Joys of Grandfatherhood

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” – This is especially so if that ‘thing’ happens to be a small baby and that too your own grand-daughter! Yes, I’m now a 1st time grand father and my grand-daughter gives me appointment everyday on Skype. Isn’t there something charming and mesmerizing about babies. Aren’t they irresistible? One could look at them for hours without getting bored. It doesn’t matter whether they are sleeping or smiling or crying or simply staring into empty space.

What’s it that makes one lose oneself in presence of a baby? People completely lose all inhibitions the moment they see a baby. It can make us dance, make funny faces and speak gibberish – all in the name of entertaining the little one. We also love to play the game of one-upmanship to get the attention of the baby. Even as people around are vying with each other to grab the little one’s attention, the infant doesn’t know it’s enjoying a celebrity status. People touch, pinch her cheeks,  tickle her ribs or belly, straighten her dress and caress her hair. The poor thing doesn’t know why so much fuss is being made. Here is a typical scene centred around a baby:

“Hi kutty(hi, cute little one)”, someone says, ” thata va paaru( see the grand father)” – “No, look at me”, says someone else  – the baby cries then a guy would whistle in an attempt to pacify. The baby looks completely confused and ultimately smiles by default. And that is enough to cause a big uproar in the room! Poor thing doesn’t have a clue as to what’s happening. She doesn’t know why everyone around is talking so excitedly or why all of a sudden there is a burst of laughter when she just smiled. And the baby’s smile becomes another talking point: “Pathya enna paathu daan sirichudu – onnapathu azhududu”(yea, the baby smiled at me and cried when she looked at you!)etc. One can have endless fun with a little kid around in the house.

Let me end this blog on a philosophical note. What is the real source of the joy that one experiences with a baby?  Is it our love for the infant or our love of pure innocence that the newborn exhibits or as psychologists say is it purely the joy of giving? Let us explore this question in the light of our experiences with babies: Can you tell who gets more pleasure out of  taking a baby on your lap and gently putting her to sleep: the baby or you? Again, when you are feeding a hungry baby with a feeding bottle, who gets more pleasure – the baby or you? When you play with the baby, when you laugh with the little one, who is more pleased? you or the baby? I am inclined to believe that you derive immensely more pleasure than the baby. In fact, for all you know, the infant may be feeling irritated  with our antics and funny behaviour. After all, touching the little one, pinching its cheeks, calling her by all sorts of funny names or whistling  merely to draw attention, trying to wake her up when she is about to doze off — all this cannot be amusing to anybody! So, it’s fair to say that you get more pleasure out of all this than the baby. Can we therefore conclude then that you love a baby because you love yourself or to be more precise, because you love your pleased self. In other words, a baby is dear to you not because you love the baby. The baby is dear to you because you love your pleased self! This insight is provided by a famous passage in the Brihadaranyaka upanishad, which says that everything in the world is dear to you because you love your pleased self. (“Atmanastu kaamaya sarvam priyam bhavati” – this is part of the famous dialogue between the sage Yajnavalkya and his wife Maitreyi in the Upanishad). This is indeed the fundamental truth about any love for all the material things in the world. 

PS: Here is a link for an entertaining video clip of my grand-daughter.

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 12:34 am  Comments (3)  
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Sogasu Juda Tarama – A spiritually elevating experience

The other day I was listening to a Thyagaraja kriti SOGASU JUDA TARAMA in the raga KANNADA GAULA sung by the great musician Madurai Mani Iyer. (I have uploaded this song at this link to share my experience). The rendering of the song was so scintilating that I instantly fell in love with it. It was just a 7 minute piece and within that short time the musician transported me into a completely new world. What is it about this song and the rendering that captivated me?:

First and foremost is the SAHITYAM, which is in very simple Telugu.  ‘SOGASU’ in telugu means Beauty. Thyagaraja, in this song, is glorifying the beauty of Rama….. Besides the captivating beauty of the Lord, nicely brought out in the Sahityam, one is treated with beauty in several dimensions – the stunning simplicity of the language, skillful usage of phrases as he describes Srirama’s face shining with glossy cheeks, His red lips resembling a Bimba fruit, His charming smile,  Forelocks beautifully decorating His face etc. The simplicity of the SAHITYAM is matched every bit by the brilliant rendering of the song by  Madurai Mani Iyer. To elaborate on the great maestro’s rendering of the song, Mani Iyer (as he is fondly referred to by his fans) chooses the right tempo for the song (neither too fast nor too slow) laying emphasis at the right words and phrases. And his  ‘swara kalpana’ is excellent as usual, bringing out rich ‘raga bhava’ with each phrase. In particular, watch out for the moment when the artist reaches a crescendo by touching on the Swaras GA & MA in the higher octave. That is, indeed, a magical moment! It is a double treat for the listeners as Lalgudi Jayaraman, accompanying on violin, matches Mani Iyer phrase for phrase in KALPANA SWARAS and at times even improvised over the vocalist’s efforts.

I guess the listeners of music are more privileged than either the composer or the musician because as listeners, we are exposed to all the above dimensions of beauty at the same time. The composer is merely immersed in the beauty of the Lord, while we, as listeners of the song, are thrice-blessed to experience  the beauty of the Lord besides the  ‘sahitya bhava’ of the composition and the musician’s brilliant rendering – all adding to a great mystical experience!

Blissful Experience through Music

I realized the other day that for ordinary mortals like us several things have to fall in place to experience bliss. Look at the following combination:
A great song(‘keertana’)and a divine composition set in a ‘Raga’ with immense depth- A great musician – Nice air-conditioned comfort of a car with no distractions – traveling fresh after a sumptuous breakfast! One would think it is impossible not to experience bliss in such an atmosphere. Sure enough it was an exhilarating and an uplifting experience and my day was made!
Let me now come to the details. The CD I was listening to while travelling to office the other day was that of Nedunuri Krishnamurthy,a well known musician. The song I am referring to is “Emayya Rama—“,which is a composition of Ramadasu set in the Raga Kambhoji. Since I can not bring out the melody of the song in a blog like this, let me describe the beauty of the composition and its profound interpretation as I understand.
Ramadasu starts off saying it is virtually impossible for any one to decipher the mysterious ways the Lord. He tells us that Rama was viewed by each one of His associates in a certain perspective which completely ignored other dimensions of His real nature and personality. For instance,Dasaradha considered Him as a mere son while Sugriva looked up to Him as a dear friend. Likewise,His enemies like Jarasandha treated Him just as a foe while Pandavas considered Him as their great friend and a companion. Continuing in the same vein,the poet says that Kuchela, His boyhood friend, looked upon Him as an affluent person while Gopis showered their affection treating Him as their lover. Yadavas respected Him as their master, while ordinary mortals viewed Him as a ‘Nara'(or human being).
Finally,Ramadasu laments the fact that none understood or recognized Him as the Supreme God(Paramatma).

It is very interesting to note that great Bhaktas(devotees)express the most profound thoughts in such a simple language using very simple words. One can not miss the beautiful rhyming of the words as well. (For instance look at the play on words – Sutudu/Hitudu,Narudu/varudu or nara/dora to name a few).

Let us now consider the subtle and profound meaning of the Keertana. Truth (represented here by Rama) is multidimensional. One will view ‘IT’ in a certain way according to one’s station in life. Truth will appear in several forms and shapes depending on one’s perspective. It is the sum total of all dimensions that constitutes Truth. In fact,It even transcends all that. Clearly,one can not define Rama in terms a son,a friend,a lover,a companion or whatever else. These are only limited roles in which His associates recognized Him without appreciating His infinite nature.
Look at another sidelight of the keertana. Ramadas starts off with Rama and gives several examples of Krishna as well in a significant display of poetic license(or is it a Bhakta’s license?). Clearly,the message of oneness of God is being driven here.

The ‘easy- to- follow ‘Sahityam’ ,bhakti bhava, rich Raga,rendering of the song by a great musician – all contributed to a blissful experience.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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