What follows are some of my reflections from the “National Workshop on Ramchandra Gandhi: Faith and Enquiry” held this past weekend in West Bengal to honor the late Professor Ramchandra Gandhi for his invaluable contributions. Since I was the only member of our Delhi Philosophy Circle to attend the first portion of the conference (Professor Shail Mayaram arrived Sunday morning and I had to leave on Sunday right before lunch to make it back to Delhi for work on Monday) I wanted to send my thoughts on the Seminar and my experiences from Shantiniketan to the group and some of my friends and family members that are also philosophically and spiritually inclined. Let me warn you that this is personal, lengthy and filled with many references to Indian philosophy so some parts may not be entirely available to all of you but since I was in Geneva during Ramu Mama’s (I called the late Professor Ramchandra Gandhi “Ramu Mama,” Mama means Uncle for those of you that do not know) passing and missed all of the commemorations I feel that it is only my duty to share.

Philosophy Circle members, forgive me if my notes are lacking. While I’ve had some rigorous academic experiences I’m not an academic and I don’t claim to be one. In fact, I strongly believe that there are limitations to logical and analytical thinking and this will keep me from ever being successful in academia. I have always loved learning and came to the study of nondual thought close to six years ago as a way of trying to make sense of a spontaneous spiritual experience and my own desire to make real meaning out of life’s deeper questions. Following my heart is all I know how to do, all I’ve ever done and all that makes sense to me. My connection with Ramu Mama was one purely of the heart. That is how I knew him and how I’ve come to make sense of the papers and ideas presented at the conference.

The conference was organized by the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan and was jointly funded by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Delhi the Indian Council for Social Science Research, Delhi and Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan. In attendance were mostly scholars. I was one of the few conference attendees that did not have a PhD and was probably the only participant under the age of forty. Ramu Mama was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant, original thinkers India has ever produced. His ideas are so crucial for my generation; I could not believe that there were no other young people in attendance.

I knew Ramu Mama as a sadhika (spiritual seeker) and he taught me that it is possible to speak with your heart directly and this is the most important thing I’ve ever learned. A few weeks ago I began re-reading Jack Kornfield’s (Western Buddhist Teacher) book, “A Path With Heart.” This book was a departing gift given to me by the History Department at my last school. After having spent time with Ramu Mama this book now takes on much deeper meaning. Kornfield writes: “When we ask, ‘Am I following a path with heart?’ We discover that no one can define us exactly what our path should be. Instead, we must allow the mystery and beauty of this question to resonate within our being. Then, somewhere within us an answer will come and understanding will arise. If we are still and listen deeply, even for a moment, we will know if we are following a path with heart…A path with heart reflects what we most deeply value.” (p. 12) Ramu Mama walked a “path with heart.” He embodied the combination of simple living and high thinking by understanding that “to love fully and live well requires us to recognize that we do not possess or own anything.” (p.16)

To me, Ramu Mama was the perfect blend of scholar and practitioner. What was lacking for me in my Professors from college/graduate school and the various Buddhist and “Hindu” teachers I’ve studied with he possessed. He was an expert on nondual philosophy from an academic standpoint and had training from the world’s finest academic institutions but he also was a bhakta and this is what made him so very special to me and the most important kalayana mitra (spiritual friend) I’ve ever known. The way he would call out to Ramana Maharshi, “Appa! (Father)” and how he could place nondual thought in everything just amazed me—from politics to art to even the dating advice and bowling tips (during my short stint on the American Embassy Cricket Team) this very hip 69 year old would give me! I still remember having him translate a favorite old Hindi song of mine “Rasik Balma” with an advaitin twist his eyes twinkling with excitement as he listened to Latha Mangeshkar sing this song with so much emotion and devotion. His intense, genuine desire for Truth yet ability to engage in the world in such a real, human way made me feel as if I had finally met someone that really “got” me. I still remember how he would speak to me in Tamil and say, “Papa (endearing Tamil word for baby) I’m trying to awaken the dormant Tamil in you!” Or how excited we were when I found out that his grandfather, Rajaji had written my family song Kurai Ondrum Illai (the essence of the song is contentment) or when we discovered I was the same age as Muniya, the main character from his novel, “Muniya’s Light” and had also come to India via California to deepen my study and understanding of nondual philosophy. It was as if the universe had been planning all along for our meeting which happened in the first days of my move to Delhi. As we watched a documentary about Ramana Maharshi, “The Sage of Arunachala” on my lap top on the India International Center (IIC) lawn he cried out for his spiritual hero to help him deal with the servants that were trying to chase him out of his small Bengali market flat and help him overcome the insomnia that kept him from writing his piece on the Mandukya Upanisad (which has had a deeply profound influence on my life). The last time I saw him was 17 days before he passed away just a few days before I left for Geneva on a Sunday afternoon at the IIC shortly after I had moved to Golf Links just so I could be closer to the IIC to study with him. He gave me his copy of Arthur Osborne’s biography of Ramana Maharshi and told me that just as Ramana had his Meenakshi of Madurai his “Appa” had sent him his very own Meenakshi (me) to ease his depression and keep him inspired with my energy and enthusiasm for life. There is so much more I can write and I’m frustrated with my inability to articulate just how important he is to me. He was my world but as crazy as it sounds in his death I feel even closer to him. Now I don’t have to track him down at the IIC when I have a question about purna and shunya or an insight because he is always with me. He lives in me as he lives in many of you. When I visit Arunachala this Friday I know he will be walking with me as I make my yearly pradakshina (circumambulation) around the sacred mountain.

I couldn’t help but feel a disconnect at times this weekend during discussions over the semantics of Jiva, Atman, Brahman and Anatman. I thought to myself, “What is the use of debating this? You are trying to give a name to something you can only understand with experience so stop wasting time debating people! Meditate! Practice! Be mindful! Only then will you be able to understand nonduality. Life is short and one must practice!” Ramu Mama was an advaitin that understood the importance of dedicated practice and a lot of our discussions centered around this because without practice how can you understand the “surpra-intellectual” mind (Aurobindo)? I also felt that while we were sitting in our conference hall debating whether the “I” is sure that the “Thou” is being replicated people are out there suffering! If you really understand, believe and practice nondual thought then you feel the joy as well as the pain of others therefore compassion is a natural expression of your being and you must try and make the world a better place. Ramu Mama understood my desire to move beyond mere intellectual action and take real action to make change in the world and my desire to make sense of what seemed like spiritual dissonance to me.

The conference began with a moving inaugural address by Smt. Anjala Sen who of
course features in Ramu Mama’s book “Svaraj.” Mrs. Sen spoke from the heart and like many of us whose hearts have been captured by Ramu Mama her words brought me to tears. She expertly captured his multifarious character. She spoke of how he always believed in light in the midst of darkness and that love would always be victorious. He was one of the few who dedicated his life to answering the tough questions: “Who am I? Who are we? What is the Truth of India? Can the dualism of Self and Other be dissolved and resolved?” By asking these questions with utmost sincerity he touched so many lives.

The keynote address was delivered by Professor Makarand Paranjape of JNU and I have asked if he would deliver his paper at our Saturday meeting at Aparna’s Art Gallery on April 19th. His paper captured more of Ramu Mama’s intellectual endeavors and publications. He spoke of Ramu Mama’s wide ranging interests and how he could speak brilliantly and fluently in Tamil, Hindi and English (in an incredibly posh accent). He also touched upon Ramu Mama’s love for his Sapta (Seven) Rishis (Ancient Seers) of Modern India: Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi, Paramahansa Ramakrishna, Tagore and of course his grand father Mahatma Gandhi. He talked about the protest Ramu Mama had organized to keep the canopy across from India Gate that used to hold King George’s statue empty instead of placing a statue of his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi there because he felt that so much more was said with leaving it empty. “True sovereignty can only be of the Self, limitless self-awareness, emptiness and not-thingness,” he writes in “Svaraj.” He recounted the story of how Ramu Mama resigned from Hyderabad University because of the chopping down of a Neem tree which he protested and it reminded me of how he always stood by his principles. I still remember his refusal to use plastic bags if at all possible. He gifted me this large bag that I still use for my vegetables (he had an identical one too) that he got in Khan Market that says “Real Success.” When he gave it to me he said, “Just to always remind you of what ‘real success’ (engaging in questions of Truth, exercising compassion) is!” He spoke of how the truth of Ramu Mama is instantiated in his seminal work, “I am Thou – Meditations on the Truth of India.” He talked about Ramu Mama’s redefinition of Brahmacarya as well and his passage calling all those who believe in reincarnation to unite and his belief that Ramana Maharshi was the greatest mind slayer of all time. The most moving part of the keynote address for me was when Professor Makarand said that Shantiniketan is our real abode when we realize who we really are and that our whole world would be Shantiniketan if we practiced ahimsa.

Then Professor Godabarisha Mishra, President of the Indian Council for Philosophical Research spoke for a few minutes. He commented on how Ramu Mama crossed so many boundaries, was a synthesizer of cultures and disciplines (philosophy, religion, art, linguistics) and an international citizen. Ramu Mama was an international citizen and we talked a lot about this and how I think this whole Indian American thing is a false dichotomy. I have no issues with my identity because I don’t subscribe to exclusivist identities. Beyond “I am Thou” “I just am” and Ramu Mama completely understood that. I have no home because everywhere is “home” for me. Professor Misra also commented on how little Ramu Mama wrote and he said that Ramu Mama produced so little because he was a “thinker” and thinkers don’t have time to write. I met Professor Mishra again at the Kolkata airport and we talked more about Ramu Mama and just how special he was/is to so many. He told me about an upcoming conference in Jaipur and I said, “While Ramu Mama was a thinker (in fact he defined Philosophy as “thinking about thinking”) I am a do-er and attending another academic conference on Indian philosophy just does not seem like part of my svadharma right now.”

The first academic session was chaired by Professor Biswass and Professor Amitabha Das Gupta presented a paper entitled, “On the Primacy of Communication: Introducing R.C. Gandhi’s Presuppositions of Human Communication.” I haven’t actually read this book which I believe was his first publication and actually his 1974 Doctoral Dissertation from Oxford. From what Professor Das Gupta presented it seems like this work was really at the threshold of analysis and experience. Essentially he discussed Ramu Mama’s ideas on what it means to communicate successfully and how the “other” cannot be taken for granted. Apparently this is a very technical work and it was before he began to seriously delve into the study of nondual philosophy. It seemed to me like he was on the verge of what I thought was a very Buberian way of looking at communication but Professor Das Gupta told me that Ramu Mama had yet to read Martin Buber when he was crafting his dissertation. Then I remembered how Ramu Mama told me that he left Oxford with so many unanswered questions and he felt as if his Doctoral Dissertation was missing something and this is what led him to study Eastern Philosophy after dedicating so much of his life to studying its Western counterpart.

The first session was followed by a lunch at the Department of Philosophy and Religion and I got a chance to chat with some of the other conference participants that were not staying at my guest house which was right next to the Department Building. I was alarmed by how many people had actually never truly known Ramu Mama at the conference and I just felt so blessed to have been able to really get a chance to know him and spend so much time with him during the last months of his life. A few participants were very happy that I was at the seminar since I was the only young person and one of two Americans (the other being Tagore Scholar Dr. Kathleen O’Connell). I had a very interesting conversation with a woman from Mumbai that publishes a very cool magazine, “Gallerie” about how most NRI’s think India is all Bollywood and Bhangra and the non Indians are the ones that are preserving India’s jems. She thought it was quite amusing that my Sanskrit Professors at Berkeley (the principal translators of Valmiki’s Ramayana) are Jewish! A Gandhi Scholar from Chennai and I also chatted about how conservative Indian-Americans are and how the NRI’s are the ones funneling all of this money to the RSS and these right wing Hindu Fundamentalist groups—scary stuff! I still remember my involvement in the California Text Book Revision Process and how these “American Hindu” organizations hijacked the revision process and tried to advance a monotheistic, Vaishnavaite, “saffronized” version of Hinduism. I went with a delegation of Scholars from Berkeley to a hearing in Sacramento about the revisions and these “American Hindu” groups started calling us “communists” and “jihadi’s.” Ramu Mama and I talked a lot about the dangers of exclusivist identities in the NRI community and how this was totally opposed to the essence of Advaita Vedanta.

After lunch my dream came true. I honestly think that the one of the main reasons why I came to West Bengal was to hear Professor Gautam Biswas present his paper (which I have attached to this email) “ ‘I am Thou or I and Thou’ Convergence versus Disclosure: Ramchandra Gandhi’s Meditations on the Truth of India.” Some of you know that a few weeks after Ramu Mama’s death I finally read my dear friend Paul’s Masters Thesis on Re-Assessing Modern Capitalism. Paul draws upon Buberian philosophy to make his case for de-objectifying relationships. Since being introduced to Buber and returning to India from Geneva and obtaining Ramuji’s masterpiece “I am Thou” I have been trying to incorporate the “I am Thou” philosophy in my classroom and see it as my central educational philosophy and life philosophy. Capitalism, fundamentalism and everything I feel is unjust in the world can be transformed if everyone’s thinking evolves and we all practice and attempt to really, truly, live “I am Thou.” When I read Buber (if you haven’t read “I and Thou” yet, please do!)I didn’t find him to be explicitly dualistic and Professor Biswas argues that Buber is not dualistic but dialogical. “I am Thou” can be understood as convergence whereas “I and Thou” speaks of a disclosure of the self towards the other so that ultimately there is no “I.” However, unlike Buber Ramu Mama assigns primacy to union and not as much to relation. Still, I see both views as complimentary and subscribe to “I am/and Thou.” Now if only we could teach this, ingrain this in all of us—wouldn’t the world be a much better place? I’m starting with introducing it to all of my students. Sure, some of them don’t get it and think I’m a nutcase but a few do and if I can change the world one ninth grader at a time then I’m happy.

Dr. Biswas was followed by Dr. Ipsita Chanda who presented her paper, “The Idea of Availability in the Work of Ramchandra Gandhi: Contemplating Its Applicability in the Present Continuous.” Dr. Chanda had actually never met Ramu Mama and she tried to discuss how different disciplines have different languages which all of us have experienced when we delve deeply into a certain area of study and these different languages affect the availability of certain ideas. Then Dilip Chitre (Marathi Poet, Activist, Artist, Film Maker) spoke. Mr. Chitre was definitely more of “my people” if that makes any sense. He had lost his son to the Bhopal disaster and Ramuji told him that his son was not a victim but rather a martyr. Dilip-ji spoke about how well Ramu Mama understood his own humanness and how he built up the humanness in others and really this is what made him so very special. He also spoke a great deal about Tyeb Mehta’s “Shantiniketan Triptych” and Ramu Mama’s analysis and interpretation of it. Professor Makarand also had some interesting thoughts on this that I hope he will share with our Philosophy group on April 19th.

After Mr. Chitre’s presentation I had some free time to explore Shantiniketan before the evening’s cultural program. Visiting Shantiniketan has been a dream of mine since I was first introduced to Tagore (let me be clear that I am far from being a scholar of Tagore and am familiar with few of his works but what I do know moves me and touches my heart in indescribable ways). Tagore himself had a very brief and bitter experience of formal education and he did not want his children to have the same experience but he also felt that informal education in his home was not good enough to develop their minds. It was this personal dilemma that led him to thinking of evolving a different type of educational institution. He wanted a beautiful and friendly relationship between students and teachers and classes were to be held in the open shade of the trees. Of course I picked up some books that better detail his educational philosophy to add to my already exhaustive reading list. (I picked up one book in particular written by Devi Prasad who is also connected with the Sevagram Institute, another place I hope to visit.) From the little I do know about Tagore’s educational philosophy it doesn’t differ greatly from the ideas found in the progressive-humanistic school of educational thought. There is a peaceful current throughout the entire campus. Students ride everywhere on their bicycles and Tagore’s love of nature is displayed through all of the beautiful trees and gardens in this “abode of peace.”

The organizer of the conference in honor of Ramu Mama, Professor Asha Mukherjee, chairs the Philosophy and Religion Department. Originally from Jaipur she married a Bengali and has been at Shantiniketan for 27 years after doing her post doc in Indiana. I instantly connected with her irresistibly cute (and chubby—some of you know about my soft spot for chubby children) daughter, Prakriti (nature). Prakriti is in ninth grade and I spent most of the evening walking around the campus with her. She loves Shantiniketan. I asked her what made Shantiniketan so special and she looked at me with these bright, innocent eyes and said, “Everyone that studies at Shantiniketan is exposed to Tagore and even if they leave here with only .01% of Tagore that will make them a better person and then we will have a better world.” I was touched by this very sweet response from a ninth grader and I thought about some of my students and how far removed they are from the reality of this young girl their same age. I then asked her, “What makes Tagore so special?” and she looked up at the sky and said, “Tagore is amazing! What makes him special is his love. His love of nature and of life—the real gold in the world is love and he understood that.” During my travels I keep meeting so many special young people and it gives me hope.

After our stroll around campus the high school students at Shantiniketan put on a play filled with songs and stories from Rabindranath Tagore’s life. Even though I don’t know any Bengali I feel like I understood what I needed to from their performance. I understood that Tagore’s vision is a reality and “Shantiniketan” is a living, breathing institution, it is for real and these kids are just amazing.

After the performance there was a dinner for conference participants and as I walked to the dinner venue another conference attendee came up to me and said, “I think I’ve read your blog “I am Thou.” I began this blog in January and it is just a way for me to archive articles and poems that I find interesting. (Actually, Ramu Mama told me I had to keep a better record of all the things happening in my life since I am so omni-interested and the blog began really as a tribute to him.) Well, Sridhar a theoretical physicist from Mumbai and I engaged in a most interesting conversation about food choices and our prejudices. While we were both born into Tamil Brahmin families he was raised vegetarian but being American my parents did not want to force vegetarianism on me but I actually became vegetarian by choice when I was five after hearing a story about the murdering of a chicken. Vegetarianism and sattvic food was very important to Ramu Mama and he often spoke to me about his strong feelings about vegetarianism from an ethical, environmental and spiritual standpoint. Still, there are deep prejudices in communities regarding veg vs. nonveg. A Tantric teacher I studied with told me that my vegetarianism will limit my real understanding of nonduality and while I can understand the idea that everything is digesting something else and that there is no ultimate wrong or right but rather what is appropriate for whom and when I have to be honest, I have real difficulty with eating meat. I even tried to eat meat when I was in California as a way of getting over what I thought was hidden prejudice towards those who eat meat because I never want to judge anyone but I just couldn’t do it. The veg vs. non-veg divide is something that isn’t widely talked about and Sridhar felt that the Hindu-Muslim riots and communal tensions have a lot to do with veg vs. nonveg, pure vs. impure. How can Hindu’s that believe in vegetarianism and ahimsa resort to violence and fundamentalist measures? Sridhar started to eat meat as a way of bringing about solidarity between his Muslim brothers and sisters and I found this fascinating. Unfortunately I had to leave before he presented his paper “What’s cooking in Sita’s Kitchen?” but he has promised to email it to me and I will surely send it to our Philosophy group. He also told me about John Woodruff, one of the first Westerners to study Tantra who I am now dying to read.

Upon arrival at the dinner there was a storm and a power outage but amidst the darkness I overheard an American accent. I luckily had a flashlight with me and I introduced myself to Professor Kathleen O’Connell an expert on Tagore’s educational philosophy! We had a great discussion about holistic education and I was able to obtain a copy of her book, “Rabindranath Tagore: Poet as Educator” before I left Shantiniketan and as soon as I get some free time I look forward to delving into it. Central to her work are the links she finds between Tagore’s personal life and his ever-developing educational ideas and their implementation. I will report more once I finish reading her book.

On Sunday morning I woke up especially early to have morning tea with Professor Asha Mukherjee and her family. Knowing about my interest in nature and agriculture she invited me over to her organic farm/garden/home in an area of Shantiniketan called “Golden Dust Jungle” the Bengali name sounds much prettier but I will completely butcher the spelling! Her home is literally heaven on earth. She has 25 varieties of mangoes, all sorts of fruits, vegetables, herbs and of course beautiful flowers. Walking around her property reminded me of just how important it is for us to connect with nature. As we sat in her home drinking tea and looking out into her garden through large open windows she gave me some very important advice. I had shared with her my thoughts on how one day I would like to start a school steeped in contemplative education that incorporates the educational philosophies of Ramu Mama’s Sapta Rishis of Modern India. I am hoping to break ground by 2018 either in India or California and in the mean time I am just trying to learn as much as I can and be the best teacher I can be. She told me to spend a few months in one place and completely focus on fine tuning my vision she also felt that I could gain from the rigorous philosophical training a PhD program would provide me and it would also help me solidify my vision. Perhaps I will come back to Shantiniketan for an extended period of time, stay on her farm and really work out the nitty gritty details of this educational institution my svadharma is calling on me to establish. If I am meant to go back to school my heart will tell me when and where but for now I know I need to focus on my classroom and really, truly learning as much as I can.

After spending time with Asha Aunty on her farm I went back to the guest house to grab my luggage before leaving for the morning session. I ate a quick breakfast with the former Vice Chancellor of Shantiniketan. He had actually hired Ramu Mama to teach at Shantiniketan back in the mid-80s. He asked me what made Ramu Mama so special to me and my eyes welled up with tears and all I could say was, “his heart.”

The final session I could attend involved Professor Probal Dasgupta’s presentation on lectures given by Ramu Mama in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hyderabad from January to April of 1992. He put forth an expert articulation of the main points of Ramu Mama’s thinking. This presentation reminded me of just how fiercely intense Ramu Mama was as an academic. Equating advaita (nonduality) with abhaya (fearlessness) is something I feel deep within me but not something I can articulate but Ramu Mama could using logic, reason and analysis. Professor Dasgupta talked about how Ramu Mama’s theory of courage is advaita and how he embodied Hemingway’s definition of courage as “grace under pressure.” Before he presented his paper I introduced myself to Professor Dasgupta and he told me that “Meena” is a very important name for Ramuji. Not only because of Ramana Maharshi’s connection with the Goddes Meenakshi of Madurai but also because he had fallen in love with the poet Meena Alexander (I read some of her poems in college) back in the 1970s while in Hyderabad. I smiled and thought to myself how beautiful it was that Ramu Mama was this unique romantic with all of this passion for life and love. He told me so many beautiful stories of falling in love and being in love but his most special love was of course for his beloved “Appa” Ramana Maharshi.

After Professor Dasgupta’s presentation I had to grab my backpack and head to the Bholpur station to make my flight out of Kolkata back to Delhi. As I made my way to the train station I started humming the “Shantiniketan” song heard throughout the weekend (English translation of Bengali lyrics at the end of this email) looked up at the sky and just said “thank you” with all my heart. I am so deeply grateful for having known Ramu Mama in such a special way. Even though we are not blood related (who knows, we are both Tam Brahm we could be distantly related!) his picture is on my ancestral altar in my meditation room and I make offerings of dhupam (incense), dipam (light), water and flowers every morning shortly after I rise and I feel closer to him than anyone I’ve ever met. Ramu Mama and I talked often about our trans-global “spiritual families”. His photo is also on my desk at school where I plan my lessons. I still remember him telling me, “Your students should be enquiring, not critical. There is a slight but important difference between the two.” He taught me to think big, listen to my heart and to never feel ashamed about my love of bhakti, singing and praying even though I subscribe to nondual thought. His unshakable faith in the universe was infectious and his genuine concern for everyone and everything made my heart sing in indescribable ways. He helped make India feel so special to me and Delhi will never be the same without him.

On the train ride back to Kolkata I read the Postscript to his beautiful work, “Svaraj.” He writes: “Saints and fakirs in India sometimes give their followers a “talisman,” a sacred mantra to chant, or a sanctified amulet to wear, to assist them in their search for happiness and peace and freedom. Gandhi also offered a talisman, a reflection and a reminder, to his compatriots when they began to lose all hope of attaining svaraj…here is what he [Mahatma Gandhi] said, the substance of his prescription, not his precise words. ‘When, in your search for svaraj, you lose heart or lose your way, do this exercise in imagination: recall the face of the most miserable, downtrodden, human being you have seen, and ask yourself if your way of life is likely to bring that person any closer to a measure of control over his life, closer to svaraj. You will find your doubt and despondency melting away, you journey towards svaraj will have resumed.’” He goes on to write, “The most miserable person I know is the person I see when I look in the mirror, the person I take to be myself, exclusively: my favored self-identity. He is not hungry or homeless or ostracized, his condition is worse. He is self-distorted in his thought “I am this, as opposed to that. We are this, as opposed to that.” He is in bondage. He is the figure in the Magritte painting; self-identified with his human and well-groomed cultural form, who looks in the mirror to find not his face but his back. He has lost his face of self-awareness. If, in this situation of bitter self-acquaintance, I find the grace and strength the enter the mode of self-awareness represented by the thought, ‘I am Self, limitless self-awareness. All humanity, including the human being that I am, all life, all non-living materiality, and also environing nothingness, are Self’s self images, or self-images-in-the-making,’ I will make a healing, liberating contact with the misery of samsara, and enlist in all struggles for svaraj, self-realisation.” (p.216-217)

Philosophy circle: I look forward to seeing all of you at Punam’s opening at Aparna’s Art Gallery shortly after I return from my yearly yatra to Thiruvannamalai with my Chithi’s (Tamil for Aunt) Barbara and Bandana. In addition to the essay on “I am Thou or I and Thou” written by Professor Biswas I have also attached a lovely exercise Barbara shared in a recent Sangha of AES teachers written by Thich Nhat Hanh. Enjoy!

Blessed friends and family, may we all strive to really, truly live “I am Thou.”

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where words come out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection; Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever widening thought and action. Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, Let my country awake.”
– Rabindranath Tagore

With All My Heart,

Meena “Papa”

Shantiniketan Song
“She is our own, the darling, of our hearts, Shantiniketan. Our dreams are rocked in her arms. Her face is a fresh wonder of love every time we see her, for she is our won, the darling of our hearts. In the shadows of her trees we meet, in the freedom of her open sky, Her mornings come and her evenings bringing down heaven’s kisses, making us feel a new that she is our own the darling of our hearts. The stillness of her shades stirred by the woodland whisper; her Amalaki groves are aquiver with the rapture of leaves. She dwells in us and around us, however far we may wander. She weaves our hearts in a song, making us one in music, turning our strings of love with her own fingers; and we ever remember that she is our own, the darling of our hearts.” – Rabindranath Tagore

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