Nos Duo Turba Sumus (We two are a multitude…)

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‘The Hammer of God’ has been an all time favorite. Chesterton’s Father Brown has been my soul delight since teenage. Recently, mesmerized by the BBC’s ineffable command of their background music-which can haunt you for years endlessly- I watched their new, delightful series based on the beloved, titular character.

The hammer was definitely not Thor’s (Forgive me Father, I could not help that pun); the story-line was totally different, and the depth of psychological analysis in the original was perhaps missing too. Except that they retained a single line about ‘the heights making men believe they were Gods perhaps!’

But my daughter and I agreed that Father Brown was adorable. His open mind, his love for scones, his ability to laugh easily ( In the ‘Bride of Christ’ he laughs out -and won my heart- when he reads the quote pasted to castigate: ‘When lust conceives, it shall bring forth sin!’) and his sweet simplicity, were hmm…plain delectable! I can  bring myself to forgive that they  mercilessly hijacked the classic story ‘Eye of Apollo’  only because of Father’s great charisma.Kudos, Mark Williams!

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The Essays of  Elia (1823) by Charles Lamb is another classic.

I  got an opportunity to thoroughly relish his eponymous essay ‘A dissertation upon roast pig’  and  ‘A bachelor’s complaint of the behaviour of married people’ by chance accident…( Your hand reaches out to pick a book which just had these delights tucked away in them) only to watch the movie ‘Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society’ that blew in the essay on the pig-with its whiffs of simple joys- right back into my life a few days later. Serendipity? Oh, yes! May she continue to grace my life always.

In Joseph Addison’s essay on ‘Friendship’  (1888) he writes presciently, ‘Some friend is a companion at the table, and will not continue in the day of thy affliction : but in thy prosperity he will be as thyself and will be bold over your servants. If thou be brought low, he will be against thee, and hide himself from thy face.’

Wow! How many of those ‘friends’ I have had! Exactly the above observed behavior!

Ironically, in Goswami Tulsidasji’s ‘Sree Ram charit manas’- the Hindi Ramayan- in the Fourth Canto ‘Kishkindha Kanda’,  Lord Ram explains to Sugreeva about toxic friends!

” Aagem kah mridu bachan banayi/ Pachem anahit mann kutilayi//

Jaakar chitt ahi gati sam bhai/ Us kumitra pariharehim bhalayi//’

‘The friend who speaks sweet/sugary words on your face but bitterly gossips about you behind your back, that one is wicked! His mind is crooked like a serpent’s path. It is better to forgo such a bad friend from your life.’

Gotcha!

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Note: While browsing through a magazine in a shop, I encountered the confession of a royal who had it all: including depression.

He said something deep. ‘ Depression is the inability to have feelings. It is not about bad feelings.’

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For sunshine, Father Brown, chewing on the delights of roast pig and ruminations on the vagaries of  friendships… a toast for the joyous feelings that they provoke! Perhaps we underestimate the value of life’s most precious gifts- disguised as the simplest and easiest to find- on our life paths.

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Title: Shamelessly copied from the starting of Addison’s essay.

Ovid, Met.i. 355

 

23 (Kishkinda Kanda) Then the Lord smiled…

ram-avatar

Lobh paas jehi gar na bandhaya/ So nar tumh samaan Raghuraya//

Yeh gun sadhan tem nahim hoyi/ Tumhari kripa paav koyi koyi//

The mortal who has not donned the noose of greed- for worldy possessions- around his neck is akin to you, Sri Ram himself!

That quality is not acquired by striving or penance. Only by your blessings can a person acquire that sort of detachment.

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Tab Raghupathy bole muskurayi/ Tumh priy mohi Bharat jimi bhayi//

Ab soyi jatanu karahu man laayi/ Jehi bidhi Sita kai sudhi payi//

Then Lord Ram smiled and said: ‘Brother!  To me, you are beloved like Bharat himself!’

‘Now focus your mind to discover ways to get information about Sitaji.’

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Doha:

Ehi bidhi hoth bathkahi aaye banar joodh/

Nana baran sakal disi dekhia kees baroodh//

As the conversation continued, troops of monkeys of various colours could be seen arriving from different directions.

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Banar katak Uma mai dekha/ So murukh jo karan chah lekha//

Aayi Ram pad navahim maadha/ Nirakhi badanu sab hohim sanadha//

(Lord Shiv says) ‘Hey Uma! I saw the monkey army assembling! Only a fool would have dared to start counting!’

‘They came and bowed at Sri Ramji’s feet one by one. On getting to catch a glimpse of the Lord- the epitome of beauty and sweet compassion- every one of them felt that Sri Ramji was theirs!’

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As kapi ek na sena mahim/ Ram kusal jehi poochi nahim//

Yeh kachu nahim prabhu kahi adhikayi/ Biswaroop vyapak Raghurayi//

The Lord spoke warmly to each monkey and enquired after his welfare.

It is not anything extraordinary , since Lord Sri Ram is the incarnation of the omnipresent and omniscient divinity.

Note: We also learn the art of benevolent leadership from the Lord’s care for each member of his army!

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Tade jah tah aayasu payi/ Kah Sugreev sabahi samuchayi//

Ram kaju aru mor nihora/ Banar joodh jahu chahu ora//

On hearing the orders, the monkey army froze to its position. Then Sugreev spoke thus:

‘This is the task given to us by Lord Ram and my request to you…Spread in all four directions…’

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Janaksuta kahu khojahu jaayi/ Maas diwas mah aayehu bhayi//

Avadhi meti jo binu sudhi paye/ Aavai banihi so mohi maraye//

‘Go and search for Janakiji! Brothers, return in a month’s time!

If someone returns without any information, I will have no other option but to finish him off!’

Note: Ironically, the leadership style of Sugreev seems to be extensively in use  in the world of ours, metaphorically speaking!

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16. Kishkindha Kanda…Khal Kai Preeti Jadha Dhir Naahim

Ramji

Sundar ban kusumit ati sobha/Gunjat madhup nikar madhu lobha//

Kand mool bhal patra suhaye/ Bhaye bahut jab te Prabhu aaye//

The luxuriant forest on the mountain was full of flowers and resplendence. In the hunger for honey, groups of bees were buzzing around the vicinity. Ever since the Lord arrived, there was a great abundance in  herbs, fruits, leaves and roots in the forest.

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Dekhi manohar sail anoopa/Rahe tah anuj sahit surbhupa//

Madhukar khag mrig tanu dhari deva/Karahim siddhi muni Prabhu kai seva//

Charmed by the beautiful and unique mountain, the Lord along with his younger brother started dwelling there. The Gods, Siddhass and sages took the forms of honey bees, birds and animals in order to serve Lord Sreeram.

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Mangal roop bhayavu ban tab te/Keenh niwas ramapati jab te//

Phatik sila ati subra suhayi/ Sukh aaseen taham dwai bhayi//

When the Lord  of Lakshmi started dwelling there, the forest became a glorious place. There was a brilliant, exquisite crystal rock of extreme beauty; the brothers could be seen seated on it.

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Kahat anuj san kadha aneka/ Bhagati birati nripaneeti bibeka//

Barsha kaal megh nabh chhaye/ Garjat laagat param suhaye//

Sree Ramji used to narrate lots of stories to his brother- about devotion, detachment, art of ruling and knowledge. The  blue black clouds spread across the sky in the rainy season looked enchanting, as thunder roared.

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Doha:

Lacchiman dekhu mor gan naachat baarid pekhi/

Grihi biratirat harash jas Bishnubhagat kahu dekhi//

The Lord said: Look Laxman, at the muster of peacocks! They are dancing in delight on seeing the rain clouds. It is like a householder, who is fascinated by the idea of detachment (aka vairagya), and getting to see a Vishnu bhakt!

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Ghan ghamand nabh garjat ghora/ Priya heen darpat mann mora//

Damini damak rah na ghan maahim/ Khal kai preeti jadha dhir naahim//

In the sky the thunder is growling mightily, and my mind is at a loss without my beloved Sita. The lightning flash does not stay forever in the clouds, it is similar to the unsteady benevolence of a wicked man.

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Barashahim jalad bhumi niarayem/ Jadha navahim budh bidha paayem//

Boond aghat sahahim giri kaise/ Khal ke bachan sant sah jaise//

The clouds are descending  near  the earth before turning into downpour, like a scholar becoming more and more humble with his learning. The mountain is enduring the impact of the furiously falling rain drops, like the sages endure the harsh words of the wicked.

The Two Ravens

In Viking legends, Odin, the Shaman God of Wisdom, was accompanied by two ravens-Thought and Memory.

How appropriate, I think, as I close Aarachar, Meera’s brilliant book. ( HangWoman- K.R.Meera, available in English translation)

As Chetna  GriddhaMallick, the first official HangWoman ( yes, except a fiery lady anscestor) walks alongside with the reader,  through  552 pages of haunting story space,  her thoughts intersperse with her memories seamlessly.   Those symbolic Ravens had  narrated stories , one after another.There was love , lust, betrayal, horror, history, crime, fury, and others of that hue. Even at the last page, as she smilingly walked away to the ingeniously named workplace, which combined future and consequence together, she remained an enigma. The fact that she had left her love  behind, literally gasping for breath, added to the final effect.

When I had reached half way, I had found resonance of many of Chetna’s strengths in Dr.Estes’s Wild Woman explanations. I found more as I finished.

” The tale is probably a fragment of a much larger and ancient death and resurrection story centering around a female God head…it tells us something about the nature of secrets and even perhaps,what is killed off in the psyche when a woman’s life is not properly valued. She represents a Kore-the woman-who-will-not-marry aspect of the female psyche.The part of the woman that wants to keep to herself alone, is mystical and solitary in a good way, and is taken up with the sorting and weaving of ideas, thoughts, and endeavours…

Remember canto hondo, the deep song and hambre del alma, the starved soul? In time, these two forces, through dreams and the woman’s own wild life force, rise to the surface of the psyche and break out the necessary cry, the cry that frees. A woman finds her voice then. She sings out, cries out the secret, and is heard. Her psychic footing will be restored.” ( Chapter-Battle Scars: Membership in the Scar Clan, Women who run with the wolves)

Time for some student to dig into Mythical studies, and do a doctorate on this novel. It is such a satisfying read- intellectually, spiritually and from an arm chair traveller’s perspective. Through centuries past, histories past, women and men and religions past…to certain home truths that never change. Simply wonderful.

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I was gifted a Sriramcharit Manas , written by Sri Goswami Tulsidasji by a dear friend. Going through the introduction, I was struck by how certain stories of great men and the women who inspire them, resonate same across regions.

Tulsidasji had got married to a lovely woman and had been besotted with her. Once she went to her home and Tulsidasji followed her quietly. His wife laughed at him, ” The fascination that you have for my mortal body- if only you had but half of that concentration on the Lord, your boat of life would have crossed over safely by now!”

Tulsidasji was struck by her words, and leaving behind his Garhasthya forever, went to Prayag.

We grew up reading Aithihya Mala by Kottarathil Sankunny that narrated many legends and myths of Kerala. In a Folk Story collection from my land , ( Keraliya Nadody Kathakal, Alangode Lilakrishnan) comes a story on ” Taikkattu Yogiyar”  – a saint whose past had a similar background. The young man gets addicted to a lovely woman, and one day had to face a river before he could reach her. There was no boat around, and so using a bamboo stick, he crosses on what looks like a boat. It was a floating dead body in reality. By the time he reached the shore, he was drenched and shocked. But he still wanted to reach her side. He sees a rope hanging over the closed walls, within which her house was situated. He crossed over, only the rope was a dead snake entangled over the walls. The woman who heard his heroic tale of reaching her, laughed with slight contempt.

” Shame indeed! You have embraced two dead bodies to reach my living body. Has the Truth disappeared from your vision?”

He saw the truth then and left forever Garhastya , in search of the Ultimate.

So many myths, so many truth seekers, so many guides who show the way.

To spent some time daily, in the company of those  great minds, is so necessary in our own journeys.

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