When There Is Clarity in the Thought

Product @ Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9384454117/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The most brought item in Amazon India is books. I began with Amazon.com in US, buying my course books and maybe a gadget here and there. Amazon website is so easy to figure out for a confused person like me. It also made me feel safe when I ordered books from them. So even after switching continent I still enjoy shopping in Amazon.

Among the various books that I have got, spiritual books are slightly popular with me. I love to collect The Bhagavad Gita. I collect them not to gather dust; but the book to become dog-eared due to constant reading and annotated with the inner reflection.

The above URL is my latest collection of the books. The first time I encountered Songs of God (The Bhagavad Gita) was when I was in my 8th Grade. It was well worn out copy of my youngest uncle. All my uncles, aunt and my father were believers in this book. Each incorporated the teachings in their own way and with their special quirks. But the Sanatana Dharma was very much a way of life in my family and I believe it has filtered to the current generations with their individualistic version of it.

But these are all incidental events, the main reason that I have such fascination for this book is the fact, that the various version that I read gave me insight only to that level of emotional growth that I held within me at that moment. During the 8th grade I understood nothing of the book, I flipped through with earnestness of course, but did not understand anything. After the rush and stress of 10th grade, I again settled to read the book. This time the chapter on Karma Yoga was very appealing. I kept reading it repeatedly.

Then, when I reached my first year of college, I decided that I would club lamp lighting activity with reading the book, in the hope, maybe I will get clarity of the ideas given in the book. The Gita is a huge tomb of footnoted explanation for which you need to read up a lot on the other explanatory books. So then, I checked out various schools of thought, which included, Sri Aurobindo,  Paramahansa Yogananda, then many other explanation providing shows by many gurus from north to south. These gurus excelled in the art of pravachan or discourses.

I somehow showed a greater inclination towards the South Gurus since it sat well with my sensitivity. I am greatly influenced by Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swamy. I found his discourse far more convincing to my seeking soul. But I never stop at one Guru, my nature is to keep searching until I can say, ah! Now I know.

My quest never stopped at any given point of my life. The progress that I have made is based on the emotional growth and psychological effect that was present in me at the time of reading the text of Gita. So why does this specific book be over and above other scriptures. I would say the simplicity of the entire work.

The fact that I cannot read the source language in which it was written, Sanskrit, it didn’t stop me from perusing to read it in English translation. My Uncle’s copy was a very poor translation and later when I began collecting other translations, something was always missing in it. But the English part didn’t sit well or resonate with my inner writer’s spirit, until I picked my latest copy from Nightingale’s Vedic Cosmos division’s, which is involved in publishing Vedic Literature with the true aspiration to bring to the seeking soul the lessons from the ancient past.

For the first time, I understood Sri Krishna better. I found a connection between each chapter and how they were interlinked. It is like any Analytical Essay on the Soul and Its ultimate goal on Earth. I personally feel that this life is rather interesting, given the fact that, I am seeing it emotionally, scientifically (theory and practical), philosophically, and essentially to discover what really happens to humans whether individually or collectively.

I was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s speech in the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. Though the import of it took a long time to happen for me. By some mysterious logic which I don’t even know, my mind understands of things related to spirituality. I always believed that my life was a spiritual progress with a process already settled into my inner Self.

Spiritualism is never far away from my thoughts and I try to understand this mystery called life in my own ways. In that self-discovery process I have used The Bhagavad Gita a lot. Among the many books that I read about the interpretation of the Gita, one of them was Devadutta Pattnaik’s My Gita. which was an interesting way of looking at the text.

But this time when I read the Vedic Cosmos’s version of the gita’s translation, I was blown over. For the first time, I saw the logic in the text. I might still not have got the complete import of it, but I figured out the points covered and the sequence in which Sri Krishna places these ideas as progressive path of improvement towards self-realization and reaching god head.

See the whole piece starts from when Arjuna is confused and reluctant to fight. From 0 -100% switch of attitude was achieved with remarkable oratory accomplishment by Sri Krishna. I feel that each chapter deals with specific issue at hand and then show how to progress forward with utmost care. Given my nature, I tend to pursue ideas and cross reference them with actual performance by me.

I have been reading this book since Friday last for personal and work related need. The level of clarity that I felt this time, while reading the book, was extremely surprising for me. The translation was done with great care for details and part of the manodharam could be deeply felt. Yes, it did have a few places where I felt, that it could be done well, which is atypically just my personal quirks on certain kind of sentence. But my critic cannot be fully acceptable, since I am seeing this work from just the English translation angle. Yes, the fact remains, that I am seeing it with many other translated versions from my previous reading. I feel this one was the closest that brought my thinking mind in alignment with the text.

I am enjoying the connectivity that I felt with the text and the fact that it was there all the while but, the Supreme gives the understanding that is needed for the text. I am grateful and humbled by the new understanding and the seeker is resting at base camp 1 and it is a long way to the summit of complete understanding.

Image Source: Amazon India

The Bhagavad Gita of My Life | Exploring Inquisitively

This goes back to that time when I was just out of college and I was still figuring out my career path. I am a naturally confused person, surprisingly even today, I am the self-same confused person. Now I feel that the confused state is to bring order and well-being through analysis, which I take it to mean, as a strength of character for me. Back then, I was double-minded, if I should believe in the presence of God or not.

But then, I had this sense of unshakeable faith in my Personal God; but reluctant to accept certain concepts of my Hindu religion. After all, my personal god had got me out of all the life challenges. He had ensured that I was safe and learned something at every struggle that I had faced in the course of my living. So, during one of my breaks from work, I was at home figuring myself out. When naturally I hypothesized, that if I were to study something then, I can figure myself and the Society surrounding me.

I believed, if I learned some life-skills more then, I will be able to work better and be able to handle people with the finesse of well-developed character. It has taken me many years to understand that you learn on the job by doing it. The art of working in a team is an energy exchange, that is what happens when the entire team reaches the right level of comfort and of complete confidence within the group, that the participants are willing to place their sensitive thoughts with freedom within the team’s brainstorming. I still have a long way to go, before I can say I understand the dynamics of teamwork.

So, coming back to my story of self-discovery, in this break post-college, I was learning to play the Veena and that instrument actually made me more focused on my inner being, than those singing lessons during my childhood with my sister. I was a grown up and I knew the challenge ahead was steep. Though I was struggling with the notes, given my learning disability, I did enjoy the instrument. But I could hold a raga and play relatively okay. My music teacher was blessed with great patience because he would wait until I got the fingering right on the fret.

Veena playing is like performing an arthi. You have the arthi plate in one hand, while the other one is ringing the bell. Likewise, your left hand is on the frets and the right one is plucking the strings. It takes great coordination. There is something to learn here for my entire life.

Meanwhile, I had one besotted listener, who was a little mouse, our resident pest. Once he came close enough and sat on the corner of my mat made of grass. I looked at him and he looked ready to run, if I so much as moved a muscle, but I continued to play my Veena without noticing him, hoping that he will remain to listen in. That was when I gave my first concert for a single other than the human audience. I could only play for half an hour, it was clear that the mouse heard a mini version of the concert which was not even half the ticket value.

During this time, my mother was making one of her visit to my brother’s place and I was responsible and in charge of the house. I was super nervous and tided it over with being super organized. The housekeeping was already in my bucket since we had run out of maid choices. Though I was doing this with confidence as if I knew how to do it.

My father had to put up with my cooking behavioral quirks, of course, he helped with the roti rolling activity. That way papaji was a very considerate person. During one of our conversations, he explained about his practice of holding silence every Sunday helped him but was disapproved by my grandfather. But I learned something about my family though the elders disagreed with younger generation thoughts, we were yet given the right to explore spirituality in our own ways. That thought of my father’s perked my interest and I decided to find some daily rituals for myself like him. That is when I remembered the lighting of lamp activity that mummyji would insist that I perform.

That is when, I choose the idea of working on the spiritual aspect of my life. So, I decided to take up the lighting lamp activity, at the same time included reading a book or scripture anything that was in book. So I had the choice of book from the past gift. I found a version of the Ramayana and a small box of the Bhagavad Gita well worn out. It was my youngest uncle’s copy. I got comfortable and just read the English part with great faith and hope of transformation.

I was fascinated with the Sanskrit text and sometimes would just gaze at it. Of course, I couldn’t read any of the Devanagari scripts, neither Hindi nor Sanskrit, so that left just the English text which I could make out. I was not happy with the translation of the texts, but still, it was prayers for me. It was later, many years after, I could read and recognize one conjugation of the Noun Rama.

Each chapter was read with a great eagerness and sharada, while on some days, my pestian friend would check me out from his corner and silently join me in the lamp lighting ritual. I don’t know if God thought to Himself, ‘what an odd pair of friends are seated together in front of me and wool-gathering. Both of us were evaluating, whether to risk licking the rock sugar that I have offered to the Lord, both were kind of eyeballing each other for those thoughts. This cat and mouse interaction with my pestian friend kept happening since my focus was divided between the reading of the shlokas and watching out for my prasad.

Over the years our small-sized species of mousy rat problem was completely solved and the reading after that period became very spiritual-centric. When I got married and went to Singapore the first housekeeping task that I did was to set up my prayer room on the edge of the Kitchen counter. The assembling of the pooja stand was fulfilling by itself. But one leg had not traveled well. So I had to find the zen spot for the stand to be perfectly still, almost an act of  Zen spirits.

I enjoyed the self-assigned task of balancing the entire pooja stand. I stuck all my Gods and set up the silver murthi and brass ones on small space for display. I had a Gangajalam brass sealed container which is a compulsory inclusion in the gift of pooja articles.  I had the brass vessel cleaned and decorated with sandal paste and vermillion marking the auspiciousness. These, according to me, were my personal activities, that calmed my mind, as I struggled with coming to terms with the new place and culture.

The one thing that I found out about myself is that I am not frightened of new places. Because I picked lines from my past reading of scriptures, which became the reference point for all my life situation. I connect with my spirit and the blue sky is always blue everywhere (maybe a different shade, but still blue!) and when we meet people they are just like each other and their nationality doesn’t matter when we see them with humanitarian eyes. I always carried Bapu’s peace and thoughts of Ahimsa in my heart. I rarely get angry, because I spend a lot of time with children and their literature in my free time, I am aware of the level of patience one needs and requires to work with a child. It is almost like a zen practice of watering a plant with mindfulness. Life is about being curious like a child and be childlike in your approach to new things in life.

So, my spiritual practice was all about peace and finding it within. I started listening in to shlokas and reading books that were in English about spiritualism. I wanted to know what constitutes my Soul? The science and art of my personal soul and I was recommended to read the Bhagavad Gita. So I began reading online and later during my Master’s in the US, I was gifted the book titled “Autobiography of a Yogi” written by Paramahansa Yogananda and gifted by a good friend and professor of mine. I read the entire book in a week without putting it down. That was when I saw his other book on the Bhagavad Gita interpretation, so I got the copy which was titled, “God Talks To Arjuna.”

A take away from the book was the one question, placed at the end of every day which even now I ask myself, “Today then, Vidya, who won the battle of Kurukshethra?” There are days when its either one of the Kurunandanas. But the idea was relentlessly to respond to that single question with complete honesty. I am sure one day, I will figure out that, the side of the Dharma won always and the right thing was done even though I was up against my own human families. In this, could I call me, as a scientific person living inside the material body or an artist living inside a being while finding the random connection of my life?

This confusion has persisted in life for a long time and I have still not found the answer I am seeking. This is interesting – are we then seeking for the very same answer we assume is true or are we seeking answer which is the ultimate truth? This, then means, the answer could not be the answer that you feel is right; but entirely something else? To renounce and leave to the jungle has been a greatest inner desire, but then if I cannot handle the concrete jungle I am just running away from one unexplored place to another place. So, despite the need to give up the life of being a part of the social life circle, I seek solace in small pocket size moments. There are times when there is complete peace, it is not a state, that I need to get to, but I am the peace. That realization has been happening a lot these days.

I am a person who can sense energies around me, I know which ones make me feel safe and which would provide me space to improve. No energy is right or wrong, it is just that ethereal truth of life which is been guided by the Divine. I cannot understand human body languages or their verbal interaction, because I am often baffled by the reactions to my thoughts. But I know that, if there is peace within me then it is there in the conversation too. I then, feel that everything will be alright. This belief that even in the energy of disagreement there is scope to expand the spirits of peace within our being. This is a brand new understanding, that I am learning in my life, given the set of challenges, that I am facing currently in my personal life.

Image Source: Pexels.com

 

 

A Personal Favorite Poet Who Inspires My Work

Poetry is my passion and I love to work with words. It has been my companion since my coming of Age days. I have found innumerable moments of pleasures reading and writing poems. I have a few favorites who have shaped my thoughts and emotions over the growing years. Among them is John Milton, his “Paradise Lost” was a compulsory reader for me during my college years. It was part of the books listed for the Poetry paper and I was so moved by Lucifer’s fall that I wondered at the space of information about the fall that Milton explored. Here is a poem which truly inspires me and is still my personal favorite.

On His Blindness

By John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Exploring the Poem My Style

The last two weeks, I have been experiencing some problem with my eyesight and somehow I panicked to have it tested. I wear progressive spectacles and never learned how to look down in the lower rim to read, so I land up having the habit of lifting my spectacles to read.

The first time, I went to Rajan Eye Clinic, I was seen by Dr. Rajan, himself. He was the first doctor after my family doctor who made me comfortable talking to him. That was the first time that my eyes were dilated and the eyesight took some hours to get better. These days due to overuse of laptop has rendered my eyes incapable of being dilated and so the extra drops to force it to dilate. This then, means that it takes longer to settle down. I am slowly learning to give up my fear of hospitals and being in those spaces.

Somehow hospital experience leaves me in a state of unrest and agitated feelings. There are very few doctors who really take time for the patients to settle down and understand that the person is worried, scared and tensed about the outcome. Even if the sight were to be lost completely a humane doctor can make it seem less stressful.

Somehow, I feel that is something that comes from the old school of hospice, which is slowly been taken away by the money making trends of doctorhood. But this time, the doctor who attended my case was truly humane and I was so happy talking to her. She made me less nervous and this time also I had made sure that I had not come in a rush to have my eyes tested, but relaxed to spend the rest of the day in the hospital.

But surprisingly, my reading power had gone by a few points, of course, I still need to learn to look down using the progressive glass and that happens only when my laptop is on my lap and I am comfortably seated on the sofa. I tried to understand, why is that I feel super inspired at home and my quirks of working are really getting me to be such a clown.

So, I looked into my past and I remembered John Milton who is my inspiration for most of the Miltonian sonnets that I wrote in my young days. I love to play with words since it gives me spiritual pleasure. Everywhere I worked, I would have a word file, where I would have written poems.

I often think about why I have been born in this world and what are truly my roles. The fact that I only have a single-minded talent to write with emotions which I believe would be the gift of words that I leave behind after me.

I fear not death so much as to lose my eyes not just for myself but for others too. Then again, there is much technology that will help to live a life of high quality even when the eyesight is lost. It is not how long you live, but how well you live, that really counts. I have learned to accept some of my quirks and have gathered sufficient courage in life to be able to handle things my way.

So talking about this poem, I first read this poem in seventh or eighth I am not sure. I must say that my English classes were of a higher grade than the regular schools. So I was exposed to much poetry at a very early age. I also had my uncle’s library where I checked out a collection of Shakespearean sonnets and plays. My uncle had a good collection of the bound classics which were truly inspiring to read.

I have been a little careless with my eyes and I love to read lying down and removing my spectacles. This kind of makes my vision power to increase, but the pleasures of reading is taken over by even the risk of reading improperly.

I found in this poem an interesting connection, that I am drawn to explore. For instance, much like John Milton, my eyes even now hurts a little and throbs, as I am exploring the poems as personal experience. I will never give up writing, at whatever cost. That passion has been the founding stone of my very being.

So much like Milton, I do have a question for the Lord, if I would be of any service to Him. But it is all in the patient waiting for the call of the muse and the sanction of inspired writing. There are days when, my inspiration to write is so high, especially when I am well rested.

As Milton, the poet who is close to my spirit of writing, because I am a tone-deaf poet who loves to rhyme, unlike Milton whose poems were all about sounding right. I have written some collection of Petrachian sonnets and enjoyed thoroughly the experience of playing with words. Sometimes, it is not about doing as bid by the Lord; but it is more being in the moment and just transferring the text flashing in the mind’s eye. I sometimes feel that I cannot take ownership of the poems written by me because it was just recording the muse’s words. Now I stand in wait for that command to write from my Creator. Waiting for my inspiration with suspended animation.

Nightingale Diary 2019 | My Tryst with Diaries

The year 1988 was significant because it was the time of my maximum changes. I was growing, changing and figuring myself out, and everything was a part of the process of growing up. I had a lot of things happening in my life and for the first time in my life, I felt joy since I could pour my thoughts into a journal. I believe around the Summer of 1987, I wrote my first poem on the four seasons and partly the reason why, even today, I want to read Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार) in the originally written language.

When I came to know the four flat seasons that I had described was of no comparison to the power-packed English version of Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार). I hoped and prayed that I could write so movingly like Kavi Kālidāsa (कालिदास).

These days I refrain from writing journals and have switched to analyzing the text and performing a high-level exposition to find the core values that I hold in my life. I have always been a very closed person, so I find it difficult to connect with people. But with books and texts, I am totally in connected mode.

I have never bought diaries for myself. Because usually, my father would give me his company’s complementary diary that he would have ordered to gift it to his clients. So when I planned to get a diary, he would simply hand me that year’s copy of the diary. I was happy with it since it had a lot of lines for me to fill.

I used to write in those diaries and sometimes 1989 diary would have entries till 2000. I never stopped writing diaries and I don’t know at what point I started to maintain an Online journal in MSWord format. Around 2001 I believe I began holding Journal Yeared online versions. Things became a lot more different with an online journal and somehow I never wrote as often as I did my physical diary.

But let me backtrack a little here. When I first wrote these diary entries, pouring my very soul in it, I found a sense of peace at the end of the exercise. It was almost cathartic feeling. One more interesting thing is that I always picked Reynold’s Bold pen to write. I liked it to be over thick ink stains on the pages with my hand clearly printed and which spoke of me, as someone who was over-emotional. I am over emotional to a fault sometimes, but then, I try to meditate on words and find my balance.

After many years, this January 2019, I got a book from the Nightingale Brand of Diaries in Amazon. For some reason that I cannot seems to bring myself to explain, I was fascinated with a specific type of diary. I couldn’t stop myself from buying it, but then, I didn’t have a huge budget for the diary. So I spent Rs. 135/- from Satish Sellers since I like the Diary pattern. It was about environmental themes.

When I got the B6 Diary with my favorite elements in it, my heart felt a joy of the Summer of 1987 when I wrote my first poem, which was a well-kept secret for a long time. For me, diaries are an essential way to connect with my inner being. I usually meditate with words. Even now as I am writing this there are parts of my thoughts which are clearing and expressions get refined.

But more to the Diary that I got, I am not writing a long statement in the Nightingale Diary, but merely connecting dots of thoughts to mark my understanding. This diary is used more for work and writing life. I can write my heart out on my father’s company diary and I am still searching for a diary that will allow me to pour my soul in it.

I think I miss those days when my diary and I would spend countless hours just being ourselves. My diary silent and listening; while I am garrulous and expressive. To this day, there no one as close as a diary in my life. I find my peace and joy in it.

Somehow MS Word didn’t feel like a person and a close friend just like Anne Frank’s kitty. I think I need to find my journal again and start writing my heart out. Sometimes, when you leave your heart out on your sleeve, people will squash it and leave you bruised; but a diary would never hurt you like that. That compassionate, non-judgemental diary is a gift to the shy and the social outcasts.

But overall, I was happy with the Ecologic version of the Diary even though I felt guilty that I have bought a diary for the first time in my life. I have always used leftover books and father’s company diary for my journal entries. I want to revive my writing habit and get back to verbally analyzing things in my life in written format.

I am working in the very company that makes Nightingale Diaries and much more strong branded products that take me back to my first love at first sight poem to the seasons of India. Of course, I am looking at what my life is leading me up to with all the new experiences.

In that way, my diary entries in the Nightingale brand diary is more succinct and that is not my old self. I want to probe into the very being of my self and discover myself again in restructured words and be the change that I seek within me.

My every company that I worked was always about spiritual growth for me. I go by my father’s adage if you are given a task then persistently do it until you finish it. Over the years, words have been the tools that I took to the work table and never regretted it.

Words move me, sway me, rock me to sleep, or just plain cathartic process. I want to revive hand journal writing with my special brand of pen Reynolds Bold. Someday, I would revive my passion of the first journal entry which I shared with my brother after many years. He read it and smiled and gave it back to me that felt like an encouragement to me.

 

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Podi from the Online Outlet Idlies

How many of you can remember your patti’s kaipakkuvum? I come from a joint family system where uncles, aunts and galore of cousin team up to make an experience well worth it. A brahmin household is teamed with specific food items which are exclusive to that community.

Our signature food items come in a set. Like Vetrikuzhumbu with Parruppu Thovaiyal, Sutappalam with tomato rasam seasoned in ghee and spluttered mustard, Adai with Avaiyal and Idli with Milagaipodi.

Ah! When I think of Milagaipodi, I am reminded of my mother, I learned the making this side-dish from her. When she religiously makes it and the visitors praise her effort, I think my mother felt great pride in her cooking.

Since the making of podi quantity was for a larger audience, so, I felt it was easier to buy them for just a single user. I have been searching for that specific amma’s brand of milgaipodi and have been sadly disappointed. Since even the Sharada Stores ones also was not close to Amma’s style. About a few days back one of my new friends suggested that I try Idlies an outlet of all Brahmin cuisine to check out the Podi.

I was nervous but then, I knew I am being guided by the authentic source. When I tried the Podi this past Saturday, I was lost in thoughts and missed my mom the most. I felt sentimental and remembered how my grandmother used to have idles, podi and curd combo.

There are some stylistic preferences that one would almost remember WB Yeats’ poem A Prayer for My Daughter, where he explains how girls eat crazy salads. In many ways, life is about food and various unique ways that people have it. Like for instance, having curd rice with mixture or omapodi. There are some really weird combos and I have such preferences too.

The interesting part was the fact that Podi’s package had one of the best themes and the color combo was simply fantastic. The touch of color scheme and the caricature of grandmom with the little girl in the kitchen was such a wonderful design theme.

But I am more used to the Meenakshi Ammal “Cook And See” the every new bride’s mother’s gift to her daughter. I tell you, Meenakshi Ammal used words that were hard to understand. She spoke about how to cook rice on Vengalapanai. Of course, she would describe how to do the scare thing of draining excess water.

But there was much that I learned from cooking various dishes. My mother taught me a few signature dishes which I kept repeating but I would experiment too sometimes. There are days when I feel like cooking up a storm and there are days when I would not move my being to even boil water.

But there are days, when I feel truly inspired to create a most complicated dish I take all efforts. Pappaji loved my subzi and amma didn’t like Northern spices. So I had to strike a balance for both of them. Among the many things, there is a certain food that reminds me of specific people in my family.

Food always brings the family together and binds us in a common understanding of people who you love-hate and everything in between. Podi reminded me of three people when I tasted with my idlies. My athai who passed away recently and she was a rock of Gibraltar in the kitchen. The food preparation was a joint effort of all the brothers, daughters-in-law and athai. Athai used to be the main cook with my mother making sure she gets the ingredients that are needed. So when my athai makes Podi it is wonderful to taste.

The brahmin household is never bereft of this ingredient. It is a quick breakfast side-dish solution. If you are pressed for time and cannot make the chutney, use the Podi, the all-purpose side-dish for Idly and Dosa. If the hunger factor is beyond a bearable point, pull a plate, make some quick swish Dosas and have it with podi. The countless joy of having that podi was to refresh the mind of past memories of my childhood.

 

 

 

Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita Volume 2 | My Notes

Book Title: Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita | Volume 2

Author: Swetha Sundaram

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Kindle Copy: Amazon US | Amazon India 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Swetha’s narrative style has the old South Indian tradition of storytelling clubbed with loosely knit story format that works wonderfully for this commentary on Andal’s Thiruppavai. There are so many micro short stories woven with such sensitivity that it is an experience of being in a timeless boat floating on the oceans of never-ending stories.

The Story in a Nutshell

Goda, the composer and the versatile story weaver of the Thiruppavai brings out the deep-seated desire of the girls in Ayaripadi to celebrate and to get Lord Krishna’s exclusive companionship. Goda in this volume is visiting every missing girls’ house to personally awake them from their slumber to join in the Pavai Nombu celebration.

The Volume 2 stories are as compelling as those from the volume 1. These are small incidences picked from various Puranas and Vedic time stories. She also picks up stories from the contemporary era too, when she talks about the Alwars who lived before her and their life stories. The never-ending link of stories and facts of the rites provides for an entertaining conversation among the girls.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked all little and big stories. I didn’t feel tired from the constant deviations from the main event of the Pavai Nombu. The stories felt like an ambling aging river carries with slush pile of silt in its bed. The time spent on the three girls in Goda’s list of missing girls is well spent on learning so many interesting news bites about the Lord and His gracious benevolence towards His devotees.

Some of the stories were rehashed, but then, they still were entertaining to listen to again. For someone like me, if you are also interested in listening to stories then this Kindle book will entertain you immensely. There is a lot of information about the various religious figureheads and stories related to them are narrated with equal passion with which the other Puranic stories are narrated.

My Opinion

The Volume 2 keeps the interest going while providing new information about where the Pavai Nombu gathering has arrived at. This volume may be spent on waking up the girls, but at the same time, there is a lot happening with the internal cleansing process. With every discussion and arguments with the Goda and her friends to wake the missing girls, the internal thought is cleared and focused on Lord Krishna and his many avatars.

Thiruppavai – Goda’s Gita Volume 1 | My Take

Book Title: Thiruppavai – Goda’s Gita | Volume 1

Author: Swetha Sundaram

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Kindle Copy: Amazon US | Amazon India 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Swetha Sundaram an Instrumentation and Controls Engineer who lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her narrative style was exactly like the ones of my grand aunts who would entertain my siblings, cousins and me with stories from various Puranas. Her narrative had a similar fault of meandering through the maze of stories.

Of course, there is no doubt that the stories are so interesting that you would not mind being deviated from the main course. In this volume, she sets the stage for the pasurams by providing a wonderful introduction to the primal God Varahar Perumal. She informs the origin of the thought seed of Thiruppavai to the moment when the Earth got saved by Varahar Perumal.

The first volume covers five pasurams and the main space is provided to the beginning and the life story of Godai and how her adoptive father Periyalvar found her under the Holy Basil plant. Her brilliance as a child and her love for Perumal is beautifully articulated in the early chapters.

The Story in a Nutshell

The story is about gathering all young girls to perform the Pavai Nombu with a secret agenda of acquiring Krishna for a husband. Godai the cheerleader of the group of young girls undertake the task to bring about this group worship of Lord Krishna. The first five pasurams deal with the first meeting to undertake the fast.

The entire setting is Gokulam of Godai’s imagination with River Yamuna playing some lead parts in the narrative. This volume deals with the part where the plan is set up to meet at predawn hour and perform the fast on Lord Krishna. The setting is a group meeting near the Yamuna with elder’s consent and a secret agenda of unifying with Krishna.

Godai and girls meet near the River Yamuna and discuss the purpose of the meeting. They then set up a plan to worship Lord Krishna with the secret agenda of getting Him for themselves. The girls are thrilled about the agenda and are excited to start.

Next day, after the late meeting, some ten girls are found missing. So Godai with few other girls who have arrived for the meeting sets out to find them. In the course of finding those girls, Godai wakes up each girl giving her some really nice stories in the wake.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked all the connected stories that are displayed like a bouquet of fragrant flowers. The stories brought back childhood memories of how the story used to be told. There was no fixed rule for the order in which the story needs to be told, a story could evolve from one look or one word uttered and completely sidetrack the narrator and listener. But then when it comes back to the strayed track to the main agenda, that is, to attain Lord Krishna; it has been beautifully done.

One thing that I would not say that I disliked it; but more out of concern for the readers who are not well-versed with Indian Mythological stories may need some context fixing especially when the conversation moves towards Alwars and their magical experiences.

My Opinion

I feel this volume was such a pleasure to read for two main reasons. One reason is that the small and big stories about Lord Vishnu and his many avatars were simply superb to read. The other reason being that I got to know so many unknown stories and the wonder of it is present like nectar consumed in Godai’s Vrindavan along with the Gopikas as another Pillaiy.

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Radha Kalyanam A Musical Event 2018| My Take

flute and feather

I came to know about Radha Kalyanam from my mother. She would reminiscence about incidents from her life. One of her past incidents was about her youngest sister’s interest in the Radha Kalyanam event more out of necessity than any spiritual import. She attended the event and participated in getting alms from the brahmin community, dancing around in the celebratory wooden press, and free meals at the end of the event. So, Radha Kalyanam was a reference that I got from my mother and I always thought of my aunt who passed away at a very young age.

I never really understood about Radha Kalyanam, since it was not my topic of interest. Naturally, I never could relate to the program format that my mother explained to me. But there were moments when I could imagine my youngest aunt jumping around the Ural or Wooden press pounding stick and finding whatever connection that she found in it.

Radha Kalyanam brought back sad notes for me and surprisingly, I attended the Radha Kalyanam for about most part on 29th and 30th December 2018. I feel that being a semi-passive audience could be a little hard on one. I definitely feel, that it the hardest to sit it out on a hard cold floor covered with a thin carpet and the AC in full blast. Apart from a bad back and butt after the program, I was left with a feeling that I really don’t know anything about Jayadevar’s “Gita Govinda” work.

My neighbor’s family has been holding this function during Marghazi Tamil month for the past three years. It usually coincides with the first day of the new year. Marghazi falls between mid-December to mid-January. Interesting thing is that Chennai climate is pretty cold in this month compared to the other months in the Tamil Calendar.

The past years, I had just quickly visited for a few moments and listened in from the comforts of my home since their function happened on their terrace. This year they had booked a hall for this function. I had no clue about the format of the program until this year and would always wonder why the singer was not doing a good job. I enjoy solo more than group singing. The only time I am fascinated by the group singing is when they have practiced a lot as a choir. The group singing is all about coordination and mellifluous voices that appear as a single unit.

This Marghazi of 2018 I felt an interesting need to attend this program and understand its import. So even when I did get the invite, I was thinking of just giving a quick visit and leave after taking tambulam. But somehow during my research on Andal’s work Thiruppavai, I came across a connecting reference to the rasaleela of Vrindavan and Andal’s call for Pavai Fasting.

The event format was not clear until I read a little more about the source work and the significance of the Radha Kalyanam. As an aftermath of attending the event, I had a hard time to forget Radha. The principal human Atmas are represented by Radha and gopikas who become unified with Krishna consciousness.

Around the second week of the new year, I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery that was making my mind so confused. Radha and Krishna’s relationship has a mystical quality to it which by the way, does not fall under the common human definition of love. But the audience can relate to the lower level resonance of love and the affection of human qualities and its human plane references.

So during my research of Radha Kalyanam, I found the following sites very informative:

So, I decided to get back to the main text written by Jayadevar in the “Gita Govind”. The Tamil version of the Astapathi of Jayadevar’s poetry is sung with great fervor of devotion. The translation of the Astapathi provided an incline into the poetic structure of the Gita Govind’s 24 verses of 8 couplets in a pastoral lyrical ballad.

There is a huge difference in the format of Thiruppavai and Gita Govind. Both speak of pastoral scenic places and settings. In the expression of love there lies the difference. The poetry is definitely conservative in the case of Andal’s Thiruppavai compared to the Astapathis. The view of the exact transliteration of the poetry may not provide a clear understanding of the central theme if the context is not fixed at the beginning.

Out of context, the Astapathi sounds very erotic since the poetic format is structured in such a way that it brings out pastoral love of Nayika and Nayak. It parallels the universal sought spiritual goal for each individual atma to get unified with the supreme Paramatma. This time Radha Kalyanam was interesting to follow and observe the various elements of the event. I am yet to find the Supreme Krishna consciousness.

In that I believe, Andal’s Nachiar Tirumozhi is closer to the Astapathi, yet Andal is very conservative in her expression. This conservative expression is essentially very south based poetry rules. Given that Andal’s exposure to various literary works at that time would have been provided by her adopted Father Periazhwar. Given that she was educated and learned to write a pastoral poem on her ishat devatha first as a communal prayer event and later as a personal one-on-one conversation leading to individual aspiration of sainthood. In that I liked the poetic quality of both the poets for different reasons. Though the pastoral quality of Gita Govind is sublime experience for me.

 

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The Presiding Goddess of the River of Human Imagination

Book Title: Saraswati’s Secret River

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Devdutt Pattanaik is an excellent storyteller who brings back the magic of Indian myths and mythological stories. These stories are said in a conversational tone which makes it very appealing to read. The art of storytelling is at a matured state with this author, since he takes the various curves of the story with relative ease and making the story very appealing.

The Story in a Nutshell

A surprised school teacher meets the goddess of education, Goddess Saraswati and learns something new in history, geography, and literature. This is the most needed lesson for any aspiring students and teachers because it brings out the true essence of education. In the search of the River Saraswati, the readers come to terms with the actual river and how it can be saved.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the structure of the story. There were many facts which were imaginatively displayed and interlinked with the Saraswati River which has dried up. The best way to revive this river was provided in this book with an interesting twist.

I disliked the fact that the book was a very small one and ended very soon. I wished that I could spend more time with the River Saraswati and explore the true path towards being educated.

My Opinion

I found the take away from the book on what happens to be the true value of education. The mad rush for earning high scores, and somewhere down the lane, the joy of learning is totally lost. The idea is not to keep getting higher mark by mere replication of the text. I liked the idea of a day’s class was by following what made a student curious about on that particular day.

There is another thing that is equally interesting to note which is explained beautifully in this book. When one learns about a topic, the related subjects become interlinked, which then, enhances the student’s thought process. This thought I found it very interesting and innovative in this book. This is a great one time read but it is also something leaves you thinking about our education system and reviving River Saraswati in ourselves is an excellent thought.

Image Source:  Saraswatis Secret River

Unearthing My Mother-Tongue with Sujata Bhatt

Today was an interesting day for me. I am excessively emotional about poetry and I love to dabble around with it. I came across this Poem quite by accident really. I was looking for Daksha Sheth’s dance drama titled “In Search of My Tongue” but I kept getting Sujata Bhatt’s poem.

I got fascinated by the link and went over to the page where the poem awaited me with patience. It showed me what I have never really lost. I have felt like an alien at all places because of my English language.

All these years whether at a Convent School, Women’s College, or US College I always felt that I didn’t belong anywhere. Even now I stand as a stranger not knowing when I would reach home.

But this poem gave me back my identity that has been wallowing around in dark corners to hide from the reality of my existence. This poem put into words those unmentioned words that gets stuck within me.

Even now, as I am writing this piece, I tell myself what language is truly me. My understanding of English is a little stronger than my understanding of my mother-tongue Tamil.

Yet I feel I am not accepted by English speaking people and rejected by my own people who take pride in their Tamil knowledge. I can’t be free when I’m among English speakers and I fear my mother-tongue speakers.

In 1998, I got a chance to see the dance drama “In Search of My Tongue” staged by Daksha Sheth dance troupe which was hosted by British Commission in the Government Museum theatre in Egmore, Chennai. This dance drama was based on the poem and was truly a treat to watch.

This was my first live theatre to which I had free passes given by my Uncle. Once seated, I settle down to be entertained. But then, that didn’t happen but it became something else altogether.

The play expounded the birth of language from the initial random sounds to the musicality of words strung together. The human characters in the play began initially by making wide bodily movement and then moved on to produce whole sounds at the end of the play.

When I reflected upon the play, I understood that the birth of storytelling started with wide physical puppet-like movement, then solidified into a string of musical words that was sounded.

Eventually, the sounds got recorded and became printed words on a sheet. Mostly the entire play was aimed at showing the language in symbolic bodily expression and how sound eventually took over the expressions of human emotion.

It set me thinking deep within me as to my own identity and what I perceived to be the person that I am. The confusion both the languages put me in left me bereft and alone to figure my own way out.

To this day I haven’t yet found reconciliation for both the languages. There are few things that my English speaking Tamil heart is unable to really express in any language. Yet struggle through I do.

So when I read the poem “Search for My Tongue” by Sujata Bhatt I understood that my mother-tongue lies awaiting to take over my dreamscapes.

I live for those days when the dreams entirely takeover and I am not overwhelmed by my mother-tongue. But I believe sometimes silence is the best language that expresses everything.

If my mother tongue comes alive in my dream space then I would welcome it with open arms to be my permanent mode of expression. I feel like a prodigal daughter whose family awaits her arrival.

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