Even after thinking about doing something daily, one ends up doing it, achieving it, finishing it only in the head. In the head is good, as it creates enough compound interest in head but it is not good enough.
I have had ups and downs, and have been away from home for some time. I was in Kashmir when article 370 was taken off. I was one of the last person to have trekked the majestic Amarnath ji this year. Without any plan or any inclination to have wanted to do it but surrendering to flow of life is such it takes you along on the paths, and you would enjoy. I fell in love with the harmony of the few people who walked along, some saints barefoot, and two without a leg who finished approximately sixty kilometres in as many days as I did. Food, sweets, tea, love and the name of shiva.
But the feeling was erratic even then. Tents, people were leaving a month before. And many had already left. The way was completely empty of any pilgrim coming from the other side. Probably that also made it count. It was quiet and you walked with your own self, slowly, quietly.
Phone lines and internet was called off a day after I arrived back home in Srinagar. I couldn’t get time to make any arrangements of leaving as it had become intense to stay over. It was a very vulnerable time in the valley and who knows what is going on even now. It took me nine more days to come out of the valley. I found a punjabi driver from Jammu early in the morning almost ready to leave. It was a beautiful morning over Dal. You could see clouds gathering over the ancient waters and over the Mahadev hill. The way back was as tense. We were stopped numerous times even before Banihal came, because on the other side, you would not imagine how many trucks, cadres, were filling in the valley. Testing time for a government who had just arrived three weeks ago and even before anyone could have blinked on something as mammoth an article as 370, which had probably made Kashmiri’s, laddakhis, Pandits, Punjabis as special and as vulnerable of their identity for all these decades after independence.
I had worked myself as a researcher and teacher in the border villages, in the most gruesome winters and thus have an idea of how the minds of local authorities work in contention and sometimes not in harmony with the army. How people can never almost challenge the claims and information that these authorities gather.
Things are bound to change.
I am sitting in a mud room in the outskirts of Laddakh. Writing after so long on my blog even though I wrote it daily in my head. I hope I present myself daily. Because this blog is not for me. This is for you. And if you are reading this right now, you may let me know.
Two weeks have passed. Two weeks are to come. The nights have become colder. Laddakh has been very kind. It’s the land of awakening. I came here in 2007 on my bike when rivers still went through roads. And somebody then had told me the full form of Leh that I took seriously then but I have never forgotten it. Life Ends Here. Or it starts again.
I am working on my first photo book here. On the work that I did in Cambodia. I will share more news soon but before all that comes out, I will be hitting the road again. May be to Zanskar, or may be to meet my children again to the village I taught 8 years ago.
at the new comer
To zojila, to Leh, to Hanle, to tso moreri, to i don’t know what pass that came after hundred’s of horses ran to take left, we took towards sky- a concrete river bed on top of a conical mountain which went all afternoon. Many called it a road. Through a broken bridge, through the ditches connecting another ditch on the Yoga day. While laughing at others. While laughing atourselves. While stopping before every loop to the mountain up. The dancing carrier. The nostalgia of the petrol fumes over six days. As every bicycle left us behind. Our omni made it across the Rohtang. But always carry two people to push it through. We needed many only once.
It was the second time I heard something similar within a week. Something, that instantly felt important and something, that stayed with me. Was Mother signalling?
Ram Chandra worked with wood. He could create anything from it. He was born in the village i was born, may be two decades earlier. When he spoke, and he spoke freely about all things and loud. His face had taken such a shape that it felt looking at him he could never lie, but strangely loud suited him. Even his left eye which was unlike the other, kept his innocence intact. Once i brought some water for him to drink. He kept looking at it like saying something to it and started telling me a story personal to him or was it a guilt sailing for long.
My work takes me to a lot of places, and I am good at what I work. Once someone called me at his residence and there was something sudden that I didn’t like about the household. The women of the family came with water. I took it, kept it on the table, but I did not drink it. I kept speaking to the man about the work, when she brought tea. I hesitated. I denied. They both insisted when I said I cannot, I have sugar. Of course I never had no disease at that point. I just lied to get that situation out of my way. Like life is, it all vanished from my mind after I left their home, but something started changing in my body or so i felt. I started getting up many a times a night to pee. Anxiety and other things arrived. And when I checked with the doctor, 12 days from the day I had lied, I was told i have diabetes. But to me, i think it was that moment when i lied to them, I got this disease in me for life.
The night I met bheem singh, he kept walking in the room we were sharing, even after we both had gone to our respective beds at the same time. I heard him mumbling something to himself. It gave me a feeling that happening of strange things that took a lot of his time must be a norm. In the dark of our room, from time to time he kept getting up switching the lights on, walking thrice the length of our room, switching the lights off and lying again while mumbling back to bed. From the lazy side of my eye he seemed out of sync with nature. I wouldn’t have minded even this but his walk, his slippers never left the ground under while walking and made a sound you can’t pass through peacefully. I got up and asked him if everything is fine? I kept my bag here in the room’s cupboard, and shut it. And ever since i did, the cupboard isn’t opening. It has disturbed my peace. In one long breath he released his loop of thought. And continued, the day before i couldn’t sleep as the train kept wobbling like i was sitting on a snake all throughout my journey from Udaipur; and well it is true trains throughout South Asia move like the straightest snake could crawl, i thought. And today, he pointed towards the cupboard, it is because this almira ate my bag. I have everything in it. May be sharing it must have calmed him down. He soon slept somehow.
In the morning, his wife arrived in a beautiful traditional Rajasthani attire, and asked him to hurry up, come down and eat. It angered him first thing in the morning, shrewdly he replied, don’t you know it is my fast today. His wife didn’t retort and left him quietly. He brought a few men and the manager of the place, they tried everything but couldn’t open it or found its key. Finally one man broke the cupboard’s lock. Bheem Singh sighed, satisfied at last now, he left for the city tour.
In the night when he came back, he asked me to come eat with him, I told him I am fine, he insisted, I said all what I can eat by the sun down is enough for me to survive the night. It surprised him in a way that standing there he could not come up with anything else and left. But he came back again, said, I have fast too, gajar ka halwa bana hai, jeem lo thoda(they have made carrot’s pudding, have it a little). I smiled, and accepted. While sitting downstairs, even though he was talking to me, his posture wasn’t. Finding his casualness irksome I asked him since when has he been fasting? He left the spoon in the steel bowl, looked towards the sky and while calculating with the same fingers said since 1992. And it happened because I didn’t want to eat at my in-law’s place. I told them I am fasting. Since that day, this kept poking me for many months, it kept making me uncomfortable and to correct it I decided to fast. It happened on a Tuesday and I have been fasting ever since on Tuesdays.
He went quiet finishing his portion of the sweet. I left his company smiling, to get some more gajar ka halwa. It was delicious.
Lie at your own risk.
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From time to time, a dip in the river changes your perception about that river you just became with. She starts knowing you and you her. To start with, first of all she calms you down. Slowly changing your inner nature. And gradually of the outside. It may even happen that hundreds of dips later over the years you may start earning some qualities of that river. Your temperature of the body gets strengthened and so does your smile. And if you are open as you naturally should be, like a child; your ever expanding nature will carry you then to the places that can only be created behind your closed eyes. Sailing along patterns of current, looking at forms, colours, patterns, walls, speculating other dimensions in the dark, to the sounds of birds and leaves, of burning dead trees and water ripples, hearing bodies visually and later, very slowly language.
Sometimes a small reaction changes the whole tail of events. Sometimes the start itself is the end. But the dip is important. Because that is the window to nature. And all nature is within.
Today, three years ago, i was bathing in the northern most ancient river Vitasta; Jhelum, as people know of it today, with Rasool and Shiva, in South Kashmir. It was such a beautiful noon that even today i keep travelling back to every single tide that joined me whenever i hear of Jhelum. From where we were swimming, a few hundred metres later she, the river was meeting a small messenger like river Lidder. Some
children had joined us from Anantnag, bathing too. I was observing them, more so looking after because I knew their parents.
Meanwhile Arif found an eagle for me to photograph, she had died may be that same morning. As the young boy opened her wings, its span covered his upper half.
People in most part of Kashmir, still carry a feel of the old world. A fish catcher just like a bird catcher in old days, was literally seen running over the river, catching fishes with a bow net, keeping them all alive in a bamboo basket. Decades old Indian houseboats were seen passing by, children sitting in them watching us watching them; these boats looked completely different from the british ones on Dal. It was here on her banks sixty six years ago, Rasool was born in a houseboat, their home- and his father after his birth decided to leave Jhelum and rowed on a rainy night approximately 150 miles upstream to Dal Lake, in Srinagar where now Rasool lives alone, mostly locked in a small room marred by memories and the floods of 2014. It was this room which became my home for five months, where i lived, slept and ate together with Rasool, looked after his bird park. Learnt rowing myself. But It was much later, only after all those months Rasool brought me to meet with his birth river, Jhelum from Srinagar.
I saw Kashmir with Rasool’s eye. It is his voice that i hear when i travel to Kashmir lying my Delhi Room today. His directions became mine. And the quiet midnight’s that he enjoyed on Dal only after he taught me rowing.
Ka is water and mir is collection. It was him due to whom all my dips in the ancient waters of Kashmir happened. And they all are dedicated whole heartedly to him.
Many writers have different opinions about the name Jhelum. One suggestion is that an earlier name of Jhelum was Jalham, reportedly derived from the words Jal (pure water) and Ham (snow). The name thus refers to the waters of a river which have their origins in the snow-capped Pir Panjal, The Himalayas.
It is said that the sanskrit name of Jhelum is Vitastā, and which was given to her by Shiva himself. River Vitasta was written about in the first ever text known to mankind Rigveda, where she is mentioned as one of the major river, also as one of the seven rivers (sapta-sindhu). According to theSrimad Bhagavatam, the Vitastā is one of the many transcendental rivers flowing through the land of Bharata, or ancient India.
It had already been five hours. I was sitting sun bathing on the pebbles admiring the peaks of the Greater Himalayas on one side, and Pir Panjal on the other, thinking of this day, time, moments passing which I knew was nothing more than divinity gracing me, to feel her beauty, her nature like she welcoming an old acquaintance to her best kept corner; It was that feeling of simultaneous realisation when I wanted to have this afternoon going forever, letting the sounds of Shiva and Rasool talking and laughing over the sound of the river. Sitting, i kept desiring to keep going back to the river, to her cold assuring water so that no moment should pass where in I can regret in future that I didn’t drink her water more, as i knew that was the only day i had, the window to heaven cannot open forever. And thus came the last Dip, i remember it because in it was all the memories that were came together, of the Himalayas, of all the people I had loved till then, of all the rivers i had drank water from and all my desires, dissolving. And hence I let Vitasta take it with her to Lidder, and then them both to the another mighty beauty, Indus.
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Bright sun showed after body-stopping dust storm made my movement impossible. I was in the middle then, crossing a bridge over Ganga when a blizzard of dust from found me alone. I had to turn back, pushing myself out of the storm’s way, instead I walked down to the river, and along her banks started walking towards har-ki-paudi; once again in this life time but probably alone for the first in three decades. And 18 years later in Mahakumbh
18 years, took me this much time to come back to Kumbh in Haridwar. The center, like navel in the body, kumbh carries you through multitudes of Yogis practicing Tapa in the only ways their individual memories know of. Some come up, for us to merely see them as explicit sights; mysticism unknown to our senses, and too old for our digital eyes.
Coming to the banks of Ganga in kumbh, is like dipping one self in the electricity of emotions that this river carries. Of all the people who come, leaving prayers, bodies, sankalpa/promises, iccha/desire, siddhis; even doing away with all the left overs. Yet it is the awe that one can feel for Ganga, through the masses who have been moving around her for innumerable number of centuries, that she has seen.
When in today’s world civilizations grow where the roads, highways become. Mother river is an assurance that here on earth is divinity flowing, something not only alive, but electric, something far bigger, deeper than all the seven lokas/heavens can absorb, that energy which can direct one’s kapala(brain/buddhi) to pure kalpa(imagination), Ganga.
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Leaving you all with a wish, a desire that i would love to make it happen slowly. As rivers are still the carriers of most civilisations, i would love to be graced only if i could bathe in these five someday.
1. Amazon River
2. Nile River
3. Volga River
4. Yangtze River
5. Danube River
6. Mississippi and Colorado Rivers
6. Each and every River of the Indian Subcontinent.
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And as i leave you with an image of the river Indus leaving Kashmir, Do tell me about your favourite rivers, in which you would love to dip in, bathe in and in time i must too ?
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“O Krishna, the stillness of the divine union, which you describe, is beyond my comprehension. How can the mind which is so restless, attain lasting peace. Krishna, the mind is restless, turbulent, powerful, violent. To tame the mind is like to tame the wind.” – Srimad Bhagvad Gita
I was in my early teens when on my grandmother’s fierce insistence, parents took us on a tour to Mathura and Vrindavan. Krishna had supposedly entered my grandmother’s dream. She lost her sleep, and waited for that day when she would touch the earth of Krishna’s birth. And encircling the epical, ancient, holy Govardhana hill, गोवर्धन पर्वत on her bare feet.
The sun was setting in the land of braj as we arrived, the winds started blowing, grandmother’s eyes went backwards; her body calmed, voice started mumbling the words known to every wall and each monkey sitting on them, as they could be heard from myriad mouths. Narrow lanes of brick, tall walls wearing Mughal attires turning holy, as the time turned blue like romance, the colour of Krishna, Yamuna reflected many spirits of light, Brass bells tinkled. Women transcendentally turning into gopis praying, running like desire does, towards their protector. Was my grandmother a Gopi in her previous birth? I will never know. It is strange that I still remember even though seemingly I was too young for acquiring memories. But I even remember the morning when I had seen whole colonies of ants moving past the large roof of Jai Singh Ghera; later that night when clouds started roaring like armies do, deafening thunderstorms entered systems of nerve, only lightning showed our family the way in the dark. It is the way in which it rained felt like the time travelled back thousands of years, when Krishna in human form had saved the village and all its people from the flood, and from the wrath of Indra. For then, Krishna had asked villagers not to worship the rain god, and they did not. Angry Indra, wanting to teach them a lesson, hailed down torrential rain for several nights.It was this was Govardhana Hill, that Krishna lifted up, on his little finger, while playing the flute with the other fingers, thus saving the villagers in thousands as they had gathered under the hill for safety.
But one difference from those nights, now was the presence of my grandmother. She, in unusual, never seen trance, kept walking on, leading us, through the blinding, sharp arrows of the water droplets, drenched, yet she seemed invincible, unstoppable that night.
Was my grandmother a Gopika? I would like to believe so.
According to the Giriraj Chalisa (a forty verse hymn dedicated to Govardhan Hill) Govardhan in human form, went to Vrindavan with Pulastya and decided to stay there evermore. The sight of Govardhan Hill and Yamuna River in Vrindavan attracted the demigods who took forms of trees, deers and monkeys to live in Vrindavan there after.
Long since that night; the anxieties of the unknown are gone, my grandmother is gone. And it would take me more than a decade and half to come back since that night again. For whom? For another Gopika, for she also had a dream, an Australian photographer Robyn Beeche.
There are many India’s in India, and each India though different from the other is connected with every other in spirit, in it’s seeking.
Each one of us are seeking here; money, material or moksha, we all are looking for something more, wanting to reach somewhere higher either outside or within us. Trying to attain our highest self through ways of trial and error, experimenting, fighting patiently or fierceily. Even though some might know that the only way to it is through it. To just do it. And thus for the majority who arrive in India from outside either see this as chaos and leave, or absorb the wave of early shocks, of disbelief; slowly finding their own pace, becoming a part of the numerous patterns interconnected with each other; just like all rivers become Ganga after a point.
Robyn had seen a collection of my photographs being exhibited at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi. A long term project of mine was exploring the arid landscape of Rajasthan where once the historical, ancient river Saraswati flowed though, dried midway before reaching the Arabian sea. She had loved the work and had sent me a mail telling me about how those two photographs spoke to her like it were presenting a case of a lost river, almost directing the landscape. Getting immersed in one of the images, she congratulated me.
It is one of the purest joys that an artist can earn, finding words of appreciation from a stranger on your mail. I looked up her name and found to my surprise that she resided in India, and one story described her life’s curve, she had sold all her belongings, her prized studio in Paris to settle here in Vrindavan, living here for years, she photographed extensively the braj region since 1992, finding herself through Krishna.
Before sending a letter of thanks back, I spoke to a friend, and asked her if she would be interested in interviewing Robyn for the magazine she worked then on. When Ananya replied, she and I wrote back thanking Robyn for the appreciation, while expressing surprise about learning about her work with the community in Vrindavan, and added asking her if I could come over with a friend for a visit and a talk. I think this must have made her happy because she instantly shared a number of someone who would be taking care of us on her behalf. Moreover surprisingly, she asked me to get for her a print of that particular image she loved at the exhibition. I was happy to oblige. Vrindavan was on.
The journey ever since then became a flight into an intoxicated world of the singing spirits. And it started the moment we kept our backpacks in the bus. Throughout the night, the intensely enthusiastic, enigmatic old bus driver kept singing his heart out. He was drunk. In the morning twilight when we reached, the alleyways of the ancient town approached as if envoloping us in a maze divided by timezones. A land of about five thousand temples was awaking together, like a scattered collection of sounds uniting above the black river Yamuna. As we walked along the river into the empty lanes of Vrindavan, the forest of Tulsi, seemed to be an indelible pivot between centuries past and now.
I was anticipating a lot more intoxication of thoughts. For all the memories of grandmother were trying to revisit me, or I was trying to see them on the walls, the birdcalls, lazy and curious monkey glances, greetings, a few verbal directions, and a warm welcome by Robyn’s attendant, we reached, drenched in sweat and affection.
Lying down in the room resting our eyes at the high ezee blue ceilings of the elderly walls directed our minds towards the changed landscape. Delhi looked so far and so unreal just like the presence or the absence of dinosaurs in modern times. We were finally breathing in Krishna’s leelaksetra, Robyn would meet us in the evening.
Meanwhile, we decided to walk along the Ghats of the black river, at the hour of cow dust, sitting rich at the Kesi ghat, where Krishna would meet Radha for their nightly trysts. Ahead the architecture of ancient walls kept becoming primordial as the evening gradually turned the color of Krishna’s complexion. Gradually, the boats waft carrying their travellers. The ghat slowly transforming itself into a fantastical remnant from a historical drama and chants of hare Rama Hare Krishna lilting along the waters mirroring the reflections of the world around. While the vibrations of a keertan being sung, touching the floating diyas, travelling far beyond the banks, as women in their colourful attire dance to express their elation. The boats passing introducing compositions and sight, as bodies swayed, lost in chants and hands rising above holding flowers or nothing under a canopy of kites overhead. The claps seem to be rising in tempo and the energy is catching on as it runs through the gathering packed till the ghats down to the river. Insects and amber light from the lightpost fill the air. Dogs, monkeys, children, myself, looking at the tiny flames, floating through prayers and requests alike. While our still bodies were swinging to an internal rhythm, Robyn called, she was waiting nearby, a little away from the people in trance, we bowed to everything acknowledging the presence of love; Love that we soon were going to find in a woman who once left everything that she called hers.
She welcomed us with a smile, and lead us quietly towards the ghats where we all sat cross legged facing towards the river; as Suresh her attendant brought tea for us. Ananya, who wasn’t wearing her specks for the fear of monkeys, was seeing everything multiplied by three, somehow she felt more relieved and interestingly looked towards the sky more, though blurry, had earned a new found energy remarked looking at Robyn, what a fascinating life you have led! Practicing an art only for the love of it! Robyn smirked, took the first sip from the sugar milk water known as Indian tea and said, the idea was to create lovely, i sensed she liked speaking in metaphors too like me, to serve without any expectations. Even though i had been shooting in London for fashion designers, with hair dressers and make up artists for several years; but when Vrindavan called me in I feel i didn’t change anything about me. I continued to document the living tradition, the culture of brajbhoomi in the same way. To tell you the truth I saw that in Narayan’s work, “me? I was surprised she took my name in a way of describing something of her own, also because she hardly knew me”, she explained, in London I wasn’t interested in working for money, I was collaborating with anyone around my age trying to experiment, travel, creating good experience together to only create. We would all pool in money to buy a film, or colors or make a set. And irrespective of what work I have done and shown, I have always told photographers that they have to satisfy their creative urges first, and not solely look for money. This has stood out for me as an experience, I think my main goal has always been to inspire people, and tell them to get off Photoshop, and do something real.
Perhaps that’s why the switch from the glitz and glamour of London to the mundane reality of Vrindavan, the rituals and customs which were in practice for centuries, were they not difficult for you? I asked. Well, In fact, she continued, at many levels, I found a resonance with the work I did in London here in Braj. There In the west at a time when the city was thriving with creativity and experimentation, I was inspired by Impressionism and the Bauhaus art movement, I was busy making drastic images of painted bodies, collaborating with the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Leigh Bowery, Zhandra Rhodes and teaching at London College of Fashion, until one day i witnessed a massive cultural festival of India mounted in London in 1985.
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“It all happened when on my way back from Australia, an acquaintance invited me to come to Delhi and from there he sent me to Vrindavan,” and I do not know what happened in those weeks, months and in years that something, someone sat painting, turning my insides to something else. It even took me a lot of time but i finally decided to live in Vrindavan 7 years later in 1992. “I had made 13 trips of India by then. You know by the late ’80s Margaret Thatcher’s rule had really made things difficult. With all those taxes, freelancers were suffering.
My studio was right opposite Victoria and Albert Museum. A small but lovely and intimate space. I had to choose between keeping the studio which was getting difficult to maintain and to pursue my work in India. So I decided to sell it. I had to, because i felt an incomparable difference between these two worlds. What I was getting there was raw love, color, sounds and all what only India can give. For me then It was like planning a tour to a far world of stars.
And you see, ever since then, I have engaged myself with intensely documenting the traditions of the land.
Hearing Robyn speak was nothing less than observing someone who had bathed completely in each and everything that India gave her, she accepted. She was wearing a pink saree and Reebok shoes under it.
The orange and the purple of the magic hour was giving way to the dark. Songs, activity had subsided. Boats had left and ghats were taken over by the spirits of the night, smoking, drinking and yet some pilgrims quietly walking encircling Vrindavan, It was getting late,
Robyn requested us to have dinner with her, we accepted. As we walked, I was curious to know something more, deeper aspects of her journey because change doesn’t come naturally to humans, and as you are sharing I am feeling, what kind of things you had to change in order to become a part of this big, highly active and dramatic community?
“Ah for so long. Narayan, you know why I asked you to get a print of the photograph that I saw, because that image made me forget myself and took me in there, like I keep losing myself still in Krishna’s name. I had that connection with the moment when I saw that image and then i read your name. I connected. You know being a photographer or a filmmaker most specifically, is nature’s gift to you, if only you can hold on to it, because your seriousness will only determine what this nature will provide only for you to see. I have travelled throughout Rajasthan but I haven’t seen an image of a tree like that in a desert where a woman’s memory is placed, representing a whole culture, more so when you were on a huge project such as of finding the footprints of a river. It was kind of same with me, because it is me who wanted to know more, or may be myself; to earn this culture by all means, to be able to look deeply into the tradition, and I realised I cannot remain an outsider to know it all and hence i embraced Hinduism. It made good sense because I knew what I was doing. Likewise the people also accepted me as they felt that I was serious about what I was doing.” suddenly she went into her own world of thoughts, chewing slowly looking at her thali and came back. And continued in a manner as if she just realised something about her past. “Initially when I was shuttling between India and London, I used to speak and ask several questions to my creative friends. Once I asked a friend if he can spend 10 hours a day in creating a work to completely destroy it before going to bed, daily? Because that’s what used to happen to saanjhi. A fresh one would be made painstakingly only to be destroyed after the darshan was over, and the artists would start working over a new one all over again, day after day. For me personally, it was one of those early inspirations that taught me detachment, she was laughing by now, actually she laughed a lot. We had finished our food and walked out of that beautiful, traditional, small restaurant, It was a fulfilling dinner. We all were walking quietly more so filled with food and trance of the place, when I asked her the most important questions of all, of the only night we shared, have you ever regretted anything leaving back everything as you did and coming here? She went quiet for a while, it felt like she wanted to say something, may be finding words:
“It was 2005, she started slowly again, digital hadn’t still arrived big in the market so I had to keep my films in suitcases and carry them wherever. There was this one time when I was flying back home to Melbourne after five years, and I had kilograms of films that I was carrying back, it was huge, an archive of its own of all the possible work I had ever done here; transparencies, scores of films, prints and printing material. I thought carrying them back home was wise as there i could work on them in silence. It was a beautiful morning, that feeling of going home setting in me, i was very happy, watching, waiting for my train to come for Delhi at Mathura Train Junction, when two boys arrived hurriedly, picked that suitcase and walked away with the crowd, just like that. They picked and walked away!
All my life’s work, my time, energy, everything left me in front of me. You can imagine for how many nights i got up from sleep. Dreaming of those memories, the time of their making. I didn’t know what to make of it, to tell myself or how to explain this loss. Even if I did know about detachment and practice blissfulness, this loss was gruesome but somehow as time passed it became my way to enlightenment because not immediately but it gave me a deep sense of freedom, of not owning anything anymore, it made me powerful enough to not let me choose anymore, i could let go and still live. May be it was also my krishna’s leela, his ways are a bit different and who better than I and this bhoomi, this land knows.
We were bitten by a snake, stunned actually. But she laughed it off.
She bid me bye and as we started to leave, she sweetly called out my name loud, Narayan! my print! I shyly beamed and took out that print and with gratitude ceded it to her. I could see the joy she felt after holding it, seeing this image again had made her happy. She hugged me and Ananya, and told us to go to Sitaram Sweet shop before 9 AM, his are the best kachoris you cannot miss to eat.
Call me when you reach Delhi.
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I couldn’t possibly sleep that night rather sat looking at the magic above, it was a full moon.
It was march 2015, one morning when Ananya called me from montreal, she had left India to continue her studies, told me that Robyn Beeche is no more. She died two days ago. The same year when we had met her, she was diagnosed with Cancer.
I felt a sense of loss somewhere and also a shame that i could not maintain which had so beautifully started.
And I remembering that evening, us sitting at the ghat when she told me of what she had to lose to be here, her soul, if not less.
Robyn Beeche 1945 – 2015
While her talent speaks for itself, it was her trajectory, her magnetic aura that she carried from the West to the noisy, even overwhelming, pluralistic India, and her work here that most captures attention. Even though most is lost, but i remember one beautiful sentence that i carried with me since that evening was. and she said,
“My life is like green traffic lights – I’ve just gone through them. I’ve just accepted everything and had a go.”
Her work and life captured the attention of many, including filmmaker Lesley Branagan, who made ‘A Life Exposed’, a 2013 documentary about Robyn. Leaving a link for everyone to see here
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The first half of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography makes some things abundantly clear:
He had no natural ability to play the guitar. In fact, after his first lessons, he quit, unable to play a note.
He had no singing talent. Every group he was part of needed a lead singer, and it wasn’t him.
And just about everyone dismissed him. Audiences walked out, his first agent simply stopped returning his calls and bandmates gave up and moved on.
Yet today, we know him and not that agent.
Talent is overrated. Skill is acquirable.
Showing up is important and something almost every creative leader has in common. In business, in the arts, in society. Consistently shipping the work, despite the world’s reaction, despite the nascent nature of our skill, despite the doubts.
Community is essential. The people we surround ourself with can reinforce our story, raise the bar and egg us on.
Because, the community becomes an integral part of our story of success. But first, we have to commit to the journey.
Working in the creative field opens up possibilities unlike anywhere else, like hearing this extraordinary conversation between Brian Koppelman and director Ron Howard.
PS: Photograph of a kid running in the waters of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, Anupshahr, India.
Its amazing by how much we can get done simply by trying.
Whether its writing, finishing a complex film, or building a better environment to educate children at school. Because when we show up and do our best, we can make things happen.
But then, sometimes or many, our internal horsepower becomes insufficient. Many a times it snowballs into sitting idle, waiting for inspiration to arrive or simply the right time.
Bhuvneshwari Devi is sitting at home with a black Wayfarer on. Her blood became so impure that it started affecting her eyes. Having no savings, or funds to go to a doctor, she turned to the roots, to an old technique; drinking turmeric and neem i.e Azadirachta indica powder with lukewarm water every morning on an empty stomach.
But for many others, as we seek to make bigger impact. we discover that powering our way through obstacles many a time becomes too difficult.
And so comes handy the technique, a route that might make things happen unlike before and that we need to learn! Or rather to know how to.
Technique is the unnatural approach to a problem that, with practise, becomes our second nature. Technique is the non-obvious solution that ametuers and hard-working beginners rarely stumble upon on their own.
The only way comes out to be the commitment to a practise, that opens the door to finding a more useful technique.
We got this far because our natural approach was helpful. But to get to the next level, we will need a technique, which, by definition, isn’t something we come by on our own.
If there are people whom you feel are playing at a different level than you, who are embracing an approach that feels unnatural to you, then you may have found the technique that you have been missing.
A long time friend and astrologer, who works as an Engineer in California has cautioned that the next 10-15 years is going to be very tumultuous for the world. Many regional fights, wars, cyber, economic and military are going to take place in different parts of the world. Ever-since his predictions came out to be true to each word he spoke on Trump, i am more aware and taking his predictions seriously. He said that the world is going to see an unprecedented, rapid change in the next decade and half.
And today in 2021, as the world cautiously tries to stand up again from the pandemic, it might need more than just the ideas for wellness. It needs ideals and it needs ancient wisdom to lead us through this complex maze that our whole world becomes such that it never succumbs to any inner or outer infections.
There is no doubt that we have to bring our wandering mind back to breath, and take responsibility for our body, like we do with our tastes. Our answerability is not only for our moral, spiritual and material welfare of one and all but I feel that once we start feeling more aligned with our own body, we will have more energy to share with others.
This three essay series on wellness culminated two years ago in Cambodia with Singsong. I had arrived at a bar in Siem Reap after cycling 70-80 kilometers, all day long through the country Side recording country songs that were banned during the dreadful Khmer Rouge regime. Tired, i sat with my eyes closed in a dark lounge area on a love seat in the lotus padmasana/position. It was this moment when a Royal British navy officer approached me asking if I can tell him how to be in peace?
This year as i started writing particularly for the blog, i felt an urge to write before any story or experience, our common source, Our understanding of history and what as humans we have attained, good and bad for our being, and how from here we can shape our future and for the coming generations.
As many of my dear ‘Road to Nara’ friends know that I run a school for children with my mother; where our primary priority has been to tell them first thing about Earth, our planet as a whole in as simple way as we can and then bringing them to their bodies and meditations on breath.
In all these years of teaching barring last, i have noticed, even though majority of children at that age don’t really grasp of what we are telling them but within a few years their minds form in such a way that they start not just learning well but start opening up towards activities and life interests outside their syllabus, which has amazed their parents for years.
Thus taking that cue, it felt important to me, starting with this much-awaited year to share here:
so that us who are here, and the ones who will come finding to read and learn our history that we love to leave, know how much hard work and persistence it has taken for this planet and life energies to become, to form as it is now.
But as people like Elon Musk and other corporations, who are hell bent to make Mars their new home, to sell richest of the rich, a bizarre dream of new, safer home rather than investing energy to make Earth a better place. I thought that at least at this time I must research and warn in a subtle way about
Wellness comes differently to different ages of people. As long as humankind has existed, so too has the dream of eternal youth and beauty, and if not entirely a wish to conquer death, but to escape it, further it, has been an area of research for ever.
But wellness is a daily journey, a combination of decisions taken day after day, a complex process to an extent it’s a fight with oneself, and more than a battle, Wellness is intent. It is a thought, a state of growing mind. And do remember, it can never be bought.
Thousands of years ago when World did seem like a family without boundaries or Visas and before any religion was founded by men, they had discovered fire and found ways to engage themselves with the highest self.
It is said that a hungry person will not seek god, he will first find food for himself. Today when most of life’s comfort can be bought, being Well instead has become a demand. We should be brimming with joy and happiness in today’s world of connection and comfort, rather last one year of Covid saw unprecedented rise in depression and mental health related issues all across the globe. People are finding themselves left out, unwanted and lonely. More and more people are failing in this race of life, finding it hard to enjoy one’s own company.
When I started thinking about the secrets of Wellness, it felt hard because most of what came as answers were restrictions rather than solutions.
Yet, being a traveller to start with, if i am asked to advice the most demotivated person on wellness, i will tell him to just go out of his home and walk. And not walk looking down on earth, but up, to see, for long minutes imbibe, smells, colors, and may be once in a while, from time to time scream, shout out loud, take out every guilt, anger to no one in particular but to the ether, akasha, forces up in the sky, the most mysterious element of the five.
But it is not possible or easy, right at the start. Like me. I want to do so many things, and above all those things what i really yearn for and tell myself each day is to wake up the earliest. To discipline my sleep, my each hour spent because I know and I have lived with my teachers whom i look up to, my ideals who no matter when they sleep, wake up each day at one time.
Because Wellness, like a meditative state is a consequence, and not the means. There are so many things to achieve before you attain Dhayana, contentment. And keeping that state as our goal, i will try sharing in Five ways, to earn an all round wellness.
1. Learning about the Five Elements to cleanse our Bodies.
It is known that if we were born 2 to 3 centuries before, we would be doing 20 times more activity than now, physically. And for the ultra lazy ones it could even go up to 200 times. We would have been walking more, doing more things with our hands, probably talking less and interacting more. Now for many, the times have changed and the mind is far more active than the body.
We created this body from inside, so the manufacturer of this body is inside. If we have mastery over the elements, we will have mastery over our body, our mind, and even on the very creation. Life will happen in magical ways.
This body, this very earth, universe, and the cosmos; all is just the play of the Five elements.
This body’s composition is such that 72 percent of this body is water, approx. 12% is earth, 6% is air, 4% is fire and the rest is space or Akasha.
And thus, how these five elements behave within you will determine just about everything.
There are ways in which we can get all the elements to work for us. May be i can write a separate essay on it, but due to the limited space here, i will say that the most important way to get these elements to work for you is first by being aware of their presence around you and then by respecting, showing gratitude. For example it is very important to know the nature of water. It is round. a drop, a drop of sweat, tap drops, Rain drops, a well, are all round. It matters immensely how you keep the water, where, how well you keep it and most of all how consciously, graciously you allow it to enter into your system.
And so it goes for all other elements, remember to show your gratitude.
2. Travel Within:
Being intimately a seeker, travelling for so many years have made me explore many a landscapes, I understand the human need to be outside, to see, and travel anywhere without any limitation, to feel free. Majority of last year passed in sitting, reading, scrolling, seeing screen of phones or computers.
Unlike where businesses, industries world over were shutting down, it were the Internet Tech giants who made a fortune of a mess the world was in. And they learnt something that we can only think of. That it is good for them when people remain at home.
Like this, Thousands of years ago, ancient Indian wisdom discovered stillness in a time when whole world was actually a family, you were free to roam, wander. But against aimlessly wandering and trying to see with their eyes open, ancient seers decided to sit at one place at will and seek the universe with their eyes closed, they freed themselves from the clutches of memory and time. And sat seeking their own self, starting with there breath.
If there is a Secret to Wellness It is in Breath. Breath being the first nectar that can be felt, ancient Indians explored the source of this breath, their bodies, organs, veins, moving blood, water and all other elements for years; as slowly their travelling thoughts started manifesting into subtler reality at the cellular level, they were said to have travelled beyond physical construct of the bodily mechanism.
History is known to repeat itself and thus coming a full circle from those days of no particular region or religion, Travelling within is the only way that can carry you to a place of infinite energy. And it is nothing but Yog.
Yog, if not hundreds of things, gives you two. It builds strength, the power of will and it provides awareness with a universe of magical possibilities.
3. Love Energy
We are approx. 8 billion humans on earth, and we are all alike internally. Everything on this planet, human bodies and whatever we see around us today including creating and controlling nuclear power is an out come of transferring energies. Plants, trees, sun, moon, planets and the animal world, we all share that one source.
We in our lives become what we pay attention to. If we attach our emotions to a thought for too long, it becomes lively inside us. And hence at one level it is very important to learn picking the right thoughts. If any thought exhausts me physically, there is no doubt that i get affected in all other dimensions of my being. Choose what to think. And practicing this awareness of the thought level observation will lead to an enhanced vibration.
We all carry a smell, an aura, and energy invisible to us, but its there. And this is a great indicator of our future wellness. If only we learn to give away what we desire most, the path to deserving wellness will be paved.
During my talks some people have questioned about money, that if one doesn’t have money how are you going to give it in first place? If we see the entire human history, the uses of paper money per say is recent. In fact, time, gratitude, purity of attention given to anyone, to serve, to care and above all Love is infinite times bigger than money. This produce of intent then is bound to provide us with that energy back, probably with compound interest. So do not think money in a narrow way instead your whole being is one precious bank.
4. We become what we eat
The most important of all Food – What, when and how you eat can have a significant impact on your health and overall well-being. The very process of eating in ancient Indian culture demanded a certain level of attention that used to lead to a heightened level of awareness. But as the world got preoccupied with work rather than wisdom, people lost that kind of involvement and just started popping in anything to keep the hunger in check.
Never enter those yellow red gates of McDonald’s, or any big food corporation for food and fun, only if you can tell your children that. It are these people who want to burn our age old rain forests in Amazon, in Australia to farm, to raise cattle, to produce more exotic meat to bring to your plate. Who knows in the time to come when they have made their villas in Mars, they will sell them food bringing from earth.
Because of modern work culture, people have naturally shifted to eating commercially prepared meals in a big way. The needed reverence for what we consume which was a very important part of the Yogic culture, is today moving towards extinction. Today, its more of a social thing. Its not even about what you eat; its about where and with whom you eat.
Our food, whatever it may, gives away its own life to make up our lives.
Anything that we borrow from the planet for ourselves to consume causes a certain level of inertia in the system. The important thing then is to get consciously aware of this and to keep the inertia levels at the minimum.
In life, if your goal is to become sharp and learning to focus better, you must gage on how much you sleep and how alert you are. If in day-to-day life, body is generating too much inertia, i.e if its not actively participating in major works happening around us then it only means that the system is not allowing a certain amount of energy to enter in the subtle cellular level.
So, what do we do to enhance our perception and energy at the micro level?
In ancient India, there was no concept of milk tea, rather in those days to increase one’s mental and physical abilities, Neem and Turmeric as a combination was taken on an empty stomach with warm honey water.
So, if one wants to enhance ones system, this is one thing that can help a person to eliminate 80 percent of physical ailments. This is important and an important physical support because neem and turmeric dilates the cellular structure of the system in such a way that it is able to absorb most things, bringing flexibility to the muscles and provides powerful, higher possibilities.
You can also go through two essays that were written about the ancient Yogic food Culture here
If you watch the natural cycles of the body, once in one mandala, that is 42 to 48 days, in these days, 3 days happen where your body does not need food. If that awareness is not there to which day that is; for that in India, in ancient texts they fixed a day called ekadashi.
Ekadashi simply meant the 11th day that is 4 days before the full moon. People used to not eat on that day. “My maternal grandfather who was a prominent astrologer, and a Train Driver in his time in Uttar Pradesh, lived particularly with ancient understanding of Sun, moon and stars. He never even had water on Ekadashi. Later in his life when he became weak, even though he did not leave fasting but added one meal just after the sun sat. He used to tell my mother, that in his life this was one thing that helped his body fight infections and internal ailments, as it allows the system to realign itself. If one gives this break, it will prove great for one’s health and over all well being, because the system needs that time to adjust itself. Everyday, heaps and heaps of food weakens the system’s power, it is a lot of pressure and hard work for the system. We must give our magical machines some break.
One more thing, which I must include, is the time between the meals. As many of us cannot fast whole day long but they must understand that the the ideal time between one meal to the second is 8 hours always to get a certain sense of hunger back but if even this is not possible for anyone than minimum 5 and half hours should be given, because if you will keep putting the food into the system even when you are not hungry, your body will start dropping and eventually will become lethargic. It will then never know vibrance.
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ANTIQUITY OF THE CIVILIZATION
People look at the ancient past, they look at the present times and say that we have got computers, cars, airplanes and hence we are very civilised. They feel that the ancient people had nothing of these and thus they were primitive, but the reality is that we are destroying the world with the amount of technology and consumption lifestyle that we have today. We have ignored that part of our existence and it is our existence that is destroying the future of the generations coming.
The ancients had a different idea of happiness, of contentment. Living at peace with nature, understanding nature, understanding the science for what it is, mathematics for what it is and who is to say today that who is civilized and who is not?
I do not know how the western civilization thinks about this, may be for them it is the best of times for humankind but here in the East, according to the Vedic knowledge, we are at the worst of times, based on how badly we are incurring all sorts of karmas today, and how we are living our lives today.
I finally put this before I close my last long essay of this three part series today because we know this is the most important thing facing our world today and our existence. There was this paper that came out in November 2017, known as TheWorld’s Scientists warning to Humanity. 15,000 scientists from 154 countries signed this statement.
The graph shown here shows various of things including the Ozone layer depletion, fresh water resources, dead zones where there is no life in the Oceans, the forest cover, the number of species living in earth, carbon dioxide emission, temperature change and population. Everywhere you can see that slowly the dead zones are increasing. Wherever you see there is an alarming indication that the life is getting worse and worse.
So, I must only summarize this to promote a diet that is plant based foods and reducing the fertility rates. We need to be aware of our own karmic or Carbon footprints and if we are contributing towards degradation of life or not.
We need to internalize this message of how our ancient’s lived because they have told us how to live; our children need to internalize this message. Reducing consumption, the media and industries are only interested in controlling our mind for all kinds of consumption. And we need our vivek, power of conscience, discrimination, reason and knowledge to walk from here onwards.
There is absolutely no need to renounce any kind of worldly pleasures instead we need to Reduce our Karmic or Carbon footprint and Reuse, Recycle whatever we can.
Happiness cannot be found in impermanent objects or such things, it is only to be found in the relationships that we make and other such understandings of spirituality. I think that is the message that we must give to the children.
There are many lifestyle changes that we can make like not to using plastic as a rule, carrying a bamboo straw or spoon, not using dyed clothes to wear but what i think is that it is everybody’s individual journey and we should not be disheartened if the community or anyone is not following what we are doing. We have to set an example, and if others come along and join us on this journey, well and good and hopefully life can get better for all of us.
Because remember, it takes only one person to stand firm.
“Conserve”, because No, nature does not need us instead we need nature to stay relevant as life on earth.”
By the end of 2020, the year had dented many a egos; almost all brands; Fashion, went out of fashion. Food, nobody trusted nobody’s hand. People afraid to touch, and our homes turned into new day Jails.
Even as i write this, humans throughout the globe are still afraid, vulnerable to come out of homes, economies hanging, and many a countres are going into yet another Lockdown.
All this while, in last one year, few things got cleared and were prayed for. We found ourselves back to an age where nothing more than the most required was needed. Nature took her stand. She wanted to breathe or rather more crudely wanted us to show her version of mirror, where only;
Air Water Food Shelter A relaxed and a calm mind A healthy body,
were required. Everything else is a want, she said. These are your true needs.
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There are many systems on our planet. Many various cycles, quietly doing their thing.
The Nitrogen Cycle
The Carbon Cycle
The Water Cycle
All these systems have kept the planet going for eons, all connected with each other. One specie which uses a particular thing removing it as a waste product, gets consumed by some other specie using it for its sustenance. We, each one are dependent on each other.
In the first part of this post, where we talked about the origin of life where all the water that had melted in the last Ice Age, kept releasing Oxygen into the atmosphere for 300 million years due to which Ozone layer came into being, preventing Ultra violet(UV) Rays from entering into the planets orbit. And that, thousands of years later would protect humans from serious diseases like Skin Cancer. But you know, had it only been that much, it would probably still be okay.
Two years ago, when i was cycling around Cambodia on a fellowship, while working on archiving the lost old songs of the greatest Cambodian singer, for SINGSONG: The father of the golden voice of Cambodia, i met Jason, a young ex-Royal Navy officer at a bar, who for many a years before quitting, was stationed deep in the Pacific and told me that even though he never touched the Indian mainland, but his submarine was nearby, many hundred feet deep in the depths Indian Ocean for almost a decade. And out of nowhere, probably wanted to speak his heart out asked me, What do you think Nara how thick could Ozone Layer be? I had no idea, never thought of it. Well, when we say a layer, it seems it must be pretty thick, right! Ozone Layer is actually the size of a well manicured finger nail, around 3 millimetre. And that 3mm, is what stands between us and the interstellar space. Between us and the mad ultra violet radiations of the sun.
15-20 years ago, you might have heard of the CFC’s, chloro floro carbons, that were being released into the atmosphere by the countries, they got infamous as being the ones creating a hole in the Ozone Layer. It was there all around the news channels, about a big whole being created above the Ice Caps around Antarctic. Actually it was huge, by now Jason was probably talking to himself; and even that was okay for many corporations for the leisurely lives humans were living, when even though many found treating themselves for various Skin diseases.
I was once a proud man, he said, i was going at a breakneck speed. I achieved what i wanted to, hard and fast, i was happy and enjoying my life to the fullest, and desired nothing more than being in the Royal Navy, every thing was going as planned, everybody looked up to me and then bam!! He went quiet looking into the distance, his Cambodian bear in his left hand, keeping it aside he took out his shirt and showed me something strange looking, and said, this started appearing on my skin for the first time around ten years ago; i could see some small red patches on his skin. He continued, within a month or two i was nothing more than a red blob. I couldn’t touch anything, i cannot lie on bed, i couldn’t touch a spoon, could not eat with my own hands, many a nights i slept standing for an hour or two, and made sure nothing touched me. I had become as if someone has painted a red meat color all over me. And at last i had to quit. I left Navy right away, there was no medication as such but i was asked not to stay anyway near the colder regions rather live in a tropical country. And here i am. In Cambodia, seeking the purest light of the sun. For cure of a disease lies in the same source.
Jason asked me, later on the same night after i had won a Table Tennis match against him, while recharging ourselves that if i know who generates the maximum amount of Oxygen ? Trees, of course i said. No. Wrong Nara! The maximum Oxygen is generated by the kelps, ancient plants living in the depths of the oceans. These Kelps grow up to 100 to 300ft high, and generate upto 70% of the earth’s oxygen. I had become attentive hearing a passionte navy officer’s talk on the secrets of the Sea and the conservation of the planet. For a moment i felt like that he is speaking about himself after a long time. Trees only generate around 30% of oxygen and you know what the bad news is, that the kelps are extremely volatile and sensitive to the UV radiation, like myself. If only the UV radiation increases by just 10% and sustains it for couple of years, the kelp will die within few months and once it does then it doesn’t really matter if you get Skin cancer or a nice date. You are going to burn, and earth will be your hell.
The hole in the ozone layer was a ‘serious’ problem to humanity but see, i said ‘was’. People, governments were forced to come together and decided to do something about it. Overnight decisions were taken to ban Arizols, CFC’s and since last 15 years the Ozone layer has completely regenerated, it started repairing itself in no time. Just that many a people like me had to suffer. Environment can heal itself much faster if our intent is to protect everyone.
Pandemic like the one we are going through is not something that just happened over night, nature knows. All human race was running like a toy with full battery, without any destination, or care for the larger other. Digging, exploiting, harming, corrupting, overusing, murdering our own resources, the speed with which we have disregarded our assets for profit is plainly shameful. We haven’t even spared our fellow species. Experimenting with the ways to kill them for our tongue and stomach and money. There is no other way nature will treat us any better.
We all have seen and most certainly used one of these cute, little plastic bags for carrying various goods and groceries over the years and throw them as a habit; and wherever we threw them throughout our lives, sooner or later they reach the sea. In our oceans, the Atlantic, or the Indian Ocean now, there have become these garbage patches twice the size of Texas or two Rajasthan’s put together, (11)eleven feet deep swirling like whirlpools. These are humongous land masses, created by you and me over the years by using plastic at some point of our lives. As we know now, these very oceans are our primary oxygen generators, we don’t an answer to this query that even if we remove this plastic from these oceans, where can we keep it? We don’t really know. Every time we use a plastic bag, we become the contributor to the already existing +1.
Stop using Plastic. A good amount of it is ending it inside sea animals stomach’s, fishes are directly, indirectly consuming it.
Pollutants, plastic have changed the character of our seas; the salt, that we eat daily, all is coming back to us, to our bodies.
Stop using Plastic. Please.
What nature had taken 4.5 billion years to become, we as a specie managed to ruin it in just 70 years. We all as of right now are not only seeing the effects but are bearing it. The alarm has already set off. And now its only upto us when to wake up.
There are four major reasons for our planet or nature to have unleashed a counter attack on us for uncontrollably heating up the Planet.
1. Our FOOD- and the ways we eat.
2. Electricity- Power generation
3. Transportation- Fuel, going from here to there.
4. And Construction- the buildings that we stay in, we live and we work in.
There are many others contributing factors but these are the four major causes that account for 95% of the emissions of the green house gases.
Power Generation/Electricity–Transportation-Building Construction, constitute to greater than 65% emissions of green house gases.
Where can we start? What can we do?
Well, we already have started, most of us have turned to LED lights– they are extremely efficient, easy on pockets.
Natural Energy – Turning to Solar water heater and other things using this mechanism : Even though it might take some amount for me to get started but to lead as an example as a school and for children who must know about it early, we are planning to change. They are so much cheaper and above all in Delhi and all over India we have so much Sunlight. This might take time for people to get used to this but this is the way to go, for the future yet again will acquire an ancient heart.
World is changing at the speed of thought now, and transport or getting around is soon going to change.
One of my dreams, that i haven’t still pursued is walking throughout Indian subcontinent, i may say that i regret not going for it earlier but cycling or walking are my personal favourite mode of getting around.
But thinking of walking to Mumbai from my home in Delhi every week is no less than declaring madness.
But some years from now, when electric cars and hybrid cars will be a norm, i will go for one. They will be expensive, but shall be fuel efficient and in long run will save a lot of money. Toyota is one of my favourite Car brands, and even though if you can’t afford it like me, lets wait and save for it.
Homes : Earth constructions, some known as adobe, some as rammed earth. And some of these houses that i have posted here were in place 1000s of years ago, which are slowly coming back to revival. These are the smartest homes on our planet. They don’t need AC, just like we should never need one, because in summers they turn cool, and in winters they give heat.
Something that i look forward to and wait to make for myself to live in. And with available technology in today’s time, one can even built a mud home as high as 3-4 floors. So if you have a plot of land or think of buying one; do think of building or making something that is natural, a mud or a rammed earth home. You will do your body, mind and a whole of other little beings a lot of good.
And the last one, our Food.
Being a Yogi, for me Breath and Food are two most crucial subjects, and are as much essential for each and every one of you, whoever is walking along, on the Road to Nara with me, i will try and make sure to keep sharing with you some deeper aspects that are important for all of us. Even though i have shared couple of times about the essence of food and what should a Yogi food be like? But you know its never only just food, but a few things around it that helps in building an attitude towards all what we consume, important and hence i will be sharing it in the last part of this segment.
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It has been many centuries since humans have stopped moving from one place to another. Almost the majority of people today grow up in long settled societies.
This new year 2021 AD, has arrived with a sense of responsibility in me to become a change what i feel should change. This ongoing virus is being lived on many levels together. Pandemics had happened before but it became unreal because we lived with it even though we didn’t contact it, in real circumstances and digitally there after all the more.
What went wrong? What is it that we as people are overseeing what is coming? Whom have we been fooling? But before we go the factors i wanted to know and learn with you all, this mystery of Who actually we all are, all of us? And How did we became what we have become?
Lets start from the start
Earth started a very long time ago. To figure out exactly how long, lets just figure out how much a billion is? A billion is 1(one) followed by 000,000,000(nine) zeros. Can you imagine how much that is. Lets see. A billion seconds ago it was 1989. A billion minutes ago Jesus was still alive. A billion years ago, it was stone age. You can see we are going way back.
5, 000,000,000 years ago.
The sun had just finished forming. There was a lot of interstellar debris. For half a million years these innumerable stones, this matter of debris were banging into each other. Smaller stones banged and made bigger stones, bigger stones banged and made even bigger stones and out of those some became planets in our part of the galaxy.
This was what our earth looked like four and a half billion years ago. It was simply a ball of fire, molten rock, temperature which was in access of 12k, 15k, 20k degree Celsius. Volcanos, tornadoes, Tsunamis, you name it and all of it was just fire. It was really one kind of definition of hell. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, something else happened, another like planet came and banged into us. The debris from that collision went 30-40 kilometres into space and for sometime earth had rings like Saturn. But gravity did its thing and through this collision came the Moon.
Around 3.9 billion years ago all the planets in the solar system had finished forming and there was still a lot of these meteorites that were left and they were getting attracted by other planets and our planet’s gravity and so for 20 million years there was only bombardment of this kind. For that many years we only kept getting bombarded by meteors on our planet. But this turned out to be one of those absolutely magical thing, because each of these meteors that were coming from space carried salt in them. Trace amount of salt and trace amounts of water, very very little water. Yet this process of little by little, little by little, water came. And don’t be surprised when i say that this water that formed so many million years ago is the same water that we still have, around us, in us. That we are drinking, which is raining, that we use daily to bath with, water our plants with or wash our cars with. There is no new water, only this water.
3.9 billion years ago water had come that we are using again and again for our purposes today. But when water arrived here at first, for one and a half billion years this water kept solidifying the crust. That same crust which once was all molten rock; and once when it all solidified, this water seeped through the cracks, into the crust down to the core where it met with even hotter substances and where it started evaporating and came back up which made what we call today the primordial soup. Many vitamins, minerals got added to the water and it was this addition that lead to the most mysterious happening. We do not know how it happened, or from where, it just happened, probably the conditions were right; the first single celled creature suddenly came into existence.
And slowly over time one cell became two cell became three cells and in the shallows of the oceans of that time, bacteria’s called Stromatolites formed; and it was noted that they had a peculiar taste; like you and me, most of us they liked sugar. They loved sugar. And what they did that they took CO2 which was abundant, they took water and they took the sunlight and created something we got to know about as photosynthesis and through photosynthesis they released amounts of Oxygen in the air and the water, and made sugar, which they sat and ate for two billion years.
These stromatolites put oxygen into the water of the planet and into the atmostphere of the planet and made it suitable for life. And amazingly these Stromatolite colonies, some of them are still alive and are still functioning.
Soon afterwards there was a tectonic shift. Earth quakes happened, tsunamis arrived and this entire landmass at that time called Rodinia, came up to the suface and along with it came a lot of volcanoes which erupted for another 10 million years.
Volcanoes kept erupting for all this while and kept releasing gases of all sorts and for a long time there was a lot of CO2 which accumulated around the atmosphere of the earth and because of that sunlight couldn’t get through for a long long time. And thus from fire, we went directly to Ice.
The first Ice age happened.
Our planet became encased in around 3 Kms of ice. And this stayed like this for a very, very long time. And after this long time, around 650 million years ago, though that is almost nothing in the scale of things; The ice started melting. And It took 3000 years to melt.
As the ice melted, a lot of Oxygen came up and the first time Ozone layer was formed. And because of the Ozone, this layer started stopping the harshest ultra violet rays from hitting us; it was this suitable time when life on earth, on land started. There came plants, and there came animals, yet in many other places Volcanoes erupted again. They erupted green house gases, got into the atmosphere and another Ice age happened, as big as before and the entire species got extinct, wiped out completely, everything was over. But what happened because of it, it changed the way humans live their lives today, it were these first species of all kinds of plants and animals that are what we call fossil fuels today. All those plants and animals died for us then is what we drive our cars from. They became our petrol and diesel, they became our fossil fuel that we are using today.
And after this another land mass came, that we call Pangea today, it looked similar as this was the origin of the continents as we see them today. 230 million years ago, it looks very familiar. They were all joined together. They separated slowly for million years to come, continental drift happened and it was that time when the great Dinosaurs came.
Around 230 Million years ago Dinosaurs roamed this planet and they stayed for 165 million years, that was going on for such a long time that it never seemed anything on earth could shake them but then something not of earth happened, a meteor collision.
A meteor, a huge rock, said to be as broad as 35000 ft and as high as any of the current flying planes in the sky came and banged into the earth. That high and vast it was when it impacted, and again huge amount of debris came, Carbon dioxide came, Ice age happened and all specie that of Dinosaurs were wiped out. Of course it did not happen overnight, almost nothing does, but because they were cold blooded creatures. Mammals, knew how to wear their wools- they survived. They survived this catastrophe whose impact is said to be of 1 million Hiroshima’s together, 1 million atom bombs exploding together. It was after this the age of mammals arrived, around 65 million years ago.
And it was around this time when an immense mountain range, the great Himalayas had begun to form between 50-60 million years ago when two large landmasses, India and Eurasia, driven by plate movement collided. This big mountain range stretching over 2400 kilometres, was formed by the modern plate tectonic forces and kept being sculpted by weathering and erosion for many million years to come.
And nothing can be said about why, when around 4.5 million years ago some chimpanzees decided to start walking on their feet, may be to just see better, or may be they had just begun to think, but two legged mammals came into being just about 4.5 million years ago. And this being our evolution more or less how our earliest ancestors came from to being known to us as homo sapiens today.
Roaming without settling for a very long time, living in the wild, it was the discovery of fire that actually changed the course of men and made them humans. Fire comforted them in each and every possible way. They learnt to control and soon started using it to their benefit. But not before many a thousand years would pass till that question would appear, which has been the source of all thoughts inside every thinking mind.
Who am i? Why am i here?
And as only a few men amongst very many started exploring, the path of unexplainable austerities.
It was only around 15 thousand years ago, when things really started to transform which according to ancient Yogic text was the time when the first Yogi Shiva was said to be roaming in the higher Ice capped gorges of the young Himalayas.
It was around this time when the first transmission of yogic sciences took place on the banks of Kanti Sarovar, a glacial lake a few miles beyond Kedarnath in the Himalayas, where the first systematic exposition of this inner exploration began and got transferred to the Adiyogi’s first seven disciples, celebrated today as the Sapta Rishis. This predates all religion. A long, long time before people devised divisive ways of fracturing humanity to a point where it seems almost impossible to fix, the most powerful tools necessary to raise human consciousness were realised and inseminated.
Today, we are home to around 8.7 million species on our planet and it took 4.5 billion years to come to where we are today.
This planet should be preserved. Taken care of, in much better way than we had done till now. We must learn to cherish what we have earned collectively over the years that has made our lives the most comfortable out of all time periods that a man has seen.
4.5 billion years and 8.7 million species that are present or known to us today. We are just one amongst them. But this obviously is not it. Today it does not matter even if we know it or not.
For over many years we are the only ones responsible who have created a havoc for everyone and turned a blind eye to it. The example is not the one in the history but its ongoing, which we experienced and are still living with.
Ongoing Pandemic was not a work of a day. It is our collective energy which we, for the longest time have been throwing at our mother, earth. And as we are still finding out ways to fight this Pandemic; we know and are rather making ourselves, our bodies, immune system fight better, become better. We really need to look around us, at the conservation and our environment more closely, we have to undertand it and ourselves better. We have to become just a little more aware towards our resources because i am pretty sure that nature is not happy with us.
Next week i will try to take us through the problems that we have created for ourselves that many of us know, and it has some important but hard solutions, hard because disciple is not a trait of modern humans. But we can do better because the source of every possible problem is human mind, we must start to take care of it better.
Yoga is one way, and so is learning how to breathe. A little deeper. Each time you remember it.