Unbecoming: Dariya Leher Samaaye,Songs of the Mystics. Mahayana Buddhism. Creative Arts,An Immersive Retreat by Tejal Shah & Shabnam Virmani (supported by Swagath Sivakumar) (POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 PRECAUTION)

Kehna tha so keh diya
Ab kuchh kahaa na jaaye
Ek rahaa dooja gaya
Dariya leher samaaye

 All is truly said and done
now there’s nothing left to say
one remains, the other is gone
the ocean absorbed the wave


UNBECOMING: Dariya Leher Samaaye
Mystic Poetry & Song. Mahayana Buddhism. Creative Expression
An Immersive Retreat facilitated by Tejal Shah & Shabnam Virmani
(supported by Swagath Sivakumar)
April 23-29, 2021, Deer Park, Bir

Over seven days, together, we will delve into the philosophy and contemplative practices drawn from two distinct yet resonant traditions of Mahayana Buddhism and the songs of Kabir and other Bhakti and Sufi poets. Combining discussion and reflection with singing, movement, writing, drawing, and yoga, we will mobilize our bodies, hearts, and minds in ways that invite us to examine the nature of all things – self and other.

Each day we will explore themes such as Seeking the Beloved Within/Hamaara Yaar Hai Ham Mein, Discontent/Asha Trishna Na Mari, Soma and Psyche/Ya Ghat Bheetar, Nature of Mind/Yo Mann Chanchal Chor, Illusion or Reality/Maaya Maha Thhagini, Meditation/Dhyaan, and Expansive Love and Compassion/Prem Gali Ati Saankri. We will focus on process rather than an end result with the primary wish to generate an embodied understanding that takes us on a journey of unbecoming, from independence to interdependence.

PS: You neither have to be an artist nor a singer to participate in this retreat. Bring your curious selves, an open heart and mind, a yoga mat, a journal/sketchbook, and any colouring mediums of your preference. All songs shared and sung (in a various Indian dialects) will be accompanied by English translations and explanations, and all other materials will be primarily in English.

We request participants to arrive by early evening on April 22 for an introductory session at 7 pm. The retreat will run from April 23 till April 29 noon 2021, and participants may depart thereafter.

Daily Schedule:
6:30-7 am                    Meditation (optional)
7-8 am                         Yoga, Pranayama, Sukshma Vyayam (subtle body exercises), Farming
8-9 am                         Breakfast
9:15-10:30 am            Session 1
10:30-11 am               Tea/Coffee break
11am-12 pm               Session 1 continues
12-1 pm                       Lunch break
1-3 pm                         Rest
3-4:15 pm                   Session 2
4:15-4:45 pm              Tea/Coffee break
4:45-6 pm                   Session 2 continues
6-7 pm                        Dinner
8-9 pm                         Screenings or participant-led sharings (optional)

 Shabnam Virmani has been exploring the philosophy of Kabir, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and other mystic poets through a deep engagement with their oral folk traditions for close to two decades, ever since the riots of Gujarat in 2002 propelled her on this quest. Her deep inspiration in this poetry has taken the shape of documentary films on Kabir; a digital archive on mystic poetry and music called Ajab Shahar; organizing urban festivals and rural yatras; infecting students with the challenge and wonder of mystic poetry and also translation and writing. She has co-authored two books 𝘐 𝘚𝘢𝘸 𝘔𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧: 𝘑𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘺𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘩 𝘈𝘣𝘥𝘶𝘭 𝘓𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘧 𝘉𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘪 (Penguin, 2019) and 𝘖𝘯𝘦 𝘗𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦, 𝘢 𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘋𝘰𝘰𝘳𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴: 𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘉𝘩𝘢𝘬𝘵𝘪, 𝘚𝘶𝘧𝘪 & 𝘉𝘢𝘶𝘭 𝘖𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘛𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 (Speaking Tiger, 2019) with Vipul Rikhi, and is currently working on 𝘉𝘶𝘳𝘯 𝘋𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘏𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘦: 𝘓𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘓𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘒𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘳 (upcoming, Aleph). She interprets and sings a wide repertoire of folk songs of the mystics to both rural and urban audiences. Her film 𝘒𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘳𝘢 𝘒𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘢 𝘉𝘢𝘻𝘢𝘢𝘳 𝘔𝘦𝘪𝘯 won the Special Jury Prize at the 52nd National Awards in 2011, and the work of the Kabir Project was given the Sadbhavana Award for contributing to inter-faith understanding in 2016. Her work is enabled by the Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore, where she is located as an artist in residence and the Kabir Project is housed. www.ajabshahar.org; www.kabirproject.org

Tejal Shah is a contemporary visual artist who loves working with the earth, with animals and with people in equal measure. Her experimental films, video installations, and multimedia works have been exhibited in galleries, museums and film festivals worldwide. As a cultural activist, she has been part of the autonomous women’s and LGBTQ movements in India. Her practice intersects queer-feminism with non-dual philosophy and eco-poetics. Currently, she is experimenting with various creative processes that facilitate an embodied understanding of interdependence, which naturally leads to an expansive opening of our hearts and minds.

She has a BA in Photography from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and was an exchange scholar at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. Since 2017, Tejal has been systematically studying Buddhist philosophy [Diploma & Masters Course (2017-2021), both in Nalanda Buddhism] at Tibet House, New Delhi, and Buddhist Dialectics from the Lama Tsongkhapa Institute, Italy (2020-2022). In 2020, she set up Sisters in Spirit, an independent project that introduces people to Buddhist teachings within a secular, scientific and creative framework. www.tejalshah.in; https://www.facebook.com/sistersinspiritcommunity/

Swagath Sivakumar is a student and apprentice at the Kabir Project. He is drawn to the Indian mystics by the remarkable resonances between their poetry and the teachings of the Buddha. As he grapples with his own difficulties, he enjoys sharing poetry and folk-philosophy which he has found personally insightful.

This residential retreat is offered on Donation / Dana basis. 
For registration & info about cost of food & stay contact Deer Park office –
info@deerpark.in / +91-70184-06363 / +91-1894-268508 
(Timings: Mon to Sat – 9am to 12pm & 2pm to 6pm)






Apr 23 - 29 2021


All Day


Deer Park Institute, Bir
Deer Park Institute