Time

The Child, The Feminine, The God

Poems

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here are three more poems from this collection –

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La-laa-la li-la!
[Source- Pixabay]

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The Child

Running to catch her friends,

Spirited till the day ends,

Happy seeing things just as they are,

Yay, the tuck shop’s not that far;

Folded paper boats and paper planes

Resting in the bag after ruling the lanes;

Little joys and big victories,

Defeats, bad score and sad faces,

The child knows life only too well,

The child lives life only too well.

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Alas! Childhood is but a phase, golden,

Precious, sublime, magical and fun,

Closer to the truth, the reality,

A sweetened blissful individuality.


Here and beyond…
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Feminine

Femininity and infinity, two soul sisters,

One departed to build the worlds,

The other, to build the universe,

Through waves in the space

They saw the birth and death of their creations,

Jostling joyfully the drama to expand further,

One becomes the seed of sentient life,

The other, creator of spinning galaxies.

Inexplicable at times, they shone

In red, blue, yellow and its many tones.

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Femininity –infinity’s one good phase – usurps

The Time, for the time being

As the secret mystical message lurks,

Invisible, for now, to the living.


“And that’s that”, said the god.
[Source – Pixabay]

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The God

Placing the pyramids perfectly still,

Turning the holy text holy,

The will to power or power to will,

The rise of God could not be a folly.

Mythology – a social construct, a tool, a goal

To make this lonely planet a home,

But that this God could launch a missile

And break the back of the buried poor

And let the child die a brutal death

Who failed to understand the ties of wealth…

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This God could be a phase that may disappear

Or grow bigger and bigger and bigger,

Finally engulfing stars, galaxies and all…

Letting some rise, letting some fall.

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The Sun, The Moon, The Earth

Poems

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here are the next three poems –

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All hail the majestic fiery sun! Hail, hail!
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Sun

Glorious in this self-sacrificial act,

The sun spins silently on its spot

With an eye open and an eye closed,

Partly seeing the planetary drama and

Partly observing its blind burning core,

Loving-living the old eclipsing folklore.

Never out of tune or shying away

From that routine rotating pathway

As if in meditation and at peace,

Granting us our lives at lease.

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We assume Time is standing still

Because of our sun’s steady will.

It is but a phase like the earlier ones

Where life played a different game and had won.


Moon-lover one, waiting for moon lover two.
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Moon

Like a wave gushing its way through

The barriers and entering our hearts,

The Moon loves playing the darts,

Winking, listening and inspiring like a true

Poet in practice, moonlight as ink

Together the moon-lovers drink.

Such is the friendship between the seekers

And the moon; safekeeping promises and secrets,

Along with a lonely soul’s rising hope

Of fulfilling a decorated dream and Co.

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And this personification of moon into a friend

And a secret keeper, holding hands till the end

Is another phase, another image of the moon;

Quiet, calm, disciplined, it’s coming out soon.


The awesome dancers, all hail the trio! Hail, hail!
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Earth

On a great grand gargantuan pilgrimage,

Orbiting its way, the same old and unique,

Transforming, adjusting with every coming phase,

Our Earth, our only home, this blue-green maze,

Gravitationally inclined, time-space bound,

Nurtures with freedom the beings found

Inhabiting its being, its vision, its dream;

Rhythmically revolving, rising, but never asleep,

Timed its timing with Time, the Earth

Listens earnestly, abiding by the unknown.

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How forgetful are we, who are just a phase,

A passing reality on the way to its pilgrimage…

We appear to be short sighted and too eager

To conquer the unconquerable, our planet, our nurturer.

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Stories

Poem

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here’s the first poem –

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The LIBRARY!
[Source – Pixabay]

Stories

Once upon a time began a story,

One that preceded the old granny’s,

Kind of majestic, kind of silly…

The story glanced at the human tale

And built the drama of our coming-of-age;

Cultural riches, potions, a legacy in storage

That led the imaginative heart’s dream

To fly high until detained by authority,

That questioned before listening

And answered before knowing.

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Stories adorn with garlands these phases

Of mankind, the world and the universe’s,

Weaving powerful parallel universes

In stories after stories after stories.

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Begin and End Like a Raag

Commentary
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 Rajasthan, India.
[Source – Wikipedia]

A raag in Indian classical music becomes Time when orchestrated. Glorious instruments, colourful songs and performances, although, when glimpsed at, mute, await patiently for the right Time, right raag.

For a different season, a different raag – Malkauns, Puriya Dhaneshree for autumn and fall, Megh and Miyan ki Malhar for the monsoons, Brindavani Sarang for summer – that captures the weather in wavelengths, letting it communicate ever so freely.

Raag as Time presents itself in a harmonious clock, naturally. Dawn breaks with raag Ahir Bhairav, Lalit, Bilaval… afternoon visits with raag Bhimpalasi, evening with raag Yaman Kalyan and night with raag Chandrakauns, Darbari, Hameer

Moulding live Time into a majestic melody, into resplendent raags – they sit still. Who all, exactly? Both raag and Time – raag as Time, Time as raag. They sit still, now bursting into true joy, now as fragrant as love, they await, never losing the discipline of being one.

Yes, here comes the structured, palpable, countable, direct, strict form of the raags – notations. Tied to notations, raags sincerely obey the rules set by the masters, always free to improvise and ameliorate the notations. Raags aim for clarity of ever vibrant awareness, presence that transcends.

And who do the masters, gurus, legends and myths obey? Well, life is cyclical – they obey, observe, listen to, be mindful of the raags.

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So, the strictness, the structure of notations attempts to keep the raags’ soul alive, while firmly certain that raags’ soul is eternal. And carrying this paradox rhapsodically, the artists move rather uniquely, theirs is a different gait, rich in colours, in fast-forward or rewind mode.

Ti-ha-yi i.e. tihayi, a technique used in Indian classical music mostly to complete a piece.

“Tihais are sometimes used to distort the listeners’ perception of time, only to reveal the consistent underlying cycle at the sam.”

Music Contexts: A Concise Dictionary of Hindustani Music by Ashok Damodar Ranade

Sam is the ending point/ beat.

Listeners’ perception of time… very true, after all it is done for the listeners, the stage is set for the viewers, the raags become Time for the audience.

Why? So that the sublime connection between the world around and the world within doesn’t break, so that the cyclical journey goes on and on… for no mortal being knows the final destination.


Akbar watching as Tansen receives a lesson from Swami Haridas. Imaginary situation depicted in Mughal miniature painting (Rajasthani style, c. 1750 AD).
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Raag comes from a Sanskrit word that means ‘dyeing’ or ‘a colour, tint, hue’, and so when the right note – beautifully beaded, richly fresh – is played, it touches the heart and soul of the listener, affecting and colouring the thoughts, urging one to act well, arresting one’s hurtful quietness, liberating one from the heavy shackles, boosting one’s spirited self.

An ecstasy when experienced so, in general the raags take a traditional ritual’s shape that often gets dull under the burden of untouchable rules… untouchable for they are pious.

And oh, be careful of rupturing the impeccable quaint charming world.

But they forget the raag becomes Time here, when orchestrated well and as Time it evolves, evolving others along.

Who has captured Time in this ephemeral space? And that too in a sweet honeyed way that in captivity it turns melodious – Time becomes raag…?

An eternal tug of war between the thoughtful and careful, a wave rising and falling, union and separation, spoken and unspoken – there is a raag for every shade, every mood, every subtle change, every sky and every earth.

Together why not we take a dive into this ocean of raag… why not we learn to be as patient as a still raag as if we have been sculpted out of stones, while the atoms within hum steadily the right tune… why not we become in action that ecstatic joy like the raag Malhar, causing the clouds of bleakness to rain, in-turn nurturing our roots… why not each one of us create a unique tihayi that uncovers the similarities at the sam…

Why not we begin and end like a raag…


Some supreme performances by the legends –

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She Wanted Storms

Feature Article
Time flowers!
[Source – Pixabay]

In ancient Rome, they say, there was a belief that intimate/ urgent/ special prayers had to be spoken aloud, a mandatory act for the prayers to be answered.

A mandatory act? Yes! I say, if not spoken aloud, how will a prayer then cross the ocean of voices and climb the mountain of whispering hymns?

A prayer needs to begin its journey before reaching its destination.

What if the prayer holds a secret and when spoken aloud, huh, a devilish soul, a rival, a conspirator hears it?

Darn it, don’t fear, make a move!

Don’t let a passionate prayer rest amongst the unspoken, ignored, forgotten, suppressed thoughts.

Let it be heard, this secret prayer, for what if a poet catches it and turns it into a timeless sonnet or a dramatist turns it into a tragicomedy or a composer turns it into an epic melody…


Anna Akhmatova uttered a prayer aloud and heard it carefully, herself first, and then turned it into a poem for the rest.

Writing, perhaps largely just making mental notes, living in Stalin’s Russia, facing censorship and strict impediments, Anna Akhmatova stood her ground to witness the brutalities Time threw her way – her dear ones struggling in soviet labour camps – and refused to leave her country.

What anchored her in the storm?

How come the maddening drama unfolding in her life did not suffocate?

Is not her work a verdict that catches Time in the witness box? And her poems a passionate prayer that acquits Time for she knows it will change? Her loud prayer a promise not meant to be broken? Yes, yes, yes!

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You Will Hear Thunder

By Anna Akhmatova

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You will hear thunder and remember me,

And think: she wanted storms. The rim

Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,

And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

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That day in Moscow, it will all come true,

When, for the last time, I take my leave,

And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,

Leaving my shadow still to be with you.


Anna Akhmatova prayed for Fire, for storms; not the fire that spreads strategically to plunder, but the fire that engulfs to bring an end, former started by a selected few and latter by the overwhelmed masses.

She knew well the dual persona of Fire and thus invoked it.

When lit as a ritual, Fire remembers to abide by the fancy cultural twists, but when lit for destruction, it does not stop until it destroys the destroyer, forgiving none, consuming all, levelling the ground for a new beginning.

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Shubhasya Shighram – A Pocket Sized Mantra

Philosophy

Nature too believes in this mantra.
[Source – Pixabay]

शुभस्य शीघ्रम अशुभस्य कालहरणम।

Shubhasya shighram, ashubhasya kaalharnam.

Translation – Do not delay when planning to do something good, but when inclining towards the opposite, think twice.


Contemplation is good and needed. Action is better and a must.

Plans in a potli-mind take time to come out, yes, for they are grand ones, created meticulously, weaved with love.

Inspired thoughts build this glass minar with intricate designs, colours of hope and success and appreciation and a little bit of all that is magical in this universe. We fly high when planning in a potli-mind.

Now how to fabricate such a tall glass minar in reality? Where to start from? How do we know if the time is right?

And what about all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’? Oh, and our dominating ‘know-it-all self’ that loves to put a stamp on every new thought, issuing summons, calling the poor thought a fraud, out-of-our-league or an impossibility, come what may?

Or worse, comparing it with the giant called the OTHERS?

Maybe this is the moment to tell yourself, shubhasya shighram, why wait to do something good.

Maybe this is the time to take the first step towards that glass minar, an overwhelming act it may feel at the beginning, but by the end, whatever the result is, we get enriched, we understand the rotating world and our bumbling selves a little better.

What a brilliant mantra then, a pocket sized mantra!

So, my friend, go ahead with that plan… because shubhasya shighram, shighram shighram.


Potli – bag, bundle, parcel, packet.

Minar – a tower or turret.


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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV

Coverage

Hero calling hero!
[Source – Pixabay]

The hero is in hiding, asleep, has forgotten or has been brainwashed because only that could explain the hero’s silence; the dead silence is complementing the darkness ostentatiously.

And no surprise, right? This darkness is overwhelming, too huge, so vast, damn cruel, heartless/soulless, steady and conniving that the heroes have all locked themselves up in the epics, legends and myths.

Dejected and weak they have turned their backs, criticising the critics, they hopelessly work to earn a living, measuring their quiet success every fiscal year, waiting for the golden retirement when they will finally wake up… or maybe they will not.


Regina Spektor is calling out to all the heroes to wake up, rise and fight, to accept the responsibilities of actions they so unconsciously take, to wage a war against inequality one little step at a time.

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Listen to Apres Moi before reading further –

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I (uh) must go on standing
You can’t break that which isn’t yours
I (uh) must go on standing
I’m not my own, it’s not my choice

Be afraid of the lame, they’ll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old, they’ll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold, they’ll inherit your blood
Apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood…

Regina Spektor

Revolutions, the downfall of monarchies, totalitarian leaders, genocides… mankind’s history is a presence in the absence, it is ever-looming, reminding us of the foundation on which we are now building smart castles (with Alexa or Google Nest Hub or the gadget you prefer).

Apres moi le deluge is a French phrase that means ‘after me, the flood’ and is attributed to Louis XV of France; one of the explanations suggest its nihilistic connotation that says, ‘Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone’ and the other links it with Halley’s comet and the impending French Revolution of 1789.

Here, Regina Spektor talks about the far-reaching presence of history and how we cannot ignore it for long.

She sings a few lines of a Russian poem when reaching the crescendo; it is a poem by Nobel laureate Boris Pasternak, titled ‘February’ –

Black spring! Pick up your pen, and weeping,
Of February, in sobs and ink,
Write poems, while the slush in thunder
Is burning in the black of spring.

Translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater, Boris’s sister

An intense song that resonates across and holds your thoughts, it seems as if the song is urging us folks to stand up against the odds without delay, asking us folks not to mellow down.


Listen to Us

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They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
The tourists come and stare at us
The sculptor’s mama sends regards
They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
Our noses have begun to rust

We’re living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We’re living in a den of thieves
And it’s contagious
And it’s contagious…

Regina Spektor

Thieves are untied clandestinely, inconspicuously, invincibly, heartily like no other group on this planet, working religiously, solely for their profit.

The one charismatic, luring fact, among other things, is the freedom they give to every individual thief, showing no concern for each other, but keeping a check and standing in solidarity if the deal is profitable.

Regina Spektor rightly diagnosed this behaviour as contagious; the song is giving a warning, it is a reminder. Wake up dear heroes, at least to rub off the rust on your noses.


Listen to Small Bills

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His destiny was just too big to spend
So he broke it into smaller bills and change
By the time he’d try to buy the things he needed
He had spent it all on Lucy’s and weed and
He had spent it all on chips and Coca-Cola
He had spent it all on chocolate and vanilla
He had spent it all and didn’t even feel it…

Regina Spektor

May the heroes win the peculiar, surreal, boorish individual battles that they are fighting again and again and again.


Listen to Hero

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Hey, open wide, here comes
Original sin
(Vrrr)
Hey, open wide, here comes
Original sin

It’s alright, it’s alright
It’s alright, it’s alright…

I’m the hero of the story
Don’t need to be saved…

Regina Spektor

Listen to this song when the sky is orange-pink, dimly twinkling, armouring up for the dark night; listen to this song when the sky is whitish-blue, brightly warm, breathing lightly, gently healing the hero.


Read more –

Alex Millar’s translation of the poem February.

Lessons in Creativity I Learned from Regina Spektor by Caitlin Cowan.

R


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The Thousand Faces of Night – A Charcoal-Inked Raga

Book Review

The certainty of it being the night promises us of the erubescent dawn. It is an inky night, it has been for aeons and aeons… and, mind you, she uses charcoal-ink… for the stove is still burning, she never forgets to collect woods.

And so, with her inky fingers she writes messages, anecdotes, dead secrets and stolen dreams on the walls in the kitchen.

A custom followed since antiquity, now the charcoal-ink smells of these quiet cursive messages. It talks about the dark night and the breaking of the dawn.

Her inky fingers will turn red with the dawn.


But Sita needed all the strength she could muster to face the big trial awaiting her. After that, it was one straight path to a single goal, wifehood. The veena was a singularly jealous lover.

Then one morning, abruptly, without an inkling that the choice that was to change her life lurked so near, Sita gave up her love. She tore the strings off the wooden base, and let the blood dry on her fingers, to remind herself of her chosen path on the first difficult days of abstinence.

Githa Hariharan (Part Three; Chapter 1)

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Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) is written by the astounding Githa Hariharan. The novel is a melody sung and composed at night that captures the thousand faces of the moonless, starless night.

It narrates the many tales of Indian women – the celebrated mythical ones and the limited editions – with such excellence that the novel takes the shape of a woman carrying a heavy potli bag full of tales.

The tales, entangled badly, still echo well and dramatise their essence. The tales are spicy and heart wrenching and true.

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Earthenware… they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries.
[Source – Pixabay]

Devi, Sita, Mayamma – daughter, mother, maid – kindle fire that burns time, others and themselves. And so powerful is this fire that life gathers around it to get some inspiration.

Delicate like earthenware, painted beautifully, allegedly breakable, they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries; you must have seen the pieces of such earthenware dug out from archaeological sites, displayed in a museum safely.

Their resilience never fails them even if it means to walk alone, against the tide, the familiar sunshine. Devi, the present, dares to break away, in her agility, eager to explore, moving away from Mayamma and Sita, the past.

Posing in front of the patriarch, they contribute to his legacy/magnificence. After foolishly spending a long time and suffering from backaches, Sita straightens up and Devi dodges the mockery, while Mayamma continues.

The patriarch sees Mayamma and smiles, Mayamma bows and cusses silently. She prays for Devi.

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The new raga.
[Source – Pixabay]

After etching their charcoal-inked messages on the kitchen walls, the three ladies change the notation of their melody slightly, making the raga, still sung at night, fresher.

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I must have, as I grew older, begun to see the fine cracks in the bridge my grandmother built between the stories I loved, and the less self-contained, more sordid stories I saw unfolding around me. The cracks I now see are no longer fine, they gape as if the glue that held them together was counterfeit in the first place. But the gap I now see is also a debt: I have to repair it to vindicate my beloved storyteller.

Githa Hariharan (Part One; Chapter 3)

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Avicenna and the Turning Wheel

Spinning starry time wheel. [Image from Pixabay]

Thinking… the activity of using our mind to consider something; the process of using our mind to understand matters, make judgments and solve problems… that is what the dictionary says and says more and then sites many lovely examples:

“I had to do some quick thinking.”

“She explained the thinking behind the campaign.”

“Thinking, for me, is hard work!”

Our mind, coloured by a plethora of this and that, happy and sad, a sea of information, thinks in isolation, yet always a part of the collective unconscious. And how wonderful is it that this tinted mind, nevertheless, is fully capable to create something novel.

The thinking mind turns the wheel, knitting the society tighter. The juggernaut of sociocultural norms, in turn, fabricates the yarn for such a mind.


Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980 AD – 1037) was a physician, philosopher, astronomer, theologian, poet – a polymath – who greatly contributed to the Islamic Golden age. His book Al Qanun fi al Tibb or The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia, was studied as a textbook for medical education in many universities, also in Europe, up till the 17th Century.

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1950 “Avicenna” stamp of Iran. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Philosophical encyclopedias like Kitab al Shifa or The Book Healing and Kitab al-Isharat wa al Tanbihat or The Book of Directive and Remarks presented Avicenna’s take on the Aristotelian and Platonian philosophy through the lens of an Islamic theologian.

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Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, Latin translation, dated 1484 CE. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]

A well-known physician, Avicenna got support from most of the rulers of his time – some made him a vizir or an advisor in their court – and the opportunity to access the royal library. Highly influenced by Aristotle, Avicenna also disagreed with the Greek polymath on many points.

That the soul is not just ‘body’s form’ (Aristotle says that a soul is the actuality of a body that has life) but it has an existence, he came up with a thought experiment, famously known as the floating/ flying man thought experiment. He argues –

One of us must suppose that he was just created at a stroke, fully developed and perfectly formed but with his vision shrouded from perceiving all external objects – created floating in the air or in the space, not buffeted by any perceptible current of the air that supports him, his limbs separated and kept out of contact with one another, so that they do not feel each other. Then let the subject consider whether he would affirm the existence of his self. There is no doubt that he would affirm his own existence, although not affirming the reality of any of his limbs or inner organs, his bowels, or heart or brain or any external thing. Indeed he would affirm the existence of this self of his while not affirming that it had any length, breadth or depth. And if it were possible for him in such a state to imagine a hand or any other organ, he would not imagine it to be a part of himself or a condition of his existence.

Avicenna

While this blogger will definitely take a lot of time to grasp these theories in entirety, she would like to appreciate the art of thinking that moulds the world in such a steady and grandiose manner.

The art of thinking, in which we participate daily and, most importantly, in the times of despair, is running the show as we then stand face to face our true being and raise questions, refute the botched theory and create a new one.

Avicenna wrote the floating/ flying man argument when imprisoned for around four months as a result of a political debacle – an argument that was later termed weak by the other thinkers.

But this is how the thinking mind works, it continues to question, argue and turn the wheel.


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Jasmine-Rich Raga

Coverage

White Jasmines.
[Image from Pixabay]

Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.

Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.

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The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).

Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.

The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.

The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.


Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai

Apne hi haath laga ja balam

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

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(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)

This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.


*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.

*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.


Listen to a melodious version of this bandish now.

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A shorter version.

Complement this with another melodious post – Amir Khusrau and the Mustard Flowers


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