Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Appa deepo bhava

"Mann se Ravan jo nikale Ram uske mann mein hai...”

I woke up with this line ticker-taping through my mind yesterday morning. A sub-conscious reminder that it was Deepavali perhaps, but there was no very coherent train of thought leading to or away from Javed Akhtar’s words in Swades.

It is a traditional, oft-repeated sentiment, of course. That, for Ram to reign, Ravan must go. And typically, as we tend to do in India, sophisticated ideas and concepts get distilled into names, into personifications – powerful receptacles and representatives of everything that the dialectical process that preceded it bestows upon them.

Naraka Chaturdashi is named for a powerful and evil man who met his death at the hands of Krishna – and realised, in his dying moments, what a fool he had been. In a message for this day, Sadhguru says that what happened centuries ago can’t surely be relevant to us but we mark it because we must remember – now rather than on the death bed – to purge ourselves of negativity. Consciously sit down and remove accumulations, prejudices that have gathered when we weren’t looking.

In today’s Deccan Chronicle, Swati Chopra writes that in his dying hours, his disciples asked Gautama, the Buddha, for one last teaching. He uttered: “Appa deepo bhava!” Be lamps unto yourselves.

She says:
This Deepawali as we light our homes, let us take a moment to think about the inner illumination the Buddha pointed to in his last words. How might we become lamps unto ourselves? There are two points of emphases in this statement — “lamps” and “yourselves”. In saying “unto yourselves”, the teacher is laying the responsibility of working towards enlightenment upon the student. Do not think of the teacher as the one who will illuminate you. Do not outsource your spiritual work. The teacher can point towards the path; it is you who has to actually walk on it. Thus, the dying Buddha asks his students to look beyond him, the form of the teacher, which will die soon. The real illuminant is within.

This song, Ishq di booṭi, from Coke Studio Season 6 is very special to me. I love every note, every detail of the arrangement, I love the words and I am blown away every single time by the climax. Written by the singer Abrar-ul-Haq himself, there is one succinct passage that tells you what you must do to advance.

The song is laid upon an imagery that was invoked by the Sufi mystic-poet Sultan Bahu:

Alif Allah chambey di booṭi Murshad man vich laayi hoo...
My Master has planted in my heart a jasmine plant... in the name of the primordial one...

That ‘chambey di booti’ is very precious seed, from which the spiritual quest begins. It must be looked after, it must be nourished, it must become the focal point of your life. When that plant grows, when it blossoms... there is havoc but oh, “jaan phullan te aayi hoo” – the very life-breath comes aflutter, Bahu says.

Abrar-ul-Haq goes further with the horticultural theme:

dil di kheti de wich pahlaan niyat da hal waah
khoṭ adaawat nafrat jhagṛe saare maar muka
nafs jiya dushman wi koi naeen, zahr da ṭeekah la
laalach badla hasad kameenah choolhe de wich pa
ishq di goḍi kar ke te hanjuaan da paani pa
te booṭi beej lai
chambe waali booṭi beej lai
haq wali booṭi beej lai

First plough the field of your heart with your sincere intention
Falseness, enmity, hatred, strife: send them packing!
There is no enemy like your own ego – feed it some poison
Greed, revenge and envy are vile – cast them into the fire
Cultivate the field of love, water it with your own tears
And sow the seed!
Sow the seed of the jasmine flower!
Sow the seed of Truth!

The CS video is here, but I recommend closed eyes.

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