Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ramana Maharshi - K Swaminathan

Spiritualism, mythology, religion, culture and philosophy run in my family. I have grown up in the midst of these.

But I don’t know if I am religious or spiritual. When people ask me, I say “I don’t know”.

I read this book – or rather – I would read such books not because I am in pursuit of spiritual success, not because I am perturbed by questions like “Who Am I”, “What is my purpose in this world” etc, to which I seek answers but because I am curious to learn of the implications of spiritual inclination. And then, I also feel the need to restore my faith in such matters and pride in my heritage, my ancestors and my India.

These days I am meeting too many young men and women having too much faith in modern science and who take great pride in proclaiming aloud that they have no caste, no religion… as if religion is something wrong/negative.
It’s cool to say these things you see... but it’s not cool to be religious.

There is another reason why I read this book. In the present times, there is the clutter of modern gurus, pop Spiritualism, pop philosophy, mystics who claim to perform miracles, self proclaimed God men with a million followers, Gurus with political clout …sometimes you need to push aside all the clutter and seek that which is pure – above and beyond questioning and verification – the untainted truth stripped of all motive and pretence.

What I have understood each time I have read a book, or heard a Harikatha, a discourse, has been different from the previous time – depending on my maturity and my circumstance at that time.

This time, it was very very different – I feel that way, perhaps because I am reading a book on ‘the subject’ after a long long time.

I was a theist in my childhood and then somewhere along the journey, I turned an atheist – this was during my teenage. After sometime, I found myself turning an agnostic. In the recent past, when I was returning to theism, I read this book and now I am confused! For it says – “That which is the goal of Bhakti, Karma and Yoga is the whole sum and substance of Jnana” Though the books says it is incorrect, I am inclined to believe “Duality during the search and non – duality on attainment”. That is, you tread the path of Bhakti towards God, and at the end of that path you will realize (and this is Jnana) that there is no God, only the Supreme Self!

Confusion apart, I gained a fresh understanding and perspective of the concepts of Dvaita and Advaita.

A comparison of different spiritual people gave me a perspective of who stands where in the big picture full of saints, seers, swamis, yogis and their many different schools of thought.

This is lengthy… so only if the subject interests you, read on… Here, I am trying to record those facts, insightful lines from the book that I would like to return to… the lines in maroon are a result of my thinking aloud…

A perspective…

Sankara – 788 –820 AD – advocated the Jnana Marga… and after him, it was Ramana Mahrashi – 1879- 1950 who advocated the same Jnana Marga. In the thousand years that separated the two, it was the Bhakti marga that all of them advocated…

The 4 main paths of Bhakti, Karma, Yoga and Jnana chalked out by the ancients were vividly and effectively represented by the four recent spiritual giants of this country : Sri Ramakrishna, Gandhiji, Sri Aurbindo and Ramana Maharshi…

Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) and Darwin were contemporaries and so were Ramana and Einstein…

About the Maharshi

As a child, he used to win in wrestling and swimming matches and when he fell into deep sleep, it was difficult to wake him.

A vivid dramatization of death transformed a schoolboy into a sage. He discovered his innermost being as pure awareness. This single experience subsumed Buddha’s prolonged contemplation of human suffering and death.
In Shakespeare’s words, he fed on death that feeds on men and death being dead, there is no more dying then.

In August 1896, he decided to leave home and go to Arunachala.

His hair remained uncut and face unshaven for 18 months. His hair had got matted and woven like a basket. Says the Maharshi, “Small stones and dust had settled in it and the head used to feel heavy. I had long nails and a frightful appearance”.

How many such people I saw during my month long journey in the Himalayas! And even once it did not occur to me that one of these hundreds could be a highly spiritually enlightened person!
I don’t know even now whether anyone was a genuine Sanyasi. I know for sure many weren’t – the ones who harassed me repeatedly to buy them a blanket, the ones who smoked beedi, the ones who posed for photographs, the ones who cursed you for not favouring them…

But for all my skepticism there might have been one – just one among them who was above us all and the rest of the world…a great saint, a gem unrecognized by the multitude of us.

Early in 1899, the Maharshi took up his residence in Virupaksha cave and stayed there for about 17 years. The Virupaksha period saw a gradual return of the young ascetic from self – absorption and silence to outward normality.

After the 2nd death experience in the presence of others at Tortoise Rock in 1912, the Maharshi seems to have felt equally and perfectly at home in the world of Being and the world of becoming…

As a Jnani, he drew learned seekers, many of whom felt their intellectual doubts and questions vanish as they absorbed the serenity radiating from him. He moved in like manner with the shepherds and grass cutters he would come across during his wanderings on the hill.

“The Jnani weeps with the weeping, laughs with the laughing, plays with the playful and sings with those who sing, keeping time to the song. His presence is like a pure mirror. It reflects our image exactly as we are”. - Contrary to the popular belief that the Jnani does not react, that he is unmoved etc…

Though the Maharshi had renounced the ego and thus become a true Sanyasi, he declined to undergo formal initiation into any order of Sanyasa.

It was Kavyakantha Ganapathi Shastri who renamed the Swami(Venkataraman) as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

T V Kapali Sastri says, “To have lived for full 54 years after realization, to have influenced so many from his seat in one place, to have been accessible to all at all hours, to have stemmed the tide of skepticism as he did is truly unprecedented”.

To F H Humphreys, of the Indian Police Service, a man of 21, who visited the hermit on the hill in 1911, and who was curious to learn about Siddhis, the Maharshi discouraged this curiosity “Clairvoyance, clairaudience are not worth having…when far greater illumination and peace are possible without them than with them… no master needs occult powers...”

When Humphreys asked whether he could help the world, he said “Help yourself and you will help the world.” He was advised, as were many seekers who were troubled by a seeming conflict between their worldly commitments and their religious life, to attend to his official duties and to meditation at the same time.

He played marbles with children at the Virupaksha cave…

He taught the ashram inmates more by example than precept how to simplify life, effect economies and avoid waste and extravagance. The wrapping paper or envelopes in which the mail came would be preserved by him for writing or other uses. He would make cups and spoons of coconut shells, polish them like ebony and tell the attendants to keep and handle them with care, saying “These are our silver cups and golden spoons”. Orange peels would be saved for making pickles and faded rose petals for adding flavour to Payasam. He would diligently correct manuscripts and proofs, copy out poems accurately in a neat hand, bind books with professional dexterity, cut vegetables, stitch leaf plates and assist in cooking, thus exemplifying the dignity of labour and the charm of simplicity. Karma was for him, not some special ritualistic action but the daily tasks that are our common lot.

At mealtime, he would sit in front of a partition dividing the dining hall, thus facing both orthodox Brahmins and the larger company of others. He would not offend the sentiment of the Sanatanists or encourage social reform which would enforce external change without inner ripeness.(though he himself mingled freely with untouchables and people of low caste).

Half of the attempts to reform the world bring only external transformation. I hope all those shouting rhetoric slogans about women’s liberation, equality of castes/religions/sexes/nations/culture, reservation, blah blah do some serious contemplation. Why? The Brahmo Samaj founded by no less than Ram Mohan Roy failed to bring about real transformation… more on this later…

A visitor to the ashram who did much to spread the Maharshi’s fame and message in the west was Paul Brunton. It is significant that he was directed to the Maharshi by no less a spiritual authority than His Holiless Sri Chandrasekhara saraswati, the Sankaracharya of Kanchi.

Men and women of divided mind and agitated heart felt at peace in the presence of the Maharshi, birds and animals were completely at home with him. When he lived in various caves on the hill, snakes and scorpions would on occasion crawl harmlessly over his body, without causing or experiencing fear. At Ramanashramam, besides Lakshmi the cow, a number of squirrels, sparrows, peacocks, dogs and monkeys made themselves at home and enjoyed the Maharshi’s attention.

There is reason to believe that the Maharshi understood the language of birds and animals. The former chief justice of Madras Anantanarayanan writes “Bhagavan, who was busy writing puts away his spectacles, calls an attendant and says, “The pair of sparrows just came here and complained to me that their nest had been removed. I look up and find their nest missing”!

He listened with interest and appreciation to the English Bible, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats. He commended the very name and central teaching of Islam as total self surrender and submission to the Higher power.


In order to know our real nature, the strenuous effort needed is withdrawing of thoughts from sense objects and remaining fixed in steady non-objective enquiry.

Between duty to one self, duty tom one’s circle, duty to the country and duty to humanity there need be no conflict.

A woman is eligible for Sanyasa as much as a man because in Mukti and Jnana, there is no difference between man and woman.

Something about the primacy of living personality over doctrine…
Kanchi Acharya says “No religion spreads because of its doctrines. People do not care much for doctrine. When there appears a man of outstanding goodness in life and conduct, filled with compassion and tranquility, people trust him the moment they set eyes on him, they accept his teaching because they are convinced that the doctrines upheld by such a man must be sound. On the other hand, a doctrine, however sound and true, has no appeal to common people if it advocators fail in conduct.” The sage spread his doctrine by living it, by embodying it in every word and deed of his.

The goal of Bhakti is the same as that of Jnana. Whatever the means, the destruction of “I” and “Mine” is the goal. In order to reach that state of silence which is beyond thought and word, one may follow the path of knowledge which removes the sense of I or the path of devotion which removes the sense of “mine”.

How can peace be attained in the midst of activities? – “Action and knowledge are not obstacles to each other. The activities of a wise man exist only in the eyes of others and not in his own. Although he may be accomplishing immense tasks, he really does nothing. Therefore his activities do not stand in the way of inaction and peace of mind. He knows that he is not the doer. He remains the silent witness of all the activities taking place”.

That which is the goal of Bhakti, Karma and Yoga is the whole sum and substance of Jnana.

The Sadhana of the aspirant is the Lakshana of the Jnani (realized person).

The doctrine that declares “Duality during the search and Non – Duality on attainment” is not correct.

In the Indian tradition, progress is not linear but spiral … people and events should not be seen as repetitions.
I think I found a parallel in EF Schumacher’s work when he explains convergent and divergent problems of life.

“You don’t bring space or sunshine into the room. You only remove the lumber or open the window” – Implying that light is natural, darkness isn’t. Happiness is natural sorrow isn’t and so on…

The intellectual approach of Jnana and the emotional approach of Bhakti have the same goal. In both cases, “I” ceases to exist as a separate entity.” Mine” disappears first in Bhakti and “I” disappears first in Jnana. In the path of Jnana, however, initial intellectual effort is a sine qua non and one must be prepared to make it and keep it up. Here, the young monkey rather than the kitten is the model to follow. One must learn to cling and not expect to be carried.

Samadhi is one’s natural state, the undercurrent beneath the waking, sleeping and dream states. It is an effortless state reached through effort, the egolessness of sleep enjoyed while awake. It is marked by contentless awareness and absence of thought.

The perceiving in which, the perceiver and the object perceived are both lost is a common enough experience known to lovers, mothers children, ecstatic devotees, heroes in action and lovers of poetry and music.
(I am happy to know this…Though not spiritually realized, I too have experienced this bliss in some way!)

The spiritual and the secular are not 2 different spheres. Imagining them to be different is a great mistake …

The Sadhaka should be a Satyayugakari one who acts as if the Satyayuga is already within us, not a Satyayugavadi, one who argues that the Satyayuga is possible someday. Reform like charity begins at home, with oneself….
Reminds me of The Law of attraction – if you seek something, live as though you already have it, not as if it were a goal to be attained in future.

Jnana is not perceiving something. It is the experience of enjoyment and exercise of oneness, of one’s whole being as awareness. One cannot see one’s eyes. One can only use them. One cannot know Being. One can only BE. And to Be is to be awareness.

In this book, the Maharshi is compared with the Mahatma quite often…

The effort is self enquiry according to the Maharshi and service according to the Mahatma. The difference is only in approach and emphasis.

One tread the path of Jnana, other, the path of Karma. Both summarized the Gita into a collection of 42 Shlokas.

The Indian life-plan for a dynamic self reliant dharma, whose root and fruit alike are moksha or an awareness of unity, was preserved for future generations by Shankara and Ramanuja in the glass jar of an elite society. In our own time, Gandhiji and Ramana Maharshi have smashed the jar and scattered the seeds. They have broken down the barrier between intellectual and popular Hinduism, between Jnana and Karma, between the classes and the masses…

Whenever someone in his circle felt depressed or confused, Gandhiji would ask them to go to Ramanashramam and come back after a month’s stay.

According to Sarojini Naidu, “the two Mahans, the Maharshi who gave us peace and the Mahatma who would not let us rest one moment in peace - were both working for the spiritual regeneration of India.


The devotional hymns translated do not of course convey the import. All nuances have been lost – as expected. Too bad I can’t read Tamil.

Such interesting analogies…

In all this varied universe
Of multitudinous appearances
The inner substance is but one,
As in the millions of Til seeds
Poured into the miller’s press
The one true essence is the oil

As fire when it is fed with ghee
Leaps up erect, unquenched
Desire too when gratified
Rejoices and revives in strength

The truth they know not who assert
That power and peace are different things
What abides as peace within
Appears to outward sight as power

Birds in the air and fish in water
Dart and leave no track behind.
And none can see the path pursued
By those that sought and reached the self.

For removing from one’s heel
A painful thorn, one takes and uses
A second thorn, and then throws both away.
Cast away the thoughts of Moksha
After it has served to push
The thought of bondage out

The boat moves in the water, but
Water should not enter it.
Though we live in the world, the world
Should not occupy our mind

Those who have made the hardest sacrifice,
That of the ego,
Have nothing more to renounce

The Self is the true, unmoving central axle,
The ego is the restless carriage wheel
Whose function is to rise and fall
And suffer all the time

Monday, April 27, 2009

Love Is Always Right...Always

There is a lot of love in the air… and a lot of pain…

Love, that ever elusive wretched feeling goes unrequited, almost always…like the white cloud sailing in the sky towards the horizon, away from you…no matter how hard you wish the winds would change…no matter how hard you wish it would rain…even though just a drop…

Kiran Desai says in “The Inheritance of Loss”, ……”Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love is the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself”…

And that’s the kind of love that’s preponderant everywhere…especially during these modern times…

I say modern times because individuals have become more powerful than the society … the society that used to play an important role in permitting or restricting the ways of the vagrant heart has lost its voice before the aggressive slogan of “To each his own”…

With the crumbling down of all the high walls, the winds blow in any direction …in many directions… and the vagaries of the heart know no bounds.

The heart is not deterred any more by the fact that someone it desires is already taken by another…that someone it loves already belongs to another… it simply takes the plunge…knowing fully well that there is a dead end before it, it drifts towards it slowly, then marches and finally races towards the dead end, until it crashes… and then it bleeds profusely.

In the midst of the futility of such an odyssey … there is the question of moral correctness that sometimes compounds the confusion of an already tormented heart…

But that does not stop the heart from weaving dreams day and night…around itself…and the one it desires…until it becomes inextricably entangled…in a web of silent suffering…

One has no control over these feelings…and coming to think of it… there is no need to control it…
As for the question of correctness, I would only say… love is always right…
Promiscuity may be right or wrong…adultery may be right or wrong… but love? Love is never wrong… it is always right…always…

The heart knows no boundaries, no laws laid by the society, …it just knows to love… and when it falls in love…

Oblivious to the fact that there is no future together, the heart throbs, … the heart alone throbs…all other organs become limp…a fever burns you day and night… the feeling gains strength day after day… and consumes you totally, body, mind and soul…every day ends with a resolve to stop this love…..every morning is flooded with a million thoughts of the beloved that shatter the resolve of yesterday… the pain is so excruciating that it takes a skeptic to God…a silent prayer for union at least in next life…

The last song that envelopes your being before you close your eyes every night…and the first song that plays in the morning as you open your eyes…

…ek pyar ka nagma hai
maujon ki ravaani hai
zindagi aur kuch bhi nahin
teri meri kahani hai…

It’s a story of love…
Eternal like the waves…
There is nothing else to life…
But you and me… just you and me…

Friday, April 24, 2009


The next day, we took a bus to Udupi, where there is a famous Krishna temple. My favourite God.
Somewhere near Karwar, the road runs parallel to the beach and the scene is beautiful.. the sea looks different too... more cleaner and the water has a different colour...

It was very hot and when we reached Udupi, the sun was high up.
Although the Gopura is here, the entrance is from another side...

This is where you enter the temple.

The inside of the temple. I must say that the darshan itself was very disappointing. The statue is hardly 3 feet ...not very sure... and the idol is covered on all sides behind bars. You stand in a long queue and in the end you get get a glimpse of the idol for 3 seconds if you manage to peer beyond the bars... why cant the temple authoroities expose the idol some more?

Outside the sanctum, there is a krishna idol...

Nearby, the legend of the place is told in the form of wall paintings and scultpures... I should have read the story... i6t was something about a Muslim king and this seer called Vadiraj...who saved the king's son ...

There is a pond adjacent to the temple. There is some legend told here too... can you see?

Geeta Mandir

Another temple nearby...

The plan was to go to St. Mary's island which i was all excited about... but there were delays and other things... so we went to the beach...the last boat to the island had left a few minutes ago... :(

This was the dirtiest beach I have ever seen in my life....

I merely tried to look at the brighter side of it :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Krishnakanta's Will - Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

This is a tragedy of lust, infidelity, greed and death revolving around Govindalal, his wife Bhramar, the attractive widow Rohini and a stolen will. I will not say anything about the story …To be frank with you, I don’t remember any of it myself. I read some five Bankim Chandra stories one after another from an omnibus volume, a few months ago.

I will only share with you a few lines of observation that I penned down as I read through the pages. Read on…

These Bengali stories are so charming. There is poetry even in simple writing. The very mention of mango leaves, blossoms fallen on the ground, the clear waters of the tank reflecting the blue sky, a kokil (cuckoo) singing kuhoo kuhoo, colourful flowers everywhere, a beautiful woman fetching , water in a pitcher from this tank, creepers… all these never fail to make even the simplest writing most lyrical. Nature, in all these stories, has been described as an important factor influencing people, their minds and their feelings.

You get a clear picture of the Bengal society of those times. So vivid are the descriptions…
The huge havelis, inner house, outer house, servants’ quarters, offices, a lake, a garden, plenty of maid servants for each and every chore, veiled women in palanquins, dacoits, young widows fighting against the emotion of love bursting forth in their hearts for a handsome man(married, more often than not!)…

Of all the states in Northern India, Bengal society I think is a culturally rich society as indicated by the many references in its literature to characters from Indian mythology and Sanskrit literature, made by laymen in the course of their routine conversations.

She cooked like Draupadi…
Chitragupta was settling his accounts with life…
Hospitality should be as cordial as Satyabhama…

As usual, I marked these lines as interesting and insightful.

Empty vessels whether earthen or human make a lot of noise in protest if one tries to fill them…

Do not let the person you love out of your sight, keep short the cord that ties your love if you wish to keep your bond strong…

Those of you, studying literature and interested in comparing different writing styles may want to read this one. I read reviews that said this resembled western writing or something of the sort…
To quote from the review “the author’s closest approximation to a Western novel”…

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Am I Uneasy About Cult?

They have an unspoken and subtle disregard/disdain for whatever is outside their realm or domain and think and try to establish that this is it (the cult is everything) and one does not need anything outside it.

They try to create an identity separate from the identity they previously had in the realm of life and world.

The cult becomes the epicenter of their lives and everything they do revolves around the cult.

While this is not a problem in itself, the question arises whether they can identify with, accept and respect people outside this cult and whether those outside the cult can identify with them.

And then people should ask themselves if this is their true calling or this simply is a solution for their identity issues and lack of a sense of purpose.

If this is a solution for identity issues, then this is not quite a solution. Any other cult or movement or organization would have given them an identity anyway.

The solution is self enquiry. Find out who you really are, what you really like, how you want you live and then perhaps participate in anything in you want; a cult or movement.

When you embrace a cult because you have no other identity, you may live forever believing, that the identity given to you by the cult is your true identity. You may never discover your true identity, your true self.

If what you have thus embraced is taken away from you one day, then what happens? Then you are lost! Whereas for those of you who have discovered your true identity and after that participated in a cult, movement or whatever, even if the cult/movement is taken away from you, your identity still remains. Your purpose of living is not lost altogether.

Some of them I know don’t read newspapers, don’t watch movies or plays. When I ask them what their weekend plan is they say “Meditation in the morning, prayer in the afternoon, Bhajan in the evening and pooja in the night…the books they read, the music they listen to, the programs they watch on television are all in alignment with the prescriptions of the cult… this is good. But there is so much else to life! Is it really necessary to cut off from all those?
Is it necessary to live as if the whole world were a lie and the cult, the only truth?
Is it necessary to embrace the cult completely and withdraw from the world?

I have done much analysis about why I find it difficult to identify with certain people.
Cults advocate Satvik qualities like patience, humility, forbearance and forgiveness. Many followers whom I have met talk slowly, softly, deliberately, politely and (as opposed to talking spontaneously), perhaps in an attempt to observe Satvik behaviour. While this is definitely good I wonder if these people are not suppressing spontaneity, impulses and spark that make personalities more attractive, charming and interesting to talk to!
I, for one, who believes that spontaneous, mercurial, quick responses are a sign of quick thinking, sharp and intelligent minds, find it difficult to identify with deliberate speeches and actions.

And then I wonder sometimes if complete observation of Satvik behavior makes men effeminate!

I have seen people closely involved in a cult making a show of their devotion towards the Guru or preceptor who is synonymous with the cult…either by addressing each other in a certain way (Jai Gurudutta!) Or by certain actions – I have heard a female guru hugs everybody she meets! ) Now, for me, any show business has with it connotations of hollowness and shallowness attached.

The aggressiveness with which these followers introduce every relative, friend or acquaintance to the cult gives rise to suspicion in one’s mind as to the presence of a motive behind…not necessarily the motive of the individual but the motive of the cult itself.

I have had the good fortune of meeting and interacting with some truly realized men. And all of them live in oblivion. Nobody even knows that these men exist. Having said that, I don’t know how to perceive the popularity of modern gurus and the alacrity with which they acquire followers every day.

And then there is an incongruence arising out of having socialistic goals and capitalistic means, what with modern gurus owning engineering colleges and collecting huge donations from students!

All said and done, it becomes imperative to add that every cult has much good to can transform your life... it is up to individuals to choose what they want to take from it and how they want to participate in it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Magical Sunset

This was the most dramatic sunset I have ever seen in my life.

The beach looked like a true Goan beach. It began with rows of coconut palms after which there was a stretch of sand beach and then the sea.

When we arrived here, the sky was covered in a blanket of grey clouds and the sun was not to be seen. There would appear a bright spot here and a smudged clot of gold there in the grey blanket indicating the position of the sun and it’s downward journey.

And then suddenly the sun appeared from behind the blanket and the whole world was washed with a golden yellow. The sea turned to orange to deep red.
It started raining and when we looked behind there was a rainbow. And after sometime, there was another rainbow. It was the first time I saw two rainbows from one end to the other with absolutely nothing to obstruct the 180 degree arc. I am sure it was the first time for many others too.

Everyone on the beach seemed to be celebrating this magic.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Farewell Of A Nomad - Part 2

13th May 1997. Bangalore.

I wept bitterly.
In those five years, much weeping had fallen in my lot.

We landed from Ahmedabad in 1992. In the story of my life, it was at this point in time that the villain made an entrance. This was none other than my father’s relative, a sinister evil woman, a dark soul. A wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
Father was now concerned only about relatives and what they would say…

Suspicion.Vigilance. Admonition. Estrangement.

Of the many English words that I learnt from my father, two words are significant.

‘Soliloquy’ – meaning monologue, as different from dialogue. Very casually my father mentioned that in theatre when a single character talks to himself, it is called soliloquy.
I realized that I had become that character and my life had become one long soliloquy. There was no one to listen and I talked to myself most of the time.

The second word was ‘Write off’- Father was a banker. He said to me “In banks when customers don’t repay their debts after many reminders and the bank gives up all hopes, we write off such customers.” After a brief pause, he said, “And I have written you off”

I wrote my first three poems. Void , Nostalgia and Meloncholy. In that order.
At 17, I was a cynic.

I had done badly in 12th exams and disappointed everyone. Engineering was ruled out. There was an atmosphere of gloom as if someone had died. Yeah. My future had just died.

My first love. Krishna – I had been stealing glances at him for 2 years now and he had been doing the same thing. Nothing more. I had been hoping and praying at the end of two years something would happen before we left college. On 10th May 1997, I saw him walk away from the CET exam hall towards the medical seat that was waiting for him with a spring in his step, without as much as saying goodbye to me.
I, the defeated soldier, dragged my feet to my balcony and reclined in my chair as my heart sank into a bottomless well.

At 18, my world had come to an end. There was no hope.

We were shifting to Mysore.

Two days before my departure, I met Ramya while crossing the road. It was as if we had known each other for long. She showed me a mirror. I dismissed the image I saw. But I believed in it several months later.
“You are a lovely bud. I look forward to the fragrance upon your blossoming” were her last words in my autograph book.
Today I understand that some people come into your life for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime. This girl came for a reason. To show me my next level.
I tried to cling to her but in vain. She had to go. Her purpose had been served.

The bus moved. I took no notice of the moving pictures in the window. I refused to look ahead. I was holding on tightly to Ranjini, my best friend in college, Sharath and Prakriti …because all these people played some role in the story of me and Krishna…which was no story at all. And Krishna – I would never see him again perhaps – my heart bled…

I would cling thus to an unhappy past and broken dreams for a few more years to come before letting go…

2003. September. Mysore.

This farewell was different; the first one of it’s kind. I was the only one leaving.
I was leaving behind my home, my family and my charming city, Mysore in order to join Cognizant, a software company in Bangalore that had offered me employment on the campus of SJCE, where I had just finished my MCA.

Initially I had found the city of Mysore dull and boring. I waited eagerly to go back to Bangalore.
But someone above, interested in my good, knew that small plants cannot grow in the shade of big trees.
The calm, quiet, humble, simple, uncomplicated city of Mysore was what my tormented soul had needed.
I don’t know when I let go of all the broken pieces, when the waiting died and when I embraced the love and life of Mysore.

The bud had blossomed.

6 years ago, when I had just arrived in Mysore, I had written 3 poems.

A Struggle To Conquer Destiny – It was the expression of a cynic.

Life is so unsteady and uncertain
Man proposes God disposes often
Death is the ultimate truth of life,
Sorrow the ultimate truth of joy,
Separation the truth of every encounter,
Disappointment the truth of every hope
We are puppets pulled by unseen strings
We are caged birds with clipped wings

Love Understands And Therefore Waits – This was simply a work of art that sorrow had produced. After the arrow had been pulled out and the blood dried, beauty would remain. Nothing more.

You may disappear into nothing
And vanish into void
I shall still wait for you
Years and years after you’re gone
For the sun descends everyday
With a promise to return the next dawn

Today, when I look back, I am happy that the Sun descended for good and when the dawn happened, it saw a new Sun.

Dangerous Heights – This was the declaration of an incorrigible optimist.

All my castles built in air
Came crashing down to earth
I’d soared high to reach the stars
But barely touched the clouds
She’ll rebuild her tower great and tall
Never to crumble never to fall
She waits and longs for her turn
While the world awaits hr return

A tower was built, not all that great, not the kind I had imagined, but surely, it was never to crumble and never to fall.

December 1st 2008. Airport Road. Bangalore.

It was a rare case of beauty created by a combination of nature and manmade edifice.
Golden Enclave. An apartment building on airport road. I was lucky to be a neighbour of this landmark.
On the one side stood, one above the other, several neatly built dream homes with plenty of open space around, a swimming pool at the far end and gardens for children to play.
The tall eucalyptus trees lined all along the other side exuded such peaceful grandeur. There were other trees in the same line, whose gracefully falling boughs almost touched the windshields of cars parked below, in a long straight line.
It was a pretty picture.
Many an evening, I had taken my evening walk here.
Every day, I would look up to see the tree tops of the Eucalyptus as I breathed in the fragrance diffused by the tree. I would slow down my pace as I arrived close to the smaller trees to behold in delight, sunshine filtered by the foliage of the trees. I would stop to pick one of the flowers on the ground below, light lavender in colour, almost white.
I would miss these evening walks.

Leela palace was 5 minutes away, diagonally across the road. Its peach coloured, walls, ornate archways, pillars and climbers that hid most of the fa├žade created a work of art. In the midst of ugliness.
It was on the main road full of traffic, pollution, commercial slum and people. But as you crossed the door of the palace, you were transported into a different world. They say it was built after the style of Mysore palace. Yes. There is a resemblance.
Entry was completely unrestricted! What a luxury!
No matter what time of the day, what season of the year, it was breezy inside the palace.
I have no count of the mornings, afternoons and evenings spent here, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone, sometimes in Chai bar, sometimes in Barista and other times in the lounge, facing the garden of neatly mown lawn, palm trees, lotus ponds and a water fountain.
I would miss the ambience of this place… soft lights, chandeliers, the painting of Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, the erstwhile king of Mysore, the cool breeze, the solitude the place offered…

I would miss the Airport road itself, the row of Ashoka trees and sodium vapour lamps at it’s centre.
At least twice a year, the Jackeranda and the flame of the forest would burst in bloom and pour forth blossom laden boughs from the NAL boundary on to the main road. My camera would have to find newer trees and newer blossom.

I had shifted my accommodation several times in Bangalore as my office shifted.
But only this time, I turned around to look behind as the tempo rumbled on.

Like the waters of a never settling sea that recede to it’s depths with a delusion of permanence, only to be heaved to the shores…to retreat once again… to be churned yet again…
Like the life of a nomad…