Musings

Yoga Time-Out

Seeking Satori
Seeking Satori

Make a hook out of your left hand and reach out and grab your right shin. Reach up with your right hand towards the ceiling. Keep your left knee pressed firmly to the ground. Breathe…look towards your right hand …make sure the muscles in your neck and left shoulder are relaxed...”

Zubin’s voice is soft, calm; it seems to come from very far away as I follow the instructions.  I stare at the edge of my stretched right wrist, hearing the faint roar of my own blood pumping through my veins as I strive to breathe normally. It’s easier now to remember to breathe; much easier than even a month ago, when I would instinctively hold my breath each time I got into any new position. I feel a dull pain in the left side of the neck. It intensifies: I loosen the grip on my shin, the pain disappears and at once my left shoulder relaxes; I didn’t even know it was tense!

I return to contemplating my right wrist and the ceiling above.  Faintly, above the soft thunder of my blood, I hear Zubin murmuring: “It’s not about strength, it’s about becoming aware of yourself, about balance, harmony…

I hear the words without really absorbing their import; I let the mind drift through an incredibly diverse cerebral landscape…

I need to finish that %%^&*@! article.

I’m hungry, must go with the gang to Café Red…akoori on toast, yea! And that tall green gingery drink, whatever it’s called…

Green…must remember to call the gardener, fix the terrace plants…

Oh hell, forgot to go and get some bigger flower pots…

Do that on Monday, no, Tuesday…

I’ve got to call Bala.

The article…

Now, use your left elbow to keep your right knee pressed firmly towards the floor, and reach out with your right hand and see if you can grab the toes of your left foot…”

Hazily, I become aware that my limbs are arranged in an extraordinary pattern. I can feel a foot under my left hip; my left hand has, impossibly, coiled round my back and appears to be resting on my right thigh. But where is my right hand? Ah…that must be it, peeping out from beneath my left knee.  I can see the toes of another foot beneath what must be my bent right knee; I wiggle the toes…and to my astonishment I feel the toes on the foot beneath my right hip wiggle.

Is this a glimpse of true detachment? Nah! It’s just an inability to follow simple instructions.  As Zubin comes by and helps unknot and rearrange me into the required position by a series of deft twists, tugs, pulls and pushes, I slide off the banks of consciousness into the stream of  restless mundane thoughts once again…

Wonder where to get the fibre-glass roof for the terrace…

Hah! Forget it! Crazy idea. There’s no money, unless by some miracle my income-tax refund materializes.

Damn that article…

Besides, there’s the whitewash to do, and also fixing the broken windows…

Perish the thought. Maybe I’ll sell the damned windows…Hah!

There’s a jam on Friday. Must practice that Uriah Heep number…

My shoulder hurts…

Pay the electricity bill.

Jam means whole afternoon gone, so what about the article? I need to finish that %%%&&^*$# article! Must do it tonight, forget Café Red…

Or else maybe I’ll work late, yeah, work till 3 a.m…

Akoori on toast…

My shoulder hurts!

I realize I’m holding my breath again. I breathe deeply, easily; feel the shoulder pain vanish, feel energy surging through the body. It’s an extraordinary feeling, a kind of electric tingle that pulsates with every breath…it’s a feeling I knew in childhood but somehow lost over the decades…a feeling of being here and now, of – well, Being. Yea, of simply Being…

I allow myself to drift away in the embrace of the feeling; a feeling that’s actually a kind of knowing.  The knowledge that I AM, in this body yet able to contemplate it, in this mind yet aware that I have this mind and can channel it. I am here, now! I’ve always been here, now, amidst those whom I love and who love me…in this room, this world, beyond, infinitely. It is an incredibly exhilarating feeling, like it happens sometimes with déjà vu, knowing what’s going to happen, sensing the awesome truth that all that’s ever been and all that will ever be already IS…

I am that I am…

I am That I am

I am That I am

Tat tvam asi

Now slide yourself forward till you are in the child’s position. Relax, let go of everything, allow every muscle in your body to loosen up...

Slowly, I comprehend the words. Lazily, I float through the hazy, endless, weightless waters of satori back towards the banks of reality. I wonder briefly how much time’s elapsed, but let the thought drift away as the comfort of the child’s pose takes hold of my senses. My breathing is rapid but not ragged; the heartbeat is like a pounding bass drum in my ears…slowing down, softening…and presently, I return from the realms of infinite calm to the yoga room.

General ravings, Potshots

Secular meats and other idiocies

Question 1: Which of the following dietary practices are the most secular?

A. Hindu eats beef

B.Muslim eats pork

C. Hindu does not eat pork

D. Muslim does not eat beef

E. Both Hindus and Muslims turn vegetarian

Seriously, this is the kind of question that youngsters are likely to face in competitive exams in the next decade, going by the exquisitely refined crap that passes for intellectual discourse and political debate among academia and in mainstream media today.

Here is a fine example of the stellar academic thinking and intellectual activism – on public display during the past few months – that will inexorably lead to the posing of serious questions like the above. In recent months, certain sections of students in the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi have organized well-publicized ‘beef and pork eating parties’ for students; the idea is that Hindus who join in the revelry can prove their ‘secular credentials’ by eating beef, and Muslims who join in the revelry can prove their ‘secular credentials’ by eating pork.

But when you think about it, all that a Hindu or a Muslim could possibly ‘prove’ by eating beef and pork respectively in the party, is that she/he is hungry. Where in the name of Allah, Krishna, Jesus and other secular deities does ‘secularism’ come into what you shovel into your stomach?

What if a Hindu eats beef (or a Muslim eats pork) at such a party, and then proceeds to puke like mad because the meat is undercooked or overcooked or simply tasteless? Does that make the hapless puker ‘communal’?

And what about a Muslim or Hindu who is invited to such a party but refuses to go? Does his or her refusal to go and hog pigs and cows cast a shadow of doubt over his/her ‘secular credentials’, whatever in @@#$%%&^% that phrase means?

Let me hasten to add, loud and clear with my mouth filled with pork and beef: I believe there’s absolutely nothing wrong in eating beef and pork. Or armadillo balls, or monkey gonads, or idlis for that matter.

What one eats is purely a matter of personal taste. I eat anything that’s served with love and affection.

I state, without either embarrassment or pride, that I love South Indian vegetarian food. And also North Indian vegetarian food. But I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed, and continue to eat, all kinds of meat: of cows, pigs, sheep, lamb, goat, deer, yak, wild boar and so forth. I also love to eat fish from lakes, rivers and seas. Oh, and also crustaceans. In addition, I’ve eaten and still eat a variety of bird: chicken and duck and pigeon, of course, and also quail, partridge, and numerous other species whose names I know not that were felled, cooked and eaten during hikes with friends in the forests of Assam and Meghalaya. Lest I forget, I’ve also eaten, with immense relish, an extraordinary variety of little creatures that are garden-grown – well, basically creatures that live on things that are garden-grown; like little caterpillars (in their cocoons) that grow on pea plants, fried bee larva and so forth.

But you know what? My all-time favourite dishes since childhood are dahi-chawal, kootu, Assamese fish curry and Kerala-style fried prawns.

And I detest paneer in all its avatars. But I don’t consider paneer-lovers communal or secular. I don’t scream: “Ban paneer!”

The point I’m making is: there’s nothing ‘secular’ or ‘communal’ about food. I consider myself a man of faith; my faith is my own business. And what I eat has sweet@@##%%^&-all to do with my faith – or yours, for that matter.

Please go ahead and eat what you wish to eat. Please do let me eat what I like to eat.

All food we eat serves but one purpose: to give us the energy to live. To mix up ‘God’ with food is not only idiotic; it is sacrilege. Because leftovers from the food you eat go down the alimentary canal, to eventually…well…let’s drop the matter.

As Conan Doyle might have put it: “Alimentary, my dear JNU beef-and-pork partiers”.

Bon appetit. And Jai Hind.