by Mark Ulyseas
In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey www.amazon.co.in
Manushya nahin hota; Samay hout balwan
Bheel gopiyan bhagaye lae; Wahi Arjun, wahi baan
– Kabir’s Dohaa
It is not Man who is powerful, it is Time. So if it is not ‘our’ Time, we are powerless in the face of adversity. Not even the great Arjuna could pull his legendary bow to prevent the Bheels (marauders) from kidnapping the Gopis (cow girls) who were under his protection – even though it was the same Arjuna and the same bow – because it was not his Time.
Sunrises, sunsets, full moons, dark moons, blue moons et al are part of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up a life pinioned to the mast. Many among us think we can swim against the tide of Time because we are simply stupid. And there are those that essay to rise above mundanities by foolishly attempting to create an imaginary world where Time does not hold sway. But what is really happening is akin to a rat on an exercise wheel. It thinks it is moving, going somewhere, attempting to escape but in reality it is only expending energy. In truth it remains stranded in Time.
So how do we shake off the manacles of Time? And can we?
Sometime ago, I bumped into a travelling minstrel with an attitude that was distinctly irritating. However, after a few cups of chai we got talking about everything that was wrong with the world: The septicemia of religion, the politics of hate and the ignorance of cultures between bouts of sucking on a hookah and munching on hot onion and aubergine pakoras.
It was 6 am when we met and as the sun rose and with it the heat the minstrel took out his Ektara (one stringed instrument) and began singing. It resonated in the bamboo structure that we sat under. I didn’t understand what he was singing about but could feel pure joy from the rhythm….
The enchanted moment was rudely interrupted by the loud honking of a passing truck. He abruptly stopped playing and put down his instrument.
“What was the song about?” I asked.
“It is a lament. My lament….that I was once an angel…an angel that fell to earth to live within the confines of Time…a horrible existence that seeks to destroy my soul. But I shall break free with my songs…” he replied in a sad voice. Then he began coughing…coughing blood.
And when he had washed his hands and face and gathered his meager belongings to move on he looked at me and said,”Death awaits me around the corner but I am not afraid because I will be set free from Time. I shall meet you in another life. Till then, keep living. Rejoice in it for you have all the Time in the world.”
He got up and walked out onto the road to Vrindavan and was soon lost in the dusty haze of the noon day sun.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om