Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lost Time - a Tagore poem translated to English

Lost Time 
-Rabindranath Tagore

On many an idle day have I grieved over lost time.
But it is never lost, my lord!
You have taken every moment of my life in your own hands.

Hidden in the heart of things you are  nourishing seeds into sprouts, 
buds into blossoms, and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.

I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed
and imagined all work had ceased.
In the morning I woke up
and found my garden full with wonders of flowers.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The steed of life is in motion, who knows when it will stop - A couplet by Mirza Ghalib

Reading a beautiful Ghalib poem comparing life to a horse:

Ghalib on Life:
rau meñ hai raḳhsh-e ʿumr kahāñ dekhiye thame
ne hāth bāg par hai nah pā hai rakāb meñ

The steed of life is in motion, who knows where it will stop
Hands are not on the reins, nor are feet in the stirrup

Just Needs - An original poem based on Bhai Nandlal's readings

I was reading some poetry by Bhai Nandlal today and wrote these lines after the reading ... 

Just Needs

I need just enough ears 
to hear your call
I need just enough tongue 
to say your name

I need just enough feet 
to walk towards you
I need just enough arms 
to embrace you 

I need just enough head 
to lay down at your feet
I need just enough heart 
for you to live there

And shiv, I need just enough sight, 
to see you everywhere

Lovers do not finally meet somewhere - Rumi by Coleman Banks

Rumi's poem
- Translated by Coleman Banks

The minute I heard my first love story 
I started looking for you, 
not knowing how blind that was. 
Lovers do not finally meet somewhere. 
They are in each other all along.

A journey to sparkling stars

A poem to be sent to invite friends and family to join in the journey of the new album, "Sparkling Stars" -- 

A journey to sparkling stars
- Shiv, Feb 23, 2014

Come on a journey
to sparkling stars

to a place where
all your wishes 
come true

to a place

where whatever
you speak

where there is no I 
there is no you,
just us, 

where you are not nameless
you are the genuine you
way beyond the body
the essence of truth
waking infinite
as Satnam

Come see the stars
while the world sleeps
Come see the stars
sparkling in life's night
until you too, shiv,
are the stars lit bright

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Like fragrance in flower, the supreme lives in you -Guru Nanak

What Guru Nanak Dev taught

By Ram Lingam 

This small piece of writing is simply inadequate to do any justice to the standing of Shri SatGuru Nanak Devji or his teachings. To get to know the life story of this great Guru and his teachings is a journey that helps recognise the trivialities of life and acquire the knowledge of our true divine nature which we seem to miss constantly. 

Though not born into a Sikh family, I was fortunate to discover Guru Nanak Devji’s sublime teachings through a music album called ‘Ashram Bhajanavali’, which is a collection of devotional songs that formed part of the morning and evening prayers at Gandhiji’s ashrams. Of the many bhajans, there was Guru Nanak Devji’s song “Kaahe re ban khojan jaai…Sarab nivaasi sadaa alepaa tohi sang samaai” which caught my attention. Just reading the translation of this song, I got seriously educated on Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings and also about Sikh faith, which to me became much more than the dress code of the faithful. Even so the ‘langar’ that I enjoyed in the company of my Sikh friends at the Gurudwara certainly became sanctified.

The translation of this transforming song “Kaahe re ban khojan jaai’ goes “Why do you go looking for God in the forest? Although he is ever detached, he dwells everywhere. He even abides with you. Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror, the Lord dwells deep within all. Therefore search for Him within your own heart, O brother. The Guru has imparted this wisdom: outside the body and inside the body, know that there is only the One Lord pervading everywhere. O servant Nanak, without realizing one’s own True Self, the moss of doubt i.e. ignorance of one's True Nature or Essential Being, etc.cannot be eradicated from the mind.”

Guru Nanak Devji taught the absolute unity of God; everything is God, and everything is dependent on the will of God. The Guru’s life story is full of saintly actions and divine events that teach us to lead a pure life, to be a ‘Sikh’, a sincere disciple and to receive the grace of the Guru for self-unfoldment. The word ‘Sikh’ means ‘disciple’ or student. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term ‘Sisya’ meaning "disciple, student" or ‘siksa’ meaning "instruction" according to the ‘The Illustrated History of the Sikhs’ by Khushwant Singh. The word ‘Sikh’ means ‘disciple’ and they are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the 10 Sikh Gurus.

The origins of Sikhism lie in the spiritual and social teachings of Guru Nanak Devji, which can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, a vast collection of revelatory verses recorded in Gurmukhi. Guru Nanak Devji taught that the way to connect with the Supreme is not through the mind or through rituals, but through Guru’s grace and direct personal experience. Therefore, he emphasised meditation on the Name (Naam) and Presence of God.

Guru Nanak Devji has given a beautiful summary of his teachings in one of his hymns where he says: “Love the saints of every faith: Put away thy pride. Remember the essence of religion is meekness and sympathy, not fine clothes, not the Yogi’s garb and ashes, not the blowing of the horns, not the shaven head, not long prayers, not recitations and torturings, not the ascetic way, but a life of goodness and purity, amid the world’s temptations.”

Here are given some famous sayings of Guru Nanak Devji
• "There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, He is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self illuminated, He is realised by the kindness of the True Guru…" (Japji)
• Even Kings and emperors with heaps of wealth and vast dominion cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God. 
• God is one, but he has innumerable forms. He is the creator of all and He himself takes the human form. 
• I am neither a child, a young man, nor an ancient; nor am I of any caste. 
• I am not the born; how can there be either birth or death for me? 
• I bow at His Feet constantly, and pray to Him, the Guru, the True Guru, has shown me the Way. 
• Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.

These sayings just give us a glimpse of his humility, his holiness, his message of universality and equality. The core teachings attributed to Guru Nanak are that there is only one God, and that all human beings can have direct access to divinity without empty rituals or priests. His most radical social teachings denounced the degenerated caste system and taught that everyone is equal, regardless of caste or gender. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sing of the soul XXII - Khalil Gibran

Song Of The Soul XXII

In the depth of my soul there is 
A wordless song - a song that lives 
In the seed of my heart. 
It refuses to melt with ink on 
Parchment; it engulfs my affection 
In a transparent cloak and flows, 
But not upon my lips. 

How can I sigh it? I fear it may 
Mingle with earthly ether; 
To whom shall I sing it? It dwells 
In the house of my soul, in fear of 
Harsh ears. 

When I look into my inner eyes 
I see the shadow of its shadow; 
When I touch my fingertips 
I feel its vibrations. 

The deeds of my hands heed its 
Presence as a lake must reflect 
The glittering stars; my tears 
Reveal it, as bright drops of dew 
Reveal the secret of a withering rose. 

It is a song composed by contemplation, 
And published by silence, 
And shunned by clamor, 
And folded by truth, 
And repeated by dreams, 
And understood by love, 
And hidden by awakening, 
And sung by the soul. 

It is the song of love; 
What Cain or Esau could sing it? 

It is more fragrant than jasmine; 
What voice could enslave it? 

It is heartbound, as a virgin's secret; 
What string could quiver it? 

Who dares unite the roar of the sea 
And the singing of the nightingale? 
Who dares compare the shrieking tempest 
To the sigh of an infant? 
Who dares speak aloud the words 
Intended for the heart to speak? 
What human dares sing in voice 
The song of God?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"The song I came to sing" from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

The song I came to sing!
- Rabindranath Tagore
The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.
I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice;
only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.
The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor;
but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.
I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet.

-Rabindranath Tagore in the Gitanjali

Commentary by Sudhir Krishnan

Each one of us has a purpose in our life that we have come to fulfill
That purpose is the song in our heart that we have come here to sing
We spend so much time in trying to understand what it is
Yet like the bud, many of us have to opened up to it yet
Sometimes life throws subtle hints at what it could be
and we may spend much time preparing for the day we truly align with it
Blessed are those whose inner light has been lit
for they are truly singing the song they came here to sing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love is real , real is love - John Lennon

Love - A song by John Lennon

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Love is real , real is love
Love is feeling , feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
we can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needed to be loved

Sunday, February 9, 2014

To be kind, one has to sing oneness ...

A beautiful exposition of how kindness is connected to oneness:

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Here is the full poem by Naomi Shihab Nye:


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Spiritual Wake-Up for Non-Morning People - Rabbi Joseph Meszler

Spiritual Wake-Up for Non-Morning People (from

Morning isn't easy for many people. My children, who are growing, are less interested in chatting with me in the car on the way to school then they used to be. Sometimes, as I drop them off, I complete both sides of a conversation out loud just to make myself feel better: "Have a nice day...Yes, Dad, have a nice day...I love you...I love you, too." They usually respond with an eye roll and a "bye" as they shut the car door. Are they learning to imitate my grumpiness?

How different is what the Rabbinic Sages say morning should be: "Greet every day like a lion! Wake the dawn; don't let it wake you!" Well, my lion is the toothless, lazy kind found in the zoo.

How can I be better at waking up to the new day, both physically and spiritually? I have learned that feeding my mind is just as important as feeding my body. The messages I give myself in the morning can set up the mood of the day. If I begin with listening to the morning news about everything wrong with the world, I will be starting my day from a low, negative place. But if I start with a positive message, then that is much better brain-food to digest and get me going.

Using a morning prayer from Jewish tradition helps set the right mood and motivation for me. My favorite morning Hebrew prayer is Modeh Ani -- "I thank you God, Ruler of the Universe, who has returned my soul to me! Great is your faithfulness!" There are a lot of catchy tunes set to these words.

This is where modern technology comes in. I set up Modeh Ani as the song to wake me up on my alarm clock. I also included, after the song, a recording of my children singing morning blessings from the prayer book. (Getting them to do this took some persuading, but eventually they got into it. Now they think it is cool I have recorded them, and like most kids, they like to hear themselves.)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So is a spiritual breakfast. We may want to wake up like a lion, but we have to tame the lion first from negativity. We do this by nourishing not only our bodies but also our minds. Often we need help -- a song or a recording with something hopeful can work. Taking control this way helps me wake the dawn the right way, rather than let it wake me.

Have you greeted today with excitement?

A story of waking up by Jane Honeck (

This picture says it all. Hunter Joseph, our 8th grandchild, arrived April 4th with great gusto. Nothing held back, he greets the world full of passion with energy engaging every ounce of his tiny being. I imagine him fully conscious of everything—from the hands of the doctor holding him to the air lightly touching his body—everything is new and exciting. What if we greeted each day in the same way? What would our life and our world look like?

What if we experienced the light of dawn each morning and felt the cool air on our bodies as we rolled out of bed as if it were the first time. What if we used this heightened awareness and energy to craft a whole new day, any way we wanted it. Instead of being mired in problems and stuck with obstacles, we’d be poised for each new experience that life hands us. Sure, some we might greet like a lion, but at least we’d be facing them instead of hiding from problems or staying stuck in patterns that no longer work.

Life would change for sure. When we face each day with energy and passion we can move forward to build the life we want rather than settle for the life we have. Building is always better than settling into an unconscious way of doing life.  Whether it’s unconscious spending, eating or politics as usual, the only way for change is to enter life like a lion. Because if we don’t, the end won’t be going out like lambs but more like sheep going to slaughter.

Remember that energy, creativity and curiosity you felt as a child and use it to your advantage every day. And, make it your duty to keep it growing in every child you meet.

Don't wait for someone else to sing for you

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It'll all be okay in the end. -John Lennon

The goal of all mystics is Satnam

All mystics speak the same language, for they come from the same country.

louis-claude de saint-martin

What we are all looking for, even though we are searching in the most improbable places, is infinite wisdom, infinite joy, infinite love. In other words, we are trying to discover our real nature. At the very core of our being is a spark of purity, of perfection, of divinity. When we learn to identify less and less with that which is subject to change and more and more with this core of perfection, we are gradually moving closer to this supreme goal.

Though different religions call it by different names, the goal is always the same. It is nirvana to the Buddhist, moksha to the Hindu; Jesus calls it “entering the kingdom of heaven within.” To the Sufis it is union with the Beloved; to Jewish mystics it is the return to the Promised Land. No matter what they call it, all the great religions point to the same supreme goal.

-Eknath Eswaran