Updated: Jun 5, 2021
To all spirits who walk alone
I hear you
To all spirits who feel alone
I feel you
To all spirits who think they are alone
I exist with you
To all spirits who need acknowledgement
I see you
To all spirits passing through,
Thank you for stopping by
On your way out…
I choose to refer to my journey as the great epic of Mahabharata. There are many translations and interpretations to the same epic, some of which also interpreting the gender differences and views contained within. I choose to interpret the Mahabharata from my personal journey of living with schizophrenia and also other various conditions I have had including sleep disorders and scar epilepsy. I cannot tell you my story simply based on my main identity of someone having paranoid schizophrenia.
These unedited entries (of my sequel) marks my own inquiry of not anybody else’s mind or the mind in general but my own. For having survived through 3 brain conditions of which medical science has always looked at from a hopeless lens, I believe that my journey through each one of them carries important questions and answers that need to shared, inquire upon, translated and conveyed in a way that it would bring about some amount of hope to someone else’s life in order for them to seek out their own meaning. What use of sickness and suffering that leaves us scarred for life if we can’t understand what they were meant for? That there is a higher purpose to what has happened to us and that it is not just an illness or disease that we get treated for and continue on with our lives as if that is all to it.
I might come across contradictory at many areas in my story but do not form judgments’ towards my knowledge gained based on momentary lapses. Life exists in parts before it becomes whole said a philosopher. I do not claim to know it all but I think it is fair for me to say I know of some things that have helped me and I wish to share those with those of you who do not mind being challenged, shaken of your seats of knowledge, expertise and civilized minds or even thrown into spaces that can stir the darkest of things and raise your own fears. My book is not meant for those who wish to criticize the validity of my various conditions, the knowledge it comes with, or for those looking to certify, quantify and formulate proves on various conditions of the human mind. To me the human mind is unquantifiable as is the universe. I equate the mind to be the same as the universe where 95% of it consist of dark matter which man still doesn’t know about. Our thought is even faster than the speed of light and to box our thoughts as if they are certain is an arrogant tendency within all of us build on the fear of loss, as we continue to identify to the illusions of ourselves.
And so the tendencies of my mind exist in 100s much like the Kauravas. These tendencies are born from two egos – but they are both blind to the tendencies. Much as what we do to ourselves. We try to ignore and blind ourselves to our own inner qualities that might be immoral, bad, sinful to our eyes.
My senses are the Pandavas. They too can fall to desires, be trapped by the tendencies of the mind and then get lost. Be sent to exile. My exile of 13 years are the years spent with my schizophrenia as a prisoner, a social outcaste, a taboo, limited to human interaction and people. Having first obeyed my voices at age 15 in search for freedom, independence and identity, I ran away from home and that laid the first foundations to what began as being a social outcaste, name called, shunned, judged, sent to be corrected, taken to a different land and culture which further ridiculed me. The back and forth which then led to further alienation of my self with society, as there was no scope to form any relationship long enough before having forced to move.
Reaching the finality of my trials to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia at age 22 adding the last straw of being an outcaste in the name of religion and science, both fields being considered as the power players. To finally fighting each and every player and choosing to fight back at age 28, thus my 13 years of exile proved to be just another beginning to the larger battle I would have to face, the battle of my senses with my body. One battle followed the epic Mahabharata, the battle of the senses (Pandavas) against the tendencies (Kauravas).
The other battle we’ve never been told about is the one where the Pandavas and Kauravas learn to work with each other – a much utopian dream, a possibility or question many of us would have asked as kids ‘Why did they have to fight and not find a way to live in harmony and share?’ We stopped asking that question because we believed the Mahabharata to be the story of people not related to us. A bedtime story about our mythology. If we were told to see the characters as they are within us, a lot of what we lost as kids would have remained – that is the sacredness of honesty, harmony and love for all. These that can only exist when we have that honesty, harmony and love for ourselves and everything that we are.
My body is Draupadi. The hope that came in. That desire to love. The medications took that away from me. That body image I grew up with. The person I could look into the mirror and be grateful for the strength, flexibility, speed and beauty I saw. I could love her. My inner Draupadi arose at one point calling out to the God of love, Krishna who resides within me but at a higher plane asking him to rescue her from the tendencies of the mind (Kauravas) that were stripping her.
Each character is within me. I might use the pronouns of he, she, him or her but I consider them merely an interpretation and sharir (body) to identify to along with the nature, qualities and choices each character makes in order to survive this battle towards harmony. I do not see my inner Draupadi or Krishna or Arjun, or Kunti as man or woman. I see them as parts of me having had to exist in certain forms in order to convey a story. I am but human. As a human I require physical associations in order to build a visual in my mind I can relate to. Once I can relate to this appearance I can find connection and see myself in it or it in me. The divine is within me and outside of me and we are one when these physical associations do not hold much value and does not become necessary in order to love. Aham Brahmasmi.
Draft illustration of Mahabharata - a commissioned piece for a collector
2000 - 2001. Pune.
I was pursuing my bachelors in arts at Fergusson college, Pune. I majored in philosophy with English, psychology and economics as subsidiary papers. Philosophy was called the loser’s option. I wanted to major in psychology but I didn’t get the required grade for it in my first year, nor did I attend most of the lectures as there were too many students chasing the same thing. I declared defeat before even considering my second choice. I didn’t have a second choice. When enrolment for second year in college begun, I wasn’t in the country. I had gone for a vacation to Malaysia and was hell bent on staying back since I had already began working. My college friends from 1999 were in touch with me regularly and we would hang out pretty often. But father insisted that we return to Pune together as he fears leaving me alone. No amount of my ideas and life plans could convince him otherwise.
Something had happened back in Pune to mom but he refused to tell me. All he said was ‘Your mother needs us right away Resh. Don’t ask me why’. I felt it was really unfair that this kept happening to me. I never had any answers. Wouldn’t it be just simpler if they told me what was so important that we had to rush back! At least I wouldn’t have to hate their stupid decisions without a reason which further puts me in guilt for having it. What was so secretive and unspeakable that I couldn’t question?