Remembering Swami Chinmayananda

shreechinmay-wallpaper-1280x720

“If I rest, I rust” is one of most exalting quotes of Swami Chinmayananda, which I often listened during my school days at Chinmaya Vidyalaya. Today I am able to recite a few stanzas of Bhagavat Gita, thanks to those numerous Balavihar (open session on bhajans) that I attended during the school academics. Back then these sessions seemed vexing and were a convenient place to gibber. I never realized that these were intended to sow in the seeds of spirituality, a much needed accompaniment as we progress in life. I had the privilege of seeing Swamiji when I was in class 3. Memory of that time can be flimsy but that pious figure , clad in saffron dhoti, a saffron cloth covering one side of the bare chest, the pointed silver colored beard, spectacle and eyes equally brightening, etched deep in my mind.

I still recollect the story narrated by Swamiji to us students on that rainy day. It was the story of a king and his ministers. The king had two sets of ministers, left wing and right wing. During an extreme summer season water scarcity became an acute issue in the kingdom and people flocked to complain. King took a decision to dig new wells in the kingdom. King called upon his left wing ministers and asked them to oversee the digging of the wells. Due to the peculiarity of the land, the well had to be dug very deep to get the water. The ministers got the work done in a weeks’ time.

When the rainy season arrived the same people popped out with another issue to the king. The mud that was taken out during the digging of the well had piled up in every nook and corner and eventually clogged and congested the entire city. King ordered his right wing ministers to deal with it. These ministers took the mud and closed up the very wells that left wing ministers had dug. See the comedy of errors. Neither the king nor the ministers were wise enough to handle the situation. The message which Swamiji wanted to convey was the importance of being wise. When we do not make the full use of our mind and intellect, they lose their efficiency and the outcome either fallible or ludicrous.

On the day Swamiji attained peace on 3rd Aug 1993; our school organized a silent procession through the town. Various functions were held and in one of them the then principal of our school Mr. Kunhambu Nair gave an emotional speech on various facets of Swamiji’s life. One among them was Swamiji’s involvement in freedom struggle. Before embracing asceticism, Balan, the erstwhile name of Swamiji, took part actively in freedom struggle and was jailed. Due to unhygienic condition of the jail Swamiji caught typhoid and was chucked into the outskirts of the city. Perhaps this part of his life remains obscure to many.

Chinmayananda means ‘filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness’. Swamiji was a teacher who essentially lived to spread Bhagavad Gita. Swamiji had a expressive style for reciting Gita. Through various publications and discourses Swamiji explicated Gita in a way the common man could easily follow it. Recently I got added to the Chinmaya Vidyalaya group in Facebook and when I started reading his teachings I realized the irony. I was associated with Chinmaya Vidyalaya, an institution established by Swamiji, for more than a decade but never really tried to understand his teachings in deep. May be it is now time to give a start and follow his pedagogy.

Of Eyes That See…

love is blind1

Present

I hate him. I feel terrible to believe that I once loved him, adored him . I don’t want to see him again , his wretched smile. His thought made me feel perplexed and my future seemed bleak. My life was great before, I was enjoying my life,my academics, my friends, my world and then he suddenly barged in my life and ruined it. I am gonna meet him again tomorrow , may be for the last time, may be for my own good. It is going to be another sleepless night.

Past

It all started six months ago when we were arranged to meet up at a Friend’s house. I despised the very idea of arranged marriage and it was my fathers relentless request that compelled me to meet him. The first time I saw him, I fell in love. Maybe it was his eyes that did me or maybe his smile , the precious smile. A week later we got engaged at a simple function at my house. I had never imagined that I had a romantic girl hidden in me that was doing the incessant talking and day dreaming about him. Couple of days later I got a message from him“ Leaving abroad for an assignment, study well, make us proud, love you, trust me”. That’s probably when I started to hate him.

Present

As the train reached the station our eyes met, I ignored him. He gave me that wretched smile. The crowd in the station helped me, I had to walk behind him and not along with him. He took his car, no words were exchanged and we reached the hotel which my company had arranged for the new joinees. He was about to say bye , I somehow assimilated my courage and said “ I wanted to talked to you”. He replied with bit of stammering “ Ya ya…, I will come in the evening. We can talk then”.

Past

I was surprised by the message. Why didn’t he call me ?. I am gonna ask him why he did so. But he never called. His mother called my home to inform that he has reached safely. I somehow consoled myself. I wrote him a email, hiding my frustration, a two page mail, detailing him how much I missed him, how much i wanted to see him. Came a frivolous reply“ That was a long mail, reply you when I get time”. That intrigued me and offended me. I vowed to myself not to write to him again. Since then we have not communicated. It was difficult to answer my father when he inquired about my fiance. That precious smile suddenly felt wretched and irritating. I hated him. I felt terrible that I once loved him, adored him.

Present

He came in the evening. He took me to a beach. I came straight to my question “ Whats going on, why are you playing with my life like this”. His reply was also straight “ I am in love with a girl”. If I had something in my hand I would have hit him. I lost my temper and barged at him “ Then why did you get engaged with me”. He replied giving that wretched smile The funny part is that you know her better than me. That was a bolt from the blue, I was shattered. Several faces ran through my mind. He quickly took his mobile from his pocket and he showed me his lovers face.

That was me in my convocation dress.

He smiled, that precious smile “ On the engagement day, I met your professor. She had a peculiar request for me “ Your fiancee was not like this before, she hated the word marriage, but now look at her, shes already in love . I am happy for her, but it might cost her aspirations. She is a ranking student but I doubt whether she might get it now. She has changed,her approach to studies has been dismal after she met you . She has missed the deadline to projects, she is not even preparing for her placement interviews .A lot of her friends life depends on that project and I would be really thankful to if you could help her concentrate on her studies. If you love her , then do that for her.

He continued with a sigh “ I dint know what to do. I couldn’t stop calling nor I could refrain myself hearing your voice, but then I realized that I might be dotting your career and academics. I had to take that extreme step of getting completely cut out from your life without telling you. It was tough and each day was a suffering . I didn’t know how to say this to you when I met you this morning. I know what I did was terrible”.He then took a diary and lot of papers “ in this diary I have written all that I did in all these days” and then he took a bunch of papers and said “these are those hundreds of unsent replies to your email”. Before he could utter the word sorry my lips stopped him.

It was a moment of epiphany . I remembered the message that he had sent melove you, trust me. If I thought it was my hard work that got me the first rank and landed me a decent job, I now stand corrected. When he was suffering each day, I was alone hating him .I was blinded by my ego and anger. I couldn’t grasp the essence of love. Now my eyes opened like never before. I started enjoying the beautiful sunset, the blue humongous ocean and the gentle cool sea breeze.I took randomly one of those unsent emails and started reading. Maybe I can fall in love again for the second time. It was going to be a sleepless night.

Remembering those Classics

We are a very fortunate generation who get to enjoy the songs of the current music sensation like Arijit Singh or Ankit Tiwari or Shreya Ghosal and at the same time can easily hum the melodies of Kishore Kumar or Mohd Rafi or Lata Mangeshkar. At times when the current running numbers gets repetitive we can easily go back to those old melodies to reboot our self. There was something unique about those retro songs, it had a soul. With poetic lines, spellbinding music , soulful voice and stylish acting on-screen  these songs are evergreen and unforgettable. Be it Dev Anand or Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bhachhan with their unique style the songs they enacted on the screen left you mesmerised. The effect of these melodies were such that the play back singers and the actors of that time had devoted fans who used to keep the photo of their favorite ones in their pockets.

In today’s Bollywood, songs means scenic locations,  acrobatic dance steps and reverberating music, only a little lipping is required by the actors on-screen. But such was not the case with these retro songs were camera used to focus entirely on the actor throughout the song. The actors with their skillful acting, gestures , moves and style had to shoulder the entire scene. Not to take any credit away from the play back singer or from the music director but it was left to the actors alone to justify the lyrics, the melody and at the same time had to engage the audience throughout the scene. But these talented actors did it with ease and perfection. A simple example would be Dharmendra romancing Vaijayanthimala in a lift in the song ” Main Kahin Kavi Na Banjaoon”  from the movie Pyar Hi Pyar (1969).  I just want to go through a couple of them which I thought is worth a mention along with some interesting facts that I could gather from the net.

The 1971 released Dev Anand starrer Gamblar had the song  Mera Mann Tera Pyasawhich was enacted by Dev Anand on-screen. This romantic song has Dev Anand in focus throughout the song in a studio room. In his check shirt, a blue satin scarves tied under collar and with a stylish hat Dev Anand romances a dress stand clad with a sari which he imagines to be his lover. He performs with such ease, using his adroit gestures, that you simply cannot take eyes of him. Known as a fashion icon , he was a trendsetter at that time with his scarves, jackets , hats and his signature puff. “Dev Anand style” was a term widely used, who also had a profound influence on the youths at that time . This song was written by Neeraj and composed by non-other than the legendary SD Burman. It seems the song was okayed in the first take itself by Mohd Rafi which may not be a surprising fact. Another interesting fact is that this song was used in the back drop in one of the scene in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the spotless Mind (2004) starred by Jim Carrie and Kate Winslet.

dev4        dev anand1

The next one is from the famous movie Anand (1971) and the song is ” Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye”. Anand, the main character played by Rajesh Khanna , knows that he is going to succumb to the deadly cancer in few days. But he doesnt want to take this fact to his heart and feel sad about it rather you see a vibrant and a jovial Anand throughout the movie. But this song is a rare moment in the film were we get to see a softer , bemused and restrained side of the character. With a book in his hand and looking at the setting sun Anand sings about his heartfelt feelings, thoughts, unfulfilled dreams, destiny and hope.  By the time the song is completed our heart is filled with a gentle sadness . With Salil Choudhary’s music and the voice of musical maestro Mukesh it gives the required pathos to Anand’s character. The lyricist Yogesh Gaur had originaly written this song  for LB Lachman’s film but later was picked up for Anand after pleading with  LB Lachman.

Rajesh Khanna 2           rajesh4

In a similar league we will have to place Amitabh Bachhan’s song “O saathire Tera Bina Bhi Kya Jeena” from the movie Muqqadar Ka Sikander (1978) . Amitabh is basically just standing on stage while he sings this song but his natural facial expressions  captures the pain and sadness of the character ‘Sikandar’.  Sikandar loves his childhood friend ‘Kaamna’ who despises him and disregards his love.With tears in eyes ready to tickle down and along with a copious emotion provided by  Kishore Kumar, whose voice quavers over the phrases, Amitabh renders a comprehensible performance of all time. Music composed by Kalyanji Anandji and lyrics by Anjaan has some of the best lines you could find in the bollywood. My personal favorite lines are “tuje bin jogan meri ratein,tujh bin mere din banjare,mera jivan jalti dhuni,bujhe bujhe mere sapne sare”.

amitabh2          amitabh3

The list will go on and will have no ending but certainly these songs make us feel good and happy. We are fortunate that we can enjoy and appreciate these songs because at certain level it has and continue to influence our lifes.

Chennai Pattanam…

 

Aerial view of Kathipara Junction
 (Source Wikipedia)

So I am  officialy a Chennaite now.Second Metro city in my  life, first being Mumbai (5 years) and then good 7 years in Bangalore.  Chennai special Dosas, Idli, chutnies,  yummy thick coffee has slowly started getting attached to my life. Although my shifting from Bangalore to Chennai was not at an apt time ,with persistent rain, water logging, boat services, powerless nights. But slowly things are coming to normal ( but clouds still hovering around) and i have started to love this city. Water in the potholes have got drained , so now you need not use your intellect to drive through the Chennai roads. The current climate is like that of Bangalore and therefore not feeling much of a difference. Slowly the temperature will pick up and then sweat sweat . An immediate benefit I saw was for movies. Ticket prize here only is 150 ( inclusive of the internet booking charges) and showcases new Malayalam releases as well. Already saw couple of movies.

Yet to explore the city and hope to post all my experiences in this great city in my blog.

This was how my neighboring looked in the heavy rain.

IMG_20151116_091255 IMG_20151116_091303

The Banyan Tree…

The Banayn Tree

 

 

 

 Raghu, my colleague, was found going to each cubicle in the office discussing some thing seriously. Finally he reached my cubicle and announced “the banyan tree near my house has fallen” . I just turned back to him and gave a “yyaaa” look , but not much concerned . He looked sad and he continued “you know that this tree was 200 years old .He went on saying few more things but I dint take it very seriously. In every day or the other you can see this kind of news in the paper, tree fell uprooted due to heavy wind & rain, BBMP people cut big banyan trees to make way for road etc. It never made me think or anything to feel about this kind of news. But still I maintained a serious look as if I was gravely hurt by this news.

In next few minutes some of my other colleagues who were familiar with this particular  tree started narrating their relation with this tree.  One of them gave a sigh. “Ohh is it? I have seen this tree since my childhood and very recently only we  sat under that tree with my kids”.  As the narration of all went on I just felt how mean I was . For hundreds of years this tree was providing shelter for so many people and for them this tree has been a symbol of support, shelter and unity.

The another thing that adds up to the glory of this tree is that , it has falled down at midnight when nobody is underneath it , not creating any kind of havoc  . Some of the words of Raghu really touched my heart like I used to play with tree, talk to it, climb the branches of the trees, and hang from the lower branches. It was a part of not only his but many people’s childhood and was support to many.  May be these are the feelings one should have so that there is kindness in our heart and we bring happiness to all. I remember one of Galileo’s quote “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself” and that’s what Raghu did for me and may be for many of us that day.