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!

An inspiration to make your Monday memorable

When Life seems a maze, when too many things are happening, when you feel overwhelmed with too much to do, too many people to please, when you just feel like wanting all that you are going through to end, or want to run away from it all….PAUSE, take a deep breath….and look for an inspiration that will put things back, and definitely your Life’s context, in perspective!

Anand and Ivy: A beautiful companionship
I found my inspiration this Monday morning in a recent issue of Open magazine. There’s a very moving story in it of a former Indian Navy officer Anand Singh, 59, and his wife Ivy. After a motorbike accident 23 years ago, Anand has been rendered completely special and has become immobile and is confined to his bed. Ivy, who had been married to him barely three years when the accident took place, has been caring for him all these years. She brushes his teeth and bathes him daily. What I could make out from the story is that Anand is unable to move his limbs or his body and is not even able to speak. Yet whenever he is asked who he loves most, he looks at Ivy. Ivy runs a school in Meerut where the couple live. Ivy confesses that she does feel despondent sometimes, especially when the thought of Anand not being with her for too long strikes her. Two months ago, Anand had to be on ventilator support for a few days. Although their home looks like an ICU, says Ivy to Open, she feels her Life would be incomplete without Anand.

The beautiful story of their companionship shook me awake! When I placed my Life and its challenges in the context of Ivy’s and Anand’s I actually felt guilty and sheepish. Often times we do get consumed by our problems that we obsess about them all the time. We pity ourselves and quickly plunge into depression. Or we take our angst out on people and things around us, forever being grumpy and angry with our worlds. Looking around and pausing to reflect on the lives of other people is the perfect antidote to self-pity and frustration. Each of our stories is unique. Each of us has problems. And the true nature of our lives is that they will go on despite our problems. Intelligent living is about us too going on with our lives, as they are, choosing to be happy, despite our circumstances!

Whatever it be that you are facing just now, pause, smile, and think of Anand and Ivy, and celebrate your Life, your love and theirs! That’s a sure way to make this Monday morning memorable!


"Fulljoy" Life – Then your troubles won’t double!


If worry could solve even one percent of the problems that we face daily, worrying may be perfectly justified as a global pastime. Yet while it is evident that a large mass of humanity worries most of its lifetime away, there is no evidence to suggest that worrying has been productive at all.

Worrying causes frustration and plunges you into a depressive spiral. Everything and everyone seems to be getting after you. One thing leads to another. And by the end of a destructive spell of worrying you are dealing with more crises than you originally had started off dealing with. Worrying comes free so everyone does that. But remember the problems it seeds are very, very expensive!

A business acquaintance, by sheer accident, introduced me to this learning. Several years ago, I was in Bengaluru on work. And I was running late for a meeting. The one I had just finished had ended badly. The client owed my Firm a substantial sum of money. We had been following up on our claim for over a year. We had been promised a resolution and payment at that meeting. But the client reneged, disputed the claim and refused to make any payment that day. The meeting ended sourly and in a stalemate. I was both angry and worried as I rode in the car for the next meeting. I was angry because what the client had done was unfair and unethical. I was worried because I had issued cheques to parties, who were long overdue for payment by us, in anticipation of this inflow. I did not know what I should do. In such time, I reached the venue of the next meeting. It was a large company. And they were prospecting my Firm for a potential service contract. I was late. So, I tried to rush the security guard at the registration desk. He didn’t seem to bother. I yelled at him. When I finally reached the reception area, I found the receptionist speaking on the phone. It appeared to me in a few minutes that she was on a personal call. I gestured to her that I was late for a meeting. She impatiently gestured back asking me to be seated. I scowled at her.

And the chatter in my mind went: Damn! Why is everyone after me today? How am I supposed to pay off those vendors and meet the wage bill of my team with this inflow not coming through? I am now late for this meeting. And I am not likely to be making an impression with my presentation with this new prospect because I am both late and in a lousy frame of mind! Damn!

Finally, I was ushered into an empty conference room. I hooked up my laptop and tested my slide deck on the screen. An executive in formal attire walked in. I did not look up at him. I wanted to avoid any polite conversation. I just wanted to present my Firm’s case and go back, perhaps, to worrying. The fire in my cash-flow was far more demanding of my attention than a potential business deal. I assumed the man was one of the members of the leadership team to whom I was to present that day. After setting up my deck, I looked away from the man. It didn’t occur to me that I was behaving like an oaf. I was consumed by my desire to drown in the seductive, ruinous comfort of my worry! I paced up and down the side of the conference room that I had occupied. The executive must have felt it bizarre that his guest was not even acknowledging his presence in his own office!

After what must have been several moments of silent gazing by him and a pretentious meditative pacing by me, he spoke up.

He asked me, in a cold, matter-of-fact, tone: “AVIS, do you always look so beaten, morose and wear this frown all the time?”

It appeared that a million-volt thunderbolt had hit me. I froze in my tracks. I turned around. Looked at the executive and sheepishly said: “Errr….Well…..I am sorry….I was preoccupied….Errrr….!”

He was in his mid-40s then and I was in my mid-30s. He appeared to be a nice bloke. He smiled and spoke calmly: “I can see that you are worried about something. And angry too with something. If you make this presentation carrying those two emotions, let me tell you, you will piss off everyone. I am already wondering why I am here when you are not here!”

I apologized. I thanked him. I walked across to his side. We exchanged business cards. I discovered he was the Head of Strategy and awarding my Firm the mandate, should we make the cut, was in his hands, apart from the CEO’s. I knew the CEO well. And that’s why I was there. I pulled myself from the brink that day, thanks to this gentleman’s unsolicited yet fortuitous intervention. The presentation went very, very well. And we bagged the contract!

But more than that, the value of the wisdom this man has imparted in me is priceless. He taught me, in a nano-second, how worrying can ruin a perfect moment pregnant with opportunity! He taught me the power of now! It took me several years of struggle, tears, pain and suffering, to internalize this learning. But if he had not sowed that seed that day, I would not have been able to tame the worry beast in my Life!

Bob Marley 1945-1981
I was reminded of this episode this morning as I read a story in the latest issue of OPEN magazine on Rohan Marley, the legendary Jamaican reggae singer, and Rastafarian, Bob Marley (1945-1981). Rohan, now 40, told OPEN that his father had taught all his many siblings to not just enjoy Life but to “fulljoy” it!

Think about it. How much of your precious living moments are you sacrificing on the altar of worry daily? How much of your time do you look beaten, morose and are wearing a frown__like I did that day in the conference room in Bengaluru? Don’t you want to “fulljoy” Life?  If you do, then know that to “fulljoy” Life means to not worry and be happy! Because, when you worry, as Bob Marley famously and beautifully sang (“fulljoy” this song, clinging on to its every lyric…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIM3GHvBQjY), you only double your troubles!