Beyond being a Valentine for a day – the “ashiq”, the “mashouka” and “ishq”!

The true meaning of “I love you” is “I will be there for you – no matter what happens”!
Another Valentine’s Day is here. From FM stations to facebook posts to diner offers, the cliché ‘Love’s in the Air’ is going to rule the world today. But do we even understand what loving someone really means? This question has become both necessary and relevant because everything around us – most of all, relationships – has come to be conditional and is evaluated in material terms. I recently heard the story of my son’s classmate whose mother forced her to break-up with her boyfriend because the family was keen that the young lady marry someone who has the same “social status and business background” as them. In another instance, a lady confessed to me that she had to arrange for 100 sovereigns of gold to marry the man she “loved” because his family imposed that steep pre-condition to approve their match. Another friend walked out on her husband, who, according to her, is a “great human being” but is “incapable of bringing home an income”; she confessed to me that “financial security” mattered a lot more to her than companionship. Someone I know says he doesn’t trust his wife but has decided not to “rake up the issue” because she earns a good salary – I know the family and believe that this gentleman’s perception of mistrust arises from the fact that she earns more than him! Unfortunately, our society is not helping make relationships any better – there’s so much pressure on earning a living, on providing, on buying, hoarding, showing off and owning, that loving has become less relevant and least important. Clearly, demonstrating – often time, proving – in material terms that you love someone has overtaken genuinely, simply, loving that someone!
Loving someone really is about being there unconditionally for that person. There is no way I can explain what loving means in English. But, as I have come to learn, understanding the Persian word “ishq” is one way to know what being loving or loving someone means. “Ishq” means loving someone intensely, when you lose yourself in that feeling, when nothing matters, when a certain madness takes over your whole being. This includes the love that one has for all of humanity – the way Mother Teresa had it or the love that one has for divinity – the way Meera had it for Krishna. “Ishq” makes people soul-mates; it goes beyond mind and body and unites both people at a soul level. With “ishq”, there is no lust, just pure, unadulterated, unconditional love.
The word “ishq” comes from the Persian root “a-shiq-a” which is actually the name of an ivy plant. The import is that, just as the ivy, a  climber entwines itself around other plants, the “ashiq” or lover entwines himself intensely around his “mashouka” or beloved, refusing to look at her shortcomings. The same logic applies vice versa too.  When you are loving, when you experience “ishq”, there are no demands, there are no constraints, and most important, there is no concept of time, space or of physical presence. And the simplest way to experience “ishq” is to go beyond the material trappings of any relationship. So, don’t just be content being a Valentine for a day; go on, find your “ashiq”, or “mashouka”, and be in “ishq”, forever! 
Advertisements

Of Krishna the Lord, Krishna the seeker – and bliss!

Whatever you do, do it as an offering to the Universe – from your soul to the cosmos. And you will be at peace with yourself!
T.M.Krishna
Picture Source: Internet
T.M.Krishna continues to amaze me. In a recent interview to Sumana Ramanan of the Open magazine, titled The Argumentative Musician, Krishna has laid bare what he believes in and why he often ends up doing what he does. For instance, at a concert last December, during the famed Chennai music season, Krishna stopped singing an hour ahead of schedule and drove away, much to the chagrin of the organizers and his own rasikasand fans! Opinions flooded the music scene – ranging from how arrogant Krishna had become to his hitting a creative block to the premise that he did so only because it was a free kutcheri(concert). But Krishna told Ramanan: “I had actually reached a point of fulfilment. In that state of repleteness, I felt there was nothing left for me to sing. I may have been able to sing for another hour, but would that have been music…it had nothing to do with the fact that the concert was free…Music is not about delivering a fixed number of hours’ worth of singing, but (it is) about transcending the earthiness of being.” Krishna elaborated further on what drives him: “…I am not doing this (whatever I am doing) for reasons that have anything to do with T.M.Krishna, the performer. I do not even like the title ‘performer’. I am in this because I passionately and insanely believe that music has given me a window into Life that is taking me somewhere…I am not afraid of disappearing from the popular stage.”
For those of you who do not know Krishna well, he, at 38, is regarded as one of Carnatic music’s most outstanding young proponents. His talent is regarded as prodigious and many expected him to walk the predictable path to “glory” in the highly templated Carnatic music industry that thrives on overflowing kutcheris, raving, nodding rasikasand awards and titles being accumulated annually. Perhaps it was Krishna’s personal quest (his seeking the ‘earthiness of his being’), influenced by his schooling with the KrishnamurtBi Foundation of India (founded by renowned philosopher J.Krishnamurti), for finding a deeper meaning to Life, that led him to stop running the “Carnatic rat race”. He stopped playing to the rules long back and has done “crazy” stuff like refusing to sing at paid-for concerts. To many, he’s the enfant terrible of Carnatic music.
I don’t know much about Carnatic music for me to be able to comment on Krishna’s genius. But I firmly believe he’s not being argumentative ever. If anything, he’s spiritually evolved.
Consider what we can learn from him. For one, we are all so conditioned to chasing success – recognition, fame, wealth – in whatever we do, that even if we don’t enjoy what we are doing anymore, we continue to do them because we want to protect our trappings of success, the “fringe benefits” of earning-a-living! In choosing to sing for himself, for his inner joy, not fearing a loss of popularity or demand, Krishna is highlighting the importance of following your bliss. Second, although he hasn’t said so in his interview to Ramanan, Krishna reminds me of what Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the concluding verses of Chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita. Here’s my guru Eknath Easwaran’s translation of the relevant verse:
A leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even

Water, offered to me in devotion,

I will accept as the loving gift

Of a dedicated heart. Whatever you do,
Make it an offering to me –
The food you eat or worship you perform,
The help you give, even your suffering.
Thus will you be free from karma’s bondage,
From the results of action, good and bad.

I don’t want to get into the merits or demerits of Karmic theory or the existence or non-existence of God here. The point is very simple. You and I, and Krishna, have been created without our asking for this lifetime. We have been endowed with our own special talent. In Krishna’s case, it is proficiency in Carnatic music (and in writing, as I have come to discover; his book ‘A Southern Music – The Karnatik Story’by Harper Collins was released by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen last month). This Life, therefore is a gift. The talent each of us possesses too is a gift. So, the best way to live the Life given to us is to offer whatever we do to the Universe – freely, without seeking anything in return. When there are no expectations from whatever you do, there can be no agony. And when there is no agony or suffering, you will thrive in your native state of inner peace, joy and bliss! That’s what Krishna of the Bhagavad Gitaprofessed and that’s what T.M.Krishna believes in – and is championing!