Monday, May 6, 2013

Madness to Love

Shabad pehechano hansa bhav se
Aani na mare toh dhar hansa bhaila ho ji..

I was reminded of this song yesterday at TheValley School satsang when Satish Inamdar hinted to all of us sitting there that words can become traps and that to 'Charcha' ( dialog) can lead us into traps..but  i felt the other way..i wanted to discuss , have a dialog.and the mentioned song was recalled because it talks about understand the meaning of the words 'shabad pehechano' from a love space- 'Bhav se'. If we look at this song of kabir ..that in itself tells us a lot about life.. and if these word weren't there where would we be. Isn't kabir also discussing with us through songs??? I wondered...

I wrote this above paragraph last year and left it as a draft. Didn't know that after almost a year this writing would resonate so much within. I was living in Bangalore for 6 years , working with children and doing crafts with them.Last year November 2012, I  joined a farming community called Marudam Farm School, located near a small town Thiruvanamalai, Tamil Nadu. I joined as a teacher and am living there learning about  farming, building mud sturctures, learning about birds, trees, animals, etc. Its been 6 months now and presently I am on break for a month.

I set out of the campus on 15th April 2013 for a month to travel and take a break.I traveled from Thiruvanamalai to Bangalore and from Bangalore to Vadodara, Gujarat. I was visiting my parents. I had started my travel with one thing that i wanted to do. i wanted to visit Gandhi ashram and volunteer for a day at the Seva Cafe, Ahmadabad, Gujarat. I arrived after 30 hours bus journey and rested for next 12 hours. As soon as I was refreshed I went online to check how to register for 1 day volunteering at Seva Cafe. And i came across their website: www.moved by, and i started reading every page and word on it. I came across their retreat and on an impulse registered for it. Siddharth, one of the organisers, got back immediately and said that i will have to wait for 2 days for confirmation. I started praying and waiting for their call/ mail. I hadn't planned but something inside me wanted to go and Siddharth got back the very next day confirming my participation. I was super thrilled. I didn't know what the retreat was about but just the title, ' Moved by Love' was enough. The retreat was for 3 days and we were suppose to be picked up at Gandhi ashram to go to the actual venue on the outskirts of the city, Sughad.

And then the next 3 days, 72 hours were full of love, trust, acceptance and respect. I was amongst people ready to give, gift, love and accept me as i am.The three days were named Head , Hands and Heart.I was looking forward to the Head day, because i being very hands person, i thought this would help me break some thought processes and stuff. What a shock I had that day. The day started and went on and at the end of the day we all went for supper. I went in, uncomfortable. Jayeshbhai, Siddharth, Nimeshbhai, Pratyush, Lahar, Shital, Khushmita, and others had lit candles and kept our plates ready to be served. We were all going to sit and eat together and they were going to serve us. I sat next to Pratyush's mom and I couldn't eat, I started crying. I couldn't understand what was happening. I tried drinking water, tried eating again, I didn't want to upset them. It was such a loving ambience. And then I realized, that was what was moving me to tears. I realized I had not had such supper with my own family for past ten years. I would come every year with plans to relax with my family and end up frustrated ( my Dad is an epileptic and my sister is diagnosed with depression after her divorce) and I wouldn't understand,why?? There sitting in Sughad, being served food with so much love opened up my heart and my tears wouldn't stop. I also needed that care and love, someone who would serve me food. I was not ready to see this in myself. I have always tried to help others but taking the same has been difficult. That supper time revealed so much and lead to such deep understanding of myself.
It healed me and filled me with joy and love.I was humbled and grateful to life for this experience.
Next day was Hands day, my day I thought. I was super excited and we did amazing work with our hands and then in the afternoon we had a talk by Sonal Shah. It just lead to such a great thought process within me. It helped me understand the work that we are doing at my new home in the farm community. My Hand day had become Head day.
After that we all went to Safai Vidyalaya, Gandhi Ashram and Seva Cafe. An evening where we all sought each others company to share, listen and learn from each others experience and ended it with music. Listening to people's experiences, my head had  only one song playing, 'Avi avi sen batayi mhare satguru' means ' My guru gives me a sign  in so many different ways' a song by Sant Kabir, mystic poet of 16th century. A sign that the path I have chosen is the true path, a sign that this is where is my heart, sign to be open and vulnerable, sign to be open to learn.
For me my guru is every person I meet and I observe, talk or just spent time listening to them.
I got up the next day and started writing and this is what my heart, head and hands were telling me:

Go by what your heart says, listening to your heart does not necessarily mean 'always happy and success ', but it means peace and life full of love and gratefulness. When listening to your heart and doing what it says, there is a possibility that you may stumble and fall, but if you are open and honest about it, you will get the strength to get up and find out why did you stumble, what happened?..the heart will know.
( my mind wandered off a litlle bit and then wondered about what I was wriitng and after few minutes surrendered)
'What the heart knows today, the mind will know tommorow'. Thats what just happened to me, isn't it???( I was writting again in my diary) and may be it will never know or understand the ways of the heart. We have to be open to that too. It is about being comfortable about the unknown. To be able to flow with whatever life sends to you and it requires great amount of trust and the feeling of being loved and also loving others. The idea/ thought that ' whatever happens happens for good, the ' Jivan Saar' that we read yesterday, requires  a great deal of wrestling between the head, heart and also the hands. When I have this wrestling match happening between my head and heart, I take time and sit and work with my hands( cleaning, sweeping, sketching,weaving, knotting). It helps, it gives me an inner space for intuitive wisdom/understanding to come up. This isn't about an hour or a day, sometimes its for many days. It depends on what the wrestling match is about. Here the principle of discipline to sit and work, to keep up our daily routine and letting the head, heart and hands lead you, helps.
I have always done this, haven't I?? and struggled and listened to my heart and takes leaps of faith and I don't think I have regretted it one bit. Sometimes it is challenging to explain to others about your decisions, 'why I do things the way I do...' and I get questions like, ' How can you be so vulnerable?' This word ' Vulnerable' has been thrown at me so many times and there were times when I went through a turmoil, questioning my decisions of my heart; 'Am I right, is this the way to go about??' Others don't seem to be doing that.. should I do that?? Off late I have been questioning myself a lot. I have began to think 'logically' and inside me am restless all the time. I have been thinking and rethinking lot of things. What is happening, I don't know..( I was watching myself, reflecting on my life).
But coming here to the retreat is a blessing. Gandhiji and his experiments with truth, all these people around me going through the same things as I do and wanting more people to join this and live like this, has given me peace within. Just meeting all these people tells me( its a sign!!!) that I am fine, its okay to be vulnerable, open, trusting and loving people around. Each day has given me a gift that i didn't know I needed. That's what a Gift is. Isn't it??( I am smiling).

I shared the above writing with the group and then I also shared this Bengali song ' Pagol Chada Duniya Cholena', which means,' My world would stop if I leave my madness'.

I used to sing it to myself whenever I felt alone and  I would be thinking about all of them whenever I sing it to myself. In this world to love without expectation, to be vulnerable, to listen to your heart is madness. And we all need this madness. This retreat was 'A SIGN' sent to me by life ( my guru had given me a sign).:)

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Sahaj Self.......???.....!!!.....:)

'So he was quite aware of the fact that he is supposed to belong to a "kameena jaat". He always claimed to be a humble person, and with this humility, he also claimed to be a person who dared to question. This is true of any one of us. Only if we allow our real, to use the Kabir-ian expression, if we allow our sahaj self to speak out. Sahaj literally means something, which is given to you at your birth, and you do not allow it to speak out and that is why this question becomes pertinent.'
Prof. Purushottam Agarwal

When i read this it made me stop for a while and look at what was happening within me. There is so much of struggle to be something and keep doing something that i am not letting this sahaj self to speak. There is so much of turmoil and need of assurance that we do not let go and let life do what it has to. I see a lack of trust and escapism from understanding one's swabhav. The need to run away from what I believe is  to meditate ( adhyaatma). And I see it , feel it, and then again get caught up in the running. 
And then i go back , listen to Kabir or read Krishnamurti or Gandhi or an article or write up by someone, I pause and see my swabhav. It is essential for us to be in the satsang to be able to watch our swabhav and that is probably what means adhyaatma. To be able to study oneself every moment through sat sang. To do it every moment( which is so difficult) because every moment our mind , our desires and expectations and need to control everything around us is standing up. and that's when satsang( of singing, of reading and listening to people ) becomes necessary.
And yes, just for a fraction of moment i realize that when there is adhyaatma there is no fragmentation of mind and division of everything that is around us. We begin to see the whole and I think that's what kabir is talking to me. I do not need kabir to stand up and talk if there is injustice( social, political or personal) , I become Kabir, I become Gandhi and I become the change.There is no social , or political, there is no division. And when this happens there is love. Love that does not divide. That which makes us one within and one with the cosmos.
main laga use ek se...
sab mera main saban ka, wahan doosra nahin..... 
And then whether you utter ram, kabir, or just speak , what comes is the nirgun,  ram , rahim, keshav, the sahaj self. Your true self, one who speaks to you every moment. Only when you are true to yourself and let the sahaj speak , can you feel the flow of love within.

aap mukh base kabir
kabir mukh base woh
aap chindho hame kabir ki aor
kabir chindhe hame uski aor
prem dagar par chalat chalat
baat aaye ek hi samaj
jis dil base prem vani 
use dil ki aor aave woh chitchor.

May be that's what Kabir means when he says:
"Kabir man nirmal bhaya, jaise Ganga neer.
Peechhey laga Hari phire, kahat Kabir Kabir".

:) niki

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kabir the Weaver Poet- Jaya Madhavan

Kabir in my life...

When I hear the word Kabir, what comes to my mind are the innumerable faces, that I have connected to as a human being in the past 2 years. Kabir was there in my life as a a voice of wisdom through the words of my mother. But the past few months Kabir has become a part of my family and my existence. Every moment we are humming the songs, thinking about his dohas,connecting it to our experiences, our lives. Kabir lives for us in the voice of innumerable folk singers.
Kabir became alive to me when I read that he was a weaver.A weaver who has woven the most beautiful cloth to wrap ourselves up in times of pain, confusion, loneliness, conflict and anger. A cloth woven to wrap around us in this journey of our life.
While reading the book ' Kabir the Weaver Poet' written by Jaya Madhavan, I felt I was reliving the life along side Kabir. It is so beautifully woven and the words are so appropriate. The way she has woven her words to lead us in the one day of Kabir's life, what comes out very strongly is the calmness and stillness of Kabir's mind. The way he goes about doing his work , meeting people and then when he speaks it is nothing but the truth. The circumstances make dhaga also speak the words of Kabir but it is more to point out to others, whereas when Kabir speaks it is nothing but truth.
I have connected personnaly to Kabir as a weaver. Weaver of cloth and the weaver of words.Weaving as a process is something that you can do only if you are alert and in the present state. And, in the process, all thoughts cease to exists. this reminds me of my favourite conversation in the book, the conversation between Kamali ( the acrobat) and Kabir. The author has very beautifully brought out a very important aspect of cessation of thoughts, of past, of future and everything around, which leads us to understanding of what is the truth. The acrobat does not think of anything whens she is on that tight rope high up in the air. The only thing for her is the rope( that too not the end of the rope) but the rope that exists there at that moment in front of her. She gives herself completely and that is what Kabir says is for him, giving himself completely to the GOD and then nothing matters, relations,material world, death nothing.For him it is being one with oneself at this moment...and the author has brought that out beautifully throughout the book.

I am unable to see Jaya as the author, I feel its Kabir talking to us throughout the book.That's what is remarkable about the book. It is a must read.
Thank you Jaya for this wonderful gem.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shedding the skin

The snake is in a very vulnerable state when it is going through the process of shedding its skin..It knows that if a predator finds it, then there is no escape from the clutches of death.You might be wondering what am i gonna say and where am i going with this.
The thing is that i never gave much thought to it till my husband told me this when i was in a very vulnerable state.A state where i am shedding lot of my mental baggage's n i am in a state where sometimes i don't know what i am feeling and how to respond to other people..n yes i am being misinterpreted..misunderstood and i was feeling very frustrated about this and it's in this contact that my husband told me about the shedding of skin by the snake.
And that's how nature work's and in life if you want to grow as a human being you have to take the risks like the snake ..being aware of it and still going through it..
It's a different thing to do something without the knowledge of the risks..but a totally different thing to be aware of it and then take it through...
And for me its about becoming aware that, yes, i am vulnerable at this moment when i am going through some major turmoils..and changes..and to take life as it comes..take things lightly...not to be harsh on myself and others around me...[ i don't know if the snake thinks all this :)..]..but i try to be aware of this..thanks ram..

Give it thought...if you too are feeling the same...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Work with Hands..

Its been a while since I have started weaving..
It all started when I attended a conference in Bangalore in the year 2006. The conference was hosted by a school called Center for Learning( CFL)and the conference was on 'Educating for a sane society'. I wonder whether they could come up with something or not after the conference..but..I had definitely become more sane so to say.
And the whole thing is that I started doing things with my hands.. I haven't like become potter..weaver..but have done few things which I keep doing by taking workshops for children..n every time, we( that is me n children) make something new..:)
Few things that I have been doing are ..
News paper weaving
News paper collage
News paper beads
Palm weaving- birds,fish,start,braids,boxes,cubes
Thread work-braids,knots,figures from thread..thread coiling

If you wants me to come n share what I have learned with yourself or the kids around me..I'd love to..but I prefer having only 5-7 children at one time...
Also if you know someone in Bangalore who can teach me more..please do tell me..I have been doing weaving on a small board but I'd love to learn weaving on a real loom...
so do tell me..

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Beginning....

Last Friday,10th December 2010,I attended an art education conference at NGMA,Bangalore. Hosted by Goethe-Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan and India Foundation for the Arts (IFA).

The conference was for 2 days and had amazing speakers from all over the country.Most of them were artists who have ventured into the field of education conducting workshops for children,teenagers, students, parents and teachers of course.the discussions ranged from what is art education to how can it be brought into the school system to how schools systems are a hindrance to learning and art education should lead to a kind of learning which will lead to critical thinking and bring changes in the existing system of education.
Personally for me, the Presentation by Mrs.Deborah from Dakshinachitra, Chennai, had the greatest impact.
There were two chain of thoughts that started for me after the conference.
First, whether we are talking about art education as an experience to bringing sensitivity within the child and adult or just another subject( activity based) in the existing system.
Second, If art education meant finding a new perspective/ method/ approach to learning all the existing subjects through the incorporation of studying one particular art form.

For me the first point lead to further questions and explorations such as:
If we are looking at getting art education as an experience to sensitize then how are we going to incorporate it in all schools. Because the Kali- Kalisu training was only for maximum of 15 days. And it is impossible for teachers who have never worked with materials to become sensitive to the way arts experience should be for the children in such short period of time.
And if we are looking at it as another subject then i feel it would become another activity and the deeper feel for the material ,the understanding of it as something that is necessary for a holistic development of a child is lost.

Second point about looking at incorporating arts education that leads to another whole different way of learning in the school. I was mulling over this and the following week I visited a school run by an NGO Parikrama in Jaynagar. We had beautiful interaction with the kids and the founder person Shukla Bose. In our interaction she mentioned about Heritage education for her schools and that she is looking at a complete education which leads on to/ opens up newer careers, giveS the children a choice to pursue their passion as well as have a career if they choose arts.

After this interaction my mind just went into a whirlpool of questions and all that i was thinking about in past few days started looking very different for me.I started reading about what is heritage study, what does it all comprise of, surfed the net and
having a feel for crafts and weaving , my mind went on a frenzy to find out if i personally could learn or do some study which will help me gain experience about some components of arts education(which for me includes visual arts, performing arts, and lots more..) and not just that but the traditional and contemporary and then the cultural aspect, social structure, economics of a particular art..etc..
I felt there can be a whole new curriculum for children, for all the different age groups and it would not only teach them about that particular art form but also other things such as, the materials( which has study of science) buying the materials( economics- maths), and the study of the people practicing the art or craft ( social study)..the sky is the limit....
Presently thanks to a good frnd I am studying a concept note on heritage crafts in school curriculum by NCERT...doing my own study.

I have thought about talking to a few senior artists I know and take their advice about how I should pursue this further. I am passionate about working with children and connecting them with the craft community. Hence am thinking of doing a personal project for next year, where :
I study about the various aspects of heritage craft
Collect books and articles about different craft communities
Collect films/ documentaries or make new ones on atleast 5 craft communities
Learn different crafts on my own and document my process

I know that lots has been already done by lots of people ..i just want to explore and get it all together.
considering the vastness of areas of study within heritage crafts..for now have decided to stick to material heritage( that is handcrafts from natural material).But dunno what can happen during the course of study....

That's the new beginning i am talking about...n if anyone of u have suggestions and directions for me..people whom i can meet..anything..please please do write to me.

I am so excited...loved to share it with you..thank you for reading it...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kabir in my life...

Thanks to a dear friend of mine..i sat down to write about how i felt about kabir and his beautiful my life..thanks chintu..

Kabir in my life...

When I hear the word Kabir, what comes to my mind are the innumerable faces, that I have connected to as a human being in the past 2 years. Kabir was there in my life as a a voice of wisdom through the words of my mother. But the past few months Kabir has become a part of my family and my existence. Every moment we are humming the songs, thinking about his dohas,connecting it to our experiences, our lives. Kabir lives for us in the voice of innumerable folk singers and we thank Kabir Project for connecting us and bringing Kabir in our lives.
For me on a personal intimate level, as a human being, I have connected to him as a weaver. Kabir became alive to me when I read that he was a weaver. Weaver of cloth and the weaver of words.
A weaver who has woven the most beautiful cloth to wrap ourselves up in times of pain, confusion, loneliness, conflict and anger. A cloth woven to wrap around us in this journey of our life.
Weaving as a process is something that you can do only if you are alert and in the present state. And, in the process, all thoughts cease to exists. This is what I experienced when I started weaving and I connected to the words of Kabir more so because of this process.

While reading the book ' The Weaver Poet' written by Jaya Madhavan, I felt I was reliving the life along side kabir. It is so beautifully woven and the words so appropriate, I didn't want to keep the book down unless I had finished it.

On a lighter note, my life in the past few years( that is after I moved out of my parents home) has some connection with the alphabet-K. My first job was in a place called Kaprada( south gujarat), the second one was at Kaigal ( andhra pradesh), the third project I worked with was located at Kanyakumari. Also, my life has been greatly influenced by the words of Krishnamurthy and yes of course Kabir.
How else can I see all this but as a beautiful pattern emerging in my life.
So watching my life..floating through it, wrapped in a cloth woven with words of Kabir and Krishnamurthy.