On gurus and shishyas, teachers and disciples…

We watched a Marathi film Katyar Kalijat Ghusali about music, musical traditions and the learning or grooming of the artist. The film is excellent, and no wonder, it is based on the old Marathi play, the music for which was written by Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki, who was the guru of my first Indian music teacher, Arun Apte. In the film, they have retained a number of songs from the original play, and, of course, it had to remind me about my four months of learning music in Vaitarna, and also about some of the stories Arun Apte was telling about his guru and their relationship.
It is really amazing, how the story in the film touches on the subtleties of the guru-disciple relationship. I will probably need to watch it again, and perhaps more than once, to understand more of it – if you only have a hint of this experience in your own life, and especially if you are not really a part of that tradition, it’s not easy to understand it beyond the superficial level of the apparent.
The film is about the stages of the maturing of an artist, and the challenge in maturing without a guru who can instruct you, or without one who is willing to do so. Yes, of course, it is also about going beyond the ego – that most difficult arrogance one acquires, when one begins to master some, even tiny aspects of the art, and this is the message the film claims to deliver, from the very beginning till the end. But I don’t think this is the most valuable message of this story, at least for me that was not what felt most important, inspiring and meaningful. It was interesting to see struggles the hero has to go through to connect gradually to deeper and deeper sense of music – through learning the knowledge, then imitation to the point of identification with the guru, then to mastering a different style, and perhaps eventually finding one’s own style, though this film finishes at the point when that stage would have probably just start.
What moved me the most, was the importance of being “recognized” and blessed by your guru to go on being an artist. It is not just about the learning and the instruction, and not about the ego-oriented achievement or pride, but about that special love and care that flows between the guru and the disciple, both ways, that ties them together, for that special kind of relationship that exists between the two, part friendship and part parent-child relationship, both of them together, and yet neither of them, but something else, the relationship that becomes even more beautiful because of the difference and uniqueness inherent in it. So when the guru witnesses the disciple who has mastered the art, not only the technical proficiency, but also the respect for the art and for other artists, and has met the essence of the art, that is the greatest and the only gift that disciple can offer back to the guru, as gratitude for all the lessons, for the generosity and the dedication that the guru has given while teaching. That is why it is so important for the hero in the film to have a chance to sing for both his gurus.
Maybe I’m wrong in saying that one has to be Indian to really get to the heart of what it means to be a disciple and to have a guru. Maybe it is so difficult for me to find the inspiration to finish this dissertation, because Sam has died – it has been written for Sam, working with his art, having made mistakes that disappointed him and having tried to correct them, having worked though the difficult challenges and found the treasures of understanding that he praised and admired. Now this last stage of putting the parts together, adding the final decorations and polishing the work, seems meaningless, when he is not going to be there to witness his disciple “perform on stage”. Yes, yes, I know it has to be done, but it’s hard to find that drive, that creative call and commitment, that flows from the bountiful expressions of the art practiced by a live guru.
Of course, it’s a different story, when the guru-disciple relationship is happening in the field (kshetra?) of spirituality, rather than a more “human” art. It is said (if I understood it somewhat correctly), that when a disciple has reached the state of mastery, then there is the recognition of God being the Guru. The one who has achieved that state, is learning from God directly, and is performing for God, to please that Divine Guru and to give thanks for the teaching, the love, and the care. Maybe I’m wrong again, and that’s also the case with music as well as philosophy and any other “art”?
Here is the recording of my first music teacher performing for his (our) spiritual Guru, and singing to please God. This is my favorite of all his recordings that I have seen, though I probably never heard him singing this song live… Enjoy…

By the way, that Marathi film with English subtitles is here: http://www.einthusan.com/movies/watch.php?marathimoviesonline=Katyar+Kalijat+Ghusali&lang=marathi&id=2783

India and auspiciousness

Facebook has this new feature now, reminding us what we posted a year, or two, or five ago on that particular day. So it is reminding me today, that three years ago I was getting ready for my third India trip, after a five year break. It was a good post, I thought, so why not translate it into English? The post was titled something like “India begins… for the third time”, and I was alluding to a poem of one of contemporary Ukrainian writers, the first line was “India begins with the dreams about the voyage eastward”. The poem was a sort of fantasy – a look at India from a perspective of a medieval European – part merchant, part knight, part adventurer, or maybe just a full-on knight :). It was beautifully charming, somewhat mystical, and of course, somewhat contradictory, it had as little to do with the real India, as the stories of Alexander the Great, so it was about the India-myth, but I really liked it, even though I did not agree (that is, if one can disagree with a poem). There was no point keeping that title in the English version of the post, so I ended up doing what philosophers do, rather than poets, – giving a title that is boring but to the point. 🙂 Here goes the old post, enjoy.

Actually, India “began” long ago, or, rather, the inner India never ended. I was there five years ago, and it’s hard to believe it was that long, especially now, when she is again so close. (Yes, India is feminine in Ukrainian, India is “she”.)

I though that I would come back there much sooner, to continue learning to sing, but my teacher died suddenly, so my “formal” musical education got postponed indefinitely. At that time the teacher said: when you go back home, one Sa (that’s the first note) will give you much more than it is giving you here. Unfortunately, that is not so. Here, to even get that one Sa out of oneself is not that easy. Perhaps, if one really commits to it, works on it and treats it in all possible ways, that Sa would give more, but how much work, discipline and humility that would require! Vaitarna was a place where the music seemed to be flowing freely on its own, and anyone who so desired could just drink it. Of course, the teacher also knew that about Vaitarna, and also spoke about it in his own way. Who knows, why he said that it would be easier to practice “in your own country”.

India, both actual and inner, is defined for me with a word, which I have never encountered in over ten years of me being in the English-speaking philosophical environment. The word is “auspiciousness”, it is crudely translated as “favorableness”, and is generally associated with old-fashioned superstition or with a notion of luck or good fortune (also old-fashioned). Perhaps that is why it is not respected much by “professional” philosophers, especially here in Canada with its ultra-liberal and anti-traditional tendencies and views. But this is an over-simplified understanding of this phenomenon, and yes, for me auspiciousness is indeed a phenomenon in the original sense of the word, that which shows itself, that which shines. My inner India says, that in truth the word auspiciousness is related to sanctity or holiness, though not in a formally-religious church sense, but rather in a live and real sense, as what we mean when we talk about the sanctity of life or the sacredness of mother’s love.

One of the seven hundred verses of Devi Mahatmyam, which glorifies the Mother-Goddess, begins with a description if the Devi as “sarva mangala mangalye” – “the auspiciousness of all that is auspicious”, that is, the holiness of everything that is holy, or, as philosophers would say, the essence of the holiness. Further the Goddess is revered as the One who takes care of Her children – fulfills their desires and grants the highest joy, takes care of their well-being and spiritual growth, protects and shelters, destroys all their sorrows and sufferings. So this auspiciousness has to do with a state which reflects our relationship with the motherly aspect of the Divine. It’s a state of being simple, confident and safe, or protected and peaceful. It’s not about being infantile, irresponsible or cowardly, rather, the opposite, it’s about that directness, generosity and ability to bring joy which we treasure in children, and that is why we enjoy their company.

I interpret this auspiciousness as holiness also because it reminds me of the German root “heil-“, the holiness that manifests as well-being or good health in full sense of all its dimensions, before we split our life into physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, professional, familial, material, social… That German “heilige und heile” conveys the wholesomeness that is protected from cracks and breaks, that belongs to itself confidently and securely, that originates and develops within itself and according to its own true essence. This kind of protectedness echoes for me the Sanskrit root “sharan-“, which appears at least twice in the description of the Goddess that I just mentioned. The first time it refers to the Goddess Herself “sharanye tryambake gauri” – the protectress, the three-eyed Gauri, and the other time as “sharanagata” – I guess, the ability of those She protects, that is, our ability to trust and fully surrender to Her sheltering protection.

So, these were the thoughts that were surfacing during my repeated attempts to acquire the Indian visa. At first I had a hint of a doubt about the “auspicesness” or “correctness” of the whole situation, when some small clerk in the visa centre decided that I should not get a visa. But then I though that maybe these “obstacles” were there so that I do not take India for granted, and instead attune myself to the wavelength of that holiness, which very soon will become tangible, when I will sit on the red earth of Maharashtra, and which could be totally missed if one stays in the rational-business-touristy mode, that does not go with auspiciousness at all.

What does all of that have to do with music? Well, that very description of the Goddess was perhaps the most inspiring thing that I was learning to sing five years ago in India, and the singing of it attunes you so well to the tonality of holiness, which is not surprising at all, for She is “sarva mangala mangalye”…

PS. The reference is to Devi Mahatmyam, ch.11, verse 8 and 10.

That time three years ago when I initially wrote this post, I did not get my visa until the morning of my flight when had to show up to the consulate with my ticket and demand my passport back. Turned out it was just lying around on a desk of some other clerk, with a visa being issued long ago. But it the end, all that “maya” was well worth it, for I just had to “surrender”, and get over the uncertainties and doubts, and it turned out to be an amazing India trip, full of special moments, special people, and very inspiring experiences of the Divine.

If you want to hear what “sarva mangala mangalye”sounds like, here it is in the last concert of this summer’s music tour that I already started telling you about (you can fast-forward to 1:22:14-ish if does not open there on it’s own):

 

Canajoharie Arts Academy – 2015

I already wrote one post here about Canajoharie few years ago, but that was in Ukrainian. Now that my blog is transitioning into the English mode, and also Canajoharie showed itself this time in quite a different light, a new post about it is definitely due.

Heidegger is quoting Hölderlin sharing his experience and insight in a letter to a friend that “all the holy places of the earth are gathered around one place”. This phrase resonates with me very much, I like to think of the common essence or fabric of both the actual physical places that have spiritual significance to me, and also of the places of the inner world. It is in the spiritual dimension that the outer and the inner places become interfused, the battle-fields, the temples, and the resting places, the places homely and dearly familiar, as well those wondrously alien and thus fascinating… Maybe one day I will write something about the inner musical places too, the places created by this or that raga, wouldn’t that be interesting?

Back to Canajoharie, one of my holy places. A week-end of the international meditation seminar was preceded by two weeks of the summer arts academy, and this was the first time that I was at the Canajoharie arts camp not as a volunteer, or just a visitor, but as a student. Perhaps this is why Canajoharie felt different, or maybe not, maybe it actually was different this time, no matter whether and how one was involved.

The type of meditation we do, Sahaja yoga, or Sahaja meditation, is simple, and it works quite well with even small commitment, provided it is consistent. And yet, it is really felt and enjoyed, when it becomes a worldview and a lifestyle, when it permeates the totality of our experiences, when it becomes an atmosphere, a sort of fragrance, which we breathe all the time. So we have this notion of sahaj culture – the aspects and ways of life that define the living within the atmosphere of this meditative state and make it easier for us to be in touch with, or, rather, to be immersed in, the ocean of Energy, and to feel at home within it.

Art is, and from the beginning has been, one of the key aspects of sahaj culture. Shri Mataji, the founder of our meditation technique, has promoted arts within our meditative community, especially, but not exclusively, Indian classical music. She created opportunities for us not only to be exposed to music and art with good energy, but also to study it and to become good at it. Somehow, the arts give us special access to meditation, as if they create the shortcuts to get there in the first place, and then also to explore the subtleties and depths of this meditative state once we are there.

And so these arts academies were established in India, where mainly us, the Westerners, could come and learn Indian music, dance and art within a meditative environment. The first one (?) was for a while in Nagpur, I’ve heard lot’s of good stories about it, but it was well before my time. Then it was in Vaitarna, and I was lucky to have stayed there for four months, quite early in my “sahaj life”, learning singing from Arun Apte.

When I was leaving Vaitarna, I was sure that I would come back, in a few years, and more than once, I even had a few ideas about what I could maybe do for Vaitarna. But then Arun Apte died suddenly, and Vaitarna went through a few cycles of closing down, then opening for some time, then closing again. I did go back to visit and stayed there for about ten days in 2013. I guess, I wanted to feel out and also to face, what this actual Vaitarna as well as my inner “Vaitarna” could be like without Arun Apte, and it was quite an intense experience.

In the meantime, the music doesn’t stop, we have all kinds of music (and art) workshops, shorter or longer, in different places, and in the last years we’ve had maybe three or four arts camps in Canajoharie, New York state, about 6 or 7 hours drive South East from Toronto. The last one was two years ago, right after my short Vaitarna visit, and I considered taking classes, but I just did not “feel it”. So I hung out there for about a week, caught the first big public concert, which the teachers gave in Albany, enjoyed very much and went home. This summer I decided it was time to come and take classes, no matter what. I was looking through the list of classes, considering the possibility of trying out something “new”, but ended up taking two vocal classes and harmonium class, all from the same teacher, and never regretted it, because the experience was so joyful, so elevating, and at the same time grounding, that it felt incredible, both satisfying and humbling, and also inspiring.

One of Vaitarna’s gifts was the amazing capacity to absorb music. You sit in class, and try to repeat these difficult musical phrases, and you know you are not getting it, and you feel like you will not be able to get it for a long time. And so in the evening you go through the class recording again, sleep on it and next morning find out that you actually got it. You just have it now, it’s in you, and you barely even cooperated. Something similar was experienced by many of us in Canajoharie this time, both the teachers and the students were commenting on how fast we all were learning, and how much we were achieving in such a short time. It would be an oversimplification, and the unfortunate one, to reduce this special quality to the efficiency of learning, to make it about goals and results. Rather, as Alan once mentioned, it is about the subtleties of this music or art, once you start getting it, you can appreciate and enjoy. What was important to me in these classes was not the result of learning this much, that fast and that well. It was the enjoyment of the process, the tasting of the art, and the atmosphere that was extremely friendly, becoming in tune, and not only musically, immersing into this exploration and feeling so good, that you would want to linger in it, and wished that it never ended… The classes, of course, were the best, but also outside of the classes each of is took or gave, the atmosphere felt very nourishing and inspiring. It was great to spend time with other teachers and students of all ages, to chat and to listen, to eat, and occasionally to cook, to laugh (and we did laugh a lot), and to meditate.

I think it was around the third or the forth day, that I started noticing Vaitarna’s presence in Canajoharie. It wasn’t just the classes and what was happening there, rather, the place itself was sounding different. Sitting at the pond with the feet in the water, enjoying an afternoon break, the barking of the dogs and the noise or tractors somewhere in the fields, and the light, and the wind, and the serene mood, all of it in totality felt so intensely similar to sitting on a roof in Vaitarna and waiting for the sunrise! I heard the bird calls so elaborate and unusual, which I have never heard in Canajoharie before. Of course, it wasn’t the koyal, it was probably some owl that was late enough in it’s nightly pursuits for me to still catch it when I woke up around 4 in morning. And yes, waking up between 4 and 5 without any alarms, and feeling completely awake – that was just like Vaitarna also. I have a feeling, those who have been to Nagpur academy, and there were quite a few people this year in Canajoharie, who spend some good times there, were also feeling the presence of Nagpur. I could feel a slight hint of Nagpur, even though I have never been there. Cabella was also somehow present, with its river, and the castle, and the simple rustic way of life. So all these holy musical places of our sahaj world became gathered around Canajoharie, fused with it, made this Canajoharie very different from the place I have known and also loved before. Different, but also the same. I felt the presence and continuity of this sahaj musical tradition, that somehow was connecting us to its beginnings in this era and the different forms it took relatively recently, as well as to the previous manifestations centuries ago – we sang Kabira, you know.

It is not that there is one single physical location, to which all holy places can be traced and from which they originate. It is rather a place in the spiritual realm, where meditation is painted by the beautiful colours or the art, where it explodes with the cooling fountains and where the rainbows are born in the meeting of sunshine and the water. When this place somehow starts manifesting locally, be in in Canajoharie, or somewhere else, it brings together all these other places, the holy places of art, where art is inspired by the Divine, and where we become attuned to the Divine through art, if we cooperate, even barely, and then it becomes global – magnificent and breathtaking.

When the arts academy was over after two weeks, I though it could not get any better, and it did not, but something else, equally beautiful and inspiring, though in a different way, kept me blissed out for another two weeks: some of our teachers joined by two other musicians went on a concert tour. I will definitely write more about that later, for now, here is the the video of the last concert of the tour in Dallas, enjoy!

You can see more videos and photos here: Festival of Inner Peace

I sing, you meditate

Запросили мене поспівати на медитаційній програмі в одному сусідньому селі (ну чи містечку), ну то раз вже таке діло, то я вирішила телефоном на коліні записати, в першу чергу з метою виправлення помилок і подальшого покращення якості, а заодно тому, що вже кільком людям давно обіцяла показати (точніше, дати послухати).

Я, звичайно, не професіонал, та й ніколи професіоналом в музиці не стану, але насправді не в тому суть. Суть в тому, що ці коротенькі санскритські шльоки, привезені колись давно з Вайтарни, мають настільки сильну і добру енергію, що зіпсувати їх складно навіть такому непрофесіоналу як я. Саме тому я не віднєкуюся, коли запрошують, навіть коли знаю, що горло добряче заржавіле, бо зовсім нетреноване, тим більше зараз, і що звук буде далеким від досконалого, і артикуляції будуть зовсім не такими виразними, як би хотілося, і що належного рівня імпровізації не буде, бо ж звідки йому взятися. Але енергія все одно буде нічого така, і тим, хто готовий медитувати це допоможе, і стан буде класний вкінці.

Про кілька з цих шльок я вже колись давно згадувала тут, ось наприклад в цих двох постах було:

https://msvarnyk.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/білим-я-буду-білим-як-сніг/

https://msvarnyk.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/індія-починається-втретє/

З добрих музичних новин в мене те, що за тиждень я їду в Канаджохарі,  там протягом двох тижнів перед великим медитаційним семінаром триватиме наша йогівська “мистецька академія”. Я записалася на два класи співу і один гармоніки, аж самій цікаво, що з того всього вийде. Взагалі їх мав проводити Ґуруджі, якого я вам показувала два роки тому, і мені було трохи лячно, але тепер все помінялося, приїде хтось зовсім інший (я його особисто ніколи не бачила, але чула про нього багато цікавого), і я тим дуже втішена.

вайтарняни

З Нікі Веллс в цьому відео ми разом були у Вайтарні десь 2 місяці в того самого вчителя – можете зацінити рівень професіоналізму, на який треба було (чи можна було) рівнятися. 🙂

Продовження вегетаріанської теми

Тут в нас, постійний ржач, крім тих випадків коли вчителі сваряться або дуються, правда я переважно поза зоною досяжності ржачу, бо не перекладають – що сама здогадалася – то моє :). Але сьогодні Шільпа по-англійськи відсмалила. На обід знову була курка, відповідно знову вегетаріанська тема. Ну то ми йдемо до їдальні, і я питаю: а як правильно сказати чикен – мурґі чи мурґа (а то мене постійно з одного на інше переправляли раніше – зовсім заплутали). А вона відповідає: якщо дженц (це скорочене джентельмени) тоді мурґа, а якщо лейдіс – то мурґі. Я питаю: а ви на смак розрізняєте, дженц чи лейдіс? Вони всі скривилися, хоч підколку зацінили. Але нині у всіх на тарілках курка була – я не прослідкувала, їли самі, чи для цуциків брали :).
Так от, dear ladies and gentlemen, murgi and murga, we will eat you today!

От тільки забула про множину спитати, знов мене виправлятимуть з тими курами :).

О, як на замовлення, Тільки що йшов по коридору де я сиджу вчитель. Він сам трохи плутався, бо хінді не його рідна мова, але сказав, що когути в множині мурґє, а кури – мурґіє??? Я якщо одні й другі разом – тоді мурґє.

Тобто правильно буде сказати Dear ladies and gentlemen, murgie or murge, we cordially invite you to be a part of our dinner today! Chalo-chalo, into the pot! (останнє т обов’язково ретрофлексне)

The statement of intent – декларація намірів

Приб’ю тим часом як верхній пост.

Наступний суттєвий пост під тегом Вайтарна мабуть буде про локально-побутове (і буде десь на початку червня). Вчора Суніл возив мене на річку, то я могла в нього багато чого розпитати, бо я трошки знала з попереднього разу, але тоді наголос був на те, щоб зрозуміти музичне, вчительське (особисте і міжособистісне типу політики та інтракадемічних воєн, ггг), ну і йогівське, тобто аж ніяк не локально-вайтарнівське, тому про побутове в мене до вчорашнього дня було більше питань, ніж відповідей.

Про що ще я би могла написати під тегами Вайтарна або Індія?

[UPD – до побутового додалася тема про прання]

Про музичне тут мабуть мало кому цікаво, і писати було б надто багато – простіше якийсь підручник дати почитати, хоча, якщо по поверненні додому я раптом почну таки трохи займатися – може час від часу якісь ескізи з’являтимуться, які могли б когось тут в принципі трохи цікавити. В мене після минулого разу навіть були деякі цікаві феноменологічні музично-медитативні відкриття, а також початки герменевтичної інтерпретації одної композиції в разі Бгайрав, але згідно метода, я би мала повторити досвід, а не писати з пам’яті, чи зі старих нотаток (які в мене, між іншим, є, але по-англійськи), а для того дійсно треба займатися.
Ну і не знаю, чи моя професійно-спрямована філософська писанина та ще й на тему музики комусь піде, може краще залишатися в рамках нормальної людської мови (наскільки моя мова взагалі може бути нормальною і людською), і в стилі звичайної не надто мудрагельської оповідки (знову ж таки, наскільки це взагалі можливо з моєю манерою висловлювання). Про індійську музику – з любов’ю з Канади, ггг.
Тут в Індії, між іншим навіть мова одна є, Каннада називається (трохи на південь звідси живуть 38 мільйонів Каннадіґанців) і є ціла група раг, які мають певні мелодичні додатки, до назви тоді додається уточнення “Каннада”. Одна з моїх най-най улюбленіших раг – Дарбарі (придворна, або ж королівська), вона ж Дарбарі Каннада, в моїх асоціаціях присвячена Божественній Матері – королеві всесвіту, а якщо в дрібному вимірі – то є асоціації з недавнім постом про Марію Антуанетту.

Інше, що може з’явитися – щось типу типажів і портретів – в мене їх трохи назбиралося, і хоч вони всі базуються лише на моєму власному, а тому дуже обмеженому індійському досвіді, і слабо піддаються для якихось більш-менш надійних узагальнень, вони можуть бути комусь цікавими, бо ж то людське.

Ще в мене була думка трохи написати про флору і фауну, в основному про фауну, звичайно, але почала сумніватися, чи варто. Про собак вже написала суспільно-побутовий 🙂 пост – залишилися птахи, комахи і може зовсім трохи про плазунів і худобу. 🙂 Не знаю, чи таке може когось цікавити.

Про їжу? Не знаю… Є сенс взагалі щось писати про їжу людині яка в приготуванні їжі, тим більше, індійської – слабкий теоретик і ще слабший практик? В споживанні я, звичайно, практик нормального калібру, але не знаю, чи того достатньо, і чи взагалі щось із того комусь може бути цікаво. Одним словом, вагаюся.

Ну і про “йогівське” – воно і раніше регулярно з’являлося, і від цього нікуди не дінешся, бо я цим живу, і більшість (якщо не всі) мої досвіди так чи інакше йогівським забарвлюються.

Якщо ще шось пригадаю, допишу.

Якщо є преференції (як позитивні, так і негативні), або побажання (особливо якщо я щось забула) – кажіть будь-ласка, я врахую все, що зможу.
Все-таки є більший сенс і стимул писати те, що хоч хтось прочитає – бо я хоч і люблю здоровий запас тиші і спокою, але все ж в жж присутня як суспільна істота, і люблю потриндіти, та й порозмовляти також.