17th Century Ganesha

Ganesha – 17th century, Mandore Rajasthan

17th Century Ram Laxman Sita

Rama Lakshmana Sita – 17th century, Mandore Rajasthan

17th century Brahmaji in Padmasan

Brahma – 17th century, Mandore Rajasthan

17th Century Krishnaji

Krishna – 17th century, Mandore Rajasthan

Mandore-Lord Narasimha

Narasimha – 17th century, Mandore Rajasthan

 

A few months ago, we tended to a frail cat, who walked into our garden unexpectedly. She appeared pregnant, or perhaps had already given birth to a litter of kittens. We remained unsure about the fact of the matter, that stood meowing before us with vulnerable, fiery eyes. She had a pretty demanding attitude. Her meowing had a terribly unpleasant shrill, & an aggressive and annoying tone to it. It was not welcoming to our ears. But she persisted, and we were almost forced into doing our bit for her.

A few weeks later, she disappeared. Very soon, three speckled, tiny timid kittens appeared in our garden, out of nowhere. They stealthily peep out from the thicket of cactus plants encircling our courtyard, whenever Amma puts out food into an old granite stone bowl, especially for the crows. (In the Hindu tradition, it is believed that crows are our ancestral Spirits)

Over the past few weeks, these three adorable kittens are more comfortable around us. Still afraid and cautious, but at times, most trusting and curious about getting to know us better. It is so charming and most delightful to watch them play and care for each other. It is wonderful to observe their wild cat-selves. They are like three miniature tigers growing bolder and stronger with time, blissfully safe in their surrounding wilderness …

 

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Kissed by the winds,

bathed in the cooling rains,

frail, delicate petals,

twirl and swirl …

 

Kanchan | Bauhinia Variegata

Falling silently

to the melody of a quiet night …

 

In the soft morning light,

a meditative gardener sweeps

with strong hands,

and loving eyes …

 

 

 

 

12th October 2019,

Tamilnadu, India

I’ve been reading Shakuntalam | अभिज्ञानशाकुन्तलम् | Abhijñānaśākuntalam, an inspiring Classical Sanskrit play by the 4th century Poet, Playwright Kalidasa. This morning as we cared for the Lilies in our pond, the dance lesson with my student too, was inspired by the wide green leaves of the Lilies. In Shakuntalam, Anusuya & Priyamvada, two endearing friends of the main heroine, use Lotus leaves as hand fans, to help calm the nerves of a lovelorn Shakuntala. They also suggest to her to inscribe a love letter to her Beloved on the lotus leaf with her beautiful nails …

 🎵 Lalitha Lavanga | Album- The Blue Divine | Sikkil Gurucharan & Anil Srinivasan

“Such an exquisite form of unblemished beauty, I have never known, or seen, or experienced in my life before. I am hovering around this beautiful Kunda flower saturated with dew, like a bee at dawn, neither able to enjoy it, nor abandon it. “

“ज्याच्या कान्तींत कसलाहीं उणेपणा नाही अशा या आपण होऊन चालून आलेल्या सौंदर्याचा मी पूर्वी कधी स्वीकार केला होता कीं नव्हता याचा निर्णय करतां येत नसल्यामुळे, उष:काली दंवबिंदूंनी निथळणार्या कुन्दपुष्पाचा भ्रमर आस्वाद घेऊ शकत नाही, त्याप्रमाणे या सौंदर्याचा स्वीकार करण्याचाहि मला धीर होत नाही, आणी त्याचा अव्हेर करण्याचंहि सामर्थ्य माझ्या ठिकाणी नाही.”

~ अभिज्ञानशाकुन्तलम् Abhijñānaśākuntalam, a Sanskrit play by the ancient Indian poet Kālidāsa.

 

 

At noon

by the Lily pond, a

Vermillion Dragonfly,

by its meditative presence,

balance, agility, grace

and focus, spreads a spacious serenity

and a quiet peace into Mother Universe …

The Festival of Navaratri

The October heat in the afternoons is on the rise. The village woman grinds freshly plucked henna leaves from the garden into a smooth paste. I am full of curiosity & wonder, as she takes my hands into hers. She lovingly envelops the tips of my fingers, and my toes with the thick green paste of henna. Its perfect consistency is achieved by adding to it the juice of a few lemons from her garden. She is gifted at weaving conversations. She keeps me patiently engaged with colourful folklores around henna, and it’s magical benefits upon the well-being of a woman. I receive her love. I receive her joy. I receive her blessing.

To allow the henna to reveal its gifts, I am forced to halt all activity. Unable to dance, or to read, or to paint, or to listen to music, I surrender to laying down upon the floor beneath me. She directs me to rest at a spot on the floor where a wonderful breeze blows directly upon me, speeding the drying up of the henna paste. Unable to move, I recollect and hum to myself beautiful padams – dance compositions. It is a joy to sing aloud to the vast spaciousness around me. I have forgotten the pleasure of leisurely laying on the ground, just staring aimlessly at the ceiling. A childlike playful excitement bubbles through my body. I can sense the light orange of the henna darken into a deeper red, with the slow passage of time. The aroma is giddying and delightful. A few hours later, the leaves dry upon my skin. She helps take it all off with a wide & content smile. The darkened orangish-red colour is to her satisfaction. Her joy is contagious. I am overflowing with love and deep gratitude for our sisterhood. I am waiting for dawn to dance in celebration of the joy that henna awakens in me.

Wishing all of you a blessed, joyful and nurturing Navaratri in celebration of the Mother Nature and all Her beautiful forms. 🙏🏽

A few weeks back, an endearing young woman, expressed her desire to learn Indian classical dance from me. Her strong desire and my openness to step into sharing what I know, aligned right away. “Yes. Let us begin this evening”, I said. She lit up with excitement. I sensed a familiar unfounded joy ignite between both of us. We parted momentarily to get ourselves ready for the evening lesson. Every ticking second, unfurled a storm of butterflies in my stomach. By and by, the heat of the afternoon sun softened. As the slanting rays of twilight fell upon the sacred altar, we joined our hands in prayer. Paying homage to all the divine forces, we touched the earth upon which we stood with folded hands, and took Her blessings. The two of us stood face to face. In full faith, we opened ourselves up to give and to receive the dance of life, through our body and breath.

The next day, she brought another young woman along, whose burning desire to dance Bharatanatyam was keenly palpable. I heard a whisper say, “More the merrier.” So now, we were a circle of three. Every day, at an opportune moment, we practiced the classical dance form. I led the instructions. Often, I too danced with them. We were like three tribal women, meeting at a communal dance circle. Our dancing had a raw beauty, joy, and spontaneity to it. The body began to awaken to the power of its life force. Our five senses grew attentive. The tensed tight limbs began to welcome the muscle pain. The resilience, the determination, the staying power to transcend this pain began to grow.

I let go of all previous impressions. I let go of all judgment. I let go of the how, why and when. I allowed the not-knowing. I allowed an unlearning. I allowed faltering. I allowed playfulness. I allowed the joy and fun of dance to take centre stage. Together, we began to remember. I heard words of wisdom resounding in the air around us, ‘All learning is a remembering.’ We reawakened to that which is alive in the memory of each cell, vein, artery, and heartbeat inside our physical body. The thrill of rhythm, and the calm inside stillness, slowly unveiled before us.

We began to purge blocked energies. Streams of energy began to move in and out of our pores. Sweat streams cooled off our heated bodies. As if bathed in the cooling drops of the first rain, our racing heartbeat began to recognise its innate rhythm. The staying power began to grow stronger. Devoid of external mirrors, we began to know our body and its classical proportions from the inside. The inner eye began to reflect back the body’s own sacred geometry. We moved inside out into the horizontals, the verticals, the diagonals, and touched the circumference of our inner/outer circles. We began to sense the density of space. We began to move through the vacuum and the void. We began to extend ourselves into infinity. We began to taste the peace, the calm and the balance, when seated upon the golden throne of our body’s sacred mandala. Our spine elongated. Our shoulders rolled back. The legs bent into a square. Our pelvic bone opened to receive the downpour of energy. The vertical shaft of light began to break an inner cocoon. The butterfly began to birth out of the chrysalis. The women circle began to facilitate their rebirth. Together, they allowed the mad and divine to enter. They began to remember what they already know.

 

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Each one of us is a unique flower blooming to embrace eternity. Each one unfurls her own fragrance. Each one of us is complete in her form. Together, we allow our full blossoming, unhindered, unafraid. When the night falls, our bodies spread restfully like the wide green leaves of a lotus, and lay afloat meditatively upon clear waters. Our roots grow deep into muddy waters. Our stems extend far and wide. When the light, the temperature, and the sensory perceptions align, we bloom open like beautiful, vibrant lotuses. Some bloom at night to the coolness of the silvery moon (कुमुदिनी – Kumudini). Some bloom to the warmth of the morning sun (पंकजम – Pankajam). We are Kumudinis dancing in celebration of the kiss by the Silvery Moon. We are Pankajams in celebration of the life force streaming into us from the Golden Sun.

So it is.

तथास्तु – Tathasthu.

{Please note: The Sanskrit word ‘तथास्तु -Tathasthu’, has been translated by most scholars as, ‘So be it’. I would like to acknowledge that on the morning I penned this post, I received a letter from my dearest friend, Hema A Bharadwaj. It was Hema, who helped me see, that the actual translation of ‘Tathasthu’ aught to be, ‘SO IT IS’. Her lucid insight opened a spaciousness inside of me, & directly influenced the title of this post. I am deeply grateful for our friendship, which has been a healing & transformative force throughout my life. Our sacred friendship has also been the driving force behind, Artisdates.com, this common blog between Hema, Kaarthikeyan & myself, since May 2012. }