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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Enamel Paintings

Last week I had the pleasure of viewing an exhibition of enamel painting. I enjoy such exhibitions and I am sure even the students attending art colleges would have enjoyed this exhibition.

My friend had attended the 15-days workshop of enamel painting and mastered some basic skills of this art. On her return she poured out all her experiences, recalling moments that she shared  with other professional painter.

This got me interested.

It has been long time since I have painted and but listening to her enthusiasm, I was inspired, sat craving for paints and brushes again and may start one painting in oils soon.

The enamel painting is kind of different from other paintings, because it has a different approach. Colored powder is used to make designs on a metal, then fired in a strong furnace for 2 minutes for powder to melt and give it a glossy finish. Friend says there is surprise element at every stage and the painting has to be done in stages, like layer after layer, each time painting a little, introducing it into the furnace for the powder to melt and hoping to get the desired effect.

My friend is a good artist and has made many oils and water colors too, so during the workshop, her artistically done enamel painting was quite good and few of them were exhibited at Tao Art Gallery at Worli.

This one was done by my friend and exhibited at the gallery. with just two colors, black and white, it made quite an impact.

I had liked this one which is kind of abstract concentric circles, superimposed one above another creating a beautiful design, he must have used many layers to get this effect.

I was especially impressed by this girl, who was to be able to wear her own creations. Such a proud moment when people ask her "Did you design this?" and she lowers her eyes, looks once again at her locket and smiles saying "Yes, I did"

I liked this painting for its choice of its bright colors, shading it a bit, surrounding it with black net giving it a butterfly effect.

This one was my favorite and I liked this the best. The center semicircular gold ball was quite impressive with the balance of identical designs on its four sides.

There were many more, some of them in set of three, complimenting each other exhibited side by side. 

Every design had different effect and some of them must have surprised the owner too, because the results are some times very different from what the artist had imagined.

Some of them so beautiful that one can stand back and admire it again and again.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wooden Steps-
Now its only an ornament in huge apartments that have lifts

Friday, 13 January 2012

Book Review - An Atlas Of Impossible Longing

How many times have we stretched our hands towards our friends asking them to read our palm in jest and how much of it do we really believe it?

“Want, want, hope, hope…this is what your palm says too, moshai, your palm is nothing but an atlas of impossible longings…Nothing but longing.” (pg. 199).

And that is exactly what can be true for everyone of us who seek the astrologer’s predictions, it’s what we hope and want, a better future with security, wealth and health, all in perfect balance-an impossible longings.

I read the blurb at Simon and Schuster, was impressed and bought immediately, it read:
On the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their vast new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, an orphan of unknown caste adopted by the family. Confined in a room at the top of the house, a matriarch goes slowly mad; her husband searches for its cause as he shapes and reshapes his garden. As Mukunda and Bakul grow, their intense closeness matures into something else, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but his thoughts stay with his home, with Bakul, with all that he has lost—and he knows that he must return…….. 
The book is in three parts and carries the story across three generations.

The characters are well sketched out and the scenes of Calcutta, Songrah and a house at Manoharpur come alive with her vivid descriptions

“We went from room to room, Bakul providing explanation for each, with apologies for all-pervading dust. She spoke in the same passionate descriptive way, not pausing to let us respond. I recognized the mildewed portraits on the ground floor from my visits with Aangti Baba, and the chandelier he had been eying still hung from the ceiling, too grey with dust and cobwebs, surely, to make light. We passed through enormous wood-paneled billiards room, with table piled high with legless chairs, broken boxes and pictures in frames. I wondered who had used it in the past- it was certainly never going to be usable in the future".(pg.291)

Staying in an isolated place can wreck the nerves of a normal person and this character is clearly etched out in the first section ‘The drowned house’ where Kunanbala suffers from a strange disease of hurling random abuses, and has to be locked away in a room to save the family from embarrassment.

As the relationship between Bakul (a motherless child) and Mukunda (an orphan) grows, you begin to wonder if the caste and social status will come in their way.

Good story, very riveting, read it during the weekly 3 hours-bus journeys to school, during which I often read books to divert my mind from crazy traffic of Mumbai. This is the book I would recommend that people with a librarian degree buy for their libraries, a book that I enjoyed a lot, especially the third section “The Water’s Edge’ that got me so interested that I finished it all in one go, at home, under warm covers. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My Spiritual Guru is in Mumbai this week

Normally I am a late riser but I do wake up early sometimes if the duty or the interest beckons, and this time it was the latter. Like every year, this year too I had family staying at my place, during Babaji’s visit,  who would be attending Satsang all three days, but since the distance is too far (at Bayender)  and me with a weak body, I was to attend only one special one on Sunday which is hosted by Babaji, My Spiritual Guru.

That meant sleeping early at night to wake up early the next day. But New Year eve program on TV was distracting, so while the rest of the family went off to sleep by 10pm, I stayed late night watching the TV program at Star Plus Channel as we saw the change from year2011 to the year2012.

I was too drowsy to wake up at 5am on 1st day of the year2012, but the activity of my guests drinking tea/spiritual discussions/bathing etc woke from my slumber and I was ready by 6am.

We reached the venue at Bayender by 7am, and struggled in long queues to get inside the compound. Although the hall was empty inside, there were long queues at every entrance and lots of commotion outside by the people who believe in cutting queues. The stronger and influential ones always have easy way out while the rest wait patiently for their turn.

Anyways, I found a chair facing a big screen and waited for 2 hours, till it was time for discourse.

Babaji began his discourse at 9:30am and the Satsang lasted for 90 minutes, the message was mainly introspection on the things that we do and is it proper to act the way we do. There were many questions asked on behavior and attitude, which many devotees could identify. Happy to share his message with those who were unable to attend the discourse on 1st January 2012:

The topic was 'come out of darkness and get enlightened to find the truth' 

What is the purpose of life and how do we fulfill it?  We must try to understand the depth of this message and try to understand what does that darkness mean? The darkness mentioned here is not the one where you cannot see, you stumble and fall, but darkness of knowledge where you cannot see the truth.

Today everybody is wishing each other ‘Happy New Year’. We say 'Happy New year to everybody but if we don't practice the right methods to be happy how can we be happy? Just words don't suffice; if we wish to be happy then we have to make it happy. Let us ask ourselves what is there in this world to be so happy about it? We are actually reminding each to make the year a happy one!

So how do we find happiness? Money? Status? Family?  Think again, only when we have His grace, can we find happiness.

When there is hunger for knowledge then we can see the light.

To show our love for our Lord, we waste our time going to holy places, temples, shrine, but where is your Lord? These are just illusions.

If you love something you have to go and find it there, but if you are looking in wrong places then how will you find it? Everything that we do, we think whether it is profitable or loss to us, we don’t do anything unless we have a selfish motive. There has to be a logical conclusion to whatever we set out to do. We have to think before we proceed towards that goal

Atma and Paratma, (soul and Lord) both are inside us but there is a wall separating the two, we need to break that wall and unite the two.

How do we achieve that?

When we are sick, we go to a doctor, he prescribes us the medicines and we get well only after we follow the prescription, go to a pharmacy, get the medicine and take the dose. There is the remedy for external illness.

But what about our internal disease called Ego?

This disease has to be treated and its prescription is also within us. If we find the medicine within us, and kill this disease then we find the Shabd and then we recognize our Lord. But this is a long procedure and the distance has been created by attachment and other vices, thus we get diverted in different directions.

We make our own interpretation of all that we read in holy books, different books have different stories but all the religions say the same thing that there is only one truth, and that truth is God. Truth cannot be changed nor it is an external thing.

In Gurubhani it is explained that Spiritual Guru is just a physical body, The journey just begins with body, He is just the medium for reaching the truth. Only humans can make us understand, plants cannot, nor the rocks nor the animals. Only human can guide a human, to understand the message, to be alert in seeing that light and that sound. We don’t have to choose the Guru, all spiritual Guru’s are the messengers of God who have same goal of showing the path, with only difference being in their way of explaining and in our power of absorbing. We should not limit our self to external form but delve inside through our devotion and recognize the truth.

The biggest Seva is 'Naam ki Kamai', but we are happy with Seva (service) of external kind. Unless there is no proper atmosphere, we cannot attain anything. That is why we need to recognize real Seva, real Satsang and real Darshan.

So what is Darshan?

Darshan is not just staring at the face of your spiritual Guru. It is deep concentration to something more internal, so much so, that every other awareness is dimmed. Have you seen the love of a mother for her child? A mother will be so engrossed with the activity of her child that she might not even hear a telephone bell.

Such is the helplessness of love, when one can see nothing but the Truth and that is the true Darshan. Since we don’t understand all these things we live in darkness.

We live in darkness hence we light lamps and agarbattis to dispel the darkness. 

But what about removing the darkness of our mind? 

Only when we remove the darkness from our mind, we can connect with the light of knowledge. Spiritual Guru helps us to dispel that darkness, he is there to guide us to the proper path.

When we buy a new computer, what do we do?

It has a blank memory; we program it, whatever is the input, the resulting output we get. If you wish to delete files from your computer, you have first to scan everything before deleting, separating the important files, so that we can remove all the unnecessary files. We have to be systematic to get the best results.

Similarly, whatever you get is what you deserve. If you do devotion, you will get the results. We just have to input  the Name of our Lord, that is why we have to do Simran(meditation), because with Simran you clean your system,. We don’t wish to be entangled with unnecessary things; we have to identify what influences us and delete useless things by meditation.

There is a tourist spot a Lucknow called ‘BhoolBuliya, which is like a concrete maze where one can get lost if he is not guided properly, to find a way out, one has to distinguish some valid points.

At every stage of our life we need a Guru, a guide.

A child does not say “let me learn on my own”, he needs his mother to help him with his first step, when he grows up to go to school, he needs teacher, when he starts working he needs the guidance from his boss, thus he need support all his life, a guidance to move in this maze of life so that he does not get lost in this ‘BhoolBuliya’

We can travel the world and stay in strange places but we will always be second class citizens, we cannot find the Truth is strange places, its only when we reach our own town, when we reach our own true home, do we find peace when Atma and Paramatma meet.

But we complain that we have no time.

You have time to stand for hours in front of the mirror adjusting your head gear(pagri), decorating yourself, going to salon, parties, social gathering, but you have no time for your Lord? How would you feel if your child said that he has no time for you?  We need our child to sit with us, spend some time with us and make us happy. We advise our children to keep good company because he is likely to pick up the qualities of his peers.  Don’t you wish that your children listen to you? If we don’t fulfill our duty towards our Lord, how can we expect Him to protect us and give us his grace by guiding us towards Truth within us? If we disobey our Lord by giving excuses then how will we reach God? If we get entangled with worldly things how will we free ourselves?

After many million rebirths, we have finally achieved a human form and if we don’t utilize this human form then we know not when we get this human form again.

There is much too much pain and suffering in other reincarnation and they, the lower species, have no powers to protect themselves. Have you not seen the horse being whipped harshly and the horse cannot protest? or a worm being crushed under feet for no fault of his?  Would you like to be reincarnated to that lower species? Human form is the top of the creation, the only form when you can realize God by devotion and meditation. While you have the superior human form, in which you can find Lord, do your meditation, it’s the only form where you can find Truth.

We should not worship out of fear, we should worship out of love for our God.

Many people worship snake, giving it milk, joining hands, trying to make friendship thinking that it will not bite if you butter it. They are afraid that it might bite if not worshipped. Man finds the easy way out by showing external devotion, praying so that Gods are not angry with him, thinking that he has done his duty but this is not enough. You don’t become chef by reading cook books, you don’t get driving license by just reading instructions, you have to practice to perfect your art, no books can help you perfect your skills.

Saint Paul says:”I die daily, that which is born from flesh to flesh and other which is born from spirit to spirit, to enter the gates of heaven, only to die a royal death.

We listen to our Guru only in his presence and forget as soon as he is gone. The way to meditation is to close all the nine apertures of our body and bring the concentration on the 10th door which is here, at the eye center, when he tastes the nectar at the 10th door and hears the sweet music, he will see the light of Truth and he will find the divine happiness.

Going for a satsang is not just to give attendance, it is a place to absorb the message, if you cannot absorb what is preached at the satsang,

Then what is the use of going for spiritual meetings?

There is no shortage of people attending satsang/temple but if they are not attentive than what is the use? Spiritual Guru is not interested in quantity of people attending his satsang, he is only interested in those who obey him and follow the path that he is guiding them. He does not want people to sit in 1st standard all their life, he wants them to advance to a better stage and graduate to attain success.

A spiritual Guru wants his disciples to graduate by following a right path because without devotion and meditation there is no eternal peace and happiness and he will continue to live in darkness.

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