If you have sensitive ears, this post is for you! While reading Rajneesh Osho’s ‘The Book of Secrets’ in which he discusses around 112 techniques to meditate, I came across a wonderful story – The Sound of One Hand. I can not help sharing it!
The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege, Toyo, who was around twelve years old. Toyo used to run errands for the master and everyday he would observe seekers visit the master’s room to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.
Toyo wished to do the same so one day, he put his head at the master’s feet and asked him for a Koan.
Mokurai refused initially but the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.
Mokurai said – “Try to hear the sound of one hand. And when you have heard it, then come and tell me.”
Toyo bowed and went to his room. He tried and tried to listen to the sound of one hand but all he could hear was the music of the geishas, coming theough the window. “Ah, I have it!” he thought.
The next evening, when his teacher asked him about the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.
“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”
Toyo did not give up, every now and then he would find some sound but the master would object -“This is also not it. Go on trying, go on trying.”
Then one day, the boy didn’t come. The master waited and waited, and finally told his disciples to find Toyo. They found him sitting under a tree, absorbed – just like a newborn Buddha. They returned and told the master – “But we are afraid to disturb the boy. He is looking just like a newborn Buddha. It seems he has heard the sound.”
So, the master came, put his head at the boy’s feet and asked him, “Have you heard? It seems you have heard.” Toyo had entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” the boy said, “so I reached the soundless sound.”
Osho goes on to explain as to what had happened to the boy, “The boy had tried since he was a simple boy and had complete faith in his master. Actually, there is no sound of one hand, but just an indirect method to create sensitivity, awareness. And one day, suddenly, everything disappeared for him. He was so attentive that only attention was there, so sensitive that only sensitivity was there, so aware – not of something, but simply aware!
This is a method to make you very delicately aware of the subtle nuances of sound. Center on the word ‘aum’ – a-u-m without any a or m. Just the u remains. You have to intone aum and feel it in three different sounds. Gradually, you will forget ‘aum’. Not only a and m will drop but there will be a state of soundlessness! The state of bliss!”
Images courtesy google
The kids were there too – noses pressed against the patio glass, anxious to see their tall friend being killed slowly. “Mumma, look they are pulling our tree!”
Yes, I was ‘their’ tree. Their only friend, after the family had migrated to this new land. Since the first day, they warmed up to me as I stood guard in front of their apartment.
I entertained the kids by hosting squirrels, birds and insects on my barks. When spring came, I bore berries and flowers, cheering mom and dad. I adored them all.
Every morning, I waited for the lady to draw curtains. She would give me the sweetest smile before starting daily chores.
Today, she was not smiling rather frantically calling up someone in an attempt to save me – her dying companion! But it was too late now…
( Written in memory of a lovely tree that stood in front of our house when we moved to the US in 2013. It had to be cut last year due to maintenance reasons but we had spent some deeply touching moments with it. It had a beautiful soul.)
This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more.
In the lotus position, he sat viewing the derelict pier. It was godhuli bela, the time when the grazing herd of cows returned to his village in subdued light. The calm lake, sounds of fauna, the gentle air settled him for a deep meditation.
As his half naked body relaxed, thoughts surrounded him. He did not try to stop them, just floated with them like a detached companion. Somewhere someone was playing the flute, it was magical! His mind aligned with the music, enabling him to be deeply aware of his breath. SOHAM!!!
Strangely, a cold creepy thing moved along his back. For a second he thought, it was due to Kundalini awakening but no… it felt terribly slimy! It was a KOBRA, crawling on him.
Crippled with fear and holding his breath, he waited till the snake crawled away! Then, leaving the mat behind, he ran as fast as he could!
(This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Barb for the image!)
My ebook ‘The Princess with Brown Teeth‘ is now available on Apple Itunes. You can download it free here. And if you use Samsung or other devices, please read it free here. Kindly leave a review, it will be of great help😀.
My kids took up the onus to publicise the ebook on Youtube. Do check out their effort to promote their mom’s work. The voiceover of the boy with glasses is by Adi and that of the little girl is by my toddler Vir.
Check it out here on YouTube.
Thanks a lot for your support and love, my readers and bloggers community. You guys are a lovely lot! Stay healthy and happy.
Image courtesy Google
She was ordinary looking but had a pleasant form. What made her special was the buzz surrounding her! Ladies were throwing scrutinizing glances at her while gents were checking her out through the corner of their eyes. Old ladies were chatting about beautiful baijis (another name for nautch girl) of their time. The arrival of the nautch girl had made the calm village a little noisy. She was considered a public woman, a fallen woman and everyone wanted to have a good look at her. But for me, she was exotic!
One of my relatives chided me for peeping at her. “She is not a good lady. Stay away from her. She is a nachaniya (another name for nautch girl). She dances and entertains the male crowd. Nice girls never go near her.” Her words made me all the more curious. And throughout the day, I kept a watch over the dancer through the window.
In the evening, I saw her washing her face and getting ready for the dance. We heard that groom and the baraat (group) had been received and were resting in the tents. I couldn’t wait to see her dance.
Well, at the auspicious time, the groom arrived with pomp and splendour. The nautch girl began to perform a welcome dance in front of the group. She had whiten her face, stained her teeth with betel and put on a lot of make up. Under bright lights, she looked younger than she actually was. The ladies watched the welcoming of the groom from the terrace while gents stood around her in a circle. Some young baraatis threw money at her which she pocketed fliratatiously.
It was later in life that I learnt more about the likes of her. I had almost forgotten about my exotic nautch girl when I came across this quote by James Forbes (Oriental Memoirs 1813)-
“Nautch girls are extremely delicate in their person, soft and regular in their features, with a form of perfect symmetry, and although dedicated from infancy to this profession, they in general preserve a decency and modesty in their demeanor, which is more likely to allure than the shameless effrontery of similar characters in other countries.”
I learnt that possibly my nautch girl was a crude and jaded version of the former nautch girls, who were superior in art and bearing. With time, during family functions, nautch girls got replaced by choreographed dancers. And now we have DJs playing songs at every wedding.
Earlier, they were a prominent part of Indian life and culture during the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. They were mostly teenage girls, who typically performed in Mughal courts, the palaces of nawabs, the mahals of rajas, the bungalows of officers of the British Raj, the houses of zamindars as well as at ordinary homes wherever they were invited. Sometimes they arrived with their troupe without any invitation to a celebration and patrons were expected to pay them. They would break into an impromptu dance whenever situation demanded.
It should be kept in mind that they were not into flesh trade and their husbands accompanied them as one of the musicians. Their dance forms were an amalgam of prevalent dance forms of India at that time.
As royalty faded, the tradition of nautch lost its lustre. Some of them joined films and theatre. They have been widely portrayed in films too. The prominent ones among them were Shashimukhi from Chitpur and Phanibala. Shashimukhi was the first recorded artist of India. She went on to become the tragedy queen of Bengal theatre.
Further on, nautch girls lost their dignity and came to be seen primarily as sex workers. That is why my concerned relative had admonished me – “Nice girls never go near them”.
I do not know whether the nautch forms are still alive in some corner of India or not but I cannot help remembering that particular nautch girl, who had looked so divine to me! I had followed her almost like a fan adores a film star. I had enjoyed her playfulness and dance moves. I did not know then that I was witnessing a fading tradition…
Images courtesy Google