Saturday, 29 August 2015

" We are encroaching into their private space " - UG

Major Dakshinamurti and the Farm House, Bengaluru

Those were the days when UG had decided to stay temporarily in the farmhouse in Bangalore . The new arrangement was that Major Dakshinamurti would continue to stay in his small and compact bungalow exclusively leased out for the purpose and UG would move over to a makeshift room, a few hundred feet away - a coarsely built standalone, meant to store tools and implements of the farm.

UG, as was his wont, decided to make this tiny room into his new abode. Accordingly it had been given a facelift with a fresh coat of paint and all the necessary repairs carried out to make it comfortable and convenient for his stay.

Great love and care had gone into making the tacky room sport an elegant look. Furnishings included a printed paper chart showcasing famous world currencies, fastidiously decorating the northern wall of the room. This symbolised the abode of the Hindu God of Wealth, Kubera, believed to be the resident of the northern heavens.

UG , picking on the greenback from the chart, merrily remarked, " Do you know that these days the US dollar has become a worthless currency? They call it the Banana Republic!" 

   It had been decided to perform a small ritual, 'pooja' to mark the occasion of UG's entry into the new abode.  Priests had arrived to perform rituals. UG's presence made the occasion special and turned it into an opportunity to discover the ancient wisdom behind the Hindu 'Grihapravesam',  the Eastern equivalent of 'house warming' ceremony. 

The moment the priests began recitation of mantras or hymns, UG abandoned his chair and took a seat on the floor amongst us, squatting like an obedient school boy! He sat through the whole ritual silently.

Many people had gathered to witness the event. As the ceremony came to a close, someone in the assembly expressed the desire to know the meaning of the hymns chanted during the ceremony.

UG picked on a friendly soul, an adept in ritual as well as an exponent of the scriptures to help us know what the ceremony was all about. The kind gentleman explicated the significance of the Sanskrit hymns used during the ritual . Even UG listened intently.

This ancient ritual highlighted the timeless wisdom of sages from a bygone era that flowed mellifluously in the form of hymns paying rich tribute to all forms of life in the surroundings.  The hymns addressed every creature that walked, crawled or flew in the environs. Even the vegetation was part of thanksgiving - the grass, the plants and the trees that stood on the plot before and after the house was built were accosted in the prayer!

The hymn typified a universal prayer sent out to all bipeds
(द्विपदे),  quadrupeds (चतुष्पदे) living and breathing on the holy ground, it was a prayer to the subterranean creatures living in burrows, beneath the ground and to creatures perching on trees or flying about in the air. Every life form was accosted with greatest of humility and supplication.

Hymns included solemn and sincere apologies, straight from the heart, making amends for loss of life or limbs of the young, near and dear ones of every life form on the plot.
Forgiveness was sought from every spirit that had undergone suffering while digging the earth, uprooting the trees, generally for all suffering caused while making way for the new abode.

Furthermore, all creatures in the vicinity were now being formally informed, through the ritual, about the intention of the new resident to share the piece of earth and air that originally belonged to them. Prayers were being offered and entreaties were being made seeking permission and approval by every creature around to acquire and share the living space.

It was such a sombre and humbling experience to partake of this great wisdom that held every living form in such high esteem. We were momentarily transported to a different world, it deeply touched a chord in every heart. We could for the first time visualise the entire ecosystem and its varied dimensions being populated by a multitude of life forms.

We felt blessed that we had been audience to this great ritual and its rarest and most profound exposition on ecology. The purity and serenity of the sagely voice succinctly echoed the vastness, the greatness, the interconnectedness and the interdependence of life – in short, the hymn was a celebration of Life !

UG nodded his approval acknowledging the correctness of the interpretation of hymns and thanked the interpreter.  Pointing to the abundant anthills that stood all around the farm house, suggesting large presence of snakes on the plot, he poignantly remarked,

               “ We have no business to come and stay here!  We are encroaching into their private space. In fact, we have no right to complain about them!

                 Normally snakes are peaceful and will never harm any humans. But if you are afraid, you will emit certain odours, they sense danger and will be the first to take action.

               We humans have become such a threat to every living creature. Very rarely someone gets bitten by a snake but we become so paranoid that we thoughtlessly and mercilessly kill hundreds and thousands of snakes. They play a very big role in bringing about ecological balance.  If there are no snakes, there will be no one to check the field rats, they will become abundant. The field rats will have a field day and finish off all our crops.

                Strange that we do not realise this simple truth that every living form has a role and is essential for our own survival!"

Shortly after moving into the farmhouse, Major began encountering snakes right inside his kitchen and bedroom. UG's words to exercise caution and restraint and to treat the creatures gently had left its impact! He would sometimes fix his meal right under the supervision of a cobra crawled up on the kitchen platform!


Friday, 14 August 2015

" Stimulus and response are a unitary movement " - UG

Once in Bombay, some elderly gentlemen in mid-80s sat around UG reminiscing good old days. I, in my mid-thirties, happened to be the youngest in the crowd. An impish thought entered my head –‘what on earth could the oldies do other than gossip?’ The very moment, UG caught me and said, Sir! We are all oldies here, we have nothing better to do, we are useless. Unlike you, we have no work, we simply sit here and chat the whole day !", and with a mischievous smile added, “We are idlers but good observers!"

At various points in time, UG, the ‘biological freak’, as he 'idled around' the globe, spoke of the way he functioned saying that there was no purpose to his talks and actions. They were only in response to questions posed, or to situations to which he was exposed. One could clearly see the distinct lack of purpose or intention behind his words and actions at any given moment. He seemed to personify that hackneyed phrase, ‘living in the moment.’

Living in the moment perhaps is possible only if there is complete freedom from the past, from all kinds of preoccupation. UG had this to say about how he operated, “Stimulus and response are a unitary movement!"   A rare insight indeed but confounding!

 For us, logically grounded minds, burdened with knowledge, it is a puzzle how the stimulus, something external, could be unitary with response, something internal or subjective? To us, they appear as two distinct and diverse events! We are not in a position to appreciate the phenomenon that presupposes the total absence of the 'subject', as is the case with UG.
‘Action is born of stillness', says the Taoist sage! Perhaps it is stillness or absence of thought or thinking that ties the stimulus and response (action not born of thought or premeditation) into a continuum and makes it a unitary movement. It is the thought or thinking that divides this unitary movement into two distinct events - the stimulus and the response.

Also stimulus and response is a unitary movement when one is facing a physical threat or danger.  We instinctively shy away from a stone pelted in our direction. There is no thinking involved ; there is no division or choice in our response! As soon as we see the stone coming, we duck!

Being part and parcel of the social environment and its offspring, the psychological world,we are stuck with this superimposed reality. UG very often reiterated, The only reality is, that which is imposed on us by society."  

Thinking gets invariably triggered when we are faced with a psychological challenge or stimulus. We then respond like robots programmed with premeditated choices born of incessant conditioning from childhood.  

There is no way for us to see or grasp the unitary nature of stimulus and response that UG and the Taoist sages talk about!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

“What’s a Good Man Good For? Only For the Bad Man To Exploit” – UG

A Gentleman is Simply A Patient Wolf - Lana Turner

That was the time when I was planning to resign my secure government job to plunge headlong into a business venture being floated by a tycoon who had aggressively sold this idea to me. His overtures teased me into agreeing for the proposal. I was to be part of an elite international team put in place to launch an MNC out of Melbourne.

I was completely bowled over by the idea and thought of seriously pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams. I even convinced a buddy, very close associate of UG, to consider throwing in his lot with me and to be part of this star team. The tycoon happened to be a land shark with the largest piece of real estate registered by any Indian at the time. The mega property enclosed two large lakes and two villages, all on the plot, just a short drive from Bangalore.

I and my friend both flew down and participated in the STRAP (strategic planning) session in the money bag’s farmhouse and after the meeting headed straight to Chandrasekhar Babu’s place where UG was camping.

How timely!

We arrived at Babu’s place late evening. UG was surrounded by a huge crowd of friends and admirers. He wasted no time and got down to business. He was concerned and wanted to know all about the new business venture. Ellen Chrystal, the lawyer was also present as I put out my plans in front of UG. UG keenly heard everything out and said “Sir! I am concerned about you! How could you trust these new guys? What is the guarantee? A known devil is always better than an unknown friend!” 

 I started explaining to him the nitty-gritty of how I had intended to work for the future employer while insuring myself with a legal contract but UG shot me down vehemently:

 , “Sir! Those guys are out to exploit you! They will get everything from you and then throw you out! What’s a good man good for? Only for the bad man to exploit! Don’t be under the illusion that you can secure yourself by creating a legal document, an MOU or whatever! You may sign it, stamp it, seal it but that is just a piece of paper! That won’t do! “.

Pointing to Ellen, “Look at her! She is a lawyer, she knows better than anyone else! First, you must ensure that the entire money promised to you be transferred into your account before putting in your papers! 

CASH ON THE BARREL! That is the only way! There is no other way!"

The sheer intensity of his words and his benign concern for my future made me drop the idea instantly!

In a jiffy, my friend fished out the snapshot of the Group and brandished it in front of UG. UG took a good look at our group photo and referring to the tycoon and his key business partner made a rather strange remark, “They look like international convicts!”

Not long after, the tycoon got arrested for financial embezzlement and a search warrant issued against his overseas friend.

Thanks to the sagely counsel, I had been saved! I had escaped the wolves by the skin of my teeth! 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

"There was nobody home!" - Lulu

Brockwood Park school

That was the time before his 49th birthday, UG had moved into Saanen in Switzerland before the Calamity (Enlightenment). He continued to attend a few last lectures of Jiddu Krishnamurti,  turned out they were some of his final encounters with JK.

Lulu and Edward Ani, the Jewish couple were regulars at JK's 'circus' tent and spent their summers in Saanen. Lulu, an intellectual with a keen mind incidentally is among the very few   like Barry to have interacted with UG, before and after Calamity. The couple finds a mention in several places in the fabulous book, 'The Biology of Enlightenment',  the transcript of UG's recorded conversations post  'enlightenment '. The book is a great tribute, a work of  love and devotion by Dr. Mukunda Rao.

Once when I visited the couple at Burgess Hill near London,. energetic Eddie drove us all to the Downs and beyond up to the English Channel. En route, Lulu and Eddie shared their relationship with both Krishnamurtis. 

Lulu then narrated her maiden encounter with UG, a fascinating account!

Lulu was present on that day at JK's tent. His talk revolved around the theme of children and education. Those were the days before JK established his world renowned schools at Brockwood Park, Rishi Valley etc. Lulu and Eddie's daughter was  to study at Brockwood Park later.

On that day in the tent, as JK  elaborated on the kind of education system and schools that could create flowers out of children, suddenly there was a commotion at the back of the tent.Someone at the back stood up and cried out loud denouncing the talk as an exercise in futility, arguing that such a thing made no sense whatsoever!

  Not just that, after making his point, loud and clear, the protestor defiantly walked out of the tent to the utter shock and surprise of many  JKites in the audience. Lulu, quite a maverick herself was  surprised and  wondered at the guts of the man. She wasted no time, got up and promptly followed him out of the tent! She couldn't wait to find out who it was that dared to lock horns with JK, the World Teacher! She caught up with UG , found out that he lived near by in a chalet.  UG sounded unusual but was very cordial and open for any meetings and discussions.

Lulu and Eddie started meeting both JK and UG during their subsequent visits to Saanen.

 After het first encounter with UG in JK's tent , Lulu met UG during the following summer. By then UG had been hit by the 'Calamity' .This literally triggered off mind shattering physiological processes, blasting his every nerve cell, dislodging the 'thought structure' and  wiping out his 'autobiographical self'.  'He' was completely blown out! 

 To Lulu, at the time, UG appeared like someone who had been hit by a bolt of lightning! She dramatised how UG looked, tapping her forehead with her knuckles, she explained , " There was nobody home!" indicating that the 'self' or 'entity' called 'UG Krishnamurti' had been completely wiped out of the system!  

UG personally reiterated this well known fact once when I got an opportunity to drive him from Bombay to Lonavala, the only time I ever got to be his chauffeur! Getting into the car he said, " I can count only the three of you here! Yourself  and the two ladies (Melissa and Trisha), there is no one here ( pointing to himself )!" 

For UG, the ghost of the 'self' or 'ego' had been exorcised once and for all during Calamity ! The mutation finished 'him' completely and irrevocably! Then on, he aptly began describing himself as a 'biological freak'!

“ I am a White Brahmin, of purest ray serene! ” - UG

I just recall this one-off anecdote. UG and Mahesh Bhatt had just returned to Parekhji’s place after their lunch at the Oberoi...