Monthly Archive for April, 2013

Flower Raj “Articles” – A Review

pen & inkwell

We were asked to make  a section of The Flower Raj devoted to self-publishing; where anyone can have their own account & create, edit & publish their own material. The Flower Raj Articles debuted in June 2011 & has been a quiet treasure ever since.

some of the authors:

george farrow

Sadhu George Farrow – prolific, scholarly; Hevajra Tantra, Sadhus.

Bashka JacobsBashka Jacobs – poems, free verse;  more on  facebook.

Buddha BoudreauxBuddha Boudreaux – personal bodyguard of Bhagwan  (Osho) .

Vinaya ChaitanyaVinaya Chaitanya – Gurukula life…

Jose LargeJose Large – “Miss Rose – Departures”, poetry in motion.

Neal RockNeil Rock – stories, memories of travel.

Another author.Christopher Freeland – changes India put him through.

Another author.

Mike Lesser – Tony Jackson, the electroshock ward.

Brice BowmanBrice Bowman – his ’60s journey to India .

Nico MorrisonNico Morrison – the Jogini hydro dispute.


Why not join The Flower Raj Articles? Use the  Contact Form & we will make you an account & email it to you. Write for yourself & right for us…

It is a simple process (though capable of refinement); basically you write your article in plain text on your laptop (or ‘phone or internet cafe) & then login to the articles site & paste in your text; you save it, you check it, you preview it & if it’s OK – you hit publish & it’s out there.

Additionally you can add images which always spice up an article; & if you want to add a video inside the article, you make a Youtube video & then just embed it.

Sooooooo simple; so all you budding writers out there, get stuck in, sharpen your pens & your wits & add your material to The Flower Raj Articles.


What is Compassion to a Fish?

What is Compassion to a Fish?Every day Dhobi, a washerman in India, hand washes clothes at the sandy banks of the river Ganges.  Fish, Dhobi thought one day, are like cows.  In India both lead privileged lives.  It is even considered lucky to be reborn a fish in a sacred lake or pond where one is treated royally, fed with offerings for the gods, able to swim unmolested, to live to a ripe old age.
In Bodh Gaya, a dusty village in Bihar state, there are fishmongers who cater to the Buddhist pilgrim trade.  For a modest sum a fish can be purchased from the sellers and set free.  The merit of such a compassionate act increases the pilgrim’s chances for a better rebirth.
On a pilgrimage one summer, Dhobi watched Buddhist pilgrims from many regions converge upon the village in great numbers doling out compassion, as alms for the poor.  In the search for meritorious good deeds that bring good karma, or in shopping for merit, some unusual questions arise.  Do fish have souls?  Do larger fish have greater souls?  What is compassion to a fish?  Dhobi admired the good intentions of the pilgrims.
But what about the fish, he wondered?  Each two-rupee liberation found them cast loose in the same pond from which they were caught, as no rivers flowed out of the village of Bodh Gaya.  So the fish made the rounds from the pond to the buckets and back to the pond again.  There’s no telling just how many times a fish had been liberated.

TICKETLESS TRAVELER: The Dhobi Stories, is a collection of twenty pithy fables. “For that first edition in 1980 I did all the layout… cut & paste the old fashioned way… and typed on an IBM selectric with proportional type to look more like it was printed. before desktop publishing…”.

Marilyn StableinMarilyn Stablein is the award winning author of eleven books including the memoir Sleeping in Caves: A Sixties Himalayan Memoir and a collection of prose poems More Night Travels to Tibet.  Her book Splitting Hard Ground: Poems won the New Mexico Book Award and the National Federation of Press Women’s Book Award.  She is also a visual artist. Her collages, assemblages and photographs have appeared on the covers of Rattle Magazine, Malpais Review, Gargoyle Magazine and in numerous publications and exhibitions.  Her award-winning artist books have been widely exhibited and published in LARK’s 1,000 Artist Books, The Bone Folder and Bound and Lettered magazine.    For a schedule of workshops, readings, talks and art exhibitions visit her website Her books can be ordered through the bookstore she and her husband own Acequia Booksellers, a used, rare and independent bookstore in New Mexico and online at

© 2013 marilyn stablein

Now you’ve read this, enjoy having a Listen to Marilyn – interviewed by Doug Grunther on station WDST 100.1 fm – Woodstock NY 2003. This interview/reading publicized ‘High in the Himalayas’, a chapbook published by Peter Lamborn Wilson.

“In the heyday of the sixties, during a seven-year stay in the Himalayas, Marilyn Stablein teaches herself how to not only cook a curry on a cow dung patty fire, but to master sadhu rituals like preparing chillums. Whether describing Mishra’s bhang lassi shop, the government hash store, her meeting with cannabis guru Ganesh Baba, or a trek to a cave in Kashmir to view Lord Shiva’s miraculous ice lingham, Stablein is an intrepid adventurer and humorous chronicler.”


Ragascape I – The Tambura

It seems appropriate to write the first ragascape essay on the tambura, as the all-encompassing sound of this instrument is the source from which arise the melodic centers (notes) of Indian music.

Tambura IThe tambura is more than just a four-stringed instrument providing the sonorous drone and the basic environment in which the music enfolds. The tambura is the acoustic potential for the whole harmonic series; and, as such, represents the cosmic potential for all apparent phenomena. Although the tambura is tuned with three strings tuned to the tonic (in Indian music we call this tonic Sa or shadja) and one string to the fourth or fifth, we can find all twelve notes in the harmony that is created by the four strings vibrating simultaneously. This acoustical phenomena occurs because the harmonic series is activated through a process called jawari or cyclical wave formation in which the bridge upon which the strings are resting is filed into a particular curve.  When this process is completed properly, the notes are no longer just blunt tones but rather rich tonal landscapes with a precise sharp center and expanding periphery.

TamburaLike a mirror, the tambura has the capacity to reflect whatever is sung or played ‘over’ it. For example if you sing a note along with the tambura other than the notes that are part of the tambura, you can hear the tambura mirror that sound and ‘sing’ it back to you. The tonic in this instrument has the capacity to appear in the form of  whatever you place before it. It is as if you took a piece of clear glass and put it on top of a blue cloth. The glass does not become blue, but it appears blue. In this way the tambura is an acoustical symbol of total integration.

Tambura headWhen tuned properly, the tambura is a clear support for the vocalist or instrumentalist. He listens to the tonic note of the tambura, integrates with it, and adjusts his ‘sur’ so that each note finds a perfect resonance in the vibrational field of the tambura. Notwithstanding the great support the tambura provides to a musician, it is possible for Indian musicians to sing or play tunefully without the support of the tambura. By tuning into the anahata (unstruck) quality of the tonic, the musician becomes his own silent drone; and as he begins to vibrate with the tonic, his tuneful precision arises. This is obviously more difficult as there is no external support for the tuning.

Tambura bridgeThe tambura, as a plucked instrument, is the acoustical metaphor for all unstuck sound. It represents the empty side of clarity and the potential for all apparent phenomena.  It is the feminine space to be filled by the masculine skilfulness of melodic form.

When a musician plays or sings along with the balanced stroking of the tambura, it is not the case that he hears two different sounds—the droned tonic of the tambura and the sound of his voice or instrument. He plays and at the same moment releases the melodic configuration into the field of the tambura.

Shrimati Subbulakshmi with tambura

MS Subbulakshmi with tambura.

The artist blends with the space filled by the cyclical expansion and contraction of the tambura and allows the tonal centers of his melody to spread into that edgeless expanse. When he does this without conceptualizing either the sound of his creation or that of the tambura, there is a moment when the division between singer, song, and the act of singing dissolves.  The artist, fabricator of forms, suddenly jumps the hoop of time and space and enters the dimension where pure sound becomes a vehicle to supersensory cognition and awareness. Although conventionally we say that the singer is singing a song, in this case it is as if the song is singing the singer.

In the next Ragascape article we’ll be looking at “Swaras, Ragas, and Rasas – The Path of Indian Music.”

Tambura (Wikipedia article).
Tambura  (Article at Music of India).
Ragascape (original article in Ragascape by Steven Landsberg, 1999).
Mushtaq Ali Khan (recordings from the collection of Steven Landsberg).