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Distilled Wisdom for a Happy & Harmonious Life
|by U Atreya Sarma|
The Amma in the title of the book Amma’s Gospel represents the poet Rajender Krishan’s paternal grandmother. The Gospel, however, does not exclusively spell out her own personal voice but of the universal or cosmic mother as well as of the poet whose individual experience cum observation – a product of inspiration he has drawn, among others, from her – has sparked off many a thought in this work of 45 poems.
Prof Satya Chaitanya, in his excellent preview that faithfully mirrors the spirit of the poems in the book, rightly observes, “Amma who inspired these poems is an inheritor of the timeless wisdom of womanhood, the strength of eternal India and the compassion that flows out of our soul if only we can still for a few moments our minds, obsessed with chasing the world outside. Her wisdom could be found in every poem. It is not Amma teaching her grandson but the bygone ages imparting their wisdom to an age that has lost its touch with the wisdom of the Oversoul.” (159)
Mother is never an individual but a collective symbol of harmony and sorority. She is the quintessence of patience, tolerance and lover for humankind and perhaps, ultimately, stands before each one to say that to love man is to love ‘the self and humanity’ and thus, a restrained and yet so obvious yearning to establish peace and harmony in a not very healthy age. (About the Book)
And the opening paragraph of the intro is sign of the vista ahead –
‘Amma’s Gospel’ is not only a medium of illumination but also an expression of civilizational and cultural foundation the poet wishes to convey, and so builds up a lyrical edifice to confirm.’
As P C K Prem, in the Foreword, observes, “Amma exists in everyone whether visible or invisible as if she is the Supreme...”
Rajender Krishan’s Amma never claims omniscience, but her conscience being clear, her gospels instantly resonate with us.
The same poem explains the difference between the two greetings – ‘Hi’ and ‘Namaste’. You do ‘Namaste’ – ‘With a smiling face | And folded hands’ (39), ‘Conveying gratitude | With a pleasing attitude’ (40) and it signifies an acknowledgment of the divine presence in one and all.
All of us pray to God, with most of us seeking the fulfilment of our wishes, but we have to pragmatic to realize that –
The origin, purpose, evolution and significance of ‘word’ that can capture or impregnate the entire universe has a spiritual purport in the Indic culture. And Panini’s Sanskrit grammar traces the origin of the Word and its syllables to the drum of Lord Shiva as he plays it.
Words matter a lot and there are whole courses and motivational talks on how to use them. A word can make or mar things. In the Indic culture, there are any number of personages embodying an ideal speech, like Rama and Hanuman. This idea is extended by another poem –<
Going back to the belief that Lord Shiva is the originator of the word and that that the triphonic Aum aka Om is the primordial seminal sound out of which everything has emanated, let’s see how the poet interprets Him, a harmonious abode of apparent antinomies – of the Ganga in the tresses and the fire in the third eye; of the lunar nectar on the head and poison in the gullet; of ashes all over the body and companionship with ghosts; of the serpent as his necklace and the bull as his mount et al –
That the creation and existence are a mixture of opposites – call them positive or negative; plus or minus; light or shade; day or night; male or female – is further reinforced in another poem –
Even the Earth is a reflection of such diversity, if alone we can appreciate and see it in perspective –
But if this diversity is not properly appreciated as part of the same divine spectrum, and if it’s seen as hostile centrifugalism, it breeds malevolent and even genocidal proclivities, as history shows –
The psyche of the poet resonates with the spirit of Amma, the way she sings lullabies, the way she nurtures, the way she prepares parathas, the way she gives commands, the way she takes care of her family. See how hearteningly she defines ‘generosity’ –
Death is inevitable, so let’s “fear not Yama”, and this fearlessness and self-control we can cultivate by practicing Yoga as delineated by Patanjali. The Patanjali sutras (principles of Yoga) behove us to be “clean, committed, content, | honest, kind, loyal, non-violent, | persevering, poised and tolerant,” and not to be “a cheat, greedy or a thief” (Healing, 72). What else can be the best, clearest and easiest guide to the art or science of living! This practiced way of purposeful and virtuous living makes us equanimous and take life as it comes –
In the above lines, ‘vacation’ symbolizes our terrestrial sojourn.
All of us know that impulsive arguments smacking of polemical one-upmanship is divisive and conflict-breeding and not harmony-causing. You may win an argument with your opponent, but not his heart. The same point is touched upon in another poem too, where unlike a mystic, an –
The Indian way of life accords a great value to the family bonds, for the virtues of understanding, adjustment and adaptability are learnt primarily in the alchemic lab of a family alone, but not in the nuclear and sub-nuclear families.
It’s not exclusively the wisdom from the mother that radiates from the poems in the book, as said earlier; there is also the paternal practical wisdom, where the father limits himself to advising his children only to choose the right means and right ends and leaves them the choice of the exact end.
It doesn’t matter which walk of life we are into, for every walk of life is equally important.
Illustrations (c) Niloufer Wadia
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