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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Spirituality through music

Cooking can be a great meditation technique. I am telling this from my experience. After a break of almost 6 years, I am back to the routine of cooking regularly in the morning
(Well, I am saying regularly because I have decided to let go of the desire to hire a cook for a while after moving in to the new house). For past 6 years, I enjoyed the luxury of my meals being prepared by an outsourced help except the days when he would go on leave. And believe me, I can write a whole story with our previous cook as the main protagonist. We learned so much from his cooking skills and his patient personality, such a delightful human he is.  Well, let me save the story for some other day. As this is not about the cook or cooking.

It's about the thoughts I had while I was cooking in the morning. How one thought led to another spiraling into something having a deeper meaning. It started as I closed the lid of pressure cooker, a sudden thought what if I had a normal delivery with Pihu. Yeah, yeah, I often think about that even its been more than 3 years. Had I been able to handle those pains? Am I strong enough? Would I have survived it? I may or may not be able to get an answer for this but then lets leave this topic here again for some other day. A detailed post on the spiritual aspect of C-section vs Normal Delivery later. This post is not about that too. Because, as I was pondering through it, suddenly a line crossed my mind,

"क्यों  व्यर्थ की चिंता करते हो? किससे व्यर्थ डरते हो? कौन तुम्हें मार सक्ता है? अात्मा ना पैदा होती है, न मरती है।"

Yup, this is one of the lines from the summarized version of Geeta. As I started preparing breakfast, like a sudden pour of monsoon showers, slowly but steadily all the lines from Geeta saar started playing in my mind and I suddenly felt the urge to have that calendar in my home, the same one that I used to read every time I would visit my cousins home where it hanged on the living room's wall. It was long, long time back, in my childhood. And so while cooking chapatis, I contemplated how our childhood is tagged to us every moment in our life. Why they say they are the foundation years! Every time, I face a problem, every time I ask a question, every time I have a doubt and things traces back to my childhood. What a powerful stage of life! And so that makes me feel even more responsible as a parent. As they say, we are the ghost of our Child's future. We cannot control everything in their lives but we can definitely give them a pleasant environment that emanates from us. We need to do our bit so that they find their childhood ghosts to be friendly. Believing in this, I am trying to introduce music in my child's life. Because, it is one discipline that enriches your soul and can transfers you to a divine world. And by music, I don't mean the funky wala Bollywood songs, though that peppy music is too rejuvenating many times. But, I have a taste in Hindustani Classical, the sufi, the devotional renditions by trained singers. They can uplift my mood anytime unconditionally. And I have seen a good devotional music, touches everybody's heart who listens to it. It has the power to transform evil into good. I love to attend live concerts of such artists but unfortunately the hectic urban life leaves us with few opportunities. And how much I miss being musically inclined during the lifetime of maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali khan. I try to fill the void by often watching his live shows recordings. People like him look divine to me for aren't these gifted souls blessed as if they were touched directly by the omniscient? The respect that I feel for them cannot be described in words. They are above any religion, in fact, the whole idea of religion, traditions, customs looks trivial when you listen to these people singing while they are totally involved. They have no qualms about calling the almighty as god, or Khuda, or Ram, or a lover. And generally, the greater the musician, the more humble he or she is. That is the power of soulful music, it uplifts the soul and this is what I want my kids to understand about it. We try to listen to such numbers very often and our daughter seems to appreciate it now. She can go on with her usual routine without finding Pandit Jasraj boring or Ustad Aslam khan to be loud! She started singing "Om namoh bhagwate vasudevah" without our efforts to teach her that. We are not trying to train her to become a great singer but yes, we are definitely interested to make her appreciate good music. And it can happen if only we appreciate and listen to such music ourselves. For children try to imbibe from their parents only. Right? And such music actually feels more rejuvenating if you develop a taste in it.

Think about it, no matter how much you enjoy bollywood, rock, jazz, or anything peppy and conventional, there must have been a point when you have moved to tears as a good, devotional piece got played in your ears. It happens with me all the time. I have experienced it on several occasion, And I have these few favorite numbers that I even sing when I am alone and most of the times I end up with a choked voice. Hence, I avoid singing in public lest people think I am crazy. But yes, singing or listening to such versions brings out the purity of heart. You can feel all the negativity, all pessimism leaving your body and a pleasant feeling of union with supreme settling inside you. For those few moments, you can well understand the meaning of this:

"I am nothing, I am everything."

Good music (and not senseless noise :P ) is a gift to human life and we should be grateful that it is all around us - in the hisses of wind, gurgling of water or chirping of birds. We should definitely make our kids more aware about it right from the early age. I can describe much more on what I feel about good music but it's already a long post. But this time I would end my post by sharing with you something special and daring from my side, this one piece that I heard in my graduation days which would make me feel directly associated with my maker. It used to be played in the University campus PA system at evenings. Heard the same lyrics which were penned by Surdas in the voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi and many others but nothing matched the one that used to be played in my University. I never found out the source so I learned its notes by heart and sing it myself. Till date its my most favorite 'bhajan' as I can relate our life as humans in it. I find it difficult to sing this in public for the reasons I have mentioned earlier hence, I decided to record it. Just to give you an idea of the lyrics its about the fight that ensues between the elephant and the crocodile (ग्राह) when the former goes to a river bank to quench his thirst. Now you can relate it to ourselves. How many times we enter a situation gladly only to find ourselves stuck with problems and pray for a divine intervention that can save us! Our birth into this world is also one such situation :)

 Please forgive my voice quality, I am not much of a singer (esp picking the low and high notes) but just try to do my best :) Here I go:

If you have difficulty opening the audio file, please click on the link below:

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