Haikus & butterflies

Pioneer Arts, October 2, 2000

by Utpal K. Banerjee

The Japanese word haiku means the beginning. Since time immemorial, the haiku poets conveyed the message that We only begin and never end. What a poet began, the listener had to complete.
This bond is in keeping with the true tradition of Zen thought. The state of Zen is achieved through dhyan and Japanese poets wrote out their experiences after meditation as haikus. Some haikus especially the ones written before death were remembered for centuries as their last words. Haikus of Basho, the most famous Japanese master, should be savoured. Repeat it, sing it, swallow it deeply and then sit silently, waiting for the meaning to be revealed.

The Osho World Foundation presented Ileana Citaristi, the noted exponent of Odissi and Mayurbhanj Chhau, in an evening titled Images of Change ,using a rivetting blending of contemporary dance, Chhau and some Western ballet.
The first part of the programme was a delicate interpretation of the characters of the Greek mythological tale of the handsome youth Narcisus and the nymph Echo. And of their unrequited quest for love Though her interpretation of Narcisus s character was immaculate but her dance to describe the faceless and ethereal Echo left much to be desired. In her next item, her depiction of haikus was subtly suggestive of the journey of a maiden through life: starting from childhood; adolescence with hands coyly covering the eyes; youth meeting with first love; fears and turbulence and rays of hope. The abstraction of geometric figures in the penetrative shafts of light created a path to growth and maturity. The haikus were interspersed by Osho s own poems:
One of the lines went like this –
Every day I see the sunrise,
the burgeoning of the day and
its passing, and I also see that
I do not rise or pass into
the afternoon or sunset.
The piece de resistance was the concluding part, inspired by the Chinese philosophy that interpreted the entire universe as an unending interplay between the two basic, yet opposite, forces of yin and yang, feminine and masculine.
The abstract dance by Ileana ( with somewhat inept partner Nitin Sharma) followed the routines of I Tching: of divided and unbroken lines. The symbols of two fishes interlocked in a circle emerged from the dark, suddenly fell apart and developed in their own ways. The complementary characteristics of dual polarities eventually yielded to a dissolution into a cohesive whole. The dream- like movements of Ileana echoed the famous Chinese lines on illusion and reality:
Once upon a time
I, Chuang Tse,
Dreamt that I was a butterfly,
Sleeping around and enjoying myself.
I had no idea
I was Chuang Tse.
Then suddenly I woke up and I was Chuang Tse again.
But I could not tell: had I been Chuang Tse dreaming I was a butterfly,
Or, a butterfly dreaming I was Chuang Tse There must be a difference between Chuang Tse and butterfly. Is this what is called the transformation of things ?
In all a commendable effort.

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