and admirers whispered sweetest words
but you never did
yet another lifetime gone
Painting by Shirish Pandit
and he claimed her
with a touch of crimson
in place of vermilion
tears of kohl trickle
his pledge to return
bound by blood
when at last he returned
but not as she had imagined
she tied a crimson ribbon
on his casket, protesting
a broken promise
It was not the distance but the direction
That kept me from you
Searching through cosmic marvels
Within each duality
Though I did hear your call
And I know you heard mine
Why else would I be drawn towards you?
Irresistible, though the magnetic pull was no more than zero
(and no less)
Spinning through void within void
Where energy is enslaved by vibration
(and also conceived)
I uttered the name of your sound
The separation between you and I was devoid of space
Even time did not dare
All I had to do was wait
If only I knew how…
Last Sunday, I met Shirish ji and found out that he paints as a hobby. Exactly one week later, early this morning, I messaged him to ask if I could see his paintings and perhaps use them as inspiration for my poetry. As I was falling asleep (for a very rare lie-in), some words came to me and I quickly jotted them down. I woke much later in the morning to find Shirish ji had messaged me and sent me some of his beautiful paintings under the series Pratiksha – Waiting. The poem I had jotted down was also about “waiting”! And yet I do not believe in coincidences! What do you think?
Many thanks to Shirish Pandit for the kind permission to use his painting for my poetry. Please do watch this space for more of his work.
Sharing this painting by my daughter Alya Kassam. She also writes just as beautifully.
a night when the gods appeared blurred
heavens intoxicated with
and angels danced till dawn
During the first week of November 2016, I received as a gift* an opportunity to attend the Inner Engineering program by the Isha Foundation. Though I was (and am) an avid listener of Sadhguru’s talks (many of you will be familiar with my poems inspired by Sadhguru), admittedly I went not expecting much. Curiosity and a chance to accompany a dear friend made me consider going to the program.
6 months later, I have been regular with the daily Shambhavi Mahamudra practise which in itself is a great achievement. Many people ask me what changes I have noticed. I will just say two things:
– Read this poem
– Just do the practise regularly, don’t focus on any result
I am going to share a little something here… Normally I meditate on my tiny balcony where I have bird houses to feed the passing birds. These birds don’t seem afraid to come near me in fact, during one session a bird ruffled my hair with its wings. And another time also during my Shambhavi a little bird sat on my shoulder! Though I was absolutely still, hardly daring to breathe, inside I was trembling. I will never forget those few seconds when I felt the tiny claws and its wings so close to my ear.
Going back to the Inner Engineering program, on the final day I had such a tremendous experience but when our teacher asked for my comments, I could not find the words to describe what I felt. That night around 3:30 a.m. I woke up and without effort, a poem came to my mind. This best describes what I experienced in the course.
Clouds, a Collision
When millions of dewdrops gather
To form gentle clouds seemingly innocent, impotent
Until they collide
And though the thunderous clap proclaims its power
An unseen hand extracts the flash of light
To fuse it into my being
So that I could see
If only for a moment
That nothing is real
Only nothing is real
I was not expecting anything, but I received more
I received nothing
The Inner Engineering program is a science and technology for inner well-being, I highly recommend it. Here is a short intro about What is Inner Engineering.
* P.S. Thank you for this beautiful gift (you know who you are)
every silver lining ….
A photo I took several years ago. Complete the caption if you wish :)
Stood defiant in the face of history
Each brick cemented with a memory
Whispers once shared in one tongue
Which anthem shall now be sung?
Thanks to Liaqat Ali Vance for this photo and to @LahoreMore for sharing it on Twitter and providing inspiration for my poem.
you may try to silence sound
but you could never still vibration
you may make us shed blood, tears
but it will only flavour that essence
how shall you mute us?
how shall you abduct the rhythm in our anthem?
each explosion only lends itself to the reverberation
yes, grief is selective
yes, mourning is a luxury
but recognise that each time
and every time
we shall rise
every whirl represents rotation
how shall you halt the movement of earth?
how will you destroy that which has no form?
February 16th, 2017 at least 70 people, including women and children, were killed and more than 150 injured in a suicide attack by ISIS on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Pakistan.
My heart was heavy.
Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274) was a Sufi saint, philosopher and poet. He represents love, beauty and togetherness. There is perhaps no other shrine in the country that captures the essence of religious syncretism like the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. In his courtyard, it feels as if the riots of Partition never happened, as if Sindhi Hindus were never forced to abandon their land, as if Christian settlements in Punjab had never been burned after alleged cases of blasphemy. The courtyard of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents a different world, a world that once existed but has slowly disappeared outside its confines.
However even before the echoes of the screams died down, and the last strains of blood could be washed off the courtyard, dhamal began once again on Friday morning. It was like it had never stopped. The world never stops rotating.
A very famous Qawali has been written in honor of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and is called Dama Dam Mast Qalandar. There are countless versions of this song, one of which I shared in my post The Song of the Sufi. It is an anthem of the simple yet highest form of love, which is devotion. Today I share with you another delightful version of the qawali.
Finally, I would like to leave you with the thought that there was very limited and selective outrage over the Sehwan attack. Why do some lives matter less than others?
This poem is the voice of the Sufis, the voice of Qalandaris
It is the voice of everyone who seeks love, togetherness, beauty
This poem is my voice
Let this poem also be your voice
Spread the awareness
Amit Misra's studio
Postdoctoral Researcher at The University of California, Irvine
musings & muses
Expressing myself through poetry
Welcome to the vertigo of waves.
Essays and opinions by Bina Shah