Guiding Light of The Month

I feel as though I have done nothing yet, as though I have not lived the spiritual life, only entered the path that leads to it, it seems to me that I know nothing, that I am incapable of formulating anything, that all experience is yet to begin. - The Mother

Creatrix, the Eternal’s artist Bride


A friend and yet too great wholly to know,
She walked in their front towards a greater light,
Their leader and queen over their hearts and souls,
One close to their bosoms, yet divine and far.


-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo




From the Editor’s Desk (Feb 2017)

This issue of our Newsletter focuses mainly on The Mother. The theme we have been exploring since June 2016, Integral Health, will be covered extensively in our next issue. In this issue we briefly introduce the next topic we are going to explore under the theme of Integral Health, ‘Mental well-being with an article by The Mother from CWM, Volume 9.we turn our focus now on mental well being.

We are fast approaching the first Darshan Day of 2017, The Mother’s 139th Birth Anniversary. Born on 21st February 1878, in Paris, to an Egyptian mother and a Turkish father, her advent was the sign and symbol of a changing era spanning the East and West. The Mother came to India to collaborate with a great Yogi, Sri Aurobindo and in its execution, lived to manifest Integral Yoga in this life upon earth. Her birth was a clarion call to the descent of a higher order on earth so that a life divine may be established. What better way to remember her and the life she lived in the midst of her human compatriots, then through the eyes of those who were blessed to live close to her and adored her as their Divine Mother on earth? This issue features reminiscences from Nirodbaran and Champaklal, two of Mother’s children who had the opportunity to be physically close to her. 

The attitude that one has to have towards the Mother is highlighted in the excerpt from Nirodbaran’s,  ‘Sri Aurobindo - A Dream Dialogue with Children’. When someone asks who the Divine Mother is, and what it means, Sri Aurobindo, succinctly proposes to everyone to simply love her sincerely, from the depth of   one’s heart and ask her to explain the mystery that she is. In turn, Sri Aurobindo assures, The Mother herself will do everything and “cut asunder….all the most secret knots in the mind” and clear “the deepest doubts and hesitations”.

Meditating on this utterance by Sri Aurobindo on the Mother, it appears that all we need to do is to establish a simple, natural relationship with her and continue communicating with Her. When we turn the searchlights onto and into ourselves, we realise all the obstructions we are faced with in realising this fully, completely. Importantly, this conditioned mind needs to surpass all human conditioning of the modern age and be ready to consider a relationship based on inner convictions and not external and physical contact. To reach this status, one can imagine what will be needed. Probably a good helping of contemplation and reflection based on an inner journey in an attempt to find out about that space within, will lay the foundation followed by a resolve to feel The Mother, hear her voice and feel her guiding touch and know what She is showing and pointing at.

If we can understand deeply and fully Sri Aurobindo’s direction, then a whole gamut of mental searching and running in circles, hitting at unneeded objects, getting entangled awhile and then spending time disentangling the knot will come to an end. The need of the hour is an intimate relationship with The Mother. On this occasion of the 139th Birth Anniversary of The Mother, it would be worth taking stock of our relationship with Her, in ourselves, whether we are in solitude or in the midst of a thick crowd engaged in all the work we take upon ourselves. One simple question to ask every now and then would be perhaps, “Am I speaking with The Mother now?” Most likely, the busily buzzing mind and the anxious heart strings pulling each other in different directions will come to a standstill, return to base and allow Her to carry us up in consciousness. A relatively higher state of consciousness, we can hope, would then also suffuse the work we do. This effort will probably have to be repeated an infinite number of times, without any promise, only for the sake of establishing a living communicating with Her. 

Are we game?

Savitri

A music of griefless things shall weave her charm;
The harps of the Perfect shall attune her voice,
The streams of Heaven shall murmur in her laugh,
Her lips shall be the honeycombs of God,
Her limbs his golden jars of ecstasy,
Her breasts the rapture-flowers of Paradise.

She shall bear Wisdom in her voiceless bosom,
Strength shall be with her like a conqueror’s sword
And from her eyes the Eternal’s bliss shall gaze.

A seed shall be sown in Death’s tremendous hour,
A branch of heaven transplant to human soil;
Nature shall overleap her mortal step;
Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.

(Book three, Canto four)

They felt a larger future meet their walk;
She held their hands, she chose for them their paths:
They were moved by her towards great unknown things,
Faith drew them and the joy to feel themselves hers;
They lived in her, they saw the world with her eyes.


(Book four, Canto two)

Who really is The Mother?

"Not today, another time. It's time for the Mother to come now...."
And there she was standing at the door. All the children stood up.
"What's going on? How did you all gather here?" she asked smiling. "Listening to stories, are you? But now it is getting late, you should all be going home.”

"Yes, Sweet Mother, but we would like to come again to hear about Sri Aurobindo's life in England."
So saying, they all turned towards Sri Aurobindo and slowly filed out of the room. Silently he watched them go, a blessing in his eyes.

I turned to look at the Mother. This was not the ten-armed goddess of Rishi Bankim nor the Mother of Sri Ramakrishna garlanded with human heads. No, she was our delightful Mother in flesh and blood.

She said, frowning at me - "Why not?" I understood. Yes, thou art indeed that Mother. The ten directions are thy arms, O many-weaponed destroyer of Evil who ridest on the mighty Lion. On thy right hast thou Lakshmi, the fair and fortunate, on thy left Saraswati, mother of Art and Science, the mighty victor Kartik is with thee and so is Ganesh, the master of all realisations. And now, wearing a mortal frame, thou hast descended upon earth, the "Mother" given us by Sri Aurobindo.

She entered Sri Aurobindo's room, smiling radiantly, holding a glass of ice-cold water on a plate. A pale pink sari was softly wrapped around her fair delicate frame and her hair was drawn back in a bun. Fresh from her bath, she wafted grace and beauty. Her red-tinted feet glistening with gold anklets wore a pair of white sandals with golden straps. She came into the room and instantly it was filled with light and sweetness and perfume.

Champaklal and I turned eagerly towards Sri Aurobindo. Leaning against the back-rest, he was watching the Mother.

***

Sri Aurobindo said, "First of all, you must become like the Mother."
"But, Sir, who really is the Mother? Though we call her the Divine Mother, I don't very well understand what that means.”

"You will, gradually. Love her with all your heart, and ask her to explain this mystery to you. She will make everything so luminously clear to you that, in the words of the Gita, it will be chhidyaté hridayagranthi, bhidyaté sarva- sangshaya, as if all the most secret knots in the mind were cut asunder and all the deepest doubts and hesitations dissolved. No other explanation can have a more profound effect on the being.”

(Excerpts from “Sri Aurobindo - A Dream Dialogue with Children” by Nirodbaran,
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)



A deep of compassion, a hushed sanctuary

The Mother had lived a 'human' life to all outward appearance, and had made the passage from childhood to girlhood, and then to womanhood and motherhood; and she had dreamt dreams, and seen mystic visions. She had read and talked and meditated, she had cultivated music and painting and letters, but it was the inner Flame that had always lighted her path, and guided her in her travels in Europe and Africa and Asia. On 29 March 1914 she had found at last what she had been seeking, and Sri Aurobindo was indeed the Lord of her being and her life. In Japan between 1916 and 1920 she had completed her 'education', and the Japanese feeling for colour and form, their passion for precision and detail, had fused with her French intellect with its clarity and sharpness and lucidity and her own feminine temperament with its impulse towards beauty and protectiveness and compassionate understanding, and in the result her poise of purpose and radiant personality had glowed like distant Mount Fuji on a warm bright day. She had returned to Pondicherry on 24 April 1920, now ready to shoulder the tremendous task of setting up a pilot project for the promotion of the Life Divine and the transformation of the earth nature.

The Ashram at Pondicherry had slowly begun to take a definite shape, and while Sri Aurobindo was the creator-spirit, the soul, the law, the Mother was the architect, the executrix, of the new unfoldment. Together the divine collaborators had set all doubts at rest, cleared whole jungles of mental resistance, harnessed the tides of human emotion and energy to good purpose, and trained a community of sadhaks ready to aspire, to labour, to receive, to surrender - to be kneaded and made 'new'. After Sri Aurobindo's passing, it had been the Mother's role all the more to force the pace, and carry the work forward. With the slow march of the years, the circumference of the Ashram's activities had been widening more and more, but always drawing prime sustenance from the centre, from the Mother herself. The Ashram was a human microcosm receiving the healing and transforming touch of the Mother, and responding too, at once agreeably and purposively. But the real work had only begun, and the Mother at eighty was like a divine child at the threshold of an endless creative Play. She seemed to bring to her task all the wisdom of the ages and all the energy concealed in Nature. At eighty, her children still thought that she was ageless and yet young, that she was distant yet close to their hearts. On her eightieth birthday, the children were content to gather around her in limitless love and gratitude.


(Chapter 49, “On The Mother”, K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Flowers Speak… On The Divine Mother

I wanted to offer something to the Mother. And I got the idea of painting two lotuses, one white and the other red.

Curiously, I received two beautiful lotuses and took up the painting. But due to other work I could not finish them in a day. These too, like my other paintings, I did during my lunch time as it gave me great joy. It took some days before I could finish them little by little. Naturally it would have been better if the colouring could have been done in one sitting. However the result was not bad and it was with great joy that I took the paintings to Mother on my birthday on 2 February 1940.

She received them very well indeed and exclaimed: "Oh! Very pretty! Very pretty!" She wondered how I could get time to do them. She took them in both hands and with a broad smile said: "I give them to you, Champaklal! Take them, they are for you. They are very pretty. You keep them."
I did not answer and did not take them. And she repeated:
"Take them, Champaklal, I give them to you as my present."
C: "Bur Mother! I have done them for you."
Seeing the state of my mind she found a way our. She gave another broad smile and said softly, almost in a whisper: "Champaklal, I will take them to Sri Aurobindo and I will ask him to write on them.”

I said: "Mother! Are you taking them to Sri Aurobindo? If so, it would be very nice if you ask him to write the significance. Mother! Sri Aurobindo will write on the white lotus and you will write on the red one."


When Mother brought them to Sri Aurobindo I was there. She showed them to him and said: "See, how nice they are! Today is Champaklal's birthday; he has done these paintings for me. If you write the significance on them I will give them to him. He wants you to write on the white lotus and I on the red.”



With a beautiful affectionate smile Sri Aurobindo said: "Umm." Then he wrote above the white lotus:

Aditi
The Divine Mother

And under the red lotus he wrote:

To Champaklal
With blessings

2.2.40
Sri Aurobindo

Then Mother told me not to show the lotuses to anybody.

But you know that after many years blocks were made out of these paintings and printed for distribution. Do not ask me why I was told not to show them to anybody at one time as later things were changed. Obviously circumstances changed and the Mother never stood rigidly by what she said on an earlier occasion under different conditions. There are so many instances of this kind.

(Excerpts from “The Artist and a Yogi” by Champaklal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Development of the Mind

It is a good thing to begin to learn at an early age that to lead an efficient life and obtain from one’s body the maximum it is able to give, reason must be the master of the house. And it is not a question of yoga or higher realisation, it is something which should be taught everywhere, in every school, every family, every home: man was made to be a mental being, and merely to be a man – we are not speaking of anything else, we are speaking only of being a man – life must be dominated by reason and not by vital impulses. This should be taught to all children from their infancy. If one is not dominated by reason, one is a brute lower than the animal; for animals don’t have a mind or a reason to dominate them, but they obey the instinct of the species.
There is an instinct of the species which is an extremely reasonable instinct that regulates all their activities for their own good, and automatically, without knowing it, they are subject to this instinct of the species which is altogether reasonable from the point of view of that species, of each species. And those animals which for some reason or other become free of it – as I was saying just a while ago, those which live near man and begin to obey man instead of obeying the instinct of the species – are perverted and lose the qualities of their species. But an animal left to its natural life and free from human influence is an extremely reasonable being from its own point of view, for it only does things which are in conformity with its nature and its own good.
Naturally, it meets with disasters, for it is constantly at war with all the other species, but it does not itself act foolishly. Stupidities and perversion begin with conscious mind and the human species. It is the wrong use man makes of his mental capacity. Perversion begins with humanity. It is a distortion of the progress of Nature which mental consciousness represents. And, therefore, the first thing which should be taught to every human being as soon as he is able to think, is that he should obey reason which is a super-instinct of the species.
Reason is the master of the nature of mankind. One must obey reason and absolutely refuse to be the slave of instincts. And here I am not talking to you about yoga, I am not talking about spiritual life, not at all; it has nothing to do with that. It is the basic wisdom of human life, purely human life: every human being who obeys anything other than reason is a kind of brute lower than the animal. That’s all. And this should be taught everywhere; it is the basic education which should be given to children.
The reign of reason must come to an end only with the advent of the psychic law which manifests the divine Will.
 ***
To complement this movement of inner discovery, it would be good not to neglect the development of the mind. For the mental instrument can equally be a great help or a great hindrance. In its natural state the human mind is always limited in its vision, narrow in its understanding, rigid in its conceptions, and a constant effort is therefore needed to widen it, to make it more supple and profound. So it is very necessary to consider everything from as many points of view as possible. Towards this end, there is an exercise which gives great suppleness and elevation to the thought. It is as follows: a clearly formulated thesis is set; against it is opposed its antithesis, formulated with the same precision. Then by careful reflection the problem must be widened or transcended until a synthesis is found which unites the two contraries in a larger, higher and more comprehensive idea.
Many other exercises of the same kind can be undertaken; some have a beneficial effect on the character and so possess a double advantage: that of educating the mind and that of establishing control over the feelings and their consequences. For example, you must never allow your mind to judge things and people, for the mind is not an instrument of knowledge; it is incapable of finding knowledge, but it must be moved by knowledge. Knowledge belongs to a much higher domain than that of the human mind, far above the region of pure ideas. The mind has to be silent and attentive to receive knowledge from above and manifest it. For it is an instrument of formation, of organisation and action, and it is in these functions that it attains its full value and real usefulness.
There is another practice which can be very helpful to the progress of the consciousness. Whenever there is a disagreement on any matter, such as a decision to be taken, or an action to be carried out, one must never remain closed up in one's own conception or point of view. On the contrary, one must make an effort to understand the other's point of view, to put oneself in his place and, instead of quarrelling or even fighting, find the solution which can reasonably satisfy both parties; there always is one for men of goodwill.
***
I emphasise this fact because there are quite a few people who, when mental silence has been transmitted to them by occult means, are immediately alarmed and afraid of losing their intelligence. Because they can no longer think, they fear they may become stupid! But to cease thinking is a much higher achievement than to be able to spin out thoughts endlessly and it demands a much greater development.
So from every point of view, and not only from the spiritual point of view, it is always very good to practise silence for a few minutes, at least twice a day, but it must be a true silence, not merely abstention from talking.
(CWM, Volume 9, 12, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)


Inside the flower of The Gita


(Chariot garden, Photo Courtesy: Sandhya)
Like the sacred source of a great river,
Lives an eternal Wisdom at the heart of all creation.
It is the Truth of  world movements,
The noble aim of all aspirations,
The origin of all beauty.

Flowing forth as a tale of reverence,
It takes birth in the Vedic minds of rishis,
An epic unfolds conceived of the Wisdom.

Thus emerged the Ramayana and Mahabharata
As two great literary rivers flowing across India
Enriching many with their profound movements.

Many are the characters, many are the lands,
Flowing through time in the great epics.
Among them, playing His rapturous flute
And also a felicitous hide and seek,
Is our peacock feathered prince of Mathura.
Indeed tricking and playful is He,
For He has chosen the most exciting stage
To spawn His Wisdom into a beautiful music.

Born at the battlefield,
In the midst of war and strife,
The Gita carries Krishna’s eternal Wisdom
Each verse a pearl in the jewel of God.

As the sacred scripture enters our lives,
We feel the chariot of our journey driven by Krishna
His advice soothing our forlorn Arjuna hearts
Radha flowering in us, from the depths of our devotion.


-          Sandhya

December - January Sunday Activities at the Centre - A glimpse

December 18th – Study of Secrets of Veda:

Mr Ramanathan conducted the session on the “Secrets of the Veda”.   The topic for the week was a review of verses 10, 11 and 12 of Sukta 1, Mandala 3 of the Rig Veda.  In the previous verses (1 to 9) we were introduced to the Ashwins and Indra.  In verses 10 to 12, Saraswati, as we now worship as the Goddess of Knowledge, is being introduced  as the goddess of inspiration.  This is the brief highlight of what the Rishis meant in verses 10 to 12:

·         The intimate connection between the Vedic sacrifice and a certain state of mind and soul.
·         The interdependence between the offering of clarified butter, Soma juice and luminous thought.
·         Richness of psychological content.
·         Right states of the mind and its awakening and impulsion to Truth and Light.
·         Reveals the figure of Saraswati as the goddess of the inspiration, or sruti.
·         Establishes the connection between the Vedic rivers and psychological states of mind.
According to Vedic Rishis, Saraswati liberates the life and being from falsehood, weakness and limitation and opens to it the doors of the supreme felicity.

Sri Aurobindo, mentions goddess Saraswati as embodying the following aspects:

·         She is that power of Truth, which we call inspiration.
·         Inspiration from the Truth purifies by getting rid of falsehood.
·         As per Indian idea, all sin is merely falsehood, wrongly inspired motion and wrongly directed will and action.
·         Idea of life and ourselves we start with is a falsehood and all else is falsified by it.
·         Truth comes to us as a light, a voice, compelling a change of thought, imposing a new discernment of ourselves and all around us.
·         Truth of thought creates truth of vision.
·         Truth of vision forms in us truth of being.
·         Out of truth of being (satyam) flows naturally truth of emotion, will and action.

December 25th – Savitri, An unending journey:

Book 2 (The Book of the World Traveller of the Worlds) - Canto 1 – The World – Stair – (pictures 1 to 7)

Mr Ramadas facilitated the video session on the Meditations on Savitri, where Mother reads certain passages from Savitri with Huta’s paintings as the backdrop. 

In this Canto, Sri Aurobindo describes the beginning of the evolution, when the The Supreme Divine, fascinated by his own shadow took a plunge into it, and became the Inconscient, as mentoned in the “PurushaSukta”.  The descent is depicted in picture 2 reflecting the following words from Savitri:

Once in the Vigil of a deathless gaze
These grades had marked her giant downward plunge
The wide and prone leap of a godhead’s fall
Our life is a holocaust of the Supreme.
The great World-Mother by her scacrifice
Has made her soul the body of our state…

In Picture 5, we see the formation of the Universe, seen through these words from Savitri

A slow reversal’s movement then took place:
A gas belched out from some invisible Fire,
Of its dense rings were formed these million stars;
Upon earth’s new-born soil God’s tread was heard.
In Picture 6, we see the advent of Man (a spark of the Divine) described by Sri Aurobindo through these significant lines:
A miracle of the Absolute was born,
Infinity put on a finite soul,
All ocean lived within a wandering drop,
A time-made body housed the Illimitable.
To live this Mystery out our souls came here.

December 31st – Midnight Meditation with Readings from Savitri:

We started the prayers at 11 pm with a reading from Mother’s  Prayers and  Meditations, after which we started reading from Book III (The Book of the Divine Mother), Canto Three (The House of the Spirit and the New Creation) of Savitri, where Aswapati  devotes  his attention  on the “Mightier Task” which is awaiting ..

“A Mightier task remained than all he had done
To that he turned from which all being comes,
A sign attending from the Secrecy
Which knows the Truth ungrasped behind our thoughts
And guards the world with its all-seeing gaze,
In the unapproachable stillness of his soul,
Intense, one-pointed, monumental, lone,
Patient he sat like an incarnate hope
Motionless on a pedestal of prayer.
A strength he sought that was not yet on earth,
Help from a Power too great for mortal will,
The light of Truth now seen afar,
A sanction from his high omnipotent force.

The readings continued till five minutes to midnight, after which we set through a beautiful meditation session with The Mother’s music  to celebrate the commencement of the New Year, for the establishment of a “new birth of our consciousness”.



January 1st – New Year’s Day, Darshan day special meditation:

We started the new year with a peaceful meditation with Sunil da’s music. We read some beautiful prayers of the Mother followed by the reading of Savitri - Book 1, Canto 1 - “The Symbol Dawn”.
January 1st – Reading from AIM Magazine:

We read from 2 pages of the Dec 2016 issue of the AIM magazine. In page 40, The Mother discussed about the advent of the New Race. She mentioned that in a few thousand years, “There will be a new heaven and a new earth, a new race will be born, the world will be transformed”,  as foretold  by the prophets of the various traditions. The Mother mentioned that this was possible to be accomplished in a few thousand years because “man has thought of and awaits it”.

In page 41 the Mother talks about the “Difference in the Earth Atmosphere”, where she mentions that “people who are inwardly ready”, who are open and in contact with higher forces, people who have had a more or less direct personal contact with the Supramental Light and Consciousness are able to feel the difference in the earth atmosphere.
January 8th - Reading from Questions and Answers, The Mother:

Volume 8, Page no. 121
The passage talks about how we get lost finding perfection of divine in the personal relationships and get disappointed! Mother says only when a relationship turns sour we turn to divine. It is much wiser to take a straight path to see all the relationships in the Divine. It is aptly put in the following Seven Beatitudes of Life in the human body: (Thoughts and Aphorisms) Discipleship to God the Teacher, sonship to God the Father, tenderness of God the Mother, clasp of the divine Friend, laughter and sport with our Comrade and boy Playfellow, blissful servitude to God the Master, rapturous love of our divine Paramour, these are the seven beatitudes of life in the human body. Canst thou unite all these in a single supreme and rainbow-hued relation? Then hast thou no need of any heaven and thou exceedest the emancipation of the Adwaitin.
- Sri Aurobindo
How blissful it would be if we have the Love of Gopis for Lord Krishna!

January 15th – Savitri, An unending journey:
Book 2 (The Book of the World Traveller of the Worlds) - Canto 2 – The Kingdom of Subtle Matter – (pictures 1 to 9)

In this Canto Sri Aurobindo describes the world beyond the physical world through Aswapati’s journey.

Mr Ramadas, the  facilitator for the video session on the Meditations on Savitri, read  from MP Pandit’s summary on The Kingdom of Subtle Matter, an extract of which is provided below.

Crossing beyond the borders of the physical world, Aswapati enters into a realm of wonder and delight—the world of subtle matter. This world overtops our physical world. Beautiful, symmetrical in forms, with senses subtler and more far-ranging than the physical ones, this realm is the shining origin of the world below. All here on earth follows the lines already mapped out there in the subtle world above.

It forms a protective shield to the material world, intercepting the charge of the higher Light and Power and allowing only so much of it as can be borne by it without it breaking under the impact. It functions as a regulating channel to the downflow of the Powers from above. With all its glitter, however, this world is not all safe. Attractive and delightful though it is on its summits, it has dangerous gulfs on its lower levels. Peril is clothed in beauty, danger is invested with charm. After reading MP Pandit’s summary Mr Ramadoss shared Huta’s paintings with Mother’s voice in the background reading the relevant lines from Savitri. We list below two out of the nine  pictures that depict this Canto.

Picture 2 – We see a golden  roof with dew drops dripping from the sky.

The words from Savitri  is as follows:

            This brilliant roof of our descending plane,
            Intercepting the free boon of heaven’s air,
            Admits small inrushes of a mighty breath
            Or fragrant circuits through gold lattices…
            And bright dews drip from the Immortal’s Sky

In Picture 9 which is the last picture - We see a very happy soul swinging in a cradle
The words from Savitri is as follows:

            Life in its boundaries lingered satisfied…..
            The beautiful body of a soul at ease,
Like one who laughs in sweet and sunlit groves,
Childlike she swung in her gold cradle of joy.


-          Rama

Along the Way… January 2017 Walk Review

The morning walk in January was at a lovely place. As the name suggests, it was a hill—yes, Bukit Timah. Beautiful place for morning walk, also with beautiful people.

This was just the start of the New Year and the very first month of the year. The most amazing thing was that, the turnout was tremendous. Around 30 people had come for the walk. With this turn out, Kashyap uncle was very happy and he told us that 30 years back, the morning walk was at Bukit Timah and that the turn out used to be very large.

On reaching the place, it was quite refreshing to breathe in the fresh air and walk on the track, surrounded by tall trees, allowing a small gap for the sun to peep through.

With this atmosphere, anyone can get a very nice feeling, difficult to express in words, but only can experience and then we remember the beautiful words from Savitri.

“Our souls can visit in great silent hours
Still regions of imperishable light
And moon flame oceans of swift fathomless bliss
And calm immensities of spirit space.”
-          Canto 4 - Book 1
I just cannot stop here before writing the starting lines from Canto 4 of Book 1 – Savitri:

“On a height he stood that looked towards greater heights
Our early approaches to the infinite
Are Sunrise splendours on a marvelous verge
While lingers yet unseen the Glorious Sun
What now we see is a shadow of what must come”

With a wonderful young leader - Sophia, leading us merrily through the woods, it was a stunning experience and more so because of the very excited Adrian (our host). He was very happy discussing about different trails and we really enjoyed. I consider myself lucky not to have missed the walk. There were many people at the reserve and everybody was enjoying the walk, everybody in his or her own high spirits. Great walk, great people.

After the walk, when we reached Adrian and Kiruthika’s home, we all had a warm welcome from them. The whole apartment was flooded with people. It was really nice to see so many people and such a warm welcome.

The meditation was nice with the Divine music being played behind. We all soaked in the meditation. Then the very exciting moment came when the birthdays and wedding anniversaries were read out.

Then we were all treated to a sumptuous brunch which was not just a brunch but more like lunch.
It was a memorable Day, more so, at the very start of the New Year.

-       Kiranchandra Vasant Sule


A Walk to remember...

Contrary to what the title may suggest, this is not a review of the popular film from 2002. Rather, I wanted the title to convey clearly the gist of the short essay that follows.

As a freshman at college, most of my time is spent attending lectures, rushing out assignments and spending time with friends. I never consciously dedicate time for my health. I have gotten by for nineteen years without ever really paying attention to my body and its needs.

Hence it was fortunate that my mother insisted that I accompany her to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The walk through Durian Loop allowed me to explore a different type of nature than I am accustomed to, and I felt myself becoming more awake as I took in my surroundings. Growing up in Singapore, I have been so used to the orderly trees planted alongside our roads. I also felt myself becoming more alert, as I had to look out for mud and thorns through the hike up to the summit.

What made the experience memorable was that I did not feel tired at any one point during the walk. There was so much to take in, from the abundant flora and fauna (including one fascinating blue snake) to the constantly changing inclines. It was a stark contrast to the gym, where I would normally go when the rare burst of enthusiasm for fitness hits me. Though the gym is comfortable, it is boring. Exercise is a lot more appealing when there are things to see and people to do it with you.

The walk also gave me time to think about the pressing need to conserve water and biodiversity. Global warming threatens the existence of all species. Closer to home, the end of our remaining water agreement with Malaysia in less than 50 years comes to mind. In a small country like Singapore with few real resources, preservation initiatives should be treated seriously and nature reserves held in high regard.

To sum up simply, nature is important - especially given the challenging realities of the world we live in. Moving forward, I hope to take more time to value and safeguard the planet we live on, not just for myself, but for everyone and everything around me as well.


-       Saaradhaa Muthunatarajan