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Photo by Kishor Chopda

 

3.7.15

Cochin

The highlight of the day was Guha singing his favorite Tagore songs. Rabindra Sangeet (pronounced Robindro shonggit in Bengali) comprises of songs written and composed by the Bengali poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The warp and woof of Bengali culture for over a century, this highly distinctive music is full of emotive strength and is very expressive of romanticism. Perhaps Guha was feeling nostalgic and his soulful renderings stirred deep emotions in me too. I am particularly fond of him singing the Mahabiswe, mahakashe, mahakale… I find it very esoteric and profound. Click below to hear Guha sing:

 

 

Below is a transliteration with English translation, the latter laced together from many different sources:

Mahabiswe mahakashe mahakal majhe

Aami manabo ekakee bhrami biswaye, bhrami biswaye 

Tumi aachho, biswanath, aseem rahasyamaajhe

 Neerabe ekakee aapan mahimaniloye 

 Ananta e deshkaler, aganyo e deepta loke,

 Tumi aachho more chahi aami chahi toma pane

 Stabdho sarbo kolahal, shantimagno charachar

 Ek tumi, toma majhe aami eka nirbhoye

 

Amidst this vast cosmos

Encompassed by Great Time

I, a mere mortal, gasp in awe and wonder.

Thou art the Lord of the Universe,

Cloaked in unfathomable mystery

Thou do exist eternally in Your abode of glory.

 

In the infinity of space-time,

Through the numerous constellations

That bejewel dark space,

Thy gaze falls on me,

I gaze back at Thee.

Silence descends on this universe,

Entire creation rests in peace.

Thou Alone doeth exist and I do exist

In and through You

Thou in me….I in Thee

Alone I dwell, ever fearless.

Ruminating on Tumi aachho more chahi aami chahi toma pane, I looked for the exact meaning of this line and found three different versions:

Thy gaze falls on me, I gaze back at Thee

You look at me…And I look at You!!

Today, you look for me and I long for you

I was satisfied with none of the above, so I asked Guha. I found his take to be the most original and authentic – YOU are there for me so I keep my eyes fixed on YOU.

Allow the energy to flow

At night sitting in my little corner again pondering over You are there for me so I keep my eyes fixed on you.  Focus (on YOU, THAT) seems to be the key word here. Funny, how this line is so in tune with the drubbing I got from Guha the other day. He let me know in no uncertain terms that I was up to no good:

You have so many issues, therefore very resistant to the Natural Order! You have to focus on something that you really resonate (keep my eyes fixed on YOU or THAT?).

Only in that way other issues will drop away….

You have to sort out your wants! (You) have to allow the energy to flow, you are very resistant!

 Only focus(ing) on one suitable object can take care of eliminating the issues!

 The wandering mind wants to satisfy its agenda; they (your wants) are conflicting.

(You are) heavily conditioned. You have to reflect on this.

 I am so dense I have no idea what my focus should be. Dahhh!

Guha’s reply: Your choice! If you want one thing it’s easy. If nothing satisfies you, you can talk about THAT, until then nope!

No hope for me then, looks like. I certainly can’t say I want just one thing. Anyway, what caused that eruption? I think he sensed that something was bothering me and wanted to do his utmost to stop my mental downward spiral. He has told me several times that his system feels my resistance right there, pointing to his heart. Later, when I thanked him (how do you thank a person who wants nothing from you), he replied, “I want you to be strong and vital; I want my friend to be a fire brand.” Again when I gratefully acknowledged that he had nothing but my well-being in his heart, his reply completely floored me. “YES and for that I will do absolutely anything, even if you don’t approve.”

The “eye fixing” also reminded me of an incident between Guha and U.G. in Palm Springs, California. Guha has narrated this episode to us on several occasions. He has also dwelt at length on it in 14 Days in Palm Springs: Once U.G. and Guha were walking outside the Ocotillo Lodge when in the course of their conversation Guha casually mentioned to U.G. that many believed H. W. L. Poonja aka Papaji was a spiritual heir to Ramana Maharshi. Poonja had visited Tiruvannamalai and met Ramana on various occasions during the latter’s lifetime. He had taken Ramana as his guru although Ramana never acknowledged guru-disciple relationship with anyone nor did he ever admit that he had initiated anyone. Perhaps to some Poonja’s attainment of “liberation” due to his long association with Ramana implied a kind of endorsement that they sought, giving faith to their belief that he was the spiritual heir of Ramana. Anyway, coming back to our story, when U.G. heard this, he stopped dead in his tracks, turned to Guha and said, “Look into my eyes and repeat what you said.” To say that Guha was taken aback is an understatement; he literally froze, his head spinning, trying to digest what U.G. was pointing to. Was he trying to say if anyone had a right to be designated Ramana’s heir, it was U.G.? Now, as I ponder about the implications of U.G’s statement and Guha’s reaction, it suddenly hits me like a bolt of lightning! I, who was a staunch devotee of Ramana for many years, got pulled by U.G.’s philosophy (fatal attraction as Guha always tells me), and ended up with Guha, one of U.G’s closest friends. Talk about synchronicity.


photo-23.8.15

Ambuja from Hyderabad arrived last evening. She is a very senior official at the State Bank of Hyderabad. Despite her busy schedule she managed to take time off for a couple of days to meet Guha before he leaves Cochin for the Himalayas. Ambuja, who will be retiring soon, is building a house in Mysore and wants Guha to be her first guest when it is ready.

The day started on a calm note but as the hours rolled by it became wackier and wackier. First, a few snippets from Guha-Ambuja morning talk:

  • It is very difficult to maintain a relationship with a man who doesn’t want anything from you.
  •  Our model of perfection has nothing to do with the way life is functioning.
  •  I torture myself for a future that doesn’t exist. I get the blues if I don’t get an assurance of a perfect future.

Superconducting proximity effect: Superconductivity is a special state of matter where there is no resistance at all. This is an exotic state which can be induced in a material close to the superconductor. I (Guha) was completely perplexed at the way things were turning in my body. I, of course, didn’t know what was going on in U.G.’s body. At that time I used to feel very high, very healthy and extremely energetic and wanted to push everybody to U.G. I started thinking what could it be? The model is created by mind. Life’s principle cannot be generalized; it is not physics. U.G. used to say, “I like the fact that you are working on superconductivity. However, life doesn’t always work that way.” No example can ever be given that mimics the dynamic equilibrium of life. For me, no water could extinguish the fire within me.

Algae effect: Sometimes life cracks open the coverings to give us a glimpse of its power and existence. When you throw a stone in a lake filled with algae, it gives you a glimpse of the clear water underneath but is soon covered up again.

Fighting fire with fire

The drama began after Guha announced mid-morning that we would have lunch at the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel where they serve a grand buffet. From that moment, Manoj, for reasons unknown, started pestering me that I should be the one paying for our lunch. Earlier, I had already asked Guha if I could pick up the tab and he had reluctantly agreed. Perhaps Manoj thought I was getting a free ride staying with Guha and was unhappy about it so wanted to ensure that I be made to pay my dues somehow. Little does he realize that no one could stay even for a minute with Guha if Guha didn’t want them there. I took his jibes in my stride consoling myself that I was in Cochin as Guha’s guest and need only worry about my agenda with him.

As luck would have it, I found Manoj sitting opposite me at the lunch table and he took this opportunity to again start needling me although Vidya who was seated next to him tried her best to desist him. Unfortunately, I too kept arguing with him and it encouraged him even more to continue hurling brickbats at me. By now I was thoroughly upset but kept up a brave face. Everyone was watching our sparring with amusement and Guha did not interfere even once although Ambuja, sensing my pique and anger urged me not to retort back. Lunch over, I asked for the bill. By now Guha and others had left the table and sauntered to the terrace, leaving behind Ambuja, Vidya and myself. After about 15 minutes, the waiter finally came and told me that the bill had already been paid. I was, of course, taken aback by surprise. It soon transpired that Sanjiv had already settled the bill in advance. When I thanked him later and asked him why he did that, he replied, “Why should you pay, you don’t even have a job.” I was very touched by his gesture; very magnanimous of him indeed. Paying for so many people’s meal in a five star hotel is not cheap, by any means.

Back home I immediately went to my room, emotionally worn out with hot tears running down my cheeks. In Guha’s presence even the littlest of things get amplified.  Anyway, felt very refreshed after a nap and renewed my determination to fight fire with fire. Come evening we predictably start squabbling again over silly things. By the time we are ready to retire, Manoj’s comebacks are sounding feeble; he seems to be running out of steam and conversely I am feeling energized, refusing to be intimidated. For everyone else this is good entertainment. My sense of “I”, sensing danger to its authority, is willing to go to any length to protect it, even to the extent of indulging in such petty pastimes.

Guha and Manoj
Guha and Manoj

Incidentally, Manoj is a U.G. “goner”, who has been listening to U.G. tapes for years and can quote him verbatim. After meeting Guha a few months ago, he has now become a Guha “goner”. He resonates deeply with Guha and I admire his intensity and ekagrata (one-pointedness) towards him. However, he tends to get carried away in his excitement, frequently interrupting Guha when the latter is talking and at times even shouting to drive home his point. This may sound funny but it can be disruptive. Anyway, the day is thankfully over.

3.9.15

The D-day has finally arrived. We will all disperse today, only to meet again in Chandigarh and continue to travel up north in the lower Himalayas. I am sad that this stay with Guha is coming to an end. With Guha and Julie as my roommates it felt like I was living with my family. I am truly grateful that I had such a privilege; perhaps I may never get such a chance again.

It’s early morning and Ambuja is already here. Guha is talking to her when Kishor walks in:

When you are struggling you still want to know why. The questioner is never exhausted. The mechanism itself cannot do anything to itself to stop this questioning. Anything you want is food for that engine. Your existence knows what it needs to maintain its equilibrium. Any movement that gives you additional information is fuel for that movement.

Manoj and Sanjiv walk in. Sanjiv is quiet and speaks only when necessary. He is very much affected by Guha and always listens to him with full attention, most of the time with eyes closed. Occasionally, he goes into a trance, looking like the Buddha in deep meditation. At other times, he looks visibly shaken, tears streaming down his face. The talk continues….

When the push comes, you will go down on your knees and look for a savior. The movement didn’t do its job. The questioner didn’t end. Life is complete by itself at the onset. It’s not a matter of understanding. If your near and dear ones are sick, no one will touch them if you don’t have money.

Soon after we all part ways.

 

Guha and friends at a guest house on way to Kasauli
Guha and friends at a guest house on way to Kasauli

 

3.20.16

New Jersey

The last leg of our India trip was delightfully eventful. After dispersing from Cochin, I went to Mumbai to spend time with my family. I again met up Guha and friends in Chandigarh a few days later. From Chandigarh we drove to Parawanu, where Sanjay, the Delhi lawyer has a vacation home. After lunch we bundled into two cars and started the drive up the mountains to Kasauli, which is half way to Shimla. The capital of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is nestled amidst snow-clad mountains at an altitude of over 7000 feet.  Although on this trip we did not have enough time to visit this scenic hill resort I would like to do so in future.

Hanuman Mandir, Kasauli
Hanuman Mandir, Kasauli

A few kilometers from Kasauli town center, we stopped to visit Manki Point/Sanjeevani Hanuman Temple. Legend has it when monkey-god Hanuman of Ramayana fame was returning from the Himalayas after acquiring the Sanjeevani herb to revive Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana who was lying unconscious on the battlefield, one of his feet touched the hill and that’s why the top of the hill resembles the shape of a foot. (According to Hindu mythology, Sanjeevani is believed to be a magical herb which has the power to cure any malady and even revive a dead person.) The small hilltop temple lies in an area controlled by the Indian Air Force. The name Manki Point was given in honor of the priest by that name who built the temple. We parked the car outside the military base and walked about a kilometer to reach the foot of the hill. Then on we had to climb steps to reach the top. The climb was steep but not overly strenuous and with ample resting points along the way we reached the shrine in about half hour without much trouble.

On top of the hill, adjacent to the temple there was a helipad, perhaps for military use. Best of all, from every side we had spectacular views of mountain ranges and Shimla valley with the Sutlej river winding through the plains like a silvery thread.  Yonder one could see Chandigarh glittering in the sunlight. The quiet, peaceful ambiance coupled with the cool breeze fanning my face was very soothing; I felt completely rested. After praying to the deity we quickly sprinted down as Guha and a few others, who did not join us on the pilgrimage, were waiting for us.

Locking horns again

On the road again we stopped at a small wayside tea shop for our evening cuppa. “G-Force” was at its most intense and everybody was in high spirits. Manoj-Nandini bantering was in full swing and Guha being Guha kept adding fuel to the fire to keep it going. He feels Manoj brings out a very different aspect of my personality, so fiery and full of energy, sort of like bringing the tiger out in me. So while the tea was brewing, a full-fledged argument was brewing between Manoj and myself, god only knows about what. As we locked horns, everyone was watching the spectacle with merriment. The sparring match continued unabated with neither of the parties in the mood to give up but I was reaching the end of my tether. Noticing that, Guha chuckled, “Come on, after a visit to the Hanuman temple you should be energized. Fire back!” After all, Hanuman is the god of strength and courage. On cue, the entire gang started chanting Hanuman Chalisa, (a popular hymn of 40 verses in praise of the monkey god) on top of their voices with tremendous gusto, accompanied by clanging of spoons and loud clapping. And Guha was beaming all along. Needless to say, Guha (not Hanuman) and friends revived the flagging spirits of this damsel in distress and the foe was vanquished effortlessly. We had a rollicking time till tea was served. Julie, of course, recorded the entire proceedings.

I recall another hilarious incident, this one too involving dear Manoj. With our time in the hills coming to an end, we were en route to New Delhi airport as Guha and some of us had to catch our flights to Mumbai. We were spread out in three cars – Manoj, Vidya, their son and Guha in Manoj’s car with Vidya driving, Julie, Kamal and I in a taxi and the rest in Sanjay’s SUV. As we were nearing the airport, we couldn’t spot Guha’s car, which was supposed to be behind us. Kamal immediately called Guha to ask how far behind they were. Guha replied they were about 30 minutes away but he could hear weird noises coming from the car and was hoping it wouldn’t break down. By now we had reached the airport and were waiting anxiously to hear from Guha but still no sign of him. Kamal again called Guha to find his whereabouts. I heard him go “oh no, omg, is everyone okay” followed by peals of his full-throated laughter. I heaved a sigh of relief. I would soon know what had transpired but looked like there was no serious mishap.

Here’s what had happened. The minute Guha said he hoped the car wouldn’t break down, Manoj’s rickety ol’ jalopy shook, shuddered and stopped dead in the middle of the busy roadway. I could visualize them standing dejected on the side of the road in the afternoon sweltering Delhi heat; Guha frantically trying to hail a taxi and Manoj shouting into his cell phone, desperately trying to get hold of a tow service to remove his car. Luckily, Guha managed to get an auto rickshaw and with his luggage on his knees, reached the airport on time for his flight. I believe Manoj and family had to wait a long time before the tow truck showed up. And to think that Manoj had actually proposed a road trip to Guha in this tin lizzie from New Delhi to Cochin!

 

Preface

Part I: A Big Zero

Part II: You Say Just the Way You See

Part III: A Pilot’s Tale

Part IV: A Collection of Nuclei

Part V: There Is No You

Part VII: Thoughts Drain Life’s Energy

Part VIII: Caught In A Web of Love

Part IX: Never In Past And Never In Future

Part X: Butterflies Are Free

Part XI: Sun Breaks Through Nimbus Clouds

Part XII: Love Goes Toward Love

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