Justice Is Beauty That Laws Try To Sketch.

Justice is the beauty of people to be human, to remain humane.

What else can a human be ? He can be subhuman, beastly; perhaps, out of anger or outrage at first and then because of a certain inability to control oneself, check the momentum and rise back to regain the ground of trust, love and compassion.

Justice does not just lie in the beauty of loving and trusting people; it is the beauty itself, of man. It is rooted in that beauty and takes all its justification from it, both in all that needs to be done to create a just environment, so that men are not pushed into becoming beasts, and all that must be avoided, its excesses and its dicatates to serve itself regardless of the beauty it is meant to protect and serve. The lines it must scrupulously contain itself within set up justice for what it is, as an essential means at serving the beauty our humanity could rise or evolve into.

Beauty is the truth of man and justice the goal of our polity. It is not a thesis and has less to do with philosophy than with peace in our hearts. Justice is more of a spiritual pursuit than a legal argument. It is the truth that laws try to sketch; the latter rarely come close to delivering the beauty in our maker’s intent.

Beauty is the maker’s program for man.

Justice is dharma, the adjunct within that encompassing truth of man.

The Wheel Of Dharma

The Essence Of Vedas

It is a humble work … now in the making : a free-flow rendering in English of sentiments inspired by Sanskrit hymns Arya masters expressed several millennia ago, when life had resumed in the Indian subcontinent after the most recent Ice Age. The verses released therein are not as pithy as their Vedic hymn yet, though not put to test, are intended to have similar content in terms of felt truth projected in their inspiration uttered then, either sung by river banks, in secluded monasteries, or during public ceremonies and discourses.

Veda texts are now easily available in print and on the web, both as Sanskrit original and their numerous translations, with and without commentaries of authors past and present. What brought me to the task was a personal realisation of the self-integrated sentiment of immense beauty and truth they express. It was not long before I could also fathom how they have been coloured, tainted rather than tinted, by formal hard-etched concepts of religion that burdens the Western mind, on one hand, and by the intellectual rigour to which modern scholars must necessarily subject these alien verses, on the other.

It is impossible even in imagination for an uniniatiated layman like myself to stand with those masters in hoary past, in their setting, hearing their words, singing along as they fluently intone with barely a pause, and keep pace with the etymological and contextual meaning of expressions crafted into the hymns. What I could hear and feel in them today is the same beauty, truth, longing, love and peace, they carry to this day. Unavoidably, their modern presentations also brought to my experience the discordant religious, intellectual or philosophical hues superimposed on them. Hence the need to reduce at least select Vedic texts to their simple, easy-to-read-and-appreciate form. Only you, dear reader, and others over time, would be able to sound back if the attempt succeeds, and if it works enough to add to the reach these texts have hitherto had among common gentry.

I sincerely seek to obtain your first feel of the impression the work leaves with you. Those who would like to associate with it long term, as an editor or reader, are encouraged to write in.

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Journal : Roots And Heritage

Are our roots — historical, cultural and familial — of any consequence ?

Is our concern with our heritage of any value to our present and future ?

We know some, actually many, would size up the query with impatience, perhaps scorn. Life is anyway immense and apparently more than enough to engage us with its challenges and opportunities. Roots and heritage add nothing to our entrepreneurship or professional capability, for instance, or to our pursuit of money and wealth, for survival and happiness. It does not help us with our income augmentation efforts, with our enjoyment of all that we have, and our reach out for what is on the offer. We, in any case, have our roots in the here and now, with a way of life already upon us, to live up to.

If one is a communist, a leftist of whatever hue, or an atheist irreligious or areligious, a peek into our times in past hardly illuminates the scientific or dialectical catechisms before us. Everything would have to be settled in the light of our respective interests or goals, as it must be led and moved hereon. A treasure of large enough worth or a technological secret that could be unravelled and built upon today would be welcome. But delving into our roots and heritage ?It rarely lead us to such material gain or means to power.

I really cannot answer for others. My own roots and heritage mattered to me when I began looking at myself along the timeline I’d traveled since birth and the successive experiences of the community I was part of , which shaped the way of life I felt carrying on my back and that was already about me. I had gone very much far into the ubiquitous modernity on which business and our urban westernised life was found, with emphasis on scientific temperament and reasoned inquiry into all that we experience and all that happened to and with us, when I had to stop and question the values system and life perspective on which my motivation to living and to life itself was founded.

It was then that I learned about the ancients who insisted on keeping our spiritual moorings stronger than the mental drift, than the psychological, survival and material drives; about the towering men who displayed unflinching perseverence to the just stance, persistence with the right way, and courage to lose everything that bind us small and that leave us with our mere posssessions and the breath to live with all that we have lost — our self and our soul. The sound of Vedic hymns from the banks of our rivers rang in my ears, the celestial song of Gita and the fullsome narrative of the grand epics once more brought the tear-filled eyes of my sire to my memory, and the heroes who cared not for their loss or defeat but only of who they represented and what they stood for…

It was only thereafter that I picked my life once again with a doubtless certainty of who I was, what my life was for, and how my path ahead meandered through all the senselessness, meaninglessness and unrelatedness I had found myself in. The awareness of my roots and my heritage saved me from a certain suicidal purposelessness. It gave meaning to the mountains I visited, the people I met and conversed with, the forces I opposed, the views I demolished, the ways of life and thought I came to second and support, and the values that earlier chimed within me without any apparent basis.

Are our roots — historical, cultural and familial — of any consequence ?

Is our concern with our heritage of any value to our present and future ?

But haven’t I answered already !

New India : Happy India

On the eve of Independence Day — 2014…

The daily I read is a Congress Party mouthpiece, spiritedly in opposition to the ruling National Democratic Alliance. However, going through it today left me palpably happy at how remakably well this country is now governed, thanks to the people of India who chose Narendra Modi to lead the nation’s affairs. The marked degree of difference, compared to how it was during the preceeding decade under the UPA regime, was underscored by an observation of the Supreme Court headlined even by the avowedly antagonistic news and reports the Times Of India routinely carries … ” Stop acting like UPA on Ganga : SC to govt “. To mimick the media, I visualise “sources” reporting Manmohan Singh, the previous captive Prime Minister : “I am delighted and the country is relieved with my (and my Party’s) removal from power …” As I am, and vast majority of people are !

Let me sum up some of the other news that fills me with an euphoric state of well-being :

On his first visit to Kargil as PM, Modi minced no words in stating that Pakistan continues to sponsor terror missions in India, even while emphasising that the neighbour has finally lost the capacity and will for facing a frontal war. Our neighbour has launched four since 1947 and has been soundly, humiliatingly beaten in every one of them. Expectedly, the editorial faults the plain-speak saying, “Modi chiding Pakistan for pursuing a proxy war does nothing to improve bilateral relations.” It would prefer the Indian Prime Minister to adopt a gentler approach, the one which has done nothing to arrest the violence triggered from across our borders and which the people are frankly tired of !

It comforts me that the Govt is now redressing a wrong perpetuated by successive previous regimes that never found it worthwhile to award the country’s highest honour to Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard who kept India on the top in the game for over two decades. However the cause of my delight is not limited to the person but to the overarching question : What kind of a country do we want ? What national values must we reinforce with our day-to-day decisions ? It rankles that the UPA govt had the great man, the nation’s pride, in its last year’s honours list but went for a promoted candidate instead — the little master of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, who is reported to have gained enough from brand equity garnered from his exploits in the field.

The removal of Gandhi-Nehru name from our national schemes and projects is as a much a matter of my happiness as the hashtags #CongressMuktaBharat and #CorruptionFreeIndia I have actively supported and promoted. A country that has largely shunned such personality intense and cult promotions, the practice reminds me that horribly misplaced slogan coined during the infamous Emergency days : Indira is India — India is Indira … reducing a nation to a person and blowing up a person to equal the oldest nation on earth !

Today, the country premier crime and corruption investigating agency has dared to move a note regarding ‘irregularities’ public sector bank appointments at senior levels and, consequently, the Govt will review several of the suspicious ones. The action would be symbolic of the clean-up this country sorely needs to stem this pervasive corruption that has come to characterise our affairs. The President has given the nod for review of 12 university vice-chancellor appointees, several during the very last days of the previous regime. 

Now even the senior-most founding leader of the much promising and even more abysmally disappointing Aam Aadmi Party has aired his despair of its undemocratic working, inviting all manner ‘sad’ whisperings and lamenting advisories. But the development is exactly along the lines I have viewed the fakeness built into outfit from the start. I am looking forward to its early demise, especially since Delhi has been far better managed since the Party’s govt led by its ‘national convenor’ resigned after merely 49 days at its helm. Look at some of them here below :
 

ON FAST TRACK – Govt sets deadline for 245 services

  • Chasing neighbourhood cops to get a no-objection certificate for a passport won’t be necessary now as Delhi Police has committed to a 20-day deadline for it.
  • This and 244 more services by various state departments, civic agencies and Delhi Police have been brought under the Delhi Time-bound Service Delivery Act as an Independence Day gift. Already , 116 services by 24 departments are covered by the Act.
  • Delhi Police has committed to issuing copies of FIRs to complainants within a day, and complete verification of tenants and servants in 20 days.
  • NDMC has promised to remove obstructions from roads in one day . It will sanction building plans in one day and complete mutation of property in seven days. Even the corporations have agreed to sanction building plans for residential development within 30 days.
  • Bus passes for students, the physically disabled and senior citizens will be issued in a day . The higher education department may agree to issue provisional certificates within 15 days.
  • The department of women and child development has committed to sanction pension to widows and women in distress within 45 days.
  • The notification of these is likely by the end of this week. The law governing time-bound delivery of services prescribes penalties for officers who harass the public with delays.
There is much else to commend the New India : Happy India today. Old boys have now come to join hands to boost infrastructure and the image of govt schools. The judiciary has become extra conscious of their intervention powers : The High Court demanded a report status of kids’ parks by Oct 29. Tourist arrivals remain on the up despite much negative publicity the country has received over the past decade … 
On political front in the states, the mindless ‘minority appeasement’ for vote-bank is coming apart. A quiet campaign to cut the Samajvadi Party leader Azam Khan down to size appears to be at work in Uttar Pradesh. The casteist Bahujan Party’s Mayawati has refused to have any truck with SP, in the latter’s bid to form a joint front against the nationalist BJP. The other ‘joint front’ in Bihar saw a mere few hundred listeners, when the buildup was for hundreds of thousands !

Prime Minister might dare to continue with his habit of speaking extempore while addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort, after his Govt launches state-of-the-art warships INS Kolkata and INS Kamorta. The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in June this year. There are 44 warships currently on order in Indian shipyards valued at over Rs 2000 billion, These are part of the plan to steadily build a three-dimensional blue-water Navy capable of taking care of India’s huge strategic interests in the region stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait.

Beti (daughter) … drive in 100 dists with worst sex ratio. The Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has set a 2-year deadline for Implementation. It is one of highest national priority : Save Our Daughters – Educate Our Daughters. It assures stringent action against erring medical practitioners and monitoring of health clinics. The government had allotted Rs 100 crore for the scheme in the Union Budget. India has one of the worst sex ratios, earning the dubious title of “country with missing girls“.
 
The Govt has stood by its declared intent of not allowing FDI in multi-brand retail … But you get the streaming causes behind my delight, right ? !
 
Wish you a Happy Independence Day.
 
 

Shakuntala : The Mahabharata Story

The monarch was young, handsome and brave. The hunting expedition had lasted for days now. He was tired, thirsty and hungry. All but a couple of his associates were long left behind. Though without fear, he stood with a sense of reverence before the sacred grounds of Rishi Kanva’s hermitage. It was inviolable. He dismissed even the reduced retinue at the entrance, before stepping in.

The quiet was conspicuous but soothing. The abode yonder seemed unoccupied. He moved closer and called aloud to announce his presence : What ho ! Anybody here ? But only the echo came back to strike his tentative heart. As he felt the desolate eeriness even more intensely, a beautiful maiden came out of the abode, simply attired but glowing with innocence and charm. She bade him welcome and received him with due respect, offering him a seat and water to wash. She introduced herself as Shakuntala, Rishi Kanva’s daughter, enquired about his health and peace, and engaged in such pleasantries as to enable him to settle his breath and find his comfort in strange surroundings.

The king was awe-struck with her unaffected elegance, when the maiden queried politely : How could the Hermitage serve you, O King ! I await your command.

Dushyanta : I have come to pay my respects to the venerated Rishi Kanwa. Tell me, O amiable and beautiful one, where has the illustrious Rishi gone ?

Sakuntala : My illustrious father has gone to fetch fruit for the hermitage alongwith the inmates. Wait but a moment and you wilt meet him when he arrives.

The king was glad for the opportunity to be with Shakuntala, in the Rishi’s absence. He beheld the maiden’s exceptional beauty, her sweet demeanour and cultured articulation, and the perfect symmetry of her form. Her flawlees features stood enhanced by freedom and humility in her speech. She looked the ascetic but he saw the bloom of her youth.

Dushyanta : Who are you, truly, O beautiful one ? Why are you in these woods ? You are gifted with such beauty and virtues. Whence have you come ? O charming one, you affect my heart deeply. I desire to learn all about you; therefore, tell me all.

Shakuntala smiled and addressed him with these words : O Dushyanta, I am the daughter of virtuous, wise and illustrious ascetic, Rishi Kanwa.

Dushmanta : The blessed Rishi is universally revered. It well known that decades of celibate austerity to rigorous vow and extended periods of withdrawal from senses during meditation has caused his seed to sublimate up from its base in the reproductive organ. Dharma himself may stray from his course but an ascetic of rigid vows, such as Rishi Kanva is, can never descend to sensory matters. Therefore, O thou of fairest complexion, how have you been born as his daughter ? It is a sincere doubt of mine that urgently needs to be dispelled.

Shakuntala : Hear, O king, what I have learnt regarding all that befell me of old and how I became the daughter of the Muni. It was narrated by the Rishi Kanva himself to another who had posed the same question.

Vishwamitra, of old, was engaged in austere-most of penances that alarmed Indra, the chief of the celestials. Indra thought that the mighty ascetic of blazing energy would, by his penance, hurl him down from his high seat in heaven. He summoned Menaka and told her, ‘Thou, O Menaka, art the first of celestial Apsaras. Therefore, amiable one, do me this service. Hear carefully : This great ascetic, Vishwamitra, like Sun in splendour, is engaged in the most severe of penances. I am afraid, if he succeeds at acquiring the merit in his quest, he might challenge my position as the head of all gods, and verily unseat me. Hence, O slender-waist, this is the task for you to accomplish. Go, tempt Vishwamitra away from his rapture, disrupt his one-pointed contemplation and penance, and frustrate his certain quest. Win him off his penance, beautiful one, by luring him with your beauty, youth, agreeableness, arts, smiles and speech.

Hearing all this, Menaka was alarmed and very unsure of herself. She respectfully gave voice to her doubt : O foremost among the gods, the illustrious Vishwamitra is a mighty ascetic and is already endued with great power. He is very short-tempered too. His energy, merit acquired of penance, and the wrath of a high-soul such as he leave me diffident and anxious of my own well-being. He made even the great Rishi Vasishtha suffer the unbearable pain of witnessing the premature death of his children. He it was who, though born a warrior, became a man of knowledge by virtue of his ascetic rigour. He created a deep river of his own power, for purposes of his ablutions. It was Viswamitra who, in anger, created a second world and numerous stars, and granted protection to royal sage, Matanga, later known as Trishanku, against your own wrath. I am frightened, O Indra, to approach him.

Menaka further asked : Tell me, O Indra, the means that should be adopted so that I may not be burnt by his wrath. He can burn the three worlds by his splendour and can, by a mere stamp of his foot, cause the earth to quake. He can sever the great Meru from the earth and hurl it to any distance. He can go round the ten points of the earth in a moment. How can a woman like me even touch such a one, who is full of ascetic virtues, like unto a blazing fire, and who has his passions in complete control ? His mouth is like a flaming inferno; the pupils of his eyes are like the Sun and the Moon; his tongue is like that of Death himself. How shall I, O chief of the celestials, a woman like me even touch him ? At the thought of his prowess Yama, Soma, the great Rishis, the Saddhyas, the Viswas, Valakhilyas, are terrified ! How can a woman like me gaze at him without alarm ?

But the first amongst celestial Apsaras submitted : Commanded by you, however, O king of the celestials, I shall somehow approach that Rishi. But, O chief of the gods, devise thou a plan whereby protected by you, I may safely move about the great ascetic. I think that when I begin to play before the Rishi, Marut (the god of wind) had better go there and rob me of my dress, and Manmatha (the god of love) must also, at your command, help me at the task. Let Marut, when it occasions, bear thither fragrance from the woods to tempt the Rishi. And Manmatha cause a pine in his vitality and a flutter in his heart on account of my presence.

Saying this and having obtained Indra’s assurance, Menaka went to the retreat of great sage Vishwamitra. She offered her respectful salutations to the Rishi and began her ever so subtle sensual sport, while engaging him on a walk in the woods around his abode. She was draped in a cloth white as the moon, which Marut soon caused to fly with a gush of wind. Abashed, she ran after her garment, to catch hold of it, and expressed her distress and annoyance at Marut when the garment continued to remain out of her reach.

Eyeing the sensual sport of the fullsome woman barely half clad, her dazzling beauty being played about by the breeze, exerting her fair limbs in distress, unmidful of the rise and fall of her soft breasts, Viswamitra was roused with sensual affection, causing his lust to gather like a ball of fire. Beholding her thus exposed, the sage saw her ageless and exceedingly handsome form, her perfectly endowed features, and was drawn enough to move up and put his arm about her waist in companionship. He kissed her on the neck, inviting intimacy, to which Menaka responded. They spent a long time in physical intimacy, sporting with each other, just as they pleased, as if time had stopped.

Menaka conceived through their conjugal bliss and delivered a daughter. She moved to the banks of the river Malini coursing along a valley of the charming mountains of Himavat, as her pregnancy advanced. She left the new-born on the bank of the river and went away, never to look back. Lying in that desolation abounding with carnivores and other ferocios animals, the infant was protected by scores of vultures, who stood guard around her.

Kanva narrated : Those vultures protected the daughter of Menaka. I went there to perform my ablutions and beheld the infant lying in solitude of the wilderness, surrounded by vultures. Bringing her hither as I would my own daughter, I raised her as such. Indeed, the maker of the body, the protector of life and the giver of food are fathers — all three, in their order, as the scriptures suggest. And because she was surrounded by Shakunts (birds), I named her Sakuntala. O Brahman, know that it is thus Sakuntala has become my daughter. And so does the faultless Shakuntala also regards me, as her father.

Shakuntala concluded her story to Dushyanta : This is what my father had narrated to the visiting Rishi, O king of men. It is thus how I am the daughter of Rishi Kanwa.

Hearing the fascinating tale, King Dushyanta said : You spoke well, O princess, this that thou hast said ! Be my wife, O beautiful one ! What shall I do for thee ? Golden garlands, robes, ear-rings, white pearls, coins of great value, finest carpets, … from various countries. All these I shall present to you this very day. Let the whole of my kingdom be thine today, O charming one ! Come to me, shed the timidity, and join me through the wedding, O elegant maiden, in accord with Gandharva norm. O thou, of tapering thighs, of all forms of marriage rites, the Gandharva is considered the foremost.

Shakuntala heard the King and indicated consent, but with relative calm : O king, my father is presently away. Wait but a moment; he will bestow me on thee.

Dushyanta however was overcome with impatience and entreated : O beautiful and faultless one, I desire that you should be my life’s companion. Know thou that I exist for thee, and my heart is in thee. One is certainly one’s own friend, and one certainly may depend upon one’s own self. Therefore, according to the ordinance, you can certainly bestow thyself to me in a marriage duly ordained.

There are, in all, eight kinds of marriages. These are Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paisacha, the eighth. Manu, the son of the self-created, has spoken of the appropriateness of all these forms according to their order. Know, O faultless one, that the first four of these are fit for Brahmanas, and the first six for Kshatriyas. As regards kings, even the Rakshasa form is permissible. These are institutes of religion, and one should act according to them. The Gandharva and the Rakshasa form are consistent with the practices recommended for warriors and kings. You need not entertain the least fear.

O thou of fairest complexion, full of desire I am; so are you. Come, become my wife with vows appropriate to the Gandharva norm.

Sakuntala, having listened to the King’s ernest proposal, answered : If this be the sanctioned course, if indeed I am my own disposer, then hear, O foremost of the Purus, my terms to bethrothal … Promise truly to give me what I ask of you. The son that we shall be beget shall be thy heir-apparent. This, O king, is my fixed resolve. O Dushyanta, if you grant this, then let our union take place.

The monarch, without taking time to consider, at once said : It will be thus, O fair maiden. O you, of agreeable smiles, you will be with me in our capital city. I say this truly, O beautiful one, you deserve all this.

The first of the kings thus wedded Shakuntala, of graceful gait. They knew each other as husband and wife. And assuring her duly, he went away, saying, “I shall send for you, O thou of sweet smiles, to escort you to our palace !”

The king retraced his way homewards, thinking of Rishi Kanva : What will the illustrious sage say ? And he was still anxious when he entered his kingdom’s capital.

When Rishi Kanwa arrived at his abode, Shakuntala, from a sense of shame, did not go out to receive her father. That great ascetic, however, possessed of means to all knowledge, knew of events that had taken place in his absence. Indeed, beholding everything with his spiritual eye, the illustrious one was pleased and addressed her with these kind words, ‘Amiable one, what has been done by you today in secret, without waiting for my presence and consent – viz., intercourse with a man – has not stripped you of your virtue in the least. Indeed, union according to Gandharva norm, of a seeking woman with a man of sensual desire, without mantras of any kind, is the best for Kshatriyas. That best of men, Dushyanta, is a high soul and a virtuous man. You have, O Shakuntala, accepted him for your husband. The son that shall be born of you shall be mighty and illustrious in this world. And he shall have sway over the sea. And the forces of that illustrious king of kings, while he goes out against his foes, shall be irresistible.’

Shakuntala then approached her fatigued father and washed his feet. And taking down the load he had with him and placing the fruits in proper order, she told him, ‘It behoves thee to give thy grace to that Dushyanta, whom I have accepted for my husband, as well as to his ministers !’

Kanwa replied, ‘O you of fairest complexion, for your sake I am inclined to bless him. But receive from me, O blessed one, the boon that you now desire.’

Sakuntala, thereupon, moved by desire for Dushyant’s well-being, asked her father that the Paurava monarchs might ever be virtuous and never be deprived of their thrones.

There was no word from Dushyanta in the following weeks and months, and years. The sage Rishi Kanva remained calm and Shakuntala got occupied with her womb that gradually swelled in time. In due course, she brought forth a boy of wondrous vitality, much to her father’s joy. And when the child was three years old, he became in splendour like the rising sun, remarkably handsome and magnanimous, and strong. And that first of virtuous men, Kanwa, caused all the rites of custom to be performed in respect of that intelligent child, thriving with days. The boy was gifted with pearly teeth and shining locks, and was capable of battling the fiercest of animals. He had auspicious signs on his palm, a broad forehead, and his beauty and strength was a source of much happiness to Shakuntala.

Like unto a celestial child in splendour, Bharata grow up rapidly. When only six years of age, he was endued with such great strength that he used to seize lions and tigers, bears and buffaloes, and elephants, and chain them to the trees around the hermitage. He rode some of them and pursued others in sport. Seeing his prowess, the inmates at Kanwa’s asylum called him Sarvadamana, the subduer of all. And the Rishi, marking his extraordinary acts, told Sakuntala that the time had come for his installation as the heir-apparent.

Beholding the strength of the boy, Kanwa commanded his disciples : Bear ye without delay this Sakuntala with her son from this abode to that of her husband, blessed with every auspicious sign. Women should not live long in the houses of their parents or maternal relations. Such residence is destructive of their reputation, their good conduct, their virtue. Therefore, delay not in bearing her hence.

The Rishi’s disciples proceeded towards the city, Hastinapura, with Sakuntala and her son at the head of their retinue. And she, taking with her that boy of celestial beauty, endued with eyes like lotus petals, left the woods where she had lived all her life and had first met her husband, Dushyanta. Having approached the king, in his own palace, her sage escorts introduced her and the boy to him, as his own duly wedded wife and their begotten son. Thereupon, the Rishi’s disciples took leave and returned to the hermitage.

And Sakuntala, paying her respects to the King, announced : This is thy son, O king ! Let him be installed as thy heir-apparent. O king, this child, like unto a celestial, has been begotten by thee upon me. Therefore, O best of men, fulfil now the promise you made to me. Call to mind, O thou of great good fortune, the agreement thou had made on the occasion of our union in the hermitage of my father, Rishi Kanwa.

Hearing her words and remembering everything, the king said : I do not remember anything. Who art thou, O wicked woman in ascetic guise ? I do not remember having any connection with you in spiritual, sensual or financial respect. Go or stay, or do as you please.

Thus addressed by Dushyanta, the fair-coloured innocent one became abashed. Grief deprived her of consciousness and she stood for a time like an wooden post. Soon, however, her eyes became red like copper and her lips began to quiver. And the glances she now and then cast upon the king seemed to burn the latter. Her rising wrath however, and the fire of her asceticism, she extinguished within herself by an extraordinary effort.

Collecting her thoughts in a moment, her heart possessed with sorrow and rage, she thus addressed her lord in anger, looking at him : Knowing everything, O Monarch, how do you issue words as inferiors do ? How do you say that you do not know me and our bethrothal, and your promise ? Your heart is witness to the truth or falsehood of this matter. Therefore, O King, speak truly without degrading thyself. He, who being one but representing himself as another, is a coward and like a thief, a robber of his own self. Of what sin is he not capable ? You think that you alone has knowledge of your deed. But know you not that the Ancient, Omniscient Narayana lives in your heart ? He knows all your sin, and you sin in His presence. He that sins thinks that none observes him. But he is observed by the gods and by Him, who resides in every heart.

The Sun, the Moon, the Air, the Fire, the Earth, the Sky, Water, the heart, Yama, the day, the night, both twilights, and Dharma, all witness the acts of man. Yama, the son of Surya, takes no account of the sins of him with whom Narayana, the witness of all acts, is gratified. But he, with whom Narayana is displeased, is tortured for his sins by Yama. Him who degrades himself by representing his self falsely, the gods never bless. Even his own soul blesses him not. I am a wife devoted to my husband. I have come of my own accord, it is true. But do not, on that account, treat me with disrespect. I am your wife and, therefore, deserve to be treated respectfully. Will you not treat me so, because I have come hither of my own accord ? In the presence of so many, why do you treat me like an common woman ?

I am certainly not crying in the wilderness. Do you hear me ? But if you refuse to do what I supplicate you for, O Dushyanta, this very moment your head shall burst into a hundred pieces ! The husband entering the womb of the wife comes out himself in the form of the son. Therefore is the wife called by those versed in the Vedas as Jaya – she of whom one is born. And the son that is so born unto persons cognisant of Vedic Mantras rescues the spirits of our deceased ancestors. And because the son rescues the ancestors from the hell called Put, therefore, has he been called by the Self-create himself as Puttra – the rescuer from Put. By a son one conquers the three worlds. By a son’s son, one enjoys eternity. And by a grandson’s son, great-grand-fathers enjoy everlasting happiness.

She is a true wife who is skilful in household affairs. She is a true wife who has borne a son. She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to her lord. She is a true wife who knows none but her lord. The wife is a man’s half. The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root of religion, profit, and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. They that have wives can live by Dharma, in their togetherness. They that have wives can lead households, which collectively constitute our community in truth. They that have wives have the means to be cheerful. They that have wives can achieve good fortune. Wives of sweet speech are friends on occasions of joy. They are as fathers on occasions of religious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe. Even in the deep woods, to a traveller, a wife is his refreshment and solace. He that has a wife is trusted by all.

A wife, therefore, is one’s most valuable possession. Even when the husband, leaving this world, goeth into the region of Yama, it is the devoted wife that accompanies him thither. If she goes before, she waits for the husband. But if the husband goes before, the chaste wife follows him close. For these reasons, O king, does marriage exist. The husband enjoys the companionship of the wife, both in this and in the other worlds. It has been said by the learned that one is himself born as one’s son. Therefore, a man whose wife has borne a son should look upon her as his mother. Beholding the face of the son one has begotten upon his wife, like his own face in a mirror, one feels as happy as a virtuous man, while departing from this world.

Men scorched by mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath. No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable to his wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue – everything depends on the wife. A wife is the sacred field in which the husband is born himself. Even Rishis cannot create creatures without women. What happiness is greater than what the father feels when the son runs towards him and, even though his body be covered with dust, clasps the man’s limbs with his little hands ? Why then do you treat with indifference such a son, who has approached you himself and who casts wistful glances towards you for climbing up your knees ? Even ants support their own eggs without destroying them; then why should not you, a virtuous man that you are, support your own child ? The touch of soft sandal paste, of women, of (cool) water is not so agreeable as the touch of one’s own infant son locked in one’s embrace.

As a Brahmana is the foremost of all bipeds, a cow, the foremost of all quadrupeds, a protector, the foremost of all superiors, so is the son the foremost of all objects, agreeable to the touch. Let, therefore, this handsome child touch you in embrace. There is nothing in the world more agreeable to touch than the embrace of one’s son. O chastiser of foes, I have brought forth this child capable of dispelling all your sorrows, after bearing him in my womb for full three years. O monarch, of Puru’s race, ‘He shall perform a hundred horse-sacrifices’ – these were the words uttered from the sky when I was in the lying-in room. Indeed, men in places remote from their homes take up others’ children on their laps and, reminded of their own, feel great happiness.

You know that Brahmanas repeat these Vedic mantras on the occasion of the consecrating rites of infancy : Thou art born, O son, of my body ! Thou art sprung from my heart. Thou art myself in the form of a son. Live thou to a hundred years ! My life dependeth on thee, and the continuation of my race too, on thee. Therefore, O son, live thou in great happiness to a hundred years.

He, this son of yours, has sprung from your body, a second being of yourself ! Behold thyself in your son, as thou beholdest your image in a clear lake. As the sacrificial fire is kindled from the domestic one, so has this one sprung from thee. Though one, you have divided yourself.

In course of hunting, while engaged in pursuit of a deer, I was approached by you, O king. I who was then a virgin in the asylum of my father. Urvasi, Purvachitti, Sahajanya, Menaka, Viswachi and Ghritachi, these are the six foremost of Apsaras. Amongst them again, Menaka, born of Brahman, is the first. Descending from heaven on Earth, after intercourse with Viswamitra, she gave birth to me. That celebrated Apsara, Menaka, brought me forth in a valley of Himavat. Bereft of all affection, she went away, cast me there as if I were the child of somebody else. What sinful act did I do, of old, in some other life that I was in infancy cast away by my parents and at present am cast away by you ! Put away by you, I am ready to return to the refuge of my father. But it behoves you not to cast off this child who is your own.

Dushmanta : O Sakuntala, I do not know having begot upon you this son. Women generally speak untruths. Who shall believe your word ? Destitute of all affection, the lewd Menaka is your mother, and she cast you off on the surface of the Himavat, as one throws away flowers offered to gods, after the worship is over. Thy father too, of the Kshatriya race, the lustful Viswamitra, who was tempted to become a Brahmana, is destitute of all affection. However, Menaka is the first of Apsaras, and thy father also is the first of Rishis. Being their daughter, why do you speak like a lewd woman ? Thy words deserve no credit. Are you not ashamed to utter such lies, especially before me ?

Go hence, O wicked woman in ascetic guise. Where is that foremost of great Rishis ? Where is that Apsara Menaka ? And why are you, low as you are, in the guise of an ascetic ? Your child too is grown up. You say he is a boy, but he is very strong. How has he soon grown like a Sal sprout ? You are of low birth and you speak like a lewd woman. Lustfully have you been begotten by Menaka. O woman of ascetic guise, all that you say is quite unknown to me. I don’t know you. Go withersoever you choose.

Sakuntala : You see, O king, the fault of others, even though they be as small as a mustard seed. But you notice not thy own faults even though they be as large as the Bilwa fruit. Menaka is one of the celestials. Indeed, Menaka is reckoned as the first of celestials. My birth, therefore, O Dushyanta, is far higher than yours. You walk upon the earth, O king, but I roam the skies ! Behold, the difference between ourselves is as that between the mountain Meru and a mustard seed !

Behold my power, O king ! I can repair to the abodes of Indra, Kuvera, Yama, and Varuna ! The saying is true which I shall refer to before you, O sinless one ! I refer to it as an example and not from evil motives. Therefore, it behoves you to pardon me after you have heard it.

An ugly person considers himself more handsome than others until he sees his own face in the mirror. He that is really handsome never taunts anybody. And he that always talks evil becometh a reviler. And as the swine always look for dirt and filth even in the midst of a garden of flowers, so the wicked always choose evil out of even the good that others speak. However those that are wise, on hearing the speech of others that has a mix of both good and evil, accept only what is good, like swan that always extracts milk, though it be mixed with water. As the honest are always pained at speaking ill of others, so do the wicked always rejoice in doing the same. As the honest always feel pleasure in showing regard for the old, so do the wicked always take delight in aspersing the good. The honest are happy in not seeking faults. The wicked are happy in seeking them in others. The wicked ever speak ill of the honest. But the latter never injure the former, even if injured by them.

What can be more ridiculous in the world than that those that are themselves wicked should represent the really honest as wicked ? When even atheists are annoyed with those that have fallen from truth and virtue and who are really like angry snakes of virulent poison, what shall I say of myself who am nurtured in faith? He that having begotten a son who is his own image, regards him not, never attains to the worlds he covets, and verily the gods destroy his good fortune and possessions. The Pitris have said that the son continues the race and extends the lineage and is, therefore, the best of all religious acts. Therefore, none should abandon a son.

Manu has said that there are five kinds of sons : those begotten by one’s self upon his own wife, those obtained (as gift) from others, those purchased for a consideration, those reared with affection and those begotten upon other women than wedded wives. Sons support the religion and achievements of men, enhance their joys, and rescue deceased ancestors from hell. It behoves you not, therefore, O tiger among kings, to abandon a son who is such. Therefore, O lord of earth, cherish your own self, truth, and virtue by cherishing thy son. O lion among monarchs, it behoves you not to support this deceitfulness.

The dedication of a tank is more meritorious than that of a hundred wells. A sacrifice again is more meritorious than the dedication of a tank. A son is more meritorious than a sacrifice. Truth is more meritorious than a hundred sons. A hundred horse-sacrifices had once been weighed against Truth, and Truth was found to be heavier. Truth, I ween, may be equal to the study of the entire Vedas and ablutions in all holy places. There is no virtue equal to Truth; there is nothing superior to Truth. O King, Truth is God himself; Truth is the highest vow.

Therefore, violate not thy pledge, O monarch ! Let Truth and you remain united. If you place no credit in my words, I shall of my own accord go hence. Indeed, thy companionship should be avoided. But hear, O Dushyanta, when you are gone, this son of mine shall rule the whole earth, surrounded by the four seas and adorned with the king of the mountains.

Having spoken to the monarch in this wise, Sakuntala left his presence. Whereupon, a voice from the skies, emanating from no visible shape, spoke unto Dushyanta as he sat surrounded by his occasional and household priests, his preceptors and ministers : The mother is but the sheath of flesh; the son sprung from the father is the father himself. Therefore, O Dushyanta, cherish thy son, and insult not Sakuntala. O best of men, the son, who is but a form of one’s own seed, rescues the ancestors from the region of Yama. Thou art the progenitor of this boy. Sakuntala has spoken the truth. The husband, dividing his body in twain, is born of his wife in the form of son. Therefore, O Dushyanta, cherish thy son born of Sakuntala. To live by forsaking one’s living son is a great misfortune. Therefore, O thou of Puru’s race, cherish thy high-souled son born of Sakuntala. And because this child is to be cherished by you even at our word, therefore shall thy son be known by the name of Bharata – the cherished.

Hearing these words uttered by dwellers in heaven, the monarch of Puru’s race became overjoyed and spoke as follows unto his priests and ministers, ‘Hear ye these words uttered by the celestial messenger ? I myself know this one to be my son. If I had taken him as my son on the strength of Sakuntala’s words alone, my people would have been suspicious and my son also would not have been regarded as pure.’

The monarch then, seeing the purity of his son established by the celestial messenger, became exceedingly glad. And he took unto him that son with joy. The king with a joyous heart performed all those rites upon his son that a father should perform. He smelt his child’s head and hugged him with affection. The Brahmanas began to utter blessings upon him and bards began to applaud him.The monarch then experienced the great delight that one feels at the touch of one’s son.

And Dushyanta also received that wife of his with affection. He told her these words, pacifying her affectionately, ‘O goddess, my union with you took place privately. Therefore, I was thinking of how best to establish thy purity. My people might think that we were only lustfully united and not as husband and wife, and therefore this son who I would have installed as my heir apparent would only have been regarded as one of impure birth. And dearest, every hard word thou hast uttered in thy anger have I forgiven thee. Thou art my dearest !’

And the royal sage Dushyanta, having spoken thus unto his dear wife, received her with offerings of perfume, food, and drink. And king Dushyanta, then, bestowed the name of Bharata upon his child, and formally installed him as the heir apparent. And the famous and bright wheels of Bharata’s car, invincible and like unto the wheels of the cars owned by the gods, traversed every region, filling the entire earth with their rattle. That monarch of great prowess was known as Chakravarti and Sarvabhauma.

Rishi Kanwa was himself the chief priest at the sacrifices he performed.

Story Of Vedic Civilisation

English: Replica of 'Dancing Girl' of Mohenjo-...
Replica of ‘Dancing Girl’ of Mohenjo-daro

To capture the story of any civilisation is easy but only in parts.

The whole narrative, especially its beginning, is impossible. 

Material in this series of essays has been sourced from diverse websites.

I include them here because I believe our present truth derives from its civilisation origins, even as we hurtle towards catastrophes caused by degenerate values, inferior belief systems, ever so subtle but globally entrenched feudalism in governments, democratic or not, in manipulated power heirarchies of regressive and aggressive societies, and in the pyramidal finance structure managed transnationally to collect and pull, direct and push massive finance flows … 

Are we still in the same line of human civilisational aspiration and enterprise, best evident at its source ?

Or is it long since hijacked by some neo-feudals and subverted by swarm of power brokers ? 

Let’s revert to some glimpses of our civilisational facts and inscrutable truths.

*  *  * 

The first three chapters of Kenneth Chandler’s Origins Of Vedic Civilisation makes for a good start. It is a scholarly work in progress. 

Few Images. Some Facts.

A picture of a king seated in yoga ‘Padmasan‘ posture, with Pipili Leaf adorning his head, was found in the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro in the Indus valley. Mark Kenoyer, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist, describes this figure as “seated in a yogic posture.” He characterises it as a deity with three faces, feet in a yogic posture extending beyond the throne, with seven bangles on each arm, and a pipili plant showing over his head. 

The Katha Upanishad of the Vedic tradition relates a metaphor in which the individual self is the lord of the mind-body chariot, intellect the charioteer, and the senses are the horses. “He who has no understanding…” the Upanishad say, “his senses are out of control, as wicked horses are for a charioteer.” Exactly the same metaphor is found in Plato’s Phaedrus, which uses the image of a chariot moving through heaven and falling to earth when the self, the charioteer, allows the horses, representing sense and appetite, to get out of control. 

The Vedic practice of performing sacrificial rites also has echoes in the religious practices of Greece and Israel. In the Odyssey, Odysseus makes sacrificial offerings of a bull to the gods, and in Israel, in the Old Testament, there are many descriptions of burnt offerings of animals to the gods. These practices have their roots in more ancient Vedic rites. 

Fragments from Empedocles’ book on Purification give the same definition of ” health ” that the Charaka Samhita of the Vedic tradition did more than two thousand years earlier. Heraclitus defines “health” as a balance of the fundamental elements (earth, air, fire and water) in all parts of the body, each part ideally having the proportion proper to it. Plato’s Timaeus defines health in the same way. 

Ancient legends in Greece speak of the early Pre-Socratics as traveling to India. Thales, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato were all fabled to have made the journey. These deserve a skeptical respect as sources of credible possibilities. Commentators on the early Greeks from around the first and second century BC have written on these legends. While these journeys may or may not have taken place, it is not unthinkable, for there were well established commercial routes between India and Greece along the Silk Road, protected by Persian king, as well as between ports on the Red Sea that linked Greece with India in a thriving spice trade. 

Plotinus in the third century AD set out from Alexandria (a city famed for its esoteric knowledge) on an expedition to India to gain more experiential knowledge of the transcendent. The expedition never completed the journey, so that Plotinus never arrived in India, but Plotinus believed that it was the place to learn about the transcendental unity of Being. If anything specifically Vedic brought about the Greek awakening that occurred in the early sixth century BC, it was not ideas or concepts from India, but the introduction of a technique of transcending to experience pure consciousness. Plato writes about a “fair word” that a physician of Thrace gave to Socrates to enable him to become immortal and gain self-knowledge.

The next in series….

Children's toy from Mohenjo-daro. Located in t...
Children’s toy from Mohenjo-daro.

Beauty Of The Quest

Cover of "Altai-Himalaya A Travel Diary"

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part X : INDIA (1924)

The Talmud relates that the dove brought the first olive branch to Noah from Mount Moriah. And Mount Moriah and the mountain Meru both lie in Asia. Here is the beginning of all things. Here is the source for all travelers and all searchers. Here is raised the first image of the Blessed Maitreya—Messiah—Muntazar, the Messiah now awaited by the Mohammedans. Thrice powerful M ! Here, above all disputes, the teachings have raised up the olive branch of the new world. Here is ordained the universal commune.

Some one voluntarily approached and touched our tent ! Who is this man, with his long black braid and a turquoise earring in his ear, and garbed in a white kaftan ? It is the Lama, Pema Don-dub, the local ikon painter. We ask, “Can you paint for us the Blessed Maitreya, exactly like the one in Tashi-lhunpo ?” He consents and now he sits on a tiny rug in the corner of the white gallery, and with various pigments, paints the Image full of symbols. He prepares the fabric for the painting and covers it with levkas (a mixture of chalk on glue), and irons it with a shell. He works exactly like Russian ikon painters. In the same way does he grind his colors, heat them on a coal pan; and thus does he keep an additional brush in his thick black hair. His Tibetan wife helps him to prepare his colors.

And so, in the corner of the white gallery is being conceived the ingenious image, many-colored. And each symbol upon it more clearly defines the Blessed One. Here is the frightful bird-like Garuda and wise Magi and Ganeshi, elephant of happiness, and Chintamani, the Steed, bearing on its back the miraculous stone, Treasure of the World. A sacred cycle of chosen symbols. And upon the image and the hands is laid pure gold.

Like our ikon painters, the artist lama chants hymns as he labors. The chants become more fervent; this means he is beginning upon the Image itself.

And another wonder occurs, only possible in this land. In the deep twilight when the waxing moon possesses all things, one hears through the house the silvery tones of a handmade flute. In the darkness, the artist lama is sitting upon his rug, playing with rapture before the image of Maitreya-Messiah-Muntazar.

The Strings of the Earth !

Talai-Pho-Brang.


Panoramic Kashmir
Panoramic Kashmir (Photo credit: NotMicroButSoft

PIR-PANZAL (1925)

Where have passed the hordes of the great Mongols ?

Where has the lost tribe of Israel concealed itself ?

Where stands the “Throne of Solomon” ?

Where lie the paths of Christ the Wan­derer ?

Where glow the bonfires of the Shamans, Bon-po, of the religion of demons ?

Where is Shalimar, the gardens of Jehangir ?

Where are the roads of Pamir, Lhasa, Khotan ?

Where is the mysterious cave, Amarnath ?

Where is the path of Alexander the Great to forgotten Taxila ?

Where are the walls of Akbar ?

Where did Ashvagosha teach ?

Where did Avan-tisvamin create ?

Where are the citadels of Chandragupta-Maurya ?

Where are the stones of wisdom of King Asoka ? . . .

All have passed by way of Kashmir. Here lie the ancient ways of Asia. And each caravan flashes by as a connecting link in the great body of the East. Here are the sandy deserts on the way to Peshawar; and the blue peaks of Sonamarg; and the white slopes of Zoji-La. And in the flight of the eagles is the same untiring spirit; in the fleet steed is the same unalterable motion. Nor does the world of roses and shawls of Kashmir resemble that forgotten and hidden world of Kashmiri blades.

Sacre du Printemps“— when we composed it together with Stravinsky, we could not conceive that Kashmir would greet us with its very setting. In Ghari, camping out by night, when the vivid spring sky became afire with stars and the mountains were azured, we observed rows of fires upon the mountains. The fires started into motion, separated and strangely circled about. Then the mountain slopes became aglow with these fiery processions. And in the village below, dark silhouettes began to whirl about brandishing resin torches on long staffs. The flaming circles proclaimed the end of winter frosts. And the songs proclaimed the Sacred Spring. This is the festival of the Ninth of March.

Bulbul,” the nightingale, sings on the apple tree. The cuckoo reckons out a long life. White linens are spread on the meadow and a samovar is boiling. Red and yellow apples and sweet cakes are passed around to those seated upon the spring grass. The eyes of the violets and the white and yellow narcissus are woven into a many-hued carpet. At evening, flocks of ducks and geese completely cover the tiny islands over the lakes. Small bears steal out on the spring glades. But none fears them—unless the mother-bear is with her cubs. . . .

The river banks are sloping. A line of boatsmen steer their canopied boats. . . . Upon a broad road the oxen drag themselves and the wheels grind along. Three-hundred-year-old plantains and tall poplars guard the ways. And the teeth of the encoun­tered travelers gleam often in the smile of greeting.

In the sheds lie the sleighs—veritable Moscow sleighs. In the yard, a crane screeches above the well. The straw roof is over­grown with green moss. Along the road are gnarled willow trees. And the greetings of the children are noisy. But where is this ? Is it in Schuya or Kolomna? It is in Srinagar, in the “City of the Sun.”

Tiny, big-bellied pillars—small ornamental designs—steep little steps of stone—the gilded roofs of the temple—creaking, orna­mented window-shutters—rusty locks—low little doors with their “curtesy”—carved balustrades—slanting tiles on stony floors—the odor of old lacquer—small windows with diminutive panes. Where are we then ? Is this the Kremlin of Rostov ? Are these the monasteries of Suzdal ? Are they the temples of Yaroslavl ? And what of the endless flocks of daws ? What of the naked branches behind the windows ? This is the chief palace of the Maharajah of Kashmir. How curious is everything which re­mains from antiquity. But the modern additions are hideous.

Upon the road are many Fords. In the hotel dining room one sees the faces of Americans. In the jewelry shop, side-by-side, hang two paintings—one of the view of Delhi, the other the view of the Moscow Kremlin. Among the crystals into which one gazes for destiny; among the sapphires of Kashmir and the Tibetan turquoises, are shimmering green Chinese jadaites—and like a garden, many-colored are the borders of the embroidered kaftans. Like precious shawls, the rooms of the museum are strewn with minute Iran-designs and “Gandhara,” belabored by destiny, unifies the cleft branches of West and East.

In the styles of the temples and mosques; in the angular carved dragons; in the tentlike, sloping hexagonal tower, is seen an unexpected combination of the old wooden churches of Norway and the Chinese pagodas. Out of one well is drawn the Roman­esque Chimera, the animal ornaments of Altai and the tiny animals of Chinese Turkestan and China. The Siberian paths of the nations have carried afar the same meaning of adornment.

The fort of Akbar stands firmly planted. But after you have climbed the steepnesses and flights, you may perceive that the old bricks and the claybeaten cement barely hold together. The arches are ready to give way.

Nishad, the garden of Akbar, occupies the site from the lake to the hill—a high place. The structures are modest and upon the corners are the little towers so beloved by him. They are characterized by simplicity and brightness.

Shalimar—the garden of Jehangir—is also in character with its possessor, standing “for itself.” There is less of outward show, but more of luxury—of that luxury which brought the descend­ants of the Moguls to poverty. The last Mogul, in Delhi, secretly sold furniture out of the palace and destroyed the valuable fac­ings of the walls of Shah Jehan and Aurungzeb. Thus ended the great dynasty.

The weaver of Kashmir accompanied the making of each of his designs with a special chant. Such a searching for rhythm reminds us of the great harmony of labor.

No song relates why the mountain “Throne of Solomon” bears this name. This is a place of such antiquity. Janaka, son of Asoka, had already dedicated here one of the first Buddhist temples. Seven centuries later the temple was rebuilt and con­secrated to Mahadeva. . . . But whence comes the name of Solomon? The mountain received the name of Solomon from a legend that Solomon, desiring a respite from the conventions of a sovereign’s life and from the burdens of his court, trans­ported himself upon a flying carpet to this mountain with his favorite wife. Here, again, we come upon the mention of that “flying apparatus” possessed by Solomon. A similar mountain is in Turkestan and in Persia.

It is not alone the mountain “Throne of Solomon” which transports the consciousness into biblical spheres. In the valley of Sindh the prophet Elijah is reverenced in a special manner. Most stirring are the legends; how the prophet sitting in his cave saves fishermen and travelers. Under various aspects, at times benevolent, at times stormy, the prophet appears to defend the works of justice and piety. Mohammedans and Hindus, divided by many differences, equally reverence the prophet Elijah.

Purple iris will always recall Moslem cemeteries. They are covered with these flowers. But there is also joy. The lilacs have blossomed, lilies of the valley are nodding and the wild cherry tree glistens.

Mount Moriah Cemetery Gate


A Memory Out Of The Blues

IIT_Kharagpur_Main_Building

I remembered Kiron … #IITKharagpur #PatelHall from 33 years back.

But let me ease you in the context.

I’d cooked “the best fish in the world.”

That’s no hyperbole; there were just two very discriminating palates sharing the half a kilo delicacy

and they didn’t stop raving about it, congratulating each other after dinner. I swear.

It hadn’t been too bad a day too; the day before yesterday was depressing, which I blogged about.

Today was merely warm and humid, a condition that makes me profoundly uncomfortable and unhappy but also brings my immense patience to fore.

So why did I remember Kiron Bhat, and how ? Mind you, the charming person was a “he” proper if the name confounds. And he was not even my friend, one who would be in the group that goes out on “adda” or loafs about for a good glimpse of the female form. He was two years my senior; his mates I remember were Vam, Kunal, Joe, Som …

We lived in the same hostel, Patel Hall Of Residence, during our days in the alma mater. We were friendly if not chums, sharing a high smoke or two and tossing up a glass of drink, which would be always welcome but mostly obnoxious. We would have hailed each other while passing by or would have had a conversation in the foyer or in the canteen on the first floor.

But I did remember Kiron today evening, at great length, beaming some of the sketches across to the goddess spread in the easy chair before me. The trigger was fish; or must have been, from the image I powerfully recalled : Kiron, on the other side of the service slab in the mess, putting marinated pieces of fish ever so tenderly in the boiling curry, not unlike a Master Chef who knew precisely the dish he wanted it to turn out.

We all waited, excited. Back them, I’d have it but had no great love for the aquatic animal. But this was special. And Kiron was kicked happy, smiling, sure and assurance personified. The fish was probably “bhetki” — a delicate one to prepare but not too messy to partake. There was a chatter full of expectation.

Remembering you Kiron Bhat : Your small dark face with a stubble or a frenchie, curly hair, slender build, amiable and always helpful, ready to appreciate a joke with a good laugh. And the charming smile …

Where are you, Kiron Bhat ? Do your mates hear my call ?

Bless you … wherever you are !

And, thank you, even if it is 33 years late.

PT

Light, Beauty And Truth.

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part IX : INDIA (1924)

Cover of "Altai-Himalaya A Travel Diary"

In the twilight under the flowing stars, in the purple sheen of the mist, sounds the soft voice of the lama, telling his calm tale of the “King of the World,” of His power, of His action and wisdom, of His legions, in which each warrior shall be possessed of some extraordinary gift. And he tells of the dates of the new age of general well-being.

The tale is taken from an ancient Tibetan book, wherein, under symbolic names, are given the future movements of the Dalai-Lama and Tashi-Lama, which have already been fulfilled. There are described the special physical marks of rulers under whom the country shall fall during the reign of the monkeys. But afterwards the rule shall be regained and then will come Someone of greatness. His coming is calculated in twelve years —which will be in 1936.

When the time came for the Blessed Buddha to depart from this earth He was asked by four lords of Dharmapala to bequeath to mankind His image. The Blessed One consented and desig­nated the most worthy artist, but the artist could not take the exact measurements because his hand trembled when he ap­proached the Blessed One. Then said Buddha, “I shall stand near the water. Thou shalt take the measurements from my reflection.” And the artist was thus enabled to do so, and exe­cuted four images, modeled from a sacred alloy of seven metals. Two of these images are now in Lhasa and the remaining two are still hidden until the appointed time.

One Tibetan ruler married Chinese and Nepal princesses in order that through them he might attract to Tibet the two sacred images of Buddha.

Twelve hundred years after Buddha, the teacher Padma Sambhava brought closer to men the teachings of the Blessed One. At the birth of Padma Sambhava all the skies were aglow and the shepherds saw miraculous tokens. The eight-year-old Teacher was manifested to the world in the Lotus flower. Padma Sambhava did not die but departed to teach new countries. Had he not done so the world would be threatened with disaster.

In the cave Kandro Sampo, not far from Tashi-ding, near a certain hot spring, dwelt Padma Sambhava himself. A certain giant, thinking to penetrate across to Tibet, attempted to build a passage into the Sacred Land. The Blessed Teacher rose up and growing great in height struck the bold venturer. Thus was the giant destroyed. And now in the cave is the image of Padma Sambhava and behind it is a stone door. It is known that behind this door the Teacher hid sacred mysteries for the future. But the dates for their revelation have not yet come.

Wherefore do the giant trumpets in the Buddhist temples have so resonant a tone ? The ruler of Tibet decided to summon from India a learned lama, from the place where dwelt the Blessed One, in order to purify the fundamentals of the teaching. How to meet the guest ? The High Lama of Tibet, having had a vision, gave the design of a new trumpet so that the guest should be received with unprecedented sound; and the meeting was a wonderful one—not by the wealth of gold but by the grandeur of sound !

Why do the gongs in the temple ring out with such great volume ? And, as silver, resound the gongs and bells at dawn and evening, when the atmosphere is tense. Their sound re­minds one of the legend of the great Lama and the Chinese emperor. In order to test the knowledge and clairvoyance of the Lama, the emperor made for him a seat from sacred books and covering them with fabrics, invited the guest to sit down. The Lama made certain prayers and then sat down. The emperor demanded of him, “If your knowledge is so universal, how could you sit down on the sacred books ?” “There are no sacred volumes,” answered the Lama. And the astonished em­peror, instead of his sacred volumes, found only blank papers. The emperor thereupon gave to the Lama many gifts and bells of liquid chime. But the Lama ordered them to be thrown into the river, saying, “I will not be able to carry these. If they are necessary to me, the river will bring these gifts to my monastery.” And indeed the waters carried to him the bells, with their crystal chimes, clear as the waters of the river.

Talismans… A mother many times asked her son to bring to her a sacred relic of Buddha. But the youth forgot her request. She said to him, ‘I shall die here before your eyes if you will not bring it to me now.’ The son went to Lhasa and again forgot the mother’s request. A half day’s journey from his home, he recalled the promise. But where can one find sacred objects in the desert ? There is nought. But the traveler espies the skull of a dog. He decides to take out a tooth and folding it in yellow silk he brings it to the house. The old woman asks of him, ‘Have you forgotten again my last request, my son ?’ He then gives her the dog’s tooth wrapped in silk, saying, ‘This is the tooth of Buddha.’ And the mother puts the tooth into her shrine, and performs before it the most sacred rites, directing all her worship to her holy of holies. And the miracle is accomplished. The tooth begins to glow with pure rays and many miracles and sacred manifestations result from it.”

A man searched for twelve years for Maitreya-Buddha. No­where did he find him, and becoming angry, he rejected his faith. As he walked along his way he beheld one who with a horsehair was sawing an iron rod, repeating to himself, “If the whole of life is not enough yet will I saw this through.” Con­fusion fell upon him— “What mean my twelve years,” he said, “in the face of such persistence ? I will return to my search.” Thereupon Maitreya-Buddha himself appeared before the man and said, “Long already have I been with you but you did not see me, and you repulsed me and spat upon me. I will make a test. Go to the bazaar. I will be upon your shoulder.” The man went, aware that he carried Maitreya. But the men around him shrank from him, closing their noses and eyes. “Wherefore do you shrink from me, people ?” he asked. “What a fright you have on your shoulder—an ill-smelling dog full of boils!” they replied. Again the people did not see Maitreya-Buddha, for each beheld only what he was worthy of seeing.

The lama says, “There are three kinds of teaching—one for the stranger, one for our own, and the third for the initiated who can retain. Now through ignorance they slaughter animals, they drink wine, they have property and eat meat and live squalidly. Does religion permit all this ? Where is beauty, there is teaching; where is teaching, there is beauty.

The people here are sensitive. Your emotions and desires are transmitted so easily. Therefore know clearly what you desire. Otherwise instead of Buddha you shall behold the dog.

That which is hidden in the past is not of importance—that which in age-old books, copied and unfinished, lies covered with dust. For the new construction, that which now resolves itself into life is important. Not through library shelves but through the living word is measured the possibility of future structures.

Under Kinchenjunga are secreted the caves in which are rest­ing the treasures. In stone coffins the cave dwellers are praying, torturing themselves in the name of the future. But the sun has already defined the future; not in secret caves, but in full sunlight one perceives the worship and expectation of Maitreya-Buddha. It is now three years since the Tashi Lama solemnly and openly dedicated the great New Image in his Tashi-lhunpo. The intense, invisible work progresses.

The Tashi Lama is now on his way to Mongolia by way of China. Unprecedented through the ages is this event. Mystery ! Incidentally, it may be that through Sikhim passed only the ab­ducting detachment and the Lama himself moved on to Mon­golia.

On a sacred morning upon the mountain started to glow rows of fire—another mystery !

Just now the wave of attention is turned toward Tibet—behind the mountain rampart events are stirring, but Tibetan secrecy is great. Information is contradictory. Whither disappeared the Tashi Lama ? What military manoeuvers proceed on the Chinese border ? What transpires on the Mongolian line ? A year of events !

Sikhim is called the land of lightning. Of course, here also occurs lightning but is it not simpler to call it “the land of future steps” ? For it would be difficult to imagine a better threshold to the mysteries of the future than this unexplored, rarely pene­trated country of rocks and flowers.

As behind a tiny silver apple on a saucer, do the hills and steps of the Himalayas reveal themselves. Hundreds, perhaps more, are the monasteries in Sikhim, each crowning the top of a summit. A small temple in Chakong; a big suburgan and monastery in Rinchenpong. Upon the next mountain appears gleaming white Pemayangtse, still higher, Sanga Chöling. Tashi-ding is almost unseen. On the other side of the valley is Daling and opposite Robling and still nearer Namtse. For a distance of forty miles one may behold the monasteries, for we must not forget that here one sees extremely far.

And again before us is the wall to Tibet. And not the back­bone of the lizard but the snow-white girdle is outlined upon the peaks of this wall—the girdle of the earth. Let us point the arrow northward—there must be the base of Mount Meru.

English: I took this photo of the 110 ft (35 m...
110 ft (35 metre) Maitreya Buddha facing down the Shyok River, Nubra Valley near Diskit Monastery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Joke Because I Need Your Steam

Woman r guilty

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Of course not, but the point made was as follows :

If women go for vaginaplasty or other ‘lotions’ to tighten up the vulva

to please the men or themselves,

or go for younger ‘studs’ to literally fill themselves up,

they actually are underscoring the value of size, the rub,

and virility or hotness of vitality for themselves …

|

Which is fine in itself, for themselves. Except that it is not.

For, why then is the society shocked or hold men guilty

when they go for their preference for size and softness,

when they fall for younger gals or have mistresses,

or when 60 year old Saudis marry 10 – 12 year olds

( it’s legal in their country ),

or when 1% of men can’t contain their desire overdrive

( any statistical distribution curve would be their alibi )

and grab girls in manner they legally should not…

such as kidnap, molestation or rape ?

 

I have to agree that ‘women’s lib’ trend should allow women the same statistical allowance

for some of them to kidnap, molest or rape men.

 

But, of course, I find myself covered with stupidity :

Society rightly want men to desist;

but from how it’s going, by the time men reform or even before,

women would need to be handed the same advice, to “desist.”

Untill there is no one to advise or listen.

 

Would the wiser ones, especially women, clarify the argument ?

For me, the issue might start with men or women, or both,

but its resolution must end in the family.

Anything, act or value, that harms the family,

breaks or erodes trust, or creates an unbridgeable distance,

should be unacceptable … inelectable, howsoever pleasureable

or legal it be, or legitimate and right it may seem !

|

English: Young Saudi Arabian woman wearing Isl...
Young Saudi Arabian woman …

A Word To Us – In India

In conversation … I have the highest of regard for my elder and friend, Sh Basudeb Sen, a learned soul, a tall human being and an independent director for decades. We have agreed on much and differed occasionally on matters that concerns us as individuals, as people and part of global community. This little conversation took place lately on the ruins of Nalanda !

It started with my observation to a pic you can view down below :

Quote 

How #Islam was advanced … Terribly sad event in 1193 AD, when Nalanda University was ransacked, burnt and thousands of Buddhists beheaded by the #Muslim fanatic Bakhtiyar Khilji , a Turk …

Unquote

The picture of the ruins of Nalanda University was accompanied with a small introduction …

In 1193, the Nalanda University was sacked by the fanatic Bakhtiyar Khilji , a Turk. The event is seen by scholars as a late milestone through the decline of Buddhism in India.

The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj , in his chronicle Tabaqat-I-Nasiri , reported that many of the monks there were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism and plant Islam by the sword. The library continued to burn for several months and “smoke from smouldering manuscripts hung for days, like a dark pall over the low hills.”

Nalanda was reknowned far and wide … one of the world’s first, perhaps the only residential university then. It had dormitories for students. In its prime, the institution accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers, and was considered an architectural masterpiece. It was marked by a lofty wall and a gate that led to eight separate compounds, ten temples, many meditation halls and classrooms. Within it were were lakes and parks, and a library housed in a nine-storied building that had long rows of books of knowledge and several sections for producing meticulous copies of texts globally in demand.

The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every field of knowledge, and its portals attracted students and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey. During the period of Harsha, the monastery is reported to have owned 200 villages, given as grants for its upkeep.

The Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang has left for us detailed accounts of the university, as it was in the 7th Century. He described how the regularly laid-out towers, forest of pavilions, harmikas and temples, seemed to “soar above the mists in the sky” so that, from their cells, the monks “might witness the birth of the winds and the clouds.”

The pilgrim states, “An azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with full-blown cups of the blue lotus; dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there; and outside, groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade.”

*  *  *

Sh Sen wrote in his comment on my observation :

“Why look at the past ?

“(Today) Terrorists and religious fundamentalists have become much more commercially organised in the business of large scale destruction and killing. We have many many Khiljis and their networks operationg all over the World now.”

Though the thought was very pertinent, I found in it a tiresomeness about our history, those events in our past that “dead and gone.”

I believe looking at the past, as it was, is to look at the truth – our own truth. 

Proliferation of terrorists and fundamentalists today is, to a great extent, a consequence of us, and the world, having satisfied ourselves with little understanding of our historical truths. As a result, we are without crucial information to orient and strategise our collective steps through a complicated present, and to create a preferred future for ourselves.

We have even gone about laying a thick layer of fake and fabricated narrative over the facts in our past … a monumental error that keeps us, as a people and as a nation, in the darkness of mere emotional ding-dongs, without the clarity of evidence and data backed knowledge of how we are placed in the present, and why.

That leaves us with little idea of our real strengths, weaknesses and threats, with an entirely dissipated orientation to opportunities and diffused attention to what could have been certain steps to our desired future.

The word to us – in India – reads thus :

My countrymen, the reason we are very poor at identifying our national projects and strategies rests in great measure to our inability to look squarely into the face of our historical truths ?

I may assure you that if we had been good at driving ourselves with a sense of purpose and direction, our land would have been largely free of these puny but bloated identities – liguistic, regional and religious – we carry to war amongst ourselves … 

May we be blessed !

Ruins Of Nalada

Yamunotri, By Default

Unable to head for the mountains, for reasons beyond me, I recall this saunter through Garhwal during the rains …

I am not a religious person, though not an atheist and certainly not an anti-theist. If I would have chosen to go to Yamunotri, it would have been for the Himalayan panoramas it offers, the testing journey that provide opportunities for my challenged perfection, and the culture the region particularly fosters.
On this day, the 28th of August 2011, I had not chosen to proceed towards Yamunotri. My general desire was to visit the ” Kaurav County ” in the northwest-most region of Uttarkashi district, including Netwar and Mori in Tons Valley along the route to Har-ki-Dun in the middle of Govind Wild Life National Park, up northwest of Mori.
Mori is a sleepy hamlet of amazing scenic beauty, surrounded by greenish and yellowish paddy fields at this time of the year, on the banks of Tons River. The place lies in a region that has a uniquely Vedic culture and a history that local folks trace back to Kauravas and Pandavas, the royal warriors and kings in the epic age of Mahabharata. It was said that if one had to learn Sanskrit and true Vedic practices, in their detail, there was no better place to go to than this region in Uttarkashi.
Mori seemed to be a perfect vacation retreat to me, with its seclusion and high mountain solitudes. It had the tallest pine trees that thickly populate its forests. A primary curiosity of mine was this ancient historic temple dedicated to Duryodhana, who is generally reviled in the epic and by people in the rest of the country. In Netwar, 11 km up ahead, there is a temple with Karna as the local deity, another character from the epic who is better regarded but still an anti – hero compared to the Pandavas, the ultimate victors who had the support of Krishna. And, the villagers follow a tradition that includes polygamy !
The cultural diversity of the region then seemed fascinating to me… full of legendary temples, architecture, mythology and that ancient culture that still seemed alive to me in its texts. And thus I rolled out for Kaurav County that early morning before dawn, covering the potholed roads onto the tolled highway of recent construct. I noticed the morning sun when I had to stop for relief some distance before Muzaffarnagar.
That’s also when I was charmed by the paddy and sugarcane fields all around.
There was nothing exciting on the way up through Haridwar on to the bypass at the left, before the ancient town and world’s famed yoga capital of Rishikesh, that passes through THDC Colony and meets the National Highway 94, gaining about 700 m in height at Narendranagar. Unawares, I had given up the option of passing over the hanging bridge called Laxman Jhula and of visiting the Vashisht Ashram and Cave, located about 25 km away on the way to Devprayag.
The Greens …

It had gotten exciting, the drive pleasurably demanding, mountain sides intimately pleasing and views… clouds rubbing against the hill sides and the tops … and the houses yonder !

The road remained undulating but gradual, by and large. It wasn’t in the best of shape. The entire region seemed to be terribly neglected in terms of infrastructure. Frequently, there would stretches without metal top on the roads. People were generally disadvantaged with little work opportunity, and seemed severely depressed economically.

But, if anything, the Himalayas represent a continuity. There’s a cultural togetherness and homogeneity that shared beliefs inculcate in people’s outlook… to each other, to other beings, their animals, trees and vegetation, the mountains, temples, river and streams. There were enough of water lines, thick and thin, flowing down the mountain slopes.

The altitudes… 1000 m at Narendranagar… 1200 m at Hindolakhal Village… over a hump of 1600 m before Agrakhal at 1400 m… down to 800 m after Jajal… up again through 1200 m, Mohanchatti, to 1400 m, 1600 m, and 1676 m at Chamba, where I called it a day.
Chamba is situated at the junction of roads converging from Mussoorie, Rishikesh, Tehri Dam/ Lake and New Tehri. It  is a beautiful town, in the heart of Tehri district. Chamba is well-connected and just 60 km from Mussoorie. For travellers from Delhi, Chamba is an ideal interlude on the way up to Gangotri, Yamunotri and north-western parts of Uttarkashi.Some places of interest nearby are Dhanaulti, Surkanda Devi Temple, Ranichauri, and Kanatal, midway through Chamba-Dhanaulti road.

It was still cloudy when I click started the next day. I was heading for Barethi, Dharasu, on to Barkot, Naugaon and Purola, where I intended to halt. It was to be my base for forays into the Kaurav County of Netwar and Mori and, perhaps, the closest I could drive up to Har-ki-Dun. It turned out to be a wrong choice… due to landslides and road construction projects ! On hindsight, I should have taken the left branch off from NH-94 at Chamba, through Dhanaulti – NH 123 – Nainbagh – Kuwa – Naugaon – Purola.

Barely 10 km up Chamba, the National Highway 94 comes close to the bank of the Tehri Dam Reservoir on Bhagirathi River, down at 800 m altitude above sea level, and remains almost parallel right up to Dharasu at 1200 m. A little ahead, the highway forks into NH – 94 on the left and NH – 108 on the right, which continues to run along with the River Bhagirathi to Uttarkashi.

I took to the NH – 94 from Chamba. At Barethi too, I had the option to take a left branch – off to NH – 123 and on to Naugaon. But I was not aware of it and, frankly, felt no need to review my travel plan just then, even though the indications were there of roads being blocked or under construction. So on I continued towards Dharasu, rising up to 2200 m through some of the worst stretches, holdups, soft soil and treacherous mud… down to 1400 m at a sharp bend from where a branch – off to left went to Barkot barely 2 km away.

The place at the neck of that sharp bend, identified from a small signboard, was called Dobatta. The entire area was in a mess, with construction work. I stopped to look about. To my left, I could see school children crossing over a stretch of road paved with large boulders. There was a trekker jeep waiting about 50 m away, beyond the rough un-motorable stretch, to transport the public and the school children. I could only ” sigh ” and resume my way on the main to Yamunotri… to let the disappointment pass.

The road up from Dobatta ( Barkot, 1280 m ) remained difficult and neglected in patches… gaining altitude through Gangani to Sayanachatti ( 2135 m ), where a young man flagged my car. I stopped, curious, when he suggested that I stay the day at his place ! It was drizzling. The landslides and road conditions on the way had been tiring to negotiate. I dropped anchor at his rather basic ‘ hotel.’

The lodge had no food preparation facilities. There was a ‘ dhaba ‘ down the way I’d come, where I could have a simple fare. It was too early for a meal right then and I did not want to step out in the evening when I might be hungry. So, the only alternate was for me to buy something now that I could retain for later.

I went out for a stroll. The place had few houses, mostly villagers from far away who had built by the roadside to participate in the commerce that tourists to Yamunotri bring in. There was a tea stall where a few people sat gossiping… smoking, browsing through the newspaper, sipping tea or simply gazing. I joined them… had a no-sugar tea, made to order. There was sadness on the faces and reeked of depression when people spoke.

The tea stall did not have the eggs I was looking for. Almost the whole of Uttarkashi is supposed to be a sacred zone and non-vegetarian preparations were generally barred from local cuisine. Someone suggested I try a smaller stall across the road. I did find the eggs there and a couple of buns for my evening meal.

Back at the hotel, I tried calling up home but there was no network. I was told only the Govt owned telecom company had it here ! The gray evening passed into a dark night.

Next morning, I started off with a washed car… not toward Yamunotri but return to Chamba, where about I intended to stay overnight before starting for the home leg. Alas, traffic was held up barely a few miles down, due to landslide. The bulldozer came after 3 hours ! Tour operators found it convenient to handout lunch cooked for the tourists they were carrying. And travellers had their wash in the mountainside stream flowing half a furlong up.

The mess cleared up around 1 PM. I spent those 4 hours chatting up occassionally, listening to music most of the time, and gazing at a mule pair grazing in front of me !

On my way back, I followed the Yamuna River until Dobatta ( Barkot ).About 10 – 15 km before Chamba,  I stopped at a ‘ Guest House ‘ that I later discovered was a poor, dilapidated homestay run by a father – son duo. However, the lady of the house had cooked some wonderful chicken curry. But I did take the precaution of calling up the local Police Station and informing them of my stay there !
The next day, I made it home, by late afternoon.

Alternate Destinations. Authentic Experiences…

English: Draupadi and Pandavas
English: Draupadi and Pandavas

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

~ T S Eliot

 

Let us go then, you and I

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question….

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window panes;

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

Do I dare Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)

Is it perfume from a dress

That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin? . . . . . . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets

And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. . . . . . . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!

Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep… tired… or it malingers.

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald)

Brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups,

After the skirts that trail along the floor

—And this, and so much more?

— It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves

In patterns on a screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say: “That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all.” . . . . . . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?

Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Resource : http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1567/1567-h/1567-h.htm

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Journal : Legend And Conjuration

ALTAI-HIMALAYA

A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part VIII : INDIA (1924)

Are the inhabitants of Sikhim poor ?

Where there are no riches there is no poverty. The people are living simply.

Upon the hills, amidst blossoming trees, stand the quiet little houses. Through the colored branches shine the bright stars and glimmer the snow-covered peaks. Here are people carrying their vege­tables; here, they pasture their cattle and smile kindly. Here, with fairylike music they walk along the steep paths in wedding processions. Knowing of reincarnation they quietly cremate the bodies. And they are singing. Mark, they are often singing.

Verily, one can sing under a canopy of various flowers and plants. Orchids, like colorful eyes, cling to the trunks of the giant trees. Pink, purple and yellow bouquets are strewn along the way like bright sparks. And these are not simply plants; many have their ancient powers of healing.

Nature awaits here full of gifts. Come hither and be cured. Charura, Parura, Orrura are the three important curative fruits against cough, cold and fever. Charura is like a yellow cherry; Parura like a green chestnut and Orrura like a yellowish-green crab-apple. All three are sharp to the taste and full of tannin. Here is the red bark of Aku Ombo, to cure wounds. Salve against fever is Sergi Phurba, like a dry giant bean. Chuta, the dry bitter root, will cure swelling and heal the throat. Bassack is a brown powder for colds. The red-stemmed Tze produces magenta; bitter Purma is for incenses. A broth from the roots of Berekuro is effective for women’s ailments. The flowers of Dangero heal the stomach, much like the flower of the red rhodo­dendron; while the leaf of Dysro is a disinfectant for wounds. Memshing Pati is a sacred plant in Nepal, where it is used for head ornaments at festivals. Endless are the useful plants…

The leaves of the herb Ava Duti are said “to soften” stones, just as do the “snow-frogs” * in the Himalayas. Therefore, if upon a stone you see the print of an elk’s foot or the paw of an animal, it seems they have eaten or touched this wondrous herb. Turning again to legends : near Phalut, on the road to Kanchenjunga, grows a precious plant, the black aconite. Its flower lights up at night, and by its glow one locates this rare plant. Here again is the trace of the legend of the Russian fire flower, that enchanted blossom which fulfills all wishes— and which leads us not to superstition but to that same source wherein so much still lies concealed.

* Snow-frogs”—a legend which attributes to snow-frogs the ability to soften stones.

Before our gates was found a strange gift. The branches of a fir tree, rhododendron and some other plants were there, with their leaves pointing to our house, and covered with a flat stone. This is a conjuration (Sunnium) and the man who raises this offering receives upon himself all which is sworn upon it, whether of good or evil, sickness or sorrow, or joy. For many days it lay there and even horses shied at it. The same conjuration we observed in the suburb of Jaipur; there in the middle of a street, in a flat basket, lay a lamb’s liver, flowers and three silver rupees. None touched them. These conjurations are of very ancient origin.

Everywhere are legends of the accidental discoveries of sacred spots, the revelation of which was followed by dumbness and even death. Thus it is told that one Shikari (a hunter) in Assam, accidentally wandered into a sacred place and beheld its mys­teries, and when he attempted to reveal them he was stricken dumb.

On the shore of the sea is moving a stick. It moves on alone and near the top of it is tied a lighted tinder. Thus do the conjurers of the coast of Malabar invoke their conjurations to burn the house of an enemy. Doctor Jones of Calcutta tried to overtake such a stick but it “walked away” beyond his own pace.

A legend from around Mongolia : “A venerated mother died and her son was desirous that a high lama possessed of exalted powers should perform the services over her. But such a lama could not be found. The son at the moment of death deposited the spirit of the departing one into a sandalwood casket, strongly sealed this sanctuary and himself invited the best lamas from Tibet. The lamas concentrated upon the casket; one of them be­gan to change in countenance, first becoming red, then blue from exertion. Then suddenly the casket burst into splinters before the eyes of all. This lama was able to free the spirit and thus could perform the service.”

The people here know everything; they have heard everything. One can remember and disclose all things in the twilight : of “Nam-Yg” (heavenly letters)—the letters and sacred books which are falling from heaven; of rings of silver or turquoise which change their color as a sign of foreboding and warning; of Si, the stone bead, sent from heaven to guard the health; of the finding of objects which disappear afterward. All this is known.

A woman was very pious and dreamt that she might receive the image of Buddha. Working in the morning amid her flowers she discovered an image and brought it into her shrine. But soon she forgot it and Buddha disappeared from the shrine. Next time the woman found in her garden a whirling sparkling stone and put it into a coffer and forgot it. Then the stone disappeared. Neglect always results in the disappearance of the bestowed happiness.

Do not record the things which can be read in books but those which are related to you in person; for those thoughts are the living ones. Not by the book but by the thought shall you judge life.

Understand the sparks of the primordial bliss.

Journal : My Odyssey

Light
Light – Courtesy @Doug88888)

This publication is my tribute  

to  the wayward amongst us;

and especially to ones who outgrew it.

……   ……

This spiritual saga over years score

Shimmers alive at a temple door…

Today, I hold myself erect

Halt at the temple entrance

But skip the practice ancient

I demand my own light

Submission I refuse

And all forms I deny

Here and now, O’ Deity

At your hallowed shrine.

Great you are, same

Being in all

The Master Grand

Cause primordial

But screened in

By our ceremonials.

Thy ritual dos and donts

No more compel, thy priests

With faith without love

Seem just a cartel

In their cloister of sad smiles

Flags, façades and piety.

*  *  *

Now this burden of life

I take upon myself

To costs I agree

Its choices I embrace

I know It’s me…

Small and weak

But the sole thing too

That’s known to me.

It’s where I’ll stay

Whom I’ll discover

Shrink all space

Let Time arch over.

I will break in, O’ Deity

To the depths of peace

And its light revealing.

*  *  *

Sure, it daunts

The vastness barred

In me haunts

Unknown and spread dark.

But the alternates just distract

And I reject yet the game false

Upon all souls hangs its pall –

Our fear masked in playful calls.

I trundle long in black tunnels

Fail to grasp a speck of heaven

Fling off hard and bounce sharp

But crash back in with vengeance

It shocks and tries, draws to test

The mind taut : deny or consent ?

In my eye rise each term and form

As a vagina wet stands in witness

Alluring still, accusing harsh

The dripping penis caught offguard.

And so goes the series march

Boxing me to voluting prompts

Libidinous – the despised rot

Bonds of yore, cravings taunt

Teeming abrim but worth nought

Transitioning nights, vague dawns

On empty core, bombed raw

Vigil in pits … awake now –

Cannot yet embrace myself

With choices diseased

I no longer defend

In that dungeon dark

Though depressed

Transfixed, yes

I refuse to crank

And I frozen face

Edgy sandstorms

Moral marshlands

Whirling sqall

In my mind’s mirror

In which I’m had

My universe

In cloudy bands

Where the soul bleeds

Pinned stiff

Lacerated within

By revelations demonic …

There’s more

Stubbed senses for sure

Of imposing forms

Unblessed, forlorn

The far sound of running tap

Unnerves the neural nap

Dead, dumped odd

Hung estranged, out cast

On just a thought nebulous

Of a hurl sudden, victorious.

I yet honour the memory

Of many a false start

Of fired highs

And puffed starch

So I sit over the furled self

Unharmed by head

Its mingled thoughts

Into feelings on the lurch

Bear unmoved

The throbbing pulse

Alassed recount

Of acts corrupt :

This licentious prisoner hovers

On wracked breath

And draining cough

But is in fact choked

On a past present

Of ambitions frayed.

*  *  *

‘Twas a journey long, my dear

To witness all and keep safe

On the path blank but unclear

For a spark just my trust’d pave

For those late mornings clear

Unencumbered winter delights

With a sun warm and mellow

On lazy cats half asleep alive

Contrary to that unsure bed

To discordant shades my will would take

Spent on view

On the first cue

At body feast, gazing vivid

With overrun sensuality

Chasing the shapely hind

Tinge in fancy nets sweet

” Possess not, O Youth !” I knew

But the sage call seemed so far

Too wrongheaded for my regard !

But then I began to see

With just half a good eye

Wherein it reflected strange

The world, its masks

Its ugly mirage

Stranger ways

Roles – give and take

Swings mighty fake

Without root or heart

Faith or permanence.

‘Twas a blind alley, O’ Deity

But that half eye was yours

Which saw the farce

Lent weight to pause

For the burst of shine

On a cold summit

Impelled glad dance

And bells resonating repeat.

I wait … instead

With familiar anti-self

Same paths of lure

“Not mine,” I sense

Then hold dilemmas clear

In my spirit –

Where light still flickers

In snag heaps

And weaning disunion.

*  *  *

Barely upright, on what I know

I doubt each moment in the flow

Witness, accept and now embrace

The rocky views, their barrenness

Slip, collide, slide into wreckage

Stare close at the mind, incessant

Holding myself with love

Wipe off the damned tears

Pat the fears to sleep

And dress up my own sears

For day next in odyssey

Wade into pains

Burn the same

To be free …

Untill that day, in radiance

Enveloped with transcending sense

I stood high

On the walling fence

Still hauling up

The rest of myself

Eyeing all

The being in morn

Before the rising peer

Basking healed

In its glowing balm

With nothing

Not a trace in between.

Unburdened complete I found myself

Stripped neat

Free of subtexts

Layers mental

And body zones

Sans celebrations then

Just smiles about

Beaming from the sun

And lit I everywhere

No hope or fear

No gain or loss

No being made

… Homogeneous.

I met myself much later

The buddy from start

Then witness dear

Of all that I thought.

There was no being–for–itself ever

The one who lived was a prayer

By whom I know not, O’ Deity

To whom or why is the mystery.

*  *  *       *  *  *

This is an intimate poem, started in late 1980s,

reviewed umpteen times and finished minutes before.

Body-Mind-Spirit s

Journal : You Ask …

You ask, how my life is spent ?

Hear : My nights are a grant

And dawns are lent, as in alms !

Oh ! To live is not to breathe mere

Without heartaches, tears

And sleeves wet.

Look …

How besotted lovers pass

The witching hour

Eyes open pierced

With mirrored dreams of glass.

This sore is the enemy

Over my deep loss;

The ache too is ever

What the heart craves for.

Even a moment’s rift starts

The hunt for hub, my frenzy

For the fragrance lost.

My destination sometimes, then

Is a prelude mere to trek thence.

~ Meena Kumari

Freely Paraphrased.

Pakeezah

Journal : Lyrics Of Rebel

The days pass in bits and parts, night avails in shreds n pieces;

We’re each endowed in accord with heaven’s cover, its reaches.

I’ve wished to know this heart of mine

But have heard the laughs on each try

Like a yell on top at my defeat once more

Will in rout and loss, my life down and beat.

But what of defeats, of their attacks oblique ?

Move on I must, keep on walking

I have the beau after my heart

And this unrest too, ever since.

It starts but is without consequence

When my story is without that name…

That co-traveller who dissolves

In the dark folds of my mane.

Ill-repute, yes, I do embrace

But am lost no more, no more misplaced.

Why must I not heed

The calls of youth in heart ?

Pick at its joyous yields

Its smiles and laughs ?

Not all are destined otherwise

To avail in life… those rewards.

Flowing tears pause to tell the eye

It’s not the goblet that melts in wine !

Is the day over ?

Or is the groom’s party

On the boat drowned ?

No dirge from the shores

I hear not a soul’s howl !

~  Meena Kumari

Freely Paraphrased.

Journal : Being Different

This continues with my earlier essay on Rajiv Malhotra‘s work, Being Different, @ https://vamadevananda.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/journal-being-different/ 

The excerpt below is a stellar example of what truth in art means to survivors of a horrific past … as the Jews experienced, the Armenians did and Hindus faced in their history. All three are different from the mainstream cultures they live in or are surrounded by.

Will Indian cinema take a cue and present our truth through Islamic occupation ?

A reviewer of the film Mayrig writes …

I am Armenian. Well… my father is Armenian and he was born and raised in France. He then decided to move to Quebec (Canada) to study but ended up staying here and bringing his parents. My mom is French-Canadian. I went to Armenian school and so I speak, write and read it. My grand-mother was one of the survivors of the genocide. She passed away a few months ago…

What does this have to do with the movie, you ask ? Everything.

This movie made a lot of sense to me. Yes, the parts about the genocide were heartbreaking but I’m also speaking about the alienation the family feels after moving to France and how they try to adjust their values with the ones from this country they now live in. Being Armenian and French-Canadian has caused me many headaches. And though today I am very proud of both cultures, the major differences between them sometimes still leaves me in a place of no man’s land.

The love amongst the family members in the movie is very real. After the genocide, it is love that saved the survivors from a life full of resentment. Sticking together and loving each other with all of their heart and soul was the only way to move on. Not forget. We can never forget. But in order to put those dark days behind us and be happy again, we needed this love.

The way the parents genuinely sacrifice themselves for the happiness of their son is something I am very familiar with. My father did the same thing for me and for my brother. Armenian parents are like that. But with this great generosity and unconditional love comes great expectations. Of how we should live our lives. About what we need in order to be truly happy. And they care so much. They literally live and breathe through us in a way. If we succeed, they succeed. If we are happy, they are happy. If we are sick, they are sick.

I’m not saying that if we fail, they fail. They are very supportive and as long as you do your best, they are always proud of you. And trust me when I say that we love our parents with all our hearts and are grateful for all that they did, and all that they still do.

I am so proud to be an Armenian. I am so proud of the strength of my people who not only lost everything and had to build from scratch but did it in the best possible way to give the children of tomorrow the chance to hope for something better.

But being an Armenian gives you a responsibility. In memory of those who died but mostly, of those that survived and made it possible for you to be alive today. We have a responsibility to never give up on ourselves and on those who brought us into this world. And this feel of responsibility will be passed on to our children, and so on. And as a child of the third generation, I find it sometimes hard to know what part of me wants what it wants because I really want it or because I know that this is what my family wants for me.

It’s not a bad thing… but it’s a thing and, at the age of 26, I’m not done trying to figure it out. So I guess this movie helped me in a way… It helped me understand myself. Understand where I come from. And where I’m going…