SPECIAL FEATURE ON INDIA: PART TWO
by Susumu Takiguchi
A NEW PASSAGE TO INDIA
One hundred and eight steep and arduous steps for dropping sins and
for seeking enlightenment at Karla cave temple, Maharashtra, India
My plane landed at Indira Gandhi Airport of Delhi at 10: 40 am on a hazy spring day. The person who was to greet me was nowhere to be seen. Soon it dawned on me that I was stranded in an unfamiliar airport building in a remote country as a complete stranger not knowing what to do next. I could not leave the rendezvous point as my friend could still turn up any minute. I had been foolish enough not to do even so much as having his telephone number on me. I did realise that I had taken an unforgivable risk. Suddenly my predicament sent a chill down my spine. I became already quite exhausted when my first day in India hardly began. Curiously I was not panicking but my mind went blank, literally frozen, while I waited for je ne sais quoi indefinitely. “Where are you, Lord Hanuman, to leap and fly me to my friend?” I was having a total mental blackout.
waga kukyo shiru hito zo naki haru no asa
the turbans and saris oblivious
to my sorry plight
And then all of a sudden, a face with infectious smile and disarming eyes emerged before me out of nowhere. Was it Lord Hanuman, then? No, not him, nor any apparition or demon incarnate, I knew at once. This was because it was the same face as was in the photograph sent to me beforehand for the purpose of recognising the person I was to be met. It was the face which would pull anyone instantly out of his or her deepest of despondency. I was feeling an acute sense of aloneness (as compared with loneliness), having lost my wife, having no children, living away from my motherland and now being 4000 miles away even from England where I have long built my cozy home as an etranger. No time in my entire life had I felt so painfully all alone in this wide world. Precisely because of that, meeting this amiable person was like meeting my saviour. A moment ago it was not all right. Now, it was all right, just like that.
shunjin ya un mo fu-un mo kubetsu nashi
covering both fortune
After the worrying start, the rest of my stay in India of seventeen days was nothing but bliss. I later learned that the word in Sanskrit, Pali and some other Indian languages for bliss was ananda. Ananda is also the name of a man who was a cousin of the Buddha and a personal secretary and disciple to him. I felt that somehow Ananda had entered inside me and changed me from within as I travelled up and down the country which I could hitherto visit only in my dream. In addition to Ananda, things spiritual in India penetrated me and some changes seemed to be taking place quite definitely in my life philosophy.
shaka deshi mo kodoku kurushimu hana kuyo
even Buddha’s disciple
was tormented by loneliness…
votive spring flowers
hana-matsuri nari ta ya shaka no deshi nari to
how I wish
to become a Buddha’s disciple…
Once outside the airport building the world turned to the twenty-first century India. That is, the kaleidoscope of desert-like sand dust through which were seen ultra-modern skyscrapers, Biblical donkeys plodding and constantly hooted rudely by smart hybrid cars, beggars conspicuously visible in the throng of an increasing number of nouveau riches, men and women in traditional attires still outnumbering Western-looking young, highly upward mobile businessmen in smart shirts and pants with the latest model of mobile phones, bicycles, old Hillman model taxis, rickshaws and latest-model foreign travel coaches, all were jostling for position in the landscape of utter chaos and Indian-style industrial revolution.
haru atsushi/ kokon tomo-domo/ ase wo kaki
and modern, both sweating
in Spring heat
The nocturnal flight from Delhi to the capital of Karnataka, Bangalore, felt endless. This reminded me of the most obvious fact that India was a large country, with an area about ten times as big as Japan and a population about nine times as large. More than once I had a fleeting thought that my friend sitting next to me might in fact be Lord Hanuman in disguise as we were flying closer and closer to Sri Lanka. Maybe this huge aeroplane itself might have been Lord Hanuman. Did he not tell me that a friend of his was the chief pilot of the airliner, meaning perhaps 'his' chief pilot? Or, was I dozing off and unable to tell that it was only a spring dream?
Bangalore, once the political seat and garrison town from 1531 of chieftains and later of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan and subsequently British Raj, is now a centre of India’s newly found wealth. IT industry, financial institutions, famous call centres and any other money-generating high-tech industries are concentrated here.
The hustle and bustle and hurly-burly of its streets are shouting that the city is bursting and even perhaps already coming apart at the seams. They are almost continuously jam-packed with anything that should move, including crippled beggars and small children with malnutrition. I say anything that moves but initially I could not for the life of me fathom how on earth anything could possibly move in such an unbelievable congestion. But move they did!
ose-ose no/konzatsu-buri yo/haru no sora
survival for the pushiest…
under the spring sky, streets
turn into a race course
In the small hours, my friend and I finally found ourselves arriving at an enormous estate where everything was already dead asleep. The two hours of taxi ride from the Bangalore airport was madness itself but should not detain us here. The estate turned out to be far more than a mere oasis. It was more like a paradise on earth. I thought I heard Shah Jahan’s enraptured voice saying, ‘It is here! It is here! It is here!’, referring to Taj Mahal. The following morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually even more than a paradise.
saezuri ya/yo no shizukesa ni/sudeni ari
the silence of night,
already filled with expectations
of spring dawn chorus
The estate was called The Art Of Living Ashram. It was the location of the 9th World Haiku Festival organised by the World Haiku Club. It was planned and executed entirely by Indian haiku poets led by Kala Ramesh, WHC’s Director responsible for the event. She formed a core team with A. Thiagarajan and Vidur Jyoti and under their leadership all other haiku poets also did their bit to bring this memorable event to a resounding success. As Chairman of WHC, I greeted all the participants, paid tribute to the organisers, conducted my workshops and delivered a speech or two. I discovered that Indian haiku poets provided a very promising scope for distinctive Indian haiku to develop and to make a positive contribution to the enrichment of world haiku. One such example:
being bored at heaven
a shooting star
jumps into death
by Raju Samal, Mumbai
The three days at the Art of Living Ashram were to me literally ananda (joy, bliss) itself and provided me with one of the happiest moments in my entire life, except, that is, for one thing. I am very fond of Indian curry but in England where I live, I eat it only once in two or three weeks, which will keep me sweet and spiced up until I become desirous again of the next visit to a different Indian restaurant as a special treat. One of the true reasons why I initially hesitated to visit India was the prospect of having to eat curry three times a day and seven days a week. The inevitable did happen in spite of the fact that I was armed with over forty different medicines and up to the neck with several jabs into the bargain. My stomach, small intestine and all ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colons staged a ferocious revolt comparable to the uprising of the Tibetan people. My inside was on fire and instantly became unstable magma. My mouth and posterior turned into active volcanoes.
tabi ni yande/ shun-min no yume/ mizaru yoru
sick on a journey…
no time for a dream
of spring night
My traveller’s tummy or Delhi Belly developed into painful piles. I had not suffered from this affliction since my operation twenty years previously. I had to do in India, among other things, my demonstration of Japanese calligraphy for local poets or students.
An essential prerequisite for a successful calligraphy session is the saika-tandenSaika-tanden is located in one’s tummy about an inch below one’s navel and has been thought to be the centre of one’s physical and spiritual existence, i.e. the most important place in one’s body, and soul. This is where ki (or chi in Chinese) emanates from. Weak saika-tanden means a failed performance.
I felt my saika-tanden was the weakest in my calligraphy sessions. I therefore had to take the last resort, which was to use kiai. Kiai, or the meeting of ki, is like a Zen shout, a loud ejaculation of determined and powerful utterance, which would give one courage, confidence, integrity and incredible strength. Maori’s war cry is similar in terms of the sound and purpose. Samurai used to give out such kiai when they cut an opponent into half with Japanese sword. I gave out a lot of kiai in my calligraphy sessions in a desperate attempt to prevent myself from disintegration but somehow it did not go well, in my own estimation. It must have sounded to my audience like a moan or groan rather.
haru-kaze ya/ Basho mo jishitsu/ kakae ori
spring wind blowing…
no consolation that Basho too
suffered from piles
(to be continued)
Collection of Haiku by Indian poets
by Susumu Takiguchi
on some Papers from the