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Thursday, May 3, 2012

An evening of Soul music

It was 'the tree' that held centrestage that evening. Everything else dipped away into the horizon along with  the setting sun. Want me to describe 'the tree'? I have a better idea. Close your eyes for a minute.  Now go back many centuries - infact to the time of the Buddha. Remember, he is the one who attained enlightenment while meditating under a tree. Build a picture of Buddha's tree. Yes, it must have been huge, with a  gnarled  trunk and branches sprawling lazily in all directions ; It must  also have had  magical powers to hypnotize Buddha into choosing it over the other trees. Carrying on, picture lanterns hanging from the low branches  of the tree and marigold flowers linked to one another to form many  chains .All around is darkness. The only light is from the lanterns and from a crescent moon. And then one hears the chant : Buddham saraṇaṃ gacchāmi, Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.(To the Buddha for refuge I go ,To the Dharma for refuge I go, To the Sangha for refuge I go) . The chant is repeated but now it is louder and more insistent . Many other voices join in - 'Buddham sharnam gacchami, sangham sharnam....' .Is that my mouth moving ? my lips forming the words ? Startled I open my eyes . The first thing they fall on is 'the tree' - as beautiful and magical now as it must have been centuries back. But it is not the Buddha sitting under it but a young group of musicians belting out buddhist chants. My eyes wander - open wider. In the stillness of the night, with only the lit lamps and the moon, are sitting hundreds of men and women, listening in rapt attention to the chant, their heads moving in tune with the throbbing drums . There is no other sound . More than five hundred people silently listening to Buddha's words....

And then comes a man in a white kurta pyjama. He is carrying a 'jhola' - just what Kabir may have woven on his loom. Hark!  is that Kabir's  poem he is singing ? 'Nirbhay Nirgun  Re Gaunga...'

Fearlessly I Will Sing the Attributes of the One without Attributes

Using the Base Lotus as the Steady Seat
I Will Make the Wind Rise in Reverse
Steadying the Mind's Attachments
I Will Unify the Five Elements
Ingila, Pingala and Sukhman are the Channels
I Will Bathe at the Confluence of the Three Rivers
The Five and Twenty Five I Will Master by my Wish
And String them Together by One Common Thread
At the Summit of Aloneness the Un-struck Anahad Sound Reverberates
I Will Play the Thirty-Six Different Symphonies
Says Kabir Listen Oh Practicing Aspirant
I Will Wave the Flag of Victory) 

And 'the tree' ? the tree had changed from being Buddha's source of enlightenment  to  being Kabir's expression of angst and cynicism  at the duplicity and guile of the keepers of the world. Had I ever really heard Kabir so raptfully as on that evening of the crescent moon and the lanterns and the light coming from the orange of the marigolds? No . Had I ever understood how Buddha must have felt when he saw the' light' ? No.

But that evening with the sun dipping into the horizon and hundreds of people sitting silently , listening to music for the soul, I sort of began to also feel ...and see....and hear.

It all began with the tree...

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written !! Hope you like this too .