Blues Musician, Filmmaker, Screen Writer, Author, People Strategy
& Employee Branding Facilitator, Sonic Branding Practitioner & Speaker
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8 min read
4th December 1997
Updated: Mar 16
What I’m sharing is something very personal. Something that is unbelievable. Something that changed the course of my life. Something that I have been wanting to share for long. Very long !
By the early 90s, I was exposed to original Bangla Rock music, particularly driven by bands, that was coming in from Bangladesh. Prior to this, I regarded any form of vernacular music to be down market since I played the Blues. And was extremely high-nosed about it.
But soon I lay my hands on a Pandora’s Box that made me travel to Dhaka a couple of times.
I wanted to form a band that would only sing originals in Bangla and unite two Bengals culturally. We called the band Mahakaal.
Now what is Mahakaaal ?
I have always found it difficult to segregate Time from Consciousness. And Consciousness from Vibrations. For me, Time itself is Consciousness and vice versa. And Consciousness itself is Vibrant. Not the other way around.
Though the degree of Consciousness decides the basis of the calculation of time. And this Time Consciousness, I believe is Mahakaal.
The snow was a good 2 feet from the ground. Mist and clouds had covered the mammoth mountain range that otherwise seemed at a hands distance. At a stone’s throw, the Yamuna ripped her way through rocks and pebbles, unknown about her fate in Delhi !
I’d hurt myself pretty bad when a pointed icicle dripping from a branch of a tree hit my scalp. It was bleeding. During these months, the village folks go downhill to lower altitudes with their livestock and families to avoid the terrible onslaught when winter engulfs the region.
2nd December 1997.
Suddenly at a distance, I see a tall dark man walking through the snow in a pair of flip-flops. Anybody who’s lived in snow with not much to wear will understand. So, he came straight to where I was sitting.
The Angi Kund or the prayer fire was covered with corrugated tin sheets. Both the roof and the walls. This was about 10 feet by 10 feet. The frontal part of my body was warm with the fire in front of me but my back, which was a foot away from the corrugated sheet, was shivering in the freezing cold. I have never felt this kind of pain ever in my life. My nose too was bleeding profusely. So between my back, my head, and my nose, I had no idea how to deal with the pain I was in.
Through the little opening for a door, walked in the tall dark man who seemed not from the mountains. First, I was astonished to see anybody walking through the snow in flip-flops. And he hardly wore anything.
So, he came and sat right opposite me. Not a word was spoken.
The Naga Sadhu, Mouni Baba, who had pledged not to speak and had provided shelter to me, seemed unaffected and was busy cleaning up the snow outside the comforts of the corrugated tin room.
Without a word, the stranger took out a pot, filled it with weed from the plains (at this altitude people don't smoke weed that is found in the plains), and lit it with red hot charcoal from the Angi Kund. After a long drag, he passed the pot to me.
“ Don't be hassled, Anupam. Have a smoke”, how on Earth did he know my name?
I reluctantly took the pot from him and took a long drag. The last I smoked up was in Calcutta during the last days of my band. Somewhere in my mind, I was probably wanting to smoke up.
And thus began a conversation that changed the course of my life. How did he know about my life in Calcutta as a school kid? How did he know everything about me? Even names, cities, etc.
(A grab from my acting class . Recreation of my state in the mountains)
“ So the day after is your birthday............... I have come to give you a gift “; it's a fact that 4th of December is my birthday! But how on earth did he know ???
The next day, early in the morning at the crack of dawn, we began to walk uphill. These trails are closed for a few months in winter. All movements are stopped due to the inhuman snowfall that happens.
We walked through the mountain forest. All that one could see was snow and snow. The wind blew strong and it began to drizzle a bit too.
My shoe soles, even after tying them up with thin ropes, had given away. A pair of Tibetan socks that a Frenchman, Pascal, had given was torn to shreds. I was walking through the snow with cold water seeping into my shoes.
I didn't realize that this could be threatening. Life-threatening. And of all things, the bleeding from the nose became unstoppable. Due to Sinusitis, the left side of my face had swollen up. And gradually, my legs till my knee became completely senseless.
After another 10 minutes of climbing, I just couldn't take the pain anymore. It felt that blood had frozen in my legs and I wasn't able to walk any further. In simple words, I was in excruciating pain.
At a distance, was a small cave. Since I was in this area for some time, I knew that it was the habitat of another Naga Sadhu, Swami Yamuna Giri. He too had gone downhill to a Naga Akhada (habitat of monks of Naga lineage) to avoid the onslaught of the winter.
The tall dark man with whom I’d decided to risk my life asked me to enter the cave. I did. And so he did. He set up a fire with some firewood still intact inside the cave. And all through he’d hardly speak.
Suddenly, he pulled the shoes out of my feet. And out with that, came out gallons of snow water that had seeped in. He took my legs, and believe me, roasted my legs briefly in the fire.
I was shitting bricks in my pants. But miraculously, I didn't feel the fire. And moreover, suddenly the pain was gone and my legs were fine. And as if this was not enough to ponder upon, he took out two dry leaves from his sling bag. Crushed it by rubbing them in his palms and asked me to swallow it.
Shallow it? I didn't have a choice. I was in pain. Had no money in my pockets. No warm clothing except for a Tibetan sweater. The bleeding from my nose was just not stopping. And I guess, it's not only about Sinusitis but oxygens levels going low and the body was still not acclimatized to deal with the severe weather.
I did shallow. In a minute or so, I felt that something was stuck in my nose. I tried to breathe in hard and it seemed to have landed on the back of my tongue. My natural reflex was to throw it out of my mouth. So I did.
It landed on pristine white snow outside the entrance of the cave. A piece of flesh, almost half the size of a marble, drenched in blood added the color Crimson Red to the snow. Since then, I have never had a sinus attack ever in my life.
So after all the struggle, we reached our destination. We were at an altitude of nearly 4400 meters above sea level. The wind blew very hard and it became difficult not to fall. We spent the night here in severe cold and wind. And what followed is another story for another day !
The next morning, we climbed downhill and went back to Mouni Baba’s shelter after nearly 5 hours of walking through the snow. And to my utter astonishment, when we reached, Mouni Baba was making sweets (Halwa) to celebrate my birthday!
The tall dark man asked me to take a wash in the freezing Yamuna. “Time for your gift, Anupam!”.
The waters were so cold that my hand instantly became numb. I decided to only put some water on my head and get back.
“It’s more important for the soul to be cleaner than the body”, he smiled.
4th of December 1997.
He spoke some words in my ears that I couldn’t figure out. So, I looked at him. He spoke in my ears again.
I had no clue about what the heck was happening. Why was this man whispering into my ears?
“The entire cosmos is made up of 5 elements. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether.”, he looked at me.
“Each element has its own vibration. And its the balance of these vibrations that hold the Cosmos together. And not to forget that there are multiple Cosmic layers within us too. The entire fight of the Karmic Circle is to balance the 5 elements within us with that of nature.”.....and I hardly could comprehend.
By this time, I suddenly heard an unknown voice coming from my extreme left. “It's for this hour that you lost everything. Else this day wouldn't have happened. It's the beginning of a new life, son”
To my astonishment, it was ‘Mouni Baba’ who had not spoken for decades had spoken for the first time.
And while all this is happening, we were only 4 people in a radius of 10 km. Snow had covered every possible surface available. The wind blew hard. It felt like hundreds of needles pricking your face.
“You will have to go from here as your destiny is not this.”, warned the tall dark man.
“But go where? I don't have a home to go back to.”
“Don't bother. Time will do its job”, smiled the man.
2002. New Delhi.
It was around 2 years of my marriage and I was still struggling hard to find a firm foot on the ground. My dear friend and life partner, Malini was struggling to keep the home together. I had drinking issues and was fighting with professional frustrations. And honestly, in the hindsight, though I’d given up the comforts of my home in Calcutta willingly, I was finding it very difficult to keep up with the challenges of being a rebel!
Great Indian Rock, conceived by Papa Rock Amit Saigal of The Rock Street Journal’ was the largest and most prestigious platform a rock musician could aspire for those days. John Muyung of Dream Theatre, Jons Hellborg, Shawn Lane have all graced the same platform at different points in time.
This was the only platform that could get me going. So I began working on a few original songs along with a singer who was my guitar student. In the headlining song, ‘Funk Monk’, which is a tribute to the tall dark man I’d met in the mountains, I’d added the vibrations he’d taught me.
“Whatever you do, add these vibrations in some way for the other. You will see miracles. But be very cautious. It's after all an internal process to activate the pineal gland and to balance your energies”
The great Amit Saigal, who still lives in all our hearts, was reading out the names of the top 10 in India for 2002. The last was me and my band, The Karmic Circle.
Next, I found myself on half of the front page of HT City. Life began again as if the water had receded and the dove had flown back with an olive branch after 40 days of devastating rain and floods.
The Deluge was finally over. And I’d finally found my Teacher after having walked out of school in 1983; unexpectedly in a deep pocket of the Himalayas.
He is my true definition of Mahakaal. Where Time and Consciousness are One.
And no, I have never met him again and I have never used the vibrations since 2002 in any commercial venture.
In case you are wondering what these vibrations are :
Yah - Ether / Space
Moh - Water
Vah - Air
Shih - Fire
Nah - Earth
Don't use it without guidance. Else try solving the jigsaw puzzle and you will find the true meaning of the total sum of the aforementioned vibrations/syllables.
Funk Monk - Top 10 in India at Great Indian Rock 2002 (from 9.25)