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Silver Hair Sins | Book Review

Silver Hair Sins – Book Review

Book: Silver Hair Sins

Author: Saumick Pal

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: The Write Place (26 March 2019)

Price: 249 INR

Pages: 158 (Paperback)

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise and the world is experiencing more and more barbaric acts in the name of God and religion. It has reached a fanatic level. Witnessing all this I, earlier, wrote a piece – What if there was no religion. Well, today I would be reviewing a book that suggests another alternative – merge all the religions into one and with the use of artificial intelligence create a more futuristic utopian society.

Silver Hair Sins by Saumick Pal gives a peek into a similar world. It is his first novel. I would like to express my gratitude towards Blogchatter’s Book Review Program for considering me this book review and towards Saumick for the wonderful personalized message. If you have been following my reviews, then by now, you would know how much I love thrillers. A thriller with religion and AI as its background suits perfectly down my alley.

About the Author

The author, Saumick Pal, is an engineer and has been working for 13 years in myriad fields. Also, he is a mentor to the youth of the country. He has worked as a scriptwriter too. His writing style is crisp, compact and will leave you wanting for more even after you read the whole book.

My Review

The cover of the book, along with its title doesn’t give much away but once you start reading, it will slowly begin to make more sense and now I can say that the cover is equally thought-provoking as the pictures inside the book.

The back cover blurb highlights Silver Hair Sins as one of India’s first visual-fiction novel, with more than half of the book narrated by cinematized photographs.

They say that the picture is worth a thousand words. It surely is true in the case of Silver Hair Sins, which has only 158 pages out of which about 60 pages are full-page photographs/pictures. These pictures are strategically placed in continuation of the chapters that streamlines the flow and pace of the book.

The message from the author.

The story is set up in a futuristic world some 200 years later and mainly revolves around three characters – Mary, Azad and Aasma. You will also read about two more characters that form the background story – Meera and Akbar. The story takes you to a time when the religio-politico divide reaches a tipping point and technology steps in to save humanity – AI merges all religions to create One God AI.

The algorithm picks up populist virtues of all the religions and not necessarily the best ones. This leads to a terrible dystopian environment of murder, manipulation and love where a father is justifying the rape of his daughter as a sacrifice.

The book also makes you think what if AI actually becomes so powerful that it begins to dictate the lives of each and every individual. What will be the outcome of that? Read the book to find out whether the AI remains powerful or the humans rise above technology and win over it with their instincts.

I am sure the writer takes a clue from the all-time classic 1984 by George Orwell where he spoke about the atrocities of a dystopian world disguised as a utopian society set in a time in future.

Pros

It is a very fast read and even if you are not a big fan of thrillers you are bound to finish it in one sitting. The vocabulary is simple and you don’t have to go looking for meanings of every alternate word. The pictures are very figurative yet abstract and each reader will have a different understanding of them.

‘Not everything is black and white’ – I will like to compliment Saumick on how he has used the colors like black, white and silver to showcase the criminality of a person. The colors, the day – Sunday and the dressing have a lot of significance in the narrative. The naming of the characters also has been done keeping the backdrop in mind and by the end, you will realize their importance for their characters.

Cons

The book doesn’t have many flaws apart from the fact that some incidents feel a bit rushed up. Given its size, it would more fit in the category of a novella. I personally didn’t like Kabir’s Dohas being quoted every now and then. For a book that is futuristically set it was a bit awkward for me to visualize the AI enabled beings speaking Kabir’s Dohas. I felt a little disappointed as there isn’t much description about the futuristic setup and many-a-time it feels as if the discussions are in context to present times and not two centuries later.

When I first received the mail to review this book, it reminded me of an important incident that occurred with my friend and me, just when I started writing about a decade ago. He came up with a photo-book, exactly like what this is, but after going door-to-door of various publishing houses all we received were rejections. ‘A book or novel full of pictures will never sell and it will totally add to the cost’, was all we got constantly. I am glad the Indian publishing world is changing for good.

This positively has the potential of being a game changer as far as the layout of a book is concerned in the Indian context. I have seen Dan Brown books having pictures for better illustration and explanation of certain facts.

Verdict

I would end it with a quote from Walt Disney – “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” This book serves well as a commentary on the current religions and the perils existing in them.

Silver Hair Sins is a good debut effort by Saumick Pal, which stirs up a lot of questions about the existing religions and the extremism attached to them and how in the future technology can be used for mankind in the religious spectrum as well. I am going with three and a half stars for this visual-science-fiction thriller that will definitely make you think.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This review was done as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program. Please sign up if you are a bibliophile.

My side of the bargain – an honest review – Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the author reference: https://www.marketingmind.in/saumick-pals-silver-hair-sins-is-a-must-have-if-you-love-thrillers/

 

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5

S – Secularism | #AtoZChallenge

S – Secularism | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

We witnessed one of the most barbaric acts of terror in the recent past yesterday in Sri Lanka. The ones who were present in a church and met death; their only crime was that they practiced a specific faith, which wasn’t acceptable to some followers of other faith. This was fuelled by not love towards their religion but hate against all the other. No religion teaches that but sadly this ideology doesn’t suit anyone.

When I was in school, I was taught how, which and when was the words added in the Indian constitution. Secular was added to the constitution in 1976 by the 42nd amendment but those who claim to know the 5000-year-old history of this land would unanimously agree that the land was secular in its virtues ever since.

Read also: What if there was no religion.

Oxford dictionary defines,

Secular as, ‘Not connected with religious or spiritual matters.’

Secularism as ‘The principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.’

The sad reality is that in India most of its politics founds a foundation in religion and when religion begins to exhaust then caste system takes over.

Discrimination is everywhere; in some places, it is on the basis of your skin, in some on the basis of language, in some on the basis of religion and in some on the basis of how much wealth you hoard. So what should be done – shall the countries be made on the basis of religions? I am sure the ones already formed on the backdrop of religion; the citizens are still discriminated with one tool or another.

The spineless and toothless EC continuously begs not to bring in religious context during public speeches but each and every speech is spewing hate on the name of religion. This time they have started even threatening the public – that if they won’t vote for them then they will have to face consequences. Don’t think I am blaming only the ruling party. Each and every candidate is a perpetrator. The best solution is since we can’t stop them for doing this, to remove the words like secular and democratic from the constitution, which the ruling party anyway wants to do.

The idea of nationalism and patriotism isn’t bad, but the idea of nationalism based on one religion is dangerous. It is often (read always) propagated through the machinery of hate.

Every party when comes to power begins to paint the city in their color but this time around the coloring of institutes, public transport, and government offices in a single particular color was on an all different level. When you continuously preach, ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ and at the same time aren’t even open to accepting any other faith or ideology then it literally exposes the shallowness.

All the developmental promises that were made; on which you rode to the power galleries of New Delhi are now nowhere in discussion. All you feel, hear and see is hate, hate and hate.

How ironic it is that for some their religious identity because of their birth in a certain family becomes the reason for a lifetime of miseries.

As former vice president Hamid Ansari pointed out about the current regime, ‘Religious pluralism will be tolerated (but not accepted) but cultural pluralism will not.’ That is what the current dispensation is out to do.

Let’s go by their logic and for a moment consider that, Hinduism is the greatest religion, then by sensible reasoning, it should not have been defeated on so many instances in the past. Have the Hindus or the so-called upper caste Hindus gave a thought why so many people got converted? It was only and only because of discrimination and atrocities against them.

For the sake of discussion and not to demean any particular person or religion, there are a lot of things that are done and contributed by some minority – Would the so-called best religion and its flag bearers take up those tasks as well? I am sure they would not otherwise slavery would have never existed.

When a Hindu girl marries anyone of other religion, you tag it as ‘Love Jihad.’ Let me buy that argument for a moment; so what you are saying is that the girl didn’t marry for love but was misguided and in a way hypnotized to marry. In other words aren’t you saying that the girl is so ‘dumb’ that she cannot think for herself? If the girl is a Hindu, then as per you she should be the most intelligent creature on the planet…right!

When you compare with our neighbors that they are a state with a declared official religion, then you need to compare what has been their growth in each and every respect. All their focus is on proving that their majoritarian religion is the greatest.

I know this is a pessimistic view of the future but over the years observing how things are shaping and how the mainstream public is endorsing and getting convenient with the idea of hate – the first thing that the world would be devoid of will be ‘Morals’ and ‘Ethics’ since the thing that originated to comfort is the only reason for their miseries. I am afraid it will all come in the name of God and religion.

Then at the same time, you see some hope when a collective of 1.24 lakh students in Kerala chose to skip the caste and religion column. However, I am sure, they will be collectively discriminated as atheists.

A friend commented on a post that he will still support the current regime to get another term and then ended up the conversation congratulating me to take up this theme in such ‘charged’ times. All I had to reply was ‘read your comment slowly and you will find the irony lying naked’.

For all those who believe all religions are equal,

For all those who believe only their religion is great,

For all those who believe there should be no religion,

And

For all those who believe in secularism…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 19th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘T’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

4

H – Hindutva | #AtoZChallenge

H – Hindutva | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Hindutva is defined as, ‘An ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus and the Hindu way of life’ as per the Oxford dictionary. The current ruling party is synonymous with it. In fact, their rise to power was on the basis of Hindutva. A Supreme Court 1995 judgment defined Hindutva as “a way of life and not a religion”.

People like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, K. B. Hedgewar and Syama Prasad Mukherjee popularized the term. It became the ideological base of organizations like RSS, VHP, Hindu Mahasabha and Hindu Sena. The lucidity of their idea lies in the fact that they think Hindus were the original inhabitants of this land.

Who were the original inhabitants of this land? The answer lies in the current fabric of India. Many reports and theories suggest that Dravidians were the original inhabitants. The Hindutva idealists would say that Aryans were the first. But didn’t the first chapter in our school history class was that one of the reasons why Indus Valley civilization was killed because of the migration of Aryans.

There is genetic evidence that suggests that the original habitats of India were some tribal and adivasis. Rest each and every person found on this land is a descendant of some old migrant from various parts of the world.

I often hear that we have never attacked or invaded any country…that may be true…but don’t say that our religion is free of violence. Even the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata are full of violence and war.

Rather than finding out fallacies in other religions why don’t we first look inside and see what our teaching are and are we following it to the fullest? Weren’t things like ‘untouchability’ and ‘sati system’ given preference on the name of religion? But with time, education and protest, they were abolished. I sometimes think what outrage Raja Ram Mohan Roy would have faced in that era.

Making people like Yogi the poster boy of Hindutva is realistically and statistically detrimental to the society. Coining terms like ‘Love Jihad’ would definitely get you more votes but it thrashes the practical reality.

I don’t know how many of you know this – People like Subramanian Swamy who speak so much in favor of Hindutva forgot to teach the concept in his own family. His son in law is Nadeem Haider. I am all in favor of her daughter’s choice but then he should only preach what he practices.

I have witnessed the massacre that happened during the Babri Masjid demolition. Who does it help? For years the emotions and sentiments attached to the temple have been used by the ruling party for their electoral gains.

On the issue of Ram temple, they say that they will follow the top courts’ directions but on the other hand on the issue of ‘Sabrimala’ they give precedence to faith. Frankly, they follow the strategy that will get them more votes in that particular region.

By instilling the fear in the hearts of common masses that Hindus are under threat – they continue to commit and justify atrocities against the minorities and Dalits. 82% of the overall population is of Hindus and still, they want us to believe that we are under threat. I dare them to declare India as a Hindu state and they will come to know the real fabric of India.

Don’t forget that this strategy only works where there are people of other religion. The moment it shifts to Hindu majority places, their strategy shifts to upper caste and lower caste. It was these brutalities committed on these minorities and lower caste people that forced them to convert and seek solace in other religions. I would be blunt here, but if your concept and methods were so correct then why did even one Hindu leave and embrace the other religions.

For years I have been hearing that foreigners have ruled us for the last 1000 years. What they don’t teach and create awareness about is that barring the last 70 years the concept of India included current Pakistan as well as Bangladesh. Nepal and Afghanistan were formed during the 18th century, before that they were also the part of India.

Even in the current government, there is a trend to ‘saffronize’ everything down south. From traffic boards to road milestones…from billboards to government hoardings, things are being repainted using Hindi. Imagine what difficulty it causes an illiterate person traveling on the road, which is only aware of their regional language. The hypocrisy is that we would patronize a foreign language like English but would simply hate our own languages.

To be honest, without offending anyone, given the rise in the number of hate crimes on the name of religion and caste – it is believed that Hinduism is the oldest religion. That means if Hinduism wouldn’t have found roots the other religions would have never followed suit and the process to prove their superiority would have never begun. Just a thought!

The ‘Varna System’ was formed on the basis of what ‘work’ people did in society. My understanding of it is that it was or should have been horizontal where everybody was equal and was divided only on the class of work but unfortunately the ones who were making it wanted to place them on the top and hence the vertical understanding of the system percolated.

No true human forget Hindu would have taken sides with the rapists of a girl child irrespective of her religion. That is where it is really dangerous. Did anyone hear the condemnation from the PM or the top ruling leaders of the government.

If the previous PM was abused for taking orders from a certain family then everyone knows to which office in Nagpur the current PM bows down to. It is no one’s job to tell what a person should wear, eat, follow and marry to.

Nobody questions, which side they are actually on – They themselves are confused whether to go with Mahatma or Godse.

I pity those people who on the name of religion are ready to kill. No religion teaches that and if you do that then you know no religion. Even during the times when this land was getting formed, the fabric of the soul was secular. Let’s keep it that way.

For all those who are against hate,

For all those who believe everyone is equal,

For all those who don’t side with this ideology,

And

For all those who are flag bearers of Hindutva…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 8th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘I’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

19

Happy Birthday Papa

Happy Birthday Papa

The year was 1991. I was about 5 years old then. Papa always motivated us to be courageous, brave and work on our fitness and had this habit of saying that his body was made up iron and how I should also exercise and eat right to get that perfect balance for the body.

It was a hot summer morning and my summer vacations were going on. Papa was following his daily routine of exercise. I was in a fun mood that day and somehow got hold of a huge stick. He was sweating profusely and was exercising bare-chested. I was always a naughty child and was always ready with one or two tricks everyday.

That day I dared him, “Papa you always say that you are made of iron. Right. I want to test it today.”

He casually replied, “Yes I am and so are you. So how do you plan to take the test?”

Exuding my childhood innocence I stupidly suggested, “I will hit you with this stick on your back and lets see whether you feel any pain or not.”

One thing I would like to highlight about him; he was exceptional with kids especially when it involved their curiosity. He would never shy away from answering lamest of queries and encouraging them to try out new things. He always taught you would never learn until you fail.

He persuaded me to go ahead.

I kept on asking him again and again whether he was sure. Each and every time he confidently replied, “Yes! My son. Bring it on.”

I thought that I had thought this through but I was too naïve.

With all my might I swung the stick hard and bangggg!!!

Papa and Me

A crimson cylindrical line appeared where the stick hugged the skin.

Moments later similar crimson lines appeared on my cheeks with the love that was showered by my mom after the Iron Man test was completed.

Everybody in the family including my mom was shocked that I actually did it. They all thought I was just playfully bluffing. For a moment I was appalled too that I actually did it but it was all too late by then.

This was the kind of bond Papa and me shared for the major part of our lives. I remember he being either my partner at the running end on a cricket pitch or would be bowling to me being as part of the opposition. He always said that we are friends first and father-son later.

I clearly remember the nights scarred with power cuts and me spending most of them on his shoulders bombarding him with innumerous ‘whys’ and then would doze off on his chest. I would suck the juice out of oranges and then would give him the pulp to finish. How he would take me to buy cream rolls every evening. How he would take me on a bicycle round and round every time it rained. The memories are uncountable and the vacuum is forever.

For the last 3-4 years he would constantly say to me that I want an hour from you and want to discuss something but destiny always deceived us. In fact there was a trip, which we both undertook and the only time that we were separate was the time when we would use loo. I guess this sums up what a father-son relation actually becomes when they grow old. Both of them have so much bottled up to say but none of them has the courage to look weak.

Everybody loses someone in his or her life and my case isn’t special. It’s just that sometimes when the people are alive you don’t have the words and expressions to convey your feelings and this is my way of communicating to him. I am sure wherever he will be he will be in peace and would definitely be smiling over me; reading what all I write. It’s been 530 days since he left us and he would have been 65 years old today. There hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t craved to speak to him and hug him. Some would say he left too early…All I would say is that he lived like a king and he left royally too where he didn’t give anyone a chance to serve him in any manner and take care of him.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

A poem by my sister Shraddha Mukul

Life has moved on, and yet you still remain,
Your absence your memories is unbearable pain.

Every day I wait to sleep wait to be with you in my dreams,
I hug you, I hold you so close … your presence makes me smile,
And then I wake up and see you gone,
And that you were never there …you are gone for a while.

I waited on my bday … coz you promised you will always be there,
No matter which part of the world I am, you will come to me to celebrate,
You didn’t come … I am still waiting…
And now I wonder I might go crazy at this rate.

When I was little I always thought … nothing will ever happen to you,
And that you are “my daddy strong”
Look where I am standing Papa,
I feel so so very wrong.

I am angry at you and I feel cheated,
You promised you will never let go of me,
I am falling in the dark Papa,
Don’t you care anymore, can’t you see?

People say I am silly,
that one who goes never comes back,
They don’t know our connection, Papa
I know you will find me even in a world pitch black.

– Shraddha Mukul

22

What if there was NO Religion


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

The definition of ‘Dharma’ or ‘Dhamma’ when this word came into existence was related to the true virtue or the duty of a thing or a person. For example, the dharma of fire is to burn irrespective of what it is on the other hand. The fire never distinguishes what is good or bad, right or wrong, it just does its job of consuming everything that comes in its way and turns it into ashes.

Over the period of centuries and generations, the words have lost their real meaning. On many occasions, they have been consciously made ambiguous and on other, the lack of understanding of its origin and usage has lead to this unawareness.

During this transition, the propagators have successfully managed to delusion dharma into a synonym for ‘Religion’.

The moment we hear the word dharma the mind triggers in recalling the faith that either we are born into or we follow and practice.

The Early man started with worshiping nature, the sun, and the moon because of its fear or simply it was too complex for his naïve brain to understand. It all started with the unknown and the curiosity to conquer it. What was left unexplained was termed as GOD.

Millenniums passed and humans started to become civilized and molds of societies were beginning to form. Each community and tribe came up with their own story about the origin of God.

People with the same faith, same virtues, same beliefs, and same behavioral patterns collectively would form a religion.

I believe that in the beginning there was just one religion. Then there would have been someone who would have challenged the existing establishment, who would not have surmised in the existing belief system giving rise to the second belief system and with his set of followers would have set out on his journey.

Let me remind you, nowhere it is documented or mentioned that any God said that he is God. No Ram, No Prophet, No Jesus, No Buddha, No Guru Nanak said that they were God. It is always the followers who kept on promulgating the so-called learning.

Slowly the world was full of religions and even more followers.

What if there was no religion? – think think.

Each of them preached only one thing – that there is only one God with the objective of spreading love, peace, and harmony and in the process connecting a mere ordinary soul to the almighty.

Have the religions served their purpose? I don’t think so. I consider religion is a very personal thing and one is free to practice the faith they believe in. But the recent history is marked with instances of violence in the name of religion. From genocides to war, from invasion to wiping off humanity – the name of religion has been used to carry out atrocities and the only thing it is spreading is hate and venom.

People are beginning to hate their neighbors with whom they have spent their childhood just because of the faith they believe in. In numerous instances, religion is the root cause of discrimination. Year after year the men in power exploit the belief and faith of so many and the sad thing is year after year people get exploited because somehow they are convinced that it is the supreme thing and there is nothing beyond it.

Our nation was partitioned because of the underlying hate for the other religion, which the foreigners were able to exploit. We always blame others for their policy of ‘divide and rule’ forgetting that they took advantage of the cracks that were already present.

Countless people including children have been sacrificed on the pretext of illogical rituals. I wonder what would they call Raja Ram Mohan Roy if he had been alive to witness the psychosis surrounding religious sentiments. Animals, till date, meet the same fate on the name of religion and festivals.

Somehow these so-called modern day messengers of God have successfully instilled the fear, even in the literate and educated class, that their religion is endangered. The symbolization of a majority and minority wouldn’t have taken place on the lines of religious beliefs.

The most beautiful valleys and rivers; have turned red just in the quest of proving the supremacy of one particular faith over the other. Nothing has been spared…No one has escaped.

There wouldn’t be any reservation system if there were no religion. There would be lesser conflicts. I am telling from my personal experience that I have seen many people never utilizing their full potential just because they were busy in the rituals of religion whereas their own life and family was in tatters.

Rather than feeding the poor, the longest queue of these deprived and underprivileged class is outside the religious structures. Isn’t it ironical?

The WOW Prompt

Everybody is in an insane race to prove that their religion is superior and rest all are mere illusions. But when every religion preaches the same thing – that there is only ‘One God’ then automatically it should be complemented with only one religion or better…No religion.

For all those who believe in God,

For all those who are averse to the concept,

For all those who think a lot of hate is linked to religion

For all those who believe in religion

And

For all those who believe Dharma and Karma…

It’s not a Goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Note – I respect all religions 🙂

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

5

Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation

Vipassana – A Meditative transformation

Read the previous part Vipassana – The Sensations here

Day 6:

On sixth day the mind traversal was supposed to be done from tip of the head to the toe and then from toe to the tip of head.

I was starting to feel sensations all throughout my body now and many a times the energy would flow like a stream and would hardly have any resistance. The very moment I would love this feeling the stark grumpy baritone voice of Mr. Goenka would pronounce if you are enjoying the speed with which you are able to feel sensations and are able to traverse throughout the body that means you aren’t learning the technique.

He reminded the basic premise – not to enjoy anything – just observe, become aware, be mindful and maintain equanimity.

Day 7:

Focus was now on moving through multiple parts of the body simultaneously. For example – Earlier you were focusing on right arm and left arm one at a time now you were supposed to move through both the arms simultaneously. Continue doing so while moving from head to toe and toe to head. Just in case if you feel any of the part is left, comeback to it and try to concentrate on it individually.

By seventh I noticed that I was sleeping for more than three hours. In fact it didn’t feel like I require it more than that. In the mornings I was all refreshed inspite of less sleep. It was because my mind was getting calm and relaxed.

The critical part of sleep is to do physical and mental repair. By meditating for 11 hours a day for the past six days, the mental repair part was already done. Mr. Goenka even tells in one of the discourses that if you are practicing properly your subconscious mind is well rested and hence will require less sleep.

Photo by Mattia Faloretti on Unsplash

Day 8:

Eighth day you continue doing the same thing from the previous day but alternating between faster traversal and part-by-part movement from head to toe and toe to head. By now you would be able to pass through multiple organs together, even if you don’t feel it that is completely normal. The moments you feel it isn’t free flowing go back to doing part-by-part till the time you cover each part of the body.

I categorically remember during my morning session at 8:00 am I felt something burst internally right in the center of the chest. I felt it all throughout my body in a single go. It lasted for only a couple of seconds but it was so strong that I still remember it.

I discussed the same with the teacher in the afternoon, he told that is completely normal if you are practicing as per the instructions, but he cautioned me of not to be joyous about it and not to begin seeking it. Not every session is same. You might not get the same feel again ever. Some sessions are good compared to others but the learning was to be mindful of each and every one of them with the same perspective.

One more thing I noticed that I was beginning to feel no pain. I was able to sit through every session without any movement of any part. The urge to take a peek at the wall clock was also long gone.

Day 9:

The instructions in the morning session were to try to concentrate and observe sensations internally. If you were experiencing free-flow then you might be able to do internal scans. You could penetrate your body through your chest and exit from back or from left to right and right to left.

Try to control the mind and try different permutations and combinations. Then back again from head to toe and toe to head and then part-by-part.

The best news came during the discourse at the end of the day. Mr. Goenka informed everyone that we have successfully learnt Vipassana and it ends today. For the tenth he said we would be taught the third part of the ten-day Vipassana course. During the tenth we would be allowed to speak to each other…yeah you read it right we would be allowed to interact with each other.

All the dull mimosa pudica (Chui mui plant) faces immediately started glowing like morning sunflowers.

The Tranquil way

Day 10:

‘Mangal Maitri’ – was the last and third part of Vipassana. This day is also referred to as ‘Metta’ day. In the morning session Mr. Goenka teaches us how after learning Vipassana you are full of peace, compassion, love and kindness and why it is necessary that you don’t stop here and try to impart and spread it.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t mean to get more people to sign up for the course. It simply meant at the energy level. Simply pray that there is peace, love and kindness throughout your neighborhood and the world.

After that session at around 11:00 am the ‘Noble Silence’ officially ended.

For the first time in my life I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I was too overwhelmed by the feeling of surviving the whole ten days.

Our belongings were returned post lunch on the same day.

I placed my first call to mom. Since birth this was the only time I had not spoken to mom for ten straight days.

Day 11:

After the early morning session and breakfast we were allowed to leave for our places.

I felt refreshed, calm and at peace. With renewed energy I headed home.

For all those who are calm,

For all those who are kind,

For all those who are at peace,

And,

For all those who have successfully completed Vipassana course…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but It’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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4

Vipassana – The Sensations

Vipassana – The Sensations

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Read the previous part – Vipassana – My Experience here

Mind is the most mischievous of them all. When one is trying to concentrate on a particular thing, it will get distracted and run away to every nook and corner of the world rather than focusing on the task at hand. I wasn’t able to focus on breathing for more than ten seconds in a go. I decided to discuss it with the instructor.

He told, “Its completely normal. People don’t get sensations at all; at least you are getting them for ten seconds. More importantly this technique isn’t about anticipating, just be aware about the present…what you can feel. Everything will come at it’s own pace.”

Day 3:

The focus on third day shifted to sensations on the moustache area – the rectangular area just above the upper lip and below the nostrils.

Sensation was defined as anything you felt like, an itch, perspiration, coolness, dryness, touch of air from breathing, heat and any physical impression you can feel. You were not supposed to create any liking or disliking for any of them. One had to become mindful and aware of them and let it pass.

By third day I realized that there wasn’t any particular need to over stuff oneself with food as the breakfasts and lunches were decent veg food, which was sufficiently nutritious to survive. On the previous two days because of over-eating I was feeling too sleepy and was barely managing through the meditation sessions.

I would slightly open an eye, watch everyone…many of them with an annoyed expression while some of them into deep meditation, keep checking the wall clock and wait for the sessions to get over.

Who would have thought that meditation can also cause sore legs, numb hips, strained back and pain at unmentionable places.

Main Meditation Hall at Pune Vipassana Center

Day 4:

We learnt about the technique of Vipassana. Earlier we were only focusing on breathing and sensations in the upper lip area but in Vipassana one is supposed to traverse the whole body. You are supposed to be mindful of the sensations on your head, face, ear, neck, shoulders, chest, back and so on.

Focus on one part of the body and try to feel the sensation there. Trying concentrating till the time you actually observe something but the trick is not to anticipate. If it happens then great otherwise witness it for a minute and then move on to next part of the body till each and every body part is covered. Come back to the part which was left and you didn’t feel any sensation.

Pain and numbness are also sensations and that was all I could observe. No matter how much Mr. Goenka voice told not to develop any aversions for any sensation; the human instinct would still take over. You would slightly move your cushion, sometimes remove the pillow, change the legs while sitting cross-legged, do everything but the pain would find its way and so would the aversion.

With each passing day more and more cushions were becoming blue and vacant. It was good enough to increase your self-doubt and derail your motivation.

Day 5:

On this day you would scan from the top of your head – the tip of your scalp and traverse through whole body, part by part but in a systematic order till you reach the tip of toe. Try to concentrate and become aware about sensations in this order, wait at the part of body where you aren’t feeling anything and then proceed. Remember not to create any aversion or craving for any sensation.

Then comes the session at 2:30 pm. The session of self-actualization as to what extent you could push yourself. I was just sitting but never knew that sitting alone can cause so much discomfort.

In this session you learn the art of ‘Adhisthana or Additthana’ – ‘Strong Self-Determination’. This means you aren’t supposed to move even slightly or shift your position or open your eyes. You need to continuously sit in a posture for long durations of 60-90 minutes.

It was really excruciating. I was sweating profusely with no sense of any part of my body at the end of it. It took me literally two minutes to unfold my legs and properly stand up.

Now I understood why most people ran away on the sixth day.

By the end of fifth day during the QA session I saw my roommate waiting for his turn to come. I feared the worse. I knew I wasn’t supposed to interact with him in any form but his mere presence was kind of encouraging for both of us to keep going till the end.

Day 6:

My roommate didn’t come for the early morning session. I knew something was amiss. I contacted a dhamma sevak, he told my roommate couldn’t take it anymore especially after yesterday’s Adhitthana session and he too ran away.

For a moment I was heartbroken. He made it till the sixth day and still went away. But then I read on the notice board – no aversion and no craving.

I headed for the next session.

For all those who can concentrate,

For all those who have aversions,

For all those who have cravings,

And

For all those who can control their mind…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Read the next post for day 6-10 – Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation here.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker