Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Beginnings

What a strange and difficult year it has been! On so many fronts, in so many ways. So many struggles, so many conflicts, so much uncertainty...and yet something deeper and higher kept guiding, showing the light, and holding the hand whenever required. Pain was immense, and yet Peace kept afloat in the middle of that turmoil. Much too much was lost, and yet so much was gained too through all this. Sweet and Bitter tastes of life got their due share of the pie, and Laughter and Sadness renewed their marital vows and agreed to co-exist. Through all of which Life offered in its onward march, much was learned and hopefully will continue to be assimilated and integrated within for inner growth and progress.

As this year ends and a new one begins, I wish to express gratitude for all the experiences and lessons Life brought me and pray for greater acceptance and inner balance.


Common name: Begonia 
Spiritual Significance: Perfect Balance (One of the most important conditions of a growing peace.)



As I await new beginnings in the new year, my mind finds expression for its unspoken wishes in the following words of the Mother given to Her children as New Year Blessings...


May this year be a year of luminous peace in the joy that comes from 
true kindness—the human child of Divine Compassion.

Let us hope also that this year will not pass without bringing us together once more.

Let the dawn of the New Year be for us also the dawn of a new and better life.

...the New Year must dispel the smoke of ignorance and make the Light shine forth.

Collected Works of The Mother, Volume 15, pp. 181-182

And my heart finds solace in this soothing music by Pandit Ravi Shankar....



In anticipation of a new dawn of a New Year, with a prayer in the heart for greater peace and equanimity, and for Her Grace to help see things deeply and inwardly....

Wishing all my readers a Happy New Year.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Fly Away

A new post in the series: 
A Poem and A Song - X:  A Series to Celebrate Art in All Forms 

It is actually quite amazing when you find the same thought being expressed through a picture, a poem, a song, or even a gesture. 

Perhaps it happens because the thought has sunk deep into you, at least for the time being, and you just view a certain picture, read a certain poem and hear a certain song as expressions of that singular thought.

Or perhaps they really are conveying the same thought, but in different shades and hues. 

And it just so happens that when that very thought captured your attention, certain pictures, poems and songs also appeared before you allowing you to delve deeper into the thought and let it reveal its deeper essence to you.

Regardless of how it happens, it is always a moment to relish and cherish the beauty. The beauty of the picture, the song, the poem. The beauty of the experience. The beauty of the moment.


Blue Mountain Mist; Photo by Brandon Downing



The Blue Bird

I am the bird of God in His blue;
Divinely high and clear
I sing the notes of the sweet and the true
For the god's and the seraph's ear.

I rise like a fire from the mortal's earth
Into a griefless sky
And drop in the suffering soil of his birth
Fire-seeds of ecstasy.

My pinions soar beyond Time and Space
Into unfading Light;
I bring the bliss of the Eternal's face
And the boon of the Spirit's sight.

I measure the worlds with my ruby eyes;
I have perched on Wisdom's tree
Thronged with the blossoms of Paradise
By the streams of Eternity.

Nothing is hid from my burning heart;
My mind is shoreless and still;
My song is rapture's mystic art,
My flight immortal will.
~ Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems


Such is the flight of the soul to meet its Beloved; the aspiration of the human to unite with the Divine; the flight of the liberated soul, that spark of the Divine here in manifestation but free from all bondage and soaring high to meet its Source, singing songs of rapturous joy as it brings to the Earth below the Light and Bliss from the realms of the Infinite and Eternal.

But what of the bird that is still caged, still in bondage? What song does a caged bird sing? A song of pain and sadness, a song of longing -- for freedom and flight, a song of sweet memories and future dreams. But memories and dreams can be cages too. They often are.

Maybe a caged bird needs a song of Aspiration, Hope and Faith.




As this year slowly comes to a close, perhaps it is a good time to work toward breaking a few more inner prisons and hope for greater freedom.


******
Previous posts in the series A Poem and A Song:

Which is Sweeter?           Life, a Song of Love and Memories     Diwali with a Modern Indian Poet and a Legendary Indian Musician          Of Temples, Poetry and Life      Remembering the Mother                     On the Road       Who is that Presence?          Only You        Reckless Lovers




Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Day of Light

A new post in the series - Satyam Shivam Sundaram
A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that speak of timeless truths, words that remind me of the deeper and hidden truth behind surface events and phenomena, words that shine light when all seems dark, words that are just what I need - 
for this moment and for all times to come.


I am doubly pleased with this post because the Eternal Words of the Mother selected for this post also allow me to share two cherished images that speak of such profound truths in their simplicity of form, arrangement and colours. 
I hope readers will appreciate the Pictures as much as the Words in this post.
***

Keep things Simple. Find Beauty in Simplicity. Aspire for Harmony. 

Look toward the Light. Celebrate Light, Day of Light. 


Source: Google


"Long before the Christian religion made December 25th the day of Christ's birth, 
this day was the festival of the return of the sun, the Day of Light. 
It is this very ancient symbol of the rebirth of the Light that we wish to celebrate here."

~ The Mother



Warm and Light-filled Christmas Greetings to All! 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Which is Sweeter?

A new post in the series - A Poem and A Song - IX:  A Series to Celebrate Art in All Forms 

It is actually quite amazing when you find the same thought being expressed through a picture, a poem, a song, or even a gesture.
Perhaps it happens because the thought has sunk deep into you, at least for the time being, and you just view a certain picture, read a certain poem and hear a certain song as expressions of that singular thought.
Or perhaps they really are conveying the same thought, but in different shades and hues. 
And it just so happens that when that very thought captured your attention, certain pictures, poems and songs also appeared before you allowing you to delve deeper into the thought and let it reveal its deeper essence to you.
Regardless of how it happens, it is always a moment to relish and cherish the beauty. The beauty of the picture, the song, the poem. The beauty of the experience. The beauty of the moment.

*****

Source: Google


Sweet is the night, sweet and cool
As to parched lips a running pool;
Sweet when the flowers have fallen asleep
And only moonlit rivulets creep
Like glow-worms in the dim and whispering wood,
To commune with the quiet heart and solitude.
When earth is full of whispers, when
No daily voice is heard of men,
But higher audience brings
The footsteps of invisible things,
When o’er the glimmering tree-tops bowed
The night is leaning on a luminous cloud,
And always a melodious breeze
Sings secret in the weird and charm`ed trees,
Pleasant ’tis then heart-overawed to lie
Alone with that clear moonlight and that listening sky.

***

But day is sweeter; morning bright
Has put the stars out ere the light,
And from their dewy cushions rise
Sweet flowers half-opening their eyes.
O pleasant then to feel as if new-born
The sweet, unripe and virgin air, the air of morn.
And pleasant are her melodies,
Rustle of winds, rustle of trees,
Birds’ voices in the eaves,
Birds’ voices in the green melodious leaves;
The herdsman’s flute among his flocks,
Sweet water hurrying from reluctant rocks,
And all sweet hours and all sweet showers
And all sweet sounds that please the noonday flowers.
Morning has pleasure, noon has golden peace
And afternoon repose and eve the heart’s increase.

- Sri Aurobindo, Songs to Myrtilla 

So what is sweeter - night or day? Dawn or dusk? Reality or Reflection?

Perhaps a tarana in a pre-dawn raag in the amazing voice of Ustad Rashid Khan can help decide....

Perhaps we need both...night to remind us that a new day with a new hope is coming soon, and day to remind us that the time for rest, rejuvenation and renewal is coming soon, 
reality to convince us that the reflection too can be just as real, and reflection to assure us that the real is after all, real! 



P.S. - This post had been somewhat prepared a couple of days back, only some final touches were remaining. But then something happened in the intervening couple of days and my mind and heart got a bitter taste of some emotions and feelings quite unlike 'sweetness'. I, however, chose to go ahead with this post about sweetness, more so because it will remind me of not to dwell on that which is bitter and ugly. Thus, in a way this post has also become a new addition to the series - Reminders to self

Perhaps in a few days time I will have a greater equanimity within to write about some not-so-sweet aspects of life, and hopefully with a deeper understanding of why such stuff happens! 



Previous posts in the series Reminders to self:


Previous posts in the series A Poem and A Song:

Life, a Song of Love and Memories       Diwali with a Modern Indian Poet and a Legendary Indian Musician Of Temples, Poetry and Life       Remembering the Mother        On the Road      Who is that Presence?     Only You       Reckless Lovers

Monday, 16 December 2013

Come Home, with Pancham



Photo by Hengki Koentjoro


Sometimes a song just stays with you, lingers on, in your memory, in your thought...perhaps for no particular reason, perhaps for some reason that you may not be fully aware of, or perhaps simply because it does! 

This is just such a song for me today. 



Based on Raag Malgunji, one of the earliest compositions by legendary composer of modern Hindi film music, Rahul Dev Burman, this song from a 1961 film is indeed such a classic number, a song you want to listen to again and again, no matter how many times you have heard it before. Perhaps this is the real mark of a great composition, I suppose.

The singer is pleading her beloved to come home. The sky is overcast with clouds, the sad and lonely heart gets scared every time the lightning strikes, the tip-tip sound of the raindrops makes it even harder to bear the separation....what a poetic description of longing penned by Shailendra, and set to such soulful music by Pancham (R. D. Burman). Which lover of old Hindi film music wouldn't fall in love with it, all over again? 

And oh, maybe I have finally figured out why this song has so captured my heart today...but that is for my next post...or maybe not. Right now, I just want to enjoy this song...with a hope that you will too!

Click here for the previous post in this series.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Life, a Song of Love and Memories

A new post in the series - A Poem and A Song - VIII:  A Series to Celebrate Art in All Forms 

It is actually quite amazing when you find the same thought being expressed through a picture, a poem, a song, or even a gesture.
Perhaps it happens because the thought has sunk deep into you, at least for the time being, and you just view a certain picture, read a certain poem and hear a certain song as expressions of that singular thought.
Or perhaps they really are conveying the same thought, but in different shades and hues. 
And it just so happens that when that very thought captured your attention, certain pictures, poems and songs also appeared before you allowing you to delve deeper into the thought and let it reveal its deeper essence to you.
Regardless of how it happens, it is always a moment to relish and cherish the beauty. The beauty of the picture, the song, the poem. The beauty of the experience. The beauty of the moment.

*****

The following is one of those pictures that have stayed in my mind for a very long time. Perhaps because this is one of my favourite flowers, and one of my favourite ways to display this flower. To float one or two or a few of them in a shallow vase or urli filled with water. Simple. Sweet. Pure. Perfect. 



That particular evening found me enwrapped in the warmth of her memory. Simple, sweet, pure and perfect. And the words floated in my mind just like the Frangipanis float in water, simply, sweetly. The way her love was and is. In memory of her love, a few words floated by....

A month has gone by, already? 
Surely the calendar lies.
I browse through her song diary
Her handwriting comes alive.

In soft tones speaks to my heart,
Listen child, once again to that song she loved,  
Read once again that poem she said, 
Would speak to me of her truths of life and love.

And so I read, and re-read. Things she jotted down in that diary. Things she didn't speak about. Things she did speak about but I wasn't listening back then. And so I re-read. And now I try and listen to the silence through which she speaks now. Through which she sings her song. 

****

My Song
This song of mine will wind its music around you, my child, like
the fond arms of love.
This song of mine will touch your forehead like a kiss of
blessing.
When you are alone it will sit by your side and whisper in
your ear, when you are in the crowd it will fence you about with
aloofness.
My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams, it will
transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.
It will be like the faithful star overhead when dark night is
over your road.
My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes, and will carry
your sight into the heart of things.
And when my voice is silent in death, my song will speak in
your living heart. 

~ Rabindranath Tagore


Life is indeed a song full of love and memories!


PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:


Sunday, 8 December 2013

An Old Song and the Greatness of Indian Sculpture


Outside a cave at Ellora, Photo by Suhas Mehra


Sometimes channel surfing on TV actually does yield some good results. Like that afternoon in Delhi, while passing an idle hour and randomly clicking buttons on the TV remote I came across a song I had almost forgotten. And this is a song I used to very much like once upon a time. 




Listening to this song that lazy afternoon naturally led me to re-read some of the absolutely masterful passages on Indian Sculpture by Sri Aurobindo. Interesting, I thought, how re-discovering an old song on TV can make an afternoon so enriching when we go deeper into an idea that is merely hinted in the song. Afterall, TV watching can also be educational at times, it seems! Of course, I am not getting cable TV installed in my home right away, but surely will be spending a few more afternoons searching on youtube for some old favorite songs, just in case some musical inspiration is needed to re-read some more from the Master's Works.

"All Indian art is a throwing out of a certain profound self-vision formed by a going within to find out the secret significance of form and appearance, a discovery of the subject in one’s deeper self, the giving of soul-form to that vision and a remoulding of the material and natural shape to express the psychic truth of it with the greatest possible purity and power of outline and the greatest possible concentrated rhythmic unity of significance in all the parts of an indivisible artistic whole."

"The inspiration, the way of seeing is frankly not naturalistic, not, that is to say, the vivid, convincing and accurate, the graceful, beautiful or strong, or even the idealised or imaginative imitation of surface or terrestrial nature. The Indian sculptor is concerned with embodying spiritual experiences and impressions, not with recording or glorifying what is received by the physical senses. He may start with suggestions from earthly and physical things, but he produces his work only after he has closed his eyes to the insistence of the physical circumstances, seen them in the psychic memory and transformed them within himself so as to bring out something other than their physical reality or their vital and intellectual significance. His eye sees the psychic line and turn of things and he replaces by them the material contours."
Excerpts from The Renaissance in India and Other Essays on Indian Culture 


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Home Revisited, Twice in a Month

This post was re-published in Writer's E-zine



Ma in my home, Diwali 2013 (Photo by Suhas Mehra)

It has been exactly a month.

Exactly a month ago she was sitting at the same place where she sits today - this spot at the Bangalore airport, waiting for her next flight. Then too, like today, she was going home - a different home, home of her childhood, home where love and blood tied her to everyone around, home where she felt loved and protected, home where she learned to dream dreams of growing up, of becoming independent and living her own life in her own home - home of her adult-hood, home where she is heading today, exactly a month later, a home where also love ties her to everyone and everything around.

But so much has happened during this one month.

Truths of Life have revealed and expressed themselves in ways so that once again she finds herself asking what is home, especially that home of childhood. Who or what makes that home? Walls? Furniture? People? The bonds between the people? A particular Presence that is the anchor of a home? Is that Presence only a physical one? When that physical presence is gone, does the home remain the same home? In what ways does the absence of a physical presence change the home? Or does it change anything at all?

As her flight is delayed further by an hour, she reflects on what will that home of childhood be like when she visits there next. May be much will change, including the physical address of the home itself. But perhaps that change too will only be on the outside, would matter only when looked at from an outside view. May be the true home of the childhood will always remain, hidden within, held safely on the inside, letting its presence felt through the ties of love and blood, making its impact felt through all those memories - some easier to dig into than others, some more pleasant than others, but all that have shaped her into who or what she is today, all that will continue to shape her into what she will be tomorrow.

As her heart and mind continue to wander with these thoughts and emotions, a voice deep within reminds her of something she had come across a few days ago - "We need so much less than we think, and think so much more than we need." (William Chapman).

And so she tries to quieten her mind and moves away from that spot for a leisurely stroll around the terminal so that she may simply be...be with that "home" inside, be with that "love" inside.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Material Life

A new post in the series - Satyam Shivam Sundaram
A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that speak of  timeless truths, words that remind me of the deeper and hidden truth behind surface events and phenomena, words that shine light when all seems dark, words that are just what I need - 
for this moment and for all times to come.


Photo taken at my home, Diwali 2013

Last few days have seen me occupied taking care of many details about lots of material things. The following words, for me, are a good reminder for keeping the right attitude and deepening the inner view when working on such important matters of life...


The Divine is in things also and that is why they must be treated with care.

*
Not to take care of material things which one uses is a sign of inconscience and ignorance.
You have no right to use any material object whatsoever if you do not take care of it.
You must take care of it not because you are attached to it, but because it manifests something of the 
Divine Consciousness.

~ The Mother, Collected Works, Volume 14



Friday, 29 November 2013

The Stuff of Our Lives

A new post in the series - Reminders to self


Photo by Josh Adamski


How temporarily relevant every material thing is...temporarily useful, temporarily pleasant, and temporarily meaningful...and yet at the moment something in us feels that if only we can possess that particular object, this one thing we could be so happy, so content. 

And ultimately at some point in time, that definitive moment comes when all our possessions, all the objects, all the stuff we so meticulously collected over our lives stays here in this physical realm, as our last journey out of this realm commences. What happens to all that stuff – the stuff of our temporary lives? Do we ever wonder about this all the while we are busy collecting, possessing, accumulating? Do we ever imagine, even for a split second, how will our loved ones handle all that stuff we so carefully kept in our closets, cupboards, and drawers?

Perhaps the real focus of our lives should be on accumulating the stuff of the hearts. The love, care, sweetness, tenderness, faith, trust, generosity and compassion we invest in our relationships and bonds with all who enter our lives are what keeps us intimately connected with them even after we move to those other realms beyond this earth. That will be our true inheritance to our loved ones, our true legacy, our true connection with those we leave behind. That will truly be the Stuff of Our Lives...Lives Here and Beyond. 


Previous posts in this series:

Monday, 18 November 2013

Journey toward Light

Spiritual significance of the flower: Immortality 
Forms are in perpetual transformation; identify yourself with the Immortal Consciousness and you will become it.
Botanical name: Gomphrena globosa, Globe amaranth, Bachelor's button 



Thirteen days have passed since my last post on this blog.

A life-transforming experience has happened during this time.

One of the greatest, eternal truths of Life has revealed itself, in a very upclose and personal manner. A moment of acceptance, a moment of letting go, a moment of surrender, a moment of awakening - the moment gave so much as it took away so much. The moment of earthly goodbye became a moment of lifelong blessing. Witnessing the Journey toward Light continues to change so much...inwardly.

Death is not the opposite of Life. Death is the opposite of Birth. Life goes on. Only Form changes. The essence of the Departed One takes a Formless Form and continues to bless and love and be with the loved ones.

"The world we live in is not a meaningless accident that has unaccountably taken place in the void of Space; it is the scene of an evolution in which an eternal Truth has been embodied, hidden in a form of things, and is secretly in process of unfoldment through the ages. There is a meaning in our existence, a purpose in our birth and death and travail, a consummation of all our labour. All are parts of a single plan; nothing has been idly made in the universe; nothing is vain in our life."
Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human 

In her memory, because she loved it so....




May the peace continue to prevail in the midst of the pain, may the rememberance of the eternal truth continue to give strength.



Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Faith Lives and Breathes through Images

"India must find back and manifest her soul."
~ The Mother



Photo by Dinesh Khanna, from his book - Living Faith

Some years ago in a bookstore in a small university town in the US, I came across a beautiful picture book which I had to immediately buy. The book titled Living Faith: Windows into the Sacred Life of India is a collection of photographs taken by the noted Indian photographer, Dinesh Khanna. I had seen some of his pictures on the web, but this book really made me an admirer of his work. 

The flap of the book has this to say – “Living Faith is an intimate, revealing record of a deeply spiritual way of life. It acknowledges the strength of private worship and shared faith, which ultimately transcends the more visible but short-lived realities of discord.” One has to see the pictures in this remarkable collection to get a sense of what Pico Iyer (who has written an introductory essay to this book) refers to as “something of what India does, at its best: namely, to take individual moments of worship, private acts of devotion – the soul in solitary colloquy with its God – and somehow bind them into the larger fabric of society and life” (p. 21). 

What I enjoy and appreciate most in this collection of photographs is that this is an excellent expression of the spirit and practice of the living truth of diverse forms of human attempts to connect with the Divine. The book is a visual narrative of the ways these attempts and expressions of faith, love and devotion for the Divine are present everywhere in almost every street corner in India. 

The sheer profusion of "sacred" is certaintly a visual representation of the ideal of spiritual aim of life, emphasized by Indian culture, and at the same time can serve as a deeply healing force in its own way for the sea of humanity struggling with its myriad struggles of life and living. 


Another photo from the book

The separation between the human and the Divine, between secular and sacred is not as sharp and divisive in India as we see in the Western societies. At least that is how I have come to know and experience India. And perhaps the fact that I was living in the US at that time and this book so beautifully reminded me of this sharp difference between India and the West, at least in this regard of Faith that is indeed Living and Breathing in the Indian visual landscape, made me immediately want to possess the book. Who knows? 

But of course, in some elite metro areas of today's India we now witness re-constructed, sanitized, western style attempts at urban-ness or urbane-ness, but that is still quite unreal and seems somewhat imitative and artificial. At least to me, it seems that way. And the moment we step out of it, we are in the middle of pulsating, throbbing human expression of the Divine, almost a visual record of attempts at bringing the Divine closer to the human -- whether it is expressed through a make-shift temple created by simply placing an old, half-broken statue of a deity or simply a stone marked with holy red powder, or through a picture of one's favourite deity glued awkwardly on the dashboard of a car or taxi....we see this almost everywhere. It is everywhere, in all religious traditions. The book, Living Faith, is an excellent visual representation of this India...of the Living Faith that sees and tries to experience the Divine in All and Everything and yet Beyond All and Everything. 

Interested readers may like to read an interview with Dinesh Khanna to know more about his take on this book. And for a gallery of some stunning images from this book, click here.

****


Saturday, 2 November 2013

From Darkness to Light

A new post in the series - Satyam Shivam Sundaram
A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that speak of  timeless truths, words that remind me of the deeper and hidden truth behind surface events and phenomena, words that shine light when all seems dark, words that are just what I need - 
for this moment and for all times to come.


Photo by Suhas Mehra

Read and contemplated upon a beautiful aphorism from Sri Aurobindo yesterday. 
This is my prayer and invocation for this special day of Diwali.

May this Festival of Lights bestow upon the humanity a vision to see a bit more deeply, a bit more highly, a bit more widely. 

"When I look back on my past life, I see that if I had not
failed and suffered, I would have lost my life’s supreme
blessings; yet at the time of the suffering and failure,
I was vexed with the sense of calamity. Because we
cannot see anything but the one fact under our noses,
therefore we indulge in all these snifflings and clamours.
Be silent, ye foolish hearts! Slay the ego, learn to see and
feel vastly and universally."

~ Sri Aurobindo, Thoughts and Aphorisms

***
Previous posts in this series:


Friday, 1 November 2013

Diwali with a Modern Indian Poet and a Legendary Indian Musician

Diwali spirit continues....with a special post in the series - A Poem and A Song - VII: 
A Series to Celebrate Art in All Forms 

*****
It is actually quite amazing when you find the same thought being expressed through a picture, a poem, a song, or even a gesture.
Perhaps it happens because the thought has sunk deep into you, at least for the time being, and you just view a certain picture, read a certain poem and hear a certain song as expressions of that singular thought.
Or perhaps they really are conveying the same thought, but in different shades and hues. 
And it just so happens that when that very thought captured your attention, certain pictures, poems and songs also appeared before you allowing you to delve deeper into the thought and let it reveal its deeper essence to you.
Regardless of how it happens, it is always a moment to relish and cherish the beauty. The beauty of the picture, the song, the poem. The beauty of the experience. The beauty of the moment.

*****

An alternative title to this post could have been:

How to have an Enlightening Diwali - in Three Easy Steps


Step 1: 
Light a diya or a candle in a quiet spot.


Photo taken at my home, Diwali 2012

Step 2: 
Light up the mind with a poem titled Diwali by Vikram Seth. So what if it is a long one? But it makes you keenly aware of the anguish and conflict of a mind struggling to integrate diverse cultural influences, including those resulting from the colonial history of India, and doing all this in the backdrop of what "home" means to a heart, especially around Diwali - a festival of love, light, home, family and all such good things in life.

Three years of neurotic 
Guy Fawkes Days-I recall 
That lonely hankering- 
But I am home after all. 

Home. These walls, this sky 
Splintered with wakes of light 
These mud-lamps beaded round 
The eaves, this festive night, 

These streets, these voices...yet 
The old insensate dread, 
Abeyant as that love, 
Once more shifts in my head. 

Five? Six? generations ago 
Somewhere in the Punjab 
My father's family,farmers, 
Perhaps had a small shop 

And two generations later 
Could send a son to a school 
To gain the conqueror's 
Authoritarian seal: 

English! Six-armed god, 
Key to a job, to power, 
Snobbery, the good life, 
This separateness, this fear. 

English: beloved language 
of Jonson, Wordsworth's tongue- 
These my "meridian names" 
Whose grooves I crawl along. 

The Moghuls fought and ruled 
And settled. Even while 
They hungered for musk-melon, 
Rose, peach, nightingale, 

The land assumed their love. 
At sixty they could not 
Retire westwards. The British 
Made us the Orient. 

How could an Englishman say 
About the divan-e-khas 
"If there is heaven on earth 
It is this; it is this; it is this."? 

Macaulay the prophet of learning 
Chewed at his pen: one taste 
Of Western wisdom "surpasses 
All the books of the East," 

And Kalidas, Shankaracharya, 
Panini, Bhaskar, Kabir, 
Surdas sank, and we welcomed 
The reign of Shakespeare. 

The undigested Hobbes, 
The Mill who later ground 
(Through talk of liberty) 
The Raj out of the land ... 

O happy breed of Babus, 
I march on with your purpose; 
We will have railways, common law 
And a good postal service- 

And I twist along 
Those grooves from image to image, 
Violet, elm-tree, swan, 
Pork-pie, gable, scrimmage 

And as we title our memoirs 
"Roses in December" 
Though we all know that here 
Roses *grow* in December 

And we import songs 
Composed in the U.S 
For Vietnam (not even 
Our local horrors grip us) 

And as, over gin at the Club, 
I note that egregious member 
Strut just perceptibly more 
When with a foreigner, 

I know that the whole world 
Means exile of our breed 
Who are not home at home 
And are abroad abroad, 

Huddled in towns, while around: 
"He died last week. My boys 
Are starving. Daily we dig 
The ground for sweet potatoes." 

"The landlord's hirelings broke 
My husband's ribs-and I 
Grow blind in the smoke of the hearth." 
"Who will take care of me 

When I am old? No-one 
Is left." So it goes on, 
The cyclic shadow-play 
Under the sinister sun; 

That sun that, were there water, 
Could bless the dispirited land, 
Coaxing three crops a year 
From this same yieldless ground. 

Yet would these parched wraiths still 
Starve in their ruins, while 
"Silkworms around them grow 
Into fat cocoons?", Sad soil, 

This may as well be my home. 
Because no other nation 
Moves me thus? What of that? 
Cause for congratulation? 

This could well be my home; 
I am too used to the flavor 
Of tenous fixity; 
I have been brought to savour 

Its phases: the winter wheat- 
The flowers of Har-ki-Doon - 
The sal forests - the hills 
Inflamed with rhododendron - 

The first smell of the Rains 
On the baked earth-the peaks 
Snow-drowned in permanence-- 
The single mountain lakes. 

What if my tongue is warped? 
I need no words to gaze 
At Ajanta, those flaked caves, 
Or at the tomb of Mumtaz; 

And when an alap of Marwa 
Swims on slow flute-notes over 
The neighbours' roofs at sunset 
Wordlessly like a lover 

It holds me-till the strain 
Of exile, here or there, 
Subverts the trance, the fear 
Of fear found everywhere. 

"But freedom?" the notes would sing... 
Parole is enough. Tonight 
Below the fire-crossed sky 
Of the Festival of Light. 

Give your soul leave to feel 
What distilled peace it can; 
In lieu of joy, at least 
This lapsing anodyne. 

"The world is a bridge. Pass over it, 
Building no house upon it." 
Acceptance may come with time; 
Rest, then disquieted heart.

Step 3: 
Light up the inner being listening to Deep Ki Jyot Jale by Pandit Kumar Gandharva. After all that intellectual exercise understanding the long poem, all that one needs is a quieting down. And this soulful rendition provides just that...and more. Experience the silence!



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