Monday, June 29, 2009

No barriers in art

V V Sadagopan, my grandfather, was a great musicologist, musician, lyricist and a hero of his times.

Yes, I can honestly say he was one of a kind not just for his talents but for the person he was. I was very lucky to be with him at a young age and what remains in my mind and whole psyche is his openness in accepting all faiths, cultures and traditions. He used to take us to all holy places and ask us to observe what is best in each. All music was heard and appreciated. No preaching but just opening the windows of our mind.

“When we appreciate, the differences are rarely seen, “he said. “Art transcends all human differences, “ was another dictum he believed and lived by. He revived many traditions, like Vaishnavism (devotion to Vishnu) and Pasurams (devotional songs in Tamil), not because he thought them to be superior to the others, but to present that dimension too to the world. As a lyricist, he sought to convey secular values in a non obtrusive way.

Incidentally, the name of this blog, Jai Joy was his standard greeting. As for him, joy and music were synonymous. Yes, Jai ho, today’s buzzword would have appealed to him, too.

Even today, whenever confused, I always ask myself "How would Appaji have responded?"

Jai joy, Appaji, Thanks for the wisdom you imparted to me.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Value of Trust

“How could she do this?” was my first thought when I saw my old watch on Sheela, my household help. Her deceit and with my foolishness in trusting her whirled through my mind, all at once. She was a person I thought I knew and trusted.Slowly, I asked “new watch?”. “Oh, its an old one but for me it is new, as it was gifted to me by my niece, “ she replied with a happy smile. Was it over-confidence or lack of guilt? I sat down and assessed the situation again. Surely, she would not have flaunted the watch in front of me had there been an iota of guilt in her. I refrained from confronting her and searched all over again for all the likely places my watch could have been lost. Finally, to my great relief, I did find the watch in a remote corner. Was it a strange coincidence that she had happened to own the same model or was it a test of trust ? I think it was the latter for, I have never felt as gratified as I did today in not allowing my trust to break down. If I had doubted her, we would never had the same equation.

This is really important for eveyone. Each person wants to trust and be trusted, for without that, a sense of well being is virtually impossible.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Teaching Stories

With its different layers, a teaching story gives us new insights every time we read it ..and we begin to see the world, and even ourselves, differently. At its heart a teaching story encapsulates the wisdom and truth of life and transmits it to the reader in the most pleasurable, palatable way. These timeless tales will offer you hours of entertainment, but more importantly, it may well change your perception of life. These tales from Sufi, Zen, Hindu, folklore have something for who read them, irrespective of age, gender, creed or race.

For me, editing this volume has been a God sent opportunity, read, interpreting, understanding these timeless classics.

Surrounded by gurus

A European lady was wonderstruck when Swami Chinmayananda once answered the precise questions she had in her mind. “Could he read her mind?”, she wondered.. "I cannot read your mind and neither do I wish to," the Swamiji replied, "In life, your answers could be from a bus conductor, a man on the street or in this case, me. That is the way the universe works."

Truly, the universe has numerous lessons for us. Perhaps one of the greatest teachers is nature itself. The sun shines everyday at the precise hour and gives light to the entire world without expecting any returns. The birds chirp whether or not someone claps and applauds. Trees give shade and succour to millions of creatures and never tire or get bored of doing this. As a bonus, they add beauty too, the sun by giving us the rainbow and beautiful patterns of the sunrise and sunset, trees and plants by giving us different types of flora.

Every creature too has its unique lesson for us. One of the verses of the Thirukkural says, "The crow does not conceal its food from its fellows and calls them and willingly shares it with them. Only men of like nature prosper." To constantly remind us of this principle, people are encouraged to offer some food to the crow every day and observe how it shares it with the entire group.
Geese fly in a "V" formation. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. If a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies
Such teaching stories abound in nature. Even the much detested cockroach teaches us resilience and determination. Apart from this, the little coincidences of life, the people one meets and situations one encounters constantly teach us the lessons we need at any point in time.

Of course, saints and prophets have inspired and guided humankind in every era and if we have the good fortune to be blessed by such guidance by a human guru, it would be a wonderful bonus. As it is said, when the time is ripe, the master will appear without any effort on our part. In the meantime, let us recognize that the entire universe is constantly conspiring to teach us the lessons, the ones we seek actively, and the ones we may not voice but do need for our spiritual progress. All we have to do is to tune our senses to receive them.