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Parvathy Baul: To be a Praner Manush (A person of the Heart)

Nuggets from Awakin Talk conversation with Parvathy Baul

Yesterday at Awakin TalksAwakin Talks, Parvathy Baul opened with a song offering Anitya bashona. -- Leave away all these temporary desires, and sing the praise of Hari (Lord). Whatever will happen will happen, why are you worried about it? The rituals aren’t useful any longer, only chanting the name of Hari will liberate you. Make the name the essence, and always chant. You went through all the suffering of the process of being born. Time is passing, don’t you remember. Surrender yourself to the true master.

About Baul tradition

  • we know about one path of intellect (gyaan marga). You receive knowledge, then absorb it and then come into the realization of that knowledge. Then there is a bhakti marg, a mystical school - where there is no method. It can be absorbed through transmission from the teacher. “Everybody needs a guru”. One has to open up to this cosmic library, written without ink, without alphabet. For example, Naropa studied so much. But later he found he had to turn into mysticism. He closed himself in a cave, then let grace and knowledge flow through him. What path works best for you is determined by what is your vessel, through which path you can serve the most.
  • Baul in a way integrates both. Learning songs, there is Tattva - the gyan in the song. You have to study about it. Its not scripture but listening from guru because it’s an oral tradition. You have to learn dancing, playing instruments etc. And then when you start giving in front of devotees and give the prasad (offering of god), you must be in a clean slate and let it flow through you. Not predetermined. You have become the knowledge, you have become the book. To come to that sahajta, that spontaneity.
  • To reach there, you have to go through lots of stones and rocks. To come to this essence, its about taking away the layers we have put in our mind, our ideas of world, and egoic nature of thinking that we know everything.
  • When the lake of the heart is completely silent, then only the flower, the lotus will bloom. It appears in the motionlessness, calmness, peacefulness.

On embodiment - Your body is your portal, node, and map to awakening. You use the body to transcend it, to not being limited by it, or to not be only it.
  • its a precious vessel given to us. It will change like season. But each season has its own quality, own flowers to bloom. The Cosmic consciousness, the true nature also exists in this body. To realize all these levels and become a master -- is the job in front of us.
  • Prakrit deho -- gross body through which we engage in daily activities and aprakrit deho - through which you are in communion with the formless, transforming your being using every cell of your body, to the “anandmaya kosha”, the subtle level of joy, bliss - where you realize you are this universe. If we can orient ourselves towards that, then the body also transforms.
  • When you see an ordinary person so engrossed in daily activities, and you see presence of a person who has detached from his her own desires and found this lightness inside, then the presence of such a person is very different. Along with the mind, body has also transformed.
  • Body through your mind, or mind through your body. Both is possible. This is so wonderful, its magic. The body is magic.
  • We must love it, take care of it. Its not about applying fairness cream. That’s not nurturing. Its not about makeup. That’s not how you do it. Your body is vessel that holds the truth. When you nurture that, you become beautiful. “Body is temple and legs are pillars which are holding teh body.”
  • Offers a song on this -- ganga jamuna maajhe rey, baahir naai- I am rowing my boat, through the middle of ganga and yamuna, the 2 great rivers. But how can you row in between both? How is it possible? Here it means ida and pingla. Both have a function and when its neither this or nor that - then that’s the one which takes you to anandmaya kosha. That is how we start rowing the boat between opposites. Such a person is completely intoxicated in love, completely intoxicated in yoga (union). He is khapa (mad). He rows effortlessly.
  • Dombi go on rowing your boat, don’t stop here. That’s how you will reach the place of truth, the abode of beloved.
  • In this attempt, 5 disturbing pirates who come and try to loot. Like you want to do yoga, but your phone rings. Even if we don’t want we still get distracted. That’s the nature of maya devi. :)
  • There is no money needed to go on this boat. He (the guru) will take you without any price in dollars). Although there is another big price to pay - of your ego, of your pride. That I am not talking about right now. The enagement is on a different currency altogether.
  • One who could go in that boat, they could really go. One who is hesitant, doubtful, will not be able to go there.

On relationship with the nonmaterial things -- These are not simple things.They decide what comes next. Like Kabir singer Prahlad ji shared that the instrument Tamboora pulled him into it. We think of material objects as just things. And not something vibrating with an energy of their own. Can you tell your relationship with your ektara, duggi?
  • Ektara been with me for 23years, and that’s what I will carry till end of my life. Its my deity. So one can not just change one’s deity like that. And then I will pass it on. When my Guru Sanatan Baba gave me this ektara, he said now you are “Bina Das”. Now you are servant of this ektara. It symbolizes human body for me, sun and moon, ganga and yamuna. A yogi is always meditating through the middle chord.
  • This duggi is made of clay. It smybolozies the prakrit sthula sharir.
  • The ektara is held up because its connecting you to formless and duggi is held to the waist to ground you in the world of form. Then we also have Noopur, sound of bells, and dancing. That’s the form of Baul.

On being a Living bridge between ancient and modern, holding this tradition as a woman, between a wandering mystic and an ashramite.
  • its not black and white. We just think about women and we think how difficult it must be for them. But women held ashram 400years back. 23kms away from this place there is an ashram. It was started by Khaipi ma -- one of the sadhikas, chosen by veerbhadra. son of Nityananda.
  • She led the entire baul community. They used to say it was the High Court of Baul community. And she was devoted to her guru. And then other side is sometimes women don’t have a respectable place. So they have to make extra effort.
  • I got love of love and acceptance from Guru. There was no gender thing. At the same time when I was going to satsangs, many times men baul thought I was useless. That’s something which we see everywhere.
  • In the tradition, women are not seen as inferior. They are considered “swayamsiddha” they are born perfect. They are held on a Maatri sthaan, Guru Sthaan because they have capacity to give life. Women can wear gerua, can hold ashram, can teach, can do anything. We have to process it and support others.
  • On Tantidhatri gathering of women saadhikas and artists- we hold these gatherings once in 3 years. Its like a group of saraswatis sitting there. Just being there, interacting and talking, is such a huge gift.

Your art is a sadhana for you, an intense meditation for you. People typically like to be in private spaces in their sadhana, yet you perform on stage publicly in your sadhana. Any thoughts?
  • Intimate practice is really precious to me. If you can just be in a cave and do this practice. But at the same time, there are so many ppl to be touched, who have the essence within them, and want to wake up.
  • I am so grateful- to be a vehicle, to be able to serve in this way. When I am breathing, if my breath is used for this, then I am so grateful.

Audience Questions
Can emotions be a gateway to spiritual realization?
  • Emotions are triggered by vasanas (desires). From the expectation we have built inside us. We are so occupied with it, that we forgot to see what is actually happening outside.
  • So when we start living in reality, we adjust to this moment to moment changing reality. We adjust, not only in head and ideas, but in a much deeper way, with your entire being. Then whatever you say, it just happens. You are participating in the symphony of nature effortlessly.
  • Lot of emotions in bhakti path. This emotion is not personal, it is a mature emotion, which is only towards divine.

Reflections on Death
  • Death is a moment of pause. To move to another layer, another reality. This is how a Baul sees it.
  • This body is like a vessel, it will drop. Air was inside us, and same air will become air of entire thing. And then we will be born again to light or to life according to our choice and karmic conditions. But it’s just a moment of pause.
  • We love death, there are many songs about it. When someone is going to leave this body, if we start praying and sharing that “You are with us. We are very happy you will be transiting to something else.” then that can create a deep shift. Can we pray in that way? Can we let things go. Can we let things happens. The waves in the sea come and go but the sea never dries.
  • This chitta, whole consciousness - its complete and its the same time, its nothing, its shunya. Even if one is beheaded today, and dies, don’t be sad.
  • Like the butter is hidden in the milk but we can’t see with our eyes, but there is a world invisible beyond this visible world. We are always touched by what we can see from our senses, but why don’t we see what cant be seen from the senses. When you reside there, then from that place, nobody comes, no body dies.

At 16, you took a drastic turn, where there was little security. How did you parents process it?
  • My parents were very spiritual. They were devotees of Swami Ramakrishna. But they were worried for me because I was their daughter. “She will have trouble and hardship. What will she eat if she fails in the sadhana?” It is from that concern, they used to say no. especially my father. But my mother said, I think you should go.
  • True living is living with the divine she believed. Whatever we think of security, success is actually temporary and doesn’t make any sense. And she gave me 1000Rs to go on this path.

How can we start integrating spirituality in our typical city lives?
  • I will not give you false hope. If you really want to embrace spiritual life, you have to let go many things. We have to give up many things. If you want to be a practitioner - when you make every cell of your body, into this practice.
  • If you do practice, then engage in something which distracts and stresses you and kills you, then everything you did with meditations gets diluted. Then you are just doing maintenance. You can say I have taken help of spirituality to maintain myself, that I don’t break down. That is also a good thing. But its not the same.
  • But spiritual life can be incorproated even as a Grihasta (householder) if your life orientation changes like that. Then your relationships with people around, the material and money around also flows from that orientation.
  • Company you choose is very very important. “Make friendships with the truth only”. Find company of devotees, people who are seekers. It will enhance and feed you. It is not about 2 hours meditation, but changing the entire life. Including objects in the house.

On Gyan, Bhakti and Karma
  • Baul emphasizes on gyaan bhakti and vairagya. Bhakti comes after awareness and gyaan. You need gyaan to enhance your bhakti. Without awareness its fanaticism.
  • To develope Vairagya (Detachment), you have to do karma, when you are continuously serving others. You let all your actions, wherever you go, offering the services for others, then it will slowly free you from your action. Then the bairagya will come, then you will do it effortlessly, with great joy.
  • Hanuman was biggest bhakt. He did so much for beloved Ram.
  • All 3 elements when together, one becomes a “sthiracheta” (a still mind) - when the lake is silent, then the lotus of baul will bloom.
  • Gyaan, Bhakti and Seva are no separate things. No division, One cannot exist without the other. You need everything. Like the sun ray which comes from the sun has 7 colors. just because we don’t see, we say there is 1 colour. Everything is related to other. You cannot do anything in isolation. They are all mingled.
  • Rahul - Dalai Lama said Shunyta is perfect interdependence. Parvathy - You are in it, and you are free of it - at the same time. He sees how things move and moves along it. So a yogi is never stuck.

Closing - Make your unto a prayer.
  • true master and true chela (disciple). Chetan guru - the guru who is completely awake - one who is chela of such a guru, they only can cross darkness of night, they can turn the syrup of fire of darkness, into gur (jaggery). And its a gur which never goes stale.
  • This process of making gur, is likened to making true shishya. To become a true baul, one must die. Die before death. Let the stupid mind wake up and see the truth.

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