which is as soothing as a grave.

The edge scares you because you can easily fall off the cliff and be annihilated. You want to move away from it...back to your secure existence, but this security begins to nauseate you and you start searching for the edge again. Maybe those on the edge fantasize and crave for the warmth of a safe existence, just as those who are bored in their ultra safe life want to go out into the edge and have their mettle tested. Call it duality, one of the many contradictions you wrestle with. And....maybe there's a state beyond the risk of the edge and the security of the center, but to reach it, one should know both the center and the edge. Then your energies shift, and you become oblivious to the edge or center--the Universe takes care of your needs as you set out on new journeys fueled by your heart's desire. Unbothered about the dangerous edge or the secure centre of the ground, you take off, vertically--a bird on flight. You become an explorer on daring new adventures!

Before setting off on such gritty adventures, I want to taste the edge again, away from my secure existence. I want to know how it stand close to annihilation, to the prospect of oblivion. I want to untie the rope that keeps me secure and also bound, and walk free, into thrilling dangerous zones. Shedding all my fears I want to stand naked and vulnerable to the forces of existence and test my faith in the grand Unknown, witness the way the Universe extends its hand to catch you when you jump off a cliff. 

And I wanna do it now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Love breaks through....

Two lovers kissing
on the ascending escalator
of a shopping mall
nothing but
the dimension of love
opening up
and flooding
this uptight mundane world