Apr 14, 2011

Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai...

Life and the idea of Heaven…

We were enjoying some profound & inspiring sufi music at Sama-e-sukhan last weekend when the thoughts about the life and the heaven slowly crept in. The genesis was some fabulous fusion of John Lennon’s soulful Imagine & Sufi music which had just turned the entire evening into a sublime moment for the heart & head alike.

Imagine there's no Heaven, It's easy if you try
No hell below us, Above us only sky ..

In 1971, after the breakup of Beatles, when John Lennon sang this song, the world was witnessing one of the most tumultuous age of modern history.  Already continuing the cold war with Russia, the USA had just started retreating from Vietnam & Combodia, bowing to the pressure from its own citizens, but not before waging a long hard fought war. Despite all its talk about human freedom, USA had just seen the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. On the other hand, amidst all talks of social equality, the USSR’s autocratic regime was finding it difficult to accept the dissenting voices of people like Solzhenitsyn. The Middle East was engaged in its own conflict with Israel while the ethnic issues of East & West Pakistan had kept our own country engaged in a war. Amidst this, John Lennon’s song Imagine, alongwith another hit, Give Peace A Chance, became the voice of those looking for the peace in the strife torn world, and giving words to the human beings’ everlasting quest for the Heaven. But he was not the solitary voice, nor was the idea unique.

Over the centuries, the mankind has always been enamoured with the idea of Heaven, a utopian world, perfect in all pervasive sense. Since the life itself is never accepted as perfect by anyone, the Heaven has been thought to be a place which one visit afterlife. This has also resulted in religions across the world making heaven a kind of much cherished reward for living a life approved by religious scriptures.   

However, the rational minds across different ages in time and place had a different take as they tried to define the idea of Heaven, relating it to our daily life.  Considering the everlasting power struggle amidst the human race and resultant negativity it has generated, it is no surprise that these thoughts were centered at finding heaven by adhering to humanitarian principles.

Gautam Buddha, perhaps was among the earliest of such thinkers & philosophers who worked extensively on making the life in this living world itself heavenly through humanity for the universe. The Sutta Nipata, one of the earliest Buddhist discourses in Pali language, extols these virtues so lucidly:

Let your love flow outward through the universe,
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.

For Rumi, the Persian Sufi Mystic of 13th century, the Heaven again meant absence of hostility and hatred:

I love this world, even as I hear
the great wind of leaving it rising,
For there is a grainy taste
I prefer to every idea of heaven:
Human friendship.

Kabir, the secularist that he was in the times strife with religious fervours & antagonism, went further and showed us the way to find the God & the Heaven within ourselves when he spoke:

Moko Kahan Dhundhere Bande Mein To Tere Paas Mein
Na Teerath Mein, Na Moorat Mein Na Ekant Niwas Mein
Na Mandir Mein, Na Masjid Mein Na Kabe Kailas Mein
Mein To Tere Paas Mein Bande Mein To Tere Paas Mein…
Kahet Kabir Suno Bhai Sadho Mein To Hun Viswas Mein

As our race continues to hurl itself frequently into various crises, there have been many more voices – known & unknown, echoing repeatedly the similar sentiments – finding the Heaven through living life with love for humanity. 

That evening, however, as I sat in a trance listening to the music that evening, I thought of the verse, a joint effort of Raj Kapoor’s favourite team – Shailendra & Hasrat Jaipuri, from one of the most profound Hindi movie songs, exemplifying through simple words the way to live life, and thus finding heaven, here & now:

Kisi ki Muskarahton pe Ho Nisar, Kisi Ka Dard Mil Sake to Le Udhaar
Kisi ke waste ho tere dil mein pyar,
Jeena Isi Ka naam Hai..

It is ironical that, despite the technological advancement, we are facing breakdowns in human communication. With faster speed, we are also getting distanced from each other faster. Add this to ever rising inequalities, in fast growing economies, and there is a perfect recipe for disasters. The challenges are many, but not impossible to overcome. All it requires is astrong resolve & honest action from us, the ones who are better offs, to do our own bit for the humanity & the lesser privileged ones of the society. We have to remember these oft repeated words from past

I expect to pass through life but once.
If, therefore, there by any kindness I can show,
or any good thing I can do for any fellow being,
let me do it now …
As I shall not pass this way again.

If such will be the resolve, we will not have to worry about finding the Heaven for us in our afterlife. Rather we will be building our own much sought after heaven.

Sounds Utopian? May be, but as John Lennon went on to sing:

You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

So here is my picture for this week, from Varca Beach, reminding me always - I shall not pass this way again:



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