Significance of a song!

In the highway, in the hedges, in the highway, in the hedges…. I’ll be somewhere working, I’ll be somewhere working…. I’ll be somewhere working for my lord.

Ok. I’ll not talk about the news. Bala Saheb, to Test Victory, to Ajmal Kasab and what now. The world it seems have been busy. But I have no feel of it. You know why? Because 6 months back, I took a huge decision of my life – to get rid of my TV connection. I can’t tell you what sort of a hell you guys are living in with that thing in your living room. I now know why the elite urban middle class of India can never enjoy nature, or empathize with the so called lower class – because they don’t see them, because they are busy watching TV, even when they are not watching it. Yes, yes.. you are right. I am a communist 🙂

Ok. I’ll not talk about politics. Politics is insignificant, like money. I see the bemused look on your face. Yes money is insignificant. Not because we don’t need it, but because the things we want are usually not significant. The traditional religious ones say “kya lekar aaye the, kya lekar jana hai” … but that’s not my point. My point is – money has very less contribution to my quality of life RIGHT NOW. No, not in the future or the past, not in the abstract, but right now, in tangible form – it has very very little effect on my “quality of life”. I realized this during my last-three-year-stint at remotely managing our family farms in Vidarbha. One of our on-ground managers, earns close to 60,000 rupees a year, lives in a 3000 sq foot house built on land, eats healthy fresh vegetables, has three cows giving ample milk and dahi and ghee. I earn some n-times more than him, but I’m poorer than him. And I want to be rich. But money is not the only thing I need to earn. Yes, yes.. you are right. I am retrograde. 🙂

Ok. Back to politics. Like money has very little effect on quality of life, similarly politics has very little effect on the country. That’s why they need the media. To make them ‘sound’ significant. Think about it. Without Indira Gandhi – there would have been no License Raj – people would have been free to enterprise, and we would have taken care of our good living. Manmohan Singh’s great deed of liberalization would not have been needed. The political forces just cancel each other’s effects. We people go on with our lives and make our own living environments (You can call them markets, communities, cultures – whatever). If there is something the state does, it hinders. I know, I know … you all are going to scare me with, the system breaking down, and chaos, and anarchy, and disease, and law and order situation and what not. I am too much an Indian to get scared by that. Keep a hand on your heart, and tell me – do you really think the law and order is okay because of the government? Do you really think human nature needs a 60 year old book to organize itself? Yes, yes … I am an anarchist. 🙂

If you are wondering why I started the post with that song, it’s because that song is from a George Clooney film. 🙂

On Cultural Revivals … and Gandhi!

Had a discussion about Gandhi’s “Hind Swaraj“, and difference between western and Indian thought, and how good some old things were, and do we need a revival. And this came to mind:

उस सूखे ठूँठ पर नई टहनी पर नए पत्ते आए हैं।
यह उस पुराने, विशालकाय, छायावान पेड़ की याद नहीं दिलाते,
जो बुढे ज्ञानी बाबा के समान था, और अब ठूँठ बना खड़ा है।
यह टहनी तो आंगन में खेलती, छोटी, प्यारी बच्ची की याद दिलाती है।
पत्तों का आकार भले ही वैसा हो,
पर इस टहनी को फिर विशालकाय छायावान वृक्ष बनने मे समय लगेगा।
कितना ही गुस्सा, आंदोलन, तमाशा कर लो,
पर पेड दिनों मे बड़े नहीं होते।
ना ही ठूँठ अपनी पुरानी रौनक को लौटते हैं।
छाया फिर चाहिए,
तो वह छोटा-सा ठूँठ का तुकड़ा ढूंढो,
जहाँ अभी नमी बाकी है।
उसे सींचो,
और प्रार्थना करो कि वहाँ एक नई टहनी फूटे,
जो सालों बाद हि सही, पर छाया ज़रूर दे।
तब तक बुज़ुर्गों के सुनाए बूढ़े, विशालकाय, छायावान बरगद के किस्सों से ही काम चलाओ।
और तब तक,
कोई भी मिनटों मे ठंडे छायादार आराम का लोभ दे,
तो उस पर विश्वास न करो।

Aao ki khwaab bunein…

Found a gem by Sahir Ludhianvi:

आओ कि ख़्वाब बुनें, कल के वास्ते
वरना ये रात, आज के संगीन दौर की
ड़स लेगी जान-ओ-दिल को कुछ ऐसे कि जान-ओ-दिल
ता-उम्र फिर न कोई हसीन ख़्वाब बुन सके

[ संगीन दौर == difficult time ]
[ ता-उम्र == till the end of life ]

गो हमसे भागती रही ये तेज़-ग़ाम उम्र
ख़्वाबों के आसरे पे कटी है तमाम उम्र

[ तेज़-ग़ाम == fast ]

ज़ुल्फ़ों के ख़्वाब, होटों के ख़्वाब, और बदन के ख़्वाब,
मैराज-ए-फ़न के ख़्वाब, कमाल-ए-सुखन के ख़्वाब,
तहज़ीब-ए-ज़िन्दगी के, फ़रोघ-ए-वतन के ख़्वाब,
ज़िन्दा के ख़्वाब, कूचा-ए-दार-ओ-रसन के ख़्वाब

[ मैराज-ए-फ़न == proficiency in an art form ]
[ कमाल-ए-सुखन == excellence in expression/poetry ]
[ तहज़ीब-ए-ज़िन्दगी == good and civilized life ]
[ फ़रोघ-ए-वतन == nation’s progress ]
[ ज़िन्दा == prison cell ]
[ कूचा-ए-दार-ओ-रसन == the path leading to gallows]

ये ख़्वाब ही तो अपनी जवानी के पास थे
ये ख़्वाब ही तो अपने अमल की असास थे
ये ख़्वाब मर गए हैं तो बेरंग है हयात
यूँ है कि जैसे दस्त-ए-तह-ए-संग है हयात

[ असास == basis ]
[ दस्त-ए-तह-ए-संग == hand pressed under the force of a rock ]

आओ कि ख़्वाब बुनें, कल के वास्ते
वरना ये रात, आज के संगीन दौर की
ड़स लेगी जान-ओ-दिल को कुछ ऐसे कि जान-ओ-दिल
ता-उम्र फिर न कोई हसीन ख़्वाब बुन सके


I never really got into reading much of Allama Iqbal. I knew that he’s the one who gave us the legendary “Saare jahaan se accha” and “ab tak magar hai baki naam-o-nishaan hamara“. My blog will tell you that I love Faiz, and almost any musical thing remotely Pakistani 🙂 … but Iqbal somehow never appealed to me. Untill the day before yesterday, when I heard “Kabhi ai haqeeqat-e-muntazar…”. By far the best modern “Sufi” composition, that I’ve read. The God is referred and not referred. It is a prayer and not a prayer. It is about love, and not about love. It is well, out-standing.

As Faiz would have said – “Jo Gayab Bhi Hai, Hazir Bhi. Jo Manzar Bhi Hai, Nazir Bhi”.

Here it goes:

कभी ऐ हक़िक़त-ए-मुन्तज़र, नज़र आ लिबास-ए-मजाज़ में
कि हज़ारों सजदे तड़प रहे हैं, मेरी जबीन-ए-नयाज़ में

[ हक़िक़त-ए-मुन्तज़र is long-awaited reality ] [ लिबास == attire ] [ मजाज़ == material ] [ सजदे == prostrations of prayer ] [ जबीन == forehead ] [ नयाज़ == expectant / needy ]

तू बचा बचा के न रख इसे, तेरा आईना है वो आईना
कि शिक़स्ता हो तो अज़ीज़तर है निगाह-ए-आईनासाज़ में

[ शिक़स्ता == broken ] [ अज़ीज़तर == preferred ] [ निगाह-ए-आईनासाज़ == eyes of the mirror-maker ]

ना कहीं जहाँ में अमाँ मिली, जो अमाँ मिली तो कहाँ मिली
मेरे ज़ुर्म-ए-ख़ानाख़राब को, तेरे अज़ो-ए-बंदा-नवाज़ में

[ अमाँ == refuge ] [ ज़ुर्म-ए-ख़ानाख़राब == wretched sins ] [ अज़ो-ए-बंदा-नवाज़ == (gracious) forgiveness ]

ना वो इश्क़ मे रही गर्मियाँ, ना वो हुस्न मे रही शोख़ियाँ
ना वो गज़नवी मे तड़प रही, ना वो ख़म है ज़ुल्फ़-ए-अयाज़ में

[ गज़नवी == Mahmud Ghaznavi, a dominant ambitious ruler ] [ ज़ुल्फ़-ए-अयाज़ == hair-locks of Ayaz, Ayaz means slave – but her it refers to Malik Ayaz ]

जो मैं सर-बा-सजदा हुआ कभी, तो ज़मीन से आने लगी सदा
तेरा दिल तो है सनम आशना, तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में

[ सर-बा-सजदा == head held is prostration ] [ सदा == voice / call / echo ] [ आशना == lover ]

… and I have four different renditions, in four different compositions to share. Here they are:

Ibrar Ul Haq

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Ghulam Ali

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Experiments, with Truth

In the town, where i was born, lived a man, who sailed to sea…
and he told us of his life, in the land of submarines…

No, this has nothing to do with The Beatles. I was born in Sewagram. This is where Gandhi (the original one) lived for a substantial part of his life. And he did sail to sea, albeit not as a sailor; but as a student once and as a guru later. And he did tell us of his life in the land … well not of submarines, but of just marines. More interestingly, he told us of what he did on those trips. In the first one, he experimented… With truth. The most elusive substance on earth, and may be beyond. And somehow, we Indians, and especially the ancient Indians have been obsessed with this thing called truth.

Recently, i have been introduced to a new paradigm of experimenting with truth. It says that truth is not a substance, its a method, or may be an act… Like sex. It says that, don’t seek the truth, rather “do” the truth. Though grammatically awkward, it seems to work – while interacting with clients, co-workers, families and friends – “doing” the truth works. So how do you do it?

by just responding to the tiniest reality in front of you.

Here’s an example. One of your coworkers lied to you, yesterday, on an email. By the time you reach office today, you can conjure up a huge conspiracy theory of why he has lied to you, and who else might be involved in the conspiracy, on how this is going to affect your promotion to the post of CEO in 2029, and how the next increment may be affected and your wife might feel bad about not buying the second car you could have bought with the increased EMI capacity, and if you are not married how silly you would look to the blue-eyed girl CCed on that untruthful email.


you don’t think about the lie at all. You just go to the office – read what has been written – and respond to that line – just that line. And forget about it after you press send. If he replies with another lie (chances are, he wont; but in case he does), its a new experiment to respond then, tackle it afresh. Each response to the tiniest reality in front – is an experiment with truth.

I was advised to do something like this by a colleague recently. And he helped me do it – it was nice. Hope it works.

And, if we lack the temperament it takes to stick to this practice, consult the Buddha.

When in doubt, smile!

I have this friend, who loves and believes this line – “when in doubt, smile”. So this person, has actually followed it, for a long time in life, and has successfully managed to sound and be innocent. And I mean it, when I say the “be”… 🙂

So for a change I tried it for a while, and concluded that it works. So, when in doubt, smile 🙂

It all started with the mind

Pronouns, for once, are the most important part of the speech. They mean more than what they say. They rely on the reader more for grasping of the extra-literal meaning that they present. In essence, their meaning is subjective.

And as many of you might know, I believe the world is subjective.

Perhaps, that’s why all great books and great people use pronouns for expressing deep things. Michale Jackson: “They don’t really care about us”. Mahadevi verma: “जो तुम आ जाते एक बार”. Jim Morrison: “What are they doing in the hyacinth house”. Richard Bach: “Was it really worth it?”. RigVeda: “Not even nothing existed then”.

“They”, “तुम”, “it”, “then” are all pronouns. The object they intend to qualify is not specified. Perhaps deliberately so. And still, these are probably the most clear poetic expressions ever. The clarity of comprehension is actually not subject to the verbosity of the truth. In fact, the pronouns make the truth stand out. As if, vindicating the claim of truthfulness, by the arrogant declaration that they don’t have to say it …

…  perhaps reminding us that it all started with the mind, and objectivity barely a creation of the mind.

Sleepless in Mumbai!

Sleep, as always, is averting me. No, I’m not in love, neither have I been worried. In fact, it is the most wonderfully peaceful time of my life. But sleep, has its own whims and fancies. And so I blog at this dark hour.

So they ask, why do you climb a mountain? because the mountain is there. So why do you eat food? because there are so many wonderful things to eat. So why do you write? because there are thoughts that try hard enough to be heard. So why do you work? because there are unfinished jobs.

Any other answers, such as – “we climb to make a world record”, or “we eat to nourish our bodies”, or “we write because that might make us famous”, or ” we work to make money” … are lame answers. Okay, wait – this is not one of those blog posts meant to make the point that one should work for oneself and not others. And to prove it, I say – equally lame are the answers such as “we climb because we have strong urge to reach the top”, or “we eat because we are hungry”, or “we write to express ourselves”, or “we work because we love working”.

On such sleepless nights, the philosopher in me wakes up – the one that loves to inquire, because he wonders, not because he doubts. And asks simple and beautiful questions, like this one – why do we act? And after deep thought all answers that it gets finally amount to “for the heck of it”, “for the bloody heck of it”.

No purpose, however lofty, is justification enough – eventually. The more deep I go in thought, in action, in emotion – the more hollow the purposes seem. Purpose is a funny word. Sometimes, it means the “urge before we act” … and sometimes its “the result we hope to achieve after we act”. The assumption that these two are same or linked – is dangerously insane. Sanity, for that matter, does not rest on this insane assumption – though it is made to believe by our schools.

To those who have read him, I might sound like Roberto Calasso, no wonders. His book Ka has been quite an influence.

So this assumption, that our urge to start an action is somehow linked to the results of the action, is what the Buddha called “the concept of causation” … a sort of cognitive association we form between two events separated in time – the earlier one being assumed to be the “cause” of the other. This concept, according to Buddha, is a myth. I don’t completely agree with him. Not because I think he was wrong, but because knowing it, really doesn’t help. And in Calasso style – I ask the Buddha: “what does it mean to help?” … and he replies: “again, ‘to help’ is a concept that presupposes cause. In other words, why do you think – things should help?” … I actually didn’t get his question at first, I thought for a while before I inquired again – “no I don’t think all things should help. But then, I shouldn’t care about those things which don’t help – right?” … Buddha as usual smiled, and said “you think you can control what you care about” … and then I smiled too. 🙂 What I saw in the moment was the fact that I care about things which are not necessarily consequential (consequence is an opposite of cause) … and many times I don’t care about things which are consequential … similarly I many times have “passionate urges for things” which I don’t care about… and many times I’m dispassionate about things I care about….  basically I realized that “caring for something or someone” is more fundamental, more profound, more important, more desirable, more right … than “expecting a consequence” or “pursuing an urge” … I felt nice!

“To care for”, is what the Buddha called Karuna .. and it does not have a “why?” to it … it happens for the heck of it.

For those, who are wondering how I happen to talk to a person who lived 2,600 years ago, I’ve just this to say – that, according to me, is the most inconsequential question to ask. 🙂

Dhandhe ki baat

Indian society, of today, is slowly restoring the respect and money deserved by those who serve arts. Arts of any kind, those involving colours, vocal chords, words, body gestures, thoughts and what not. But no society can do without those artists who feel rejected by society … from Kalidas to Ghalib, from Majaaz to Nagarjun … some time in their lives did feel rejected. I somehow relate to them, somehow find myself thinking their thoughts. Though, my profession has not much to do with arts (yet); and as an entrepreneur, I feel the world has been quite nice to me. But still, it seems their is a poet within, who yearns for rejection, so that it can aggravate the fire in its belly.

Rejection, it seems, is the spark needed to ignite that fire in the belly. Sarasvati’s eluding of Brahma’s sexual advances is what creates the fire in Brahma that made him create. Sarasvati is the primordial goddess… it manifests as the world when Brahma manifests as me, it manifests as the muse when Brahma manifests as the poet, it manifests as the wealth when Brahma manifests as the entrepreneur. And she always rejects him first … that creates the fire … the fire that creates … the primordial fire Agni that threatened to swallow Brahma himself (according to Rig Veda).

Okay too much serious talk, here’s one humorous expressoin of that poet’s fire, when recognition eludes him. It’s a song from V Shantaram‘s legendary film Navrang:

कवि राजा कविता के ना अब कान मरोड़ो
धंधे की कुछ बात करो, कुछ पैसे जोड़ो।

शेर-शायरी कवि राजा ना काम आएगी,
कविता की पोथी को दीमक खा जाएगी।
भाव चढ़ रहे, अनाज हो रहा महंगा दिन-दिन,
भूख मरोगे, रात कटेगी तारे गिन-गिन।
इसीलिए कहता हूँ भैय्या यह सब छोडो,
धंधे की कुछ बात करो, कुछ पैसे जोड़ो।

अरे! छोड़ो कलम, चलाओ मत कविता की चाकी।
घर की रोकड देखो, कितने पैसे बाकी।
अरे! कितना घर में घी है, कितना गरम मसाला,
कितने पापड, बडी, मंगोडी, मिर्च-मसाला,
कितना तेल, नोन िमर्ची, हल्दी और धनिया।
कवि राजा चुपके से तुम बन जाओ बनिया।

अरे! पैसे पर रच काव्य, भूख पर गीत बनाओ।
अरे! गेहूं पर हो गज़ल, धान के शेर सुनाओ।
नोन मिर्च पर चौपाई, चावल पर दोहे।
सुकवि कोयले पर कविता लिखो तो सोहे।
कम भाडे की खोली पर लिखो कव्वाली,
झन-झन करती कहो रुबाई पैसे वाली।

शब्दों का जंजाल बडा लफ़डा होता है।
कवि-सम्मेलन दोस्त बडा झगडा होता है।
मुशायरे के शेरों पर रगडा होता है।
पैसे वाला शेर बडा तगडा होता है।
इसीलिए कहता हूँ न इससे सिर फोडो,
धंधे की कुछ बात करो कुछ पैसे जोड़ो।


New poem, just written. And quite satisfying like the last one 🙂

गुरु बोले – “जा खोज के आ
कि फूल है क्या?”
इक फूल दिखा,
मै मुस्काया।
उसके सौरभ को,
प्राणों मे भर लाया।
मन सुख मे नत हो आया,
तब मैनें जाना – फूल है क्या।

जब लौटा, तो गुरु ने पूछा –
“बता शिष्य कि फूल है क्या?”

मन ने सुन्दर आकार लिया,
पर शब्द रुके मुख तक आकर।
क्या पीत-श्वेत-लोहित मरमर,
यह कह देंगे जो मुझे दिखा?
कैसे समझाऊँ सौरभ को
जिसने प्राणों मे रस घोला?

शब्द खेलते आँख मिचौली,
बुद्धी धूंडती शब्दों को।
कभी तीव्रता से जा पकडे,
पर पाए फ़िका उनको।
कभी ऊंघते शब्द स्वयं ही,
आ जाते सम्मुख मेरे।
पर उत्तर फिर भी दे न सका
आखें औ’ सिर नत मेरे।

गुरु मुस्काए।
मुझको देखा।
कुछ कहा नहीं,
और चले गए।

मैने माना कि विफल बुद्धी।
शब्दों के होते मुक्त प्राण।
बंधन मे उनको बांधोगे,
तो भागेंगे वे बचा प्राण।
मान बुद्धी को विफल अगर,
उस फूल मे मन को रम लोगे,
तो शब्द तितलियों से आकर,
खुद ही मन पर मंडराएँगे।
बिन लगाम के बुद्धी की,
तब गीत कण्ठ गाए मेरा।
जो जिह्वा से उस पल निकला,
वह सहज बनी मेरी कविता।

मैं बहुत खुशी से लहराया –
“कह दिया है मैने फूल है क्या।”
पर दो पल रुक कर सोचो तो,
क्या मैं हूँ कवि इस कविता का?