Friday, 28 February 2014

A Green Song

A new post in the series - When a Picture Leads


Sometimes you really don't need any other colour. Green is All. Perhaps because through it all colours of Life are possible. 

It felt like that yesterday. It was a beautiful day. Refreshingly sunny but not hot. Sitting quietly on the backseat of our trusty two-wheeler as my husband was driving through the red-clay earthy lanes of Auroville, simply enjoying the presence of all those big, medium and small green trees on both sides of the road, their branches and leaves swaying in the breeze, fresh new growth making some of them look fresher than usual, the beautiful fragrance of new flowers coming up here and there, gloriously green it all was. There were flowers too, but the pinks and purples and yellows and violets were happily immersed and surrendered to that vast and glorious green cover around. 

Somehow in the last few visits to Auroville I had missed out on experiencing this simple joy. Perhaps my mind was too busy then. Or perhaps yesterday I was somewhat more ready to receive this beauty of Nature. Whatever be the reason, the experience was a joyride indeed. Felt energized and renewed. Green is after all, the colour of New Life. 

*****

Shuffling through my picture folder again; and I find these two pictures I had taken a few years ago at Van Niwas, Nainital. 






With the memory of yesterday's experience still fresh, as I look at these pictures today they seem to be saying something. 

Wait, let me hear. 

Come, you too sit near me and listen what these beautiful green flowers are saying. Listen carefully for they speak very softly. Soft is the language of love, the language of earth. 

Come, hear....

Hey, you there? 
Yes, you, my child. And you. 
Can you hear us? 
Hear closely, you too.  

Come, sing with us. 

The Song of a Love 
For the colour Green 
The song of joy the Earth needs, 
This song of joy you all need. 

Come, sing with us. 




'Sing with us', from Rahul Sharma's album, Celebration - A Circle of Energy

Photos: Mine
*****

For the previous post in this series, click here.

Linking this post with ABC Wednesday 14G: G is for Green 


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Nataraja Love

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers


A special post for Mahashivaratri



I clearly remember the first time I walked into what is now the living room of our home. We had come to see the house for the very first time, and weren't even sure if we would consider buying it because it had initially seemed out of our budget. But the moment I walked into this empty room with a thick teakwood shelf all along one wall of the room floating just about three feet below the ceiling, I knew. I knew that if this room ever became mine, what or rather who would occupy the central place on that beautifully polished shelf. 

I could see in my mind's eye a beautiful Bronze Nataraja, the One that expresses "the rapture of the cosmic dance with the profundities behind of the unmoved eternal and infinite bliss." **

Two and a half years later, that vision came true. 

I found that Nataraja, my Nataraja, in this old shop in Kumbakonam. Obviously, He came home with me, and now sits majestically in His spot. Nobody else could have occupied that place. No one. It was always His Home, it was patiently waiting for the Lord. 

The Lord was waiting too. The Lord always waits...we are the ones who aren't ready to call Him or receive Him. 

Today, on this Mahashivaratri, I pray to Lord Shiva to bless me with a greater inner readiness, an intenser aspiration and a wider receptivity. 

Calling Him to come to my inner, truer home...




** The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 20, p. 282

Image: mine


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Wide Angle

A new post in the series - Satyam Shivam Sundaram
A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that speak of timeless truths, words that remind me of the deeper and hidden truth behind surface events and phenomena, words that shine light when all seems dark, words that are just what I need - for this moment and for all times to come.


Why this post? Why now?

So much has been written about the Wendy Doniger affair. Sadly, not much new has been said. I wasn't going to really post anything on my blog about this whole thing, for two reasons. One is simply because of 'been there, done that', in the sense that those days, years rather, of discussing such matters are really behind me. I know where I stand on such matters and that's enough for me, at least for now. 

Second is that the level of discourse on such topics feels so outdated for the most part - radicals vs. traditionalists, progressives vs. fanatics, free-speechwallas vs. regressive-fundoos...such mindless dichtomoies used mindlessly, such meaningless labels thrown around without really bothering about what these words mean. Why bother with all that, I thought. Really.

But then, two things happened. And here I am with this post.

One of my teachers posted on his blog a passage from one of my favourite volumes from Sri Aurobindo's works. This passage, that I had read many times before, when re-read in the wake of this D-controversy brings new knowledge and new light that I believe many of us are seeking. This passage really gives a larger, wider view of things. It not only strengthens my view on the matter, it also helps me see the light when almost all the common discourse around the recent controversy simply darkens the mind. After reading this passage a few times this past week, I had no choice but to share it on my blog. If for no other reason, but to simply express my gratitude to the Master for showing me the light, as His Words have always done for me. 

The second thing that led me to do this post was a new 'sublime' blogpost by another thinker/writer whose blog I follow. He too, inspired by the thought and words of Sri Aurobindo, helps bring this discourse into a wider view. I am so thankful to him for writing this piece. I share the link to his article at the end of this post. 

*****
The Need for an Aggressive Defence of Indian Culture
Sri Aurobindo

"There arises the necessity of a defence and a strong, even an aggressive defence; for only an aggressive defence can be effective in the conditions of the modern struggle. But here we find ourselves brought up against an opposite turn of mind and its stark obstructive temper. For there are plenty of Indians now who are for a stubbornly static defence, and whatever aggressiveness they put into it consists in a rather vulgar and unthinking cultural Chauvinism which holds that whatever we have is good for us because it is Indian or even that whatever is in India is best, because it is the creation of the Rishis. As if all the later clumsy and chaotic developments were laid down by those much misused, much misapplied and often very much forged founders of our culture. But the question is whether a static defence is of any effective value. I hold that it is of no value, because it is inconsistent with the truth of things and doomed to failure. It amounts to an attempt to sit stubbornly still while the Shakti of the world is rapidly moving on her way, and not only the Shakti of the world but the Shakti in India also. It is a determination to live only on our past cultural capital, to eke it out, small as it has grown in our wasteful and incompetent hands, to the last anna: but to live on our capital without using it for fresh gains is to end in bankruptcy and pauperism. The past has to be used and spent as mobile and current capital for some larger profit, acquisition and development of the future: but to gain we must release, we must part with something in order to grow and live more richly,—that is the universal law of existence. Otherwise the life within us will stagnate and perish in its immobile torpor. Thus to shrink from enlargement and change is too a false confession of impotence. It is to hold that India’s creative capacity in religion and in philosophy came to an end with Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhwa and Chaitanya and in social construction with Raghunandan and Vidyaranya. It is to rest in art and poetry either in a blank and uncreative void or in a vain and lifeless repetition of beautiful but spent forms and motives. It is to cling to social forms that are crumbling and will continue to crumble in spite of our efforts and risk to be crushed in their collapse."
....
"Aggressive defence implies a new creation from this inner and commanding vision and while it demands a bringing of what we have to a more expressive force of form, it must allow also an effective assimilation of whatever is useful to our new life and can be made harmonious with our spirit. Battle, shock and struggle themselves are no vain destruction; they are a violent cover for Time’s great interchanges. Even the most successful victor receives much from the vanquished and if sometimes he appropriates it, as often it takes him prisoner. The Western attack is not confined to a breaking down of the forms of Eastern culture; there is at the same time a large, subtle and silent appropriation of much that is valuable in the East for the enrichment of occidental culture. Therefore to bring forward the glories of our past and scatter on Europe and America as much of its treasures as they will receive, will not save us. That liberality will enrich and strengthen our cultural assailants, but for us it will only serve to give a self-confidence which will be useless and even misleading if it is not made a force of will for a greater creation. What we have to do is to front the attack with new and more powerful formations which will not only throw it back, but even, where that is possible and helpful to the race, carry the war into the assailant’s country. At the same time we must take by a strong creative assimilation whatever answers to our own needs and responds to the Indian spirit. In certain directions, as yet all too few, we have begun both these movements. In others we have simply created an unintelligent mixture or else have taken and are still taking over rash, crude and undigested borrowings. Imitation, a rough and haphazard borrowing of the assailant’s engines and methods may be temporarily useful, but by itself it is only another way of submitting to conquest. A stark appropriation is not sufficient; successful assimilation to the Indian spirit is the needed movement. The problem is one of immense difficulty and stupendous in its proportions and we have not yet approached it with wisdom and insight. All the more pressing is the need to awaken to the situation and meet it with original thinking and a conscious action wise and powerful in insight and sure in process. A mastering and helpful assimilation of new stuff into an eternal body has always been in the past a peculiar power of the genius of India."

Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 20, pp.75-78

*****

"As Swami Vivekananda has pointed out the spiritual thought of India acts in a subtle, unseen and invisible way in the consciousness of humanity.  The ideals of Indian spirituality are not the speculative constructions of the human intellect.  They are the emanations from the supra intellectual consciousness of seers and sages, established in the terrestrial mental atmosphere as living forces.  We must also keep in mind that the seer and sages of India, past or present, whether they are living in their earthly bodies or “dead” are living spiritual powers guiding the spiritual evolution of humanity.  For someone who lives in the spiritual consciousness of his soul, his body is like a shirt, and “death” is only a shuffling of his physical robe.

"This living force of Indian spirituality is the purest and highest form of soft power.  It silently infiltrates into the minds and hearts of people, slowly and subtly changing their thoughts and feelings.  We can see this happening in the history of modern civilization, especially in the west.  Transcendentalism, flower culture or the hippie movement, New Age cults and literature, philosophical speculations of New Physics, alternative therapies, deep ecology, meditation, and Yoga, seeping of Indian spiritual and Sanskrit terminology like guru, avatar, dharma, karma into the English language and vocabulary, all these are the result of the infiltration of Indian ideas into the western culture.

"This will continue, and one day it will be a flood, which will not destroy or overpower other cultures, but will transform them.  For, the urge or capacity for synthesis is an intrinsic genius of Indian spirituality.  So, the growth of Indian spirituality will lead to a progressive mutual enrichment of the spirit of East and West in a new synthesis and integration.  It is this spiritual invasion, which the demons of the nether world instinctively feel, and attack, both inwardly and outwardly, at everything which has the spiritual potential to dislodge their reign over the world.  The attack and mischief of dark forces take many forms.  The present Freudian hoodoo against Indian culture is perhaps one of them."

To read full article, click here.

*****
Click here to read the previous post in this series.

Click here for all the posts in this series.









Monday, 24 February 2014

O Jaane Wale...

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers




How I wished I had stayed. 

She needed me. No. I needed her. To be near her. To know her more; to know more of me through her.  

Why did I leave? Was it because of her suffering and helplessness? 

I left. She did too.  

I returned. She never will. 

She lives with me now.





***
Linking this to 55 On Friday 2014 -2  The prompt given for this 55-word-fiction challenge is 'how I wished'.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Slowly, with Time

A new post in the series - Light and Sound
When a picture searches for its music, or a piece of music finds its right picture...the result is a magical experience of Light and Sound.




I have been away for months. Time now to face the empty home. Without her. Alone after half a century, with lifetime of memories. The walls, the rooms shall speak loudly of last year, of her battle with the disease and her going. Sadness, anxiety, pain, worry, fear… yes, all these but something more. Something wordless. An emptiness that only time will fill. As only Time can.

Her words I remember - I am lucky, for I have faith.

Am I lucky too? To have such faith? Time alone will tell.

“Happiest who stand on faith as on a rock.***



Soul-soothing Music by Karunesh, Beyond Time


Linking this to Write Tribe 100 words on Saturday, 2014-7

*** A line from Sri Aurobindo's poem, Savitri, Book VIII, Canto III

****

Previous posts in this series:

Please Be Kind             Eastern Light



Friday, 21 February 2014

Douce Mère

A special post for February 21, 2104
136th Birth Anniversary of the Mother

Aditi - The Mother. 
Aditi is the indivisible consciousness, force and Ananda of the Supreme; 
the Mother, its living dynamis, the supreme Love, Wisdom, Power. 


Sacred Lotus, spiritual significance: Aditi-The Divine Consciousness
~ photo by Suhas Mehra


THE MOTHER OF GOD

A conscious and eternal Power is here
Behind unhappiness and mortal birth
And the error of Thought and blundering trudge of Time.
The Mother of God, his sister and his spouse,
Daughter of his wisdom, of his might1 the mate,
She has leapt from the Transcendent's secret breast
To build her rainbow worlds of mind and life.
Between the superconscient absolute Light
And the Inconscient's vast unthinking toil
In the rolling and routine of Matter's sleep
And the somnambulist motion of the stars
She forces on the cold unwilling Void
Her adventure of life, the passionate dreams of her lust.
Amid the work of darker Powers she is here
To heal the evils and mistakes of Space
And change the tragedy of the ignorant world
Into a Divine Comedy of joy
And the laughter and the rapture of God's bliss.
The Mother of God is master of our souls;
We are the partners of his birth in Time,
Inheritors we share his eternity.




Wednesday, 19 February 2014

In Praise of Form

A new post in the series: 
A Poem and A Song - XIII: A Series to Celebrate Art in All Forms

It is actually quite amazing when you find the same thought being expressed through a picture, a poem, a song, or even a gesture.
Perhaps it happens because the thought has sunk deep into you, at least for the time being, and you just view a certain picture, read a certain poem and hear a certain song as expressions of that singular thought. 
Or perhaps they really are conveying the same thought, but in different shades and hues. 
And it just so happens that when that very thought captured your attention, certain pictures, poems and songs also appeared before you allowing you to delve deeper into the thought and let it reveal its deeper essence to you. 
Regardless of how it happens, it is always a moment to relish and cherish the beauty. The beauty of the picture, the song, the poem. The beauty of the experience. The beauty of the moment.


Painting by Bindu Popli


What is in a Form? Everything. If we could only develop that vision which sees the Form as a manifestation of the Spirit Within. It is the Consciousness that creates the Form. 

As grows the Consciousness, so evolves the Form. 
Must learn to identify with the Eternal Spirit within; the Form is temporal and must adapt and renew.

But do not reject the Form, because in Form dwells the Spirit.

A rishi-poet expresses the truth he has seen. A painter brings down on paper her imagination through lines and  colours. And a musician sings of the eternal love story of Radha and Krishna...a Form bursts forth as the Consciousness within moves.

And through fumbling words trying to weave these Forms together, this blog-post takes a Form that expresses an inner search.

From Form to Formless...

***

FORM

O worshipper of the formless Infinite,
Reject not form, what dwells in it is He.
Each finite is that deep Infinity
Enshrining His veiled soul of pure delight.
Form in its heart of silence recondite
Hides the significance of His mystery,
Form is the wonder-house of eternity,
A cavern of the deathless Eremite.

There is a beauty in the depths of God,
There is a miracle of the Marvellous
That builds the universe for its abode.
Bursting into shape and colour like a rose,
The One, in His glory multitudinous,
Compels the great world-petals to unclose.



Previous posts in this series:
Love, the Beautiful          
What Might Have Been?               
Fly Away             
Which is Sweeter?             
Life, a Song of Love and Memories   
Diwali with a Modern Indian Poet and a Legendary Indian Musician
Of Temples, Poetry and Life     
Remembering the Mother      
On the Road       
Who is that Presence?           
Only You       
Reckless Lovers

Linked to ABCWednesday: "F" is For Form.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Alone and Together


Without You
Photo by Lafugue Logos. Sourced from here



Fifty-two years. Together.
Today is fifty-third. 
Alone. 

Emptiness. Sadness. 
Memories. Thoughts. 
Emptiness.

Can't speak of this. Why speak. 
The children grieve. Don't speak. 
Silence. Mourning. 
Alone and Together. In Silence. 

She lives. In children.
In me. With me. 
In Sounds of Silence. 
Thoughts. Memories.

Fifty-three years. Together.
Alone. Together. 



Poem by Gulzar. Read by Nana Patekar


Linking this post to DPChallenge: The Sound of Silence

Friday, 14 February 2014

Please Be Kind

A new post  in the series - Light and Sound



The one-line description of this series, Light and Sound reads: When a picture searches for its music, or a piece of music finds its right picture...the result is a magical experience of Light and Sound.

And sometimes the right music also gives you the right title for the blog post! Like this one.

But wait, that's not all.

Sometimes the post also finds its appropriate day -- like what happened in the present case. Can anything be better than the message of 'Please Be Kind' on this day for celebrating love, Valentine's Day?

Honestly, I tell you I had bookmarked this picture of a heart-leaf several weeks ago and had also sort of forgotten about it. And it just so happened that a few days back I was browsing through the photo-folder on my computer while listening to some jazz music and when this wonderful track by Django Reinhardt came along it occured to me how well these two go together!

As if the sweet sounding message of kindness flowing from the music is somehow helping the lonely leaf stay on...just for a bit longer, and soon it shall have company. New leaves and shoots will start appearing on the branch. Spring is here. New life is already bursting forth. Please be kind to all life around. Thoughts like these started coming up as I kept putting this small piece of music on repeat...and the blog post came along. And already it was February 14th! Though I believe all days are days of love, or at least should be, but it doesn't hurt to have at least one day marked for celebration of love. So there you have it -- a valentine's day special post on this blog.

But something more about celebrating this day of love also comes to mind. This may not be a popular view, but let me say it anyway. Why go ga-ga over a bunch of exotic flowers transported from whoknowswhere using up so much petroleum and adding to the pollution along the way when all you need to do is gather a few flowers blossoming in your backyard or the neighborhood or even on the roadside? Or even a nice bunch of some green things will do if there are no flowers yet. Why add your bit to the mind-boggling Valentine's Day consumerism and make already-rich people richer when you can just stay at home and enrich your heart and soul with some beautiful music or an old favourite film?

Who wants diamonds that carry the invisible scars of blood spilled in some far away strife-torn part of the world when all you really need is to recall that the real jewel within, your heart, has an immense capacity for love and compassion if you just keep polishing it. Certainly there may be some achy-breaky type of experiences along the way, some bruises and scratches here and there, but then this is the way a diamond gets its shine and sheen.

So please be kind on this Valentine's Day and remember to give that diamond within a nice rub so that it shines anew. Celebrate love. Love for All, for Everything. 



For previous post in this series, click here

As I am about to click on 'Publish' it occurs to me that this post has also become a reminder to self. 

For more posts on Reminders to self click here.






Linking this Valentine's day special post to Write Tribe - The Language of Love



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Two In One

A New Series: When a Picture Leads

Yes, another new series. Title is self-explanatory. So let me begin right away with the first post in this series.





I found this picture on one of my surfing trips on the mighty Waves of the WWW. For a few minutes I just took it all in, all its beauty of the Movement and of the Stillness, of the Dance and the Dancer, of the Flow and the Repose. It reminded me of the well-known allegory from  Mundaka Upanishad. (Or is it a metaphor?) Anyway, most of you probably know this already or may have heard some version of it. I am speaking of the one about a tree and two birds. Sri Aurobindo has translated it as follows:
“Two birds, beautiful of wing, close companions, cling to one common tree: of the two one eats the sweet fruit of the tree, the other eats not but watches his fellow.

The soul is the bird that sits immersed on the one common tree; but because he is not lord he is bewildered and has sorrow. But when he sees that other who is the Lord and beloved, he knows that all is His greatness and his sorrow passes away from him.

When, a seer, he sees the Golden-hued, the maker, the Lord, the Spirit who is the source of Brahman, then be becomes the knower and shakes from his wings sin and virtue; pure of all stain he reaches the supreme identity.”
Are the two birds actually the same bird? Are they separate? Can the enjoyer become the observer? When? And how? What is the nature of the fruit of the tree that the bird is enjoying, and is the fruit separate from the bird? Separate from the one that is enjoying the fruit and separate from the one that is observing? Which is which? What is the subject, what is the object? Is object separate from the subject? Is reality separate from the experiencer? Who is the Experiencer? Who is the Witness? 

These are questions that are not simple, so naturally the answers for these are also not simple. Great minds in all cultures at all places at all times have asked these deeper questions and reveled in the mysteries of these unknowns and unknowables. Science too has been asking similar questions for some time now. 

***
The seeking continues...

Somewhere through music, in music. As East and West harmonize into creating something new, something of the World, perhaps a New World.


Somewhere else a Sufi dances to this new-age fusion music of Guitar, Tabla and Bansuri, while another seeker on the other side of the planet contemplates on the "Real One" inside as she silently takes in the essence of a poem written by the Maha-yogi of Pondicherry.

***

The Dual Being
There are two beings in my single self.
A Godhead watches Nature from behind
At play in front with a brilliant surface elf,
A time-born creature with a human mind.

Tranquil and boundless like a sea or sky,
The Godhead knows himself Eternity's son.
Radiant his mind and vast, his heart as free;
His will is a sceptre of dominion.

The smaller self by Nature's passions driven,
Thoughtful and erring learns his human task;
All must be known and to that Greatness given
  His mind and life, the mirror and the mask.

As with the figure of a symbol dance
The screened Omniscient plays at Ignorance.
~ Sri Aurobindo
***
This is the Future World to aspire toward, the Future Society to hope for....a Future in which the inner seeking becomes a stepping stone for the outer exploration; a Future of Unity - Inner and Outer, which begins with recognizing the dualities within.





Friday, 7 February 2014

Eastern Light

A new series - Light and Sound

When a picture searches for its music, or a piece of music finds its right picture...the result is a magical experience of Light and Sound. 

Photo by Hengki Koentjoro, sourced from here

There is a certain mystical quality to the above picture, something about this skyline of grand temples and pagodas that seem to be reaching up to the infinite heavens above.

A few more silent minutes of contemplation reveals that the picture also speaks of a sense of deep awareness that the real infinity lies within, hidden between or behind or underneath light and shadow, clarity and obscurity, luster and dullness.

To me at least, in its own way this picture speaks of something very specific that emphasizes the uniqueness of the East, where the deepest inmost seeking has traditionally been the starting point for most of the outer action, including the building of massive structures where inner contemplation meets outer worship, with an aim to unite the worshipper, the act of worship, and the object of worship into One that is in fact Everyone and Everything.

In their own language of melody and notes, of sounds and silences, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Friends expressed a similar sentiment in their album East Greets East. The picture above seems to find its music in the following track...  


Don't the picture and the music go together well? I think so.

***
Linked to ABC Wednesday: "E" is for East.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A Fragrant Lesson in Patience

I admit it. Patience is not something that comes easily to me. No, I should be more honest. I am quite impatient. But I value very much the quality of patience and would like to become more patient. Ever since moving into this house two and a half years ago, I have found a very nice and delicate way to develop and practice this virtue of patience. It is a personal practice or lesson for me, delivered in the the way I like it - small, beautiful, and self-taught. And as an added bonus, it makes my fingertips smell so fragrant afterwards.


All I do is go out in my garden and gather the little and tender flowers that are showered upon the ground by the good and gracious Parijat/Harsingar/Night Jasmine tree. Every morning this few-years-old sacred tree (so thankful to the previous owners of the house who planted it), the Divine Tree which is also known as Tree of Sorrow or Wish-granting Tree*, offers to the Earth below its most precious gift in the form of beautiful and delicate flowers. And I, a child of this Mother Earth, wanting to grow in my aspiration to become more patient, gather some of these flowers and bring them in my home.

Now starts my little lesson in patience - to slowly arrange these tiny and fragrant flowers so that each flower stands white-creamy side up and on its tiny orange foot. Of course, the first impulse is to gather these flowers in my palm and just immerse myself for a few seconds in their divine fragrance. Having done that, the blossoms which are somewhat soiled by the wet earth need to be tenderly cleaned making sure that neither their small white-creamy petals nor their tiny orange centers are broken. As they are drying out for a bit, I decide upon the appropriate vase or container or bowl in which I want to do the arrangement.

Then starts the most favourite task of picking up and arranging these tiny flowers, one by one, white side up, orange side down. My most preferred way is to float these flowers in water. Sometimes for the sake of contrast, I might also alternate and put in a few blossoms upside down, but that is very rare. There is something so beautiful about the way the tiny orange center shines through the middle of the white-creamy petals.

The flowers stay nice for two to three days, and interestingly even as they begin to wither away they just take on a darker creamy shade and don't really look so bad. At least to my eyes they don't! And when you are ready to give the old flowers and the used water back to the Mother Earth (by way of either putting them in a compost bin or doing what I prefer, which includes simply sprinkling the flowers and the water under some plant or bush in the ground or in a pot), you come across this beautiful yellow-orangish coloured water which has taken in itself the vibrant, fiery colour from the flowers.



The orange or saffron center of this sacred flower represents the fire in the heart, the source of all our energy, the fire that purifies, the fire of aspiration, will, and perseverance. It is believed that the dye produced from the central part of Parijat flowers was used to colour the robes of monks and ascetics in olden times. And in our times too, we find that the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram gave to this sacred Parijat flower a most appropriate spiritual significance - Aspiration (Innumerable, obstinate, repeating itself tirelessly).



At times when I don't have much patience and don't feel like doing my lessons either (though on these occasions I pretend to myself that I don't have much time, but really, it is the patience that I lack or the aspiration or will to practice my lesson in patience!) but I still feel like arranging these flowers, the result might look something like this. Or some variant of it.

Spread out in an old brass thali with only a few drops of water sprinkled over them, 
just enough to keep them fresh for a day


And when I have just a little patience or want my practice session to be really really small, I gather only a small bunch of flowers so that I can do only a small arrangement. Something like this.

I can't tell you how happy I was to find this tiny shallow vase at the Matri store on my last visit to the Delhi Branch of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It is just perfect for small parijat arrangements to be offered to a small round Krishna in copper.



I am quite certain such a lesson may not work for most people, and I myself haven't really made a conscious effort to examine whether a constant practice of such lesson has helped me in any small measure or will help me if I continue with this over the next many years.

But what I do know, or rather what I do feel, is that the very act of gathering these tiny flowers one by one from the ground and spending the next half hour or so cleaning and arranging them makes me forget whatever pressing demands there may be on my time. And in those few minutes there is no hurry, no rush-rush to finish up the task at hand and move on to other things. There is simply a quiet joy of doing something delicately beautiful. Being with the sacred flowers. Being with the task. Just being.



* There are many legends and cultural significances associated with this special tree and these special flowers. For a quick read, see here.




Photo credits: 1 - Suhas Mehra, all others - Yours truly.