Buddham Sharanam Gachchami
Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami
Sangham Sharanam Gachchami
( I take refuge in the enlightened nature of my true self or the latent seed of Buddhahood
I take refuge in the wisdom of the true nature of enlightenment
I take refuge in the universal connection between all aspirants for enlightenment)
- Buddha Gautama
Hello and Welcome to the personal page of my website. As you must have learnt from the other
professional pages on this website that I am a
Theoretical Physicist specialising in Particle Physics and engaged in research and teaching
at the Indian Institute of Technology ( IIT) Kanpur, India. Particle Physics deals with the characterization of the fundamental constituents of our Universe and seeks to reduce the diverse complexity of Nature to a few simple mathematical laws. I specifically work on a sub discipline termed String Theory which strives to establish a single unified mathematical framework to describe the Universe. More details about my profession are available on the professional pages of this website. Here I have listed some of my expansive and diverse interests and passions apart from Physics, Mathematics and the Sciences.
I have a keen interest in Arts and Philosophy especialy in Literature from all over the world and of all ages. I have a passion for Poetry and Mystic Philosophies particularly Mahayana Buddhism with special emphasis on the Japanese Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. I have been studying Buddhist Philosophy for academic interest for almost twenty years now. My other passions include Cinema ( art films or good commercial films), a very extensive range of music with strong emphasis on folk and tribal music and culture from all over the world. Also some Indian classical music and dance forms and dance dramas, vocals like Thumri right upto Western Blues, Reggae, Rock, Heavy Metal, Folk, Fusion and Jazz. I am particularly fond of Spanish and Latin American music. I also have a passion for Bengali film songs and old hindi melodies from films and Ghazals and Nazms. I am particularly fond of a genre of Bengali folk music and lyrics performed by wandering minstrels called Bauls. I like to sing but at an amateur level having no formal musical training.
Other passions include a crazy interest in International Football which I follow very closely. Favourite team is Brazil and current favourite club side is the Italian Club AC Milan.
I also have a general interest in other sports especialy cricket, tennis and indoor games like badminton and table tennis.
I am an avid card player and I am fammilar with a host of playing card games including a special interest for Contract
Bridge and its strategic theory. I like strategic games with complex strategies and this interest also extends to military strategy, military history, legends, warfare and weapons systems. I also like languages and I can manage in several languages including English, Bengali, Hindi, Oriya and also some Hebrew, Spanish and Italian and a few words of French.
I have a passion to comprehend the essence of mystic philosophies and mysticism. Buddhism has been
almost a life long deep association especialy the sect of Mahayana Buddhism called Zen Buddhism which is mostly found in Japan and China. My interest in Zen originated from my deep love for Poetry especialy short Japanese poems with a Zen flavour called Haiku and also
from Arts especialy Japanese Paintings and Woodcuts.
However there is a confusion about Buddhism and to most people Buddhism means the Yellow Robe
and the Sangha of Theravada ( Hinayana; Lesser Vehicle) Buddhism. Mahayana ( Greater Vehicle) or the esoteric teachings of Buddha
to his closest and spritualy advanced disciples is more Philosophy than a religion and allows
practice without monkhood. Yet another development was the VajraYana ( Diamond Vehicle) which is
known as Tibetan Buddhism. This version is deeply esoteric and has strong connections with
What is refreshing about Buddhism is that its not realy a religion but a Philosophy and a Way of Life that is spontaneous, natural and free from dogma. Zen Buddhism with its wonderful Poetry, humour and spontaneous flavour appeals to me. Zen which is often known as the "Sudden Path" to enlightenment is described in the words of its founder monk Bodhidharma as;
No dependence on words or letters
No reliance on scriptures
Direct pointing to the heart of existence
And experiencing the truth.
Zen Buddhist Teachings of Bodhidharma
Wake Up Sutra
First some background. Bodhidharma was born in Kanchi in the Southern Indian kingdom of Pallava around year 440 BC. He was a Buddhist monk and
student of the famous monk Prajnatara the founder of the newly conceived Dhyana School of the Mahayana tradition. Bodhidharma was the 28 th patrirach after the historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama in the Buddha lineage. At the instruction of his Master Prajnatara and unhappy with the state of Mahayana Buddhism in India which had moved away from the path of intense mediation and fierce contemplation of the original teachings of the Buddha Gautama to ritualistic practices, he travelled to China by ship and arrived around 475 BC. After 9 years of Shikan Taza or sitting mediatation in isolation of a cave in the mountains he received enlightenment and started instruction to very few students in the Dhyana tradition. There are many legend about him, He is associated with the Shaolin temple, and is honored as the founder of of the martial arts of kung fu or Shao Lin Temple Boxing. He is also credited with bringing tea to China. He is said to have cut off his eyelids to stay awake in meditiation, and so is usually depicted with bulging eyes. He is also credited with bringing Zen to China, even though he had few disciples in his lifetime.
The new tradition of Chan ( chinese deformation of Dhyana) Buddhism was based
on intense meditation, contemplation and an effort to directly experience the nature of true reality by turning to the
original mind. The word Dhyana which means meditation had the Chinese pronunciation Chan which later became Zen in Japanese pronunciation. So Zen essentialy is a deformation of the Sanskrit word Dhyana. Zen flourished in China, Japan,
Vietnam and Korea with some of the greatest, brilliant and enigmatic teachers who often doubled as poets, painters authors artists and philosophers at the highest level of Arts. Zen penetrated into every aspect of Japanese/Oriental life including Martial Arts, Ikebana flower arrangements, Cha No Yu or Tea Ceremony, Stone and Sand Gardening, Kabuki and Noh Theatre, Calligraphy, Painting, Ukiyo-e Woodcuts and extensive Literature with a major component of wonderful poetry of Tanka, Waka, Renga, Haikai and Haiku and prose like Haibun. Zen also inspired and infused a comobination of Haiku and
Brushstroke Calligraphy and Painting on Silk in Japanese style called a Haiga. Modern version of Photo-Haiga and traditional Haiga also with colour is a major practised Art form in the world currently.
Indian Music: I listen to some classical indian music mostly Hindusthani ( North Indian),
favourite is flute, sehnai and sitar but I like vocals more and in this my current interests are in
Thumri. However my passion is in Folk and Tribal Music of various regions
and other associated aspects of Folk Culture. I also like Ghazals, Nazms and old hindi melodies from Hindi films. I listen to a lot of Bengali film and pop songs.
In Bengali folk music I have a strong intesrest in the music of wandering minstrels of Bengal and also Bangladesh called Bauls which is an ancient tradition of both Hinduism and Sufism and recognized by UNESCO as one of the worlds cultural heritage.
Western Music: First love is Rock Classics and Heavy Metal like Jimmi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Jethroe Tull, Moody Blues, Emmerson Lake and Palmer, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Dire Straits and Sting. Blue Rock and Folk Rock like Simon and Garfunkel and protest music of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. I also like Western Folk music of various countries especialy Latin America and Spain. I also listen to Reggae, African and Fusion music, Bob Marley being a favourite. My current interest are in contemporary Jazz and Blues music. I am fascinated with the sound of saxophone and listen to a lot of saxophone blues especially John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Kenny Garett and melodies on saxophone like Kenny Guiles.
"In the midst of winter
I find in myself at last
|- Soen Nakagawa
The picture above shows ice crystals on a small plant bared by the winter. They look like spring
flowers and the bare plant depicts winter and illustrates the essence of the wonderful Haiku poetry above. The Haiku is by a distinguished Japanese Master of Zen Buddhism, Soen Nakagawa
Roshi. One of my favourite Haiku poets. Below is my own humble effort at an ancient Japanese court poetic form known as a Waka. This was composed in a rather emotional and nostalgic mood when after many years I walked down a fammiliar street in Calcutta called Park Street in 1988 five years after i had left my hometown Calcutta for the wide open world.
"Echoes of time
On a dark street
Love sweeps away the years
I long for HER"
- GS (1988)
World Literature: Literature is one of my original passions dating right back to my
childhood and I enjoy an extensive spectrum especialy I find a strong affinity for Poetry. Original favourites are Old Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Mythological Literature, English, European
and American and Latin American Literature and Poetry. Favourites are Dumas, Conan-Doyle, Hemingway, Maugham, Garcia-Marquez. Favourite foreign poets are Garcia-Lorca, Walt Whitman
Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda. Additionaly I also read a lot of Oriental Chinese, Japanese
and Korean Literature especialy those connected to Buddhism. I also have a passion for good detective novels as I enjoy analysis, strategizing and deductive logic,
favourites are Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie especially the MissMarple and Hercule Poirot series. Other interesting genre of Literature which i like are the Historical Romances and Short Stories.
Indian Literature: My knowledge is less in this but I enjoy both prose and poetry
from various regions including my own region, Bengal. My favourite authors are Tagore, Prem
Chand Munshi, Sarat Chandra, Saradindu Mukhopyadhay. Amongst Poets is Tagore again then
Jibanananda Das and Sukanta among Bengali poets and HariVansh Rai Bachchan amongst North Indian poets.
I am mostly interested in the alternative and experimental cinema knonw generally as Art films. Likings include Cinema
with a message or philosophy or a vision. All time favourite Directors are Ritwik Ghatak,
Satyajit Ray, Akiro Kurosawa,
Federico Fellini, Jean Luc Godard, Jean Renoir, Bergmann.
Others are Antonioni, Kieslowski, Derek Jarmann, Mike Leigh. Amongst Indians, Mrinal Sen,
Gautam Ghosh, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
I have a strong liking for the fine arts but only as an appreciative
individual. I dont posess any personal talents in this respect. Most
favourite is Painting especialy the Impressionist School of whom
I like Renoir and Van Gogh the most. Amongst the classical school
I like Goya and Rembrandt. From amongst the Indian painters my
favourites are Abanindrath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Coomaraswamy
more modern ones are Jamini Roy amongst others.
©2002. G.Sengupta, Website design by AM.