Heart

The Voyeur

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Amazed at all that our little eyes can show us, I stood behind the boulders. The sight of noisy waves from the crevices made me once again go in awe of the power that salty water droplets as a team are capable of exercising on the senses. Through the lenses of the eyes, I could see so much I wondered and through a tiny crack that too!

Draped in a green Kanjivaram she appeared on the scene. She stood, held her ebony black silk hair in one of the hands and twisted the other to see what hour it was. The half-sold basket of the gajras lay unattended on the moist sand. The green drape with a bright golden brocade fall just complemented the scene so perfectly. The sun was about to sink when her friend arrived. I was no more looking at the waves.

The souls looked at each other and looked around to check if they were being looked at by anyone. I was not to be noticed. The other one had probably just finished her work in the office and rushed to the venue. Her skirt and the knotted hair told me all about the day she must have spent looking at papers and people. The women’s eyes met and sparks flew off. They held each other by the hands and danced in circles for sometime before the beach was a green lawn- lush Kanjivaram with the yellow brocade popping here and there like mustards. The two souls stood in mutual admiration of the luscious frames they were face to face with. The office goer plucked a small mustard and lifted it so that it now touched the ruby lips of the gajra seller. The swirling motion of her gentle fingers made the tiny flower go round in circles and the blades of the ceiling fan thus made tried hard to nibble at the smooth coating of red those lips had. The frames measured themselves against each other- the highs and the lows, the long and the short and the warm and the not so warm. It seemed like a contest where the parties wanted the opponent to win.

Voluptuous was the embrace and intensely mesmerizing was the act where they hid themselves in each others arms. The knotted hair all through loosened itself while the hug tried to weld the two frames together. “You should not throw the unsold gajra around like this, let me put them back to where they belong” and the queen was decorated. The lawn where they stood was then grazed a bit by the other one and a veil was made out of the exploit. Rubies struck each other, hills rejoiced and the calm in the jungles was disturbed by running rabbits who made desperate attempts to escape some enemy they loved. Like an onion, the two souls stood as one  frame, exploring the layers of sensuousness the other was draped in. “Kajal tastes fun” she said and the other one celebrated her culinary initiation with an everlasting song that continues to ring in my head.

“You are beautiful” and “You are beautiful too” echoed all around and filled the desolate surrounding.

Was a moment when I heard sitar in the waves, tabla in the winds and a flute in the horn of the bus from the busy road that ran not so far from the beach. Had to rush because the overdose of beauty, art, science and religion- all at the same place was beyond all that my little senses could assimilate!

Heart

Metaphysical Poetry

Wanted to share this wonderful poem that has been on my mind for the last few days. I was quite amazed by the technique here!

The Flea by John Donne

—————————————————————————————–

Mark but this flea, and mark in this

How little that which thou deniest me is ;

It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee, 

And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.

Thou know’st that this cannot be said

A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;

Yet this enjoys before it woo, 

And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;

And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

——

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, yea, more than married are.

This flea is you and I, and this

Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.

Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,

And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.

Though use make you apt to kill me,  

Let not to that self-murder added be,

And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

——

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?

Wherein could this flea guilty be,

Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?

Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou

Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.

‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;

Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,

Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

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When Kamadeva Strikes

In the epic poem Ramcharitmanas penned by the 16th century north Indian Brahmin poet-saint Goswami Tulsidas, one comes across a fascinating description of all that happened to the universe when Kamadeva decided to exercise his powers to wake Lord Shiva from his state of meditation. Kamadeva is the Hindu God of human love and desire and for matters of convenience may be considered the Indian ‘equivalent’ of Cupid. Such an event was planned so that the Gods could pray and ask Shiva to consider the option of himself getting married to Sati, the daughter of the mountain Himalaya.

Mythology says that the demon Tarakasur assumed increasing powers and the Gods gradually lost all of their wealth and influence because of him. Tarakasur had in a way made life difficult for deities and they had to think of a way to get rid of him. Clueless as they were, all the Gods approached Brahma and asked him for a solution. Brahma told them that it was only Shiva’s son who could defeat and kill Tarakasur. He suggested that Shiva who was in samaadhi (meditation), had to be woken up and made to agree to getting married so that his son could take birth. Brahma went on to suggest to the Gods that through his actions, it was Kamadeva who was capable of disturbing Shiva, make him angry and therefore rise from samaadhi.

So the Gods planned that the moment Shiva would wake up, they would bow in his feet and pray so as to almost coerce him into agreeing to marrying Sati. Accordingly, the Gods very lovingly remembered and prayed for Kamadeva to appear on the scene. With his five arrows and the flag with the fish-symbol, Kamadeva came and the Gods explained him everything they had to. Kamadeva agreed to do the needful.

The verses written in Awadhi make for a delightful reading. Here I have translated some of those which deal specifically with all that resulted after Kamadeva began exerting his power on the universe. They occur in the first section of the epic known as the Baal Kaand (The childhood episode) which deals with the birth and early childhood of Rama (the Hindu Deity) who was born in Ayodhya and later became the king. I have picked up verses (83 and 84) for the translation as they are the most pertinent to the heading I have given to this post. It is noteworthy that Tulsidas looks at the universe as clearly composed of two mutually distinguishable elements- the masculine and the feminine and as one for the sustenance of which the element of sexuality is indispensable. Comprising the essence that runs the universe and remains irreplaceable in the most testing situations , it stands for the basic instinct underlining all existence. The verses make it clear that this element pervades the universe and is capable of defying all restraining forces of reason and morality if it needs to do so. One may lose all of one’s socially inherited capabilities and yet sexuality and the modes in which it manifests itself refuse to die out. The translation:

“The deities went to Kamadeva and spoke to him of their troubles. Listening to their request,  Kamadeva thought for a while and smilingly said to the Gods that it was not in his favour to pit himself against Shiva (83). However I will do what you want me to do because the Vedas consider being beneficent to be the supreme Dharma. The saints always praise the one who sacrifices his body for the sake of others (1).

Having said this he bowed his head to all present, and with his arrow made of flowers in hands and his companions (the spring season and others) left. While on the way, he thought (in his heart) that in the act of opposing Shiva, my death is a certainty(2). Then he exerted his influence and the whole universe was under his control. His flag had the sign of a fish and when he got angry, the dignity of all the Vedas vanished in a few moments(3). The army under the control of Discretion that consisted of soldiers like Celibacy, rules, various kinds of self restraint, Patience, Dharma, Knowledge, Science, Virtue, Japa, Yoga and Renunciation got so scared that they ran away(4)

Discretion and his soldiers ran from the battle field. At that time, all of them hid themselves in the caves of the scriptural texts (meaning they remained merely written words and lost all contact with actual practice). There was chaos in the whole universe and all started praying “Oh Lord! what is going to happen now and who will protect us? Who is this two headed being (Tarakasura) for whom Rati’s spouse (Rati is Kamadeva’s wife) has angrily lifted the bow and arrow in his hands?

All the masculine and feminine beings of the universe, whether moving or stationary lost their dignity and came under the control of Kamadeva(84). Every heart was imbued with corporal desires. Looking at the creepers, the branches of trees started gravitating towards them. The disturbed and energised rivers ran towards the ocean and all the ponds and small water bodies started to intermingle among themselves(1). When the stationary, immobile beings (trees, rivers etc) experienced such a condition, then who can talk about whatever happened to the animate beings. All the animals and birds active in the sky, water and on earth lost all sense of their (mating) time and succumbed to the control of Kama(2).

Everyone became lusty and experienced uneasiness. Certain bird species do not care for the time of the day (for mating). The Gods, devils, men, kinnars (hijras), snakes, phantoms, ghosts, betaals(3)- they are forever the slaves of Kama and knowing this I have not described any of their condition. Those who were accomplished and the ones who were renouncers and great saints along with the great yogis  came under the influence of Kama and began thinking of women(4). 

What to say of the mischievous men when the yogis and the greatest of all the ascetics fell slaves to Kama? The ones who used to look at the universe as imbued with divinity, began seeing it as feminine. Women began looking at the universe as masculine and men began looking at it as feminine. For two moments, this drama controlled by Kamadeva kept the universe enthralled.

No one resorted to patience in his heart because Kamadeva had won all of them. Only those could survive who were under the protection of Raghupati Ram(85). 

The later verses describe further events that unfolded. Kamadeva approached Shiva and got scared. As a result, everything in the universe which had seen tumult moments ago, got back to normal. After having tried all his tactics, he could not succeed in waking Shiva up. He got annoyed and climbed a beautiful flower laden branch of a tree and shot his three arrows which struck Shiva’s heart. Shiva woke up and angrily looked all around. When he found Kamadeva hiding in the mango leaves, he  furiously opened his third eye which caused Kamadeva’s body to be reduced to ashes. Henceforth Kamadeva came to be known as Anang (one without a body).

The gods then came to Shiva and expressed their desire of being witnesses to his wedding which Shiva agreed to fulfil. Tulsidas goes on to write about the wedding in fascinating details, about which I shall be writing in a later post.