Random Forays: Philosophical ruminations on a monsoon afternoon
The goings on in the interiors of the human mind are usually ceaseless and their extent is unimaginable. No space is taboo, no frontier too far to conquer. Unending are the array of thoughts that assail the human mind; all of its own creation, but with a life of their own. Almost Frankensteinesque they are, in that their creator becomes the hunted, his peace unsettled forevermore. And the thoughts generated by our minds do not even belong to us in totality. They have a trajectory of their own, a zeal of their own, and even perhaps a karma of their own.
In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda quotes Thayumanavar, a saint of South India, who wrote this “challenging” poem:
You may control a mad elephant; You may shut the mouth of the bear and tiger; Ride the lion and play with the cobra; By alchemy you may earn your livelihood; You may wander through the universe incognito; Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful; You may walk on water and live in fire: But control of the mind is better and more difficult.
Those of us who think otherwise, might want to practice silence of the mind and try to control each thought that attempts to disturb its peace. Long term practitioners of meditation will vouch for the fact that even after years of practising meditation techniques, their minds will play truant at the drop of a hat. A faint sound from the next room might remind them of an unfulfilled errand, which might lead to ruminations on the need to get the car repaired and even the necessity to visit New Delhi to meet an old friend.
When the monsoon rains pelt down uninhibitedly, though they’ve been relatively sparse this year, the mind tends to become philosophical. While admiring the splash and splendour of the annual visitor, one tends to wonder at nature and its act of largesse that somehow saves the inhabitants of our land from the impact of months of relentless heat and sun.
One also tends to ponder over the meaning of life at such times. Although such thoughts can come to most human beings at any time, the rains somehow encourage them to sprout a little more effervescently. The ephemeral nature of life, which has been compared to the existence of a dew drop on a leaf, becomes apparent when one tries to view its bigger picture.
And as I type these lines, a mellifluous song from the 1965 classic, Waqt, emanates from a nearby device. “Aaage bhi jaane na tu, peechhe bhi jaane na tu…(you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future or what happened in the past),” croons the matchless Asha Bhonsle, her voice adding depth to the truly meaningful lines penned by the inimitable Sahir Ludhianvi, with lilting music composed by the legendary Ravi.
The transient nature of life and its rocky spectrum become apparent to a writer in such settings. All the more reason for human beings to buckle down and make the most of their time on earth, one would think. While family, career and interests should clearly be priorities for each of us, why waste the human avatar on needless gossip?
Books are easily a favoured pastime in such scenarios as well. The consumption of luscious mangoes doesn’t go too well with the act of reading a book, so one tries to plan one’s day in a manner that the two are mostly kept apart. And the hands of course have to be kept washed as well as dried anyway. We do live in those “twenty-seconds is a must” times!
The faraway skies take on tinges and hues that seldom make their presence felt at any other time of year. Monsoon evenings can be sultry or cool, but the sky is always alive and vibrant. An amateur photographer might find even more to celebrate about the beauty of nature than a writer does. And the poet can wax lyrical with aplomb at such times.
Work from home norms and webinars by the dozen notwithstanding, the monsoons of 2020 have not disappointed. There is every excuse to think more deeply. Yet, there’s every reason to try and quell those rampaging thoughts. To endeavour is human, to respond is up to Him.