Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good News - A poem by Billy Collins

The purpose of life is to sing is beautifully narrated in the story of the poem "Good News" by Billy Collins.  When we are in love, everything is beautiful.  It is then that we see perfection. Especially when that love is going to be lost, we are reminded of how perfect our love is. This would be sung in Gauri if it were Indian Classical music.  
Good News by Billy Collins
When the news came in over the phone
that you did not have cancer, as they first thought.
I was in the kitchen trying to follow a recipe,
glancing from cookbook to stove,
shifting my glasses from my nose to my forehead and back,
a recipe, as it turned out, for ratatouille,
a complicated vegetable dish
which you or any other dog would turn up your nose at.
If you had been here, I imagine
you would have been curled up by the door
sleeping with your head resting on your tail.
And after I learned that you were not sick,
everything took on a different look
and appeared to be better than it usually is.
For example (and that’s the first and last time
I will ever use those words in a poem),
I decided I should grate some cheese,
not even knowing if it was right for ratatouille,
and the sight of the cheese grater
with its red handle lying in the drawer
with all the other utensils made me marvel
at how this thing was so perfectly able and ready
to grate cheese just as you with your long smile
and your brown and white coat
are perfectly designed to be the dog you perfectly are.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Satnam - AllThatIs~Was~WillB

Someone said "AllThatIs~Was~WillB.' That is the literal meaning of "Jehovah." It is the verb "to be," but eternally. #soulcall

Candle Hat - imagination in poetry, Billy Collins

I love the way Billy Collins imagines and creates. Here is a description of the self portrait by Goya (see below for the picture)

Candle Hat

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in, " he would say, "I was just painting myself,"
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.
Billy Collins
Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

John Lennon definition of Satnam

The more real you get the more unreal the world gets. -John Lennon

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An idea of me - a poem

My mind is like mama duck
swimming in the world ocean
with ideas floating behind me
Like a neat row of ducklings
growing bigger and bigger
With time they will all be
all mama ducks themselves.
You will be gone one day, Shiv
but your ducklings will quack.

Countermeasures by Sara Miller - Poetry and Analysis

Countermeasures (From Poetry Magazine)
Sara Miller

I wish I could keep my thoughts in order
and my ducks in a row.
I wish I could keep my ducks in a thought
or my thoughts in a duck.
My point is that we all exist, wetly, in the hunt.
The ducks are aware of this
in their own way, which is floating.
The way of the mind is brevity.
There may be other thoughts on other days
in the minds of other and better men
and their constant companions, the women,
but these same tidy capsules — never.
This is just one of the things
I noticed about my thoughts
as they passed easefully by.

Are thoughts random or orderly?  We wish they were as orderly as ducks walking behind Mama duck in a row.  We wish that we can align our thoughts so there is order and predictability.  We wish that we can have certain thoughts rather than others -- for instance, we wish we can have orderly ducks in our thoughts.  We wish that our thoughts are in a duck, so they follow a certain pattern.  But that does not happen.  We are all disorderly, wet hunters.  We hunt for something now, and something entirely different later.  Our wet desires

The ducks have a way, and they are aware of it -- they float by in the pond.  We can also be aware that our thoughts are like the ducklings behind the mama duck.  Just like ducks float by the pond, thoughts swim by our mind.  And in our own mind they have an order -- they come one after the other. 

There are other duck families, with ducklings following their parents. They are ordered very specifically.  But each duck family is different.  There are no two duck families with similar structures, surroundings and swimming -- never.  Everyone has their own family of thoughts.  They float by our mind. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

15 Selected Poems of Rumi

1.

Time bringeth swift to end
The rout men keep;
Death’s wolf is nigh to rend
These silly sheep.

See, how in pride they go
With lifted head,
Till Fate with a sudden blow
Smiteth them dead.

2

Thou who lovest, life a crow,
Winter’s chill and winter’s snow,
Ever exiled from the vale’s
Roses red, and nightingales:

Take this moment to thy heart!
When the moment shall depart,
Long thou ‘lt seek it as it flies
With a hundred lamps and eyes.

3

The heavenly rider passed;
The dust rose in the air;
He sped; but the dust he cast
Yet hangeth there.

Straight forward thy vision be,
And gaze not left or night;
His dust is here, and he
In the Infinite.

4

Who was he that said
The immortal spirit is dead,
Or how dared he say
Hope’s sun hath passed away?

An enemy of the sun,
Standing his roof upon,
Bound up both his eyes
And cried: ‘Lo, the sun dies!’

5

‘Who lifteth up the spirit,
Say, who is he?’
‘Who gave in the beginning
This life to me.

Who hoodeth, life a falcon’s,
Awhile mine eyes,
But presently shall loose me
To hunt my prize.’

6

As salt resolved in the ocean
I was swallowed in God’s sea,
Past faith, past unbelieving,
Past doubt, past certainty.

Suddenly in my bosom
A star shone clear and bright;
All the suns of heaven
Vanished in that star’s light.

7

Flowers every night
Blossom in the sky;
Peace in the Infinite;
At peace am I.

Sighs a hundredfold
From my heart arise;
My heart, dark and cold,
Flames with my sighs.

8

He that is my souls’ repose
Round my heart encircling goes,
Round my heart and soul of bliss
He encircling is.

Laughing from my earthy bed
Like a tree I lift my head,
For the Fount of Living mirth
Washes round my earth.

9

The breeze of the morn
Scatters musk in its train,
Fragrance borne
From my fair love’s lane.

Ere the world wastes,
Sleep no more: arise!
The caravan hastes,
The sweet scent dies.

10

If life be gone, fresh life to you
God offereth,
A life eternal to renew
This life of death.

The Fount of Immorality
In Love is found;
The come, and in this boundless sea
Of Love be drowned.

11

Happy was I
In the pearl’s heart to lie;
Till, lashed by life’s hurricane,
Life a tossed wave I ran.

The secret of the sea
I uttered thunderously;
Like a spent cloud on the shore
I slept, and stirred no more.

12

He set the world aflame,
And laid me on the same;
A hundred tongues of fire
Lapped round my pyre.

And when the blazing tide
Engulfed me, and I sighed,
Upon my mouth in haste
His hand He placed.

13

Though every way I try
His whim to satisfy,
His every answering word
Is a pointed sword.

See how the blood drips
From His finger-tips;
Why does He find it good
To wash in my blood?

14

Remembering Thy lip,
The ruby red I kiss;
Having not that to sip,
My lips press this.

Not to Thy far sky
Reaches my stretched hand,
Wherefore kneeling, I
Embrace the land.



15

I sought a soul in the sea
And found a coral there;
Beneath the foam for me
An ocean was all laid bare.

Into my heart’s night
Along a narrow way
I groped; and lo! the light,
An infinite land of day.


15 Selected Poems of Rumi

1.

Time bringeth swift to end
The rout men keep;
Death’s wolf is nigh to rend
These silly sheep.

See, how in pride they go
With lifted head,
Till Fate with a sudden blow
Smiteth them dead.

2

Thou who lovest, life a crow,
Winter’s chill and winter’s snow,
Ever exiled from the vale’s
Roses red, and nightingales:

Take this moment to thy heart!
When the moment shall depart,
Long thou ‘lt seek it as it flies
With a hundred lamps and eyes.

3

The heavenly rider passed;
The dust rose in the air;
He sped; but the dust he cast
Yet hangeth there.

Straight forward thy vision be,
And gaze not left or night;
His dust is here, and he
In the Infinite.

4

Who was he that said
The immortal spirit is dead,
Or how dared he say
Hope’s sun hath passed away?

An enemy of the sun,
Standing his roof upon,
Bound up both his eyes
And cried: ‘Lo, the sun dies!’

5

‘Who lifteth up the spirit,
Say, who is he?’
‘Who gave in the beginning
This life to me.

Who hoodeth, life a falcon’s,
Awhile mine eyes,
But presently shall loose me
To hunt my prize.’

6

As salt resolved in the ocean
I was swallowed in God’s sea,
Past faith, past unbelieving,
Past doubt, past certainty.

Suddenly in my bosom
A star shone clear and bright;
All the suns of heaven
Vanished in that star’s light.

7

Flowers every night
Blossom in the sky;
Peace in the Infinite;
At peace am I.

Sighs a hundredfold
From my heart arise;
My heart, dark and cold,
Flames with my sighs.

8

He that is my souls’ repose
Round my heart encircling goes,
Round my heart and soul of bliss
He encircling is.

Laughing from my earthy bed
Like a tree I lift my head,
For the Fount of Living mirth
Washes round my earth.

9

The breeze of the morn
Scatters musk in its train,
Fragrance borne
From my fair love’s lane.

Ere the world wastes,
Sleep no more: arise!
The caravan hastes,
The sweet scent dies.

10

If life be gone, fresh life to you
God offereth,
A life eternal to renew
This life of death.

The Fount of Immorality
In Love is found;
The come, and in this boundless sea
Of Love be drowned.

11

Happy was I
In the pearl’s heart to lie;
Till, lashed by life’s hurricane,
Life a tossed wave I ran.

The secret of the sea
I uttered thunderously;
Like a spent cloud on the shore
I slept, and stirred no more.

12

He set the world aflame,
And laid me on the same;
A hundred tongues of fire
Lapped round my pyre.

And when the blazing tide
Engulfed me, and I sighed,
Upon my mouth in haste
His hand He placed.

13

Though every way I try
His whim to satisfy,
His every answering word
Is a pointed sword.

See how the blood drips
From His finger-tips;
Why does He find it good
To wash in my blood?

14

Remembering Thy lip,
The ruby red I kiss;
Having not that to sip,
My lips press this.

Not to Thy far sky
Reaches my stretched hand,
Wherefore kneeling, I
Embrace the land.



15

I sought a soul in the sea
And found a coral there;
Beneath the foam for me
An ocean was all laid bare.

Into my heart’s night
Along a narrow way
I groped; and lo! the light,
An infinite land of day.


Why do I Write - Jane Hirshfield

Why do I write?

I write because to write a new sentence, let alone a new poem, is to cross the threshold into both a larger existence and a profound mystery. A thought was not there, then it is. An image, a story, an idea about what it is to be human, did not exist, then it does. With every new poem, an emotion new to the heart, to the world, speaks itself into being. Any new metaphor is a telescope, a canoe in rapids, an MRI machine. And like that MRI machine, sometimes its looking is accompanied by an awful banging. To write can be frightening as well as magnetic. You don't know what will happen when you throw open your windows and doors.

To write a new sentence, let alone a new poem, is to cross the threshold into both a larger existence and a profound mystery.
Why write? You might as well ask a fish, why swim, ask an apple tree, why make apples? The eye wants to look, the ear wants to hear, the heart wants to feel more than it thought it could bear...

The writer, when she or he cannot write, is a person outside the gates of her own being. Not long ago, I stood like that for months, disbarred from myself. Then, one sentence arrived; another. And I? I was a woman in love. For that also is what writing is. Every sentence that comes for a writer when actually writing—however imperfect, however inadequate—every sentence is a love poem to this world and to our good luck at being here, alive, in it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guru Ram Das: Who is a Sikh?

Translation of "Gur Satgur Ka Jo Sikh Akhavey"

One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name.

Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar.


Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased.

Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name.

One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food - that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind.

That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate - upon that GurSikh, the Guru's Teachings are bestowed.

Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. ||2||

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nothing gold can stay - Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Today's message from Guru Nanak

Page 598 • Guru Nanak Dev Ji • Raag Sorath

O my mind, remain steady, and do not wander away. By searching around on the outside, you shall only suffer great pain; the Ambrosial Nectar is found within the home of your own being. ||Pause||

The treasure of the Name, for which you have come into the world - that Ambrosial Nectar is with the Guru. Renounce costumes, disguises and clever tricks; this fruit is not obtained by duplicity. ||1||

Renounce corruption, and seek virtue; committing sins, you shall only come to regret and repent. You do not know the difference between good and evil; again and again, you sink into the mud. ||2||

Within you is the great filth of greed and falsehood; why do you bother to wash your body on the outside? Chant the Immaculate Naam, the Name of the Lord always, under Guru's Instruction; only then will your innermost being be emancipated. ||3||

Let greed and slander be far away from you, and renounce falsehood; through the True Word of the Guru's Shabad, you shall obtain the true fruit. As it pleases You, You preserve me, Dear Lord; servant Nanak sings the Praises of Your word. ||4||

O my mind, remain steady, and do not wander away. By searching around on the outside, you shall only suffer great pain; the Ambrosial Nectar is found within the home of your own being. ||Pause||

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Online Patanjali Translaions - The ancient authority on Yoga



By Swami Vivekananda
http://www.vivekananda.net/booksbyswami/PatanjaliYogaAphorisms/Introduction.html

By William Judge
http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/patanjal/patanyog.htm


By Sri Sri RaviSankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shanker says in this video that there are four kinds of people: happy, unhappy, good and evil.  One should befriend happy and good people, to a point that you are one with them -- that way you will not have jealousy.  You should have compassion for unhappy people, but not befriend them because they will push you down to a point that you cannot help them.  Ignore people who are doing sinful acts.  Remember when you point a finger at someone, three fingers are pointing at you. 

A life that lasts forever - Anatole France

"The average man who does not know what to do with this life, wants another one that lasts forever." 
- Anatole France



On Anatole France From Wikipedia:
Anatole France (pronounced: [anatɔl fʁɑ̃s]; born François-Anatole Thibault,[1] [frɑ̃swa anatɔl tibo]; 16 April 1844 – 12 October 1924) was a French poet, journalist, and novelist. He was born in Paris, and died in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire. He was a successful novelist, with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie française, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his literary achievements.

France is also widely believed[2] to be the model for narrator Marcel's literary idol Bergotte in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

Singing on technocrati and bloglovin

I claimed this blog on technocrati and Bloglovin today. Apparently these are databases that can help people find blogs. Internet is a beautiful place to sing.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bhai Nandlal on Guru Gobind Singh



Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the helper of others
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has the help of God(105)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the treasurer of God
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is bestower of merciful gifts (106)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji knows God well
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the emperor of emperors (107)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the king of both worlds
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the warrior who gives life to enemies (108)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the giver of great gifts
Guru Gobind Singh Ji tells the secrets of God (109)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji puts a veil over everyone’s sins
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a cloud of mercy (110)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is accepted out of the accepted
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has reached God (111)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a river of divine knowledge
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a sea of God’s gifts (112)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is beloved of God
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a lover of God (113)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is an expert with the sword
Guru Gobind Singh Ji knows the secrets of every heart (114)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the master of the crown
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has God’s shade over Him (115)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the treasurer of all God’s treasures
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the cure for all pain (116)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the master of the world
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is unequalled in both worlds (117)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is praised by God Himself
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has many great virtues (118)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has very important people falling at His feet
Guru Gobind Singh Ji gives instruction to even demi-gods (119)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is praised by accepted ones
Guru Gobind Singh Ji knows what is in everyone’s heart (120)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s feet are kissed by the heavens
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s drum sounds in both worlds (121)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has the three loks(worlds) under Him
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has the stamp of His command all over the world (122)
Sudas is the servant of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Guru Gobind Singh Ji slows down the zealous energy of enemies (123)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is holy and free from enemity
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a mirror who shows the true God (124)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji understands the true God
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a king and a saint as-well (125)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is kind, merciful and wise
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the giver who gives great gifts (126)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the giver of givers
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the merciful of merciful (127)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji kindly gives gifts to those who give
Guru Gobind Singh Ji gives to beneficient people (128)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is forever sound and steady
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is beautiful and blessed (129)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is blessed by God
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a wonder of the timeless being’s light (130)
Those who’ve listened to the name of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Have seen God with the grace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (131)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is a picture of virtues
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has become one with supernatural powers (132)
Those who’ve sung the praises of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Have been kindly blessed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (133)
Those who have had a sight of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Have become intoxicated in the passage of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (134)
Those who have kissed the dust of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s feet
Have been kindly blesed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (135)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the doer of all actions
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the helper of the weak (136)
Everyone does homage to Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the embodiment of all kindness (137)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the chief all leaders
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the highest of the high (138)
Great demi-gods are servants of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
They sing the praises of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (139)
Eminent goddesses are under the order of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
They are the servants of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (140)
Nature has the utmost respect for Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the servant of God (141)
The nine cosmos (khand) are the dust of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s feet
They are the wise servants of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (142)
The highest throne is beneath Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has God’s court within His reach (143)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is excellent in all virtues
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the permanent leader (144)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji gives light to the world
All bodies and souls have blossomed from Guru Gobind Singh Ji (145)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s advancement is improving two-fold every day
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the beauty of all king’s thrones (146)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the helper in both worlds
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the sight of every eye (147)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has the whole creation in His command
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s praise is the highest of all (148)
Both worlds are the army of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Everyone is in the protection of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (149)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the giver of givers
Guru Gobind Singh Ji achieves victory everywhere (150)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is of excellent conduct
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the soul in every body (151)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is very loving and affectionate
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the light in every eye (152)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the giver of daily food to everyone
Guru Gobind Singh Ji showers the grace of God (153)
Even the stars are the beggars of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
They are the servants of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s darbar (154)
The five elements praise Guru Gobind Singh Ji
The seven spiritual guides are a sacrifice unto Guru Gobind Singh Ji (155)
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has His hand on both worlds
Guru Gobind Singh Ji owns everything high and low (156)
Nand Lal is the slave-dog of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Nand Lal is aiming for the name of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (157)
I am lower than the dogs of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
I peck the small pieces in the dishes of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (158)
I am a beggar of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
For the holy dust of the feet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (159)

The Truth About Love is it's all a lie - P!nk @pink

The love that you and I talk about is a lie. It is true. True love has nothing to do with people. "The Truth About Love" The truth about love comes at 3am You wake up fucked up and you grab a pen And you say to yourself I'm gonna figure it out, I'm gonna crack that code Gonna break it break it down I'm tired of all these questions And, now it's just annoying Cause, no one has the answer So I guess it's up to me To find the truth about love As it comes, and it goes A strange fascination with his lips and toes Morning breath, bedroom eyes on a smiling face Sheet marks rug burn, and a sugar glaze The shock and the awe that can eat you raw If the truth about love I think it just may be perfect You're the person of my dreams I never ever ever ever been this happy But now something has changed And The Truth About Love is it's all a lie I thought you were the one, and I hate goodbyes Oh, you want the truth? The truth about love is it's nasty and salty It's the regret in the morning, it's the smelling of armpits It's wings, and songs And trees, and birds It's all the poetry that you ever heard Terror coup d'etat, life line forget-me-nots It's the hunt and the kill The schemes and the plots The truth about love is it's blood, and it's guts Purebreds and mutts Sandwiches without the crust It takes your breath, cause it leaves a scar But those untouched never got never got very far It's rage and it's hate And a sick twist of fate And that's the truth about love The truth about love I think it just may be perfect You're the person of my dreams I never ever ever ever been this happy But now something has changed And The Truth About Love is it's all a lie I thought you were the one, and I hate goodbyes Oh you can lose your breath and Oh, you can shoot a gun and Convince you're the only one that's ever felt this way before It hurts inside the hurt within and It folds together pocket thin and It's whispered by the angels' lips and It can turn you into a son of a bitch man The truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth, the truth, the truth about love is Truth about love

Mother Teresa's Prayer - Its between you and God

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Yeats - the path to happiness

"At certain moments, always unforeseen, I become happy ... I look at the strangers near as if I had known them all my life ... everything fills me with affection ... It may be an hour before the mood passes, but latterly I seem to understand that I enter upon it the moment I cease to hate."

-William B. Yeats

"Ever since I have come in the company of saints, there are no enemies, there is no stranger."

- Guru Arjan Dev

A collection of Mirabai poems


"Mira Has Finished with Waiting"
"It's True I Went to the Market"
"Ankle Bells"
"In All My Lives"
"Mira the Bee"
"Awake to the Name"
"To My Brother-in-Law Rana"
"A Dream of Marriage"
"Why Mira Can't Come Back to Her Old House"
"Polish into Gold"
"The Necklace"
"Mira the Lotus"


Versions by Robert Bly & Jane Hirshfield
Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (2004)


Mira Has Finished with Waiting

O friends on this path,
My eyes are no longer my eyes.
A sweetness has entered through them,
Has pierced through to my heart.
How long did I stand in the house of this body
And stare at the road?
My Beloved is a steeped herb, he has cured me for life.
Mira belongs to Giridhara, the One Who Lifts All,
And everyone says she is mad.
*******************************

It's True I Went to the Market

My friend, I went to the market and bought the Dark One.
You claim by night, I claim by day.
Actually, I was beating a drum all the time I was burying him.
You say I gave too much, I say too little.
Actually, I put him on a scale before I bought him.
What I paid was my social body, my town body,
my family body, and all my inherited jewels.
Mirabai says: The Dark One is my husband now.
Be with me when I lie down; you promised me
this in an earlier life.
*******************************

Ankle Bells

Mira dances, how can her ankle bells not dance?
"Mir is insane," strangers say that. "The family's ruined."
Poison came to the door one day; she drank it and laughed.
I am at Hari's feet; I give him body and soul.
A glimpse of him is water: How thirsty I am for that!
Mira's Lord is the one who lifts mountains,
he removes evil from human life.
Mira's Lord attacks the beings of greed;
for safety I go to him.
*******************************

In All My Lives

In all my lives you have been with me;
whether day or night I remember.
When you fall out of my sight, I am restless
day and night, burning.
I climb hilltops; I watch for signs of your return;
my eyes are swollen with tears.
The ocean of life— that's not genuine the ties
of family, the obligations to the world—
they're not genuine.
It is your beauty that makes me drunk.
Mira's Lord is the Great Dark Snake. That love
comes up from the ground of the heart.
*******************************

Mira the Bee

O my friends
What can you tell me of Love,
Whose pathways are filled with strangeness?
When you offer the Great One your love,
At the first step you body is crushed.
Next be ready to offer your head as his seat.
Be ready to orbit his lamp like a moth
giving in to the light,
To live in the deer as she runs toward
the hunter's call,
In the partridge that swallows hot coals
for love of the moon,
In the fish that, kept from the sea, happily dies.
Like a bee trapped for life in the closing
of the sweet flower.
Mira has offered herself to her Lord.
She says, the single Lotus will swallow you whole.
*******************************

Awake to the Name

To be born in a human body is rare,
Don't throw away the reward of your past good deeds.
Life passes in an instant— the leaf doesn't go
back to the branch.
The ocean of rebirth sweeps up all beings hard,
Pulls them into its cold-running, fierce, implacable currents.
Giridhara, your name is the raft, the one safe-passage over.
Take me quickly.
All the awake ones travel with Mira, singing the name.
She says with them: Get up, stop sleeping—
the days of a life are short.
*******************************

To My Brother-in-Law Rana

I don't like your strange, strange world, Rana.
There are no holy men in it, and the people are trash.
I don't wear jewelry anymore; I don't bind my hair.
I've given up darkening my eyelids and doing
my hair the married way.
Mira's Lord is the One Who Lifts Mountains;
I don't need a bridegroom.
*******************************

A Dream of Marriage

In my dreams the Great One married me.
Four thousand people came to the wedding.
My bridegroom was the Lord Brajanath,
and in the dream all the doorways
were made royal, and he held my hand.
In my dream he married me, and fortune came to me.
Mirabai has found the Great Snake Giridhar; she must
have done something good in an earlier life.
*******************************

Why Mira Can't Come Back to Her Old House

The colors of the Dark One have penetrated Mira's
body; all the other colors washed out.
Making love with the Dark One and eating little,
those are my pearls and my carnelians.
Meditation beads and the forehead streak,
these are my scarves and my rings.
That's enough feminine wiles for me.
My teacher taught me this.
Approve me or disapprove me: I praise
the Mountain Energy night and day.
I take the path that ecstatic human beings
have taken for centuries.
I don't steal money, I don't hit anyone.
What will you charge me with?
I have felt the swaying of the elephant's shoulders;
and now you want me to climb
on a jackass? Try to be serious.
*******************************

Polish into Gold

I give my heart without fear to the Beloved:
As the polish goes into the gold, I have gone into him.
Through many lives, I heard only the outer music.
Now the teacher has whispered into my ears,
And familiar ties have gone the way of weak thread.
Mira has met the Energy That Lifts Mountains—
That good luck now is her home.
*******************************

The Necklace

O friend, I sit alone while the world sleeps.
In the palace that held love's pleasure
the abandoned one sits.
She who once threaded a necklace of pearls
is now stringing tears.
He has left me. The night passes while I count stars.
When will the Hour arrive?
This sorrow must end. Mira says:
Lifter of Mountains, return.

*******************************

Mira the Lotus

My Lord, the love that binds us cannot be broken.
It is hard as the diamond that shatters
the hammer that strikes it.
As polish goes into the gold, my heart
has gone into you.
As a lotus lives in its water, I am rooted in you.
Like the bird that gazes all night at the passing moon,
I have blinded myself in giving my eyes to your beauty.
She who offers herself completely asks only this:
That her Lord love Mira as fully as he is loved.

— Mirabai (1498-1550),
Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems
Versions by Robert Bly & Jane Hirshfield
Beacon Press, Boston, 2004


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Truth and Love by Rumi

Reason is powerless
in the expression of Love.
Love alone is capable of revealing
the truth of Love and being a
Lover. The way of our prophets is
the way of Truth. If you want to live,
die in Love; die in Love if you
want to remain alive.

Singing with Rumi

Birdsong brings relief
to my longing.

I am just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!

Please, univresal soul, practice
some song, or something, through me!

This being human is a guesthouse -a poem by Rumi

This being human is a guesthouse
Every morning a new arrival
A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness
Comes as an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture
Still treat each guest honorably
He may be cleaning you out
For some new delight!

The dark thought, the shame, the malice
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in
Be grateful for whoever comes
Because each has been sent
As a guide from the beyond

Rumi/The Guest House

A collection of Hafiz poetry translated to English

The Happy Virus

I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious -

So kiss me.



___



All the Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.

Let your senses and bodies stretch out



Like a welcomed season

Onto the meadow and shores and hills.



Open up to the Roof.

Make a new watermark on your excitement

And love.



Like a blooming night flower,

Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness

And giving

Upon our intimate assembly.



Change rooms in your mind for a day.



All the hemispheres in existence

Lie beside an equator

In your heart.



Greet Yourself

In your thousand other forms

As you mount the hidden tide and travel

Back home.



All the hemispheres in heaven

Are sitting around a fire

Chatting



While stitching themselves together

Into the Great Circle inside of

You.



___



It Felt Love


How

Did the rose

Ever open its heart


And give to this world

All its

Beauty?


It felt the encouragement of light

Against its

Being,


Otherwise,

We all remain


Too


Frightened.


____



The Day Sky


Let us be like

Two falling stars in the day sky.



Let no one know of our sublime beauty

As we hold hands with God

And burn



Into a sacred existence that defies -

That surpasses



Every description of ecstasy

And love.



___



Faithful Lover


The moon came to me last night

With a sweet question.


She said,


"The sun has been my faithful lover

For millions of years.


Whenever I offer my body to him

Brilliant light pours from his heart.


Thousands then notice my happiness

And delight in pointing

Toward my beauty.


Hafiz,

Is it true that our destiny

Is to turn into Light

Itself?"


And I replied,


Dear moon,

Now that your love is maturing,

We need to sit together

Close like this more often


So I might instruct you

How to become

Who you

Are!



____

The Subject Tonight is Love


The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact

I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all

Die!



___



A Suspended Blue Ocean


The sky

Is a suspended blue ocean.

The stars are the fish

That swim.


The planets are the white whales

I sometimes hitch a ride on,


And the sun and all light

Have forever fused themselves


Into my heart and upon

My skin.


There is only one rule

On this Wild Playground,


For every sign Hafiz has ever seen

Reads the same.


They all say,


"Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,

In the Beloved's Divine

Game,


O, in the Beloved's

Wonderful

Game."



___



At This Party


I don't want to be the only one here

Telling all the secrets -


Filling up all the bowls at this party,

Taking all the laughs.


I would like you

To start putting things on the table

That can also feed the soul

The way I do.


That way

We can invite


A hell of a lot more

Friends.



___



Becoming Human


Once a man came to me and spoke for hours about

"His great visions of God" he felt he was having.


He asked me for confirmation, saying,

"Are these wondrous dreams true?"


I replied, "How many goats do you have?"


He looked surprised and said,

"I am speaking of sublime visions

And you ask

About goats!"


And I spoke again saying,

"Yes, brother - how many do you have?"


"Well, Hafiz, I have sixty-two."


"And how many wives?"

Again he looked surprised, then said,

"Four."


"How many rose bushes in your garden,

How many children,

Are your parents still alive,

Do you feed the birds in winter?"


And to all he answered.


Then I said,

"You asked me if I thought your visions were true,

I would say that they were if they make you become

More human,


More kind to every creature and plant

That you know."



___



A Great Need


Out

Of a great need

We are all holding hands

And climbing.

Not loving is a letting go.

Listen,

The terrain around here

Is

Far too

Dangerous

For

That.



____


Why Abstain?


Why

Abstain from love

When like the beautiful snow goose

Someday your soul

Will leave this summer

Camp?


Why

Abstain from happiness

When like a skilled lion

Your heart is

Nearing


And

Will someday see

The divine prey is

Always

Near!



___



Buttering the Sky


Slipping

On my shoes,

Boiling water,

Toasting bread,

Buttering the sky:

That should be enough contact

With God in one day

To make anyone

Crazy.



___



An Astronomical Question


What

Would

Happen if God leaned down


And gave you a full wet

Kiss?


Hafiz

Doesn't mind answering astronomical questions

Like that:


You would surely start

Reciting all day, inebriated,


Rogue-poems

Like

This.



___



Why Not Be Polite?


Everyone

Is God speaking.

Why not be polite and

Listen to

Him?



___



Find A Better Job


Now

That

All your worry

Has proved such an

Unlucrative

Business,

Why

Not

Find a better

Job.



___



And For No Reason


And

For no reason

I start skipping like a child.


And

For no reason

I turn into a leaf

That is carried so high

I kiss the Sun's mouth

And dissolve.


And

For no reason

A thousand birds

Choose my head for a conference table,

Start passing their

Cups of wine

And their wild songbooks all around.


And

For every reason in existence

I begin to eternally,

To eternally laugh and love!


When I turn into a leaf

And start dancing,

I run to kiss our beautiful Friend

And I dissolve in the Truth

That I Am.



___



Dropping Keys


The small man

Builds cages for everyone

He

Knows.

While the sage,

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the

Beautiful

Rowdy

Prisoners.



___



Elegance


It

Is not easy

To stop thinking ill

Of others.


Usually one must enter into a friendship

With a person


Who has accomplished that great feat himself.

Then


Something

Might start to rub off on you

Of that



True

Elegance.



___



If You Don't Stop That


I used to live in

A cramped house with confusion

And pain.


But then I met the Friend

And started getting drunk

And singing all

Night.


Confusion and Pain

Started acting nasty,

Making threats,

With talk like this,


"If you don't stop 'that' -

All that fun -


We're

Leaving."



___



Damn Thirsty


First

The fish needs to say,


"Something ain't right about this

Camel ride -


And I'm

Feeling so damn


Thirsty."



___



These Beautiful Love Games


Young lovers wisely say,


"Let's try it from this angle,

Maybe something marvelous will happen,


Maybe three suns and two moons

Will roll out

From a hiding place in the body

Our passion has yet to ignite."


Old lovers say,

"We can do it one more time,

How about from this longitude

And latitude -


Swinging from a rope tied to the ceiling,


Maybe a part of God

Is still hiding in a corner of your heart

Our devotion has yet to reveal."


Bottom line:


Do not stop playing

These beautiful

Love

Games.



____



I Want Both Of Us


I want both of us

To start talking about this great love


As if you, I, and the Sun were all married

And living in a tiny room,


Helping each other to cook,

Do the wash,

Weave and sew,

Care for our beautiful

Animals.


We all leave each morning

To labor on the earth's field.

No one does not lift a great pack.


I want both of us to start singing like two

Travelling minstrels

About this extraordinary existence

We share,


As if

You, I, and God were all married


And living in

A tiny

Room.



___



Like Passionate Lips


There are

So many positions of

Love:


Each curve on a branch,


the thousand different ways

Your eyes can embrace us,


The infinite shapes your

Mind can draw,


The spring

Orchestra of scents,


The currents of light combusting

Like passionate lips,


The revolution of Existence's skirt

Whose folds contain other worlds,


Your every sign that falls against

His inconceivable

Omnipresent

Body.



____



Imagination Does Not Exist


You should come close to me tonight wayfarer

For I will be celebrating you.


Your beauty still causes me madness,

Keeps the neighbours complaining

When I start shouting in the middle of the night

Because I can't bear all this joy.


I will be giving birth to suns.

I will be holding forests upside down

Gently shaking soft animals from trees and burrows

Into my lap.


What you conceive as imagination

Does not exist for me.


Whatever you can do in a dream

Or on your mind-canvas


My hands can pull - alive - from my coat pocket.


But let's not talk about my divine world.


For what I most want to know

Tonight is:


All about

You.



____



I Got Kin



Plant

So that your own heart

Will grow.


Love

So God will think,


"Ahhhhhh,

I got kin in that body!

I should start inviting that soul over

For coffee and

Rolls."


Sing

Because this is a food

Our starving world

Needs.


Laugh

Because that is the purest

Sound.


____

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The story of Annapurna Devi and Ravi Shankar

In the Hindustani classical music fraternity, Annapurna Devi’s genius is part of a growing mythology. The daughter of the great Ustad Allauddin Khan, the sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and the divorced wife of Pandit Ravi Shankar, she is considered to be one of the greatest living exponents of both the surbahar and the sitar.

The tragedy is that her music is lost to the world. Four decades ago, following problems with Ravi Shankar, she took a vow never to perform in public. Since then she has lived as a virtual recluse, rarely stepping out of her Mumbai residence. She is 74, but has never made a recording. No outsider has seen her play in almost 50 years, except for George Harrison, who in the 1970s was allowed the rare opportunity of sitting through her daily riyaz, that too following a special request from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Annapurna Devi’s virtuosity, however, is attested by the accomplishments of her students, among whom are some of the greatest musicians of this country — Nikhil Banerjee, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur, Basant Kabra, Amit Bhattacharya, and Amit Roy.

Annapurna Devi’s aloofness from the world extends to not even taking phone calls. The only time she has spoken to the press has been through her students. For this article she made the concession of letting the writer into the house, but did not allow a face to face meeting. She later answered a written questionnaire on a variety of subjects including her hurt at the manner in which Ravi Shankar chose to portray their marriage and the death of their only son Shubho in his autobiography Raga Mala. “I am aware of the false and fabricated stories about me regarding what happened in my married life…,” she says at one point, “…I think Panditji is losing his sense of propriety or his mental balance, or that he has turned into a pathological liar.”

Annapurna Devi’s sixth floor flat at South Mumbai’s Akashganga Apartments bears her name plate and a plastic plaque which says, “Please ring the bell only three times. If no one answers, kindly leave your card/letter. Thank you for your co-operation.” I ring the bell once and the door is opened by a smiling Rooshikumar Pandya (“He is all the time laughing-laughing,” the liftman tells me). A psychology teacher at a Montreal College, Pandya came to Mumbai in the early 1980s to take music lessons from Annapurna Devi and never went back. He married her in 1984. Most visitors to the house don’t get past his room, just across from the main door. However, tonight one of her students, Atul Merchant, takes me through the passage into the ‘forbidden zone’.

We pass the kitchen, where Annapurna Devi herself cooks and cleans, as she keeps no servants in the house. But even while she is busy in the kitchen, her ears, Atul claims, monitor the students playing in the drawing room. Nothing escapes her ears. “Once,” recalls Atul, “her student, sarodist Basant Kabra, was practising Raag Bihaag. All of us sitting near him couldn’t discern any mistake, until Ma yelled from the kitchen, ‘Nishad ka taraf besura hai, sunai nahin deta kya?’” Across the bottom of the kitchen door is a small wooden partition, which was kept, I am later told, for her dachshund Munna. It’s been twenty years since Munna reached the big kennel in the sky but the partition symbolises her affection for him and immortalises his memory.
Straight ahead is a door, which is firmly shut. “Maa is meditating,” Atul says simply and guides me into the drawing room cum talim room. Alongside a wall is a row of sitars of different sizes in their sheaths. We come into a large drawing room opening out through sliding doors on to the Arabian Sea. Near the centre of the room is a well-worn chattai. “This is where Dakhinamohan Tagore, Nikhil Bannerjee, Aashish Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur, Basant Kabra and every one of Maa’s students has sat and learnt from her. And this round cane munda is where Maa sits while teaching,” Atul says. One instantly perceives that the air in the room is extraordinarily dense with silence. There is a sense of an involuntary freezing of the chattering mind. Around the room are paintings and bronze busts of Allauddin Khan, her father and guru, and her legendary surbahar. But it is a small framed sketch in the corner that catches my eye. “That was drawn by Shubho when he was young,” Atul informs me. It is hypnotic. A stark black graphic depicting a series of doors leading you into them. It’s eerie.

Later, I spoke to one of Annapurna’s senior students of Shubho’s illustration. He quickly remarked, “It sucks you in, doesn’t it?” Shubho is Annapurna and Ravi Shankar’s son who died under tragic circumstances in 1992.

Annapurna’s story
Young Ali Akbar was practising his latest lesson on the sarod. His younger sister Annapurna was playing hopscotch outside their family house in Maihar, 160 miles outside Benares. It was sometime in the 1930s. “Bhaiya, Baba ne aisa nahin, aisa sikhaya,” said Annapurna, who stopped playing and started singing Baba’s lesson flawlessly. And she hadn’t even been given music lessons by Baba. Allauddin Khan had trained his elder daughter, but music had caused marital problems in her conservative Muslim husband’s house. Hence he was not going to make the same mistake with his younger daughter. “I was so involved in the music,” Annapurna recalls, “that I didn’t notice Baba returning and watching me. I was most afraid when I suddenly felt his presence.

But instead of scolding me, Baba called me in his room. He perceived that I had a genuine interest in music, that I loved it and I could do it. This was the beginning of my taalim.” Her taalim had begun, as was compulsory for all students, with vocal Dhrupad training. Then, she was taught the sitar. One day, her father asked her if she would like to shift to the surbahar, a larger and more difficult cousin of the sitar, but ultimately a more rewarding instrument. As she recalls, “He said, ‘I want to teach my Guru’s vidya to you because you have no greed. To learn you need to have infinite patience and a calm mind. I feel that you can preserve my Guru’s gift because you love music. However, you will have to leave sitar, an instrument liked by the connoisseurs as well as the commoners. Only listeners who understand the depth of music or who intuitively feel music, on the other hand, will appreciate the surbahar. The commoner might throw tomatoes at you. So what is your decision?’ I was dumfounded. ‘I will do as per your aadesh,’ was my simple response.”

Around this time, Uday Shankar’s younger brother, eighteen-year-old Robindra Shankar (he changed his name to Ravi Shankar around 1940), came to learn at Maihar. At that time, Annapurna was a shy thirteen-year-old and, in the words of Ravi Shankar, “very bright and quite attractive, with lovely eyes and a brighter complexion than Alubhai’s (Ali Akbar Khan).” Their marriage was not a love marriage. “I was brought up by Ma and Baba in an ashram-like atmosphere at Maihar. There was no question of my getting attracted to Panditji. Ours was an arranged marriage and not a love marriage,” Annapurna Devi says with finality.

Pandit Ravi Shankar too writes in his latest autobiography, Raga Mala, “There was no love or romance or hanky-panky at all between Annapurna and myself, despite what many people thought at that time. I do not know how she truly felt about the match before marriage, although I was told that she had ‘agreed’.” And on the morning of May 15, 1941, Annapurna was converted to Hinduism and the same evening they were married according to Hindu rites. Connoisseurs and music critics believe that she is a more gifted musician than either Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar. As Ustad Amir Khan would later point out, “Annapurna Devi is 80 percent of Ustad Allauddin Khan, Ali Akbar is 70 percent and Ravi Shankar is about 40 percent.” Ali Akbar himself agrees in his oft-quoted statement: “Put Ravi Shankar, Pannalal (Ghosh) and me on one side and put Annapurna on the other and yet her side of the scale will be heavier.”

Annapurna claims this was what led to the discord in their marriage. Says she, “Whenever I performed, people appreciated my playing and I sensed that Panditji was not too happy about their response. I was not that fond of performing anyway so I stopped it and continued my sadhana.” It is no secret that it was this marriage that was the basis of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s popular film Abhimaan, where a famous singer (Amitabh Bachchan) and his shy wife (Jaya Bachchan) have problems in their marriage when her popularity soars above his. Mukherjee in fact discussed the story with Annapurna Devi before he embarked on the film. However, while in the movie the couple gets back together to live happily ever after, in real life Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi’s marital discord got worse and they eventually divorced. To save her marriage, Annapurna Devi says she took a vow before an image of Baba and Goddess Shardama never to perform in public again. But even a sacrifice as great as this didn’t save her marriage.

Ravi Shankar recalls the issue a little differently. In a recent television interview he said, “As long as we were married I used to force her to play along with me and give programmes… But after that she didn’t want to perform alone. She always wanted to sit with me. And after we separated she didn’t want to perform… She maybe doesn’t like to face the public or she is nervous or whatever but it is of her own will that she has stopped. This is very sad because she is a fantastic musician.”

Madanlal Vyas, who was Ravi Shankar’s student and the music critic for The Navbharat Times for 36 years, gives another perspective. “After the concerts people used to surround Annapurna Devi more than him, which Panditji could not tolerate. He was no match for her. She is a genius. Even Baba, the unforgiving and uncompromising Guru called her the embodiment of Saraswati. What higher praise than this?”

Unfortunately, her music is lost to the world. There are very few people who remember watching her in concert. There is only one recording of her playing in existence: a rare, private recording from one of their jugalbandi performances which was made from the speaker placed outside the door when the auditorium was filled. Apart from Ravi Shankar, and her current husband, Rooshi Pandya, the only person who has heard her play since she withdrew from public life is the Beatle George Harrison. The story goes that when he was here in the 1970s with violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked them if she could do anything. Menuhin said he wanted to ask for something impossible — could Mrs Gandhi get Annapurna Devi to play for him? After much persuasion, a reluctant Annapurna Devi agreed, not to a special performance, but to allow them to sit in on her daily riyaz. On the appointed day, however, Menuhin had to rush back home on account of an illness in the family. Harrison thus became the lucky one to see her play.

Shubho’s story
Shubhendra Shankar was born on March 30, 1942, to the newly married Ravi Shankar and Annapurna. Within eight weeks of his birth, he was diagnosed to be suffering from a rare, painful condition due to an intestinal obstruction. Though he was cured within a month, staying awake all night with a crying child after more than ten hours of sitar lessons every day, Ravi Shankar says in his autobiography, put the first strains on their marriage. “…Because of that trouble Shubho had now developed the habit of not sleeping in the night. It continued for the next year or so, and gradually I saw Annapurna’s personality changing. For both of us it was extremely strenuous, and our tempers would fray. At that time I too wouldn’t stand any nonsense, and we would get angry together. I had not known before, but found out that she had her father’s temper. She would tell me off — `You have married me only for music! You don’t love me! You had all these beautiful women!’ She was becoming insanely jealous of any other woman I talked to. Whenever I returned from a programme in another city, she would accuse me of having affairs there. It was like an obsession.”

Shubho, meanwhile, was showing interest in painting and had a private tutor appointed to teach him. He was also being taught to play the sitar by his father. When the family shifted to Bombay he joined the Sir JJ School of Art, although he never completed the course. His father was already a star and constantly busy, either on tour playing concerts or travelling to do music for films and ballets, so his musical education was taken over by Annapurna Devi.

In Bombay, however, the marriage took a turn for the worse when Annapurna discovered that Ravi Shankar was having an affair with Kamla Sastri (later Chakravarty), a dancer from his brother’s company. Upset, she went back to her father’s house in Maihar taking Shubho with her, coming back only after Kamla was married off to film director Amiya Chakravarty. But things were never the same again for Ravi Shankar and Annapurna. In 1956, she left for two years and by 1967 they had separated for good.

Through all this Shubho’s riyaz continued with his mother. Her rigorous teaching method made sure that he developed proficiency in playing long alaaps with beautiful meends. He had also mastered the sapta taan; a skill that experts say Ravi Shankar lacks. How Panditji came to discover Shubho, the sitarist is part of a legend in itself. One day, the story goes, Ravi Shankar was at a recording studio in Bombay for some minor recording where he heard a little sitar piece.

Astonished, he asked who the musician was, because though the sitar was unmistakably a variation of his gharana, which Baba Allauddin Khan had developed, the player was neither Nikhil Banerjee nor himself. The studio recordist laughed and said, “Surely you’re joking, Panditji. Don’t you recognise your own son playing?” Pandit Ravi Shankar called Shubho to his hotel room and Shubho played what he had learnt for him. When the performance was over, Panditji asked the audience, “Don’t you think he’s brilliant?” Everyone agreed. Then Panditji added, “Don’t you think he should start performing now?”

And once again, everyone nodded in assent. So Panditji suggested Shubho should come to the U.S. and start sharing the stage with him. Dazzled by his father’s charisma and also by the lure of the West, Shubho, who had grown up cocooned within his mother’s spartan lifestyle and his art classes, became insistent that he wanted to go to America with his father. His mother asked him to complete his taalim, which he was due to within two years, before performing on stage. But he didn’t agree. As a final offer, Annapurna asked him to study hard for six months, and then he was free to go wherever he wanted. But Shubho was adamant. It was at this point that the famous ‘sleeping pills episode’ occurred.

In Raag Mala, Pandit Ravi Shankar writes: “When I was staying in Bombay sometime in early 1970, I received an SOS call at my hotel from Shubho, asking me in a feeble voice to come home and take him away. I didn’t know what was happening and was terrified by his tone of voice, so I rushed to the flat in Malabar Hill, which I had not visited in the three-and-a-half years since I left for good. There I saw Shubho lying down and looking ill. He clung on to me desperately, like a little boy, and begged me to take him away with me to America, as he could no longer stand the hot temper and harshness of his mother — not only in connection with music but in general too. Coming from a man of 28, this both melted my heart and angered me. I did not want to make a scene and managed to control myself even as Annapurna was shouting in fury, ‘Yes, take him away! I don’t want him!’ After we left I learnt that Shubho had taken 8-10 sleeping pills in an attempt to end his life. Fortunately, the doctor had arrived just in time and emptied Shubho’s stomach completely.”

This was, for many years, the official version of the story. The rest was always dismissed by Pandit Ravi Shankar as the fabrication of Annapurna’s overzealous disciples. But now, for the first time, Annapurna herself says on record that father and son concocted this episode. In fact, in the interview with Man’s World she has been particularly vicious on Ravi Shankar: “I am aware of the false and fabricated stories about me regarding what happened in my married life,” she says, “I have been quiet about it because I thought of Baba while he was alive. I didn’t want to hurt him in any way so I put up with the injustice and suffering. However, now I feel that the world should know my side of at least the Shubho part of the story.

“I think Panditji is losing his sense of propriety or his mental balance or that he has turned into a pathological liar. He has exemplified the English proverb: ‘No fool like an old fool.’ It would be nice if he would devote all his time to teaching his shishyas instead of wasting his time and energy in such frivolous pursuits. His shishyas would be grateful for his gift and India would be richer with talents.

“That year when Panditji came to Mumbai, he learnt that Shubho was playing very well. He called him and after listening to him, initially underplayed Shubho’s artistry and then suggested to Shubho that he should now go with his father. The people of Panditji’s circle pointed out that Shubho was taiyar and that he could play anything and that he should tour with his father. According to Shubho, Panditji had added, ‘Your mother and I have studied under the same Guru so I could also teach you.’ My response was, ‘He is right but he would not have the time for it. Please stay here and continue your taalim for one-and-a-half years more. After that you can go anywhere you like. I would not stop you because by then, you would be ready to take on the world.’

“This is when Panditji and Shubho hatched the plan about Shubho’s taking sleeping pills — a stage-managed drama to malign me and to take him away from me. Shubho was immature at the time and hence unwittingly became a party to his father’s plot. I think he realized this later and stopped communicating with his father a few months before his untimely and possibly preventable death.“Let me share with you what did happen… When I was told that Shubho had taken sleeping pills, I immediately called a doctor who examined him and confirmed that nothing was wrong with him. We also searched for an empty bottle or any other telltale signs but nothing was found. As a matter of fact Shubho himself called his father at that time and told him to take him away as per their plan. My only plea to Panditji at that time was, “You have ruined my life and now you are ruining your son’s life. Why?” His only answer was, “It is because of you.”

Till today I have not understood his motives for interrupting Shubho’s taalim. Maybe it was because of the rumours making the rounds that Shubho was going to be a better player than Panditji and this was my revenge against Panditji. I don’t understand how people can think like that. If Shubho, or anybody for that matter, becomes a good musician the credit goes to Baba. Our music is his gift.

“I know Panditji is very image conscious. Maybe he feels that the recently published book on me has made some dent in his image and his articles are an attempt to salvage his image and assuage his guilt for the gross injustice he did to his son. Shubho realised this during the last months of his life and refused to see his father. Shubho could have been a great artiste; he was close to it. If he had continued his taalim he would have played great music. But a combination of factors prevented it.”

The fact remains that given his prodigious talent, Shubho never achieved the heights he ought to have in America. Within a week, his father fixed him up with a small apartment and a Ford Mustang and within two years of his arrival in America, he played with his father at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall. But gradually, he lost interest in playing the sitar. Never a strong-willed person, he developed a passion for junk food and Coca-Cola and ended up doing odd jobs to make ends meet. For a while he even worked in a liquor store to earn extra money. He stopped playing the sitar for almost eight years. He married Linda and had two children, Som and daughter Kaveri.

After eight years, he began playing the sitar again with Panditji and returned to India for a few concerts. On this trip, which was to be his last visit to India, he also met his mother again. Sarodist Suresh Vyas, one of her senior students, recalls, “Picture this scene: mother and son meet again after twenty years. For all these years there has been no communication between the two. He comes in, does pranam. His mother says: ‘Ae Shubo, aesho, aesho. How are your children? How is your wife?’ This goes on for two minutes. After that he says, ‘Maa, ami shikhu (I want to learn).’ She replies, ‘Fine. Your sitar is still there. Take it and sit down.’ And the mother begins to teach the son again. As if nothing has happened!”

Music critic Madanlal Vyas recalls, “Father and son had played together at the Sawai Gandharva Festival in Pune in 1990. We got the news in Bombay that Shubho was besura. Not just one music critic but a few others also said the same. Later, I heard the recording of the concert and found it was absolutely untrue. But by then the news had spread…I did get the feeling that there was a campaign to demoralize him—there were stories that his microphone was tampered with. Whether it was planned or not, I don’t know. But I am certain that Shubho was an extraordinarily talented musician. I remember hearing him play around the same time at a private concert on Nepean Sea Road. He played Raag Des, and so beautifully I have never heard anyone else play, before or since. After the concert when I spoke to him, he said he had learnt it from Maa just that morning!”

“During that visit, it was obvious that he was defeated and broken down,” Atul Merchant remembers. “We tried to convince him to stay on in India and complete his sitar education but he said it was too late now.” Shubho returned to the U.S., and in his last few months cut himself off from everyone. He contracted bronchial pneumonia and died prematurely in a U.S. hospital on September 15, 1992.

Life with Maa
It has been over 50 years since any outsider has heard Annapurna Devi play her surbahar. Those who have the temerity to request her to play are put off with a simple “Mujhe kuch nahi aata (I don’t know how to play at all).” Even her closest students are taught through singing, much the same way as she had corrected her brother years ago. She begins her own riyaz on the surbahar late at night and goes into the wee hours of the morning. Her students swear that after she has played a certain raag, the entire house gets inexplicably perfumed with the fragrance of sandalwood. In a private correspondence she wrote about this phenomenon. “Sometimes while practising at night, I suddenly have a sensation that I am surrounded by the fragrance of flowers. Baba used to say that this is one of the ways in which Sharda Maa makes her presence felt. He also said that whenever that happens, don’t think you’re great or anything. Instead, such experiences should make one feel more humble in the presence of the divine.”

For the rest of the day, her life is no different from that of any woman. “Her day begins at six in the morning,” sarodist Suresh Vyas reveals, “when she wakes up to take in the milk, not very different from any Indian housewife. She sleeps barely two-three hours. She cooks, cleans the house, and even washes her own clothes because her father had told her in her childhood that one should never let anyone else wash one’s clothes. So even if she is sick she makes sure that no one else washes her clothes but herself. As for her cooking, Prof Pandya and I joke that when it comes to accomplishment, there is a close tie between her cooking and her music. And she’s true to her name. No one who enters the house is allowed to leave without eating.”

In her free time, her students say, she listens to old Hindi film songs on the radio or to other music, even contemporary music. She liked A.R. Rahman’s first album Roja. A recent addition is Cable TV. Her students still keep her busy, though advancing age has meant that she has now stopped accepting new students. “I think it is only partially true,” her husband Rooshi Pandya says, “to say that she keeps aloof and away from people. While it is true that she does not meet people socially, as far as music is concerned she is very much involved with her students and their progress. Teaching music takes up most of her time. The rest of the time she spends doing her puja, riyaz and household work and all this does not allow her the luxury of socialising. This is her choice, her lifestyle and she is comfortable with it.”

One hears she has a fondness for pigeons like her father. “Oh yes,” Suresh Vyas says, “Every afternoon, she feeds hundreds of pigeons on her balcony. And mind you, she recognises each one of them. Once or twice, when I went over in the afternoon to drop something, I saw her feeding them. She would point to one and say, ‘This one is very mischievous, he doesn’t allow her to eat.’ In fact, I think that’s her biggest expenditure in the month. As far as I know, she eats very little, though none of us have ever seen her eat. A recent addition to her family is a crow, who comes on the kitchen window and refuses to eat unless Maa feeds him with her own hands. And he loves malai, so Maa saves malai for him.” Then of course, there was Munna. Munna was arguably the world’s first canine connoisseur of music. The dachshund who was Annapurna Devi’s best friend during some of her lowest days had an unerring ear for music. Those who were there recall that whenever any of her students—Nikhil, Shubho or Hariprasad Chaurasia—played particularly well, Munna would run and sit in their lap. “So hers is not a lonely life?” I ask Suresh Vyas. “Not at all, she’s very content in her own world. Though she’s unhappy at another level.

She’s unhappy at the declining standards in music today. It hurts her when she sees unripe musicians tempted by quick money and fame. This saddens her deeply,” he says. “Look at it this way: because we are so close to Maa, we see her as a human being with all the human frailties, but if we step back, there is another, much larger picture.

She was born and trained in an era when musicians lived under the sheltering umbrella of royal patronage. A musician had to please just one person, who was more often than not his student too. But she lives now and teaches music to a generation that plays music for the public to earn its livelihood So that purity, the flight of excellence in music, is vanishing in favour of crowd-pleasing antics. Maa represents the vital last link in that chain. She doesn’t play for the crowds. And she trains us in music in the same exacting way her father had taught her and her father’s father had taught him. Otherwise, if you look around, there is no one else to maintain that tradition.”

Epilogue
So eventually, I never did meet her. But if I had what could I have described? The sound of her voice? The colour of her sari or her complexion? What could I have fathomed from those trivialities? She answered my questions on paper; and from her students and critics and her correspondence I pieced together the story of the greatest surbahar player you never heard. Except for some old pictures, I have no living vision to remember her by. But the one image that lingers in my mind as if I had seen it with my own eyes is Annapurna Devi feeding her pigeons on her sun-washed balcony. Perhaps because the pigeons enjoy the freedom she herself chooses not to have. Perhaps because her father too did the same, and in some secret way she pays a tribute to her father every time she feeds them, chides them and sends them off. And perhaps also because of something her father had said in his last days: “When a pigeon flies, his wings beat in taal… You can count the matras if you don’t believe me. And such a sweet voice… God has invested such a treasure of music in each of his creations that man can take armfuls away but never exhaust it. Goddess Saraswati has given me a little too. But not as much as I would have liked. Just when I began to draw something from the ocean of music, my time was up. This is the trouble, when the fruit of a man’s lifelong labour ripens… Who can understand God’s ways? But one thing I have understood a little. There is a fruit, the custard apple. I like it very much. I eat it and throw the seeds outside the window. And one day I look and there’s another tree of the same fruit. With new fruits on its branches. I eat it and others enjoy it too. This music also is like that. It is not the property of one, it belongs to so many.”

- From the September 2000 issue of Man’s World

Monday, January 7, 2013

A gold bucket and a tin bucket carries the same water - Jane Hirshfield

Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt
by Jane Hirshfield

The dog, dead for years, keeps coming back in the dream.
We look at each other there with the old joy.
It was always her gift to bring me into the present—

Which sleeps, changes, awakens, dresses, leaves.

Happiness and unhappiness
differ as a bucket hammered from gold differs from one of pressed tin,
this painting proposes.

Each carries the same water, it says.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

What things want - a poem by Robert Bly


What Things Want
by Robert Bly

You have to let things
Occupy their own space.
This room is small,
But the green settee

Likes to be here.
The big marsh reeds,
Crowding out the slough,
Find the world good.

You have to let things
Be as they are.
Who knows which of us
Deserves the world more?

Key to the universe - a poem by Kabir

BROTHER, I’VE SEEN SOME

By Kabir


Brother, I’ve seen some
Astonishing sights:
A lion keeping watch
Over pasturing cows;
A mother delivered
After her son was;
A guru prostrated
Before his disciple;
Fish spawning
On treetops;
A cat carrying away
A dog;
A gunny-sack
Driving a bullock-cart;
A buffalo going out to graze,
Sitting on a horse;
A tree with its branches in the earth,
Its roots in the sky;
A tree with flowering roots.

This verse, says Kabir,
Is your key to the universe.
If you can figure it out.


— Translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Read more about this poem and poet on the Poetry Foundation website: http://bit.ly/kcbsZi

Giani Sant Singh Maskeen about Dasam Granth

I saw this video today on YouTube. S

http://youtu.be/WrSAiepeW3w

Listening to Live Music: Two great musicians, one awesome song, Charlie Peacock, Andy Leftwich

Hear me speak what's on my mind Let me give this testimony Reaffirm that you will find That you are my one and only No exception to this rule I'm simple but I'm no fool I've got a witness happy to say Every hour, every day Every heartbeat bears your name Loud and clear they stake my claim My red blood runs true blue And every heartbeat belongs to you Classic case of boy meets girl Moving in the same direction You're not asking for the world I'm not asking for perfection Just a love that's well designed For passing the test of time I'm here to tell you, I'm here to stay Every hour, every day Every heartbeat bears your name Loud and clear they stake my claim My red blood runs true blue And every heartbeat belongs to you Every heartbeat bears your name Loud and clear they stake my claim Ask anyone and they'll tell you it's true Every heartbeat belongs to you Yeah, sure maybe I'm on the edge But I love you baby and like I said I'm here to tell you, I'm here to stay Every hour, every day Every heartbeat bears your name Loud and clear they stake my claim Ask anyone and they'll tell you it's true Every heartbeat belongs to you Every heartbeat bears your name Loud and clear they stake my claim My red blood runs true blue And every heartbeat belongs to you Every heartbeat bears your name Loud and clear they stake my claim Ask anyone and they'll tell you it's true And every heartbeat belongs to you

World is just like a dream - Guru Tegh Bahadur


Guru Tegh Bahadur on Life:

rae nar eih saachi e jeea dhaar |
O mind, grasp this Truth firmly in your soul.

sagal jagath hai jaisae supanaa binasath lagath n baar |1| rehaao |
The whole world is just like a dream; it will pass away in an instant. ||1||Pause||

baaroo bheeth banaaee rach pach rehath nehee dhin chaar |
Like a wall of sand, built up and plastered with great care, which does not last even a few days,

thaisae hee eih sukh maaeiaa kae ourajhiou kehaa gavaar |1|
just so are the pleasures of Maya. Why are you entangled in them, you ignorant fool? ||1||

ajehoo samajh kash bigariou naahin bhaj lae naam muraar |
Understand this today - it is not yet too late! Chant and vibrate the Name of the Lord.

kahu naanak nij math saadhan ko bhaakhiou thohi pukaar |2|8|
Says Nanak, this is the subtle wisdom of the Holy Saints, which I proclaim out loud to you. ||2||8||