One of the oldest types of habitation, cave dwelling is practised throughout cultures globally and requires a excessive diploma of endurance —psychological and bodily —to deal with the excessive isolation that comes with it. In India, its adherents are largely ascetics, adventurists and some who see it as a interval of nice studying of their journey of life.
MetroPlus catches up with three experimenters who declare to have developed, from their cave expertise, an equanimity that enables them to face the vicissitudes of life — and negotiate the coronavirus pandemic — with nice calmness.
TM Shihab, poet, gallerist and farmer
Shibab was simply 20 when he embarked upon a lifetime of caved isolation. “Life in a is the magic of the inside and the outside, of light and darkness. Inside a cave you are comfortable and feel a warmth similar to a mother’s love. Outside is a strange world. This can be the opposite for some people.”
His first expertise was in Hampi in 1992 the place he lived in a “rocky hideout” with an artist pal, KR Sathyan. The two had been a part of a month lengthy artists’ camp. “Though I lived in the cave for only three days, I realised that it suited my needs perfectly. Initially cave living requires assistance from local people.”
His second stint was two years later, in 1994-95, in the Himalayas the place he stayed in a number of caves whereas travelling from Rishikesh as much as Tapovan, close to the mouth of the Ganges. It was a time of studying and experiencing the excessive life, says Shihab, including that he learnt to dwell like a ‘sadhu’ and “practise harmlessness.”
“Cave life brings a few transformation in the thoughts. After the Himalayas I wished to cool down in the Sahayadari Mountains. I used to be additionally interested by Tamil siddha,” says Shihab who discovered a cave for himself at Vannamdorai, close to the Chinnar Wild life sanctuary. It took him a 12 months to discover a appropriate place. A feeder of the Pampa flowed shut by and a colony of tribal folks lived in the similar forest, the place elephants roamed freely. At first, the tribals didn’t take Shibab severely however started to deliver him a fortnightly provide of rations after he moved in. In 9 months, Shihab met outsiders solely thrice and ran out of ration twice. His day started with a shower in the river adopted primarily by “sitting quietly for hours.” He cooked as soon as a day if required and primarily lived off fruits introduced by tribals.
Shihab lived there for the subsequent 4 years. He learn a few books on the well-known Tibetan guru Milarepa and in addition constructed a tree home, 35 toes excessive on a fig tree, with the assist of the tribals. It was right now that he based Draavidia Art and Performance Gallery in Kochi in 1997, ushering in a pattern that later bloomed in the state.
Of his way of life, which entails durations of maximum isolation and sporadic socialisation, he says, “This is my way of life. The ‘cave’ is now inside me. I used to be unhappy among people because their speech, gestures, body language made me feel hopeless about the human race but, with realisation from isolated living, I can sit in the middle of people and experience complete serenity.” Shihab has a easy reply for these quarantine instances: “There’s more to discover within you than what’s offered outside.”
Abe: Kochi-based environmentalist and Yoga instructor
“The cave is the womb of Mother Earth. You can hear her heartbeat and feel her breath. Inside a cave, you feel secure. I observed silence and watched everything around me minutely. I heard the winds, worms, plants and flowers very clearly. I learnt to live alone,” says Abe (title modified on request), who selected to dwell in a cave in his seek for “alone-ness.”. He lived in full quarantine for 3 months in a cave in the Arunachalam hills close to Thiruvanamalai in 2014, earlier than the Chennai floods.
As he undertook this expertise to complement himself, all he wanted was fundamental stuff. He wore a loin fabric and bathed in a stream shut by. He needed to bend to enter the cave and sat in meditation or in full silence for hours. Though he had an oil lamp he lit it provided that required. “There were scorpions and snakes but one gets used to these. They do not attack unless interfered with,” says Abe who subsisted on fruits, which his college students introduced for him as soon as every week.
“The forced quarantine is troubling people. But it has taken a pandemic for us to realise that all beings share the same universe and that we are one family. Adapt, adjust, accommodate and enjoy the lockdown,” says Abe who has been conducting nature consciousness programmes in faculties throughout India for six years.
Filmmaker Ananda Jyothi
Ananda Jyothi aka Jyothibai was in his 20s when he had his first expertise of residing in a cave. The feted filmmaker from Kerala has lived for brief stints in caves thrice. Jyothbiai describes his early expertise in a cave close to Rishikesh in UP as exhilarating. He lived for a month in the well-known Vasishta and Arundhathi caves named after an historic Hindu sage and his consort.
“Cave life is about discipline. Certain tasks like collecting wood and water from the river for cooking have to be done. There is no door like in a conventional house. Most cave dwellers have a trunk to keep the ration,” says Jyothibai who lived together with an skilled ascetic who taught him the sensible mode of residing in the Himalayas.
He learnt to deal with the biting chilly and to breathe in air with lowered oxygen ranges. In 1992-93 he lived for 2 months in a cave close to the banks of the Tungabhadra at Rishimukh Island at Hampi, spending his time in meditation and chanting. Three years later, he as soon as once more undertook the expertise at Omkareshwar close to the Narmada. This time he conquered his concern of snakes that lived in giant numbers round the cave. He additionally discovered that native folks revere a cave dweller’s penance and go to from time to time with choices of meals. “They used to regularly bring home made ghee,” says Jyothibai explaining that the lifetime of a cave dweller is Spartan. “ The man in search for a meaning in life tries to train the mind and body to overcome weaknesses like hunger and bodily comfort,” he says.
Currently in Kochi, the 54-year-old is coping with the present isolation with disarming acceptance, honed from the grittiness of cave life. “I didn’t think about coming back to worldly life from the life in the cave and its spirituality but I got back. We cannot change the present situation but it is within our power to deal with it. The process may be slow and the end maybe a surprise.”