Swami Veda Bharati holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. He is also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He has authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali's Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.
No, it is not my poem, the one below in praise of the clay-cup, called kuhar or sakora (ancient Sanskrit sharaava). It has other names in other languages of India, for example kastore or koshaNaa in Garhwali (as I live in Uttarakhand now and love to hear Garhwali Geets). It is a poem by Mrs. LalitaArya.
Let me start from the beginning.
200 years have elapsed since people of eastern UP and Bihar were taken to work in British or Dutch-owned sugar estates of Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad and several other territories. Many batches went between 1884 and 1917, the earlier ones in sailing ships without engines which came later. It is quite a story of suffering, hard work and eventual success in far away lands. The story is known only to a few in India. I had the opportunity to give spiritual and educational service in those countries for many years but of that at another time.
Many of the grandchildren and great-grand-children of the earlier migrants longed to know their ancestry back home in the villages of India and researched in the immigration archives in those countries as well as in the archives of India. The famous V.S. Naipaul is one of these, but there are now many other illustrious names,who have been able to visit their ancestral villages and have been received with deep emotion of affection.
So, it is that Mrs. LalitaArya and her sister Sharada recently found their steps taking them to their ancestral village near Ayodhya.
Some plasticized citified Indians would like to express their sense of hospitality to such visitors by offering them tea in plastic cups! But, these pseudo-modern Indians do not realize the beauty of the culture of the villages that visitors from abroad come looking for and appreciate.
Here is a spontaneous poem dedicated to the mud-cup, the kulhar which is no longer seen or heard of in the ' oh-so-very-civilized' New Delhi!
Enjoy the poem, enjoy the fragrant chai, enjoy the feel and smell of the kulhar and in future use this non-polluting cup that will not contribute to the plastic litter which has become a synonym for India.
A KULHAR of CHAI
(This Poem is dedicated to my younger sister, Sharada, who accompanied me on an incredible and amazing road trip in India to find our maternal ancestral family after almost 200 years of separation and many miles and continents apart)
You must have drunk lots of cups of tea
Plain black tea, herbal tea, milk tea, masala tea
In lots of cups - dainty English teacups, huge American tea cups,
Heavy Indian glass and sometimes steel cups.
But have you ever tasted masala chai In a kulhar - a mini earthern clay tea cup?
And that too from a dhaba -
A road side café - tea café?
Poured from a hot boiling kettle Right at your car window With the AC on full blast
On a decent motor-able highway Driving through a little adorable town In India?
With a crazy funny sister by your side
Taking a pix of you as you try To test the new exotic taste of tea In this delicate earthen ware,
The touch of baked mother earth
Against your lips as you feel and smell her fragrance.
While your sister drinks a diet coke from a can?
Laughing away at your boldness In trying something so natural, so earthy
So delicious? Have you?
© LalitaArya Mrs. LalitaArya is an artist and author (published book of poems called Eyeful of Sky). She is the founder of KHEL - Kindness, Health, Education& Laughter for children of under-previleged families in Dehradun since 1984. She is a mantra-initiator (authorized to give mantra-diksha) in the Himalayan Tradition and a member of the Spiritual Committee of Ahymsin (Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International).
[Photo by Sharada Bhajan]