Tag Archives: Dance

NATYA – a simple formula for success

25 Oct

On Vijayadasami day (Oct 22, 2015), considered auspicious for Vidhyarambham (initiation of learning, of all kinds, including performing arts) in Bharat, Swamy was invited to be one of the chief guests for a classical dance event. While Swamy doesn’t have any claim to be associated with dance in any way (he at least actively listens to many kinds of music, including the classical, and even sings & plays percussion instruments, though not formally trained in either), he chose to accept the invite as a mark of respect for the tremendous amount of effort that goes into learning an art or craft (or even sport for that matter, which Swamy has witnessed up-close-and-personal as he’s been part of the quest to raise Jr as a sports – Chess – champion) by all beings involved – the learner (usually an eager child), the learned (the teacher, trainer, coach or Guru, who trains many eager children), the learning enablers (usually parents and a few near & dear) and the learning itself, which is an excruciating, arduous & invariably long process that inevitably consumes a significant part of the childhood. But on any day, Swamy would gladly vote for children spending time learning a performing art, craft or sport, instead of wasting long hours pointlessly in rote learning.

wpid-20151022_181121.jpgThe event Swamy was invited to was a Salangai Puja, to mark the elevation of learners of classical dance from beginner to intermediate level, by letting them wear the salangai on their legs (around the ankle) for the first time, after a few years of learning the basics of classical dance – Bharatanatyam, in this case. The learners will continue to learn for a few more years under the Guru before they can do the Arangetram, i.e., first (typically public) solo performance, announcing to the world that s/he is ready to perform the dance independently anywhere.

SP31Four children – Adhira, Shailaja, Shivadarshini & Srujana – from Siva Natyalaya (the popular dance school of Mrs. Bhuvanadevi Karthikeyan located at Madambakkam, near the famed ancient Shiva temple) were elevated by their Guru to the next level on Vijayadasami & Swamy was one of the chief guests (the other two – Mrs. M.R.Lakshmi & Mrs. Krishnakumari Karthikeyan – were eminent persons from music & dance arenas respectively). This blog post is an excerpt of Swamy’s speech at the salangai puja (not his first public speech but certainly the first at a performing arts or cultural event).

NATYA – a simple formula for success

SP4Swamy’s speech at Siva Natyalaya’s Bharatanatyam Salangai Puja (சலங்கை பூஜை) event in Chennai on 22-Oct-2015 (the speech was in Tamizh தமிழ், which Swamy is quite conversant with, as it happens to be his mother tongue தாய்மொழி)

Namaskaram. After seeing my profession on the invitation (in chaste தமிழ், no less), you must’ve been wondering about what I really do for a living and what relationship do I’ve, if any, with dance!

பிரகாஷ் ராமஸ்வாமி – முழுமை வழிகாட்டி, மனித உள் ஆற்றல் கண்டறிதல் மற்றும் பேணி வளர்த்தல் வல்லுநர் 

SP14I too have wondered the same way about the dance part, as unlike the other two chief guests here – one from the classical music world (learning from none other than the great Semmangudi himself) & the other from the classical dance world (whose grandfather learned from the legendary Balasaraswathi), I’ve nothing to do with dance. Music has been a part of my Life but dance not so much. But as I also write (blogs now, books soon), it’s natural for me to ponder about things and wonder about connections between seemingly unrelated things. When I thought about me & dance, it dawned upon me that there indeed is a powerful connect. And that is Adiyogi (Swamy pointed to the bronze Nataraja statue on the stage that was decked up with flowers for the auspicious occasion).

SP2As someone on the spiritual path for the about 6 years now through Isha yoga, we’re deeply reverential to Adiyogi. Shiva is considered the first yogi in the yogic culture. Incidentally, he also happens to be the Lord of Dance, i.e. Nataraja. His famed dance is the Tandava – in Ananda & Rudra forms – and he’s also known as Thandavakkon in Tamizh because of this. So, now you know the connection between Swamy and dance (the audience chuckle). 

SP9Once that became clear, I’ve thought about what to say in this forum, where eminent persons from music & dance arena are there and children are performing the traditional Bharatanatyam dance beautifully with able guidance from their Guru & the accompanying musicians. Since children are familiar with formulas in many subjects they learn at school such as maths, physics & chemistry, it would be appropriate to give them a simple formula for achieving success in their quest to become eminent classical dancers. And that simple formula is NATYA. Very easy to remember (as the term itself means dance) and hopefully to follow & practice as well.

SP10N is Nada. Nada means sound. The universe that we’re part of is said to have originated from sound –  the primordial sound AUM. Recently, NASA scientists have managed to make the sound of Sun audible and it incredibly sounds as AUM (which isn’t surprising for our ancient culture as the many sages & enlightened beings have figured it out many centuries ago). All Creation is said to be just sound and the creator is also known as Nada Brahma. For dance too, the basis is sound. We’ve seen how beautifully the word Pankajam in a song was depicted as blossoming of lotus by the children. When we hear the word (sound) and see the depiction through gestures or mudras (movement or expression), we can connect with it easily and can comprehend better. 

What’s critical in this relationship is the alignment – between sound and movement in the case of dance. It could be something else for other types of Life pursuits. Alignment with a source, principle, goal or purpose. If your action is in alignment with a purpose, the result will be beautiful and the expreince will be joyful.

SP12A is Agnostic. In these turbulent times of religious intolerance, agnostic is a very sensitive world. But agnostic doesn’t just mean non-believer. It also means someone who is not biased – towards good or bad, like or dislike, progressive or regressive and so on. Shiva is also known as Aghori, someone for whom nothing is ghori or horrible. He accepts everything as it is. The people surrounding him are always depicted as demented beings, but he loves them the same way he would love any other being. He’s as comfortable being in the graveyard smeared in ash, wearing skeletons as he’s in his magnificent Somasundareswara form (worshipped in the famous Madurai Meenakshi temple, in Swamy’s home town). That’s why he symbolises Life the way it is. 

As a learner of dance (or anything for that matter), you shouldn’t be biased towards one or the other. I like this adavu or I don’t like that jathi. This song is more beatiful to perform than that song. I prefer that accompanying person to this one. Your focus should remain just the dance itself (performance or action). And you’ll just accept everything else around it as it is. Nothing is good or bad, no likes or dislikes. Everything just the way it is. That’s being agnostic.

SP21T is Transendence. Loosly translated (as Swamy was speaking in Tamizh – a far deeper, more delightful & meaningful classical language), it is elevating oneself from the present state to a state that’s many levels above or beyond. In the yogic path, it is achieving the state of Samadhi – an eternal state of bliss, which enlightened beings are said to be in, all the time. 

In dance (or any performance or action), Transendence is not just for the dancer (to go from a learner to a spectacular performer) but for the spectators too (going from hmmm to wow). You should reach a level of performance where there’s no stage, no accompanying artists, no spectators, not even the dancer but just the dance. That kind of a dance would bring tears flooding from the eyes of anyone blessed to be present. Tandava certainly would’ve done that to the sages and celestial beings who may’ve witnessed it, as Tandava is the dance of transendence. Both at cosmic and atomic level as creation is also known as the dance of Shiva.

SP28Y is Yearning. Not earning, which unfortunately is the focus of many star performers in any performing art today. Without yearning for something, it’s not possible to achieve the state of transendence. The sages who’ve become enlightened have performed yoga or tapas for many years. The saptarishis have spent not one or two but 84 years in preparing themselves to receive the grace of Adiyogi, who after observing their diligent preparation has become the benevolent Adi Guru (first Guru or Master) as the benevolent Dakshinamurthi to transmit his yogic knowledge to them, several thousands of years ago.

SP23As a dancer (or anyone performing a purposeful action), you must have immense interest and expend tremendous effort to be someone that people line up to see, not because you follow the principles of dance to the T but because being part of your performance lets them transcend to a different level. That’s how you’ll be known as a Balasaraswathi, Rukmini Devi, Padma Subramaniam or Alarmelvalli. In classical music, Bho Shambho belongs to Maharajapuram Santhanam. One can’t think beyond Madurai Mani Iyer when it comes to rendering Ka Vaa Vaa. Suprabatham is synonymous with MS. The same holds true for Kanda Sashti Kavacham and Sulamangalam sisters. Such astonishing levels of achievement is possible for you too, if you truly yearn for it.

SP17A is Absolute. Adiyogi is depicted as either an ascetic in a blissed out state of meditation or ecstatic state of tandava. He’s not partially in either state but absolute in both states. Whenever you perform dance (or any other purposeful action), your intent, focus and intensity has to be absolute. Such a state is not possible if you are performing for others. The performance or action will naturally flow from within and encompass all those who are touched by the performance or action in some way, only when it is absolute. If every moment of our Life is absolute, there’s no other choice for us but to be joyful.

So, that’s the simple formula of NATYA
Nada – action in alignment with a purpose.
Agnostic – accepting Life the way it is, without any kind of bias.
Transendence – elevating oneself & others from the mundane routine to an eternal state of bliss.
Yearning – immense interest and effort to achieve peak performance.
Absolute – intent, focus & intensity to achive transendence.

SP35Nataraja’s (Shiva in the form of Lord of Dance) dance Tandava is said to depict or embody the 5 thatvasSrishti (ஆக்கல் அல்லது படைத்தல்), Sthiti (காத்தல் அல்லது பொறுத்தல்), Samhara (அழித்தல் அல்லது மாற்றல்), Tirobhava (மறைத்தல் அல்லது மாயை விளையாடல்) & Anugraha (அருளல் அல்லது விடுவித்தல்).

It’s easy to see the NATYA formula is directly associated with the 5 Tandava thatvas (தாண்டவ தத்துவம்). But if I start explaining that now, the organisers may open their Netrikkan (third eye), as we’re running out of time. So, let me conclude by requesting you to use the NATYA formula for success in your pursuit of Dance. May Nataraja’s Grace be with you for a purposeful Life of dance overflowing with Joy.

The following is an extension to the speech (not shared at the event due to paucity of time), connecting the dots between NATYA & Tandava.

SP29Nada = Srishti (creation or Shiva as the source of creation) – Life of creation (humans inclusive) in alignment with the creator.
Agnostic = Sthiti (existence or Shiva as the preserver of creation) – Accepting Life the way it is, without any personal bias.
Transendence = Samhara (transformation or Shiva as the transformer of creation) – Elevating oneself (& others in one’s presence) from the mundane routine to an eternal state of bliss
Yearning = Tirobhava (maya or Shiva as the master who plays with the ignorance of his creation) – Having immense interest and willing to expend any amount of effort to know the Truth or purpose of Life.
Absolute = Anugraha (enlightenment or Shiva as the Guru who benevolently enables one to achieve and remain in the state of eternal bliss) – Having absolute clarity of intent/purpose, total focus and burning intensity to achive self-realization.

SP34As there is Nada Yoga (yoga of sound), there is also Natya Yoga (yoga of dance or movement). Dance, when performed as an offering to the ultimate (Shiva as Nataraja) and not as a mere performance, has the potential to let the performer transcend to the state of bliss. Just the way being in the mere presence of a realized being (like Sadhguru) can elevate a seeker to a different state of Life experience (beyond the known physical, limited to the five senses), being present during the perormance of a dancer whose dance is an offering to the Lord of Dance can and will let the participants transcend to a different level of experience – akin to being present during Nataraja’s Tandava itself.

NATYA(Oct-15)May Adiyogi’s grace be with you to immerse yourself in and experience the joyful dance of Life!

@PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep

ArtistSwamy6Swamy is fully aware of the pitfall of choosing a topic that’s pretty much guaranteed to raise passionate (and possibly violent – going by the recent murders of learned rationalists) reactions from fellow sheep, umm… humans, for the first post in the new seriesMystic Nation” (#MysticNation on social media) on demystifying the great #Bharat culture and encouraging + enabling it’s much needed revival. But having been born and brought up in this colourful milieu that survived not just one or two but many attempts at annihilation, century after century, it’s but natural for Swamy to pick a topic that exemplifies the truly liberal nature of this ancient culture.

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Bharat, aka India isn’t just a country of Gods (and Goddesses, of course – it’s important to be genetically correct in these neo-liberal days when fashionistas, feminists and femme fatales are quite vocal about gender equality – especially on primetime media, while remaining nonchalantly ignorant about daily reports on rape and other dire statistics that imperil their ilk), but a nation where you’ve the liberty to pick and choose a God. Any God, for that matter.

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KamadhenuStarting from the benevolent cow, worshipped as Gomata – mother cow, a benign being that’s quite shaken lately by finding itself suddenly on top of the TRP & trending lists, instead of its humble abode of Goshala – cowshed, because the argumentative Indian who worships the Holy Cow and drinks its milk by the litre everyday also wants to assert his right to butcher and eat her! What can one say, other than Mera Bharat Mahan!

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ArtistSwamy10Where were we… Oh, starting with the holy cow, you’re free to worship any plant (Tulsi – Basil), tree (Vembu – Neem), animal (Hanuman – Lord Monkey, Nandi – Bull), snake (many from Adisesha & Vasuki, and its abode, Putru that’s custom built by, umm… Ants), bird (Garuda – eagle), mountain (Kailash), stone (Saligram or Saalagram), geometric form (Linga – an ellipsoid), hybrid of human & animal (Ganapathy / Ganesha / Vinayaka /Vigneswara… – human form with an elephant head, Narasimhahuman form with a lion head, Hayagreeva – human form with a horse head), eerie looking beings (Kaaval deivam or deities of protection), king (Rama – Lord Ram), cowherd (Lord Krishna), female in a variety of moods wielding dreadful weapons or delightful instruments (Durga, Kali, Saraswathy, Lakshmi & a thousand other Devis – Ammans), beings with non-human features & superhuman abilities (Muruga / Karthikeya / Skandha with 6 heads & 12 arms who, as the General of Devas, extinguished Asuras like Surapadman), part male & female (Ardhanareeswara – talk about gender equality) and last but not the least, an alien being who wouldn’t fit into any kind of definition yet seem to encompass everything, even those beyond human beings’ feeble imagination, surrounded by dreadful looking demented beings (Ganas) and equally at ease in absolute silence or ecstatic dance or absolute annihilation or total bliss (Adiyogi Shiva)… The long list of Gods & Goddesses you can choose to follow and worship in Bharat is limited only by your imagination!

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ArtistSwamy9This idea of anything or anyone as God is certainly incomprehensible for those who grew up in any western civilisation, who from their childhood are brought up on a strict single God diet, eerily similar to some of those they despise and continue to wage war at – the other omnipotent God believers in the middle east, who would erase you from the face of earth without batting an eyelid, if you even dare to talk about their God. And of course, there are those who proclaim with pride their non-belief in a or any God – the atheists. And then there are also the antitheists who will beat any believer up black & blue with their vehement argument because according to them there’s not only no God, but there cannot be any!

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ArtistSwamy1But Bharat being what it was, is & will be, in typical chaotic fashion, one-ups all those binary (only mine, 1 or none, i.e. 0) believers with even more options. First, despite having a plethora of God/desses to choose from, you’re free to remain a non believer too (take that a/ntitheists), with Charvaka being a noteworthy example of this tribe. Second – and this one really takes the cake (modhak or pooran poli is more appropriate, considering today is Vinayaka Chathurti) – you can also learn how to create a God/dess! :O

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ArtistSwamy11Yep, you read that right! This is possibly the only culture with not only an in-depth science of Spirituality but also a practical technology called Consecration (no, not the Mantra-based one done every 12 or 14 years at popular temples with great publicity these days, but the Praana Pratistha process founded by Agastya muni who is considered to be one of the 7 disciples of Adiyogi Shiva, known as the Saptharishis) to create God/desses. That turns the whole Creator (supposedly somewhere way high up) creating the Creation, including us obviously, at will and basically hands over the power of creating the Creator to the Creation itself!

Know more about the science of creation from Sadhguru, a present day yogi, mystic & practitioner, in the references section below.

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… You may take a pause here, long enough to pick your fallen jaw from that Italian marble floor.
ArtistSwamy16As this is only the beginning of a – hopefully & sincerely – blog series (might become a book/s as well, who knows), instead of diving deeper into each and every God/dess mentioned here & then some, let’s look at the idea of God instead. An auspicious starting point would be none other than Ganesha or Vinayaka, Adiyogi Shiva & mother goddess Parvathi’s elder son (there are those who say Ganesha is younger to the younger son Muruga or Karthikeya, considered to be an accomplished Yogi as his illustrious mystic father), who is celebrated & worshipped across this Mystic Nation today – the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
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There are many interpretations of Lord Ganesha, aka Vigneswara, Vinayaka, Ganapathy, Modhakapriya, et al. Devdutt Pattanaik‘s ‘Decoding Ganeshais a good one to start with and can be found in the references section below. In a nutshell, Ganapathy (Lord of Ganas – dreadful looking celestial beings who are always found in the company Adiyogi Shiva) prepares you for the following, if you’re open enough:
ArtistSwamy31. Acceptance – By being depicted as someone who would typically be despised or laughed at in physical form (rotund human form with a pot belly & big elephant head), Ganesha symbolizes acceptance that goes beyond form, shape, hue, et al. Obviously, a valuable example in these troubled times of racial angst and outbursts the world over.
ArtistSwamy182. Equality – The little mouse that’s at Ganesha’s feet depicts even the meek or not-so-equals are accepted as company and taken care of. A useful insight for all supervisors, managers and, ahem, bosses.
3. Physicality – Vinayaka’s form & associated ornaments – snake being one of them, gadgets (axe & ankusa) & delicious food (modhak & pooran poli) depict the material aspects of Life that hold us back from pursuit of Truth, i.e., Who am I? Something worth remembering before you sign the EMI forms for the 2nd house or 4th car.
ArtistSwamy144. Possibility The little mouse (Devdutt enchantingly calls it a ferocious bandicoot) is even depicted as Ganesha’s vehicle – just imagine that! Well, that too is a depiction in typical Bharat style, indicating one must learn to look beyond the obvious. The mouse’s depiction as vehicle of the rotund God possibly depicts size doesn’t matter and nothing is impossible. In fact, Ganesha’s creation (first by Parvathi and then by Adiyogi Shiva – both accomplished Yogis with absolute mastery over all realms & forms) itself is a depiction of the possibilities of creation. An energising thought to ponder before you go back to the BAUHumbug routine job.
ArtistSwamy45. Truth – By nature, humans are tuned to sense the physical form, with their 5 senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting & feeling by touching) and hardly use the 6th sense (thinking) to go beyond the physical realm. Considering Vigneswara is the eradicator of all hurdles, if one learns to see past Ganesha’s form (which itself is many layered and enchanting to know – depicting our desire to know & be with fellow humans, who too are many layered), he depicts none other than the Truth itself, i.e., Aham Brahmasmi or I am Brahman (the source of creation). It won’t be far from truth to say this is the precedent to the long-winding talks about ‘Beyond the obvious’ & ‘Thinking out of the box’ by many modern management & leadership gurus! 
ArtistSwamy7Now that dear reader – the freedom to seek & experience the Truth, going beyond the myriad forms of God/desses (one or many), is the sacred thread that still holds this ancient culture intact, even after many mighty warriors tried to plunder, destroy, rule and annihilate Bharat, over many centuries. In this Mystic Nation, God was never a conundrum, but a potent idea. Not just an enchanting idea about esoteric superhuman beings who looked like humans (because we sketched / crafted them from our limited imagination), but about beings who depict a higher possibility for humans to attain. To transcend the physical limitation and be free… be one with the eternal source of creation.
ArtistSwamy2Not only this Mystic Nation has many God/desses, it also had/s possibly the most number of enlightened beings (the yogis & mystics who have experienced the Truth & attained a state of eternal bliss, transcending the physical) that graced this planet, have devised mechanisms & paths for any and every human being to seek liberation, which was considered the ultimate goal of human existence, not reaching esoteric places like heaven or hell, after death!
ArtistSwamy5aSuch benevolent beings – starting from Adiyogi Shiva himself (celebrated and worshipped as one of the Trimurti, i.e. triumvirate of Gods, along with Vishnu & Brahma), who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy transmitted his knowing to Devi first (expounded as the 112 ways to liberation in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) and then seven disciples known as the Saptharishis on the auspicious Guru Purnima, the pantheon of enlightened beings is long, including but not limited to Lord Muruga (who is said to have left his physical form in a rare standing posture at the Kumaraparvata mountain), Lord Krishna (considered one of the greatest yogis ever to tread this land), Gautama the Buddha (founder of Buddhism who at a point in time is said to have had thousands of enlightened beings as disciples), Rishabha (presumed to be the founder of Jainism), Goraknath, Akkamadevi, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Sri Palani Swami, Sadhguru Sri BrahmaLahiri MahasayaSri Yukteswar Giri, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharishi, Osho, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta MaharajRamalinga Vallalar and many more.
Sadhguru_Quote3Such beings are still among us – a few well known and many unknown. One such is Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation. And with deep reverence, Swamy submits this first post of his new “Mystic Nation” (#MysticNation) series at the lotus feet of his enlightened Master, whose boundless grace will shine the light on this new path Swamy has chosen to tread, with limited experience but unlimited enthusiasm. Shambho _/\_
… enchantment will flow…
@PrakashSwamy
Note: All sketches & paintings (except Kamadhenu) are Swamy’s own creations – out of imagination or inspired by other skilled artists – drawn during his youth.
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edited_1442284271572References:
Decoding Ganesha – Devdutt Pattanaik

Swamystery in 2014!

31 Dec Realization

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Swamystery blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Journey of Life!

15 Dec

Patti1When Swamy held his frail grandmother in his arms, like a child, Life had indeed come a full circle. She had, somewhere in the long lost past, proudly held him in her arms, as he is her first grandson after all – a fact that hardly registers in her fragile mind now!

It’s just incidental that two events – both anniversaries – were celebrated by his extended family on that day. While his maternal grandmother’s 80th birth anniversary was more symbolic (she’s obviously too frail to last the long ritual), his cousin’s son’s 1st birth anniversary was an elaborate ritual, held on the same day at the same place. While physically being part of the event, Swamy’s mind started racing ahead (as usual, as you may say, dear reader), pondering Life, the chaotic and totally unprepared way we live it and, inevitably, Life the way it is, i.e., the way it is meant to be lived!

SwamyHome_FlowersA bud blossoms, petals untie themselves from the tight embrace to bathe in the mellow dawn light and the flower in full bloom, wafting in the gentle breeze, brings an impromptu smile on the face of anyone who cares to see. By dusk, the flower has departed the plant and falls on earth, to be part of the process of creation all over again. Other than plucking it to decorate either our mane or a deity, we hardly shed a tear when it completes its mere daylong Journey of Life.

Gardening1A seed gets buried into earth, sprouts a branch with a few leaves, sprawls into a tree with many branches and leaves offering shade (and even fruits) to all or grows into a plant yielding a crop. A tree’s Life is much longer than the humans, who, of course, will remorselessly axe or saw it off. A crop yielding plant’s Life is much shorter, depending on the type of crop it yields and the greed of humans who harvest, sell and consume that crop. Other than relaxing on an ancient rosewood chair in the patio, relishing rotis made from the finest wheat along with piping hot korma made with freshest veggies and sipping the choicest Chamomile Green Tea, we hardly spend a moment thinking about the plants and trees that yielded all those we cherish and relish, during their months of years long Journey of Life.

Manasarovar26Water evaporates into air, pours back to embrace earth as rain, gets stored in ponds, wells or dams, and is eventually used by humans in some form. Despite the fact that it fills most of this planet’s surface (and most physical life forms), it doesn’t seem to brag about how deep, far and wide it is. On the rare occasion it gets really upset, it reminds how frail we humans are, in the form of a torrential downpour, raging flood or all consuming towering wave called Tsunami. Despite its sheer magnitude and magnanimity of keeping every Life form alive, we hardly bother to wonder about Water, in myriad forms all around us, during or after its short or long Journey of Life.

Mylo_Maggy1A pup slips out into this big bad world, rolls on the dirt (or carpet), suckles, wags the tiny tail and starts playing as soon as it can stand and move around. Whether it’s a stray on the roadside getting pelted by humans or a pet cuddled at home by the same silly humans, it doesn’t have a problem with playing – on its own or with anyone who cares. It grows, probably gives birth to more pups and eventually leaves this thankless human infested world in 12-14 years. Most animals do the same, with varying age spans, if the 2-legged descendents of apes with a grossly overrated 6th sense, let them last that long, depending on whether they’re on the hunting and/or eating list. Other than eating most fauna and caring for a few (pedigree pets that come with bragging rights or caged beasts that are a paid spectacle), we hardly bother to think about most of them, during or after their human-controlled Journey of Life.

JumpA baby sneaks out from the warmth and safety of mother’s womb – naturally or otherwise, cries, suckles, marvels at any and everything around, bewitches everyone with a pristine toothless grin, charms all and sundry with meaningless babble, crawls on all four, rises on two, falls and learns to walk and run, eats and grows, loses its priceless childhood by being forced to study for half a lifetime by stupid adults (What Say Doting Parent?), learns to work and make a living the hard way, falls in love with a fellow human, gets into a relationship, raises its own family to continue the cycle for at least another generation, grows old, falls sick and dies one fine day, which isn’t that different from any other day.

Death2Despite the fact that this is how the supposedly evolved human species lived for many a millennia, we still make such a fuss over a perished fellow human – near, dear or otherwise, cry and mourn and try hard to remember the departed, long after they’re gone, even if we haven’t bothered to pay much attention when they were alive. We even celebrate the mourning year after year, even if the departed human hadn’t a clue about Life the way it is, during their long pointless lifetime.

Flowers2It’s the flower’s nature to blossom and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about who smells its fragrance or smiles at it.

BuddhaUnderBodhiTreeIt’s the seed’s nature to grow into shade giving tree or a crop yielding plant and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about who rests in its shade or relishes food made from it.

Manasarovar11It’s the water’s nature to evaporate and pour back and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about how it’s used or who uses it.

PepsiSIt’s the pup’s nature to play and it does so with ease, time and again, not bothering about who cares to feed it or chooses to play with it.

Monkay1It’s the human’s nature to feed and grow physically, not learn much despite studying for long, try hard to live for and please other humans, ignore all other beings that share this tiny planet, remain oblivious to the Purpose of Life and die without realizing what the Real Dream of Life is really all about.

Every flower will blossom, waft in gentle breeze, spread the fragrance, feed the bees, spark a smile and fall to earth.

Every seed will sprout, yield a crop or offer shade, provide clean air to breathe and get uprooted or become part of earth.

Every drop of water will be part of a well, pond, river or ocean, will evaporate and pour back to be part of earth.

Every pup will play, dig, roam freely, be loyal, love unconditionally, protect and perish to be buried in earth.

Puppy_PotpourriNone of them bother about what their ilk will think of them and try to live differently trying hard to leave their own mark in the sands of time, because they understand Life the way it is and are thankful to be a part of it – however short their lifespan is. They just go about their lives, being in the present, not bothered about past or future. In fact, without studying hard for long, they just seem to instinctively know that Present is Past in Future!

Cosmos2From bud to flower to fallen petals…

From seed to plant to fallen leaves…

From droplet to stream to vapour to fallen raindrop…

From pup to dog to fallen animal…

From child to youth to adult to fallen body…

the cycle of Life just goes on and on….

20120625_143222Until one learns to listen to the song of silence, see the luminance of darkness, smell the fragrance of nature, taste the nectar of love and feel the throb of energy in stillness. That’s when one breaks beyond the limitations of the five senses that tie one to that which is, i.e., all that’s manifest and traverse a different path to realize that which is not, i.e., the unmanifest, also known as Shiva*!

Sadhguru_Quote3Every human has been endowed with the ability to comprehend Life, make decisions to enrich the way of Living Life and embrace it fully by including all fellow beings as a part of the joyful Dance of Life.

Trying to hang on to some glorious (according to each, obviously varying from person to person) past and daydreaming about an unknown future, the Wise Fools let the gift of present slip out slowly and steadily, failing to Light Up this Life. A few transcend the timid mind to dream big, expand their horizon, enjoy playing the grand Game of Life and even inspire and enrich fellow human’s lives. A handful, realize the Truth and become one with Endless Beginning called Life, erasing the imaginary boundary between the creator and the creation and offer Boundless Grace for all Beings!

Thinking2Alas, most humans remain entrapped for many lifetimes in the bubble of Life Matrix, fail to learn the A-Z of Life, spend enormous effort and time on pointless pursuits and events such as the Middle of the Endless Beginning, have limited or no understanding of Life the way it is and hardly appreciate the wonderful opportunity to go from Ordinary to Extra Ordinary.

Irrespective of whether you’re shaken or stirred by this Mjolnir blow to wake up from the Absurdity of Existence slumber, you may do well to remember the LaaSting Truth of Life that Birth isn’t the starting point, Death isn’t the destination and all the events that happen between Birth and Death aren’t milestones in this enchanting Journey of Life!

Dhyana1Life was, is and will be, until it chooses to recycle time to start all over again (this one’s the 84th such cycle, aka Rudra’s Roar, and this will go on till 112, says Swamy’s Master Sadhguru). We – quite possibly the dumbest species that keeps boasting about an extra sense than all fellow beings – are just passing by, in the umpteenth journey that we call as a lifetime. Yet, we choose to remain ignorant of the magnificence of Life in this lifetime too (who knows how many we’ve been through and how many more we’ll be through), letting the bubble last, entrapment continue and ignorance darkness keeping us sealed in the mortal envelope.

Swamily_GardenThe mellow light of dawn beckons…

The vibrant blossom of flower smiles…

The chaste green sprout of seed dances…

The pristine drop of water sparkles…

The nonchalant play of pup enchants…

Flowers3Life throbs all around, beside, above and beyond us in countless myriad forms, shapes, sizes and hues. Not expecting anything from us, but just inviting us to be an active part of it – not knowing, doing, wanting or needing but just being.

It’s up to us to wake up from the prolonged ‘i’coma, dear fellow humans, for the time has come to see, listen, smell, taste, touch and comprehend Life the way it is, be truly joyful inside out and enjoy – along with all fellow beings – this enchanting Journey of Life!

* Shiva = Shi+Va = That Which Is Not (as told by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a realized Master and founder of Isha Yoga, the spiritual path followed by Swamy and many seekers like him).

.

Swamy_ACC_SignatureBe Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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For, Forever!

3 Jun
Child-creativeIn the enchanting Game of Life
You are seen as aggressive, when you compete hard to win.
You are perceived as passive, when you just observe it from the fringes.
You are considered active, when you cheer the players to play well.
You are deemed valuable, when you help the players play better.
AK_CBSE2013_1You are respected, when you value the game more than the result.
You are celebrated, when you are part of the team and help them win, consistently.
You are revered, when you create innovative ways to play better and raise the bar.
You are honored, when the outcome of your actions outdo the benchmarks of the past.
3Monkeys27You are vilified, when your tactics fail to yield results desired by others.
You are reviled, when your results fail to enthuse others, repeatedly.
You are ignored, when someone else’s ideas start to sound better than yours.
You are forgotten, when someone ready to lead is found willing.
You are relevant, when you reinvent yourself to be valuable, differently, every time you realize either the game isn’t interesting anymore or you don’t fit in the game plan anymore.
Otherwise, anyone who can, will ask So, What About You?
Space1The game goes on…
24 x 365 x ?
The players go on…
only during their time of relevance, within the limited lifetime.
The Game remains interesting, when more players are keen on playing and more fans are keen on watching.
The players remain interesting, when they are willing to get better and other players are keen on helping them play better.
Podium5You aspire to win all the time,
not knowing the Element of Truth
Yet winning is transient and will come to pass, time and again.
You perspire to play for a long time,
not realizing such Wishing is Just Wishful
Yet playing is transactional and will come to pass, time and again.
AK_Kash_SnowBeing part of the game,
100% and not just Fifty-50
Actively, impactfully, purposefully and joyfully,
as if the game is like an enchanting Dance of Life
Doing something worthwhile to make the game and players better,
as if brightly Lighting up the Life
Screaming4Not being worried about a role or title,
as if you always knew how to go From Ordinary to Extra Ordinary
Not getting carried away by back pats or brickbats,
as if you’ve mastered the art of Living Life...
Never hesitant to share and care,
Every known tip and trick of the A-Z of Life
Transforms The Absurdity of Existence into a Real Dream
something worth aspiring and perspiring for!
Tibetan_Wheel_of_LifeSThe Game of Life lasts forever,
Even as Present becomes Past in Future
Like an Endless Beginning.
But the players last only a lifetime, however extraordinary their play is…
Unfailingly intercepted by the Middle of the Endless Beginning.
Play well in this lifetime,
never saying No We Can’t,
Child_PlayingTo be remembered forever…
as someone who played the Game
not for what (s)he wanted out of it,
but for what the Game of Life stands for, forever!

.

Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
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Dance of Life!

17 Dec

ShivaThandavam9In my mother tongue Thamizh (தமிழ்), there’s a saying “Mottaith thalaikkum muzhangaalukkum mudichu poduvadhu pol!” (மொட்டைத் தலைக்கும் முழங்காலுக்கும் முடிச்சுப் போடுவது போல்) That means “Connecting the dots between completely unrelated things” (the literal meaning will be a hilarious “Tying a bald head and knee together!”). Considering the multiple unrelated things that happened this week, Swamy decided to give the MTM2P2 a try to see if our forefathers really meant what they said (unlike us, they invariably did)!

Here’s the list of (significant or otherwise) events that happened this week in Swamy’s Life.

  • ShivaThandavam8Series of meetings with vendors for a critical business requirement (which became my top priority this week).
  • Working from my (real) office (that I refer in my conversations as ‘Jeeva Samadhi’ due to the complete absence of any opening to let natural light in) consecutively for 3 days, after a really long time (before the gossip mill starts buzzing, I do go to office everyday like any of you, but not necessarily to where I’ve an office room assigned to me).
  • 12-12-12 (ended up publishing 3 different blog posts to immortalize this once-in-a-lifetime day).
  • A rare invitation to attend a dance program (which I couldn’t attend).
  • Pitching to a steering committee for new features in organization’s learning platform (this is a part of my portfolio for which we’ve many a dream to transform learning interventions into ‘myLearning, myWay’ for associate delight).
  • A team get-together, with a few live ‘performing arts’ performances, including dance (that a group of enthusiasts prepared and performed within 3 days).
  • Riding my dear Red Bull (that’s a Royal Enfield Classic 500 in Maroon, for buggles, err., muggles of MotorBike world) after a while (man, how much I’ve have missed without riding it for several months).
  • Taking my son out for a few hours of street Cricket with his schoolmates (thereby automatically getting transmogrified into my own cherished childhood spent on the dusty streets of Madurai & Dindigul) and going for a brisk morning walk (again after a very long time) while he played (a sea change for him for he’s a professional Chess player who travels the world and doesn’t get to meet his pals on a daily basis like any normal student).
  • ShivaThandavam4Meeting Senthilkumar from Trichy during that rare morning walk, who looked like Samigiri Siddhar (you won’t know him unless you happen to read Cho’s Thuglak weekly – we’ve been loyal readers from my grandfather’s time), and was selling Arugampul (Bermuda grass) juice (a herbal concoction with amazing medicinal benefits that’s very popular along the beaches that are abuzz with morning walkers and joggers) at Velachery (which isn’t along or beside any beach in Chennai). I went to him assuming he was selling Tea, then bought the juice and listened to his fascinating story while enjoying a cup of the health potion (it won’t be a bad idea to start a walking or cycling regimen for enjoying his juice and news).
  • Shopping for a specific type of clothes for my wife and son who’re set to travel for spiritual event of significance at the Isha Yoga center this week (which is unusual for me, as I always buy clothes only during the Sale of branded garments or popular stores, which anyway happens throughout the year these days).
  • Tasting a cup of Tea brewed by my better half (and commending her for making such a good hot cuppa, something that isn’t usually her cup of Tea – pun intended ;-).

ShivaThandavam10Now that you’ve seen the enchanting list of unrelated events, what if I told you that the thread that connects all these beautifully is Dance! Not because the other performances during the team get-together weren’t impressive. What all the performers have accomplished – be it the parody song or skit on their own corporate function or the orchestra that hit the high notes despite the lead singer’s strained vocal chords – was memorable. But the dance (or dances rather as there were different set pieces) with a colorful ensemble of dancers was in an altogether different plane. While some were consciously performing their steps diligently (with the experts guiding them from the sidelines), few others toned their prowess down to enable others in the group shine and the true blue dancers – classical and neo – just set the floor on fire, by becoming one with the dance and sent the gawking raucous audience into raptures.

ShivaThandavam12Time to connect the bald head and knee with dance, before you lose the remaining hair on your already fast receding hairline (all my XX chromosome readers – including most of the aforementioned dancers – can have a hearty laugh here as only the XY chromosome beings usually suffer from this condition).

ShivaThandavam1Before I call upon my Ishta Deivam (இஷ்ட தெய்வம்) and other divine beings to offer me the requisite revelation to connect the dots with dance, I recalled the description of a dance, a divine one no less, which brought a flood of Joy Drops in me, while reading it. This was the Thandava (தாண்டவம்) or Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Lords (or Mahadeva), which was mesmerizingly described by Amish from pages 75 to 79 in his enchanting book “The Immortals of Meluha” (you may read SwamyView of the book here), the first part of his Shiva Trilogy. Do read it (not just those pages), if you haven’t done yet, to understand what I meant.

ShivaThandavam13Life has been interpreted in many ways, by many talented beings – including the enlightened ones. But to Swamy, Life isn’t a mystery but a Dance. A pretty long one, that’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Some like Lord Shiva, know how to perform the Dance of Life. Some others learn how to do it. A few at least are capable of marveling at it, even though they themselves aren’t adept at performing. But most, remain blissfully unaware or clueless about the awe inspiring spectacle of Life that dances around them all the time, until their time stands still.

ShivaThandavam7In the Dance of Life, you’re the performer (irrespective of whether you’re an accomplished dancer or not – for real Life isn’t really what you think it is). The dance is on all the time and it doesn’t matter whether someone’s there to watch it or not. Shakespeare understood the performance aspect of Life and his immortal “All the world’s a stage” would make a phenomenal Opera!

ShivaThandavam5Any Dance needs a stage, accompanying artists, music (and those who make it), choreographer and audience, apart from the performer. Think about our daily dance, umm, Life! Your home, workplace or any place you go to is the stage. Family, teams, colleagues and co-travelers on a commute are the accompanying artists. All the noise that happens – never ending small talk, phone calls, discussions in team meetings, sales pitch to customers, annoying honking during your daily Life on the slow lane, vroom of that luxury car, du..du..du.. of a Bullet, chirp of that bird and bark of this dog – around is the music (and its makers). Your wife, boss, that alpha femme’ fatale (male if you’re an XX type), family astrologer, mom-in-law (pop-in-law for XXs), traffic cop, your children and their teachers are your choreographers. Everyone who gets to watch you dance through the day are the spectators (as are you to them). It is curtains down at night and a brand new (or same old – solely dependent on the dancer) dance starts all over again at dawn. This goes on till the dancer runs out of breath and rests in peace.

ShivaThandavam2While Life’s dance is an endless beginning and dancers keep changing all the time, the types of dances are many and varied. From the emotional painting of Bharathanatyam to the smooth motion of Tai Chi to the gyrating Belly to the soulful Trance to the spirited Kuthu (or Folk) to the tantalizing Tango to the balmy Ballet to the mesmerizing Maori to the pulverizing Disco to the sensual Salsa to the rhythmic Tap to the swanky Swing to the flaming Flamenco to the expressive Kathakkali and a multitude of other forms that are local or global. The nature of your action, the level of your involvement, the pace of your execution, the degree of your emotion and the amount of trust in and from your partners determine the type of dance at any moment on any given day. Irrespective of the type of dance you perform, always remember that the whole point of dance is to just melt into it and be like the Lord of the Dance’s Formless Form!

ShivaThandavam6Now that your eyes are opened wide to Life’s many types of dances of varying rhythm, go back to the list of events in the beginning of this post, which happened in Swamy’s Life this week. And tell me if you see anything that’s not part of the grand Dance of Life!

Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy.

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer!

And, of course, remember to Like, Comment and Share this post joyfully with your loved ones.

X Cheers to Vitamin F!

3 Dec

Multiple unrelated (yet closely linked) events happened during this busy week and each could potentially result in a blog post. But I chose not to overwhelm you with 7 blogs about those 7 days (not because it might sound too much like that good ol’ dramedy Andha Yezhu Naatkal அந்த ஏழு நாட்கள்) and write about just one instead!

Cheering4Every year the various organization teams (projects and support functions) get an opportunity to go for an outing at the company expense. Though we weren’t sure about that this year (it’s obviously the economy, silly), as soon as we knew we can, we didn’t waste any time in finding a place and cobbling together a plan within a couple of weeks.

Taking hundreds of team members to a place for a day and making sure they have fun is one helluva task that no manager fancies. But just as most managers don’t have a choice when it comes to handpicking a team (same holds good for most team members in terms of picking a project or manager of their choice), it’s a job that has to be done and doesn’t offer much of a choice. Time then to summon the most enterprising souls in the team (No We Can’t do it ourselves, however hard we try), who’re always up to the task of organizing (whether they’re organized or not).

Cheering1A bunch of enthusiasts went around and managed to find a fairly new place (along the Expressway to Excellence, err.. East Coast Road), that’s the farthest we’ve gone for team outings so far. Transportation and other logistics were planned and done swiftly (you may ignore the crushing sound arising from grinding of teeth by the organizing committee members, unless you were one of them) and everyone started (or at least pretended to) looking forward to D-Day (‘all’ isn’t necessarily a synonym for ‘everyone’ in this case).

The events in such outing resemble an endless beginning as they don’t begin with the end in mind (remnants of a recent 7 habits workshop) and typically go on like this…

  • Screaming7Wake up early (despite it being the weekend, when usually your parent or spouse are averse to disturbing the Kumbakarnan hidden deep within – children don’t give a damn, of course) and get ready.
  • Board a vehicle (bus if you’re lazy to drive or a friend’s car if they committed the cardinal mistake of announcing that they’re going to drive to the venue).
  • Cheering2Reach the venue (you may get a free tour of roughly 10-20 kms past the venue when the bus or car zips past the venue, which usually has a 80% chance, especially if there are highly enthusiastic souls on board who firmly believe the journey is the destination and keep you and the driver continuously distracted).
  • Sheepishly enter the hall or place for get together (not wanting to be caught being late, but realizing soon that you’re indeed one of the first to arrive)
  • Have a welcome drink (which usually is a watered down version of some juice that neither quenches your thirst nor supplies sufficient energy to survive the first hour) or breakfast (irrespective of whether you’ve already broken fast before starting or not).
  • Start the ‘hi’, ‘hello’ small talk routine (which will continue till end of the day, thereby ending up as one long talk).
  • Cheering3Gawk incredibly at the variety of costumes (ranging from same-old-same-old to nice and easy to trying-hard-to-look-a-decade-younger to downright bizarre) and those wearing them (invariably wondering ‘man… how the heck did I work with or manage these nut cases all these days’).
  • Screaming4Join the line or group to play, which is always a mix of routines including but not limited to screaming at the top of your voice (though no one’s going to hear what you say in the ensuing commotion), running around (varying from jogging to sprint to speed walking, irrespective of your sports cred), holding hands (either someone else’s or one’s own, usually the latter), discovering totally new ways to use balls and balloons (that’s got nothing to do with playing with either), laughing your heads off at everything anyone does (without realizing they do the same while looking at you) and doing all kinds of crazy things that you dare not do on any other day (in front of any other person).
  • Eat or drink at regular intervals (which happens at random) irrespective of whether you’re hungry or not.
  • Puppy_PotpourriTry to please the boss by getting him a drink or soup or helping her jump the queue for lunch (the fact that most such outings happen around the annual appraisal time does have a telling effect).
  • Dance like there’s no tomorrow (irrespective of the fact that the only step you know resembles flying a kite while stamping on a spider repeatedly) and
  • Run out of gas long before winding up for the day (it’s back to work the next morning)!

Screaming6There’ll also be characters that just sit around in groups as if it’s just another day in paradise and keep on yakking about everything in the universe (except the outing itself) all day long or stand in a corner clapping their hands (cheering ‘em up eh) or keep walking in and out of the venue (you might actually end up concluding they’re the organizers looking at how busy they’re) or just vanish after the breaks!

Screaming5But this post isn’t about those who just exist in such outings but live them up instead. The following traits will help identify the souls whose sole business of belief is truly, madly, deeply having fun.

  • Trying to be an Ikeator assembling teams, organizing games or helping the event management team voluntarily
  • Explaining the details of each game and plotting the winning strategy, not just to their group
  • Dragging the ‘OMG, what am I doing here’ type participants into games (and making them feel like Toys R Us)
  • Screaming2Cheering every game or performance with relentless screaming and clapping
  • Offering their service without being asked from serving food to setting up the PA system to pulling everyone back after the breaks
  • Dancing or running around like crazy (never letting others enjoy their life on the slow lane)
  • Seizing the moment without bothering about the bosses or their position in the hierarchy
  • Ratcheting the energy of their group tirelessly, irrespective of the time of the day
  • Ensuring everyone enjoys the event, irrespective of whether they seem interested or not
  • Staying back to complete the settlement and cleaning up, if required, at the end of the day

Cheering5The objective of such a gathering is to leave lasting memories of getting together with the known and unknown. These souls are the live wire of any such gathering who make such outings memorable and cherished till next year.

Team outings are all about day long nonstop fun (unfortunately there’s no skill pill to boost your FQ). These blokes supply the much needed oxygen that keeps the group alive and kicking, all day long.

Without them it’ll just be a day out with the team. But with them it’s the best day of the year with the same team. Just watching them will make us feel guilty about the absurdity of our existence in the outing!

Milo1bTeam outings are fantastic free opportunities to sweep aside our titles and shed those jumbo sized egos to be joyful and have fun, together. The next time you choose to be a part of such an outing (irrespective of whether you were this time or not) but don’t know how to live it up, find the ones who joyfully do one or more of the above. And join them (without performing a 5-Why analysis of how they’re so joyful)!

Child-creativeOur world will be a dreary place without such joyful souls, who not only know how to have fun but also supply a healthy dose of Vitamin F(un) to ensure everyone else has fun too. The least we can do in return is to cheer such souls who keep our world a joyful place. And Joy begets Joy. So join me and scream loudly “X Cheers to Vitamin F!

 

Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & spread the cheer!

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