Saturday last week started with Vaani and I watching the “Petta” trailer. To us, there was nothing remarkable about it – except that he is most likely playing his age; it had all the trappings of the film ‘Rajnifying’ the audience though!
And Saturday ended for us with a spectacular, out-of-this-world, T M Krishna concert; his only live performance this Margazhi!
As #BlissCatcher Sriram Ayer (Season 1, Oct 2015), of NalandaWay, introduced the concert, he talked about how much venom had been spewed on social media over Krishna, over NalandaWay, and over the two partnering for this concert’s cause, to raise funds for the Chennai Children’s Choir. I had read some of those comments as they appeared on my timeline. They were not just distasteful, they were pathetic; they showcased how much our society – the educated lot, mind you – has got stuck with the insipid discourse on religion, caste and hatred, all of this in the name of ‘protecting and preserving culture and tradition’.
As I sipped my coffee on Sunday morning, I asked myself why do we, as a people, think it is OK being #Rajnified while it is not OK being #Krishnafied?
I guess the answer lies somewhere between what we can’t do – being like Rajnikanth – and what we don’t want to do – being like Krishna.
Rajni is an actor, a Superstar – everyone clearly cannot be that! His screen persona feeds our wannabe sentiment somewhere. We can’t be that, so we drool over him; we celebrate even his most mediocre efforts in the name of keeping his Superstardom alive – for our own aspirational needs! We can’t be that, so we need him, even if he is inaccessible and very, very distant! (PS: Having said all this, I must confess I respect Rajni for the person that he is – humble and sincere; I only wish he was not trapped in his on-screen image and truly explores his fullest potential as an actor!)
Krishna, on the other hand, is like you and me – he is ordinary, accessible, and has the guy-next-door persona. Yet, he has done what many out there don’t dare to do – not that they can’t, but they don’t want to – which is, he has followed his bliss, music; he asks questions on why irrelevant tradition must not be dumped, he works with change-makers to democratize the art form, he pauses and asks important, must-be-asked, questions to the government and, most significantly, he chooses to be himself. He has chosen not to be trapped in society’s image of who a musician must be or what a musician must do. Now, all of what Krishna is doing can be done by anyone. But people don’t want to do it. So, they spew venom; they find it easier to hate someone, who is like them, who has broken ‘tradition’!
But the beauty is, as Sriram pointed out, 1200 people made the pilgrimage to the Mutha Venkatsubbarao auditorium on Saturday evening, to show that love and unity can thrive in an environment where hatred appears to be extending its vice-like grip. And, I believe, whoever was there that evening, loved Krishna’s concert.
I surely did.
As I see it, Krishna’s is not even a music performance; he is not performing because he has an audience; or that he has to perform ‘for’ the audience. He is not in music for the living; he is living for – and because of – his music. So, whenever he sings, he is exploring the spiritual depths of ‘his’ art. How else could he have combined two (as it appeared to me) different compositions where he sang about 1. weeping inconsolably and 2. the Lord’s lack of compassion? How else could he have taken all ‘his’ time to delve into the magic and beauty of ‘Srirangapura Vihara…’? How else could he have so seamlessly blended with – the surprise of last evening – the Chennai Children’s Choir to deliver such inspiring, elevated, renditions, including the closing piece, Tagore’s ‘Momo Chitte…’ in beautiful Bangla?
In Krishna’s daring to be who he is, he is not saying that only he can do it. He invites us as a society, as people, to debunk hollow beliefs and traditions; he is suggesting, if he can, you too can: you too can partner in creating an inclusive society, where religion, caste and art are not held hostage by a few as if it were their fiefdom; you too can look at the Emperor, like that metaphorical child in the fable, and say “No clothes!”; you too can be who you want to be – and not be stuck in society’s definition of who they want you to be!
I am reminded of Rumi’s immortal line: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy!” Vaani and I live – despite our circumstances – doing things from our soul, so we know what it is to feel that river move in us; I am sure, Krishna feels that river moving in him too…
And so, I believe, you can feel it too…you don’t have to even be #Krishnafied, just be #Youfied…love yourself, celebrate yourself, be yourself, be happy…and let us together stop feeding and/or spreading hate…
My Standard Disclaimer applies: I have no knowledge of classical music (so, I have no learned/rasika point of view to offer a comment on anyone’s performance)…all I share here is what I have felt of what was sung or said.
In today’s Vlog, I champion the value of forgiveness. Picking up hatred doesn’t serve any purpose. Letting go, forgiving and moving on is key to intelligent living.
PS: Still learning the medium; so, please bear with amateur quality of the video!
View time: 5: 24 minutes
It is a good way to make our digital space compassionate and heart-warming!
The vitriolic reactions on social media to Tarun Vijay’s purported statement about South Indians is disturbing. I too found his comment shallow. But I responded posting lyrics of famous Bollywood songs, celebrating dark-skinned people, on my Facebook timeline. “Hum Kaale Hain Toh Kya Hua, Dilwale Hain…” (Gumnaam), “Gore Nahin Hum Kaale Sahi…Humsa Ek Nahin…” (Desh Premee). Clearly, I don’t see the need for so many people to demonstrate so much angst against what can, at best, be termed an immature point of view. Tarun, to his credit, has clarified that he never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments. But in all the social media din, his clarification has been drowned; it is lost in all the hate that’s being hurled at him.
Of course, racism in any form must be strongly condemned. So, I am not advocating that we condone it. All I believe is that we, as a people, as a society, seem to be investing so much of our productive time, energy and emotions in reacting on social media. And almost all reactions, at most times, are steeped in hatred and divisiveness. It need not be so. An eye for an eye is not called for at all. It will serve no purpose. I have learnt that ahimsa does not only mean non-violent action; it also means non-violent thought. And if we deploy ahimsa thinking in our social media posts, we can make our digital space so much more compassionate and heart-warming.
I don’t want to belabor this point by being preachy. But I do find a simple post that celebrates being human far more enriching to engage with than a well-argued, data-driven post that tell us what’s wrong with our world or than one that spews venom at someone who is unscrupulous or who does not know how to conduct themselves in public Life.
On our morning walk, we see gentleman who walks with a group of noisy men who opine loudly on the previous day’s political developments. The group’s pointless chatter can be heard from a street away. But the man walks silently in group. We don’t know him. He doesn’t know who we are. But every day, unfailingly, when he passes me and Vaani, he will make it a point to look at us and beam a big smile. In writing today’s blogpost, and in discussing the angsty behavior most people display on social media, I found it pertinent to point out the man’s smile in contrast to his group’s mindless cacophony.
I guess you now know what I am encouraging all of us to do.
It works big time!
We met someone recently who is very depressed and lost in Life. He said he’s out of money, he’s had a break-up, he’s not able to get along with his colleagues at work and has lost hope that anything “good” will happen in his Life! He spent an hour lamenting about his situation to us. Then, tired of his own rants, he confessed, “Honestly, I don’t even know which one is my problem – everything is so muddled, so depressing, so hopeless, so dark…”
I interrupted him. I said, “Do you have a Twitter account? If you don’t, set up one. And go define your problem as a single Tweet, within 140 characters. You don’t have to post your Tweet. Just use that opportunity to define your problem. See what happens and please share your learning with us.”
The gentleman appeared confused at first. But two days ago he called me to say, he was very clear the “technique” worked! He announced, “I was able to nail my problem – it is this: I am a constant complainer.”
I told him that if he was clear and convinced what his problem was, well, he surely knows what to do. He immediately agreed!
Twitter Therapy, if I may call it, has always worked for me. Most of the time, the human mind plays up unnecessary drama – events and emotions – that magnifies any given situation beyond proportion or at times, even clouds logical, practical thinking! This gentleman, for instance, was having a problem in his relationships because he was constantly complaining, depressed and negative. He has a job and a regular source of income, but he was constantly complaining of lack of money. So, for the longest time, he thought everything was wrong with everyone around him. Therefore, he was depressed. But when he tried to examine why he was feeling so, and tried to define his problem statement in 140 characters or less, without having the luxury to complain endlessly, he found that he needed to change himself for his Life to change.
Some years ago, when I was besieged by guilt, anger, hatred and grief, over my own mother calling me a cheat (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), for months on end I cooked within myself, suffering, suffering, suffering. Then I employed Twitter Therapy. I struggled with defining what my problem with being called a cheat by my mother was. I went on to explain past issues. Then justifications needed to be given. I had also to acknowledge my role in causing some of the poor chemistry between me and my mother. My first draft of the definition of my “problem relationship” with my mother was 10,000+ words long. After several rounds of editing, I managed to bring it to 1000 words and thought I couldn’t define it any briefer than that. That’s when I chanced upon Twitter as a medium for the first time – in 2009. And I thought up this why-not-define-your-problem-statement-in-a-Tweet idea! It worked big time. My problem statement was simple: Not just now, my mother never ever trusted me! Simple. Period. Immediately, acceptance came in. My anger, grief, guilt, hatred – all my debilitating emotions dissolved. Acceptance led me to complete inner peace.
Since then, I have always championed the use of Twitter Therapy. The import here is simple. Can you define your problem – whatever’s worrying you, disturbing you, haunting you, tormenting you – in one sentence? Can you keep that sentence crisp, clear and focused? Can it be said in 140 characters or less? If you can, then you have hit the core of your problem on its head. Once you know what the problem is, without any emotional underpinnings or layers, you can either attempt a careful resolution or you can accept it and move on. So, try it on whatever you are sweating over, worried about or fearing just now. Peel off all the drama and state your problem in 140 characters or less. You will feel liberated with the clarity, and inner peace, that follows!
Jealousy is as wasteful as worrying is. It can’t touch you and it can’t get you anywhere either!
A friend is launching a new business. He consulted me and Vaani on the idea and his launch strategy. At the end of the conversation, he thanked us profusely for our time and requested us to keep it under wraps. Of course, any new idea must be protected and preserved until it is launched. But his reasoning was different: “I am very wary of professional and personal jealousy. I don’t want anyone to cast an evil eye on my idea.”
Somehow, I can’t wrap my head around this ‘evil eye’ concept. Just thinking that it exists and that it can affect you is so regressive. No, I am not being dismissive about jealousy. I am only suggesting that we develop a mature response to it.
Let us understand jealousy first. Someone is said to be jealous of you when they wish or want what you have or they want to be who you are. So, essentially, it is in the eye of the beholder. Now, this is something very normal, very human.
You see someone having a nice phone or a beautiful car and you wish or want that phone or car. You think of it and say to yourself that it will be great if you owned them too. This happens to all of us, all the time. So just accept jealousy as a normal response to Life as it happens around you. In some cases, jealousy is accompanied by anger, resentment and insecurity. So, some people feel jealous more intensely than others. Some talk openly about it. Others cook within themselves feeling wretched that they don’t have what someone else has. Again it is only in the eye of the beholder. It is only what, and how, the person who is jealous is feeling. Now, if this person examines this feeling of jealousy closely, they will see the futility of it. Surely, wishing and wanting never got anyone anything – or anywhere! So, when they see the futility of being jealous, they will stop being jealous. Simple. And as long as they don’t understand its futility, they will keep cooking in it. Just as they will cook in fear or anxiety or worry. So, ultimately, the choice to cook or to let go, to be free, is the individual’s.
Now, if you are the subject of someone’s envy, you can see and you know for sure that you are only the subject. It is all happening to the other person, in the other person. Until such time that you don’t invite yourself to the party, you are free. But the moment you start imagining that the other person’s feelings will impact you, you are entrapped. That’s when you too will start cooking within – ‘Are things going wrong because so-and-so has cast an evil eye?’, ‘Will I lose what I have because someone’s envious of me?’, ‘How can I protect myself from jealousy?’…. – and lose your inner peace. Pause and reflect. How is such thinking productive? Is it serving any purpose? When you hold someone’s jealous attitude towards you and examine it, you too will realize its futility. Until you started giving it any attention, you were free. But now you are fearful, insecure, worried and anxious. Do you need to be this way? Isn’t all this avoidable?
Clearly, you can’t possibly do anything about what other people are thinking. But can’t you at least change your thinking and be free from wasteful emotions?
I don’t deny jealousy exists or wish that it doesn’t arise. It is a natural human response to, and in, Life. Like any other emotion it will rise. But if you understand that it can’t touch you or that it can’t get you anywhere, you will recognize its futility. So, when you don’t give jealousy any attention, it will slink away. Quietly. I let jealousy simply be. Whether it is arising in me or for me. I don’t give it any attention. So it doesn’t touch me or affect me. And I can tell you that Life is really beautiful, awesome in fact, without that wasteful emotion!