Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Art of Conversation - Indian Fusion Instrumental Music

This fusion piece was composed in collaboration with Peter Rand (Keys), Saranya Varma (Vocals), Nicola Offidani (Guitar), Raul Rodriguez (Drums), and Rob Glass (Bass).  Thanks for listening, liking, and sharing!

Friday, June 17, 2016

A milestone: more than a million minutes viewed on YouTube

I just realized ... Since I started putting videos on youtube, more than one-million minutes have been watched on my channel.  I don't know most of the people who listen to my music but I am very grateful for their love and inspiration.    

I don't put a lot of my music on YouTube because frankly it is easier to just publish music without videos.  But among the ones that I have posted, these are my favorite:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saas Saas Simro Gobind - Translation #SaasSaas

Saas Saas Simro Gobind - Translation

Listening to the complete Guru
I come in the vicinity of oneness 

Remembering oneness in every breath
I erase all the pain inside 

Asking for the dust of Saints' feet
I abandon fleeting waves of desire

Renouncing my ego, praying with Saints
I cross life's ocean of fire 

Bowing down to the complete Guru
I fill my coffers with divine wealth

#SaasSaas Links: iTunes Amazon Google Play Spotify

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev changed the path of progress of the Sikh religion - K.S. Bains

This is the week of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan.  I found the following article by K.S. Bains very interesting: it talks about the achievements of Guru Arjan that are often overlooked ... 

Seed of the faith
K.S. Bains on the first Sikh martyr, who changed the course of Sikhism

The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev changed the path of progress of the Sikh religion. While paying homage to him on his martyrdom day, we generally highlight the compilation of the Adi Granth and the construction of the Golden Temple as his main contributions. No doubt, these are two very concrete statements of crystallisation of the Sikh religion, the former becoming the seat and the latter the holy book, the two bases of any religion. However, we generally overlook his other very significant contributions.

Hari Ram Gupta, in his book, History of Sikh, observes:

"Guru Arjan, Fifth in succession, was the first Guru born as a Sikh. He proved himself an original thinker, illustrious poet, practical philosopher, great organiser, eminent statesman, shining sage, saint and seer, composer of music, scholar, founder of tanks and towns, embodiment of love, humility and service, and the first martyr to faith. He was a dutiful son, conciliatory brother, loving husband, inspiring father, beloved master and devoted servant of God. He possessed a tender heart but resolute will. He was forgiving but fearless, firm in his faith like a rock, but never a fanatic. He completely changed the external aspect of Sikh religion."

There are enough occurrences in his life to write about each of the qualities mentioned. That will require volumes. I will dwell only on two aspects, namely, putting finances on a sound footing and encouraging trade and commerce.

The fourth Guru, Guru Ramdas, had started the institution of angtias to accept offerings from the Sikhs from their allotted areas and pass on the same to the guru. Another similar category was asand, a slightly higher position than that of a sangtia. Taking a cue from the Muslim system of zakat, he called upon his followers to contribute daswandh, or 10 per cent of their income, to the Guru. Sangtias/masands were asked to encourage the Sikhs to contribute and make collections on behalf of the Guru. To strengthen the system and make it workable on a long-term basis, he laid down that the sangtias/masands could keep tith, or 33 per cent of the offerings with them as their service fees and pass on the remaining two-thirds to the Guru. This system worked well and helped the Guru in taking various measures in the expansion of Sikhism. We all know about his great work in constructing gurdwaras, townships and the like. With the regular flow of finances, the entire system of collecting funds was streamlined, thus helping the Guru with his plans.

He encouraged his followers to take to trade and commerce. There were three reasons behind this. First, most of the followers at that time were subsistence farmers and did not enjoy proper social status. Trading increased the income of the farmers. Alongside, it encouraged the coming up of a stronger agricultural class who started enjoying higher social status and got some surplus to spend and live well.

Secondly, another section of society, the traders, became his followers. His followers not only traded in the adjoining areas but went right up to Kabul and beyond for trading in dry fruits and more importantly, horses. Initially, they brought horses for the purpose of trading and earning a profit. However, gradually, they started keeping the animals for their own use, too. Owning a horse was a symbol of great social status and superiority.

Gupta observes that this made them fearless and free from caste prejudices. There is, however, another aspect that is of greater significance. Slowly, with the owning of horses Sikhs started acquiring proficiency in riding and tent-pegging. They also started going for shikar and became adept in the use of various arms that are normally a part of cavalry.

Thirdly, these owners of horses and their attendants became ready raw material for forming an army, should such a need arise. It did happen in the time of the sixth Guru. Now, the question arises whether such a development was something which happened on its own or the Guru could foresee the shape of things to come. He was aware of the fact that as the religion expanded and the organisation became well-ordered and well-knit the finances and social status of the followers improved and they started living in style, they were bound to come into conflict with the state. The author of Dabistan observes, "Some of the Sikh Gurus took to agriculture and others to trading. They became good horsemen, created their own identity and acquired the position of a separate state within the Moghul State."

A few days before his martyrdom, the Guru sent to his 11-year-old son a bel fruit with five copper pieces as a token of nominating him as the next Guru. He also sent an injunction through the Sikh who carried the bel: Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain his army to the best of his ability. The rest, as they say, is history.

Guru Arjan Dev gave the Sikhs their church and their holy book. With these, the Sikh became a separate identity as distinct from Hindus and Muslims. The Faith acquired a strong spiritual, doctrinal and organisational base and became a potential force in encouraging a social revolution in Punjab. Khushwant Singh has observed Arjan Devji "became the seed of the Sikh church as well as Punjabi nation."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jo Mange - Translated to Spanish

Jo Mange Thakur Apne Te by Guru Arjan Dev
Translated to Spanish by Iris Salinas Ibacache
El uno cuyo poder
se extiende en las cuatro direcciones ,
pone su mano
sobre mi cabeza .

Su mirada sobre mí
con su visión de la misericordia
y disipa dentro de mí
todo mi dolor .

Eso misericordioso , que perdona maestro
borra todos mis vicios .
Él me abraza .
Él cuida de mí .

Obtengo , dice Nanak esclavo ,
Lo que le pido a mi Maestro .
Y todo lo que digo
resulta cierto , aquí y allá.

Lo que le pido a mi Maestro, me otorga

Launching New Album 'Saas Saas' ... #SaasSaas

#SaasSaas Links:

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Doston ke naam yaad aane lage - Translation of an Adam Ghazal

Doston ke naam yaad aane lage

दोस्तों के नाम याद आने लगे

दोस्तों के नाम याद आने लगे
तल्ख़-ओ-शीरीं जाम याद आने लगे
(तल्ख़-ओ-शीरीं = कड़वे और मीठे)
I started remembering the names of my friends
I started remembering sweet and sour wines

वक़्त ज्यूँ ज्यूँ रायगाँ होता गया
ज़िन्दगी को काम याद आने लगे
(रायगाँ = व्यर्थ)
As time started passing along
Life started remembering its purpose

खूबसूरत तोहमतें चुभने लगीं
दिलनशीं इलज़ाम याद आने लगे
Beautiful critiques started pinching
I started remembering heartfelt blames 

फिर ख़याल आते ही शाम-ए-हिज्र का
मरमरी अज्साम याद आने लगे
(शाम-ए-हिज्र = जुदाई की शाम), (मरमरी = संगमरमर जैसा), (अज्साम  = जिस्म का बहुवचन)
When I remembered the evening of separation
I started remembering marble bodies

भूलना चाहा था उनको ऐ 'अदम'
फिर वो सुबह-ओ-शाम याद आने लगे
I wanted to forget my love O "Adam"
I started remembering my love day and night

-अब्दुल हामिद अदम

What is the true Guru?

Guru Nanak defines a complete person as the one who is fully absorbed in oneness (Raag Sri). 

Guru Amardas implies it's not enough to just be absorbed. It's important to show this path to others. The complete Guru is one who is fully absorbed and shares the path of oneness through his words:

Guru Arjan Dev implies in the following Shabad that it is possible to become "complete" yourself by being in the company of the "complete". If oneness resides in your heart, you are complete and everything becomes complete:

The following is an interesting take (and mostly synchronous with the teachings of Guru Nanak) on what a true Guru is ...

Are you tired of hearing about yoga teachers behaving in “less than yogic” ways?

The problem is as old as power itself, and is lived out in almost any religious, spiritual or political context you can imagine.

If you're looking for a guru or a spiritual teacher, you may want to have this checklist in hand before you commit your spiritual life to one:

1. True gurus don't expect anything in return. 

They might take payment for their classes, they might take donations for their cause, but they will give you their best, regardless. Beware of teachers who demand great sacrifices (economic or otherwise) to be in their presence.
2. True gurus are not attached. 

They are not attached to your getting any results, to you following them, or to you liking them. Therefore, they won't be angry or disappointed with you, regardless of your actions. Beware of controlling, demanding, forceful or manipulating impostors.
3. True gurus help you find your own way. 

They may have a specific path to recommend, but fully acknowledge that there are many routes to enlightenment, and you should follow or even create the one that most suits you. Remember: the truth is ONE, the paths are many.
4. True gurus empower your own inner guru. 

They will always help you see, understand and tap into your own power, grace, and beauty. When you've been with a true guru, your own light will shine brighter, and you'll believe more in yourself.
5. True gurus want your freedom and independence. 

If they're the real deal, they will urge you to create a life that works well when they're not around. If they're a charlatan, they will want to make you feel lost and needy when not in their presence.
6. True gurus don't need to be affirmed by others. 

They don’t need an entourage, nor a following. So forget about phonies who demand your dedication, offerings and allegiance to them and their cause, or who are constantly in need of new devotees. Remember, it’s not about them; it’s about you!
7. True gurus walk their talk. 

It is easy to teach divine living, but very hard and rare to live divinely. Thus the true guru will teach by example, and will be non-materialistic, fair, grounded, peaceful, strong, generous, humble, and whatever else we would consider universally good.
8. True gurus are positive. 

Beware of gurus who make people look and feel wrong, have causes against something rather than for something, and look for punishment rather than compassion.
9. True gurus look content. 

This doesn’t mean that a guru may not experience sadness or grief. But seriously, can you imagine a guru who lives in a state of despair, depression, anger or anxiety?
10. True gurus live inside us all. 

Many true masters have been their own gurus (the Buddha being just one example). No matter what anyone says, you don’t need ONE guru, because the real guru resides in every one of our hearts.