Artistic expression – Break free from the mind’s cage

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University lecturer and author Bhagwanji Bhindi. Picture: FT/File

Bhagwanji Bhindi’s poetry book “Horizons from the Edge: Depths of Emotional Flight and Descent”, was launched at the Fiji National University in 2019.

This collection of poems by Mr Bhindi is directed towards the education system, in a style where poetry is not just used for artistic expression, but as a knowledge base for everyday problems.

Mr Bhindi through his lifelong experiences in the education sector has delivered wisdom gained through experience for addressing the challenges of the current and future generations.

Horizons from the Edge: Depths of Emotional Flight and Descent is based on many of the realities of the writer’s life and experiences. The poems are swirling and vivid, vicious and painful, knowledgeable and enlightening.

In my view, the goal of poetry is to enable one to break free from the mind’s cage defined by logic. Poetry is the language of the heart and the expression of intuition.

Poetry has been the language of Dharmic religions of India that laid the foundations of ethics, philosophy and nonviolence, also known as the Ahimsa philosophy that motivates veganism.

Poetry has been used as a tool for meditation, mental well-being, and self- realisation.

I find the entire book interesting, spiritual and philosophical. I will endeavour to give insight into some of the poems that have touched me deeply.

The definition of love is a simple yet complex experience.

In the poem, “What is love?”, Mr Bhindi provides a debate on the aspects of love that our young generation complains about, with a perspective for addressing them.

The definition of time and its effects have been an important focus of both science and philosophy. It has been the focus of expressions by writers and artists.

“Elusive time” tries to define and capture the essence of time and the role it plays in our lives and relationships.

The mind is complex, a mystery for some and a focus of study for millenniums in Dharmic religions, and has been a focus of modern psychology and neuroscience.

The study of the mind has also been the focus of Hindu and Buddhist philosophers for generations.

In “Clogged mind”, Mr Bhindi tries to capture the mind’s driving forces and the barriers that try to keep people from achieving their dreams when clogged with negative thoughts.

As prescribed by Dharmic religions, meditation is the key to freeing the clogged mind which has now permeated mainstream psychology, and in particular positive psychology.

The forked tongue” gives an important message on how subtle and dangerous human speech and communication can be, not just for family, but could bring the planet towards war and destruction.

The education system must emphasize this at all levels, and they must practise caution at managerial and political levels as leaders are mostly responsible for steering families, careers and also the country. The words of a father or mother could either build or destroy the life of the children.

The future is uncertain, and there is only so much in our hands. The rest we leave it to time. We can just do our part and let the universe execute the rest.

Certainty of uncertainty,” asks thought-provoking questions about the future. We can also plan and at times take a leap of faith. I believe that we must not be demotivated by uncertainty and we must keep our faith.

Patience of patience” ponders on related philosophical issues.

The seers in the history of time told us to keep patience, it is indeed a virtue, but what are the limits of patience.

At times, one needs to take drastic steps to break free from being overly patient.

For instance, we cannot hold patience with politicians and corporations about dealing with pollution and climate change issues.

Similarly, “the decision” raises an important subject. At times people run away from making a decision since they fear being out of their comfort zone, or their loved ones.

At times, making a decision is the hardest thing one can do, but one must do it.

All decisions need careful thinking. One needs to meditate, take advice and even go on a journey to make a good decision.

Other poems in a related theme are, “Web of Lies” and “Defence mechanisms” explain weaknesses within our society and also the weakness that we all hold from time to time.

Moreover, “The languor of laziness” explains a lot we see in society that prevents people from achieving their dreams. The world is not as we see and there are a lot of things hidden although we see it.

This is the philosophy of “Maya” given in Dharmic religions, which is also portrayed in “The hidden mask”.

In order to break free from them, one must take “a journey within”, which is also prescribed by Dharmic religions. This journey is not as simple as one thinks. It takes a huge sacrifice and effort for self-discovery and thus the majority of us ignore it.

Furthermore, “The true value of happiness” ponders the definition of happiness. We keep on chasing material or non-material things in life.

At times some of it is driven by our inner quest and at times handed down to us by our family and the society, and they further prescribe the definition of happiness.

What actually is happiness has been the major focus of philosophy and psychology and also Dharmic religions. Is happiness absolute or relative?

Is happiness something that we can hold onto or something that can only be experienced, and for how long?

Is despair a part of happiness? Can despair and happiness exist without each other?

These are some of the deep questions that have driven spirituality and philosophy for millenniums and will continue to drive us in that direction in the future.

We must be aware that technology is driving us and clinging to us every day.

Can technology make the future of humanity happy or will it bring more misery? Only time can tell.

On the personal side, Mr Bhindi’s work is highly motivated by the heritage that links with the girmit.

In “A tribute to ancestral remembrance”, Mr Bhindi reflects on the hardship of the girmit; the journey across the vast ocean to a tiny island nation, away from culture, tradition and family.

The Indians in Fiji have struggled immensely in the girmit and also in the post-girmit era, given the hardships of land, coups and evictions.

Despite these challenges, the Indian diaspora has flourished and made a massive mark in the Fijian economy and culture.

Mr Bhindi also reflects on his journey and family struggles while being raised in Labasa. One can foresee how a tough beginning enabled Mr Bhindi to achieve his goals and made an impact in the education sector as a principal and also as an academic at Fiji National University. Humble beginnings go a long way.

Moreover, “The reluctant leader” reminded me of our beloved mutual friend, the late Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

I recall it was Ratu Joni who introduced me to Mr Bhindi back in 2010 during my short stay in Fiji National University.

Our friend did not wish to be addressed as Ratu (chief) because of his birthright; but he had done more for the country, academia and education through his deeds rather than his birthright; hence the title of Ratu fairly suited him in my view.

Reading this poem, made me remember and miss our days usually in Suva having profound discussions during lunchtime.

Ratu Joni’s leaving was a sad loss for the nation, and his thoughts will always be there in our poems and other writings. He has lived the message that a true leader is humble, kind and motivating.

Horizons from the Edge: Depths of Emotional Flight and Descent is written with the heart and soul of a poet who is engrossed deeply in poetry, is captivated and intoxicated by poetry, and is seduced in the craziness of poetry. He is immersed in poetic hypnotism and propelled into poetic pleasure; and for whom poetry is his energy, essence, existence and life (stealing lines from his poems).

This book captures the quintessence of the poet’s thoughts and feelings and is conceived from the poet’s own experiences.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that philosophical poems do not give answers to questions; instead, they give you a deeper understanding of the issues so that you can reach the solutions within.

In my view, the ego of science about life and the universe diminishes with the wisdom that all that we know is limited, we do not have the potential to know the truth, but only approximate it with our limited senses and intelligence; hence we know nothing.

There is a lot to gain from the silence and depth of knowledge within.

Horizons from the Edge: Depths of Emotional Flight and Descent is an engaging, compelling and emotionally moving collection of poems that reverberates very deeply.

I hope the poems of Mr Bhindi leave a blissful and profound effect on you, as much as they did on me.

  • Dr Rohitash Chandra is a senior lecturer in Data Science at the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics. The views expressed are his and not of this newspaper.
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