December 22, 2011

Here and Hereafter...

Dedicated to Vikrant Mulay (who passed away early this morning)... RIP

This is a very humbled post. Humbled because it reminded me of the ‘temporariness’ of this body – of the ‘tangible me’.

Life is much beyond than what meets the eye. And in several dimensions... or levels as some might call it. Body is only one portion of our existence. Yet it is interesting to see how we spend our maximum energy to cater to the whims and fancies of this tangible part.

The body is just an excuse for us to reach to the higher levels of consciousness. We must learn to do all that we do keeping the higher self in hindsight. And that is Sadhana. That is where we should strive to reach. All our actions, inactions, thoughts and whatever should be directed towards self-realisation... fulfilling all our so called ‘worldly’ duties at the same time.

I want to do this, I want to do that, I feel like this, I feel like that, this makes me happy, this makes me unhappy, I have this, I do not have that...the usual grind. What is this ‘me’? What is this ‘I’? Is it really you? NO. This is just the mind – another small part of our Being. This is not the Self! How conveniently we forget that!

Our ‘Self’, our ‘Being’ is beyond all this. Transcending to that takes a lifetime. Or even more. And knowing what to do after the ‘transcending’ and then ‘doing’ it is real Self-knowledge.

Knowledge of the Self... that is what is important. And relevant. The body is here today and gone tomorrow. But the spirit lives on. The thoughts live on. Your energy lives on. And it does affect the ones around you...even after you are long gone.

Chola maati ke ram, ekar ka bharosa chola maati ke re...

So be grateful for what is there and have a blessed life! May our energies do good – as we live and after we perish.

Hari OM

December 9, 2011

Reflections: On a Sombre Note

In conversation with mySELF...

“Why are you looking so glum?”

“Glum? What glum? I am just at peace with myself. Meditating. Contemplating. Trying to ‘see’ things.”

“Interesting. Tell me more.”

“Sigh! Do I have to? Can’t I just BE???”

“Umm... NO!!!”


“So then tell me... Why are you so glum?”

“You know, sometimes when you think about it, it is not really funny the way things can turn out to be. Closer observation takes you to another dimension and you can feel your own connection to it all – while on the periphery it might not seem to be so. And when does that become disturbing? When you start feeling that you actually have a role in it; while you may not.”

“Aha! So what about it?”

“Hey wait. I am not talking about the ‘seen’. I am speaking on the ethereal level and the connect it makes to the tangible. Have you ever felt the choke in your throat? It is more in your mind than in your throat. Get the point?”

“Yeah, cut the crap. I got the point long before you did.”

“The past few weeks have been an array of experiences – ‘new’ experiences – taking me more inward.”
(Gosh! I am out of words... can’t even express clearly!)

“Hm-hmm... go on.”


“Need help?”

“Hmm (affirmation)


(Ahh! That just melted me away.... Now what was I thinking about?)

“You were saying...”

“Ah yes! I was worried over whether my thoughts would become contentious. So was trying to choose words. But I soon realised that it was a futile attempt.”

“At the ‘ethereal’ level... yes!”
(Smile again)

(Grin) “Okay you got me! I was actually trying to figure out the ‘connect’ between people, events, me and ‘the purpose’. I have been working on things I have never done before, met people (of the kind) I have never met before, planning things I have never thought I would ever do, looking at people and events in a way I never did before... It has all happened in just about the past few weeks. Is that why I am feeling a little upstart and gloomy at the same time? Do you think I am yet to digest this all new experience?”

“And WHY would you want to digest it?”

(Silence... this was not anticipated)

“Well... for clarity... ... ... maybe!”

“And? Then what?”

“And... then...?” (Silence... digging deeper)

“Why don’t you just let it be. And relax in your own Self. Digestion happens on its own course. Not by your wishes.  
Be steady. Unfluttered. Sthitapragya...!”

(Question mark)

(Smile) “Don’t you see the obvious? Look at me. I experience everything that you do. And yet I am at peace. And that is why I am clear. When there are ripples in the water, you cannot see anything. But when the water is calm... you need no further explanation.
The mind is very tricky. It needs to be trained to be focused and calm. Again and again and again...”

(Aha! So that was it? I was drowning myself in the ripples of the water?)

(Still smiling) “Everything has its course. But when you are calm and steady you can see your path too. And you can avoid drowning” (Wink)... (Laughter)

(Broad smile) “Ya I get you now. You are the real true Self. Untouched. Unfettered. Ever-joyful. Beyond all boundaries – ‘real’ and ‘ethereal’... hahaha!
But then what stops me from being you...?”

... to be continued

November 9, 2011

Stories of the Jungle – I: Morning Walk in SGNP

I intend to write a series on my jungle adventures... let’s see how it goes.

Fresh in the memory is the SGNP (short for Sanjay Gandhi National Park) located close to my house and probably the only forest I’ve been to in the recent years. Also, the photos of this place are in digital format and handy. So I’ll begin here. The real jungle stories will take some memory digs and time. So those will come later.

SGNP is the place where I go for my morning walks (sometimes ;)). Sonali, my good ol' buddy and partner-in-walk has been kind enough and consistent in waking me up early to experience these ‘good times’. All my morning visits to SGNP are attributed to her.

One walk in the woods and it tells you volumes – about the flora and fauna of course, but also about people, the trends, habits of the junta, the age miracles (and the age gaps!) to mention a few. SGNP has long been a favourite morning walk place for thousands of Mumbaikars. It’s within the city and so away from it... the gate of SGNP at Borivali is one of the busiest and noisiest places even at 6 AM. But a few feet inside and the world changes! 

This is what it looks like...

The soft morning light through the thicket of the trees gives it a heavenly feel. And makes you pat your back for coming there in the first place. Of course, walkers usually miss out on the aesthetics and concentrate on the ‘walk’ but I guess its OK to stop once in a while to simply appreciate the nature around and drown in it.

The scene is even more heavenly during the monsoons. Here’s a look...

It’s criminal to even think of not wanting to be here... or not like this place for that matter. There are several reasons though why you would not like this place. It is crowded, for one, especially towards the entrance. And noisy, too! It is appalling to walk past people playing music loudly on their mobile phones. God! Why can’t they use earphones?

It is interesting, however, to see the range of what people listen to while on their walk. The audio devices play everything right from the jumpy Bollywood numbers to the really old Hindi songs to the Angrezi beats for the new blood and even the news. But a young man, probably in his mid-30s, listening to Narendra Modi’s talk was by far the best. Yes, listening to Modi’s talks can be inspiring, but on the morning walk... was amusing, though I appreciate it.

Another noisy lot are the college students who run a havoc to the point of ‘sustained irritation’. But there is no telling them. The cleaners occassionally yell at them but it all falls on deaf ears. And then there are the romantic spots for the newly-in-love couples. Hardly any cover there but it provides more privacy than the main roads albeit marginally.

The lovely canopy near the safari office was home to some really lovely birds till a few months ago. Was? Yes, unfortunately. The SGNP establishment has now put up tents there to encourage people to come and spend some time in the forest, learn and etcetera. This may be a good idea but it has driven away the birds. And the deer too! Yes, even the deer are not to be seen anywhere. How we miss them!

The most hated part of the SGNP is the lion and tiger safari – pathetic to no end! An old, sick white tiger is the first one we see. It is clear in one look that our presence is not appreciated in the wilderness at all. And basically, this is not a natural habitat for a white tiger. So you can’t really expect the poor white tiger to be ‘happy’ and ‘content’.

Next door is a tigress with two cubs. Pity overflowing... the cubs shall be given ready food. No hunting, no choice of meat, nothing. A few feet ahead are Mr. and Mrs. Lion - the male doesn’t care to come out of his enclosure while the female shows up with an angry growl, every cell of her body desisting human presence.

To add to their woes, the big cats are confined to their cages and ...uhh... rooms! There is a sense of deep anger that emerges towards the parents of those kids who yell like hell when they see the cats.  

Okay I am depressed now. Hope tomorrow’s walk with bring some good feel. I think I’ll just stick to the trees and the insects and caterpillars and the likewise. Big cats make me sad.

As for you, my friend, keep looking up this space for more jungle stories... Adios!

October 14, 2011

Statements, Backlashes and Damage Control

Brood. Brag. Brash. In national interest...

Indians love to talk. And they love to have an opinion on anything and everything. Now since everybody has an opinion and everyone likes to be right, the talk is not always taken in well by all. It need not be. Just a minute... there are opinions on this too, because everyone also has a right to react! Kuch log baaton se react karte hain... kuch log laathon se... (I sense you are getting my hint ;))

Day in and day out people make public statements, often at the cost of another, with a menial aim to malign or attempt to sabotage efforts by another, whatever they may be. We know of people who have been the ‘statement givers’ lately and from all sides of the coin (yes the coin does not have only two sides... we should go back to the stone age where pebbles were used for coins... they make a better metaphor giving endless dimensions to everything, which as a matter of fact, is true).

Any observer would notice that these statement givers are part of a larger ‘team’ or ‘group’ whose ideals and core are symbols of something else altogether. They have known to cause more damage and severe dents to what the group stands for. Here we need to keep in mind that the ‘group’ refers to ‘any’ group – political, non-political, anti-political, socialist, anti-socialist, pessimist... so on and so forth. We can leave aside religious groups since they are naturally marred by controversy and give rise to other groups who call themselves ‘above’ religion but still have strong religious undertones.

Religiosity (or the non- of it) is congruent with the very existence of the homo sapiens species of creation. Ya, ya, there can be many arguments over the opinions that exist on this. But I don’t see the logic how one can deny religion not being the basis for one’s choice of religion, atheism and even spiritualism. Ok, enough of digression. We’ll discuss that in a later post.

Coming back to statements, we love them dramatised and in true Bollywood ishtyle. And then there are the reactions... of all imaginable kinds – from soft and harsh words to gaalis in the ascending order up to even murder. And that is not the end of it. ‘Reaction’ is not singular. It is a series of actions and reactions and further statements and further reactions till we reach a tipping point. This is the ‘damage control’ mode.

This is the most destructive mode of all. What the statements and backlashes don’t do, the damage control does... or recently has shown to be doing. It further dents the image and dilutes the issue redeeming it irrelevant and dissipated. The focus shifts on something else. Maybe that was the purpose in the first place. And then, maybe not. But this mode is by far the most time consuming and energy consuming... much more than the other two put together and doubled. Also in the futile attempts to clarify that follow, more things are given a place and a ladder – more statements, controversies, team-breaks, speculations and mass judgements. Has the damage been done yet?

Utterly spicy and entertaining, these things however, raise sharp questions on convictions, the conflict of individual perceptions and what the others would like to hear, the fight for singular supremacy  and above all the sheer degradation of respect for values and the inability to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is not. No doubt it is a Herculean task (or maybe more) to keep a group consistently motivated, enthusiastic and on the same platform. Higher the stakes, higher the level of difficulty.

But we Indians love to talk. Talk out our mind ‘as it is’. Welcome to the circus... we are always in town!

October 3, 2011

Two of the Shiva trilogy...

(A brief review of the The Immortals of Meluha and Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi)

It was after a long time that I read a book cover-to-cover in one sitting (well almost)! The last one I read was the Devi Bhagvatam – absolutely fascinating to the core... what I got from that book will probably never be written on this blog, rather, it can’t be written. And before anything else, there is no comparison whatsoever between Amish’s books and the Devi Bhagvatam. Please... get that straight.

That said, let’s come back to the two books that caught my fancy in terms of devoted time – The Immortals of Meluha and Secret of the Nagas – both authored by Amish Tripathi.

For a quick introduction, the Shiva trilogy is a work of fiction with Indian mythological characters and philosophy as its base.  Needless to say Shiva is the central character depicted as a raw, ruthless tribal who comes to realise his ‘godhood’ as events unfurl in his life. The author has also tried to bring in a contemporary relevance to the entire thing and there are parts where you can relate to current issues irrespective of whether or not the author intended to do that in the first place.

The language is essentially ‘everyday’ and doesn’t evoke a sense of the literary pleasures of reading. But still you can’t put it down till you are done with it. Maybe that’s the beauty of it. It flows effortlessly and you can read fast! So what was it about the books that made me read them without putting them down??

Firstly, they are all Shiva and I am an ardent ‘fan’ of Shiva – the Shiv tatva, the Shiva energy, the Shiva bearing or whatever other names we may have. Now don’t ask me to explain what that means... I can’t. And I won’t elaborate further on this.

Secondly, the author has beautifully hinted upon historical events and placed them in a fashion that can still be related to. Even the names of his characters and geographical locations find a base in our historical setting. Though the plot is fictitious, this resemblance simply reflects the author’s intensive homework... right from the Kailash Parbat and Mansarovar to the Indus Valley civilisation (which is also known as Meluha) to Kashi, Ayodhya, Bengal, Magadh, Dandakaranya and Panchvati. His description of these places somewhere poked me about them being present situations too. For example, the book mentions areas like Magadh, parts of Bengal and Orissa as being infected with plague with generation after generation battling the epidemic. What I read and later found out was that the Magadh region (which geographically denotes present day Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and a little from Bengal and Orissa) even today has alarming levels of plague, malaria and dengue... to the level of epidemic.

His depiction of different kinds of society, outlooks, perspectives, concepts of good and evil, god and human, etc. somewhere seemed to make sense in my understanding of social and political situations. The book is not an antidote and does not provide solutions but it gave a fresh perspective on what a section of our society would think like.

Specifically, I loved the way he has portrayed Sati, Shiva’s wife and his relationship with her – of mutual respect and love. She is a daring woman, highly dignified, brave and intelligent warrior, a good student and most importantly one who does not compromise on her self-esteem. And yes... she upholds Shiva’s respect to the helm and is ready to take on the world for him. And so does he! Shiva is himself unabashed, uncouth to an extent, smokes grass and gives an impression of being ‘cool’ and ‘chilled’. He has his own inner demons and a troubled past that he is unable to let go of. But what is striking of him is his compelling search for his inner soul, trying to make sense of his ‘purpose’, the love for his wife and child, his ability to see through things, give an entire new meaning to his ‘purpose’ and his sincere attempts to live up to the title bestowed upon him – the Neelkanth.

Though the book goes all good-good and win-win for Shiva (which pulls it down from being a collector’s item), it lightly touches upon issues of caste, untouchability, dirty politics, geographical identity divide, unjust rules to mention a few. His depiction of the societal laws, the need to revise them as per the time and conditions, constantly look out for the larger good all seem to make sense but do not provide any solutions. They tend to get lost in philosophy. Not that the book is expected to provide solutions; its purpose is entertainment. But what I’d like to see more in the third part is the demons in Shiva’s mind and his past which seems to be relevant to his present condition.

Waiting for the third in series – Oath of the Vayuputras...

Best Always!

The First Post

Though I have been contemplating writing (seriously) for a long time now, the idea never saw the light of the day. I began writing but never completed what I undertook. So now I have a compilation of incomplete works which I now propose to bring to life by reworking and completing them or junking them if no longer relevant.

I thought hard on what my first piece should be and a flurry of topics came to my mind but not one was convincing enough to fill the top slot. Finally I thought it is best to go back to the source – the Shakti, the infinity from where I arise, from where this Srishti arises and dissolves back into. To write about Shakti is probably beyond my reach and comprehension but what I present here is how I have seen her manifest and understood little about.

Caution: This is my FIRST attempt at poetry and I have failed miserably each time I tried to express through poetry before this. So, just get the feel and the intention and ignore the technical aspects. Thank you.

Shakti you are, manifest everywhere
Durga here and Kali there
Lakshmi, Saraswati and still many other
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!

You are the life in the air I breathe
You are the light on the path I tread
You are the Master, the father, the brother
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!

You are the song my soul so rhymes
Gives me the strength to stand tough times
You are the One, naught any other
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!

You are the divine in Shri Guru’s feet
Where the essence of you and my being meet
Making me realise you are not another
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!