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Aunt Agony and A-jnani me.

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Manjureddy, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. Manjureddy

    Manjureddy Gold IL'ite

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    Admin's Note: In every situation, there is an opportunity to learn something new. And Manjureddy has beautifully narrated such an experience of hers. Her contribution has been selected as Best of Forums and featured here.
    -------------
    There are Agony Aunts . There are agonising aunts . And there is this person , a relative , who is quite simply, Aunt Agony.
    Auntie B who was to attend a clan wedding , had suddenly decided to shack up with us, for a "short holiday" last week. This fact elicited more commiseration from the clan than the demise of our pet terrier had. Auntie B never moved a step without her 'Reputation ' preceeding her like a red banner . This is not to say that she is a menacing shrew straight out of saas -bahu serials. She is actually a saintly Seeker of Atma Bodha, perennially immersed in "holy thoughts".


    AND , Holier -Than-Thou.


    Five days in her company and I became a hopeless tangle of nerves, writhing in selfdoubt . What did she do ? She Advised. Preached . With evangelical zeal to set me on the golden path to Moksha , this Seeker/Saadhak, missed no opportunity to impress upon me what a grand Illusion my life was and how absolutely urgent it was for me to "wake up" to The Truth.!


    There I was , trying to live happily ever after with fine days, dull days, little joys, little upsets , nothing great, nothing crappy, some blessings ,some broken dreams, a few Mutual Funds, a few tiramisus, sundry regrets, sundry thrills , collecting experiences and not being a nuisance to anybody ........And along comes this Hurricane B thundering :
    " Its all a Big Fat Maya . Everything is Mithya . You dont exist. Your jagat doesnt exist . You have no right to feel so smug and pleased with yourself , when you are just a bubble in the " Unknowable Ocean " .......Whoa !


    " Introspect ! Introspect !" That was her ceaseless admonition. And to be fair, she herself was for ever Introspecting about Higher Living, Higher Consciousness, Higher Self and other elevated topics with consummate focus. So much so that on the second day of her visit , she failed to notice the low teapoy in the drawing room and ended up stumbling over it ,spilling strong coffee on the beige rug under it. No amount of belief in the Mithya-ness of Jagat could wash off the stain ,a shadow of which persisted like a Vasana of the very satya accident. And we could not even claim that Kaala (Time) is Non Linear and Delusional, because when Hubby came home, the first thing he noticed with horror was the stain from the recent past on his expensive Anatolian Kilim. Auntie just shrugged it off , with a supreme, withering pity for jivas bound in Ajnana ."Attachment to material things brings Sorrow. ", she intoned, adding ghee to the smouldering havan of his rage. I retired to my room to sit zazen, hoping for satori.


    On the first day of her visit, I had made the mistake of enquiring about her son. Her face had clouded over, she became pensive and I was totally alarmed. What ? Did her son land up in Tihar jail with family and friends ? Or , uh-ho, had some unmentionable health condition ? No. The son had become a well known Angel Investor in The Silicon Valley, with an amazing family of well placed Ivy League scholars . " Materialstic ! " scowled Auntie, " such avarice to collect and find happiness in transient things like career achievements and fat salaries. Did you know Bandhanam means both attachment and imprisonment ? " I tried to get in sideways with my opinion that establishing one's life on solid ground, so as not to be a burden on others is actually not selfishness but selflessness. Besides, a capitalist creates employment opportunities that fill many hungry bellies, doesn't that count as a punya point ? Auntie opined that I should quit indulging in Ku-Tharkam and develop "Seriousness ", and then broke into another verbal rash of Sat Chit ghit pit.


    Auntie is one of those who take themselves very seriously. " Serious " is her only expression as far as I have seen. Long face, sallow cheeks , droopy eyes, lined forehead, gaunt physique, cadaverous demeanour. Had Jiddu Krishnamurthy worn a polycot saree and spoken Nellai tamil in Ila Arun's voice, that would have been her. Though she makes the most delicious veppampoo rasam in the world, she treats the pleasure of eating like a minor sin and all other pleasures, small and big, of everyday living as major mirages to be resisted. That Serious ! How the heck is one to enjoy eating that rasam ( with potato roast too ! ) in such company ?


    I remember the words of the Christian mystic, Thomas Merton , " There is an erroneous idea that to a saintly person , any form of spontaneity or enjoyment should seem sinful gratification of a fallen nature. Saintly life is viewed as a perpetual duel with guilt such that a person cannot even drink a glass of cold water without making an act of contrition for slaking his thirst as if that were a mortal sin !" Obviously, Auntie does not endorse Merton .


    That evening, when I was getting ready for the wedding reception , she inspected my new diamond earrings with as much admiration as a shudh shakahari would show a wedge of barbecued beef. " What is the use of such adornments if the Hridaya is not adorned with Daya and if the Manas is bereft of Shanthi ? Pieces of charcoal , worthless. ! "
    My dear husband's gift for our last wedding anniversary ! Worthless charcoal ? .....All the warmth , marital bliss and abiding affection that it represented went up in smoke. My face fell, almost resembling hers.


    By the third day, I had become edgy but cautious . I quietly put away the very expensive hand embroidered table linen from Kodaikanal as i dint want her to accuse me of Moha , lobha , kama , godknowswhatelse and make a figurative bonfire of my vanities . And I hid the album of our wonderful vacation photos that was lying around as I could do without suffering through the " tvaghatita ghatanaa pateeyasi maya " dirge in HiPhi(losphy) from the saturnine senior. But I was unsuccesful in dodging the compulsory education she was bent upon imparting , in the fashionably esoteric kalisantarana- muktika Canon . I was also expected to prove I was paying attention, by raising doubts and seeking clarification. Just to save my skin, I shot off through the hat : " If the Mind is both the Creator and The Creation of the Mithya Jagat , what I Seek, Introspect about and ( may) Realise , with the same Mind, would also be Mithya, isnt it ? " She rolled her eyes to Shambhavi Mudra with such sanctimonious hauteur and indignation that I was almost vapourised.


    That very evening, my friend had to call up , on the landline of all things, to deliver the hot news that Prabha was dating her ex- husband, just when eagle-eyed, snake-"eared" auntie was sitting bang beside me ! Inspite of superhuman restraint to keep my voice flat and uninterested, i giggled under my breath over a salacious detail and auntie promptly ticked me off that my 'mooda mathi' should realise samprapthe sannihite kaale nahi nahi rakshati gossip karane. Suitably chastised and spiritually terrorised, I slinked away from the scene, leaving Auntie to lecture my cornered husband on the necessity of cleansing our chakras. The clueless man was heard promising earnestly that he would get his muddy car tyres washed ASAP.


    Fourth day dawned with the welcome news that Auntie was taking a day trip to Ranjangaon Ganpati. Unexpected holiday from seriousness ! I exhaled, let down hair and had a decadent choco sundae at Inorbit Mall .When Auntie returned that evening, bathed in a golden glow of beatitude from all the Holy Merit earned, she chided me gently for not showing any interest in pilgrimages : Love of God, Bhakthi, was the only kind of Love that deserved to be called Real love, all the rest was just emotional barter , she declared with self assured loftiness.
    Dismissing the love for kith, kin and kitten as something enslaving ( bandanam) and elevating the love of God as something noble ( bhakthi) is peculiar logic to me.The emotion of Love and the elevation of spirit it causes due to the release of dopamine into the system are purely internal affairs, having nothing to do with the object it fixes on, god or grandma. Infact, its my firm belief that loving God is very easy compared to loving the person next to you. God is created by humans as we want God (He, She or It) to be . God never nags, argues, snitches, complains or gets dyspeptic . Whats not to love ?! If God popped into my home, ran a critical finger over my greasy kitchen counter and slammed a no-star review on it, I'd be too cut up to offer even one of the shodasha- upacharams, bhakthi notwithstanding. But, God doesnt do social visits these days. Nicely encased in stone or metal and periodically doused with milk and honey, God sits static and inert, a perfect object for our easy affection which, we tell ourselves, is Divine Love.


    Auntie, surprisingly, offered no contest to my above postulate. She just chanted a lilting verse in elegant sanskrit with a complacent buddha- look and went to bed. Google later translated the verse for me as something to do with muddy slush and sandalwood paste and olfactorily challenged swine. Not very elegant . I went to bed in a very unbuddhalike mood.


    On the final day of her visit, I felt a trifle sympathetic towards Auntie. The poor dear had had only good intentions . Perhaps I could give her a hint that all her sincere evangelism had not gone to waste. That I too, had converted to the life of A Serious Seeker " I have been Introspecting Auntie. If in the Begining, there was only the pure undivided Brahman, why did The One become the Many, out of its own Free Will , for whose entertainment ? If Life's purpose is only to merge with the One, and if we somehow obtained sayujya and became IT, what guarantee is there that The One will not again go play Leela and become Many ? Isnt it all so pointless ?"


    Auntie gave me her favourite look - Serious. "You know, Manjula, after we have run around in circles, it may just transpire that Existence does not need to have any Reason or Meaning. What IS, just IS . What ISN'T, just ISN'T. "
    Suddenly realising that she may have given away more than she wanted to, she added hastily,in a rapid fire recitation of rote- learnt profundities " Such confusions will arise as you progress along the path of Sadhana. You may also gain siddhis. Yet, you must remain achala and be Ekagrachitta . You will succeed in finding The Truth. "


    I felt i had peeked through a chink in her armour.
    She was just an aged version of me, closet- agnostic , insatiably curious about the phenomenon of Life, using philosophy and spirituality like Sudoku to keep alzheimer's at bay . The only difference is that she has a serious face while I am never taken seriously by anybody . Its unfortunate , she had made herself believe that only unhappy seriousness could lead her to the ultimate Ananda.


    Auntie Serious can keep her serious philosophies about Satya, Mithya , Anithya etc . and agonize endlessly. I am just happy and grateful to have had the chance to experience this multifarious life , no matter if I am the product of Karmic Creation, or Intelligent Design or Biological Accident . A brief bubble , a rope-like snake , or a mudpot full of Akasha.


    Life, even with its full quota of illusions ,delusions and pollutions, is Beautiful. If this is a Dream and there is a waking-up, let it happen organically, naturally , in this janma, the next or the further next , without my tying myself into serious Introspecting knots. Whats the hurry ? When the Cucumber Ripens, The Stalk Will Fall Off , urvarukam Iva Bandhanaat etc..........


    Till then, Hakuna Matata !
     
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  2. Chachi420

    Chachi420 Platinum IL'ite

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    :wowInteresting read and :hatsoff for your patience in sharing it with us in detail. I suspect, even though she didn't acknowledge it explicitly, Auntie B must have surely learnt something from you too and I won't be surprised if she came back to learn more :2thumbsup: just kidding, hope that doesn't happen. Your DH missed all of that?
     
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  3. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Manju,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your humorous yet educational post. Who can convince any of us that the only way to pursue Bliss is to be serious? Your narration is hilarious but made me think a lot about the message you were communicating through this post.

    I am still laughing visualizing this scene.

    JK in a polycot saree? What a thought to make us understand Aunt Agony.

    How can I read these lines without bursting into laughter?

    But your following questions made my grey cells work harder:

    I for one even struggle to understand "What is called Mind?" A portion of that is called "Manas" that is responsible for our love and emotions with fellow beings, another called Buddhi that has the power of discrimination, yet another that has the encryption of Samskara and releases thoughts associated with it from time to time, Chiththa that stores all information for us to analyze and interpret. When we experience Sushupti, we call that as higher mind as we feel surprisingly relaxed after a good night sleep. A few years back, I read a book that classified the mind as Super Mind, Higher Mind, Illuminated Mind and Over Mind. While Super Mind is related to body consciousness, the Higher Mind is thought consciousness and can travel with no time and space restrictions. Illuminated Mind is like a live wire in our body that is achieved after Sadhanas. Over Mind is when a man achieves totality or self-realization.

    I am still struggling to understand it completely but I think it is not what we have in the form of mind but what we do with it that makes the difference in our lives.

    It is true that loving God is very easy as it is equivalent to loving ourselves if we understand who we really are. I am not a believer that God lives in only Temples and Alters set up by families. It is a reciprocation of a man showing his gratitude for his creator, just like, you scratch my back and I scratch yours attitude. You created me in flesh and blood and gave me a home and I will also keep you in a best place, drench you with honey, milk, bananas, sugar, sandhanam, etc., give you best of clothes and worship you, is the attitude. This is a perfect way to delve in dualism. The fact we feel a Sanctum Sanctorum is pure and creates positive energy itself is created by our mind. If we so choose, we can make it feel pure all the time by our thoughts and actions.

    Is becoming one with the Universal Absolute considered physical or emotional or intellectual? I used to ponder on this subject a lot. What is the true meaning of many becoming one with the Universal Absolute? Does it mean there will be one physical form in the world? I don't think so. If one became many in physical form, so be it. As long as we can work towards establishing unity in diversity, we will be fine. If we understand our true Self and that of others, we are united. Most importantly, we need to get out of dualism and that is what is becoming one with Universal Absolute.

    Let me stop at this. Having recovered from your Aunt Agony's visit, I don't want to give you more of the same. But your questions are true indications of how much introspection you do on a regular basis. Please share that with us always and someone like me will gain out of it.

    Viswa
     
  4. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Manju,

    What a clever snippet! Made a delicious read, but that is no surprise neither to me nor anyone else here as it comes from the powerhouse MReddy!

    The title in itself is a give away...A-jnani. I see I see ma'm. A 'jnani' you certainly are...Reeling off words like atma-bodha, sathya, mithya...only if you had stopped there. You go on and on with tvagatita ghatana pateeyasi maya, kalisantara muktika, shambavi mudra etc etc....'Hmmm', sighed I. Thanks to the other young and hip IL'ites here, I now have learnt to use not just the Merriam, but also the Urban dictionary. Not being a Cheeniya or Viswa, now I have to seek out a Sanskrit dictionary too...:shock: But what's the use of just a dictionary, it will only give me the meaning. I may need to borrow your agony Aunt B, or was it Aunt A , nah, Aunt S...erious?!? Too much on my mind, trying to solve too many problems concerning my presence on this earth and the all the moha maya creating articles and affections around me. So please excuse the confusion...:roll: I am in dire need of meditation and may be some yoga to gain a wee bit of realization and steadiness of mind I guess to handle topics of such aunts with composure?!

    Besides, you do not make it easy on poor mortals like me. Just as I am trying to grasp what your Agony Aunt is counseling and your queries posed to her, for no reason at all I seem to giggle and laugh! Very distracting you know Manju!

    Well well. After going through the whole account, I was consoled by only one thought. I think I can relate to your husband, he surely must have been my blood brother in some janam...provided we do believe in other births ?? :roll: I too for some reason think of those big tyres when someone says chakra!

    Any wonder Viswamitra has hurried to FP forum to nominate this piece of Hi-Phi jnana? My thanks goes to him!

    To say I enjoyed this snippet will be an understatement!

    L, Kamla ( humming 'Manasa sancharare, Bramhani manasa sancharare.......')
     
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  5. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Hahahaha Manju, you are an absolute riot. Or are you? I mean ARE you? Now I am not even sure I am not talking to myself, because you, I, Viswa, Kamla, Aunt JK ..... huh!!!!! There you go, you have not only made me do an imitation of a hyena (sorry, I am being myself, no difference between hyena and me, you see?) and some pranayama, but you have tied my mind up in knots. Whether that mind and the subsequent knots are real or mithya ..... oh, well, never mind!!!!! Sigh!!!
     
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  6. Malathijagan

    Malathijagan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Manju,
    As ever, your posts are a treat to the soul! Just like you, I too have revisited this home after a lo...ng break. Of course, occasionally I do visit here to give myself a treat. This is the first feedback after my self-exile.

    What a narration! Cheeniya sir and yourself will ever remain the King and queen in humour!

    Your poor innocent hubby!!!!


    Are not LOVE and GOD synonymous?

    ........and you have summed up life so beautifully!!!
     
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  7. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Manju
    All I can say is that this is a ‘near miss’ as they say in aviation parlance! If your spiritual mentor had not been an aunt with the agony tag, I would have been in serious trouble. Had it been an uncle who is doing all this to you, people would have jumped to the conclusion that it was a satire on me! ‘This guy Cheeniya deserves it’ would have been the vox populi. Thank God it is an aunt. I have always nursed a great awe about aunts like Bertie Wooster but now after reading this thread of yours, I have edged past Bertie in my awe.

    Having made my great sense of relief hopefully well-understood, I must say that this is a kind of aunt that must be an asset to any family. In fact, my maternal grandma came very close to this aunt of yours in seeing Maya at play in everything around her. There was only one occasion when she was a bit circumspect about this Maya business. One day she slipped on a banana peel and fell down with a thud. When sympathies poured in from all quarters as she lay on the ground sprawled like Jacques Saunière in Da Vinci Code, she mumbled ‘I did not notice the banana peel’. Immediately my dad who had always been her tormentor shot back, ‘You did not notice it or you thought it was just Maya and stepped on it to prove your point?’ Whether this poignant question altered her view on Maya subsequently is something on which I cannot throw much light as my family history is not a well-chronicled one.

    Jiddu in a polycot saree? I wince in pain. I hold this man in such great esteem that it sounds utterly unfair to dress him up in a polycot saree. A nice Kanjeevaram Silk Saree with his name woven into it as The Chennai Silks do these days would have been a lot more befitting recognition to him for coming so close to your aunt in looks and philosophy. Coming to that veppampoo rasam with potato curry, I must say that all serious women are excellent cooks as a rule. My maternal grandma again comes to my mind. I told you that she lay sprawled on the ground when she slipped on the banana peel. You might have wondered why none of us went to her rescue. That was because she was a very ‘madi’ person and made herself untouchable! Had anyone helped her get up, she would have gone to the nearest well and poured a dozen buckets of water on her massive head!

    But seriously I have a doubt. Are these your thoughts or your aunt’s? Could you be a ventriloquist uttering your words through a doll of your aunt in your hand? In this world of Maya, nothing can be ruled out!
    Sri
     
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  8. PushpavalliSrinivasan

    PushpavalliSrinivasan IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Manju,
    What a beautiful, humorous as well as thought provoking write up! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but at some corner of my heart I was feeling sorry for you as you have to take the onslaught of your Aunt Agony. Poor lady, I can't blame her also. Perhaps for a a long time she might not have got anyone to solemnize and so she tried it over you.
    As you have said loving God is very easy for love is God, 'Anbe Sivam.'

    A delicious write up interspersed with ingredients of fun and frolic and also agony aunt's preaching which also will help those who seek enlightenment.

    I am now listening to Sudha Raghunathan's ' Brahmam Okate.'

    PS
     
  9. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    Haha, I am sure your aastha channel aunt is better than my Hare Krishna relatives who have been trying to convince me for years that onions and garlic grew out of cow's blood. When they launch their next attack I am going to tell them that I have eaten even beef so somethingout of bovine blood doesn't matter to me. Other pious poppycocks have threatened me with hell. *I have told them that if heaven is the kind of place where I would find guys like them, I am perfectly happy with hell. .After all I expect quite a few of bollywood beauties and playboy bunnies to land in hell. So hell must be fun than moksha or swarga and what not.
     
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  10. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear M,

    Decided to address you this way after some deliberation. Neither of us, I tend to believe, bear the slightest resemblance to characters out of Ian Fleming's works, or works spawned by his works, or those spawned by works spawned by his works. Yet, M having mutated into a woman now (one with a face in fact, from a man presumably with no more to offer than the back of his head as his claim to win the Oscar), you might well prefer to identify yourself as Bond's boss. Not being Bond, not by any stretch of imagination, I am not particularly worried about this possibility. Alternatively, you might simply retain the woman part, asking 007 to retire. And I do not discount the possibility either that you could wish as well to hold on to your right to remain totally cyber-obscure.

    So read it as Madam if you wish, or Monsieur, if you don't. How I shall pronounce it will remain a mystery. But it's not Macburger, I assure you. I tried it out and rejected it.

    They have a saying in Bengali, which translated into somewhat crappy English would run -- Worshipping Ganges with Ganges water. As I was reading through your fascinating composition, I couldn't avoid reminding myself of a piece of information that you had recently left at IL for my consumption. As well as for others I suppose, but primarily for me. It carried an aura of an admonition in it too I think.


    I read it once more, then once more again, then again and yet again, till I lost count of the number of times I read it. That was my way of chanting the mantras as I worshipped M. M, the social-networker, M who comes here to banter and to bond. M the litterateur par excellence whose own creations constitute chanting in her praise. No, the "her" was not a typo.

    M caught in Aunt Agony's trap, couldn't but conjure up images for me of yet another Aunt, not Agony but Agatha, Bertie Wooster's infamous "nephew-crusher", or whom someone or the other had described as "the best image of the dialoguing philosopher". Both names start with Ag as I see, the resemblance therefore is pretty strong, isn't it? Not that Aunt Agony would approve the Ag part, since it's a symbol chemists use for silver. And any allusion to silver, or even lead perhaps might make the shudh shakahari raise several of her eyebrows! There are other parallels too, a favourite being Carroll's My Fairy. Actually, Aunt Agony resembles the Fairy more than Aunt Agatha, for the latter was not particularly well-known as a "saintly seeker". She appeared to possess a single track mind, a mind obsessed with a desire to marry off Bertie to the least suitable of nubile girls hidden in her closet.

    Yet I have to admit that I detected a shade of Aunt Dahlia too (Bertie's benign aunt as opposed to the malign Aunt Agatha) in your Aunt A. And here is the clue:

    Well not Aunt Dahlia really, but her chef extraordinaire Anatole. Bertie, as you will recall, found it literally impossible to refuse Aunt Dahlia's invitations, not so much on account of Aunt Dahlia's personal attraction as on account of the opportunity it offered to partake of Anatole's delicacies. And these could well include mouth watering Chateaubriand steaks, served with roasted small new potatoes and mustard sauce. It must have been the roasted potato that brought up Anatole and his employer in my mind, for I am sure that your Aunt A, unlike Bertie's Aunt D, is a strict vegetarian. Well what's rasam to you is steak to me I suppose and I wonder what advice Aunt A will have to offer on this subject. No moksha in store for me alas.

    I have to admit that my favourite part in your dissertation on Aunt A is:

    I enjoyed it to no end, since it reminded me of a confusion I had once inflicted on my son in the form of a letter. I was talking to him about the birth of Ganges herself. From Vishnu's molten toe!

    (The M in question is not you of course, but M as in Mahadeva and V is Vishnu.)

    Well M!! This time it's you, not M as in deva. What should I say? This has already been a long fb. No apologies for that. Don't read it if it makes you feel drowsy. But reading you made my day. Do keep producing such classics. You said "characterization" was my forte. But I am looking wide eyed at your line:

    What, I wonder, is your forte M!

    Whatever it may be, I visualize you being drenched in "pushpa vrishti" in no time at all!!

    ojaantrik
     
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