By Life Positive
as told to Arvind
Photos: Nikhil Idurkar
In Salome Roy Kapur, creativity and the performing arts mingle harmoniously with an active spiritual life, the practice of alternative healing therapies, and a sensitive attunement to the environment.
The Spiritual Advent
At age seven, I had a vivid dream that has stayed with me as a treasured experience. A little girl and a radiant man sporting a black, flowing beard and long hair walked side by side. She held his finger with complete faith. Together they walked in a garden that was more like a peaceful village fair, alive with people and muted activity. He took her to see some people and some events. If I make sense of the dream today, I had walked with Jesus. I had seen many masters whom I couldn’t then recognize such as Moses and Confucius. I also saw the crucifixion and the Krishna-lila. The essence of the dream was that all faiths and philosophies meet at one point – different roads, all leading to the same destination. Then again, when I was 14 years, I had a dream in which I realized the power of prayer. I dreamt that there was a huge closed gate, outside which were souls waiting in anticipation. I kept on chanting, ‘Forgive us for our sins, forgive us for our sins’, until the gates opened and the souls walked in. Since then I have always been praying for departed souls.
I have been very fortunate to have family members who were evolved spiritually. My father taught me how to pray. Though a Jew, my mother respected all religions and I have imbibed that from her. My uncle Daniel was a head of the Rosicrucian Order, a naturopath and a practitioner of ayurveda. When I was nine, he would tell me, ‘Think in colors’ or ‘Place a dot on the wall and just look at the dot’. At that age it was excellent learning. Today I am who I am because I could learn from every teacher, every guru and master. Every guru is my guru. Ultimately, as great teachers have said, you are your own guru.
I was educated at home. Home schooling allowed me the opportunity to learn the piano, violin and guitar. Among the dances I learnt kathak, bharata natyam, kathakali, odissi, ballroom, Latin-American and ballet.
The Dance of Life
Dance and music have been with me since childhood. Dance for me today is a medium for meditation. I enjoy myself either while dancing or choreographing. My work has been either dancing or teaching to dance. Music also is a spiritual experience for me. I cannot imagine life without music. There was a time when I almost lost my eyesight, and I had to be in bed for a week without moving. Being in one place with my eyes shut was an experience in itself. A sense of quietness engulfed me after a few days of unrest. And then followed an inspiration to compose songs. Lyrics and music came of themselves.
A Day in my Life
My day begins at around 4:30 a.m. Meditation, Om chanting, amroli or auto-urine therapy (AUT), walking, asanas, pranayams and mauna are a part of my regular spiritual practices.
I practice mauna for an hour every day in the morning, which is the busiest part of my day. ‘Why not practice it after noon when it is time for rest?’ someone asked. ‘But that is the real test, keeping yourself quiet when all around are hustling and bustling,’ I replied. That is when the sense of inner quietitude is immensely enjoyable. Nothing affects you. This practice helped me to curb my reactions and respond appropriately to everyday situations. I was a very short-tempered person, earlier. The practice of mauna helped me to ‘not react’. I have been doing it for the last 20 years.
I also practice meditation and Om chanting. At age 15, I had an interesting experience during a chanting session when every cell in the body began to vibrate with the chant.
There is one special practice that I would like to share with you. I play the gong twice a day, in the morning and evening. Along with the sound of the gong I send out thoughts of peace and love. The thoughts and the sound traverse together through the universe and reach out to people and creatures all over. I believe this helps in some way to reduce the negativity that exists in our lives. Good thoughts, good words and good deeds – these, I believe, are the pillars of spirituality. This practice began when my son bought a gong from one of his travels for a friend. As soon as I saw it, I wanted to have it; I knew what I had to do with it instinctively. I believe it came from the antar-guru, the guru within. This practice has helped me immensely and I believe it has helped others too. I also have tremendous faith in the practice of AUT. About 25 years back I had a serious problem, which I assumed to be cancer. The doctors ordered a biopsy. Wanting to stay with a natural healing process and having heard about people being cured of problems like asthma, pigmentation, hearing loss and piles through it, I decided to try it and got excellent results. I have even gone public in one of Dr Batra’s programs on TV to tell people about the benefits of urine therapy. If it has helped me it could also help many other people. I really admire Shri Morarji Desai for being a bold proponent of this practice.
I have a regular yoga session on the terrace of our building with other enthusiastic friends. A senior yoga teacher prescribed a routine of asanas to me to take care of my back problems.
On the Spiritual Path
Gratitude, love, forgiveness and prayer are the most important things I’ve learnt on the spiritual path.
Gratitude; firstly for this life, then for this body, for all the people around me, for all that I have and also for what I have not. I am thankful for almost everything. Even the thoughts, the opportunity to pray, the chance to forgive, the ability to love and so much more.
Love doesn’t cover only you and your near and dear ones; love encompasses all. The feeling of I, me, gets drowned. When my children were in school, I would pray for them during the exams. Once a thought touched me – ‘how can I be selfish and pray for only my children when there are so many others who are appearing for the exams?’ Since then I decided to include all the other children in my prayers. Today, I pray not for I, me, mine, but for us, we and them. When we come across difficult moments in life we often lack the moral strength to face them. This is where prayer comes in – ‘O Lord! Help me overcome this feeling.’ Only with prayer can I tide over the difficult period. A friend had been unable to forgive someone. I could see that he was suffering. I put to him a simple question, ‘Are you greater than God? With all the power that He has would it not be easy for him to punish us? Yet he still forgives us.’ This hit home and he felt a wave of relief. We hold on to hatred. Our prejudices and negative thoughts hold us from doing good. If we can learn to forgive, then there is no question of war, hatred and conflict within humanity. It is difficult but that is what we have to strive for. That is the real test of our courage and spiritual strength.
Goodness exists in every person. It is up to us to bring out the positive. All of us are afflicted with negativity, which overshadows the positive. The goodness emerges from the depths of the personality; that is what spirituality does to you.
Books that have influenced me are those by Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Sivananda, whose style of writing I adore. Autobiography of a Yogi is a book that changed my life. Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Chinmayananda, Dr S Radhakrishnan and my favorite, Swami Sivananda, are excellent for contemplation. As a teenager I enjoyed reading Kahlil Gibran and Omar Khayyam. My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi influenced me to take up the mauna vrat that I practice. Recently, I met Mrinalini Sarabhai at a program. At 88 years, she still has the zeal to be on stage and dance. Just watching her perform was inspiring. When working with Raj Kapoor, I was inspired by his mature attitude. He treated all with equanimity.
If I have clothes to wear, food to eat and a roof over my head that is enough. If I have a little more than that, it can go to someone in need. The ability to work and earn and good health – that is real wealth.
Money is not the be-all and end-all of life.
Nature and Animals
I love being around nature. I have a window that overlooks the sea and that is where I spend some time at sunrise or sunset. I love trees. These mute, giving beings – when they are being cut, I feel we are hurting ourselves. When I read that the forest trees at Cadell Road were going to be cut, I rushed there. We held hands in a show of solidarity and the trees stand till today. Once during a meditation session, I felt a cry come from Mother Earth – a cry for help. The word ‘Earth-wise’ came to my mind immediately and I decided to start a movement called ‘Earth-wise’. I got pamphlets printed which read ‘Save the environment, carry your own shopping bag’, and distributed them to all shopkeepers and homes in the locality. At 15, I gave up wearing silk. Millions of silkworms must be thankful (laughs).
My husband Roy has always been by my side throughout. Since I was 11, I always wanted to shave my head. Earlier, my parents and later, my children dissuaded me from doing so. Last year, I decided to go for it. When I was getting it done, my husband came in and joined me. Saying that he wanted to give me company, he sat down right besides me and got his head shaved too. I felt loved then.
My children bring me lots of joy. I always gave them freedom. I believe we shouldn’t force our thoughts on them. We should simply practice what we want them to follow, if they imbibe it, good. Accept them for who they are and all will be well.
On the spiritual path, one of the most important things is truth. Are we being true to ourselves? What are we? Who am I? Am I just thoughts of others? Am I just the books that I read? Am I all the people I have come across? Am I a mish-mash of everything? These questions arise when one begins to be true to oneself. In the process, like an onion, the layers of deception get peeled off till the real Self is revealed. The core of existence is known.
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