Here is the third and the finale part of this series -
Alamu’s Journey into the World of Ramayana – Part 3
By Vatsala Dorairajan
Story so far…
Alamu, a young girl, begins yet another journey in her wonderland. This time, She is transported to a strange place where squirrels speak and young boys run errands and collect firewood for their Guru. She listens to a rather intriguing conversation among the boys, and before she can realise or do something about it, she gets magically transported to another place that is resounding with soulful music.
Read on ---
Alamu steadied herself to a chorus of voices filling the air with soulful music. Instinctively looking up to see what the squirrels would lead her to, she heard two mellifluous voices joining the choir inside, heard from just above her head. Puzzled and confused about squirrels singing so well, she discovered that it was actually two beautiful young girls that got down to enter the adjoining hall, to an arousing welcome by the singing choir.
Picking up distinctly well tuned Tamburas, the duo started to lead the choir to some more singing. Alamu could make out that these were well practised songs from the finesse with which they were being rendered. And as the voices came down, and the girls started speaking, it became apparent that this was a group of music aspirants, and the girls were going to teach something new today. Tuning into the class again, she heard the children repeat after one of the girls.
"Let us learn the final two lines of this keerthanai today - Repeat after me --
Theli Neerin Nilai Kondu Ketpom Unarvom,
Kali kondu Solluvom Seshanin Daasanom."
The children sing-songed the words, repeating twice, after which the other girl started to teach them the tune of the said lines.
A few rounds of repetitions and corrections later, as the children were about to sing, the older girl gestured and asked - "Are you able to understand what these lines imply?”
"'We should listen and grasp like clear waters?" asked a child innocently. The girl smiled and said - "We are asked to stabilse our minds such that the mind becomes as clear as water" - much to the surprise of the children. And as all of them began to practise the whole song, it all began to come together in Alamu's mind.
Not able to contain herself, and about to jump into the scene, Alamu found that the chorus had come to an end, and the girls were explaining something. “Isn't it a wonderful metaphor that Guru mama has taught us? That, by keeping our minds steady and calm, it becomes as clear as water?” - “Yes akka, this is a very unique expression!!” answered one of the kids. As the other kids nodded in agreement, the said akka continued - “ Indeed. Guru mama directs us to learn to control and direct our thoughts, by which the mind becomes calm and composed. And with a calm mind, one can overcome any and every kind of situation in life. A clear mind, like clear water, is of much greater use than a confused mind, like muddled water”.
The whole group was silent for a few minutes grasping the gravity of such a metaphor in the backdrop of the Tambura's drone, when 'Akka' spoke again - “While this is such a inspiring and interesting thought, can you imagine this metaphor being used in reverse?” --- While all the children were intrigued by this question, Alamu had divined where this explanation was heading. This was her “eureka” moment, and all the puzzling questions in her mind about this strange odyssey so far began to fit into place in her mind
--- “While today, we are being directed to emulate clean waters, can you imagine a time when clear waters were compared to the minds of people. There was a time when there were such noble and good natured people, that their minds were so calm and clear, that Rishi Valmiki compared the clear water of the River Thones to such people's minds? And how clean the environment and the rivers would have been then, and how great the people would have been that a river’s clean waters reminded him of good noble men and their minds? So much so, that it inspired him to settle down on the banks of that river so that he could pen the story of Ramayana!!” ” concluded ‘Akka’.
Somehow Alamu was growing fond of this ‘Akka’ :)
The children beamed with the element of wonder and the surprise of such a thought. Alamu was as speechless as them. Not only had she learnt a new song from those two “Akka”s today, but also, she had time travelled with them to the era of Rishi Valmiki!! That too on a tree! And accompanied by speaking squirrels, that transformed into two beautiful girls who sang as beautifully. Weighed down by so many thoughts, she rested her head on the wall from which she was peeping in, closing her eyes to let all of it to sink in. She was also trying to recollect where exactly she was right now, when the whole world seemed to shake violently and her head hit something very hard! There was loud noise and commotion. Opening her eyes to see if it was the children leaving from class, she was startled to see her mother calling out to her. Looking around, utterly confused, the damp cold grass under her feet reminded her that yet another journey into her wonderland had just ended. She followed her mother back to the house, with a chuckle on her face and mouthing to herself, “Wow, Just Wow!”