Sunday, March 06, 2011

ROPE-SNAKE-POT-SPACE - Suraksha Giri(BMD 72)


From The Hindu

Every page or section of Suraksha Giri's book gives rich dividends in terms of self-awareness ...

Any piece of creative writing is a personalised retelling of an inner revelation of an eternal truth. Its worth is latent until it is able to interact with a reader, facilitating a meeting of minds. Then it becomes meaningful, is appreciated as relevant and holds an appeal. If somehow, somewhere, a book is able to arouse an inward looking effort, although momentary, this reader interaction takes off. For in that moment the entire being gropes to catch a glimpse of something more than the usual mundane and the worldly.

This slender volume of the tastefully designed Writers' Workshop publication, Rope-Snake, Pot-Space, is a record of the author's insights gained from a dedicated search for the meaning of life, death, happiness, etc. The parables, anecdotes, short stories or poems in it stand testimony to the author's familiarity with the richness of the Upanishads that generations have tried to understand and continue to grapple with.

Lofty subjects

It is believed that the Seers in the Upanishads caught glimpses of the eternal truth as revelations that they expressed in the form of cryptic statements. Their focus was on the Absolute Truth known as the Supreme Brahman, the Universe and the Self manifest in embodied form and the relationship between these entities. This engagement with such a lofty subject is itself a commendable achievement for a debutante writer who has also mastered the narrative strategy of negating the distance between herself and the reader, so much so that even the uninitiated reader begins to internalise and validate the eternally relevant truths along with the author. Following the non-dogmatic stance of the scriptures, the book allows each one to pursue the quest in a very personal manner while inculcating the spirit of a humbleseeker. It is left to each individual to ruminate and comprehend accordingto one's own terms and predilections.

“Matter and the Self are the twin attendants of life.” From the state of awareness of this fusion in each one of us and of the constant struggle between the material and spiritual pulls, an individual has to make the choice towards seeking the Self that is the essence of happiness. “Ignorance hides who I am and projects what I have, while Knowledge removes these notions and projections and reveals the Self.”

The central discussion in the Upanishads is the resolution of illusion and reality with regard to the universe and the metaphor used to illustrate this paradox is that of the serpent and the rope. A rope is misconstrued to be a snake and with the dawn of realisation the truth is perceived and there is no snake but only a rope. The pot-space analogy is used to emphasise the Oneness of creation. The perception that “Our Being is eternal and a part of Total Reality,” is the ultimate realisation.

Another theme is the way one perceives the idea of happiness. Some honest internal reflection will show that when happiness is sought from the outside world, “as connected to the fulfilment of different sensations or desires in relation to security, wealth, fame, good relationships, love, physical comfort, etc.”, the individual misunderstands the experience of sensations as happiness since sensations are more tangible and immediately experienced.


One has to unlearn this and dissociate sensations from one's idea of happiness and locate happiness in one's Self. All life's emotional excitement and trauma could then be handled with equanimity. Yet we are driven to look for happiness in the outside world and this notion of happiness born of ignorance is captured in the analogy of a man who still awaits the falling honey drop amidst life-threatening risks.A lifetime is a valuable opportunity to explore the purpose of existence. Every day there are plenty of incidents and there are participants who experience them and there are witnesses who react or remain passive or merely imbibe a humble lesson from the world around.

For whom is this intended? For one who knows, no illustration is required. For whom is this intended, this discussion, this insight... wonders the author.

It is not often that every aspect of a book or every page of it carries a meaningful idea or is meaningful to a reader. But any page or any section of this book can be read and it still is ready to give rich dividends in terms of self awareness if only the reader is willing to give his time and thought to it. It would be a great loss indeed if one were to just appreciate the book and its striking title echoing the Upanishad statements and not benefit from the rich insights it projects.

Rope Snake, Pot Space; Suraksha Giri, Writer's Workshop, Rs. 200

About the Author : SURAKSHA GIRI

Suraksha’s growing years were an interesting combination of personalized boarding school education at Nazareth Convent Ootacamund and a spirited correspondence with her maternal grandfather Dr Vepa Varha Narasimham. He would write her several letters each week filling up the pages in his small close writing and imparting lessons from the Bhagavatam or Bhagavad Gita. The strong influences on her thinking were her mother Latha Vepa who instilled a love for words and father Chaganti Sankara Rao who challenged her ideas to prepare her to reason and think without preconditioning or bias. She imbibed the subtle messages of nationalism and non violence of Mahatma Gandhi. Her college education was in Stella Maris Madras for a Math degree followed by an MBA from Xavier Institute Jamshedpur in 1972. Suraksha had a career in Marketing and was with ITC Welcomgroup when she “retired” in 1994 to start her own entrepreneurial venture ´GOOD COUNSEL´ in Hotel Services.

While still a schoolgirl Suraksha had the blessing of listening to Swami Chinmayananda. An emotional and moving reconnect with Swamiji in 1993 at Delhi reminded Suraksha of her desire for Self Knowledge, helped her to move out of a career matrix and return to Madras to study with Swami Suddhananda.

Suraksha is married to Damerla Venkata Giri a fellow XL’er. They live in Chennai with their two daughters who work with her in Good Counsel. Suraksha is involved in community service in Health and Peace Education.

Watch her interview : NDTV : Oxford Bookstore welcomes a new book onto its rack

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