Thursday, December 14, 2006
As a child, I grew up in an atmosphere of South Indian Carnatic music. I thought it was the best music form ever. The 'krithis' (songs) had deep spiritual connotations to them (Nadopasana). They were composed by perfected composers and they seemed to wash out all fears and doubts from the mind. It was definitely a 'pranayama' (breathing exercise) when those songs were sung in their correct 'Swara Sthaana' (notes), and it was particularly surreal when those Sanskrit syllables vibrated in the physical and subtle layers of our being. When the teacher would explain the meaning of a krithi, it would usher in more bhakthi and it did make music an positively emotional and religious experience. And as a child, I would feel cheerful and fresh after a 'paatu' (music) class. It does bring in a discipline in young children, who otherwise are so distracted.
I still have the same reverence towards the great composers, the same awe at the incredibly structured form of the music and the same calm and peace when I listen to those auspicious notes. But, I no longer seem to think it is the only best form of music. Last week, I was listening to Smooth Jazz on local radio. And suddenly I felt so light and lifted. The deep strains of the saxophone and the passion with which it was being played seems to strike a chord deep within me. I realised it is not in the music, it is in the musician. It is the passion and devotion that the musician lends to the music, breathing it out from his soul to the soul of the listener. And when the musician brings out the notes from the very core of his existence, they are 'perfect' notes, the most soulful notes and such a rendition reaches the listener at a different level. The music made by Carnatic composers is still so resonatingly divine because of the perfected state that they were in when they composed these eternal pieces.
It is the same 7 notes that are used in all forms of music. The way they are put together makes it the form of music that it becomes associated with. And the passion with which it is rendered makes it the perfection that it turns out to be. It took me so long to come to this. Well, isn't life a continuous learning process ?
Posted by Bharani - 02:23 pm -
Monday, October 30, 2006
Which one is the right thing to do ?
Is relaying one's desires to God through prayers the right thing to do ? Or is taking in everything that comes by one's way in life the right thing to do ?
I think both these ways are right. When you take every simple thing to the Divine and seek God's help in obtaining it, it is called Surrender. And when you take in everything that comes your way without wanting to 'ask' God for anything in particular, it is called Acceptance.
Truly, Truth is spherical. There are just innumerable dimensions to just about everything in this creation. All I can do, as always, is 'wonder'!
Posted by Bharani - 05:35 pm -
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Silent Music and Celebrative Dance
Silent Music and Celebrative Dance Pure, divine,
toucheth the chord
of inner meaning
even windy chimes,
bestir in it
a celebrative being
Oh God! I revel in
all that You make,
Yet, it is in the harmony
That my soul doth wake.
The intent of music is to lead us to silence. Melodious, contemplative music should take us to the depths of silence within us. The cause is sound, the effect: tranquil silence.
Many times, when we are at a temple - amidst the clatter of cymbals, percussions, bugles and the humdrum of a frenzy crowd, we feel the calm peace within. It is almost like the 'noise' outside forces us towards the quiet inside.
While listening to music that resonates pleasantly with the mind, the mind is progressively mellowed down and ultimately calmed to a state of 'no-mind'. We just let the musical energy take over us. It finally overrides the mind and touches a part of us that is beyond the mind. It is only then that the music actually ‘reaches’ us.
There are times when a mellifluous classical concert brings out involuntary tears to our eyes. Those are moments when the music actually touches us, moments when the soul understands the universal language of music emanating from the depths of another soul. Every note of the composition seems to reach us distinctly. Those are moments when we merge with the vast expanse of space within and feel an inexplicable connection with the outer cosmic space, moments when we feel light and heavy at the same time, cheerful and sober at the same time, open and judgmental, all at once. It almost feels like we have conquered the mirage of duality that governs the entire creation. Most importantly, those are moments when we feel that we have glimpsed ‘something’ within us, and that ‘something’ was nothing close to what we thought we were made of.
Music inspires, music invigorates, and music heals. But the deepest spiritual experience is the blissful silence that the self feels amidst those harmonious waves. And in that silence, the soul rejoices, dances and celebrates.
Posted by Bharani - 03:35 pm -
Na Guror Adhikam Thathwam Na Guror Adhikam Thapaha |
Thathwa gnyanaath Param Naasthi Thasmai Sri Gurave namaha ||
There is no penance greater than the Guru. There is no essence beyond him.
Who is a Guru? Do we need a Guru? How does one identify his or her Guru? What is this relationship all about? What is the final destination?
Do I need a Guru? Once this question arises in a person’s mind, it signals the need for a Guru. Because, when we have questions for which we desire earnest answers, the person whom we seek and derive the answers from, becomes our Guru. The Sanskrit word “GuRu” has two syllables – “Gu” and “Ru”. “Gu” means Darkness and “Ru” means Remover.
When we meet our Guru (Master), we need no introduction. Words become superfluous. There is a connection made at a subtler level. After meeting him, seeking stops, blossoming begins; hankering for mundane pleasures stop, contentment fills in; restlessness ends, joy brims; expectations disappear, a service attitude develops; fear disappears, a permanent smile transfixes itself on our face. Every moment of living becomes pristine Bliss in his presence. The key is to feel the Presence of the Master. The Master is the Presence, not a relationship. Relationships can be broken, mended and broken again. There is craving and aversion in every relationship. All relationships go topsy-turvy, whereas the Presence is vast, infinite, stable and centered.
The Guru is there to remove all our imperfections, take in all our silly grievances, calm the restless mind and make us actually experience that - we are JOY, we are TRUTH and we are the pure consciousness that pervades the entire creation (Sat-Chit-Anandha).
The heart always yearns for the Guru’s presence and the knowledge that emanates from him. The abode of the Guru becomes the most enchanting place on earth. Sant Kabir said –
Guru Govind Dhovu Kade, Kaake Lagoo Paai
Balihaari Guru Aapne, Govind Dhiyo Bhathaai
If I had to choose between God and Guru, I would choose my Guru, for without him, I would have never known God.
One of Buddha’s disciples, after attaining enlightenment said that he would rather have remained ‘un-enlightened’, because in that state, he had his Guru and was able to drown in his grace and love, which was no longer the experience after self realization.
The Guru’s timeless wisdom helps us look beyond “small things” and view the world with a broader vision. His Love radiates impartially like the sun, requiring no expression in words and actions. His mere presence touches our inner being, fills us with so much of immeasurable love that tears of gratitude and joy flow continuously, with a smile forever transfixed on our face. There on, life appears so beautiful, charming and wonderful. We start looking at everything in awe, as though everything is a miracle. The quality of living is enhanced. Life becomes a celebration.
A disciple is simply there in the presence of the master, joyful, blissful and full of love. His heart breaks and love flows. And he feels the deep connection with the Guru. And gradually, he feels this connection with every animate and inanimate creation in this universe. He attains love. It is then the final destination is reached.
Mannathah Sri Jagannathah Madhguruhu Sri Jagadhguruhu |
Madh Athma Sarva Bhoothathma Thasmai Sri Gurave Namaha ||
My Lord is the Lord of the entire world. My Guru is the Guru to the entire creation. The SELF in me is the same as the SELF in every aspect of this creation. I salute the Guru who gives me this insight.
Posted by Bharani - 03:19 pm -
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The wind played
by her open curls,
to a dainty fray.
The sun warmed
her oval face,
Glazing it a look,
radiant and gay.
She glided with
the breezy wind
That chimed in her ears -
'Come, lets play'.
She hopped past daisies
that swayed to say
'Hold us in your hands
and make our day'.
She slipped by, reckless,
happy and free,
Over shrubs and grasses,
By ponds and trees.
On the pretty hillock
She beheld her house,
It was her piper
And she the mouse.
She broke into a song
And her feet went faster
As she walked into the open
arms of her doting mother.
Posted by Bharani - 07:25 pm -
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I would like to quickly journal our trip to Hawaii before the hangover fades. We were at Oahu for the July 4th weekend. Aloha!
Oahu is a perfect balance of human activity and oceanic beauty. The city of Honolulu has an alluring night life, creating a New Yorky vibe for tourists. Adjacent to the business district of Waikiki is the splendid green Waikiki beach. I have always wanted to visit a beach with crystal clear green waters and talcum-soft white sand. Another desire fulfilled!
We toured the city of Honolulu, admiring the architecture and the street names – Ala Moana Blvd, Kapahulu Ave, Kalakaua Ave, Kapiolani Blvd, Kahala Mall, Paokalani Ave, Kuhio Ave – I can go on. We were surprised to learn that Hawaiian alphabet had 5 vowels and just 7 consonants – H K L M N P and W. The streets and highways were named after early Kings – like the Kamehameha Highway named after King Kamehameha. We had fun just trying to pronounce them. We got ourselves Hawaiian clothes. Our fun had just begun!
We took a submarine tour on our second day at Oahu. It was thrilling – well, why wouldn’t it be? It was our very first time on a submarine, going down to the depths of the ocean, actually seeing the ocean bed and the schools of fishes, sea turtles, few sharks and natural and man made reefs. It was beautiful. Aqua and aquatic life – it is so amazing to see a whole vast world of its own under the depths of the ocean. It felt strangely intimidating, and at the same time I was filled with a new found respect for the ocean and all the life that it hosts. The balanced ecology, how various life forms coexist peacefully and how it is one different world out there - it set us thinking about the endless wonders in creation. All that we could do was marvel!
We snorkeled at the Hanauma bay, a beautiful place in Oahu where the lush green mountains flank three sides of the bay and the fourth side merges into the vast ocean. The coral reefs were amazing and the aquatic life thrilled us. We were able to see the fishes and interact with them – it was an experience in itself and first of its kind for me! Shaka!
The drive to Waimea falls was scenic. The Blowhole reef, Kahana bay and the Sandy beach on the way were beautiful nature experiences. We had the famed Hawaiian coconut water on the way. It was sheer pleasure to pull down the top of the convertible and drive down with the majestic green mountains on the left and the translucent green waters on the right. The hike to the Diamond Head crater and the awesome view of the reef layered Waikiki beach will always remain etched in our minds. It was one strenuous hike, but the view was worth every inch of it. Phew!
The Polynesian Cultural Center brought alive the exotic Polynesian history and culture. The feature presentations on each island were informative, amusing and good fun. It was in fact like a virtual visit to Tonga, Fiji, Marqueses, Tahiti, Samoa and Aotearoa. The graceful 'Rainbows of Paradise' canoe pageant and the dazzling ‘Horizons’ evening show had us enthralled. We were surprised to learn that we share many traditions and practices in common with the Polynesian islands. Students from the Birmingham Young University work at the PCC to pay for their tuition – a dual purpose was met – culture is preserved and students are benefited. We also watched an IMAX feature on the breathtaking ‘Coral Reef Adventure’. The authentic ‘Alii Luau’ or the 'Hawaiian feast for a royal chief' was made memorable by the warm welcome with a garland made of purple orchid ‘Leis’, the Hawaiian ‘Hula’ performance and the buffet dinner. The luau begins with the uncovering of the 'imu' or underground oven where a large pig has been cooking throughout the afternoon. We managed to eat vegetarian at the feast! The dessert was great – the coconut cake and the Hawaiian ‘Haupia’ – a staple dessert at every Luau were yummy. What’s a visit to Hawaii without a Luau and a Hula!
We savored every moment of our stay at Oahu, pampered by the Hawaiian hospitality, cheered on by oceanic adventures and falling in love with the city with every passing moment. And when it was time to leave for home, we decided to take back some of the magic of the culture-laden, picturesque Hawaii, so that it may linger in our spirit as we go on with the flow that is life. Thank you Hawaii – Mahalo!
Posted by Bharani - 03:44 pm -
Sunday, June 18, 2006
My mind is multi-threaded. So, now, is it all about making it unidirectional, that is single-threaded or is it about making every thread function to its 100% so that the mind is able to perform as the most efficient multi-tasking machine ever ?
I have seen how intensely aware people perform several tasks simulataneously, without compromising on the quality of any of those parallel activities. In fact, quality is enhanced.
I also realise how the mind controls the five senses - for instance, my eyes see only when/what my mind wants to view. Else, even if they are open, they are as good as shut. The ears can hear selectively, the filter being set within the mind. Sometimes we are not aware of what we talk and go back and say 'what was I saying ?'.
Well, I better befriend this mind and get it work the way I want it! It seems to be taking over my entire life :-)...
Posted by Bharani - 06:29 pm -
Friday, June 16, 2006
Few days back, I chanced to read a bit about wheat grass and its goodness. That made me wonder why almost all good things are bitter! I remember the Bitter Guord, the Neem leaf sweet dish, the bitter citrus pickles, the several nature-cure medicines ('Kashaayam') which we were made to gulp with honey when we were children - all these were bitter and yet they did the best to us. Well, almost all.
Posted by Bharani - 02:00 pm -
Monday, June 12, 2006
God, grant me what it takes to change
desires into prayers,
selfish love into unconditional devotion,
boredom into enthusiasm,
tears into hope,
disappointment into contentment,
indolent energy into service,
longing into knowledge,
experience into awareness,
restlessness into serenity,
sloth into action,
anger into acceptance,
pain into compassion,
fears into trust,
anxieties into surrender.
God, grant me what it takes
to not want to change anything,
to appreciate all that is,
to know You,
to know Me.
Posted by Bharani - 04:32 pm -
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Another Grand Canyon Trip
My third visit to the Grand Canyon in little over a year. And yet I never seem to tire of it. The few moments of silence which I experience, seated on a rock, facing the Eastern Rim of the grand canyon is worth the winding line outside the park and definitely worth the cold winds that kept slamming against us early that morning.
A nature trip leaves you rejuvenated. While trips to amusement parks always leave me exhausted and wanting another vacation, hikes and nature tours fill me with wonder and silence and energize me from deep within. It is like renewing a connection with natural habitat, which appear to be more centered and put together. We even had a deer encounter inside the Kaibab National Forest. Five forest deer went past our car and we shot them, with our video camera, of course.
On our way back, we hiked the Oak Creek trail at Sedona. It was lush green and full of ferns. The stream had dried up a bit but that did not stop us from taking off our shoes and playing around in the gushing water for a while. We did not hike the entire trail as it was almost sunset.
So, here I am back at work today. But I definitely have brought along with me a bit of the smiling green of the red rock trail, a splash of the bubbling enthusiasm of the creek, and loads of the strong splendor of the canyon.
Posted by Bharani - 06:13 pm -