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Archive for the ‘Kabir’ Category

Dekha apne aap ko ~ Mukhtiyar Ali


Sufism talks of losing the ‘self’ to attain the love of God. Here in an unusual Hindi sufi poetry the poet Achal Ram, a Kabir bhakt,  describes in simple yet delightful verses how by losing one’s self, he sees the reflection of God within himself and then falls in love with that self.
Mukhtiyar Ali, a renowned Kabir singer adds ecstasy to the soulful  words through his rendition. Translation in the subtitles by Kabir Project does remarkable justice to the original verses.

Dekha apne aap ko, mera dil deewana ho gaya,
Na chhero yaron mujhe, main khud mastana ho gaya.
I saw my own self and fell in love with it,
Don’t mess with me friends, I am in ecstasy of self.

Lakhon suraj, chandrama, qurban per hain mere husn per,
Adbudh chhavi ko dekh ke, kehne se main sharma gaya.
Countless suns and moons bow down to my beauty
Seeing my spectacular silhoutte, I am speechless and blush.

Ab khudi se baaher hain, ishq kafni pehen ker,
Sab rang chola rangaa, deedar apna ho gaya.
I am free of self-obsession after being draped in love shroud,
Sporting a dress dyed in all colors, I have come face to face with myself.

Ab deekhta koi nahin, duniya me hi merey siwa,
Doori ka parda hata, saara bharam pighla gaya.
Now I behold no one in the whole world but my own self
The veil of separation is lifted, all delusions have vanished away.

Achal Ram ab khud ba khud, hai mehboob mujh se na-juda
Nij noor mein bharpoor ho, apne mein aap samaa gaya.
Achal Ram now by itself, the beloved and I are inseparable
Suffused with self radiance, I have merged within myself.

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God resides in your conscience


“Be just: that is nearer to piety.” (Quran: 5:8)

“Lo! The hearing and  the sight and the heart, of each of these it will be asked.” (Quran: 17:36)

No one would deny that  God resides within our conscience, in our kind deeds, and not merely in our rituals.

This Kabir poem befits that spirit:

Moko kahan DhunDhe re bande, main to tere paas me.
Where do you search me, O seeker? I am with you always.

Na main bakari, na main bherhi, na main chhuri gadaas me.
I am neither in goat nor in sheep (the sacrificial animals)) neither I am in the(sacrificial) knife or sword.

Nahi khal me, nahi ponchh me, na haddi na maans me.
I am not in the skin, in the tail, in bones or meat .

Na mein deval, na mein masajid, na kaabe kailaash me.
I am neither in the temple nor in the masque. I am not in the Kailash or Kaaba.
(They are symbols only)

Na mein kiriya karam me rahata, nahi jog sanyaas me.
 I am not in the worldy rituals nor in the act renunciation. 

Khoji hoy turat mili jaaun, ek pal ki talaash me.
If you seek me in true spirits, I am found in a moment’s search.

Main to raho shahar ke baahar, meri puri mawaas me.
I reside away from the city (Outside the usual places people associate with me) I live in the  real abode.

Kahe Kabir suno bhai saadho, sab sanso ki saans me.
Kabir says – Listen O’ the learned, I live within the breath of all your breaths.
(In your conscience).

Kindness

Kabir & Bulleh Shah- the need of our dark ages.


Depressed and dejected with the ever rising religious extremism, intolerance and hatred in the world at large, helplessness over powers oneself. The only ray of hope left are the few shining stars in this dark sky that shone on our lands several centuries ago. Their golden words still need to be heard and heeded by one and all.

Kabir from India and Bulleh Shah from what is now Pakistan are two voices that spoke of peace and love beyond beliefs and borders. They were shunned in their own times, but if they were reborn now, they would not find much has changed from those days.

Reminscing their poetry, I dare to use them on painting a silk scarf.

The scarf background is black, which represents the dark ages of extremism, intolerance and bigotry that we currently are going through.

The golden messages of the verses are scribbled in golden ink, The verses chosen  relate to the abundance of  knowlege, in this era of information revolution, but the information that still fails to convey the message of peace and tolerance that it should accompany.

The languages have been reversed,
Kabir written in Urdu and Bulleh Shah in Hindi so that both sides are able to read them.

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Bulleh Shah here says:

Parh parh aalim faazil hoya, kadi nafs apne nu parheya ai nayi,
Ja ja werda mandi maseetey, kadi man apne nu wareya ai nayi.

( You read bookes, became learned, but never read (compassion in )your own conscience,
You visited temples and mosques, but never visited (the love)in your own heart.)
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Kabir says:

Pothi parh parh jag muwa pandit bhaya na koi,
Dhaayi akher prem ka parhe to pandit hoye.

{The whole world read books after books, but no one became learned,
Read two and a half words of love ( peace and compassion), to be a learned}

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The peace symbols in the middle of the silk scarf are crisscrossed by chaos and confusion prevalent in our times.
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The edges below the verses represent the hearts interlinked through love and peace, if only we heeded the verses in spirit.

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It was heartening to see Kabir’s message of love and peace ( coincidentally the same verses that I was scribbling), being presented in another art form, called Dastangoi. I dedicate this piece and the blog to this wonderful  Kabir presentation. 🙂

 

Whatever IS will be WAS.


The above heading is a Buddhist saying by Monk Ñanamoli. The  in depth meaning of its essence could not be more powerfully conveyed than by an ancient  Buddhist ritual called dul-tson-kyil-khor ( Mandala of colored powders).

Sometime ago in search for an idea for silk painting I accidentally bumped into a beautiful  handmade creation, which in first hand looked like an intricate colorful geometrical design, called Sand Mandala.

As the name implies, it is a creation made from colored sand. Mandala means a palace. There is much more to it than the eyes can see.

From the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this is not just a creation of a beautiful sand castle, but a spiritual journey, for which requires a great practice and meditation before embarking on it. Even during the creation , which usually requires 4 monks (bhikkus) who keep chanting hymns and focus all their minds and actions into its creation.

The sand mandala for them is a three dimensional Palace of Imagination in which they enter, and each dot, line, shape and color that they create in it stands for a specific aspect of Buddhist Philosophy. There are many types of Mandalas, and each stand for a unique symbol.

The creation has to be accurate, and the work  between the 4 creators, working on each quadrant,  has to be well coordinated.

Billions of grains of colored sand powder are carefully and accurately placed in its specific location, using two copper conical pipes called chapku, which are gently tapped over the other, to release controlled amount of sand.

The colors for the painting are usually made with naturally colored sand, crushed gypsum (white), yellow ochre, red sandstone, charcoal, and a mixture of charcoal and gypsum (blue). Mixing red and black can make brown, red and white make pink. Other coloring agents include corn meal, flower pollen, or powdered roots and bark. In the ancient times they used colored dust from the lapiz lazulli, emerald, ruby, and corals and other precious stones to get colored dust powder.

It takes from few days to few weeks to create a mandala.

However, the most mind boggling part arrives when the whole intricately built sand mandala is undone ( yes, you read it correct) from outside-in in a rotas wheel movement, never to exist again, by the very monks who created it. This metaphorically implies the impermanence of things.

The dust collected is immersed in a flowing water ( river nearby) symbolizing the transference of the energy of goodwill ( imparted to it during its creation)  and compassion, to the rest of the world. {The whole idea gave me shivers and goose bumps}

Hence, when even  at first look it appears to be an end of a creation, but in the real sense, nothing is ever destroyed forever, just that it is returned to the nature, to rejoin elements.

And this does happen to all animate and inanimate objects on earth, be they complicated  humans,  simple plants, soft clouds or  even lofty mountains.

When Buddha passed away, one of his disciples remarked:

Aniccaa vata sa”nkhaaraa — uppaada vaya dhammino
Uppajjitvaa nirujjhanti — tesa.m vuupasamo sukho.

Impermanent are all component things,
They arise and cease, that is their nature:
They come into being and pass away,
Release from them is bliss supreme.

It compels me to be reminded of Kabir’s doha:

Mati kahe kumar se tu kya rondey mohe,
Ik din aisa ayega main rondoonga tohe.
(The clay says to the Potter: What will you maul me, a day shall come, when I shall maul you).

Or yet in another doha he reminds:

Kaya nahin teri nahin teri,
Mat ker meri meri.
(This existence isn’t yours, don’t call it “It’s mine, it’s mine.”)

And of Bulleh Shah’s kaafi:

Na Kar Bandeya  
Meri Meri
Na Teri Na Meri
Char Dinan Da Mela
Duniya Fair Mitti Di Dheri.
(O people, why  be obsessed with me, mine. Its neither yours nor mine. Its for a while, then we all shall be but a pile of dust).

Indeed, “from dust we were born, and to dust we shall return.”.

When hate or peace become a business


In my last trip to India, I was strolling for window shopping, in one of my favourite spots in New Delhi, when I heard some loud speaker announcements nearby.

I saw a Yogi on a big screen, speaking with utmost tranquility. Some of the words I could recall are:
“Want is always hanging on to the I. When the I itself is dissolving, want also dissolves, disappears.”
And
“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven.”

There were a few other things he spoke. At the first instance all I could think was, ‘Had Kabir been alive, he would have said the same thing.’


As I attempted to take a picture from my mobile phone, a boy intercepted. Wondering if photography was not allowed, I told him “Okay I won’t.”

But he said, “No Didi, there are so many people in the way, I’ll have you take it from a better angle.”

I was quite surprised at his generosity.

While returning, I collected some leaflets from the Art of Living ( Sri Sri’Ravi Shanker’s Organisation) stall, one of which said:

To love someone whom you like is insignificant.
To love someone because they love you is of no consequence.
To love someone whom you do not like means you have learned a lesson in life.
To love someone who blames you for no reason shows that you have learned the Art of Living.

Back home, talking to an old college friend who still lives in Delhi, I mentioned the incident.

She said, “Yes it’s nice, but this is business. Pay fees and attend the classes. What you saw was their marketing section.”

When I heard of his trip to Pakistan and the news about his offer to teach peace to Taleban, I was intrigued, wondering:

‘How would it be taken as an offer by the ilk of Zaid Hamid, Gen Hamid Gul, or the Taleban themselves? Would they again rant of the Hindu agenda or the greater Zionist agenda.’

Instead of the Hindu agenda rant, I saw a couple of positive FB statuses and some tweets on the issue. A tweet worth the mention is:

“Sri Sri has already had a Positive Effect on Taliban! Mullah Omar is now calling himself Mullah Mullah Omar.”
Thankfully, instead of an offence,  it was taken in lighter vain 🙂

Incidentally I happened to chat with the same friend on Facebook , and told her of his trip to Pakistan, and the Taliban offer story.

She said: “Oh come on, he is there to promote his AOL centres, one of which I know is located in the capital city. And again this is the marketing department at work.”

I again muttered to myself, ‘Well nothing wrong with it. One could consider this a social enterprise. We do have an epidemic of hatred in the world and he has provided a therapy for it, but at a price, which will work if it is cost effective.’

He did tour the AOL offices and camps in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. But to my utter dismay, before I could start to keep track of his Pakistan trip, and his talks with Taleban, I heard that he was back in India.

Wonder is he wasn’t allowed to approach Taleban, or was it not on the agenda?
I have no clue.

Anyways he did repeat his offer after coming back “There is a lot of violence in Pakistan and people are fed up, they want to live peacefully. If I could be of any help in bringing an end to the vicious cycle of violence, I am ready to talk to the Taliban,”

And that “We are all sufferers of stress, tension, violence and hatred – and small ways of easing out are all that you need,”

There is no doubt that the techniques which he uses for de-stressing are scientifically based.

The primary exercise, which they call Sudarshan Kriya is basically a deep breathing exercise which any psychologist you visit asks you to begin with, on de-stressing. There is a proper technique for it.

I can’t help being amused by the mere visual imagination of Mullah Mullah Omar sitting in a Padma Asana (lotus pose), with hands stretched over the knees, and breathing-in through nose and breathing-out through mouth. 🙂

How I wish that my friend is still proven wrong and some miracle asana (yoga position) comes up which exhales all hatred out of the heads of these radicals.

If that so happens, then I would also secretly whisper in Sri Sri’s ears to develop some Yoga position (asana) in which our politicians extend their arms  in service of  the masses, who vote them in, instead of flexing them, with hands reaching their own pockets.

And so will I also pray to Sri Sri to apply some tilak ( teeka) on the foreheads of our uniformed (on both the sides), so that they start seeing each other as friends and not enemies, and start piling books and medicines for the masses on both sides, instead of arsenals.

I would also beg Sri Sri with folded hands to ‘please please’ make some vibhuti ( spiritual ash) for our diplomats ( on both sides) which when touches their tongues gets them addicted to the taste of peace and makes them feel nauseated just at the sight of visa, passports, police verification etc etc.

Be it a profitable business or social enterprise, there’s no offence, if it is all intended to bring real peace, beyond just a marketing tool.

After all,  all the  chaos and divisions on ground, are also a result of the seeds of intolerance sown by those who consider hatred as their business.

O’ the wandering mind ~Kabir


Kabir has hardly spared any animate and inanimate examples to ridicule the bigots who have great illusions about their self image and through their beliefs repeatedly,  make a fool of themselves.
In the same spirit, I came across yet another simple yet interest verses.

Poem 1: 

Apanpo aap hi bisaro.
Says Kabir, they  fall prey to their  own illusions and forget the essence of our existence.

Jaise sonha kaanch mandir me, bharamat bhunki paro.
Just as dog who enters the house of mirrors, goes crazy barking at the images, considering them different. This is a very curious satire on those bigots who bark at other bigots, thinking they are different, but in essence are reflections of each other.

Jyo kehari bapu nirakhi koop jal, pratima dekhi paro.
A lion looks deep into the well, and mistakes his own reflection as another lion, and jumps into it. This also satires on the ‘lions’ of different faiths, who are such egoists, that they destroy themselves, in challenging other ‘lions’ in the business. The current sectarian bigots could be appropriate here.

Aisehi madgaj phaTik sila par, dasanani aani aro.
An elephant, so proud of its strength, bangs his head against the rock, and hits it with his teeth. Here rocks could be interpreted as hard, rock like beliefs which they bang their heads against.

MarakaT muThi swad na bisare, ghar-ghar naTat phiro.
A greedy monkey for whom the food in the pot is not enough, and goes from home to home asking for more. This is perhaps reference to looking outwards, though we could easily content with what is with us.

Kah Kabir lalani ke suwana, tohi kaune pakaro.
Says Kabir, their logic is as impossible to catch as the parrot of a village girl. Here he gives a satire of those who keep repeating mindlessly like a parrot, with no logic what so ever.

And then in contrast to the satire, many verses of Kabir bring home the message through simple, day to day examples, of how should we be viewing our beliefs, and the essence of our existence.

Poem 2: 

Man tu maanat kyu na mana re.
O’ the wandering mind, why don’t you understand?

Kaun kahan ko, kaun sunan ko, dooja kaun jana re.
Who is worth to speak or to listen, when there is ONE truth.
Here he refers to perhaps the various claimants of ONE, and give it different names and forms.
( The next verse makes it clearer)

Darapan me pratibimb jo bhase, aape chahu disi soi.
He is all round in every atom, the way there is a reflection in every mirror.
( This could be compared to the idea of sheesh mahal—made of tiny mirrors all around one image is seen in each and every tiny mirror)

Dubidha mite, ek jab howe, tau lakh paawe koi.
If you get ONE truth, you will get contentment worth a million, and the confusion of mind will go away.

Jaise jal se hem banat hai, hem ghoom jal hoi.
The way ice is first made of water, then returns back to the same water.

Taise yah tat wahu tat so, phir yah aru wah soi.
In the same way, we are all come from that truth, and unto the same truth we have to return to.

Jo samajhe so khari kahat hai, na samajhe to khoTi.
Those who get this, call this a stark truth. Those ignorant who don’t get this, consider it falsehood.

Kah Kabir khara pakh tyaage, waaki mati hai moTi.
Says Kabir, one who gives up the essence of truth, his brain is thick ( stubborn).

It is remarkable how Kabir talks of evils of bigotry, unity of mankind and the true spirit of secular spirits, rising above the superfluous divisions in the dark ages.

Or perhaps, we are living in darker ages.

Indeed, it is a long road, before Kabir’s examples and teachings become irrelevant to the current times.

The Kabir bhajan below, again, gives some more examples through which he challenges the bigots. Note the translation subtitles. This is my favourite tranquillising Kabir song. 

Abida Parveen, the therapeutic


If music is a mountain range, its Mt Everest is Abida Parveen. A summit of Sufi music, which no soul can surmount.

The Queen not only drowns herself in the music she sings, but she sweeps along her listeners too, in the tides of the overpowering words that flow out her throat. After the plunge, to rise up to the surface banal  isn’t easy.

She is mesmerising, she is addicting, she is tranquillising.

A true flag bearer of Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb, she immortalizes the words of  Bulleh Shah, Kabir and Amir Khusrau with just the same devotion.

Beyond music, pearls of abundant wisdom  she spilled, in this interview (which was taken before she enthralled the Delhi audience by the performance on March 5, 2012) reflected nothing but her rock solid conviction on which her life and music stand – of peace and love. Though thoroughly therapeutic, her words shook me.

In an interview esewhere she said:  “In Sufism there are no barriers, mine or yours, old and new. It belongs to all and connects hearts and souls. It’s power unites the singer and listener in a divine communion with the creator.”

From its very inception till this year’s Jahan e Khusrau Festival, she has been present in each of the ten held so far. “The festival is unique because it has no nationality or religion and is sacred to all of us.”

Overwhelmed, and still shaken by the genuine grief that Ali Zafar expressed over the hatred sweeping across the globe, but more so in our subcontinent, I could not hold back my own tears listening to her firm belief  that there are indeed “no internal barriers”.

The interview itself is a journey to the sublime, I would wish to take again and again. Hence, I have captured it in my blog, to preserve it as a shrine to which I shall keep returning to, in times of deep internal turmoil.

In these times of despair when we keep embracing hopelessness off and on, she lives with her heart, mind and soul steadfast on every word and verse of truth and love  she sings. 

Kudos to Barkha Dutt for immortalising these priceless pearls of wisdom.

(Click to the number below for the must watch interview)

225251 or http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/the-buck-stops-here/singer-abida-parveen-talks-about-the-power-of-sufi-music/225251