Tag Archives: Art

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

22 Oct

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

One of (many, needless to say.. heh.. heh.. 😂) Swamy’s interests is music, of pretty much all kinds. Classical music (of the Bharat kind) & instrumental music (of the global kind) have always been a big draw, though an occasional new ARR movie composition or vocals such as Adele too are listened to with equal joy.🎧

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Despite all that, Swamy hasn’t ventured into audiophile territory for a long time, even when he was earning a reasonable amount of pay, primarily due to the cost (of listening equipment) and secondarily due to lack of awareness. Lately though, some (sizable, considering the limited financial inflow of an early retiree, but certainly not outrageous 👀) investment went into personal hi-res audio equipment.

Swamy’s entry-level audiophile equipment – all sourced through Amazon India, mostly during the innumerable number of sale events they keep hosting – consists of hi-res certified 1More Triple Driver earphones, the மூர்த்தி சிறிது கீர்த்தி பெரிது kind of KZ ES4 earphones, the uber popular AudioTechnica M50x headphones and a hi-res audio music player + DAC – the FiiO M3K. And of course, there’s the punching-way-above-its-size Signature Acoustics Phoenix Hi-res Bluetooth audio transmitter/receiver (yep, I’m fully aware of the jargon dropping here 🤷🏻‍♀🤪). Oh yeah, couple of Bose speakers are in the mix as well, though one of them is constantly on strike (one of those rare CD players) a la public sector bank employees and the other one suffers from the typical portable speaker limitations (how about one from Marshall sir – umm, frankly, the endless Amazon sales keep tempting me for a while)!

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Equipment aside, the sad fact about hi-res audio is its availability & affordability, especially in MeraBharatMahan! 😳🤐 Tidal is a well-known streaming source but both availability & cost will be like those forbidden fruit company iThings. Also it may not have much of desi music selections. Locally available services such as Amazon Prime Music, Jio Saavn, Ghaana, et al don’t overtly specify the quality of audio, so one can never be sure.

The other choice is to be ultra patient and rip all the original audio CDs (remember those – like any true-blue music lover, Swamy too has plenty of originals!) at higher bit rates and create one’s own collection, which will obviously take a lot of time, considering the tremendous amount of manual intervention required and the not-so-fast speed of the USB connection to the external CD drive (many of the new laptops have entirely eliminated internal CD drives, a la the fast vanishing 3.5mm audio jack on modern smartphones). Let’s take a breather here… 😵

 

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So, Swamy was obviously delighted, when he came across a notable hi-res collection of well known (‘heard’ would be more apt) musicians such as AR Rehman, Ilayaraja & such, while looking for hi-res audio files to test the new USB DAC, the FiiO K3, connected to the Obage OE-2425 stereo speakers & of course the head/earphones, on… wait for it… YouTube! 😌🎼🎧

Here’s the channel that does something audio enthusiasts on this side of the world only dream about – a sizable hi-res collection of popular Indian music (no carnatic music yet… ah, man 🙄😖). There may be others, but this is a good place to begin the hi-res journey. Try it – preferably with a good quality head/earphone or pair of speakers & you’ll know what is being elucidated here.😌🤙

The Mastering Project – Hi-Res Indian Music

HiRes Audio Channel YouTubeC

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Oh btw, Swamy is practically an illiterate, when it comes to the nuances of music (despite much of the Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns being musical, by flow).🙏But when has that ever stopped an enthusiast from exploration anyway! 🎧😌🤘

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Swamy listening on 1More Triple Driver earphones

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

உயிர்மெய் (தமிழ் பதிவுகள்) | SwamyQuote | Swamystery | QuorAnswers by Swamy | Quoraவிடை by ஸ்வாமி | BeenThere, SeenThat  

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

12 Apr

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

~ insights on nhAdha (chants and mantras)

 

🙏 Namaskaram. Recently Swamy came across a WhatsApp share (forwarded, of course!) that went gaga about the ‘mathematical insights’ of Vedas. Here’s an excerpt…

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Till I came across this posting, I was unaware of the significance of Rudram, Chamakam. High school students will greatly benefit from memorising  these, to help them in their study of Mathematics. If we  take a look at this excerpt from Chamakam of the Rudra Namaka Chamaka, we will get to know the mathematical genius in the Vedas.

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By now, it’s quite obvious to anyone other than the exclusive (and downright abusive, needless to say, especially when it comes to any aspect of this very ancient culture) non-pseudo-secular pretentious intellectual blabbermouths that there are many dimensions and layers to pretty much anything in this ancient culture, which manages to thrive even after several destructive invasions and even more destructive rule by cringe-worthy politicos, post a hard fought and won (with nary a bloodshed – especially on the invaders’ side) independence.  Even the common citizens who weren’t privileged enough to go to branded scholastic institutions and work really hard daily to eke out a living in this unforgiving ultra-competitive success obsessed society know this, though they don’t get screen time on any media to speak about it. 

Swamy is no vedic expert, but as a voracious (at least once upon a time, reignited again recently, but more like carbureted than fuel-injected) reader, reasonably prolific writer (no formally published work yet, but plenty of 100% agmark original content on various social media platforms – including this one) and seeker (of Truth, not anything connected with mere survival, at least not anymore), he sure knows a thing or two about the breadth and depth of this culture (we never aspired for the height of greatness, hence no invasions by us to spread our culture anywhere else). So, here’s some insight that might be helpful in comprehending the essence of this newfound vedic insight (one of the many, obviously), than merely going gaga over it (which itself is a fundamental problem, as such marvelling and social sharing is so superficial that the same person will end up sharing in the same groups the same thing, sooner than later, without actually gaining any insight whatsoever)…

VedicChanting

Vedas are essentially ‘sounds that were/are heard,‘ referred to as Sruti or Shruthi in SanAthana DharmA. Here’s a simple explanation from the ISKCON website. 

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Hinduism has no single scripture but many. They include the Vedas and their corollaries sometimes called collectively “the Vedic scriptures.”

There are two main divisions:

shruti – that which is heard (revealed truth)

smriti – that which is remembered (realised truth)

Sanskrit is the language of most canonical texts, but many subsidiary texts are written in the vernacular.

Shruti is canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves.

Smriti is supplementary and may change over time. It is authoritative only to the extent that it conforms to the bedrock of shruti.

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In a certain state of meditation, the sages / yogis of ancient times simply heard these sounds – most probably within themselves, than from anywhere outside. 

Then they started chanting those sounds, as they heard them (without any intellectual interpretation), observed certain outcomes and then started teaching the chanting of Shruthi to others. That’s why, even today, in this so-called digital yuga, students learn vedas through repetitive recitals and not by reading books and vomiting what’s read in exams (though printed and digital versions are certainly available now for reference – primarily for the armchair scholars and SoMe sharers).

In SanAtana Dharma (not to be confused with Hinduism, which is categorised as a religion – something done on purpose by the invaders), which is the core spiritual foundation of the ancient BhArath / Sindhu civilization, the Creator had been defined in many ways. While ancient scriptures such as the Upanishads (which too are part of the Vedas, but were crafted by humans, thereby belonging to the Smriti category) define the Creator aka God as Nirghuna Brahmam ~ நிர்குண பிரம்மம், i.e., an entity without form or attributes / characteristics. The same entity is worshipped in many forms as well, which is known as Saguna brahmam ~ சகுண பிரம்மம். 

Dhyanalinga2.jpgSince this is a Mukthi focused culture, anything and everything that aids one towards the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle, were effectively utilised by the seekers. This includes devices (YantrA), chants (MantrA), methods or techniques (TantrA), processes (KriyA, for example) and even Gods. This is quite possibly the only culture where the technology to craft one’s own version of God was in practice, which is known as PratishthA aka consecration. There are a few practitioners of this ancient God-making craft even now, such as Swamy’s Guru Sadhguru, who has created divine forms such as the DhyAnalinga and Devi Linga Bhairavi. This is the reason why everything from a plain-looking uncarved stone to tree to cow to many a phenomenally intrinsic idols being worshipped as God here, even today. The divine is also defined as pure light (exemplified by historical Realised Masters such as VaLLaLAr ~ வள்ளலார்) and also as pure Sound, i.e. NhAdha Brahmam ~ நாத பிரம்மம். 

In essence, the internal comprehension of everything in existence as a manifest form of the unmanifest divine by many a yogi / siddha / saint has led to that realisation being reflected in the various means and paths towards self-realisation. The fortunate people of BhArathavarsha never had any qualms about following one path or another, knowing full well that all of them lead to the realisation of the same Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation. Heck, we even had many a non-believer amidst the sea of believers, from time to time, whose philosophy too is available for anyone interested. And the best part is, they weren’t hunted or annihilated but simply allowed to co-exist in the same society!

Recently, scientists have arrived at conclusion (though in reality, nothing is ever conclusive – especially when it comes to science) that the entire existence is nothing but sound. Or vibrations / reverberation, to be precise. This is essentially science acknowledging what spirituality said a loooooong time ago. Anyway, when we say the entire existence is just sound, the essential question that will arise in our intellectual mind is, ‘then how come there are so many different forms – including humans, each of which is so vastly different from everything else in existence?‘ 

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Now, each sound is said to have a form associated with it. This is the fundamental principle of NhAdha Yoga & Mantra Yoga. By reciting a certain sound, at a certain time, for a certain number of times, one can realise the form associated with that sound. This is why Devi UpAsakars ~ தேவி உபாஸகர் get darshan of Devi by chanting her Mantra, while devotees of Adiyogi Shiva get darshan of MahAdEva by chanting his moola mantra, and so on. Lord SubrahmaNya (or Muruga, ShaNmukha, KArthikEya, etc) in the form of BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi (பால தண்டாயுதபாணி) at Kumaramalai (குமரமலை) is Swamy’s kula dheivam (குல தெய்வம்). Created by Lord ShivA for the specific purpose of leading the Deva army (as it’s General) to annihilate the AsurAs, he is considered and worshipped as the form of the moola mantrA of creation itself, i.e. AUM, the supreme sound of all sounds.  

Since there are various mantrAs (a mantrA is essentially a collection or sequence of sounds, organised for a specific purpose, and associated with a specific divine form) for each deity, the darshans of the deity by the individuals who perform Mantra yoga or NhAdha yoga also vary accordingly. 

Om Swami, a young contemporary – living – Realised Master, has written about how the diligent practice of Mantra yoga led him to the actual darshan of Devi, in his autobiography “If Truth Be Told.” He now teaches the ancient practice of Mantra yOga to seekers. Swamy’s master Sadhguru had got the experience of the divine as NhAdha Brahmam at KAnti SarOvar, a lake located above (and beyond) KEdhArnAth, which is where Adiyogi Shiva is said to have transmitted his yogic Wisdom to Devi Shakthi, in absolute intimacy (the 112 ways to Realisation taught by him are available in ‘VignAna Bhairava TantrA). This experience happened much later than his actual enlightenment experience at ChAmundi Hills near Mysuru. 

Vedas, which are essentially a very structured way of chanting pure sound, the way it is in nature, and thereby resonating with the reverberations in creation in a certain way, can be considered as a method to define the nature of the divine, which is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. So when someone chants Sri Rudram ~ ஸ்ரீ ருத்ரம், what’s actually happening is the definition of the form of the divine as RudrA, in all its glory. 

And there’s a specific reason why vedas are in Sanskrit and not any other ancient language (e.g. Thamizh, which happens to be Swamy’s mother tongue, in which he writes classical hymns / poetry). Sanskrit is a language that’s entirely based on, and – needless to say – crafted from, sound. The syllables of Sanskrit are said to have emerged from Lord ShivA’s Damaru ~ உடுக்கை, which was listened to by his ever present companion NandhikEswara. This too has been mentioned by another contemporary Master Swami SukhabOdhAnanda (of ‘மனசே ரிலாக்ஸ் ப்ளீஸ்’ fame – he’s a disciple of Swami ChinmayAnanda) in one of his books. 

Anyway, the point is, both vedas and mantrAs being in Sanskrit is quite simply because the foundation of all of these is sound – in a multitude of variations, of course. Oh btw, there’s another very ancient language that’s spoken by rishis, yogis and Siddhars of yore, known as SandhyA bAsha ~ ஸந்த்யா பாஷை, which could even be dated before the advent of sanskrit or possibly a contemporary one to sanskrit. This language was quite possibly much closer in tune with the vibrations in nature and doesn’t seem to have a script. Without any active practitioners – at least in the limited field of perception of contemporary humans – it is not known to be known to anyone now. 

ClassicalMusicThose who follow any form of classical music know about the various precise measurements that make sound enchanting, and even purposeful beyond mere enchantment (e.g.: Music therapy). With this context, if one looks at the mathematical precision / definitions in vedas, it’s quite easy to comprehend that it is simply yet another way / method to define the form of the divine, and thereby the Creator, creation, existence, et al, through precise measurements, expressed as sound. 

From now on, whenever you chant a mantrA such as AUM Namah ShivAya or GAyathri, you may inherently be aware that it’s nothing but a nondescript creation’s (ahem, that would be you – on a cosmic scale!) feeble attempt to depict the form that’s associated with that mantrA, i.e. NhAdha / Sound. Just keep aside whatever you think you know, i.e. the intellectual aspect or acquired knowledge, and simply resonate with the sound of the mantrA, so you may realise the real purpose of that mantrA, whatever it is that you’ve been initiated into or have learnt to chant.

Fun Fact 1: In either Nhamakham ~ நமகம் or Chamakham ~ ச்சமகம் (as mentioned in the beginning, Swamy is a vedic illiterate, so his lack of knowledge in such nuances of vedas may kindly be forgiven), pretty much each chant or stanza will end with a mEh ~ மே. There’s an enchanting background tale about this (all ancient tales in this culture are not only enchanting, but have a deeper aspect of the Truth, well hidden beneath the superficial sheath if the tale itself). When Daksha PrajApathi was annihilated by VeerabadhrA (a fierce form created by Lord ShivA, with a single hair from his matted locks, for the sole purpose of destroying DakshA and his acolytes), post his insult of Lord ShivA (by refusing to invite him to his yagnA and refusing to offer the Ahuthi that’s due to him, which resulted in Devi Shakthi, in the form of of Sati – DakshA’s daughter, committing Atma hathyA and leaving her mortal form), he was beheaded by Lord VeerabadhrA. When he realised his unforgivable mortal error and surrendered to the Lord seeking salvation, he was revived back to life by Lord MahEswara who is the ocean of benevolent Grace, but with a goat’s head. Since goats are known to communicate with the sound mEh (மே), it’s believed that in this particular chant by him, worshipping the MahAdEva (God of Gods), every stanza ends with the basic sound of a goat! 

Fun Fact 2: Swamy has written and published (on Social Media, naturally) more than 230 hymns written in classical Thamizh, collectively known as Dhinam Oru Padhigam ~ தினம் ஒரு பதிகம், so far. In his experience, these hymns are written through him than by him. And invariably all of them come with a tune as well. Neither a trained musician nor a qualified poet, it’s truly an enchanting experience for Swamy to not just write these hymns down but also to sing them without having any idea about their musical nuances, i.e. rAga, thALa, et al. In a way, that too is an experience of being in resonance with sound, i.e. NhAdhabrahmA, without actually realising the nuances of it!

May the Grace of NhAdhabrahmA be with you for a purposeful Life, overflowing with resonant Joy. ShambhO. 

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

உயிர்மெய் (Tamil posts by Swamy) https://swamyuyirmei.wordpress.com/
Swamystery (#ThinkOpposite blog posts by Swamy) https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/
SwamyQuote (quotes by Swamy) https://swamyray.wordpress.com/

What’s the Point!

13 May
No NhAladiyAr or Avvai KuRaL interpretations… 
No SwamyQuotes… 
… 
No New – in the past 4 days…
Not No More… Certainly not yet..!
Heh.. Heh.. Heh… 
… 

Anyway, despite no new – agmark original – content from Swamy,

the sky didn’t fall… 
  • the sun still promptly came up on east, shining at dawn… 
  • the birds still chirped merrily and flew around merrily… 
  • the strays keep finding many a hiding place in the concrete & steel jungle of compassionless humans to beat the boiling summer heat… 
  • the juicy news loving Indians somehow don’t seem to be bothered about the second coming of the loudest news anchor of them all, with his own channel now… 
  • the rain still doesn’t seem to be convinced that NammaChennai makkaL are worthy of at least a drizzle (when a downpour is the dire need)… 
  • the Americans – more than half of them, at least – still can’t believe their most unpopular President of all time (who they elected democratically only a few months ago) is running the nation like an arrogant game show host, making the unofficial, self-declared big brother of the world aka US of A, the butt of jokes, day after day… 
  • the other crazy despot ruling the rogue nation bordering the other big brother of the world hasn’t yet pressed that dreaded button, to ignite judgement day
  • the sad state of Tamilnadu that has lost its leader a few months ago and somehow trundles along miraculously as a headless body, is yet to wake up to the reality that there is practically no one around to fill her haloed position…

… wait a minute… this post itself is kinda like one of Swamy’s Nano blogs.. So, is he already back to what he does well – Write! That too, after a hiatus of just four days! Ha.. Ha..

1474812545607.jpgSo, since the post has anyway started flowing, why not explore this thought stream a little bit more and expand this to a Micro blog (don’t worry, this won’t be a Macro blong).

The reason why Swamy started writing this post is a truly humbling one. Despite having thousands of followers – all Social Media platforms combined, that is (he isn’t a celebrity after all – & he’ll never choose to be one, knowing how much he abhors BAUHumbug Template Living by the human herd), not one of them – yep, not even a single follower – seems to be perturbed about the absence of any posts from Swamy, in the past four days. Whoa! 
While a complete lack of response or reaction of any kind should be expected in this superfast paced world with a gazillion distractions, it had a telling effect on the person who continues to craft his ideas, thoughts, perspectives in the form of social media posts.
By asking himself “What’s the Point!” and contemplating the many possible intellectual explanations (ah, that bloody busy free mind is in action again) – in silence, if course – Swamy was had an awakening – that “he doesn’t matter!
img_0719.jpgWhile Swamy’s hymns, blogs, quotes, photos, comments, reflections, reviews, reminiscences, quips, jokes, clarifications, pointed answers & pertinent questions may resonate with a few fellow humans and may even matter to a few more, they might as well be from anyone else. Some random X, Y or Z, on social media!
Humans need information as much as they need oxygen.
Just as air – polluted or not – is everywhere, providing the necessary oxygen for people to breathe, content too is everywhere, providing the information – necessary or not – for people to consume.
Without information – useful or not – the mind can’t be active, since it needs information to keep churning thoughts.
If the mind isn’t active, there’s no individual identity.
Without the “i”dentity, there’s no existence. For anyone! 
As long as a creator (crafter) offers content (output),  in any form that a human being is familiar with (books, speech, art, music, etc), s/he will have fans / followers who will – passively, in all likelihood – await the next output from her/im. But,
In a world where quantity overwhelmingly outmaneuvers quality in pretty much everything, it really doesn’t matter who offers the content.
There’ll always be someone else. In fact, a lot more than one – for any type of content. 

That awakening really jolted Swamy out of his “I craft original content” stupor!

Because, it doesn’t really matter. At least not in the present reality – however much unreal it is. To anyone – friend, follower, fan or some nondescript human who stumbled across the original content, because big G (oh no, not the Creator G, but the Searcher G) led him/er to it. As soon as he stops crafting content, his fans / followers will always find some other source – who may or may not even craft any original content at all.
So, “What’s the Point?,” in creating anything, if it doesn’t matter at all!
Fact is – as hard it is to swallow, as any hard fact – only Content rules. And will continue to. Content creators just come and go. 
Lord KrishNA came & went. BhagawadgitA lives on. 
Gautama, the Buddha, came & went. DhammA, his path to nirvAnA, lives on.
ThiruValluvar came & went. ThirukkuraL lives on. 
Poets of the three Thamizh Sangam era came & went. The Sangam poetry collections like PadhiNenkeezhkaNakku live on. 
NhAyanmArs & AzhvArs came & went. Thirumurais & Dhivya Prabhandham live on. 
VAlmiki & Kambar came & went. Their RAmAyaN(am) live on. 
Adi ShankarA came & went. His bhAshyams, slOkAs, Stotrams & six paths of worship live on, as are the mutts, JyOthirlingA & Shakthi peetams he has created. 
AruNagirinhAdhar came & went. Thiruppugazh, VEl & Mayil viruttham live on. 
MahAkavi BhArathi came & went. His poetry & prose live on. 
ArutprakAsa RAmalinga VaLLaLAr came and went. Thousands of ThiruvAsagam hymns live on.
PAmban SwAmigaL came & went. His KumArasthavam & many other mantrA like hymns live on. 
img_1379.jpgParamahamsa YOgAnandA came & went. His “Autobiography of a YOgi” and the KriyA yOgA path he taught live on. 
Swami SivAnandA came & went. Hundreds of his books, offering amazing insights into the magnificent spiritual culture of BhArat live on. 
Bhagavan RamaNa Maharishi came & went. His “Who am I” self-enquiry and “AksharamaNamalai” and “ULLadhu nhARpadhu” live on.
KAnchi ParamAchAryA came & went. His “Deivaththin Kural” & many unrecorded, deeply insightful discourses live on.
Swami RAmA came and went. His path-breaking teachings, demonstrations and books – including the phenomenal “Living With The Himalayan Masters,” – that opened up the mystical world of Indian spirituality to the materialistic western world live on.
Osho came & went. Hundreds of his enchanting books – including “The Book of Secrets,” which expounds Lord ShivA’s teaching to DEvi Shakthi on the 112 ways to self-realization, and the myriad techniques he taught for self-realization live on.
Agastya muni, Pathanjali, AvvaiyAr, Aristotle, Plato, Rumi, KALidAsA, Kabir, Nietzsche, Whitman, Vivekananda, Tagore, ThyAgarAjA, KannadAsan, ChinmayAnandA, Watts… countless siddhars, saints, poets, realisd beings and masters came and went. The content they left behind, lives on.
img_0660.jpgThe list of great content creators – of past & present (including Swamy’s Master Sadhguru) – is pretty long, varied & impressive. And only their content – spoken, written, sung, performed, taught, transmitted – will live on. May be, forever. This has happened without fail, from time immemorial and will undoubtedly continue to happen, until there’s no time left (oh yeah, we’re a truly stupid species, endowed with one extra sense than other beings, that are very capable of crafting the total destruction of the only planet we inhabit in this incredibly vast, still expanding, universe). 
Humbled by this rude but real awakening, Swamy assured himself that he will continue to craft – and share – agmark original content. Of different kinds. As long as he can. Knowing full well that it’s his content that will live on. Not Swamy himself, who – the person(ality) known as @PrakashSwamy – will be consigned to the flames at some funeral place, when he must ease out of the mortal form, in which he remains trapped, in this lifetime. And that’s the only point of creating anything. For any creator. Perhaps, including “The Creator” of all creation that was, is & will be there!
adiyogi41s.jpgThank you Lord, for letting me realise that “I” don’t matter. Thanks to the awakening I had, the brand Swamy rests lightly on my shoulders now, with a lot lighter head than before! And with your boundless Grace guiding me for the rest of my existence, may valuable content continue to flow through me, if I’m worthy of being your instrument. PraNAm _/\_ 

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 200+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.

You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

Gift, Unwrapped!

18 Mar

Gifting7Swam(il)y* has recently been invited to a few events by near & dear. The list of events varied from occasional housewarming to oft-celebrated birthdays & anniversaries to enchanting spiritual ceremonies. Like any invitee, Swamily too ended up picking gifts for each event and got them wrapped in glossy paper with curious designs. Invariably at each event, there was a lot of curiosity about the gifts – not just ours, of course. Curiosity led to inevitable action, i.e., tearing up the gift wrapper to get a glimpse of the gift itself!

GiftWrap25The torn away, crumpled wrappers, lying discarded, quietly in a corner of the room, where the event happened in all its glory not so long ago and the gifts they securely (& secretly!) held till the event got over, which were now piled up to be displayed in strategic locations within the home, got Swamy thinking about us humans and our fanciful ways with gifts & wrappers…

How many of us have wondered if there is any connection between the value of the gift and the design or quality of the wrapper?

GiftWrap18The number of people who spend time in choosing the wrapper is almost negligible as very few spend quality time in choosing the gift itself, which is typically determined by past (typically unsavory) memories about the recipient, what [s]he has gifted during one of those innumerable vague events that the giver hosted long ago and the budget approved by the home minister (whoever it is, depending on whether the ‘alpha’ is ‘ida’ or ‘pingala’)!

Is the gift bought to show off giver’s stature / taste or receiver’s need / taste?

GiftWrap14Many a time, it’s the price or budget that decides what the gift would be. Inevitably, the recipient’s (potentially tumultuous) past too has a bearing on the decision. As far as stature goes, if, for whatever unexplained reason, we chose an expensive (strictly in our view, obviously) gift, then we may for a moment consider a very glossy looking golden or silver wrapper to showcase how ostentatious the gift within is, to all other gift givers attending that event. Taste is probably the last thing in either the giver or receiver’s mind, though it has the potential to change the whole gifting equation and make it a lasting memory, to be cherished and possibly reciprocated, for a long time!

How many of us extend as much care in unwrapping as in seeing the gift within?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMost of us tear it up in a hurry, not even pausing for a moment to look at the design, color and quality of the wrapper. Very few recipients of gifts are careful (& artful) in making the act of unwrapping look as elegant as wrapping, which in all probability was done by a pro, who does it for a living, mostly positioned in a not-so-glamorous corner of the shop, not far away from the crowded billing counter.

How many of us have marveled at the care & craft of the person who wraps the gifts?

GiftWrap20In all probability, the only thing we might remember about the whole wrapping event is, pushing the poor wrapperer (or is it wrapperist, considering [s]he is truly an artist, even though we pretend to have absolutely no time to spare to appreciate their artistry) to get it done quickly as we’re perennially in a hurry for anything and everything in Life. If at all we’ve responded to them in any way, that would be for rejecting the expensive wrapper and choosing a free or cheaper one instead. Umm.. why bother to care for someone who neither gifts nor receives it from us, eh!

How many of us preserve the wrapper for reuse?

GiftWrap2Hardly a handful. Irrespective of whether you head some kind of a Green council at your workplace or residential area, it’s as rare as an UFO actually landing in your backyard (& quite possibly, to your utter bafflement, the aliens visiting are not tiny green thingies with large browless pitch black eyes popping out of their bald head, as portrayed in countless movies) that you would’ve thought about gift wrapper reuse. Fact remains, they’re connected with not only environment, but are an artwork by themselves, though hardly appreciated by the giver or receiver of gifts!

How long is the gift (& the wrapper) cherished & remembered?

GiftWrap21Gift – probably remembered until it starts gathering dust in a shelf, alongside many other such gifts, thereby eventually – and inevitably – becoming one among the many gifts received over a period of time. There’s a possibility that they’ll be remembered just in time for next gifting occasion to the gift giver, as the act has to be reciprocated, when the receiver and giver swap roles, willingly or not.

Wrapper – most probably remembered (or not at all) for just a few hours, until they are torn upon and trashed. If you belong to the odd / crazy tribe of nerds who gather gift wraps for preserving or reusing, then their longevity could be as long as the next gifting occasion, or even your lifetime!

How many gifts inspire (or not) reciprocation?

Christmas box giftsMost certainly all do, because the size and price are eternally etched in the memory of the receiver, exclusively for the purpose of reciprocation (or retribution). But there’ll only be a handful – in the entire known humanity – who enjoy the occasion and opportunity to gift someone something, thereby ending up spending quality time and effort (& money), each and every time, to carefully handpick a gift (& invariably the wrapper)!

What’s important – wrapper, gift or neither?

GiftWrap9Most gifts are given to ensure social expectations aren’t violated, thereby negating any opportunity to consider them as important. Most gift givers (& receivers) hardly bother about the wrapper, thereby making it a no contest between the mighty gift and poor wrapper. Very few gifts are actually hand picked and packed with utmost care, reflecting the love and affection the giver has towards the receiver, making both the gift and wrapper noteworthy.

If you ask Swamy, he’ll most probably frown and say it’s neither, but the commerce, stupid! For, which came first – gifting or selling (gifts) – is possibly as hair-splitting as the chicken or egg question? Ahem, anyway, in the light of all the deep insights Swamy has shared about the art of gifting and the craft of gifts (& wrappers, of course), now consider this for a moment (or more, if you wish)…

What if you’re the gift? And the all the nonsense surrounding you as a mere facade is the wrapper?

Gifting8In a Life governed, and possibly even directed, by a thoughtless (not mindless, mind you) society, the wrapper has naturally gained prominence over time, compared to the gift. Everyone either marvels or repels at the mere sight of the wrapper. So wrappers change over time into shiny ones with minimalist patterns or colorful ones with creative patterns, to satiate the endless thirst of a society, hell bent on hanging high all those who dare to think about the gift within, which happens to be less than a handful. Old wrappers get discarded at the whim of some skeptic ones and new ones are picked up with utmost care, worried about someone septic. Still, most action, all along the long, often pointless, Life happens, and ends, at just the wrapper level. The gift goes unnoticed during the lifetime. Or many a lifetime. Few gifts are remembered and cherished, after their lifetime.

GiftWrap3How sad, and typically human, considering the Creator – boundlessly benevolent and endlessly creative – endowed each gift, i.e., creation, without discrimination, with the ability to realize the value of the gift. Just looking at what the Creator has done with each and every single one of his (or her, just in case if you, dear reader, happen to be a feminist in disguise, waiting patiently for an eternity to bait any unsuspecting writer making even an oblique reference to the Creator as masculine) creation would take our breath away. But where is the time for us fools to marvel at the magnificence of creation all around, above and beneath us, as we continue to be lost in umpteen pointless pursuits in the name of success, not just losing sight of things worth observing around, but also about ourselves. The compulsively stupid species that we are, with a ridiculously overrated sixth sense, in our society-abiding, self-preserving wayward ways, have got so stuck to the wrappers – however marvelous they are – that we have almost completely forgotten to comprehend, nurture and cherish the gift called Life, the way it is, which remains, for most beings, for many lifetimes, as just a Gift, never Unwrapped!

 * Swamy + family = Swamily

Note: Thanks to Swamy’s colleague (& ment[o]ee) Chan (far from Chinese & very Indian) who triggered this blog post, through a simple mail thread about a quote on the humble wrapper ;).

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Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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