Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From ‘Strands of Eternity’ by Vasant Lad



Pay attention as you walk,
as you listen, as you speak.
Each time the fear comes as a rushing automatic act,
let it move slower.

See the gap between two fears,
then fear yields into awareness itself.

Emotional Purification

According to Ayurveda,
the ancient science of self-knowledge,
the emotional body can be purified
by the same methods
which purify the physical body.

Srotomukha vishodhanam is cleansing the passages
through which emotions flow.
If there is fear, anxiety, anger – surrender to it.
That letting go opens the channels of circulation.
Then the emotion can move freely.

Vrudhi means to increase the impurity.
On the psychological level,
the emotions must be provoked
before they can be released.
Encourage crying, see a sad movie,
do anger release work.
This gets the emotion moving,
but doesn’t end it for good.

Abhisyandhan is de-crystalization
or liquefaction of emotion.
It makes the emotion as a fluid
just as salt or sugar melts in the sun.

This can be done with deep tissue work,
vigorous massage
or by reclining the body in a gentle easy posture -
this will help your emotions become liquid.


To ripen your emotions, bring your total awareness
to your feelings.
The memory of an insult is lodged in your mind -
bring complete awareness to it
and you will no longer be attached to it.
Stay with your grief with total awareness

The flame of awareness will cook your grief
and like a dry leaf it drops to the ground.
Stay near your feelings. Stay near God.

Fast from food. Fast from talking.
Allow the emotion to ripen.
Allow your grief and anger to flower and they will die
their own natural death.
Suppress them and they will fight for their existence.

Deepan means to enkindle the flame of awareness.
Stay in the stops between your breath.
Stay in the gap between your thoughts.
Meditation is the medium through which
the flame of awareness in enkindled.



Your mind is caught in a traffic jam,
bumper to bumper with thoughts


Mind makes you sad.
Mind makes you fearful.
Mind makes you happy.
The servant has become the master.


Just as there is a space between
the clouds in the sky,
there is a space between your thoughts.
This space is the doorway to the divine.


Breathe consciously with total awareness.
Slow down your breathing
until you can see a little space -
a gap.

That gap is most important.
Remain in that gap. It will get wider.
Dive into that space. Dive into the inner abyss.


You are simply watching the breath.
It goes in and comes out.
And there is a stop behind the belly button.
Stay in that stop for a fraction of a second.


Like a breeze meditation comes to you.
The sunlight is always there,
you only need to open the door.

Do not expect anything from meditation.
Just sit casually and watch your breath,
stay in the stop.
Soon that stop will stay with you.
When you walk, God walks with you.
And you are walking in God.

The End of Knowledge


Perception which is learned phenomenon
is knowledge.
Perception which is pure phenomenon
is intelligence.
Unless you renounce knowledge
you cannot attain intelligence.


Simply observe through
intuition and inner awareness.
This is samadhi in action.
Apply your whole awareness to an object
and gain direct knowledge of that object
This is samyama.
Let your daily operating awareness be your bible.

Friday, December 17, 2010

From ‘Along the Path of Music’ by Prabha Atrre

Text from the book interspersed with videos from youtube. See

It is common to being a new disciple’s training with raag Yaman. Yaman is like a vast ocean whose limits are beyond sight.…………… Yaman – one of the main raags having all the seven notes – straight, simple, ascending and descending

[Raag Yaman is traditionally sung during the first quarter of the night (Pratham Prahar). From See
For Kishori Amonkar’s rendition ]

Hirabai Badodekar………. Blessed are those who have heard it. Hirabai’s khyal presentation was marked by a peaceful elaboration of the raag developed through aalaap note-by-note, a fluent and clear rendering of taans and an appropriate amount of stress on rhythm with neatly sung sthaai and antaraa.

Hirabai’s singing was ascetic, not romantic. Her music did not sing of romantic love, but rather that of divine love…….

Amir Khan ………. The gaayaki of Kirana gharaanaa is, no doubt, comparatively confined to the middle (madhya) and the higher (taar) octaves, whereas Khansaheb’s gaayaki dwells mostly on the lower (kharj) octave. The terrain of the lower octave notes is, on the whole, somewhat dry and rough. But Khansaheb had made the kharj so smooth like velvety green grass …………… That is why his gaayaki has acquired a three-dimensional form ……….. Deep, soul-searching, introspective, impressive, aristocratic, superlative – these are the many epithets that can be applied to his music …….. had a mystic touch, a resonance (jawaari) ……… Sitting on the stage, Khansaheb’s figure looked like that of a seer of music in deep meditation – calm, seemingly detached from the audience with no body-movement and hardly any flourishes of the hand

Khansaheb’s singing was not what dazzled suddenly. It's hypnotic effect would spread very slowly. One reason why it was so is that his singing was not aggressive and flashy. There was a total surrender, a meditative trance. Khansaheb is one artist who indulged in deep thought, had an artistic vision, carefully preserved the eternal value of music and never ran after popularity or fame.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan ………… “Kaa karun sajani …….. ”……… That was my first introduction to Khansaheb and his music.

His music had cast a spell on me

Khansaheb’s voice is actually quite masculine, full of weight and expansive; at the same time soft like butter, tender, delicate, fluid, wide ranged; on the whole commanding.

Khansaheb had an extraordinary creativity. One could never predict how he would suddenly slide from one note to another………. Even after half an hour of elaboration he would come up with something ‘new’. To experience that one has to listen to his Pahadi or Sindhubhairavi.

One was always amazed how such delicate notes could emerge from such a massive physique.

Kirana artists have voices that are thin, sharp and high-pitched. But Bhimsenji’s [Bhimsen Joshi] voice is quite the opposite – broad, dense, wide ranging, capable of prolonged spans. And yet it can lay claim to sweetness and melodiousness – the benchmark of the Kirana gharaanaa. Variation in tone is an asset of Bhimsenji’s voice that adds to the enjoyment of this music. When he elongates the taar shadj or weaves a taan in taar saptak in a low tone, it is a source of unique pleasure and invariably elicits spontaneous applause.

Everybody cannot sing thumri because it demands certain versatility in voice modulation, a sensuous emotional expression, suitable temperament and imagination.

[ ]

I am very happy that my very first composition in raag Maaru Bihaag ‘Jaagoo main saari raina …….’ Has been immensely popular and when one talks about Maaru Bihaag they refer to my recording.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ted Talks: Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success - # 2

Truly is it only Bhutan that is concerned about the happiness of its citizens. Shouldnt we be dropping the philosophy of winners v/s losers and adopting more compassionate models of society. Yet another Americanism that should be junked

The talk is not wildly impressive but nevertheless talks a lot of sense

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ted Talks: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? - # 1

What a nice talk! Great understated British (?) humour and a terrific viewing experience.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

‘A Cabinet Secretary looks back. From Poona to the Prime Minister's office’ by B. G. Deshmukh

……… 1962 ………. We were advised to always carry loose cash while travelling by car in New York and offer a $ 5 note to any traffic policeman who stopped us as the New York state police were notorious and corrupt.

We found that the American people were mostly self-centred and inward-looking. They were not concerned about the outside world but only their own town or at most their state capital. By Indian standards their knowledge of the history, economics, and politics of foreign countries was poor.

………. Wankhede Stadium for cricket……… It is said that one rather unflattering remark about Marathi-speaking people made by the president of the Cricket Club of India (CCI) so annoyed Wankhede, who was then the president of the Bombay Cricket Association (BCA), that he decided to have BCA’s own stadium ………. Instead of …… Brabourne Stadium of the CCI. Chief Minister Naik fully supported him, as once he was also reportedly not treated well in the CCI.

……….. I also noticed a curious phenomenon. Many people used to come from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to work. In the beginning one or two men would come alone. Later the would call all their male relatives who would then be followed by the family members. In one case I found that literally a whole village population had shifted from Uttar Pradesh. I noticed that politicians always interfered with the demolition of hutments because they treated them as their vote banks.

But in the ten years between 1977 and 1986, the chief minister changed six times. This political instability naturally affected the quality of governance. To add to it, Antulay played favourites and also bent government machinery to what he wanted to do or undo. The result was there for all to see. Maharashtra administration, which had been known for it's honesty, integrity and efficiency, was badly shaken and infected with the malaise usually seen in some of the northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Rajiv Gandhi ……… could not master his party’s political machinery and mould it in his own way. No doubt Rajiv Gandhi did try, as exemplified by his famous speech in Bombay in January 1986 at the centenary celebrations of the Indian National Congress, when he warned the powerbrokers in the party to behave or move out of the way. But the party machine was too strong for him.

The two factors that hurt him [Rajiv Gandhi] most were soft communalism and corruption.

The genesis of the Bofors affair lies in the practice initiated by Indira Gandhi and further refined by her son Sanjay for collecting funds for the Congress Party ………. Till the middle of the 1960s, during the regime of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, collection of funds for the party was a more transparent business ……….. Collection of funds for one’s party was then not a highly competitive and corrosive practice corrupting the whole social, economic and political fabric as happened later.

B. K. Nehru writes (page 582 of his autobiography)

The day after the funeral I asked Rajiv whether the money Sanjay had collected allegedly for the Congress was safe. He said all they found in the almirah of the Congress office was Rs 20 lakhs. I asked how much Sanjay had collected. He held his head in his hands and said ‘crores and uncounted crores’.

…….. I can say without any hesitation that neither Rajiv Gandhi nor any member of his family received any amount in the Bofors case. Though his personal integrity was beyond doubt, there was strong circumstantial evidence that he knew the names of the recipients but was reluctant to expose them, maybe because they were of the Congress party or close relations or friends of the family …………. I have no doubt at all that after a few more years of experience in politics he would have put his foot down and exposed and punished those guilty of such misdeeds, even if it was his own party or relation or friend……

I have always felt sorry for Zail Singh. I think he was basically a good man but started having ideas about his importance after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The sycophants around Rajiv Gandhi also unnecessarily raised the pitch ………

[Rajiv Gandhi] …….. was not a very lucky prime minister……… If he had been luckier he would have survived these adverse happenings, as happened in the case of many leaders who were infinitely worse than him but were luckier. If he had not been assassinated, he would have certainly come back to govern the country as a mellowed and mature leader and a better judge of men and events.
His years as prime minister should be judged and surveyed with more sympathy and understanding.

Devi Lal should have remained a district-level politician or, at most, a state-level politician; he was not only a disaster at the national level but turned out to be a destructive force also ……… Favour-seeking officers flocked to him, which aggravated the situation…….. Devi Lal was completely uncouth, used vulgar language uttering the choicest abuses in his mother tongue, Haryanvi.

Vishwanath Pratap Singh ……… was in the habit of adopting causes with missionary zeal some times bordering on mania, and one such cause was his drive to cleanse political life. He could have received widespread support for this if only personal vendetta and ambition were not mixed with it …….. he picked on Rajiv Gandhi as a target and his campaign against him appeared like a personal vendetta……….. St Kitts affair ….was a shameless political act by the previous Congress government to involve him and his son in a shady deal purely for political gains and that too in a most dishonourable way. But he was not vindictive ……… He took extra care that no centre of power …. Developed during his prime ministership …….. what a fine private person he is. I have read some of his poetry and seen two exhibitions of his paintings…..that reveal his sensitivity

Chandrashekhar …….. All the senior officers were highly impressed by his unfailing courtesy ………. As a private person he is a fine man. But some sort of bitterness has crept into his personality. He does not trust people easily and is always on his guard. He feels that senior bureaucrats and well-to-do people look down upon him, perhaps because of his earlier years when he had to struggle against adverse circumstances ……… He wanted to leave his mark in Indian history and be a good prime minister whom people would remember afterwards with pride and affection. …… as a private person he is a gem of a man. However, in his ambition to become prime minister he turned into a typical Indian politician. This made his prime ministership a failure ………

The Sri Lankan affair also created and nurtured a cult of violence in Tamil Nadu. The central government conducted training camps for Sri Lankan militants and liberally equipped them with arms. The state government gave them all help and full freedom …… The militants defiantly imported arms from outside which resulted in their free availability throughout Tamil Nadu. Local youth were attracted to the culture of violence ……… As a result it slowly spread into the adjoining states in southern India …….. This was a heavy price to pay for encouraging and harbouring Sri Lankan militants

Friday, November 5, 2010

From ‘Only love is real. The story of soulmates reunited’. By Dr. Brian Weiss

“My patients tell me the the soul does not enter the body right away. Around the time of conception, a reservation is made by the soul. No other soul can have that body. The soul who has reserved that particular baby’s body can then come into and out of the body, as it wishes ………….. During pregnancy, the soul is gradually more and more attached to the baby’s body ……… but the attachment is not complete until around the time of birth, either shortly before, during, or just afterward. ……… I have had cases where the same soul, after a miscarriage or abortion, comes back to the same parents in their next baby.”

“As the vibrational energy of spirit is slowed down so that more dense environments such as your three-dimensional plane can be experienced, the effect is for spirit to be crystallized and transformed into denser and denser bodies. The densest of all is the physical state. The vibrational rate is the slowest. Time appears faster in this state because it is inversely related to the vibrational rate. As the vibrational rate is increased, time slows down. This is how there can be difficulty in choosing the right body, the right time of re-entry into the physical state. Because of the disparity of time, the opportunity might be missed ….. There are many levels of consciousness, many vibrational states ……….. Humans always think of themselves as the only beings. This is not the case. There are many worlds and many dimensions ……. ” ……. Elizabeth stopped speaking

“The past must be remembered and then forgotten. Let it go. This is true for childhood traumas and past-life traumas. But this is also true for attitudes, misconceptions, belief systems drummed into you …….. How can you see freshly and clearly with all those thoughts? What if you needed to learn something new? With a fresh perspective?

Thoughts create the illusion of separateness and difference. Ego perpetuates this illusion, and this illusion creates fear, anxiety, and tremendous grief. Fear, anxiety, and grief in turn create anger and violence ……….. Stop thinking. Instead, use your intuitive wisdom to experience love again. Meditate. See that everything is interconnected and interdependent. See the unity, not the differences. See your true self. See God.

…………. You have lived in many bodies and in many times. So ask your present self why it is so fearful. Why are you afraid to take reasonable risks? ………..What’s to lose? What is the worst that can happen? Am I content to live the rest of my life this way?

……… Get out of the rut. Remember to hope.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

From ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’ by Dr. Brian Weiss

THE BUDDHISTS HAVE AN EXPRESSION: “Don’t push the river. It will travel at it’s own speed anyway.”

“I’m an only child. They [the parents] didn’t have time to neglect more than one.”

……progression into the future can help us decide which path to take …………… In my group progressions ………. I try to take the attendees to tree stops on the journey to the future: one hundred years, five hundred years, and one thousand years from now ………

What have we found?

• In one hundred years or eve two hundred years the world will be pretty much the same as it is now. There have been natural and man-made calamities, tragedies, and disasters, but not on a global level. There are more toxins, more crowding, more pollution ………….

• After this period – it could be as near as three hundred years or as far away as six hundred – there will begin a second Dark Ages ………we see a vastly diminished population ……….

Some of us won’t reincarnate in that time. Our consciousness may have changed enough so that we’ll be watching from another place, from another dimension ………. some of us may reincarnate in other dimensions or worlds ……….

• And then the idyllic, fertile, peaceful land ……….. we will get to a place on this world so like the other side that bridging them will be easy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From ‘India in Mind’ Edited by Pankaj Mishra

It is better to go to the villages of a strange land before trying to understand its towns, above all in a complex place like India. Now, after travelling some eight thousand miles around the country, I know approximately as little as I did on my first arrival. However, I’ve seen a lot of people and places, and at least I have a somewhat more detailed and precise idea of my ignorance than I did in the beginning.

The two religious systems are antipodal. Fortunately the constant association with the mild and tolerant Hindus has made the Moslems of India far more understanding and tractable than their brothers in Islamic countries further west; there is much less actual friction than one might be led to expect

A professor from Ranikhet in north India……….Among the many questions I put to him was one concerning the reason why so many of the Hindu temples in south India prohibit entry to non-Hindus, and why they have military guards at the entrances. I imagined I knew the answer in advance: fear of Moslem disturbances. Not at all, he said. The principal purpose was to keep out certain Christian missionaries. I expressed disbelief.

“Of course,” he insisted. “They come and jeer during our rituals, ridicule our sacred images.”

“But even if they were stupid enough to want to do such things,” I objected, “their sense of decorum would keep them from behaving like that.”

He merely laughed. “Obviously you don’t know them.”

- Paul Bowles

This is invariably the case in the East; a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes.

- George Orwell

He was covered with the usual white rages: while around him, along that street on the periphery (if periphery and center have any meaning for Indian cities), the usual lugubrious misery, the usual shops little more than boxes, the usual little homes in ruins, the usual high stench which smothers breathing. That smell of poor food and of corpses which in India is like a continuous powerful air current that gives one a kind of fever. And that odor which, little by little, becomes an almost living physical entity, seems to interrupt the normal course of life in the body of the Indians. Its breath, attacking those little bodies covered in their light and filthy linen, seems to corrode them, forcing itself to sprout, to reach a human embodiment………..Every Indian is a beggar: even he who does not do it for a profession, if the occasion presents itself will not flinch from trying to extend his hand.

Whatever the Indian middle class is I have seen it above all in Africa, in Kenya, where there are some tens of thousands of Indians (brought there by the English to construct the railroad when the Africans were still unusable), who have become the lower middle class of the place. They have become completely washed-out. Unsympathetic to the Africans, they cultivate this family gentility around the shop which gives them the ease or even a little wealth to do so: while underneath lingers the pain of not yet being Europeans

………with turbans wound round the most beautiful hair, black and wavy, in the world ……….

Now, all the Indians are minute, thin, with the little bodies of children: they are wonderful until twenty years old, gracious and full of pathos afterwards

- Pier Paolo Passolini (1961)

Friday, October 15, 2010

From ‘A Yankee and the Swamis. A Westerner's view of the Ramakrishna Order’ by John Yale (Swami Vidyatmananda)

Anybody brought up to the reassurance of trousers at first feels exposed, undressed in a dhoti. The material is light in weight, and the garment is open to updrafts and likely to fly apart past the knee with each step. But I found a great joy in wearing ‘the cloth’. I admire its simplicity and cleanliness. One washes his clothes every day, just as he bathes every day. Being merely a long piece of yardage, the dhoti can be easily dried in the sun. It dries without a wrinkle, as though ironed. If you want it to look especially nice you may fold it precisely and place it beneath your mattress for further pressing. Putting on your dhoti each day is like wrapping yourself up in fresh air and sunlight.

I do not believe Indians go on pilgrimages with the idea of doing penance. The notions of sin and atonement do not seem to be motives in Hinduism……….I think, the main reason is different…..a reason that one cannot grasp unless he has a conception of the Hindu science of ‘vibrations’………..Different minds have different powers of projection and reception, depending on their relative quality of concentration. Mental atmosphere is thus believed to be transferable from mind to mind. The condition of another will affect me when I am in his presence and my state will affect him. These subtle vibrations are also thought to permeate and remain in gross material objects. You leave a trace of yourself in everything you have had contact with: a piece of work you have done; some article of clothing you have worn; the remainder of food on your plate………One needs to grasp this Hindu science of subtle vibrations if he would hope to understand much of Indian social practice. For example, the unfamiliar notions of darshan and prasad become logical on the basis of this idea……. ‘Darshan in practice is a form of happiness induced among Hindus by being in the presence of some great manifestation of their collective consciousness. It may be a person, place or thing, and may represent past, present or future, so long as it sets up the definite recognizable glow of suprapersonal happiness.’ This is needlessly complex. All we need to say is that darshan is getting good vibrations by being in the presence of them…………….taking Prasad is the same thing carried a step further…..Prasad is an actual relic of someone, which one accommodates to himself, with the object thus of absorbing its vibrations…….Food is considered especially conductive of vibrations. Enjoying food left by an impure person or prepared by a cook whose mind is unclean can affect one adversely, while eating the remainder of food touched by a holy man is believed to be very helpful

Thus, when an Indian goes on a pilgrimage, what he is really trying to do usually is to gather up holy vibrations…….The object of veneration in a temple is believed to be charged with good vibrations. Holy men who have worshipped it have left a residue of holiness……..A sacred place accumulates good vibrations.

……….In the Bhagavad-Gita there is the promise: ‘Howsoever you conceive of Me, if you really desire Me, I will come to you in accordance with your conception.’ Once designated as holy, an object of veneration will thus have the tendency actually to increase in holiness and to become holy. I set up some representation of divinity, I channel my longing, my devotion for God into and through it. Others come and do the same. Holy men also worship there. Vibrations build up and a genuine place of sanctity is established. In time the accumulation of earnest entreaty may even induce the Reality which is being celebrated there to infuse itself fully into the representation. Then the phenomenon appears of what is known as an awakened deity. (Yes, the word deity is used even for a lingam, a natural formation, a holy tree.)……….Most places of national pilgrimage are places where the deity is considered to be awakened.

……..Shaivism as the path of renunciation, austerity. Shaivism teaches the control and sublimation of our humannesses. It is an approach to god though emphasis on the impersonal…………..Vaishnavism stresses the personal, the intimate, and uses these to take us to God………..Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘A man born with an element of Shiva becomes a jnani; his mind is always inclined to the feeling that the world is unreal and Brahman alone is real. But when a man is born with an element of Vishnu he develops an ecstatic love of God. That love can never be destroyed. It may wane a little now and then, when he indulges in philosophical reasoning, but it ultimately returns to him increased a thousand-fold’

……They will ask you all sorts of details about your family, what the original cost was of possessions you have, the state of your digestive tract. But there is nothing insinuating in any of this. The questions are put without guile, innocently as a child would do. You cannot take offence……..I was brought up in the belief that the mark of a gentleman is his ability to keep confidences. But very little is kept a secret by Indians. All news is common property, as in a home.

It has been said laughingly that to the American it doesn’t matter whether something is pure, just so that it is clean; whereas to the Indian if something is pure that makes it clean.

………..eating in hotels and restaurants is rarely done by monastics because of the unhelpful influences likely to reside in the food. Food not prepared with devotion…………devised impersonally for making money by people with their minds full of gross thoughts – can adversely influence your spiritual growth……..Sri Ramakrishna could not even keep on the storage shelf in his room food gifts brought by visitors who were lustful, avaricious, or hopeful of getting some advantage as a result of their devotions.

…..a salagram stone…….just a smooth pebble about the size of a plum, black in colour, with a hole in it, and bearing some white markings. Salagram are natural formations………Sri Ramakrishna, remarking on he fact that the whole world is nothing but materialized spirit, pointed out that God manifests himself, however, more in certain things than in others. The salagram is one of these………..

Sri Ramakrishna compared holy places to bodies of water. ‘You may be sure,’ he said, ‘that there is God’s manifestation in those spots where people have practiced spiritual disciplines a great deal.’………….Yet from another standpoint Sri Ramakrishna made light of pilgrimages. He often said, ‘One who has it here [in the heart] has it there; one who has it not here has it nowhere.’ In other words, if devotion is unfolding, the process will be enhanced by association with holy places; but if it is not, no amount of traipsing about to temples and shrines will do much good

Benaras………..So many of India’s saints have journeyed there to walk in its streets and bathe from its ghats…….that the whole place is alight with faith…….Sri Ramakrishna…….spoke of the city as hardly material at all, but rather as composed of pure sattwa guna, of purity and truth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From ‘Om. An Indian Pilgrimage’ by Geoffrey Moorhouse

And do thy duty, even if it be humble, rather than another’s, even if it be great. To die in one’s duty is life: to live in another’s is death


No other nation has even known such a natural diversity of tongues, the result, for the most part, of slow evolution since the beginning of mankind. No other country has lived with so complicated a past so equably, assimilating everything that has happened to it, obliterating naught, so that not even the intricate histories of European states have produced such a rich pattern as that bequeathed by the Mauryas, the Ashokas, the Pahlavas, the Guptas, the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, the Pandyas, the Cholas, the Mughals and the British – to identify only a few of the peoples who have shaped India’s inheritance. Nor is there another land that constantly provokes in the stranger such elation and despair, so much affection and anger, by powerful contrasts and irreducible opposites of behavior: wickedness and virtue, caring and indifference, things bewitching and disgusting and terrifying and disarming, often in quick succession. India has nuclear power and other advanced technology close by some of the most obscene slums in creation; she has never failed to hold democratic elections at the appointed time, yet these too frequently elevate men whose own votes can be bought with rupees and other emoluments, she has a high and mighty self-esteem and a taste for moral posturing which equals anything suffered by her people when the British were here; she has been capable of unparalleled generosity to her last imperial rulers, but she bickers endlessly and meanly with her closest neighbor and twin; she gave birth to the creed of massive non-violent protest and once practiced this effectively, yet in the first generation of independence she has assassinated three of her own leaders, starting with the begetter of satyagraha….. Such contradictions and anomalies as these run through India from end to end, and help to make her incomparable.

As does another characteristic. Religion, too, flourishes here as it does nowhere else. Other lands may surrender themselves totally to a particular faith, but in India most creeds are deeply rooted and acknowledged fervently. Virtually the whole population practices some form of devotion: the Indian without the slightest feeling for the divine, without a spiritual dimension to his life, is exceedingly rare.

Plenty of Westerners do not survive their initial experience of the subcontinent, fleeing in anxiety, in disgust and with indignation from its darknesses, condemned never to know it properly. But many more are vouchsafed in that first encounter a glimpse of something so enchanting, so inspiring, so utterly and attractively outside all previous experience, that they know they will return as often as possible, to be thrilled by it afresh

…few yards from the temple someone had spread his wares on a small trestle, which was all he required for the sale of spare parts for defective wrist-watches, each item salvaged from other broken timepieces: a great variety of watch faces, fingers, glasses, winding knobs, flywheels, casings, spindles, straps. Next to this speciality was an even narrower one, offering any of the few bits and pieces that someone might need in order to mend an electric torch. It seemed impossible that anyone could make a living this way, but India defies such assumptions more than any other country I have known: perhaps because the reworking of junk must come more naturally to a people whose principal creed sees life as a perpetually revolving cycle.

…….Raghu, 26, of Perumpayakkad, was returning home on Friday when a group of persons carrying deadly weapons attacked him.” Nothing more: just a brief paragraph towards the bottom of an inside page. Life could be very bleak in India: and was, for some, every day of the week.

………for India was, above anywhere else, the land where every distinction of faith, every equivocation, every contradiction, every doubt, every reticence was commonplace, often glorified and always accepted as if any variant at all was the natural condition of man. For that reason alone, I could have surrendered myself to the spirit of this country without any ifs or buts

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Zazen Sitting

From ‘They Lived with God. Life stories of some devotees of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Swami Chetanananda

Ram: “Is it possible to realize God in this life?”…………………Master…….. “The more you advance in one direction, the more you leave behind the opposite direction…….”

Master……… “In orde to meditate on God, one should try at first to think of Him as free from upadhis, limitations. God is beyond upadhis. He is beyond speech and mind. But it is very difficult to achieve perfection in this form of meditation.”

“But it is easy to meditate on an Incarnation – God born as man. Yes, God in man. The body is a mere covering”

Sri Ramakrishna: “In the beginning one should move forward on the spiritual path holding to an initial faith [i.e., faith in the words of the scriptures and the guru]. One then attains direct perception. There are two kinds of faith – initial faith and real faith [i.e., faith that comes from direct experience]. Be steadfast in the first one and then you will see God.”

“……..How many people are restless for God-realization? People shed jugfuls of tears for their wives, children, or money, but who weeps for God? He who longs for Him certainly will find Him. Cry to Him. Call on Him with a longing heart. You will see Him.”

Holy company is essential. As one gets heat sitting near a fire, so holy company raises the mind to a higher plane. One gets peace and inspiration in the company of the holy.

Ramakrishna also taught her how to practice japa, showing how the four fingers of the right hand must be kept tightly together. “The result of japa goes away,” said the Master, “if there is any gap between the fingers.” Another time he said, “In this Kali yuga a Gopala mantra [a name of baby Krishna] or a Kali mantra produces quick results”

Yogin-ma said to the Master: “I want to call on God more and put my mind wholly on Him, but it is hard to control the mind. What shall I do?” Sri Ramakrishna replied in a sweet voice: “Why don’t you surrender to Him? Be like a cast-off leaf in a gale. Do you know what that is like?..........Let the mind move as the power of divine consciousness moves it. That’s all.”

Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “A person cannot be perfect as long as he is subject to shame, hatred, and fear.”

Once a person experiences Samadhi, the memory of it is revived at the time of death.

Sri Ramakrishna has given a new teaching especially for householders: “Let the boat be in water, but let there be no water in the boat; let an aspirant live in the world, but let there be no worldliness in him.”

According to most theistic religions, self-effort is essential for beginners, while self-surrender is practiced by advanced spiritual aspirants.

“If you find a companion who is good, wise, and loving, walk with him all the way and overcome all dangers,” said Buddha in the Dhammapada. “And if you do not find a good companion, then live alone and walk alone ‘like an elephant in the forest’”

It is said in the Mahabharata: “Human life is not eternal, and moreover no one knows when all-devouring death will come. Therefore one should begin to practice religion when one is young.”

Girish: “But I am a sinner.”

……….Master: “………Suppose a light is brought into a room that has been dark a thousand years; does it illumine the room little by little, or all in a flash?…….Give God your power of attorney. Let Him do whatever He likes.”

Once Girish heard the Master say: “If a passionate desire arises and persists during meditation, stop and begin to pray. Earnestly pray to the Lord that this desire be removed, that it not be fulfilled. Any desire coming up in meditation, particularly a repressed one, gradually becomes intensified. And if one or more of our passions are involved, the results can be most disquieting.”

One way to approach God, according to traditional Hinduism, is by practicing any one of five dualistic attitudes, or moods. These attitudes, or moods, are manifested in the relationship between the devotee and God, and they are: shanta bhava, the peace and stillness felt in the presence of God; dasya bhava, the attitude of a servant towards the master; sakhya bhava, the attitude of a friend towards a friend; vatsalya bhava, the attitude of a parent towards a child; madhura bhava, the attitude of a lover towards the beloved. The idea behind this classification is to help spiritual aspirants intensify their relationship with God according to their own inner nature. This is a natural path to God-realization

As both blades of a pair of scissors are needed to cut a piece of cloth, so both self-effort and grace are needed to realize God.

………..the Master told a large group of devotees: “There are many opinions about God. Each opinion is a path. There are innumerable opinions and innumerable paths leading to God……….You must stick to one path with all your strength. A man can reach the roof of a house by stone stairs or a ladder or …..a rope……But he cannot reach the roof if he sets foot now on one and now on another. He should firmly follow one path with all his strength.”

“But you must regard other views as so many paths leading to God. You should not feel that your path is the only right path and that other paths are wrong. You mustn’t bear malice towards others.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

From ‘A Disciple's Journal. In the Company of Swami Ashokananda’ by Sister Gargi (Marie Louise Burke)

Swami: …………..Never eat in restaurants, unless you can’t help it. If you want to keep your mind subtle and sensitive, you should eat at home. There are two kinds of people whom food in restaurants won’t hurt: those who are worldly, whose minds are gross to begin with, and those who have realized that all is Brahman – nothing can affect them…………………If you had psychic perception, you would see that food touched by an impure person changes color. It poisons your whole system; your mind becomes clouded

Swami: …………..You must learn to regulate your life. Keep regular hours. That is very important. It doesn’t matter if the work you do is good or bad, but do it regularly……..A regular life, building up of good habits, is the foundation of spirituality.

Swami: …………..They say there are one hundred nerves that converge upon the heart. One of these nerves leads to Brahman. One must find that nerve and travel along it…….A friend of mine……..told me that every time he sat for meditation, his mind would at once go deep, within thirty seconds. It was as though he were entering a tunnel of light…….He would travel along that tunnel that led to Brahman. You must find that tunnel, that nerve. One cannot force the experience; it just happens.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Munni Badnaam Hui, Darling Tere Liye

Munni Badnaam Hui, Darling Tere Liye (Munni's come into disrepute, Darling because of you)

The ‘Munni’ ‘item number’ is the rage all over India, going by what the newspapers say. I haven’t seen the movie but having viewed the song on youtube, it has captivated me.

As far as I am concerned, it’s a mini-classic. Yes, there are lots of rough bits that prevent it from being an out and out classic.

But first the positives. This item number has made full use of the screen. Every fresh viewing of the song and you see things that you missed before. The experience is a riot of colours, rustic touches and so many characters in the song are a significant screen presence in their own right. The colour combinations of the screen constituents are good and the outfit colours too do not seem discordant. Malaika for once doesn’t show rough edges in her dancing. But the editor of the song too is to be given much credit for the finished product. I am not a great fan of Malaika’s dancing. And I will elaborate that when talking of the below video of ‘Chaiya Chaiya’. But I thought Malaika was quite bearable, even likeable.

The choreography by Farah Khan is largely great. ‘Munni’ Malaika does credit to her producer-husband’s confidence in her and acquits herself. Her dancing and being in tune with the lyrics is largely great though her face isn’t always in sync with the rest of the body. But to me, even more than Munni, the highlight is Salman and his zany dancing. He hogs the few frames that he appears in. As the swaggering rough inspector, his dance steps are in perfect alignment to his personality. Unlike the polished, suave, urban and urbane dance that would be seen in any NRI-Bollywood movie, Salman’s steps are more of the street, more spontaneous and therefore more likely to strike a chord with the masses. One couldn’t really imagine a Shahrukh or Aamir or Amitabh or Saif doing these steps and living the character. And to this the credit goes to Salman and possibly Arbaaz and Sohail. The brothers sense of humour as evidenced in other movies is zany, loony and mostly enjoyable. And that comes out well in Salman’s dance. He is enjoying himself and that sense is infectious.

But one should not forget all the extras when we talk of choreography. The set of male dancers who accompany Munni are good. Particularly one guy with a shortened version of a Sikh headgear who is full of energy and excellent in emoting and dancing and obviously enjoying himself. He is the one in the background during Munni’s cycle-rickshaw scene. Then there are a couple of female dancers who do their job very competently. They are the ones with the heaving breasts right after the ‘re main taksaal hui darling tere liye’ step. Also seen later in black dresses, palpable energy there. Then there are those pot-bellied policemen dancing to Salman’s cue. Wonderful, wonderful………

In hindsight, had a few rough edges been attended-to with more care, this song would have been at a totally different level. The lyrics alternate between zany and loony to amateurish and unimaginative. The female voice is competent but…. and that ‘but’ remains. Rekha Bhardwaj could perhaps have done more justice to the song. The male voice is even more jarring. Especially just after Salman’s entry when they move to a lower pitch (hoton pe gaali teri aankhen duraali). With two more experienced voices, this could’ve been a better audio experience.

The energy levels sag a bit a few times during the song and that jars.

Net Net though, this is a great example of a Hindi Bollywood masala item number

And to provide a contrast, here’s Malaika from ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ which shot her to more fame

She’s a bit stiff in emoting, dances mechanically and consciously and her whole presence is incongruous with the lyrics, though that is really the fault of the director and choreographer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

From ‘My Story’ by Kamala Das

I cannot think of any other Indian autobiography that so honestly captures a woman’s inner life in all is sad solitude, its desperate longing for real love and its desire for transcendence, its tumult of colours and its turbulent poetry
- K Satchidanandan

….My mother did not fall in love with my father. They were dissimilar and horribly mismatched. But my mother’s timidity helped to create an illusion of domestic harmony which satisfied the relatives and friends. Out of such an arid union were born the first two children, my brother and I, bearing the burden of a swarthy skin and ordinary features.

We must have disappointed our parents a great deal. They did not tell us so, but in every gesture and in every word it was evident……..…………Gradually our instincts told us to keep away from the limelight, to hide in the vicinity of the kitchen where we could hold together the tatters of our self-respect and talk to the scavenger or the gardener……

There was a time when our lusts were
Like multicoloured flags of no
Particular country. We lay
On bed, glassy-eyed, fatigued, just
The toys dead children leave behind
And, we asked each other, what is
The use, what is the bloody use?
That was the only kind of love,
This hacking at each other’s parts
Like convicts hacking, breaking clods
At noon. We were earth under hot
Sun. There was a burning in our
Veins and the cool mountain nights did
Nothing to lessen heat. When he
And I were one, we were neither
Male nor female. There were no more
Words left, all words lay imprisoned
In the ageing arms of night. In
Darkness we grew, as in silence
We sang, each note rising out of
Sea, out of wind, out of earth and
Out of each sad night like an ache…

There is a house now far away where once
I received love. That woman died,
The house withdrew into silence, snakes moved
Among books. I was then too young
To read, and my blood turned like the moon.
How often I think of going
There, to peer through blind eyes of windows or
Just listen to the frozen air,
Or in wild despair, pick an armful of
Darkness to bring it here to lie
Behind my bedroom door like a brooding
Dog. You cannot believe, darling,
Can you, that I lived in such a house and
Was proud and loved, I who have lost
My way and beg now at strangers’ doors to
Receive love at least in small change?

He talks turning a sun-stained
Cheek to me, his mouth a dark
Cavern where stalactites of
Uneven teeth gleam, his right
Hand on my knee, while our minds
Are willed to race towards love;
But they only wander, tripping
Idly over puddles of
Desires… Can this man with
Nimble fingers unleash
Nothing more alive than the
Skin’s lazy hungers? Who can
Help us who have lived so long
And have failed in love? The heart,
An empty cistern, waiting
Through long hours, fills itself
With coiling snakes of silence.
I am a freak. It’s only
To save my face I flaunt, at
Times, a grand, flamboyant lust.

I shall some day leave, leave the cocoon
You built around me with morning tea,
Love words flung from doorways and of course
Your tired lust. I shall some day take
Wings, fly around, as often petals
Do, when free in air, and you dear one,
Just the sad remnant of a root, must
Lie behind, sans pride, on double beds
And grieve. But I shall some day return, losing
Nearly all hurt by wind, sun and rain,
Too hurt by fierce happiness to want
A further jaunt or a further spell
Of freedom, and I shall some day see
My world, de-fleshed, de-veined, de-blooded,
Just a skeletal thing, then shut my
Eyes and take refuge, if nowhere else,
Here in your nest of familiar scorn…

They did this to her, the men who know her, the man
She loved, who loved her not enough, being selfish
And a coward, the husband who neither loved nor
Used her, but was a ruthless watcher, and the band
Of cynics she turned to, clinging to their chests where
New hair sprouted like great-winged moths, burrowing her
Face into their smells and their young lusts to forget
To forget, oh, to forget, and, they said, each of
Them, I do not love, I cannot love, it is not
In my nature to love, but I can be kind to you.
They let her slide from pegs of sanity into
A bed made soft with tears, and she lay there weeping,
For sleep had lost its use. I shall build walls with tears,
She said, walls to shut me in. Her husband shut her
In, every morning, locked her in a room of books
With a streak of sunshine lying near the door like
A yellow cat to keep her company, but soon
Winter came, and one day while locking her in, he
Noticed that the cat of sunshine was only a
Line, a half-thin line, and in the evening when
He returned to take her out, she was a cold and
Half dead woman, now of no use at all to men

You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her
In the long summer of your love so that she would forget
Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but
Also her nature, the urge to fly, and endless
Pathways of the sky. It was not to gather knowledge
Of yet another man that I came to you but to learn
What I was, and by learning, to learn to grow, but every lesson
You gave was about yourself. You were pleased
With my body’s response, its usual shallow
Convulsions. You dribbled spittle into my mouth, you poured
Yourself into every nook and cranny, you embalmed
My poor lust with your bitter-sweet juices. You called me wife,
I was taught to break saccharine into your tea and
To offer at the right moment the vitamins. Cowering
Beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and
Became a dwarf. I lost my will and reason, to all your
Questions I mumbled incoherent replies. The summer
Begins to pall. I remember the ruder breezes
Of the fall and the smoke from burning leaves. Your room is
Always lit by artificial lights, your windows always
Shut. Even the airconditioner helps so little,
All pervasive is the male scent of your breath. The cut flowers
In the vases have begun to smell of human sweat. There is
No more singing, no more a dance, my mind is an old
Playhouse with all its lights put out. The strong man’s technique is
Always the same, he serves his love in lethal doses,
For love is Narcissus at the water’s edge, haunted
By its own lonely face, and yet it must seek at last
An end, a pure and total freedom, it must will the mirrors
To shatter, and the kind night to erase the water…

On sedatives
I am more lovable
Says my husband
My speech becomes a mist-laden terrain,
The words emerge tinctured with sleep,
They rise from still coves of dreams
In unhurried flight like herons,
And my ragdoll-limbs adjust better
To his versatile lust. He would if he could
Sing lullabies to his wife’s sleeping soul,
Sweet lullabies to thicken its swoon
On sedatives
I grow more lovable
Says my husband…

From the debris of house-wrecks
Pick up my broken face,
Your bride’s face,
Changed a little with the years.
I shall not remember
The betrayed honeymoon;
We are both such cynics,
You and I.
If loving me was hard then
It’s harder now
But love me one day
For a lark
Love the sixty-seven
Kilogrammes of ageing flesh
Love the damaged liver,
The heart and its ischaemia,
Yes, love me one day
Just for a lark,
Show me what our life would have been
If only you had loved…

The cicadas in brambled foliage
Naturally concave. So also these
Men who climb up the cogged scaffoldings
Building houses for the alien rich.
On some days the hot sky flings at us scraps
Of Telugu songs and we intently
Listen, but we wait in vain for the harsh
Message of the lowly. In merry tunes
Their voices break, but just a little, as
Though the hero’s happiness is too big
A burden on their breath, too big a lie
For their throats to swallow, but past sunset
Their jests sound ribald, their lust seems robust.
Puny these toy-men of dust, fathers of light
Dust-children, but their hands like the withered boughs
Of some mythic hoodoo tree cast only
Cool shadows, and with native grace bestow
Even on unbelievers vast shelters…

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thoughts… … …

Many are the names of God and infinite forms through which he may be approached. The Reality is one and the same, the difference is in the name and forms. Some address Reality as Allah, some as God, some as Brahman, some as Kali, others by names as Rama, Jesus, Hari. God is formless and God is possessed of form too. And he is also that which transcends both form and formless.
- Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th century exponent of religious pluralism

It is almost impossible to like the Indians of Fiji. They are suspicious, vengeful, whining, unassimilated, provocative….Above all, they are surly and unpleasant

 - James Michener, Return to Paradise, 1951

What Lakelly-Hunt says about faith and feminism (in the context of poet Emily Dickinson)…… “Experience transcendence in the mundane and glory in the paradox”

As Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “Only at the point of death many people realize that they have not lived at all!”

If you pick up a starving dog
And make him prosperous,
He will not bite you.
This is the principal difference
Between a dog and a man

- Mark Twain

Saturday, August 14, 2010

From ‘Along the Ganges’ by Ilija Trojanow

…..the story of the shishya who asks his guru: “How long will it take for me to achieve liberation”

“A whole life,” the guru answers.

“And if I try very hard?”

“Several lives!”

“But what if I give it all I have?”

“Then you will never attain it!”

In the sixth century BC, the principle of Ahimsa was developed in the area that is today Bihar. The concept of radical non-violence was formulated and put into practice by the parishads, communities of hermits living in the forests that in those days covered most of the land. This magnetic field also influenced Jainism and Adaita. In all three religious concepts, non-violence is defined far more extensively than the usual understanding of not harming other creatures. According to Advaita, you practice violence when you term the other as ‘other’. The concept of atman, the omnipresent soul, sees every human being as infinite and unlimited, and therefore he is not equal to his neighbours but merged with them as well as with god. If one limits one’s neighbor, one limits oneself. Ahimsa opposes any language of segregation, it calls upon us always to see the common behind the divisive. As a result, Ahimsa could protect humans against manipulation through fictive identities, whether of a national, ethnic or cultural character.


Friday, August 13, 2010

From ‘The Life and Teachings of Jillellamudi Amma’ by Ekkirala Bharadwaja

……..why Mother was passionately fond of feeding children who came to her. She would insist on their taking food. Indeed, she was the tangible manifestation, all felt, of Goddess Annapoorna, in this regard.

One wonders why she insisted on feeding people. One clue, perhaps, is the kosha paradigm of Hinduism. There is the primary sheath (kosha) called “annamaya kosha,” the food dimension. One of the definitions of Brahman, the Ultimate Reality itself, is that it is food. And when food (often prepared by Mother herself) is partaken, it becomes Prasad and sets in motion changes in the body. Eventually, sattvic food blessed by Mother results in subtle unfolding of the deeper spiritual layers of consciousness.

Masters of perfect attainment say that the different paths to perfection such as jnana, bhakti and karma yoga have a fundamental unity. When one pursues one of the three, the other two follow of their own accord, said Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. The unique greatness of the Bhagavad Gita seems to be this synthesis of these paths. For, Lord Krishna not only expounded their unity but symbolized it in Himself. He is called Yogiswara, Jagadguru, and the Jagannatha, i.e. he is at once the ideal and he goal of the three paths of jnana, bhakti, and karma yoga.

…….Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi…….. “Association with the wise will make the mind sink into the Heart. Such association is both mental and physical”

……..her words regarding God:

“He is formless because all forms are His. He is nameless because all names are His.”

“He is without attributes because all attributes are His.”

If Knowledge is Brahman, why not Ignorance?

The changing, alone, is the Mind; the unchanging is Divinity itself.

Pain is no pain if it is experienced with joy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From ‘Prior to Consciousness. Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj’. Edited by Jean Dunn

The Infinite a sudden guest
Has been assumed to be,
How how can that stupendous come
Which never went away?

- Emily Dickinson
Bolts of Melody – New poems of Emily Dickinson
(New York: Harper and Row)

It is the intensity of the faith you have in the guru’s words that is most important; once that is there, the grace flows automatically. The faith in the guru is based on the consciousness within, faith in one’s Self.

As a man, Christ was crucified, but that universal consciousness which was his lives today.

My association with my Guru was scarcely for two and a half years. He was staying some 200 kilometres away, he would come here once every four months, for fifteen days; this is the fruit of that. The words he gave me touched me very deeply. I abided in one thing only: the words of my Guru are the truth, and he said, “You are the Parabrahman.” No more doubts and no more questions on that. Once my Guru conveyed to me what he had to say I never bothered about other things – I hung on to the words of the Guru.

Nature has the institution of death. If death did not exist, there would be an unbearable accumulation of memories. People come and go, the memories are wiped out, therefore there is a sense of balance.

Merely sit in contemplation and let the consciousness unfold itself.

For you, the first step is worship that vital breath; here you must focus your attention on that vital breath pulsation – and together with that, carry out the name-japa. When you do that, the vital breath will be purified, and in the process of purification this beingness will open up.

Questioner: Does Maharaj go into Samadhi?
M: I am stabilized in the Highest. There is no going into Samadhi, or coming down from Samadhi; that is over.

………you must persist in meditation until you come to a stage when you feel there is no meditation.

According to the time and the situation they have taught their concepts, but there are concepts meant only for that period, that situation and then their concepts have developed into religions

The indication of your progress is your disinclination to associate with normal people; your desires and expectations get less and less........intense hunger for Self knowledge, the door, or the floodgate is opened, then you start rejecting everything, right from the gross state to Iswara state, your own consciousness, you reject everything.

You are prior to the idea “I Am.” Camp yourself there, prior to the words “I Am.”

Q: What does Maharaj think about all the different religions?

M: As far as I am concerned all religions are based on concepts and emotions. These emotions are so violent and absorbing that people have immolated themselves.

Being one with some other personality emotionally can be so effective that those who have identified themselves with Jesus Christ have had the marks of crucifixion appear on their own bodies. All these experiences are totally useless. One individual has identified with another individual, and unless individuality is given up the Reality can never manifest itself. Do not repeat what you have heard, parrot-wise, unless you have it with the conviction that I have.

If you stay put in beingness the thoughts will get less and less. If you get mixed up with the thoughts they will multiply.

You have created a God because you want to beg from somebody and that is what you call spirituality

After listening to my wildly virulent talks you may not come again tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. I tell you again and again, you might run around and around the world, but nobody is going to give you the knowledge. Recede into your own Self. Surrender to your own beingness and that alone will give you all the knowledge necessary for you – no one else will. You don’t inquire into this, you blindly follow the rituals of spirituality.

You may be anywhere, but be honest, be devoted only to your being.

Sitting in meditation helps the consciousness to blossom. It causes deeper understanding and spontaneous change in behavior. These changes are brought about in the consciousness itself, not in the pseudo-personality. Forced changes are at the level of the mind. Mental and intellectual changes are totally unnatural and different from the ones that take place in the birth principle. These take place naturally, automatically, by themselves, due to meditation.

The only thing which anyone has is the conviction that one exists, the conscious presence. Meditation is only on that sense of presence, nothing else.

Q: How can we find the way that is meant for us?

M: If your urge to realize the Self is very intense, your urge and the consciousness will direct you in the correct course.

You must possess that confirmation that you are formless, designless; not only rely on meditation. Always insist that you are formless, free, and are not conditioned. You must hammer on this constantly, that is the practice.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Indian Media and my pessimism

Tehelka is an exception, an honourable exception to the general rule that popular (or is it populist) Indian journalism is largely immature, lacks sensitivity, scandal-hungry (at finding or creating), filthy, rapacious, lacks morals and wisdom, is vision-less, and ultimately going down a very slippery slope. Its a race to the bottom.

Tehelka.........may your ilk grow

Saturday, July 24, 2010

P. G. Wodehouse - 8

From ‘Do Butlers Burgle Banks?’

Ferdie was small and wizened and wore always a rather anxious look, as a man well might who so often found himself forty feet up in the air with only his natural endowments to keep him there. Life can never be unmixedly carefree for cat burglars.

Basher, it seemed to him, had an ounce less brain than a retarded rabbit.

……just sat there and looked at him as if he were something the cat had brought in

Night had fallen on Wellingford with the thoroughness with which night always falls on that type of town.

‘………He was as sick as mud,’ said Basher, lowering the tone of his prose style for a moment.

But though he was feeling as if his interior had been churned up with an egg-whisk, his voice was calm………..

‘What did this girl look like?’

Once more Ferdie had to think. Word-portrait painting was not really his forte.

‘……….He’s a reformed character. He’s retiring from business and marrying Ada Cootes, and they’re going to live a spotless life on the Riviera. There’s a house he hopes to buy outside Cannes. It has a sentimental appeal to him because he once burgled it, in his youth when he was a member of the Duplessis mob.’

‘How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood’

‘……Of all the slanderous imputations I ever heard, this one takes the biscuit. Who are your solicitors, Appleby?’

‘Bodger, Bodger, Bodger -’


‘- and Bodger.’

‘Still better,’ said Mike, as if feeling that when you get four Bodgers, you’ve got something.

From ‘Barmy in Wonderland’

…………this desk clerk of his….handicapped, in his opinion, by an I.Q. somewhat lower than that of a backward clam – a clam, let us say, which had been dropped on its head when a baby…….

Emerald married my Uncle Theodore, a thing I wouldn’t have done myself on a bet, he being a sort of human snapping turtle

Jack McClure came tottering in, looking like something left over from the Last Days of Pompeii.

J. Bromley Lippincott was a tall, dark cadaverous man who looked about sixty, as he had probably looked at the age of ten, and gave the impression, not unusual with attorneys-at-law, of having seen so much of life’s murky side that he now automatically suspected everyone he met of nameless crimes.

From ‘Plum Pie’

‘A problem has arisen in the life of a friend of mine who shall be nameless, and I want your advice. I must begin by saying that it’s one of those delicate problems where not only my friend must be nameless but all other members of the personnel. In other words I can’t mention names. You see what I mean?’

‘I understand you perfectly, sir. You would prefer to term the protagonists A and B.’

‘Or North and South?’

‘A and B is more customary, sir.’

‘Just as you say. Well, A is male, B female. You follow me so far?’

‘You have been lucidity itself, sir.’

‘And owing to….what’s that something of circumstances you hear people talking about? Cats enter into it, if I remember rightly.’

‘Would concatenation be the word for which you are groping?’

‘Ah yes, I have heard of Niagara Falls. People go over them in barrels, do they not? Now there is a thing I would not care to do myself. Most uncomfortable, I should imagine, though no doubt one would get used to it in time……..’

The evening was one of those fine evenings which come to London perhaps twice in the course of an English summer……….

The impression left on the mind when one reads in the papers of the local rules and regulations in force all over the country is that life in America can be very difficult. Almost every avenue to wholesome fun seems to be barred. In Rumford, Maine, for instance, it is illegal for a tenant to bite his landlord, while in Youngstown, Ohio, stiff sentences are passed on those who tie giraffes to light standards. In Nogales, Arizona, there is an ordinance prohibiting the wearing of braces; in San Francisco one which won’t let you shoot jack rabbits from cable cars; and in Dunn, South Carolina, unless you have the permission of the headmistress, a permission very sparingly granted, it is unlawful to ‘act in an obnoxious manner on the campus of the girls’ school’.

You hardly know where to live in America these days, especially if you are a woman. Go to Owensboro, Kentucky, and you get arrested for buying a new hat without having your husband try it on first, while if you decide on Carmel, California, you find you are not allowed to take a bath in a business office, the one thing all women want to do on settling down in a new community. For men probably the spot to be avoided with the greatest care is Norton, Virginia, where ‘it is illegal to tickle a girl’.

One of the reasons why our faces light up when the time comes to hand over four-fifths of our last year’s income to the government is that we know that the lolly will be employed to some good end.

Only the other day the government started a project for studying the diving reflex and volume receptors of seals, which is a thing I can hardly wait to find out about, and now they are touching me for a bit more because they want to take a census of fish. Four hundred skin-divers are diving daily into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in order to ‘determine the distribution of fish that inhabit American waters’, and that sort of thing comes high. You know what skin-divers are like. They want theirs. By the time I have paid this bunch their salaries, it is very doubtful if I shall be able to afford the one meal a week to which I had been looking forward.

But I can quite see how it would jeopardize America’s safety not to count these fish, so I shall make do quite happily on biscuits and cheese, and of course there is always the chance that a kindly skin-diver, grateful for my patronage, will slip me a halibut or something on the side.

He was sitting with his head between his hands, probably feeling that if he let go of it it would come in half……….

I am told by those who know that there are six varieties of hangover – the Broken Compass, the Sewing Machine, the Comet, the Atomic, the Cement Mixer and the Gremlin Boogie, and his aspect suggested that he had got them all.

One of the great traditions in America has always been the adding of penciled moustaches to the faces on posters in the subway, and some superb work has been done in that line over the years. They fine you two hundred and fifty dollars if they catch you doing it, but to the artist the satisfaction of attaching a walrus moustache to the upper lip of – say – Miss Elizabeth Taylor is well worth the risk. (Moustache drawers are a proud guild and look down on the fellows who simply write ‘George loves Mabel’ or ‘Castro ought to have his head examined’ on the walls. Hack work, they consider it.)

Lancelot frowned. He was not fond of big game-hunters. His own impulse, if he had met a wapiti or a gnu or whatever it might be, would have been to offer it a ham sandwich from his luncheon basket, and the idea of plugging it with a repeating rifle, as this Pashley-Drake presumably did, revolted him.

It is pretty generally agreed that we are living as of even date in the times that try men’s souls, and it is interesting, as one surveys the American scene, to note the steps the various states are taking to cope with them. Thus, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the populace was conscious recently of a great wave of relief, for they knew that even if a hostile power were to start unloading unpleasant things from the skies above America, they at least would be sitting pretty. Grand Rapids has just passed a law making it illegal for any aviator to ‘drop a bomb while flying over the city without leave from the city commision’, and it is very improbable that such permission would be given a foreign foe.

A frown appeared on Mr Bunting’s face. Normally it resembled that of an amiable vulture. He now looked like a vulture dissatisfied with its breakfast corpse.

‘….Are you fond of dogs?’

‘Yes, very.’

‘So am I. There’s something about dogs.’


‘Of course, there’s something about cats, too.’


‘But, still, cats aren’t dogs’


From ‘A Few Quick Ones’

……..he sidled up, coughed once or twice like a sheep with bronchitis

Agnes Flack was one of the recognized sights of the place. One pointed her out to visitors together with the Lovers Leap, the waterfall and the curious rock formation near the twelfth tee. Built rather on the lines of the village blacksmith, she had for many seasons been the undisputed female champion of the club. She had the shoulders of an all-in wrestler, the breezy self-confidence of a sergeant-major and a voice like a toast-master’s. I had often seen the Wrecking Crew, that quartette of spavined septuagenarians whose pride it was that they never let anyone through, scatter like leaves in an autumn gale at the sound of her stentorian ‘Fore!’ A dynamic and interesting personality.

There seemed nothing to say. The idea of suggesting that he should break off the engagement presented itself to me, but I dismissed it. Women are divided broadly into two classes – those who, when jilted, merely drop a silent tear and those who take a niblick from their bag and chase the faithless swain across country with it. It was to this latter section that Agnes Flack belonged. Attila the Hun might have broken off his engagement to her, but nobody except Attila the Hun, and he only on one of his best mornings.

If Agnes Flack had been about a foot shorter and had weighed about thirty pounds less, the sound which proceeded from her might have been described as a giggle.

She was presiding over a stall in the shade of a large cedar at the edge of the lawn, and as soon as he could get his limbs to function he hastened up and began buying everything in sight. And when a tea-cosy, two Teddy bears, a penwiper, a bowl of wax flowers and a fretwork pipe-rack had changed hands he felt that he was entitled to regard himself as a member of the club and get friendly.

‘Lovely day,’ he said.

‘Beautiful,’ said the girl.

‘The sun,’ said Augustus, pointing it out with his umbrella.

The girl said Yes, she had noticed the sun.

‘I always think it seems to make everything so much brighter, if you know what I mean, when the sun’s shining,’ said Augustus. ‘Well, it’s been awfully jolly, meeting you. My name, in case you’re interested, is Mulliner’

……..It’s about a negro on the Mississippi who trembles a bit when he sees a job of work.’

‘Quite. I believe many negros do……..’

It was this that had blotted out the sunshine for Bingo and made him feel, warm though the day was, that centipedes with icy feet were walking up and down his spine.

George Potter, who had just appeared, gave the impression, as he advanced towards us on leaden feet, of having had his insides removed by a taxidermist who had absentmindedly forgotten to complete the operation by stuffing him. I believe this often happens when a young lover has been handed his hat by the adored subject.

……found only one customer ahead of me at the stamp counter, a charmingly pretty girl of, I should say, the stenographer class. She was putting in a bid for a couple of twopence-halfpennies and, like all girls, was making quite a production out of it. You or I, when we feel the urge for stamps, stride you, ask for them, disgorge the needful and stride away again, but girls like to linger and turn the thing into a social occasion.

‘Cor! Chase my Aunt Fanny up a gum tree!’ cried Jas, infected with his enthusiasm.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From 'Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official'

From  'Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official' by William Sleeman
First published 1844

Sir Thomas Munro has justly observed, 'I do not exactly know what is meant by civilizing the people of India. In the theory and practice of good government they may be deficient; but, if a good system of agriculture, if unrivalled manufactures, if the establishment of schools for reading and writing, if the general practice of kindness and hospitality, and, above all, if a scrupulous respect and delicacy towards the female sex are amongst the points that denote a civilized people; then the Hindoos are not inferior in civilization to the people of Europe'.[8]

The Hindoo system is this. A great divine spirit or essence, 'Brahma', pervades the whole universe; and the soul of every human being is a drop from this great ocean, to which, when it becomes perfectly purified, it is reunited. The reunion is the eternal beatitude to which all look forward with hope; and the soul of the Brahman is nearest to it. If he has been a good man, his soul becomes absorbed in the 'Brahma'; and, if a bad man, it goes to 'Narak', hell; and after the expiration of its period there of limited imprisonment, it returns to earth, and occupies the body of some other animal. It again advances by degrees to the body of the Brahman; and thence, when fitted for it, into the great 'Brahma'.[1]

[On witnessing a completely voluntary Sati – the burning of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre]

I tried to work upon her pride and her fears. I told her that it was probable that the rent-free lands by which her family had been so long supported might be resumed by the Government, as a mark of its displeasure against the children for not dissuading her from the sacrifice; that the temples over her ancestors upon the bank might be levelled with the ground, in order to prevent their operating to induce others to make similar sacrifices; and lastly, that not one single brick or stone should ever mark the place where she died if she persisted in her resolution. But, if she consented to live, a splendid habitation should be built for her among these temples, a handsome provision assigned for her support out of these rent-free lands, her children should come daily to visit her, and I should frequently do the same. She smiled, but held out her arm and said, 'My pulse has long ceased to beat, my spirit has departed, and I have nothing left but a little earth, that I wish to mix with the ashes of my husband. I shall suffer nothing in burning; and, if you wish proof, order some fire, and you shall see this arm consumed without giving me any pain'. I did not attempt to feel her pulse, but some of my people did, and declared that it had ceased to be perceptible. At this time every native present believed that she was incapable of suffering pain; and her end confirmed them in their opinion.

Satisfied myself that it would be unavailing to attempt to save her life, I sent for all the principal members of the family, and consented that she should be suffered to burn herself if they would enter into engagements that no other member of their family should ever do the same. This they all agreed to, and the papers having been drawn out in due form about midday, I sent down notice to the old lady, who seemed extremely pleased and thankful. The ceremonies of bathing were gone through before three [o'clock], while the wood and other combustible materials for a strong fire were collected and put into the pit. After bathing, she called for a 'pan' (betel leaf) and ate it, then rose up, and with one arm on the shoulder of her eldest son, and the other on that of her nephew, approached the fire. I had sentries placed all round, and no other person was allowed to approach within five paces. As she rose up fire was set to the pile, and it was instantly in a blaze. The distance was about 150 yards. She came on with a calm and cheerful countenance, stopped once, and, casting her eyes upward, said, 'Why have they kept me five days from thee, my husband?' On coming to the sentries her supporters stopped; she walked once round the pit, paused a moment, and, while muttering a prayer, threw some flowers into the fire. She then walked up deliberately and steadily to the brink, stepped into the centre of the flame, sat down, and leaning back in the midst as if reposing upon a couch, was consumed without uttering a shriek or betraying one sign of agony.

A few instruments of music had been provided, and they played, as usual, as she approached the fire, not, as is commonly supposed, in order to drown screams, but to prevent the last words of the victim from being heard, as these are supposed to be prophetic, and might become sources of pain or strife to the living.[6] It was not expected that I should yield, and but few people had assembled to witness the sacrifice, so that there was little or nothing in the circumstances immediately around to stimulate her to any extraordinary exertions; and I am persuaded that it was the desire of again being united to her husband in the next world, and the entire confidence that she would be so if she now burned herself, that alone sustained her. From the morning he died (Tuesday) till Wednesday evening she ate 'pans' or betel leaves, but nothing else; and from Wednesday evening she ceased eating them. She drank no water from Tuesday. She went into the fire with the same cloth about her that she had worn in the bed of the river; but it was made wet from a persuasion that even the shadow of any impure thing falling upon her from going to the pile contaminates the woman unless counteracted by the sheet moistened in the holy stream.

I must do the family the justice to say that they all exerted themselves to dissuade the widow from her purpose, and had she lived she would assuredly have been cherished and honoured as the first female member of the whole house. There is no people in the world among whom parents are more loved, honoured, and obeyed than among the Hindoos; and the grandmother is always more honoured than the mother. No queen upon her throne could ever have been approached with more reverence by her subjects than was this old lady by all the members of her family as she sat upon a naked rock in the bed of the river, with only a red rag upon her head and a single-white sheet over her shoulders.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

From ‘Papaji. Interviews’. Edited by David Godman

Firstly, there must be a desire for God, a love for Him, or a desire for liberation. Without that, nothing is possible……….This desire…… like an inner flame. One must kindle it and then fan it until it becomes a raging fire which consumes all one’s other desires and interests……..If this inner fire rages for long enough, with sufficient intensity, it will finally consume that one, central, overwhelming desire for God or the Self. This is essential because realization will not take place until even this last desire has gone. After this final desire disappears, there will be the silence of no thoughts………Many people have had temporary glimpses of the Self. Sometimes it happens spontaneously, and it is not uncommon for it to happen in the presence of a realized Master.

On another visit, I brought a Muslim pir I had met in Madras. As a professor in Baghdad he had had an inner awakening and taken to the religious life. He had come to India…….to visit some Hindu holy men….I encouraged him to join me on one of my visits to the [Ramana] Maharshi…At Tiruvannamalai we sat in the hall together for some time, looking at the Maharshi. Then the pir got up, saluted him and walked out……….he said, I have smelled this one flower in the garden of Hinduism. I don’t need to smell any of the others……..This man was a jnani and in those few minutes with the Maharshi he was able to satisfy himself that the flowering of jnana in Hindus was no different from the highest experience attained by Islamic saints……..Such enlightened people are very rare. In the last forty years or so I have met thousands of sadhus, swamis, gurus etc……….But in the years since my realization I have only met two men, apart from the Maharshi himself, who convinced me that they had attained full and complete Self-realisation. This Muslim pir was one. The other was a relatively unknown sadhu I met by the side of a road in Karnataka.

…….. ‘By the enquiry “Who am I?” the thought ‘Who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre, it will in the end get destroyed. Then there will arise Self-realisation.’

Freedom is to know your own fundamental nature, your own Self. Nothing else

Master, for what reason do the scriptures exist?..........

They tell you to read all these things – the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Sutras, the Shastras – so that one day you will get fed up with them. Then afterwords, you can be quiet……..Just keep quiet and see what happens.

So, avoid all persons, including yourself……And avoid all things……..Don’t think of things and don’t have any objects in the mind. Give up all ideas including ‘I have had a glimpse’ or ‘I have not had a glimpse’. No ideas, no things, no persons……..then look. What do you see?

Enlightenment is for those people who have not found any satisfaction in sensory indulgence. It is for those people who are fed up with things, with objects, and the enjoyment of them. The desire for freedom, for enlightenment, arises when one begins to understand that permanent happiness cannot be found in sensory pleasures……….happiness arises spontaneously only when there are no thoughts and no desires, and that it disappears when thoughts and desires come back………Happiness therefore lies in the emptiness of no thought, not in the quest for more and more things………The emptiness of no-thought, of no desires, is permanent. It is the source of true, permanent happiness…….When you can abide in that emptiness…….without feeling a need to search for happiness anywhere else, you are free from desires and suffering. That freedom is enlightenment………The people and things of this world will still be there, but they will not cause you any trouble or suffering because the desire to get pleasure and happiness through them will never arise.

When you have a desire for freedom………… should look for a perfect being. Someone who has established himself in the state of true and permanent happiness. Such a being………can make you aware of the happiness and the emptiness that lie within you. He may do it by the power of his thought, by looking at you, by touching you or simply by being quiet. Anyone who comes into contact with such a being will be benefited by his presence.

Is it necessary to have a Master who is himself realized to succeed?

Absolutely! Absolutely! Otherwise how can you know whether you are on the right track?

[Ramana Maharshi]…………He would talk about many things: how to be free, how to get enlightened, and sometimes he would say things like, ‘You need grace’. But most of the time he said in Tamil, ‘Summa iru,’ which means, ‘Keep quiet’. Most people did not understand the true meaning of this…….

When you ask ‘Who am I?’, don’t expect any answer. You must get rid of the expectation that you will get an answer……The purpose of the question is not to get an answer.