MorningMysore

Music

Warning in Advance: This blog is a little about Mysore, and in the end also about something very special at YIY in September.

It is Independence Day in India. When we went for breakfast there was a huge crowd of vehicles and people at the school across the street, everyone was there for an assembly put on by the kids. Aurora stopped us to watch in wonder.

Many of the shops were closed today, too. Among those open, Indian flags flew, from the shop awnings and stalls, rickshaws, etc.

Einar was to get Baddha Konasana this morning, but for some reason it was delayed until next week, Saraswati said something about a holiday, for the Independance day delaying? Possible. But he is doing great and has seen changes in only a few weeks time, enough that he has changed his ticket to stay on in India until we all come home at the end of the August.

After chanting I went with Petra to her Flute teacher Ravi‘s for her flute lesson. I was along to see if it was possible to procure a good quality harmonium for someone at home. We talked for a while about music and yoga, then Petra began her scales on the flute and I leaned back to bask in the notes.

Funny how music threads its way into India, for me, at every twist and turn. To be in their house, sitting and sipping tea, the slight chaos of Ravi’s children off school for Independence Day, coming and going. Petra starts her scales alone, and then from a far away room he has gone to fetch something he joins her, the shepherd guiding her notes along. Then he is back, writing, playing along,  listening, giving her in turn new scales to play.

It brings back memories for me from my childhood, if listening to my own father rehearse on his bassoon and contra-bassoon,  preparing for performances with the symphony. Scales, up and down, weaving a pattern that becomes a comfortable garment, much as we do in the yoga practice. How intention can fill each practice, respectively. Energy, intent, emotion, they are not strangers here. We trade talk of instrument making, the craft, and I recognize the love and the craft. I know at once he is like all other artists of this persuasion. He lives to play, and his music carries the transcendence of his love and devotion.

Other memories come back too, from being in an Indian house. I remember being in Jayashree’s house, chanting with Jayashree as the sounds of the house surrounded us many years ago when I first came to India. There was washing, cleaning, cooking, and everyone getting ready for the day, as we sat on reed mats chanting, on the floor of her library. I remember being so exhausted from the morning asana practice that my eyes would involuntarily close. And I remember being so sore from my practice that I couldn’t sit still on the floor and had to change positions every few minutes.

And I remember her gently guiding us, with such humility, through the words, the first time with no handouts, just chanting. When I returned in four years there were more students, and handouts. She was also joined by her cousin, almost brother Narasimhan, raised in the same household, who would expound for an hour on a couple of phrases, unraveling complicated sutras for our Western minds. He was the perfect one to explain the sutras to us, having acted for many years in his life as assistant to and trainer for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the TM movement.

Narasimhan told me his story once, he studied Chemistry in school, and he came from a family of devout Brahmins charged with preserving certain Tamil texts. And yet they had not had a true yogi, one who actually practiced yoga, in their midst for generations. When Narasimhan met Maharishi, and asked his father if he could study with him and become a yogi, at first his father said no, especially being that MMY hailed from a different section of the Brahmins than their own family. But eventually he acquiesced, saying it was time for someone in their family to BE a yogi.

And Jayashree, the singer, the teacher. She had no brothers, other than her cousin. Her father loved her and taught her everything he would have taught a son. She has shared with us so many teachings over the years, with a generous heart intent to “spread the knowledge” of yoga and Indian culture.

Three teachers are there, she shared. The first teaches you from a book. The second, the guru, indicates the way. The third, the acharya, they are the one that lives what they teach.

I remember her also telling us, in a good person, what they think is what they say, and what they do. In a bad person, they are thinking one thing, saying another and doing a third. Perhaps not always the case, but certainly food for thought.
Narasimhan, and Jayashree, they have evolved into a perfect teaching partnership, she is teaching the chanting of the sutras, gita, and teaching Sanskrit also, he unraveling the Sutras and other texts one by one. You have a feeling with Narasimhan that you can ask him anything, nothing stumps this powerful and yet humble mind.

And their family, her husband and his brothers, and all of their respective relatives, they live in this extended Indian household across from the old Jaganmohan Palace, up the street from the old temple where Krishnamacharya would teach Pattabhi Jois and his other students. Three brothers are there, traditional enough to support Jayashree in preserving the culture as she does, free enough to allow her as a woman to teach and study for so many years, embracing her and her cousin brother too.
I miss their being in Mysore, but feel very lucky to be back in time to not miss their coming to YIY this September, to bring the chanting, the philosophy, and also the love and humility. If you want to study yoga, this is not to be missed.

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  1. Pingback: Introduction to Yoga Sutras Workshop | Yoga is Youthfulness

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