There are a lot of sharp little stones on Astha hill, so you’ve got to remove your sandals strategically as you climb up – because taking them off at the very top, would be disrespectful. Disrespectful to whom though, no one has any idea. One could say that Astha is a kind of wild temple – but again, to what? The wind, the rocks? All that unfocused contemplation we sink into? Or maybe it is the slow, dramatic plunge of the sun, alongside the pale glimmer of a few early stars. Whatever the incentives of getting to Astha may be, one cannot suppress the notion that silence here is somehow more concentrated, more ancient, than anywhere else. It is this inexplicable shelter of quiet, austerity like that of white clothes and still air that makes even the tinkle of a bell seem like a gunshot.
We present a tribute to Asthachal with poems from alumni who’ve felt the magic of the place, the time, that separate world.
Sunset at Asthachal
A drop of gold
in a stormy sea
of grey and purple and blue.
Splashes of blood
on the sacred, overarching sky,
behind the three kondas.
A sudden spin of the sky,
as I witness the earth rotating,
from my still seat on the ground.
What will the painter
The infinite sky
her easel, the sun
My senses are awakened,
I am a part of all that surrounds me,
We celebrate the beauty,
of the golden ball,
Jyotsna George, ISC 2008
Melodies ooze out of the horizon as that much scarlet and bronze
From the warping sun, rolling over hills,
shooting through clouds
to make latecomers point suddenly upwards, and hurry
To reach this mound of rock
where we watch the red ink spill, erupting almost into sound,
down the valley we almost listen to.
For to listen would be to care, reflect, to keep up the momentum of thought.
The motion of time is where melody is sound, and silver is moonlight;
A moment does not have space for separation, for streams of things:
just the mobius strip of song and colour, neatly knitting the many minutes together.
There is no relevance here
of our time, troubles, or judgment; but only the immensity of the sea
where everything, we feel, dissolves.
Mustafa Khanbhai, ISC 2011
Conversations with Nature
The silent time in the day called Astha (based on the hill called Asthachal where it is held)
A daily twenty minute long conversation with Nature.
Words unspoke but showed by her elements-
On a day when she was in a good mood, she’d shower me with the rains,
On an energetic one, let the wind spoil my hair.
On rare occasions, a forest fire would be allowed by her,
Permitting her destruction to help the needy villager
In promise of a new life bestowed to her name.
The last one she showed was her rawest form,
Earth, with the wet soil, the uncut rocks, and the surrounding hills.
From the diary of Rohini Kejriwal, ISC 2009