Ab Tohe Jaane Nahi Doongi

When Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saab’s ThumriAb tohe jaane nahi doongi” would play on the old record, my father would transcend into a world of his own. Swaying to the rhythm of the faintly audible record, eyes closed to tight wrinkles, with a broad enlightened smile across his face. He would sometimes say “Ahah!” loudly such that it would startle us. He would open his eyes and say Classical music is blissful and go back into trance, eyes closed, smiling, swaying lightly again. My younger sister and I would look at each other and lightly mock at his weird taste of humdrum old records and how much he enjoyed listening to old-fashioned music.

My sister and I took lessons in Hindustani Classical music on the violin and flute respectively, which at first was not out of choice but out of fear and respect for our father who so expectantly enrolled us to the best music school in town. Mathematical, meticulous and scientific, the struggle of learning Classical was like learning to swim in an infinite ocean. One would keep swimming, even as they mastered. As years passed by, the mind ripened, and music got deeper. For only later did I understand that pain, longing, devotion were beautiful feelings too. Such is the deep ocean of Classical music.

Years later, on a serene weekly-off Sunday noon, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saab’s Thumri “Ab tohe jaane nahi doongi” played on the old record. I transcended into a world of my own. I swayed to the rhythm of faintly audible record, eyes closed, a smile spread across my face. An involuntary “Ahah!” escaped my mouth, ever so lightly. It was beautiful, that swar. It was so blissful that my eyes involuntarily closed, I swayed back into the trance. I smiled at my weird taste of humdrum old music. For I knew now, to drink from this pot of nectar.

 

Some of the stalwarts of Hindustani and Carnatic Classical music :

Image result for black and white photos of hindustani classical music artists                     Image result for black and white photos of hindustani classical music artists

Image result for black and white photos of hindustani classical music artists            Image result for black and white photos of hindustani classical music artists             Image result for black and white photos of hindustani classical music artists

Source of images : https://www.pinterest.com/dmhmaneer/music-maestros-by-raghu-rai/

 

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“Ananta” – Short Stories of the Immortals

Ganga Avataran

A Goddess leaves her heavenly abode permanently to bless the parched earth. Ganga, dear to Shiva, descends softly to be the purest of all streams.

Nirmal Buddha

The light that shines is from within not without.

Mystic Mohini

An enchantress, the finest danseuse, and a vicious slayer, Mohini allures evil to its own doom.

Narasimha

Lord Vishnu dons the most vicious avatar to end the evil of a malevolent king. The Nav Rasas are within us, so is the Bhayanak Ras, only time reveals it.

Manohara Mohan

Peacocks, Music, Flowers, Gardens, the soft smile, the long eyelashes, the silky voice, flawless skin, long hair, tender feet, have you ever wondered how Krishna alone can be the masculine charmer with all those delicate feminine features?

Shikhandi

She was both male and female. It was odd, nevertheless unique. This tale of Shikhandi and her urge to avenge the greatest warrior of all times, Bheeshma, throws light on one of the only transgenders in Mythology

Rati

Beyond all definitions of beauty, Goddess Rati, the Goddess of Kama and Love, resides in the best niche of the heart

Gautam Buddha

All fiery desires lie quenched beyond the face, for look within, you are the Buddha

Aadi Shakti

She is Everything visible and invisible around. Aadi Shakti, the energy that drives the universe

Vishwadharam

Lord Vishnu watches upon the world from above, as his plots unfold as written; as his cryptic smile hides the secret of the universe

Shaanta Buddha

As this Ninth Avatar of the Vishnu stands in stark contrast with the rest, Gautam Buddha brings peace and righteousness to the world

Hansa Saraswati

In the second prahar of the night, enthroned on the lotus, Saraswati’s Veena evokes the most enchanting melody as the beauteous Hansas dance with joy

Ganaraaj Rangi

The Master of 64 arts (kala), Ganapati Bappa is as colourful

Lambodar

Everyone’s favourite God with a sweet tooth, a sweet appetite and sweet being. Isn’t he more of an adorable friend?

Krishna

When steeling a pot or two of butter, at the Dandiya Raas with his beloved Radha, while uprooting the Govardhan parvat, when with the 16000 wives of his, at the court while saving Paanchali from humiliation, in the troubled times at Hastinapur and at the Holy war in the Kurukshetra, Krishna wore his divine, charming smile, hiding from the world his true identity

Shambho Shankara

Only passion can drive the rugged, lithe machismo of the Mahadev into an elegant dance

Drishadwati

Lost in tales, River Goddess Drishadwati, like her sister Saraswati refused to meet the sea and dried eventually. While Saraswati lived on as a celestial Goddess, Drishadwati, was forgotten in myth. She, along with Saraswati, once flowed to form the borders of the Holy Land of Manu, where the Vedas were written, and the civilization was best

Damayanti

The most beautiful Princess of all times, Damayanti was left only with sorrow in her eyes as her beloved Nala, abandoned her in the dark forest

Suryaputra Karna

A loyal friend, a forgiving son, a fierce lover, a people’s king, the bravest warrior and a true Kshatriya; the most celebrated character of the Mahabharata, Karna, in his final struggle

AUM

The Creator, The Guardian and the Destroyer are one. The infinite Aum, that resonates within every atom is them

Nataraaj

The union of Shiv’s elegant Tandav and the graceful Lasya Nritya of his consort, Shakti form the “TaLa” or the rhythm of the universe. Their union, the Nataraaj, thus performs the cosmic dance, explaining to us, the dual nature of life

Shakuntala

Shakuntala cringes in horror as the Handsome Prince of Hastinapur, Dushyant, unknowingly fires an arrow through one of her beloved does, Sundari; a rather unceremonious beginning of a saga

Kaali

She is as fierce as beautiful, Kaali represents that strength of a woman that is beyond mere muscle power; for her fury invites Pralay

Siddhartha Gautama

Prince Siddhartha was the wealthiest of all Shakya Princes, enlightened, Siddhartha Gautama’s treasures were all the more immeasurable

Ananta

If these paintings were a book, then this one would be its cover; Abstract Ananta depicting the upward journey of a thousand souls

“Ananta”

Tales are immortal. Told from one generation to another, layers build upon them, but the underlying essence remains. The universe will always remain a mystery to us, until we learn from these tales of love, war, vengeance, courage, righteousness to find the right path into the “Anaadi Ananta”. For there is no religion, there is only infinity.

*These are brief descriptions that were put up with the paintings that featured in Ananta.

 

 

 

Rama Setu – An Enigma

History is written by victors and vanquishers, their story becomes our fidelity. Legends like the Ramayana and Mahabharata are rendered archaic works of fiction because divinity is a matter of faith and historicity is a matter of existence. It is notoriously believed that civilizations contrived only five thousand years ago, until history exhumes itself to reveal baffling evidences of existence of the unimaginable. In the bosom of the Indian Ocean, lies one such enigmatic structure. The Rama Setu, so ancient, defies the first-ness of Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations.

History and mythology, although incongruent sides of the coin, form the same one coin. What if the Legend of Ramayana was unfeigned?

“And those in whose heart there is neither treachery, hypocrisy nor deceit, in those hearts you should reside, King of Raghu.”

– Ramchitramanas

The epic of Ramayana in holds numerous astronomical observation which, by making use of modern archeoastronomy, can be dated back to 5114 BCE, approximately 7000 years ago.  The righteous Prince Ram, the eldest son of King Dashrath of the Raghu Dynasty sent to into exile for fourteen tormentous years, accompanied by his beloved wife Sita and his loyal younger brother Lakshman. During his exile, the lecherous demon king of Lanka kidnapped Sita and flew her to Lanka in his haughty Flying Machine. A war was imminent.

Rama and his army of 10 million Vanaras would battle all of Lanka to rescue Sita. But how could a colossal army of 10 million sail across the sea in vulnerable wooden boats? Nala, Vishwakarma’s son and a renowned architect of the South, extended a helping hand to the distressed Prince of the northern empire of Ayodhya. With a million local tribals, the Vanaras, at his hand, Nala began laying the foundation of the most prodigal man-made bridge hitherto.

The forest’s richest tropical species such as Sala, Ashoka, bamboo, mango, Kutuja, Arjuna, Palmyra, Karnika, Saptaparna, Asvakarna, Dhava were stacked at the bottom, their barks cushioned the bridge though the rough sea. Limestone shoals were mined from the land and laid on the wood so that they appeared to be floating. With each stone bearing the name of Prince Rama, the army’s morale grew stronger with every yojana they built. Resolute to rescue Mother Sita, the zest of the Vanaras led them to complete the humongous bridge within a mere 5 days.

As decades and millennia passed by, the bridge cloaked itself in the sands of time. The wood hardened to a marvelous coral reef, unabandoned only by the vivid aquatic creatures that made it their haven. The limestone shoals, now perceived as a natural deposit, fail to reveal the story of a tormentous tsunami that altered its appearance in 1408 forever. With a hundred baffling facts about the Rama Setu, now called the Adam’s bridge, mankind is yet oblivious to the obvious. Legend now rests in peace as a myth.

The Streets Have a Story

 

After a hearty, gluttonous meal at a fancy local restaurant, we stepped out with stuffed bellies into the winter night. We shivered from the cold, yet stood on the foot walk, chit-chatting before the obligatory ‘good nights’, as our group of friends had caught up after a long time for a promotion party. It was Christmas time. Even at this hour in the night, the streets were full of people. From party-goers to street hawkers selling shimmering Santa hats, bobbles, masks and balloons. We were intruded, time and again by the peddlers to buy their items. Annoyed by their continuous persuasion, we walked along the foot walk to a relatively hushed patch.

Amidst all this banter and taking selfies, a little girl selling balloons walked up to us. She had been watching us. Another hawker we thought. She was a piteous sight, barely wearing an old, worn out, oversized t-shirt that hung over her shoulders. Her feet were bare on the frosty night. Her little soiled fingers tightly gripped the strings of the balloons. Through a curtain of greasy hair, her sparking innocent eyes were impeccable. She warmly smiled at us, revealing a broken tooth. At that instant, she looked as vibrant and beautiful as the balloons she sold. How could we refuse her?

I smiled and hesitantly pulled my wallet out asking her the price that came for one balloon. The little girl stunned me with her reply. In an adorable lisp, she said that she just wanted someone to take of picture of her too. And then she smiled again. I stood dumbfounded, put my wallet back in and pulled out the phone. When I showed the picture to her, she covered her mouth with the one free palm and laughed heartily. Her reaction was priceless. I knew I had just taken the best picture ever.

 

Note : This picture is taken from a web source, it is not as originally mentioned.

Source of the picture : https://in.pinterest.com/pin/566398090621075425/

Mystic Mohini, the Enchantress

The malevolent Prince galloped plains and mountains to ruthlessly capture kingdoms. Single-handedly, the handsome prince vanquished empires and annihilated those who would rebel. He was charming, yet unsparing. He was gutsy, but fallacious, blessed with immense intellect which was strategically put to use for unforgiving deeds. No one could stop him, not even the Gods. Devastation was certain. The world would suffer cruelly until all was gone.

It was spring. Mother nature was festooned in the best that the blooms could offer. Wild berries allured against the luscious green foliage. Bees bumbled around flowers and tendrils. There was a gentle mist of the musk, an aroma that one could surrender senses to.  Passion, was the scent of the spring air. Cutting fiercely through this paradise was the conceited Prince, galloping his way to vanquish the kingdom that spread beyond the forest. No aphrodisiac could ever entice him.

Out of nowhere, he heard her sing. The melody that floated across was so mesmerizing, that it made the steadfast Prince stop in his tracks. She sang to enamor. Her notes penetrated bone and soul of his body. She sang with fervor, she sang with passion. Truly bewitched, he followed the voice. For the first time, in the battle within, his heart won; agog, with every step towards the voice. Then he saw her. An enchantress gifted with wit and mirth. In one flash of those doe-shaped, sparkling eyes, he lost the world to her. For it was always in the eyes that took the world by storm.

The heart emerged victorious, and every other battle was lost.

The Cell

B0004165 Neurons in the brain - illustration

Credit: Benedict Campbell. Wellcome Images

We’re all in search of something common. In this infinite world, for an infinitesimal cellular world of our own.  A centromere, that keeps us sisters together, the cytoskeleton that holds on, leads on. That one ATP that activates all our reactions, that Mg+ for our DNA pol. Helicases that sort out everything intertwined. For all we know, we grow.

We expand, replicate and reproduce our thoughts, translate our ideas. Our naïve ribosomal steps morph into stable golgi leaps. Vesicles shielding the incipient, mentoring the path to face the world outside, take on the epitope challenges. It is unto us to receive signals from far and wide, act wisely, trigger the right pathway. We meet a lot of messengers on our way, some phosphorylate, some dephosphorylate, some cleave bonds some ligate, but the target remains unchanged. For we’re all in search of something common.

In the phases that follow, histonic condensations occur.  The spindles and kinetochores, conspiring to tear us apart. That anaphase, taught it all. We lived through the constricting ring and passed on all we had to the generation following. The doom of one cycle, spurting a new beginning, a new hope. Because, it’s all about happy endings, it’s all about telomeres!

Serendipity

There must exist an unknown external force. For despite failure of the inner forces to recognize their worthiness, destiny somehow finds its way.
Lust must drive the inner forces for it hits dead walls often.
Inner forces steer the wagon, but they know not who builds the meandering roads.
Succumb to the anonymous forces because serendipity is seldom brutal.

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Sarasvati, The Supreme River

“Pure in her course from the mountains to the ocean, Alone of streams, Sarasvati hath listened.”
Rig Veda

The oarsman rowing deep into the conflux related that Prayag, the epicentre of all our beliefs, was the confluence of three rivers, the Ganga, the Yamuna and a “Gupt Nadi” Sarasvati. In this rendezvous, however, Sarasvati seemed to be missing, I couldn’t see her. She flowed beneath the earth and gushed to the sea, all very secretively, is what the freety oarsman told us. I chuckled at the thought of having an entire river underneath us, and going completely unnoticed by the government. He had to be joking. But why was she a part of the story given the fact that cartographically she never had existed? Why were her alchemical waters talked about by an oarsman, even the ancestors of whom had never seen her? Was she a character in the mythos, introduced merely to appease the tainted souls who came to seek salvation at the Prayag, was she a myth or could she have been a long lost reality?

“ámbitame nádītame dévitame sárasvati”, “best mother, best river, best goddess, the Sarasvati”
Nadistuti, Rig Veda

More than ten thousand years ago, on the banks of the most magnificent and bountiful river, flourished a civilization, so colossal and influential that it produced the paramount of texts. The Vedic Civilization asseverated a way of life, which today is caught in the realms of fanaticism and termed religion. They worshiped the elements of nature; they worshiped the waters of the river that is fervently mentioned repeatedly in the texts. Sarasvati, the best of all riverine world.

“This stream Sarasvati with fostering current comes forth, our sure defence, our fort of iron.
As on a chariot, the flood flows on, surpassing in majesty and might all other waters”

She burst into waves with a celestial force and vehemently gushed through the scaling mountains of the Himalayas. Prior to confluence with the Ganga, Yamuna was fabled to be a major tributary of the Sarasvati. On the land adorned with her sisters Sindhu, Jhelum, Chenab, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, she left behind a cradle of civilizations.

“Yea, she most dear amid dear stream, Seven-sistered, graciously inclined,
Sarasvati hath earned our praise”

Centuries later, the arid deserts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Pakistan confound the world by revealing an antediluvian underground. Satellite imaging of excavation sites and carbon dating of artefacts unearthed indicate that the best of human civilizations lived in this very parchedness. The celestial Sarasvati appeased this contradiction, she was more than myth, and she existed.

“Whose limitless unbroken flood, swift-moving with a rapid rush,
Comes onward with tempestuous roar.”

The Sarasvati was born as a repercussion of the Ice Age. Molten glaciers made her swell and she ever so copiously brought wealth to the plains. She brought treasures for thousands of years until the glaciers had no more to melt. Unrest climaxed as the great holy war at Kurukshetra was fought. Earthquakes occurred and temperatures soared dispossessing her cherished Yamuna away from her. Impoverished, she began to die.

“Guide us, Sarasvati, to glorious treasure: refuse us not thy milk, nor spurn us from thee.
Gladly accept our friendship and obedience: let us not go from thee to distant countries.”

She refused to meet the sea, confined herself to the land until her holy waters parched completely. With her, she took away the bounty that defined the land of the Sapt Sindhu, the sapience and cognize of the land which had been an epitome of civilization. Men migrated from her banks to the Ganga in east and Helmand in Persia. Forgotten and forsaken for generations, she transmogrified to myth. And yet, no one knows for she could have never existed; but her essence lingers in this land, oblivious to mankind.

References:
The Science of Sacred – David Osborn
The Hymns of the Rig Veda – translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith
Wikipedia