"There's certainly a Wind behind taking me forward that I know nothing about. It does not bid my command nor do I fathom it's purpose. Yet it propels me to a superior and higher goal that I trust must be my future."
Chinmaya Mission introduced me to Lord Hanuman. Growing up in a non-traditional environment, I was not fully conversant with the glories of this hero from our great epic, the Ramayana. Hearing the chants of Hanuman Chalisa waft through my ears, the profundity of its words and their inherent meaning were lost till I attended discourses on this iconic figure. Over time, I understood the depth of those verses and the significance behind his birth and life.
Initially, one can look at Sri Hanuman’s life-story and perhaps be inspired by it objectively. Later, it dawned on me that I needed to be Hanuman subjectively, both within and without. That was and is His eternal message.
Meeting Sri Hanuman at Sidhbari, during the mastakabhishekam utsav in 2007, I was awestruck as He stands 25 feet high in veerasana, the posture of the brave – ever ready to propel into action. I learned that it was Gurudev who instructed the making of His massive idol in homage to the wind god, His father Vayu, to control the powerful winds that swept through the region. And to this day, I believe that the numerous pujas and offerings conducted there by Masters and pure hearted devotees have had a visible calming impact upon those raging winds and the fact that the statue does not attract birds to ever use it as their perch is proof of its unseen power and sacredness.
For sincere seekers, to see the Lord in every thing that the eye rests upon is important and forms the very crux of any advaita spiritual teaching. Therefore, selfless service becomes the cornerstone for inner purification. Service or seva to the body, mind and intellect, service to other human beings, service to every creature, to plants, rivers, mountains and any being in distress was indeed His first teaching understood by me. By virtue of His posture at the Lord’s feet, He represents the pinnacle of seva, humility and preparedness to do the Lord’s bidding. This translates into empathy and love devoid of ulterior motives. As sadhaks, we can understand this simple readiness to serve the Guru in worship, in thought, in word, through action and finally through refined understanding.
Sri Hanuman represents all that is positive, good, strong, wise, and yet humble. These are qualities that cannot be presented on a plate for all to see. They are seen, felt and experienced through our thoughts, emotions, speech and actions. He is the devotion through which we move closer to Sri Rama, in first cleansing our minds of negativities (Bali), encouraging the good to manifest (Sugriva), doing the Lord’s work (rescuing Sita), singing the Lord’s praises and glories, and protecting the weak, noble and the good. As our minds, intellects and hearts get cleaner and purer, we imbibe these qualities and develop the power within to face whatever comes into our lives with faith, clarity, strength, fortitude and acceptance. Thus In our constant remembrance of Him, the power through which we act is Sri Hanuman’s power.
Perhaps the clearest indication of His power when applied in daily sadhana lies encapsulated in the following shloka, a part of our daily invocation mantras at Chinmaya Mission – the eight sidhis or powers potentially within all of us.
Buddhir Balam Yasho Dhairyam Nir Bhayatvam Arogata
Ajatyam Vak Patutvam Cha Hanumat Smaranat Bhavet
As our minds are purified, the intellect or buddhi gets subtle and precise and develops the ability to acknowledge whatever happens objectively with dispassion. Then we gather the strength or balam to deal with and respond to challenging situations or emotions. Keeping focused and calm, the capacity to reduce tension and maintain harmony brings yasha or good repute. Dhairyam is the patience to withstand and wait things out in the midst of difficulties or turmoil and to always see the light at the end of the tunnel. Fearlessness or nir bhayatvam arises because we understand deep within that everything that happens is because of the Lord’s doing and not as a result of personal effort. All this has a natural and therapeutic effect upon our body and we remain in good physical health, free of illness – arogata. We become strong physically and mentally. This bestows ajatyam or alertness at all times and we are able to complete tasks successfully as amply demonstrated by Sri Hanuman. He was never lazy and was ever ready to do the right thing. And finally, the power of eloquent speech or vak patutvam cha is discovered by us with the fluency to express ideas using right words at the right time.
As personal testimony, I have found that in troubled times or difficult situations, remembering Him by name; or keeping His image within the mental frame; or worshipping His picture on a wall; or just thrusting problems upon His wide shoulders; I am absolved of anxiety, worry and apprehension. The clouded sky ALWAYS gives way to brilliant sunshine. Slowly, I learned to depend upon this unseen power and it this that takes me anywhere and everywhere in my life.
May all use it as a guide because Sri Hanuman is eternal.
Jai Hanuman (son of Vayu, the God of Wind)
April 4, 2015
Is the mortar
Betwixt bricks of
Critique and praise
Plenitude and penury
Honesty and rogue
Mirth and depression
One would not
Be what it is
Without the other
March 15th 2015
At the feet of Masters who teach acceptance…
September 16, 2014
cascades magically as Life,
onto streets and sidewalks,
unfolding a kaleidoscope
of moments strung in quick succession, into a memento.
The journey is comfortable,
watching the Hindu Kush,
from thousands of feet high
inside the flying machine,
arriving at the hotel,
small, neat, contained.
Time spills into experiences
eager to be experienced,
to savor the City.
Funny, that past glories and deeds
of human thought and endeavor
are experienced only in the Today…
the veins and arteries
of the people, as
the Melba toast and Peach
of numerous stories…of what
happens with the who’s who…
The cobbled stones carry
the imprint of walkers who have
Drunk and sober alike…
They now carry mine and
Oh Yes, the
Parisian air waltzes with –
opulence and chic,
churches and cathedrals,
palaces and catacombs,
politics and emperors,
bistros and tearooms,
museums and art houses,
symphonies and orchestras,
technology and inventions,
architecture and chimneys,
jazz and opera,
cinema and can-can,
lamp posts and rain,
sunsets and clouds,
trains and metro stations,
avenues and boulevards,
chinchilla and lipstick,
the trendy and the hip,
hard work and opportunity,
beauty and creative impulse,
a carousel of Life –
whirling around the Seine…
Breathing it all –
and of course, tasting
the coffee and crème brûlée,
seated on quaint little chairs, jammed together, in cafés,
facing the City.
Ah Beautiful Paris, maybe, I’ll return..
Maybe, I never left..
Soon this will be a memory,
then a single thought,
that too will vanish into the vastness,
leaving no trace at all.
Was I ever here?
Did all this happen? I will never know!
February 21st 2014
At the feet of Masters
from whom I learnt to appreciate the wonder of It everywhere.
September 8, 2014
Dear Jungle Jalebi
Tears fall with you
As you fell
In winds that revved
Up a mighty squall
Your roots uprooted
From the earth
Your branches entangled
In electric wires
Bit by bit you
From all that upon
Which you rest
Your weary limbs
And taken away
The cat runs up your
Huge, sloping trunk
One last time
To flex his muscles
On Nature’s post
The parrots busy
Gobbling your summer-ripened
Red fruit – so much you
Showered this year….
You enriched my life
By your presence,
And yet so much
And soon I will have
To learn to live in your
This time there is no sorrow
Only acceptance of
Nature and her forces
Yes, my friend,
I will miss you
And so will the cats
And birds and all
Those who came
And sat in your shade
And tasted your beauty
May 15th 2013
The dear, old Jungle Jalebi had probably been around for over 50 years. Our house was built around it. Like a friend that must go, it went. Funnily enough, it is still lives on…
August 11, 2014
Listen to birds
Listen to children
Listen to words spoken
Listen to that which is unspoken
Listen to open skies
Listen to clouds
Listen to falling rain
Listen to the rhythm of the universe
Listen to the space inside you
Listen to the space inside others
Listen to that which is unheard
Listen to that which is not thought of
Listen to stillness
Listen to nothing at all
Listen with attention
Listen with sincerity
Listen with love
Listen to silence
For God’s sake
Every one wants to be heard
Let’s live in the silence between words
Let’s abide in the silence of knowing
Let’s be the silence of it all
March 29th 2011
At the feet of the Master by whose Grace we learn to truly listen!
June 24, 2014
in party attire
A few words written
Yet in tune
April 14th 2011
(By the sheer Grace of my Teachers)
June 8, 2014
It is 1.10 in the afternoon and I have just settled down to eating my lunch in the TV room when suddenly I hear a phatak sound in the veranda. It appears as if something has collided with the glass panes of the living-room doors. Placing the tray on the sofa beside me and calling out loudly to Kuldip, the houseboy, I rush out to the adjacent portico. I see a little dove on the red chair. I think that I know what has happened. It has, in full flight, hit against the glass and is momentarily stunned. Not seeing it move or flutter at all, I pick it up. It still doesn’t move. Read more
June 6, 2014
Have you ever tried to pay attention?
Pay attention to what?
To whatever it is that you rush about doing?
I must be paying attention, otherwise how would I accomplish anything?
No, I mean, REALLY pay attention?
I just answered that, you know!
If you were truly paying attention, you wouldn’t rush.
Really, how have you come to that conclusion?
Because then you would savor every moment!
You know, Cat, I don’t have time for your silly purrifications!
That’s just it, you are not listening. You never do.
All right, try me this time, for a change!
Let’s see now – look at you rushing – can you slow down a bit?
You mean as I walk?
Yes. We could begin from there. Presently, you are walking.
What do you want me to do – the cat-walk?
Be Present in your walk.
I want you to put your foot slowly – one behind the other.
But I am doing just that – you idiotic feline!
There you go again – ranting and raising your voice. Be quiet.
Fine – here I am, placing my fee t – s l o w l y –
That’s better. Can you please smile, also, as you walk?
Here, can you see my pearly whites, now, you dumb nitwit?
Stop being judgmental and calling me names, please!
All right, I’m sorry.
Much better, you are developing awareness to my feelings, now.
Can you feel the earth beneath your feet as you walk?
Well, I’m certainly not moon walking, you silly thing!
There you go again. Walk with intense awareness in every step.
An awareness of what, please tell me?
An awareness of all there is in this precise moment.
Do you feel the earth come up to meet you in every step?
But I thought I was walking ON the earth?
Yes, yes, you are. As your toes press down, can you feel the earth pushing
up to greet the soles of your feet?
I am trying; I’m trying to feel just that.
Good, because the earth is a living being, just like you.
O yeah, then I’m a dinosaur!
It feels your weight; it feels your thoughts; it feels your feelings!
O yeah, and I’m a flying wombat!
It knows your positivity and senses your negativity.
Yeah, the earth is a psychic, it can read my mind.
You are neither a dinosaur nor a wombat and the earth is not a psychic.
Who am I, then?
That’s precisely what I’m trying to convey, if only you’d focus!
Focus on each step you take, focus on the softness under it.
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm.
Notice your movement; notice the earth’s quiet stillness.
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm.
There is something within you that is within the earth too.
Whatever can that be?
Remember, I said the earth is a living being?
Well, so are you.
I already know that!
Yes, but not in the sense I’m implying.
Okay. Come on, tell me.
Look at yourself as Life, alive, without a name.
I don’t know if I can do that.
Feel the earth as Life, alive, without a name too.
What about you, Cat? Do I look at you as Life, obviously alive, without a name too?
Yes, yes, yes. Now, you’re getting the connection.
I am? I’ll try to assimilate this. Thank you.
Meow – Purr, purr, purr!
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm!
April 29th 2012
May 30, 2014
In all hues
Ochre, dull gold, brown, yellow again
Not a place where a fallen leaf has not
Piled high on street corners
In parks and on side-walks
Under-foot and in my face
Tender Crumpled Delicate
Each different from its sibling
The building blocks of forests
The laboratory of trees
Built by leaves
Have you ever lain on a bed of fallen leaves?
April 12th 2011