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Tell My Ego – A Tour Around My Conscience with Dhanya

By: for ISKCON News on April 3, 2018
Opinion
Photo Credits: dhanyamusic.com

The cover art of Dhanya's new music album

I am a literary critic and a filmmaker, with a special appreciation for every forms of art that connect our modern and conditioned minds with ancient, eternal wisdom, and inspiring our soul to wake up and become the best that we can. My favorite contemporary painter is G. Subramanian, a South Indian mixed media artist, who creates fantastic mythical pictures and Krishna portraits made from torn out of pieces of recent issues of the National Geographic magazine. When you look at the canvas from afar, it looks like a traditional Indian painting, but when you go closer, you notice that Krishna’s face is a printed photo of the blue sky dotted with birds, his yellow dhoti is a desert with camels marching on it, his shirt is a mountain range mixed with a written explanation of a recent scientific discovery.   

Subramanian’s paintings are embraces of the eternal and the present, brilliantly creative evocations of ancient motifs adapted to our own time, embodiments of the principle of yukta vairagya.  

Dhanya’s recently released debut album entitled as Dhanya does a similar thing in the realm of music. By evoking ancient stories such as the Ramayana (Fire), referring to elements of age-old philosophy such as karma an reincarnation (Another Lifetime), attachment and detachment (Parallel Lives), the importance of the spiritual master (Gurudev), or the mantra (Over Again), expressed in modern, “new age-y” musical language mixed with rap, she creates a living, dynamic and very appealing connection between the timeless and the contemporary. Her lyrics are like prayers, which, with the aid of her astoundingly beautiful voice, fully capable of capturing the heart - sometimes by stirring it up, other times by pacifying it.

Being a working mom I do not have much time to put my feet up, pour a cup of tea and enjoy music, but I always like to listen to stuff when I’m driving around on errands, alone with my thoughts, open for reflections.

I get into my car, turn the engine on, and put my favorite song on the album Tell My Ego on.  OK, Dhanya, “speak” to me, I’m listening!

"Wake me up, I’m foreign in this habitat,

So I think it’s time for me to let it go,

You can tell my ego that. 

It’s time, 

Time to pull the curtains back,

Time to let the light shine in,

Time to take my power back!

I have had enough of this mess

And I can tell that there is no winning

So why try? Why try?" 

A series of nice metaphors – a lovely start. The first part of the song reminds me of the poetry of Bhaktivinode Thakura, praying for wisdom, and expressing a mindset in which one feels the need to break away from the mess of one’s circumstances, but also aware of the futility of the efforts.

I can totally relate to this sentiment. I often find myself fighting on two fronts: facing my own internal enemies, character flaws and shortcomings, while, a hopeless idealist, being heavily influenced by and involved in external issues concerning the larger community, such as religious freedom, environment, or social justice. 

"This is war, Maya’s not a diplomat.

So I’ve gotta be a warrior, 

You can tell my ego that

It’s time to take my weapons up,

Time to face the enemy,

Time that I start fighting back! 

I have had enough of this mess

And I can tell there is no winning

So why try? Why try?" 

I pull into the parking lot of the venue where my recent film about the Yamuna The Stolen River is about to be premiered. I am fired up, but also full of doubts and anxieties. Being driven by the desire to give voice to voiceless Brijbhasi children to help save their beloved sacred river from deadly pollution I have spent a great deal of my last five years producing this documentary. I am fully convinced that it is a fight worth fighting. But would my efforts matter in the slightest? Would I be able to help bring forth a positive change? Or, am I just kidding myself and my filmmaking is nothing else but some sort of cheap ego-gratification? 

Are my motivations pure enough?

"Oh, it’s so painful to find out that I’m not in charge,

I am the servant of the servant, 

and I am the servant of the servant of the Boss.

Tell my, tell my ego that."

Oh well, how often do I need to keep reminding my ego to not to be attached to results before it finally sinks in? 

A few days later, in the morning I’m driving my 7-year-old to school past Santa Fe College in Florida. The giant flag in the middle of the campus is half-mast, mourning the 17 high school students who had lost their lives to a senseless mass shooting the day before, not so far from where we live. My heart is heavy with sadness, also boiling with anger. Having brought up in Europe, the utter insanity and the complete lack of common sense around gun issues in the United States is just beyond my comprehension. How could the leaders of the supposedly most developed country be so out of whack that instead of putting a cap on the weapon industry’s soulless lobby and limitless desire for more and more profit they would rather allow to turn their country into a war zone and endanger innocent children’s lives?

I hear a voice from the back seat, “Mommy, why are you crying?”

I have never imagined that instead of teaching her about the beauty of nature and literature, the day would come when I had to instruct my daughter about how to hide when a gunned thug shows up at the door.

 "I have had enough of this mess,

And I can tell there is no winning,

So why try? Why try?"

I have read the warning many times in the Vedic literature that “the material world is not for gentlemen.” It is in moments like these, when the lightning bolt of the harsh reality strikes me down, I truly understand there is no happiness in this world. 

So, yeah, what’s the point? Why keep trying?

"The general says the method’s iron clad.

Says He’ll keep all that I’ve done,

Says He’ll carry what I lack.

It’s time,

Time to get the mercy in,

Time to get my faith get strong,

And you can tell my ego that."

When I feel completely lost, Dhanya reminds me that there is hope, a way out of this mess. I just have to listen to the “general” and cling onto the mercy that He offers. I do not need to be perfect, but I should never give up trying, and He promises to take care of the rest. 

Aligned with the simple “method”, I feel reenergized, powerful, invincible. I will do my part and very best to help clean the holy Yamuna and save the lives of millions of Brijbhasis! I will do everything in my power to propel the lawmakers for common sense gun laws in my adopted country! I will not stand idle in the face of injustice and ignorance, will be a responsible citizen of the world, and an active spiritual change-maker!

And most importantly, to make sure that my arrows always point at the right target, I will not give up fighting the demons of my own heart! 

"I’m going to fight the good fight,

And there is no guarantee of winning, 

But I’ll try, I’ll try."

Thank you, Dhanya, for rekindling our fire!

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[ anartha ] [ art ] [ dhanya ] [ music ]
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