J Jayaraman, a resident of Sri Ramana Ashram has been documenting his own life as part of Project 365 – the PUBLIC PHOTO ART project initiated by EtP. JJ is born in a South Indian Brahmin family. JJ is passionate about music and art right from his childhood. He fondly recollects his mother singing the catchy songs of Tayumanavar, Pattinathar, Arunagirinathar, which used to be a common practice in every family in our culture. He didn’t learn music but was initiated into the world through a direct exploration of the Octave. He plays several instruments, all of them palm-holdable and single-pitched, like the mouth-harp, didgeridoo, gopichand ektar, tambourine, taal, shakers. He is a ready enthusiast of any music, and chants. Jayaraman did his B.Tech from IIT, Chennai. Immediately after his graduation he joined IBM. Part of his working-life also took him to nearby Baroda. A voracious reader ‘JJ’ was a frequent visitor to an East West Book House. That’s when he read about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in the book ‘Talks with Maharshi’ written by Osborne. After that he visited the ashram and since 1975 he started visiting Tiruvannamalai and the Ashram every year. In the year 1985 he quit his fancy job and became an inmate of the ashram, given the responsibility of being Librarian to its archivally unique Sri Ramana Centenary Library now [shifted into ashram area,] named Ramana Granthalayam. He had an early interest in observing photos. The long processing delay between Karma and Phala prevented him from exploring photography. In the year 2008, he started using smart phone to capture images of his daily life. When he discovered Facebook, it became his ‘real-time extension to share his mundane life images, unedited. To him, photography opened his eyes to light and to help him explore the connection with the sublime and eternal through the romance between darkness and light. JJ expressed his interest to be part project 365 and EtP was equally keen to have him part of the team. As an inmate of the ashram, JJ had more access to the ashram and was bound to bring out interesting visuals of the ashram and its surrounding.
In this project 365, JJ has sharing images of his own life in the ashram. He understands photography to be a two dimensional capture of a three-dimensional ‘frame’ flying past in pixels of 5-quanta [=sense-organ flow] then by adding metrical text ‘on the go’ to it, he adds a ‘third’ dimension to his unconventional images. And unconventional they tend to be, given his obsessive compulsive pattern-recognition. This autobiographical project brings us the protean maverick life of JJ to the light. It is appropriate to quote his words, “I entered my professional ‘ride’ when Woodstock was upon all. The ‘opting out’ was a strategy successfully demonstrated to himself by Henry David Thoreau, but would not suit a social movement like Hippyism, that need to find a structure so as not to be labeled parasite. It took time for me to realize that our own tradition allowed such a practice derived from the roots of individual temperament, and the universally present process of spiritual maturing. It has been a round trip for the Tenth Bull.”
JJ says, “The mind of a librarian who is primarily an engineer and a musician tends to gravitate towards super sets in classification and accommodation of knowledge within wholesome experience. So, much of the content of a library, its spectrum of knowledge, in some way reflects the persona of the librarian. There has been an openness in accepting all and any points of view. This fits in with Ramana Maharishi’s approach saying that, if the knower is apprehended, all else is known and if that is not done, no amount of knowledge is useful. And in the style of living accorded through him, which he called athyasrama (meaning beyond conventional human classifications), his followers and devotees are accorded a wide field for them to engage upon, should destiny move things that way for them. In my case, the invitation from Ekalokam Trust to be one of the photographers recording an aspect of Project 365 for the Arunachala, namely my life in the ashram, as a librarian, has indeed given me immense scope to capture in the visual and document the events in verse, that usually demands a revisit. The never tiring scenes of Nature’s beauty, manifest through its beings, moving and the unmoving, flying, creeping, and swimming and seeking through the verticals and the horizontals have been available to me in plenty day after day. There is an unchanging that connects all in any given theme that is captured. Put in reverse, any thing or any series that is captured can, contemplated upon sufficiently, reveal a theme. I daresay I find the subject practically inexhaustible in detail, but capable of manifesting a sturdy monotone of reality as it is, reality as it is suggested and reality as it is desired. Asti. Bhati. Priyam.”
(to be continued…)