Jodaakshar

The fruits of sadhana are always available. The irony is that it cannot be sought out as a goal, it’s a gift of grace. Abhyasa-Vairagyam at play.

The first class of this year was a good reminder of my responsibilities as a student. Homework. Our teacher began with a little introduction to the difference between a beginner class and an intermediate one. He used a beautiful analogy of jodaakshar. There is no English equivalent for the term. The closest would be conjunct consonants. Those familiar with Sanskrit will know how two or three letters can be combined to produce a single syllable. For example, the ‘sya‘ bit in tasya. It is represented as one unit unlike in English. Two letters combined in a certain order. He likened the beginner practice to working on the gross actions and the intermediate one to that of using these jodaakshar. Combining multiple actions and using our consciousness.

It got me thinking about language and it’s ability in conveying what is not explicitly articulated. Oftentimes, the nuances implicit in the teachings are the hidden gems in a class. The symbolism, the underlying basic building blocks couched in alignment instructions. As students beginning to learn how to use these conjunct consonants of asana, the possibilities are endless. In school, we would be required to write the conjuncts down repeatedly until it became an unconscious habit. Repetition and memorisation has always been a key part of the Indian way of learning. I can see the benefit of that practice more clearly now. Just like in asana. The internal checkpoints as I get into an asana and adjust, readjust and examine can be possible only with repetition. Over many instances, sometimes there is a glimpse of more than the physicality. That usually marks a shift in internalising the pose followed by long periods of practising the new normal until there is another breakthrough. 

I don’t feel that it is about the final classic expression of the asana but more of the internal landscape. That’s why sometimes a pose feels like I can hold it forever and there is no sense of time. Akin to what my friend, Michael wrote about in a recent post, the bhava. It’s an internal posturing.

Post class, I was running some errands and had to walk a bit in an older part of the city. I came across a house named Purshottam House. It set of a chain of thoughts about the name Purshottam. That’s an address Arjuna gives Krishna in the Geeta. It is also an Indian name. How far back did we start giving ourselves names and family names? A child is named with lot of love by his/her parents and there is some symbolism connected with it. But, over the years and generations, it loses its reference and becomes just a name. In our puranas and ithihas, names of the characters are rich in their symbolism. The name was bestowed or earned through tapas/ benediction. Although still practised, the tradition of finding suitable syllables for a name is a dwindling one. Most babies are now named for how unique the names sound etc. The astrological context is removed. It is hard to sift through all the repackaged traditions to find authentic ones. They are usually the ones without any media chatter and need for validation. 

Maybe sounds and language are my tools to learn. It feels good to find them back in my life, I was lost without their guidance. The texts speak to me once again and my heart is filled. In gratitude.

Hari Om

 

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