A Small Prayer

I have always had the luxury of being able to write down my thoughts on subjects close to my heart to share what is running amidst the chaos of my mind. It silences the noises, clears the mayhem and offers me a sort of peace that I bank on during such times. That momentary stillness, that silence that follows after being spent is a true blessing. For the last week, I have been battling trying to write down my feelings of loss at swami’s passing. But I am quite unable to express any form of grief. My mind closes and refuses to deal with the truth. And in those gaps where the truth seeps in, I am overwhelmed by my human feelings; angry, selfish, sad, confused. I am not even going into the spiritual aspects of Baba. That is for every person to decide for themselves. I have always maintained that god is no table-top discussion and one’s relationship with a higher power is one’s personal business. It isn’t anything that someone else can have an opinion on and deem right or wrong. I miss the person I have been shown to turn to as a child, the person I came to accept after my adult judgments on him, the person I had trouble turning to for a phase of my life, the person whom I whole heartedly accepted after my turmoil settled. I am not ritualistic; I don’t care for institutionalized religion that passes judgments on a ‘one-way moralistic road to salvation’. But I cannot deny anything that offers me peace, hope and strength. And Baba did all that. Many people have asked me if god could walk on earth. Ofcourse god can. Every one of us walking is carrying god within us. After all god is just the supreme universal power that we all tap into. An energy that rests in every visible object and being. The many forms, avatars, acts of god are just ways adopted in this human world by the supreme force to make our selective eyes forced to see what is maybe too hard for us to comprehend. So today I don’t think of swami as gone. I know he is still around, I feel his presence; I can continue to talk, fight, ask him questions and look for all my strength, hope and support from him. But I miss that comfort of knowing I can go to Puttaparthi and see him. I am human, so I am selfish. I feel bad for me. For my personal loss. And I think I am entitled to. So I close my eyes and thank him for all that he has shown and given me. For all the blessings. For making his last year amongst us my best year. I pray that he will give the strength to be less selfish and celebrate his life and not focus on his passing. I love you Baba. And hope you will always keep my eyes open to what I might miss otherwise. Sairam.

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Faith Makes all Things Possible

Having been ordered to go through 3 weeks of ayurvedic treatment for my ailments, I do have some time in hand to ponder over things; quite a luxury these days. My grandma who is also doing the course of treatment alongside me had a visitor today who was talking to me about various things and asked me if I had visited the temple within the hospital compound and I replied that I hadn’t. To this she asked me something which sort of jolted me out of my comfort zone. She asked if I had faith. It’s such a simple statement and made me think of a whole hoard of things. I can’t stress enough that I think religion is an institute made by people to control society. Rituals etc should only be followed as a means of comfort, never as a rule if you feel forced to do so. But what exactly is faith? It seems to form the foundation of all relationships; political, social, between friends, between lovers, between families; and also between you and god. Now comes the universal question; ‘what is god?’ Maybe, god is faith. The energy, the power and the simple act of letting go of all reservations, doubts, pessimism and giving yourself up to a simple belief of someone or something else. Can you think of a greater act of love and respect? I did have simple faith once. I believed that people were inherently good, the world a really safe place, friends to be absolutely trusted; everything seemed to carry a rosy hue. Believing in god was that much easier too. I felt it was easy to surrender to this higher power and feel safe and secure in its embrace. With a few bitter encounters, some let downs, slowly the tide changed without me realizing it. Rituals stopped, belief stopped and slowly faith faded away. From ‘god’ it transformed to everything else. I had less faith in goodness, in people, in the world. It was suddenly not easy to be simple anymore. Trust wasn’t something I could give away freely. Is that a good thing? Not really because this is where pessimism creeps in. So you might be intellectual and frown upon the idea of god and simple faith and rituals. I do at times. But it takes a big heart to trust and put your faith in things and people. And it could start from something as simple as ‘just believing’. Call it god or soul. Start somewhere.

My Tale of Ramayana

My family guru was very dear to me. I grew up with good memories of going to the ashram and feeling positive vibrations set in, listening to stories of Krishna and Rama from him, having sweets shoved into my hands, sitting near him as he mediated and seeing his face light up with a real awe inspiring beam, hearing his belly juggling roars of laughter…He was family, someone who was always around to nudge us into the right direction, listen to our out pour and comfort us like no one else. Clichéd as it might sound, he was the rock we all leaned on.

When ama was pregnant with me, my folks were convinced I would be a boy (so GLAD they were wrong. Why anyone would want a boy, I can’t imagine!). They decided to name me Karthik. And when I was born, seeing that I was missing a few appendages that deemed me a boy, they decided on Karthika and took me to the ashram and handed me over to my guru for the naming ceremony. He took me inside the Rama mandap (The ashram is a Rama temple). He sat with me on his lap and maybe Sita looked at me and decided I would be her little girl and he came out and said I was named Mythily (which is Sita’s name as she was princess of Mithila). My sister was named by him; Sharika which is the name of the sound vibration when Rama breaks the bow and also Sita’s Parrot which is supposed to have recited the Ramayana to Valmiki.

So as a family, we were steeped in Ramayana without even realizing it. My darling family guru has since then crossed over to the great beyond. But he left me with something, a love for the Ramayana and all the Indian epics and mythology. He gave me ‘The Prince of Ayodhya’ by Ashok Banker and started me on this obsessive love for his writing. I am a huge fan of books and love to read. Of all the books I have read, this series is easily one of the best written set of books I have ever laid my hands on. The stories and weaved with such creativity, magic and so much life is brought into the story of Ramayana that it leaves one astounded. I have read the 6 books countless of times and have just ordered the 7th book; Vengeance of Ravana and am waiting to order ‘Sons of sita’ next month. I have started so many people on this series and all of them have fallen in love with it. How can one not with a writer who seems to have the blessing of Valmiki himself. Keep going Ashok, love love what you are doing and I am waiting with bated breath to see what you will do next. Thank you namanama for starting me on this journey. You are missed much.

This is My Religion

Music is like religion. It is a personal choice, something that connects with your soul and makes you feel better inside. It puts things into perspective, washes a tide of emotions over you, seems to speak directly to you, putting into words what you have always thought were your ideas and take on things.

I grew up listening to my dad sing and play his guitar. The songs that reverberated around the house were The Beatles, Elvis, Neil Diamond and all the old awesome retro music that I am still in love with. Soon my personal favorites crept in and Aretha Franklin, GNR, Michael Jackson, BRYAN ADAMS, The Doors, Frey, Madonna and so many more artists that I love crooned me to sleep.

But like religion, music sees turbulence too. People fighting about it, arguing about what is good and what is not, criticizing others tastes; it makes no sense to me at all. How can one fight over personal choices and beliefs? What I like and choose to listen to is my own decision. How does it make sense for someone else to have an opinion about if it is the right decision or not? I love love Bryan Adams. I think he is wonderful. And suddenly these other people who listened to him like till yesterday decides today that he isn’t ‘cool’ just because the rest of the herd thinks so too. Completely immature and childish in my opinion. If your decisions and choices are going to be based on what the ‘herd’ thinks, then maybe the finger you are pointing out at others should be turned around.

So my say on all this is be yourselves. And that is the coolest way to be. Listen to what ever lifts you up and makes the trials of the day feel lighter on your shoulders.  To whatever brings a smile to your lips and makes you want to hum along and maybe even get up and dance. And that is just what I am doing right now. And watching the breathtaking eclipse. Music and eclipse, how many more wonders can my day bring? Thank you to that power up there who has blessed me with all this.

Pondering

With the spring returning to my steps, and slowly enjoying things i used to enjoy, I walked out of home to work this morning bright eyed with optimism for a good day.

No autos for a long way, cops crawling all over the road, a few autos with broken glasses, my day wasnt going to be so starry I realized. Finally when I caught an auto I heard the real story. Old news in a new day. Communal tension.

In a world where things go out of style in nanoseconds, why is this such an ever lasting style? When does this stop? And the whole thing sounds like a kindergarten squabble. The Ganesh chatturthi procession was too loud during the namaaz time and the muslims raised their voice, the procession people instead of bein steeped in the sheer magic of their ritual, makes sure they are even louder to spite the objection, the church people celebrating their own festival of Mother Mary decides that its more fun to get into the squabble and raise their own many objections to the world in general, the endless viscious cycle goes on. In the whole fight for ‘relegious reasons’, the only person who seem to remain neglected is god. Its funny that people fight for god in the name of god and never does what god seems to lead them to do.Almost as if god’s biggest enemy is actually god. How can one fight on a ground that is based on personal belief? The keyword here being personal. Its your own thing. Do it. Why waste time proving other’s beliefs are wrong when it has got nothing to do with u?

In a country where we have co-existed peacefully for years, why has the last 70 years or so been a blood bath of religious prosecution? Did we get independence too early, not knowing how to deal with the freedom or get it too late by when we had forgotten what it was like to live in love and peace? I take my leave with this pondering question. Hope the rest of the day does’nt suck so bad….

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