The strange case of invisible monkeys.


A very long time ago in India, in a village there lived a young man. He was known for the pranks he played on his friends and neighbours. His antics sometimes went little too far from being just harmless jokes. But at least he and his friends were happy. But now it was becoming more and more difficult for him, since people in his village had started avoiding him. He, himself was bored here.

Near the village there lived a great sage who also ran a Gurukul (School) in the great traditions of India. The school due to the fame of the Guru (the great sage) received students from all over the world. The guru was greatly revered by all due to his wisdom.

So one fine evening it came upon him that he must now go to the Gurukul and play his pranks there, he may even outsmart the Guru and in the process, who knows he may learn a thing or two. Next day early in the morning he took off for the Gurukul to meet the Guru. On reaching the Gurukul he saw the Guru sitting under a huge Banyan tree, meditating. He touched the Gurus feet as a mark of respect and sat down on the ground waiting for the guru to open his eyes.

The Guru on finishing his meditation opened his eyes and asked the young man the purpose of his visit. The young brat tells the Guru that he was here to learn Levitation.  “Levitation” the guru tells the young man, is not something to be learned, it is a stage which one reaches after years of meditation and following a very strict lifestyle. And the Levitation in itself is not a means it is just a milestone along the way, it’s just that it is hyped since it looks miraculous.

But the young man will have none of it; he kept insisting that he wanted to learn just that and nothing else. The guru was getting late for his classes and thus told the young man that he was busy as he can see and that he can spent some time in the Gurukul and help with the chores. And later the Guru will teach him a DIY, presto, quick way to Levitate. The young man thought that there was no harm; he was getting free food and lodgings so he stayed.

Months passed by and the Guru did not get time, the young man too could not get to the Guru and kept doing sundry jobs at the Gurukul like washing clothes, brooming the grounds, tending to the Gurukul farms and so on and so forth. And then one fine day when he has had enough, he    confronts the Guru somehow and requests him to teach him now since he has spent a long time waiting to learn the Art of levitation. The Guru again asks him to spend  some more time in the Gurukul and wait for the day he will be taught Levitation.

More than a year passes by and the young man has had enough so he goes again to the Guru. The guru sympathetically asks him to sit down. The young man was mighty elated. The guru tells him that there is a certain mantra which if chanted a certain number of times will give him the power to levitate. And then he can levitate at will any time he chooses. The guru calls him near and chants the mantra in his ears and tells him the number of times he has to repeat the mantra. That’s easy! The young man thinks to himself and as he gets up to go and start his chant, the guru adds a warning;

“ remember as you begin to chant do not let any thought of a monkey or an image of monkey come to your mind, if it happens then you have to start chanting from the beginning”

That’s easy the young man told the guru and walked towards a tree to sit and start.

 A few days passed by and the guru also started to wonder about the whereabouts  as he could not find the young man around the usual places he used to be found. And then one morning he saw the young man walking towards him tired and all freckled up. He looked as if he had not slept for days may even skipped a few meals. He has aged a few years in the last few days.

He came and sat at the Gurus feet . The great sage asked him after offering him some water “ have you learned the art” finally.

The young man staring into nothingness replies “ No ! O great sage, but I am seeing monkeys everywhere, they are all around me . They sneer and laugh and refuse to leave my company. When I started the chant , I was confident that I will finish it in a day but after the first few chants a monkey thought came to my mind. Then I started again and this went on for days and now every where there are monkeys of all colours, size and shape. Even now as we speak, although you cannot see but I can see monkeys behind you, on top of you , In fact O great sage you have started to look like a monkey too.

And then it hits you like a ton of bricks, “hey do I have my own monkeys which do not let me do anything, do I see them all the time around me?? do I debate more and more with my own monkeys, monkeys in my head. Have I not bargained for them because I thought I was the smartest guy, who could figure it all out better than most and keep the most glamorous of the results for myself. ” . Because only the empty vessels will be filled and the full will be emptied. The day I feel I am full, I stop the process of receiving from the universe. 

You know what I discovered , just knowing why, what, when and how the monkeys exist is getting rid of them. 

Smother’s Day

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I have re-blogged this post . And reading the original post I had to dedicate my painting to the feelings expressed in the blog. I am not going to write anything else on this post, since the original post says it all. I pay my respects with my painting .

residency slide show 003Mother’s Day is fast approaching, the first Mother’s Day since my mother’s passing. I am trying to get all of the dread out of they way so that day doesn’t feel so bad when it gets here. I bought fake flowers and made an arrangement for her grave. I did that last week. So that’s done.

The cemetery where my mom is buried is a sea of fake flowers. Every grave has an arrangement in varying degrees of sun-faded hues. I think it is supposed to be comforting and beautiful that every soul is recognized, but somehow it makes me feel even more sad. It is a facade. You can leave those fake flowers for months without changing them if you wanted to, no one would know the difference. Then you could walk away and forget them for a while. As if.

I am the worst kind of daughter. I…

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The healing balm of illusion



I was reading a book while painting this particular painting, .i.e.,  in betweens, and by saying in betweens I mean to say that as with a lot of crazy people like me when they get into this creative cloud, it gets so difficult to get out till you are done with whatever it was that you intended creating, and thus all those in between things like a cup of coffee or an odd book happen to be within the vicinity of that cloud, the result which that cloud is producing and the sights, smells sounds and whatever else it involves.

The book was ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ by Friedrich Nietzsche. In that absent minded stupor I was in, a para struck me and I share,

” Must we not suppose that the highest and indeed the truly serious task of art – to save the eye from gazing into the horrors of night and to deliver the subject by the healing balm of illusion from the spasms of the agitation of the will………… ”

Well the brilliance of the way it was said shook me. I made myself some more coffee and sat, and this time with closed eyes and thought to myself, that if my mind takes a journey into the recent past maybe the last fifty years, how much art would really fit into that category.

“to deliver the subject by the healing balm of illusion from the spasms of the agitation of the will…………”.

As my espresso kicked in I came back to my own cloud and hoped that I am doing justice to those words.

Concious , Subconcious and the Self



Dr Mc Taggart in his book “Studies in Hegelian Cosmology” explains the self, thus, and I quote,

‘ What does the self include, Everything of which it is conscious. What does it exclude? Equally-Everything of which of which it is conscious. What can it say is not inside it? Nothing. What can it say is not outside it. A single abstraction. And any attempt to remove the paradox destroys the self. For the two sides are inevitably connected. If we try to make it a distinct individual by separating it from all other things, it loses all content, of which it can be conscious, and so loses the very individuality which we started by trying to preserve. If, on the other hand, we try to save its content, by emphasizing the inclusion at the expense of the inclusion, then the consciousness vanishes; and since the self has no contents, but the objects of which it is conscious, the content vanishes also’

How does one bring this thought to the canvas. I painted it to make myself understand the Hegelian concept of the self. Its like, when a child attempts to decipher an idea through pictures. Maybe it makes more sense to me now.

Journal of my Work, Travel and Philosophy

I think I had to do it one day, because to know a thing is to be liberated from it. I had to share , and I take the liberty of quoting from the prologue of Friedrich Nietzsche’s book ” Thus Spake Zarathustra ”

“Zarathustra went down the mountain alone, no one meeting him. When he entered the forest, however, there suddenly stood before him an old man, who had left his holy cot to seek roots. And thus spake the old man to Zarathustra:

“No stranger to me is this wanderer: many years ago passed he by. Zarathustra he was called; but he hath altered.

Then thou carriedst thine ashes into the mountains: wilt thou now carry thy fire into the valleys? Fearest thou not the incendiary’s doom?

Yea, I recognise Zarathustra. Pure is his eye, and no loathing lurketh about his mouth. Goeth he not along like a dancer?

Altered is Zarathustra; a child hath Zarathustra become; an awakened one is Zarathustra: what wilt thou do in the land of the sleepers?

As in the sea hast thou lived in solitude, and it hath borne thee up. Alas, wilt thou now go ashore? Alas, wilt thou again drag thy body thyself?”

Zarathustra answered: “I love mankind.” “

I do believe that we all have our mountains that we have resigned ourselves to. Now whether it was to collect the honey of wisdom or just delving in the absolutism of the collective consciousness, is a call which one can take. But if you have collected the honey and  turned the ashes which you carry of yourself, to fire you walk with me . Let us light the way together.


O-4392Nothing is more important than life , nothing. One can only realize this point, if one can learn to confront death every day. And this is the way of life of Aghoris, The most feared and the most respected clan of sadhus or ascetics of India , the Aghori sadhus are notorious for their uncommon and grisly rituals they perform as a part and parcel of their religious routine, enough to arouse curiosity and awe among the public.

I was moved to paint the waiting sadhus, as if it was by providence that I had to. The wait, and still there is this feeling of contentment, as if the destination does not matter, absolutely no sense of anxiety towards moving to the next moment. Its here and now. Still there is a wait. It is this paradox which does not remain one for those who walk the path.

And it had to be in earth colors, but then how does it matter where the paradoxes stop being themselves.