All posts filed under: Oral Stories from Rural India

Last Few Days of Winter from my friend Rinku’s Home, in Naggar- Himalayas: A Photo-Story

You know I love Delhi for its years old rich history, but more often than less, it has only been a pass for me towards the mountains. I love the Himalayas more. And in last one decade and half, I have found myself reaching to Naggar than anywhere else. It may also be how this quaint small village found me finding. Also Read: Birdsong- the first poem i wrote after reaching Naggar In 2007, while riding my bike from Delhi, looking for a place to stay for the night, each person i asked from directed me towards Naggar. Nagar in Hindi simply means a ‘city’, or so i thought that once i reach the city i will find a place. But the altitude kept getting higher as i rode in the night getting skeptical of ever reaching any so called ‘city’. But when I finally reached there, the first thing my senses noticed was the fragrance of Devdar trees. It was dark in the night and cricket sang the song of the moon. There were …

The Curse of A Tale: And Why each mother should make her child first, a storyteller?

Sound is important. Anyone who takes on a story takes on the responsibility of passing it on. A.K Ramanujan, an Indian Poet and Folklorist wrote in the preface to his book Folktales from India, “Stories and words not only have weight; they also have wills and rages, and they can take different shapes and exact revenge against a person who doesn’t tell them and release them into the world. They are there before any particular teller tells them; stories hate it when they are not passed on to others, for they can come into being again and again only in that act of translation. If you know a tale, any tale; you owe it not only to others but to the tale itself to tell it; otherwise it suffocates. Traditions have to be kept in good repair, transmitted, or else, beware, such tales seem to say, things will happen to you. You can’t hoard them.” He then tells of a Kondh tribal who possessed four stories which he was too lazy to repeat. One night, …

Lore of the Light: A Brief History of Nine Planets in India- ४

It was a short journey and my first to Ujjain in Central India. The city of time itself. I was almost strolling when on the ghats of Shipra river I met a sage sitting alone but not alone. He looked strangely wild and attractive, focused. He was arranging his stones, picking them carefully as if they were beings and putting them in an unusual order, only after looking for many a seconds towards the sky. Curious, i had many questions to ask. And i did. This conversation was recorded thus and is presented like every story must. Also read: Turiya and Ramakrishna: Who are you? Q. What is your name?A. Narayan. Waah, Narayan! okay Narayan, Listen carefully. I will start from the start. Vedas, India’s four ancient sacred book-length accumulations of living wisdom. The oldest literature in the history of mankind. Since the last standardisation of the vedas, dozens of centuries ago, these hymns have been flawlessly preserved, syllable for syllable and word for word, by their priestly keepers. The hymns of the vedas were …

Life Of Verrier Elwin: Past and the Present Of the Tribal Cultures In Central India: A Photo-ethnographic Essay

Elwin’s research work in India took place at a critical period leading up to the Indian Independence from British rule. Verrier Elwin first met Mahatma Gandhi in 1928 at his ashram in Ahmedabad, where he had gone to represent the Christa Seva Sangh at the International Fellowship of Religions. Gandhi’s philosophy of satyagrah  as non-violent resistance against the colonial rule had a strong impact on Elwin and he were drawn into the national movement for Independence. However, as he became more deeply involved in the welfare of the community that he lived with, in central India, he began to question the relevance of Gandhi’s severe views on prohibition, celibacy and vegetarianism for that environment. In his autobiography he wrote. “long letter from Mahatma Gandhi urging me to perform daily yagna or sacrifice, of spinning; as no one here for hundreds of miles has ever seen a spinning wheel, decide not to, but suggest rice pudding as a daily sacrifice instead. Elwin’s personal reassertion of loyalty and identity was unequivocal. At a time when most of …

Leaves from a Jungle: The Life of Verrier Elwin living with the Gonds in Central India – I/II

My co-travellers here on the Road to Nara, must already know and have experienced by now how much there is to absorb in India that is Bharat. Every state works like an organ. Each region in contrast to the other in food, language yet somehow bonded by sense and tradition. In my brief career as a traveller, I have desired not just to travel as much, but also to learn, research and document life of other travellers who once walked and measured this nation in a different light, time and dimension. The ones who somehow recorded the flow that once was; those happenings which can only be dreamt of today but can never again be touched. Also Read: How Jyoti Bhatt inspired the new age Travellers and Documentarians with his life? I was an NCC(National Cadet Corps, youth wing of Indian Armed Forces) Cadet during my university years and had a brief opportunity to rigorously walk throughout the Central Indian State of India, Madhya Pradesh for over a month. During one such walk on a …

Days in the Hidden Valley of Mandal and a Small trek to Ma Anusuyadevi Temple : A Photographic Essay- III

While studying culture and ancient practises in the Higher Himalayas.Continuing from Pandava Forest and the Brahma Kamal : The Nights of Change in the Himalayas and Finding Brahma Kamal : On a Rainy night from Delhi to Chamoli : ँ : Sumanto was waiting by the roadside, in front of the fisheries department. It was late in the night, very late by the mountain ways of life. Yet the most relieving part was that i wasn’t alone. With me was the last government bus, which i had to run after, in Rudraprayag to catch it. Had it not been that moment, i wouldn’t be making it even in my 30th hour of leaving New Delhi. It was cold. It was heavy. The restrain of the night, one which arrives after many days of rain. The climatic depression could still be felt. I could hear the droplets dropping off the leaves as I could hear myself heaving. The bus stopped. I bid byes to the driver, the conductor as i had been the only one riding …

Welcome To Heaven: Stories From the Line Of Control that May Enlighten The World– VII. Final

On the Great Himalayan Road Journey to Baltistan, today is the showdown, the final journey continuing from Call of the Now- I Life and nothing more- II Road will tell you- III Remember me with a Lotus- IV The Gun Mountains and other Gods- V The Wait of Baltistan- VI : ँ : — It was more difficult to reach here than i had thought. To an extent I was only one night away from leaving it all and going back home. A whole day had gone in repairing Tyre and servicing this vehicle in Diskit, the same valley that hosted gypsies once, ancient travellers, porters coming from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan carrying opium and other magic potions to the cold desert of Hunder; a stop that they still talk about as the Silk road. This was the ancient Silk route, and from here you either go up to Mongolia or find your way to the Tibetan plateau into China. I took to Baltistan. “And had Turtuk not pulled me in this one time, I may …

The Road will Tell you- III

It rains as i write this, mad heart, be brave. Continuation from Call of the Now and Life and Nothing More, for the Great Himalayan Teachers Reunion. After the longest day on the road, rewinding the moments from behind the steering wheel I for a moment realised how life is so much like driving! And driving a car is not so much different from driving a body, as a medium, tool to achieve our means. If we know where we have to go then even without using any GPS or stopping many a times to ask we reach our destination, straight and fast without taking any extra time. Like knowing what to do in life; how to do it, which road to take, when to put brakes, when to accelerate or overtake from a slow moving vehicle aka friends; a road will tell you. When to give body or car a rest, a refreshing wash are some similarities that feel like life and can even show a larger picture if one tries to see from …