"Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But whatever is not here is nowhere else." - Mahabharata.
I am just emerging out of a total immersion in the Mahabharata. My team and I offered a lab based on the purANa (pura means ancient, navam means nascent-purANa means ancient yet new). I am utterly amazed by the profound and timeless insights into human nature that the Mahabharata contains. I am sharing a glimpse of the process through this blog.
The lab was embellished with dialogues: Jyothsna an accomplished dancer explored draupadi, Shashikant Achhary showed us his film "Kelai Draupadi" and discussed the research and his transformation through the filming process, we had a 5 hr performance of the traditional Koothu too. Jyothsna shared this quote with us after her dialogue: Madam Blavatsky says in the Secret Doctrine, “…All this is very puzzling, to one who is unable to read and understand the Purana-s, except in their dead letter sense. Yet this sense, if once mastered, will turn out to be the secure casket which holds the keys to the secret wisdom. True, a casket so profusely ornamented that its fancy work hides and conceals entirely any spring for opening it, and thus makes the unintuitional believe it has not and cannot have any opening at all. Still the keys are there, deeply buried, yet ever present to him who searches for them”.
I believe we did find the key and it lies within each of us, the fount of our intuition as we introspected and opened ourselves to each other in the lab. I am certain that each of now carries back with us the immensely rich casket; to open, to converse with and discover our truest potential whenever we wish to; we have discovered our sakhi, the friend and guru within whom we can call up whenever we need to have a contemplative conversation.
The Mahabharata has every thing- stories through which we can discover our own narrative, daivic (angelic) archetypes through which we can sense our own heroic potentials, asuric (demonic) archetypes through which we can look into our abyss; psychodramas through which we can explore our dilemmas; and in the midst of all this the Bhagavad Gita through which we explore a meditative location to anchor ourselves in and do our own samudra mantan(inner churning).
Ones life plays itself out on the visible and tangible field; there are three forces that create the field: ones kartavyyam (the gifts one is born with- ones physical form), ones dharma (ones level of existence- the chakra patterns of thought feeling and action, that determines ones psychological form) and dandam (the socio-cultural context in which one lives). A profound sense of being, ones ‘self’ is energized by mukti- the deep intent of ones being to grow and evolve and to finally act from ekagrata (one pointed mind).
The ideal that all of us yearn for is a situation where one can unfold with all of ones gifts, enliven oneself and ones world as we unfold, and the socio-cultural context nurtures this process. What we experience however, are situations that some times give space to a beautiful unfolding, but at other times block, distort or oppress this unfolding process. An impression of the beautiful tree we were meant to be lies dormant in the subtlest recesses of our minds, we hear the whispers of this form in our dreams and in our moments of solitude and silence. But we live our distorted selves, and experience Dukha: sorrow at the psychic level, angst at the existential level and disease at the bodily level. We then seek ways to understand the Dukha, and end it.
The Mahabharata Immersion is a laboratory learning space where we use the frame works and lenses of the purANa and engage in a sakala (with all ones faculties) -sahrudaya (with a resonance of hearts) -samvAdam (dialogue). Through a duryOdhana we learn how misplaced love nurtures monstrous archetypes and gives them space to manifest; through karNa we learn how a false compensation of deep deprivation, denial and discrimination leads to a commitment to adharma; through yudhishitira we discover our deep ambivalence towards structures. For every one of our daivic potential and everyasuric potential there is an invitation to explore, there is a mirror through which to own up and examine, a psychodrama through which to play out. As we dialogue, share, explore and offer our compassionate listening to each other and offer our honest confrontation to each other, we discover our authentic self, our masks, our resistances and our shadows. We finally come to the threshold where we can cast aside the old and explore the nascent and the creative energies within. Our prANa can abandon old dysfunctional patterns, our psyche can perceive the ‘here and now’ and we can participate in Creation. We can also watch with horror how at the threshold the psyche wounded by denial, deprivation and discrimination (wounds caused by the pleasurable and the painful) shout and scream for retribution and revenge. The raw energy of the wounds say that that they would rather destroy every thing around at all levels of being and existence unless they are given their due confronts the power of Truth, Beauty and Love.
We have a choice to make, at that point of existential dharma sankata we can listen to the voice of Krishna and discover total vulnerability, we can surrender all the conditioned forms of the past (however desirable or disgusting) or, we can choose to be deaf. The cacophony of the narcissistic wounds holds us hostage to our particular idea of heaven, our specific idea of the path out of our hell.
The dance and the song of krishNa is everlasting, it does not need us to hear it nor perceive it, we need to discover how to open ourselves to it. In the meanwhile, endless forms of being will take birth and engage in their own drama of search and struggle; in their own striving to discover Love, in their own mad destruction of self and the other. It matters not to krishNa who abides in an inexhaustible silent, compassionate awareness and waits endlessly.
Photo: the sacred space in a village where the koothu performance is held- courtesy J. Shankar
My work revolves around helping individuals, groups and organizations discover their Dhamma, and become “the best they can be”. This aligns with my own personal saadhana. I have restated this question for my self as follows: “how can I be in touch with the well spring of my love for the world and my love for my self simultaneously”