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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blessings on the train

The Nagpur book launch had an interesting culmination, albeit four days late. I was on the train, between Nagpur and Bangalore, in Hyderabad, in fact, when my cell rang with an unknown number.

'Hello?'

'Hello, is this Manjushree?'

'Speaking.'

'Hi, this is Mr. V.P. I am calling from Nagpur. What year did you pass out of Somalwar school?'

'Umm... 1986' I think.'

'86? Ha! I passed out in 49!'

Gosh! My mother was just born in 49! Who is this ancient old man and why is he calling me?

'And, I met Ramesh Balsekar twenty years ago!' he said.

'Really? So I am not the first Nagpurian to have met him?' I smiled, beginning to get where he was coming from.

'You are the first Nagpurian to write him in a novel.'

'Ah.'

'Yes. I just finished your novel yesterday and I simply loved it. You have written such a lovely book. I had no idea this book is about a seeker or I would have definitely come for the launch.'

'How did you get the book, sir?'

'Ms. S. gave me the book. She also gave me a copy of Life Bliss magazine you had give her. Tell me, Manjushree, who is this Nithyananda? Where is his ashram? What is his life story?'

For the next ten minutes, the poor train travelers in the compartment had to listen to an animated and loud speech (there was an old man at the other end) about my favorite Swamifrom Tiruvannamalai.

'Thank you so much, Manjushree. We must meet next time you come to Nagpur. Oh, and my wife has just finished reading a grasshopper. She wants to talk to you.'

'Hello, Mrs. P'

'Hello, Manjushree. Or should I call you Grasshopper? You probably don't remember, but I have met you long long ago. In the physics department, you had come with your mother to meet Mande Sir (Head of department of Physics, Nagpur Univ.) .

'Oh really?'

'Yes, I have met your grandmother too. I knew her during the days she was in and out of jail. And I met her again in your book. You have written so beautifully. It made me feel so good, the way you have written about your grandmother.'

'Thank you.' I felt the tears coming.

'No, no, I thank you. Your writing is so lucid, so simple, like its straight from the heart. Keep writing. '

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

two songs in one book launch



For the first time, both the people siting on the dais with me had actually read the book, A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage.

Tom Alter was in an ecstatic mood right from the moment we met at the Airport. He gave me three good reasons for being happy:
1. The Congress was winning left, right and center.
2. An 'art' film that Tom has acted in, called 'Ocean of an old Man,' is getting released on 22nd May. Tom had no hope left that this film would ever see the dark of a theater because it is too beautiful.
3. He had been (re) reading my book on the plane.

And so, he very generously gave the credit for all three to the Mountain. (Not this blog, but the actual Mountain, Arunachala.)



Tom Alter’s introduction to the book:

This is not a book, it is a pilgrimage. Not only physical pilgrimage, because it covers many parts of India, but in mind and spirit, it covers time and generations, the past, present. It deals with love, a little bit of lust: all the beautiful things are part of this pilgrimage that she takes us along. I guarantee you one thing, that you cannot put it down, and not because of the excitement and the adventure, but something much deeper and unfathomable.

What I particularly like about this book, is that Manjushree is dealing with very important topics, but she does not preach about them. This grasshopper strokes life and death with the same brush and takes you into the next hop. As you read you become so absorbed, you begin to go on your own pilgrimage, and this is what great art is.


After there readings Tom and David, the American poet, sang out the Beatles song, 'Will you still need me , will you still feed me, when I am sixtyfour....


And ofcource, I sang Arunachala...


(video will be uploaded as soon as hubby makes the youtube video).


Here is a press article in the TOI.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Intensity of the seeking

Intensity is more important than enlightenment itself. Because enlightenment is a verb, not a noun. It is the intensity of the seeker that determines his/her success.

But what exactly is this intensity?
Intensity is the passion to seek and the patience to wait balanced onto a neat rhythm.

Passion is good for outer world success. But too much passion leads to depression, stress, all the modern day problems. And patience without passion makes a person peaceful but it also leads to inertia, a kind of dullness.

Balanced together, passion and patience make a seeker intense.

This is the essence of Swami Nithyananda's talk we heard today, which he spoke a few days back in the US. The yoga sutras of Patanjali talks.

I had stolen a few looks at Papa (hubby) during the talk and seen his head nodding off to sleep. Which is why I was most surprised to hear him telling me this on the bus back home:

'I am ninety percent passion, and very little patience. You are exactly opposite. So we need to synergice ourselves with each other.'

'Yup. How?' I asked, all ears.

'I should listen to you and you should listen to me. Really listen.' he said, and proved that he was the same man I had long ago married.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grasshopper to launch in Bangalore



Tom Alter

to launch my first novel ,

A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage

on 16th May, 6: 30 pm,

at Crossword Store at Garuda Mall,

Bangalore.

All are welcome!


I am so happy at the thought of meeting Tom after such a long gap. I remember the first time I saw him, playing cricket on the cricket ground at the film institute. He had come down from Mumbai, and he was playing on the ex-students side. Tom is very dedicated to sports, I think more than to cinema.

A few meetings, a few years later, we met for the launch of his first novel, The Longest Race. I remember Tom gifted me a signed copy and the next couple of days I got totally lost his book. A young boy from the hills who loves to run, who knows how to run, and who 'looks like a sage when he runs'. This book depicts the sheer, thoughtless beauty of immersing the mind into the body.

Needless to say, I loved the spiritual touch to sports that only a real sportsperson like Tom can articulate. And so I gave him my first draft, a fat thick bundle, to read when he came to Ahmedabad.

Surprisingly, less than a week later, he called my cell and told me that my novel was fantastic. He urged me to go ahead and get the book published, just as it was.

"Dont change a single word." he said.

So you see why I am so looking forward to meet him?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

transcribed in her subconscious: grasshopper adored

Nino's mum says she loves me. I have met her only once, for an intense minute at the end of the Ahmedabad launch. A lovely young woman with tears in her eyes approached me to sign my name in the book.

'Is this saree your husband's gift or your mom's?' asked the stranger.

'You have read my blog.' I realized.

'I am Nino's mum!' she said, and we hugged like long lost friends.

Here is her review of A Grasshopper's Pligrimage, and I am too touched, too flattered to comment coherently.

All I can say is it is her capacity to absorb, her pot that got filled and her love that spills out into the review.

Of all the reviews that I have read, hers is written with a spirit very close to Gopika's (my protagonist) : unabashedly and adoringly.

I still dont know your first name, Nino's mum, but you are a darling. May you find your calling and may you find the courage to walk the path.

Here is a small part that I copied.

There have been several books that have become transcribed in my subconscious, Midnight's Children being one of them. This book also did the same, maybe because it came at a time when I was tiring of my direction-less search for emotional identity, for the meaning of spirituality as it applied to me, for my connect with the purpose of my existence.

Gopika, the novel's lead character, is both relate-able and a revelation. First on, the author deserves a kudos for writing a genre that has been classified as 'fiction-spiritual', a first of sorts. The search for the physical and tangible itself is so confusing, that the thought of a woman who wants that thing that sets her soul afire, is both brave and foolhardy.

There are several instances when Gopika speaks out to the reader, when she spoke out to me, the medium of typed words on paper dissolving with the frankness of her thoughts, .....

all the money in my bank

Yesterday I did something I shouldn't have. I went out of the house to buy veggies. I don't remember taking my cell along, so I cant say I shouldn't have done that. I don't remember talking on it, holding it at all. I certainly don't remember keeping it in with the spinach or the brinjals or the carrots for company.

But that is what must have happened, for the constant companion is gone missing, believed dead. After hunting for it till the lights went out, I sent an sms to it,

"Whoever finds this phone, please return it to this address xxx. I will give you Rs.500. Thank you. May God bless you."

(Don't laugh, this has worked once. My sweet considerate neighbor in Ahemedabad had added, 'I am in great difficulty. Please help me.' And I found the mobile in my scooter the next day!)

My sister told me to send the same sms in Hindi, and in Kannad. But I was too heartbroken to make the effort.

I mourned all night. Then a sweet little voice called me this morning, that opened my heart to bliss. He said,

'Ai, when I come to Bangalore, we will take out all the money in my bank account. And we will buy you a new phone, ok? '

Needless to add, the voice belonged to my sweetu kuttu bachhu.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mahabharata unraveled

When Arjuna lay down his bow and arrows and asked Krishna, ' How can I fight them? They are my family, they are my teachers. How can I kill them?' , he was quite right, wasn't he? He was being compassionate, not ambitious.

Then why did Krishna make him fight?

Why did Krishna make Arjuna commit violent acts?

I don't think I can relate to this aspect of Krishna. In fact, I think after he left Vrindavan, I kind of feel disconnected with the King. He was so cute as a baby. He was such a wonderful lover. He played the flute, he was always up to mischief, he ate butter. Why did all that have to end? Why did he have to leave the Gopi's, who ran after his carraige as he left them for the city. In fact, I have heard that Radha got jaundice and died. And Krishna never even remembered her. He killed his uncle and became the King himself. He never ever came back to Vrindavan. Afterwords he got into gory politics, he engineered an entire war.

Whoever wrote the later part of Mahabharata wrote bull xxxx. Most probably the Vyasa who wrote about Krishna in Vrindavan wasn't the same who wrote the Mahabharata.

These were my thoughts till I saw this video. It's titled 'Deeper insights into the Mahabharata'. Swami Nithyananda clears all the above doubts and more.

The entire Mahabharata is a war fought for Arjuna's (and therefore ours), enlightenment. The Gita was just the initiation. The eleven crores of enemies in front of Arjuna are the negative thoughts which have to be fought with the good thoughts, which are lesser, only eight crores.

And yes, even our parents, teachers, all our social conditioning has to be overcome for us to be free.

Why are Drona, and Bhishma as dangerous as Duryodhana and Dushasana? Why are they on the same side? And why does the handsome and kind Karna also have to die? These are deep questions that haunts most seekers. Especially when we have to give up an old technique which worked for us once.

In the end, both thoughts, the good and the bad, have to die. The purpose of Krishna's incarnation on earth is to reduce the number of thoughts, the weight on our heads. :) .

And the king of Dwarka, he comes to hold the reins of Arjuna's chariot, to drive him around! Thank you, Swamiji, I was missing Krishna after he left the gopis.

This video is the first part, if you like it, watch the second and then the third.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

1st priority, 2nd priority, 3rd priority


'Dedicate at least one year towards attaining samadhi. All of you who are below thirty, this is a very good investment of time. Compared to your long life of seventy eighty years, giving one year to attain samadhi, to read intensely, to meditate, to walk around India, visit different places that are working on the inner science of enlightenment, is definitely worthy.

If you are a man, walk. If you are a woman, stay at one place. But for one year, make it your life's goal to achieve samadhi. For that one year, wake up with the thought that I am awake for samadhi. Be so intense that it is your first priority, second priority and third priority.

Only then it will work.

Because sometimes priorities interchange. (Ha ha)

So the only way to do it is to have your priorities set. Rest is simple. Samadhi is very easy.

And it has to work. You are all intelligent people. Its not easy living in this country. You have to remember two hundred laws everyday. If you are living here, means you have the capacity to work on attaining inner bliss.'

These powerful words are from Swami Nithyananda's discource in the US. He is talking on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

They will soon be on youtube, I guess. More of Swami's youtube videos are here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

the first splash

Tring tring. 'Hello, Mum'

'Guess where I am.'

'At the swimming pool?'

'Yup.'

'Pavan is in the water?'

'Yup. The first day.'

'Listen, Mum. The brat is not scared of water. And he doesn't know how to swim either. Its a dangerous combination. Put some fear into him. Please. Tell him he can drown. No, no. Dont tell him that. Tell the instructor that this boy is dangerous.' I babble, scared shit.

'Dont worry, darling, I am standing right beside him.'

Thankfully, Mum swims. I relax.

'Ok. What is he doing?' I ask.

'He is splashing water with his feet, holding the edge. The first step.'

'How sweet. How does he look? Take a photo no please.'

How I wish I was there with him. Inside the pool. Holding his wet slippery belly up. Yelling at him not to splash water in my face.

Imagine. Next I meet him, my kid will have learnt to swim! All thanks to mum.

Friday, May 1, 2009

a homeopath reviews A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage

This review had me tickled pink. A good friend, an online homeopathic doctor who is always willing to prescribe medicines through the chats, has written his thoughts on my book, A Grasshopper's Pilgrimage.

A Grasshopper's Piligrimage,..... one journey over

I wanted to finish the novel slowly, and i wanted to comment with wisdom. But I finished the novel in 6 hours and I am commenting with no wisdom.

He begins. But, as always, I got the real meat out of him through some probing.

Here is the rest of it.


When I wrote this book, I used the word 'screw' to denote that our role in life is like a screw, it is small, not very important, rather, not all that special, replicable, basically, something without any idea where it is or why is it going from here to there.

Something without much value, maybe a little irresponsible, in fact, it is totally irresponsible as it has surrendered the notion of doership to existence.

Just tell me one thing doc. I appreciate your emotion, and thanks for the post, but let me take this opportunity to tease you a bit. If we are all screws, how is one screw better than the other?

a different take on children

If I had had my way on how he should spend his summer holidays, Pavan would have been here today. Its a seven day residential programme for kids. Click on the image to read. Among other things, kids are made to get up early and to wash their own clothes. I have also heard that they put sprinklers and music and kids dance under the water. Hopefully, next year I will send him.

As it is, its been tough to divide him between in-laws and parents. Why do parents only get their children during the school days? We also need to chill out with them, otherwise their opinion of us will confirm to being disciplinarians.

Here is a Nithyananda newsletter I received in the mail today. It made me think about how I whirled, for a few minutes, during the BSP last week, and the thought that kept repeating was, 'Yes, I am doing it. I can do this! ,' till fear of losing my balance overcame me and I held a hand of another dancer and slowly stopped whirling. Surprisingly, I did not feel dizzy.


Words from the Master

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 02:52 AM PDT

Swamiji, how can we protect our children from developing these kinds of problems?

To be frank, you cannot fully control it. You cannot control all of the child’s interactions with society. But there are some things you can practice at home.

As I said earlier, don’t suppress the child’s other half. Let it freely express and experience itself in different ways. Don’t teach it to be gender conscious.

Just allow the child to be its own natural self, giving it adequate opportunity to explore itself. Children when untouched by social conditioning are by nature so comfortable inside their own boundary.

You might have noticed babies playing with their genitals, or pulling their big toe to their mouth and doing similar other things. These things just show that they are so comfortable and loving inside their own boundary, exploring and enjoying. But we don’t allow them to do these things. We immediately stop them when they do these things. We tell them that it is wrong. It is good to allow them to explore.

And when it comes to their clothing, it is always better to dress them in single-piece clothing instead of two-piece clothing. The latter gives them a sense of dividing their body into two and with time, they forget and become insensitive to the lower half of their body. It is almost a division in their Consciousness. That is why today, if you are asked to visualize yourself, almost always, only your upper half will come to your mind. You simply neglect your lower half.

Just allow the child to be free in its ways, even if it means that you have to take certain risks. Children have with them a certain sense of intuition and instinct. So, you can take the necessary precautionary measures and allow them to explore.

Also, children are so total in their expressions. So don’t suppress them. They don’t know to bring in their mind and exhibit superficial or hypocritical behavior. We have all mastered the art of hypocrisy by allowing our mind to exercise restraint. We never express totally.

And, allow them to use both their hands freely. We all discourage them from using the left hand for various things. Why can’t the child be ambidextrous?! There is nothing wrong in it. Arjuna in the Mahabharatha was ambidextrous. Did you know that? When we hear of these things, we listen with awe but fail to understand that we are also perfectly capable of these things, if only we gave ourselves the chance!

One more thing: If you have noticed, all children enjoy whirling. Whirling is their way of allowing centering of their energy to happen. You can whirl freely only when your Manipuraka chakra around the navel is clean. Children are so innocent and worry-free and hence they are able to whirl effortlessly. But do we allow them to whirl? When we see them whirl, our head starts whirling and so we stop them! We tell them, “Sit in one place! It’s not good for health” and what not. I tell you, just allow them to whirl. Place a blanket beneath them so that even if they fall, they don’t get hurt.

One more thing: Never instill fear in your child! Let him be free; let him climb and fall a few times. If you constantly discourage the child, it can lead to various phobias like height phobia, darkness phobia and what not, which can later turn into fear of climbing, of taking unknown new decisions etc. Just follow these simple things. It will do.

Yes…?