Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CASA DE MARGAO


Only the three of us together in Goa for nine days was unexpectedly a rare event, it happened for the first time and let’s hope not for the last. Soma Biki and me, siblings, through the grace or call it sledge of some unseen puppeteer’s hands spent a ‘blink and you miss’ period (from the 17th to 25th Nov) in our respective lifetime in each other’s company at Biki’s place, doing nothing, just relaxing, sight-seeing, eating out, cooking, talking and not talking. Generally speaking touching each other’s souls. That such an occasion has never come to pass earlier did not dither any of us, but that such an event could never have been imagined earlier is also the sacred truth. It was meant to happen somehow; it happened through some quirk of fate and now is history, yet another memory.

During those nine days Biki had his weekly off on a Saturday when all of us went to a further down south Goa’s pristine beach. A few of our evenings were spent at some local gourmet restaurant. Biki spared his car for us and on a few occasions I took Soma around Old Goa and Margao. I spent many a mornings walking around Margao reliving childhood memories. Rest of the time was spent reading, eating and resting. Together we did not have any profound talk sessions, we did not utilize the opportunity to bond together, we did not tie our hands around each other’s shoulders to laugh and cry, and neither did we squabble and fight. There was no need to. We were just - comfortable. Biki and Soma can easily gel together while obviously I am the odd ball.

Margao Goa a significant town to this world is also a major milestone in our present life journey. Biki was born there while Soma and I have our fondest childhood memories still nesting there. I first cut my teeth as a kid at Aquem Alto Margao and therefore visiting the place is like a pilgrimage to me. From the moment we landed at the Dabolim Airport I was transfixed into my past. The very smell and color of Goa puts me into a subdued and reverent mood. Goa smells different from any other place. The fragrance of the sea, fish, feni, pav, sausages, curry masala, church, they add up into a feisty concoction. Goa is colorful in unique ways. The elderly folks preferably wear either white or black to church but the youngsters wear bright colours, the inside of the church is multi-coloured and all lighted up, the Goan houses are painted in every shade of the rainbow, and from the beach while on one side you see only blue the other side is all green and red. And I haven’t yet referred to the carnival.

We stayed in Margao from 1968 to 1976. Since then the place hasn’t changed much except in subtle ways. While the old roads have remained intact without any increase in width, a few new highways have propped up. While old houses continue to stand as permanent landmarks, vacant plots have been swallowed up by new flat schemes. In fact every open space and erstwhile forest land has vanished. The Municipal Park and Municipal Office building in the heart of Margao still continue as distinct and beautiful show-pieces. These are not tourist attractions but to me they mean significant structures from my past, some assurance of permanence, some comfort to be able to relate to my childhood again through real visuals. The lanes and buildings, the Kamat hotel and old market nearby the park, the Milan Kamat hotel some distance away, the old fish market, the Longuinhos and Woodlands hotels, these are all old sights which refresh and kindle old feelings. Walking west from the park is the Vishant cinema hall, and further is Aquem Alto, its old power house and their staff colony, St Joseph Convent where we studied, the old house where we stayed, Acharya’s Saw Mill, the places where the Patel family and of course Neela Didi and Manik teacher stayed. At times nostalgic waves have taken over my heart. Nothing else was comprehensible. The drama plays out in front of my eyes as I stood at these places, remembering the people who were there along with me in the past, distinctly my mother, father, Soma and friends, what did they say, what did they do, like a movie flashback the scenes rolled on. These nine days I must have walked around these points numerous times and everytime I have been overwhelmed with emotions beyond my control.

To recount a few of these visuals; in those days there were a sizable Gawda population in Margao who vended fruits and vegetables amongst other things. Their women folk wore a particular red and white printed sari in a distinct fashion they could be recognised by their clothing. The Gawda’s are not seen any more - Soma suffered from asthma right from her childhood and due to which she always got preferential treatment at home. I always detested that and have held it against her till date. For every mischief which we both executed, I got beaten and she was forgiven. Once I had accidentally dislodged the gear in fathers Jeep and it rolled into a ditch along with me and Soma. While I got spanked Soma got hugged. However inspite of my animosity, our bhai-phota ritual has survived till date - vendors honking their blow horns and selling bun, pav or fish in a huge basket tied on the back seat of their bicycle and covered with a blue plastic or rubber mat, they are still seen today - sometimes the Goan ladies of the fishermen community would walk from house to house with a basket of fish on their head, which is not seen anymore - once every week in the evening, mother used to take me and Soma to the Municipal Park to relax and play and then to the Kamat hotel for masala dosa. We went by bus and returned along with father in his jeep because his office was nearby. Sometimes we waited for him at the residence of his boss Mr. Chaterjee, whose wife was a great host – father took me on Sundays to the market to buy vegetables and fish/meat. Once I saw many live Tortoise of two feet diameter each being sold as meat - the Acharya family who owned a Saw Mill were family friends, once a group of men including my father went on a hunting expedition into the jungle and returned with deer meat they shot and skinned - Neela Didi was a great friend of mother and she took tuitions for me and Soma every evening. Whenever a new movie was released in Vishant cinema, Neela Didi, my mother, Soma and me used to walk in the sun to watch the afternoon show - Once father had taken us to Panjim to watch the movie Bobby where a stranger had mistakenly spit near me and father had taken offence - Purshottam Patel’s father was the Manager of the Damodar Saw Mill which was about a kilometer away to the south of our house and I used to go to his place sometimes - the space in front of our house was an empty ground where the neighborhood boys used to play football. Sada was one gifted player. I played with them whenever they took me - Anant and Anil Apte stayed a little distance away near the residence of Baba Naik where I went on many occasions to play cricket. Anant used to create box projector and show us some slides. They shifted to Panjim soon - There was a big function hall near our house (still exists). Every year a collage annual day celebration used to be conducted there with boys and girls dancing from morning till evening to western music. Sometimes educational movies were screened in the hall free of charge - there used to be a Kaju tree in front of our house shaped like a horse and we used to climb its branches and then jump down from a height. This routine got repeated - St. Joseph Convent a well-structured school with good teachers and all round curriculum. The Sisters of the convent were sweet and patient with the kids. I remember Manik teacher who also taught us dance. On one school annual day function we trained for African Zulu dance and also took it to a inter school competition. I was always amongst the top three in my class as I was a good student. Girija always used to come first in my class. The senior class had very handsome boys and very pretty girls who always played pranks on each other - Diwali and Christmas were the two most celebrated festivals, both associated with lightings. The whole neighborhood used to get lighted during these times, sweets and namkeen used to be prepared in every house and exchanged from house to house. Troupes of boys used to take the Narakasur and Krishna dance from house to house and stage innumerable performances in a single night - when the rains started in Goa, it rained continuously for days together. I was often down with fever during those times - our annual sojourn to Raniganj was during the summer holidays. We went when the sun was very hot and returned when the rains had already started - on occasions I had been into the nearby forest along with some friends, throwing stones at Kaju and mango trees. I never know the road back home and depended entirely on the others - there was a bakery nearby, and at three in the afternoon sharp they used to open up to sell freshly baked bread. I have walked there to buy bread many hundred times. Bread and butter used to be our favorite snack. The smell of fresh bread still lingers in my nose.

The Christian churches of Goa whether big or small are very beautiful both in terms of architecture and interior design. The ivory and golden hues at the altar accompanied with lighting are really an awesome sight. But that is beside the point. The Christian religion has made their community God loving instead of the common Hindu concept of god fearing. The colourful pictures and statues of the life and times of Jesus Christ as depicted in these churches create images of compassion and humility in the hearts of people.

The music of Goa with its mix of native rusticity and European melody is also a treat to the ears. Music is popular in the Church and the restaurants. It does not matter whether the lyrics are in Goan language or in English, it does not matter whether you understand the meaning or not, but you will most certainly tap your feet and move your hips if you are in a restaurant and sway to serenity if you are in the church.

Lastly the thought crossed my mind that had we stayed back at Margao then what would I have become today. I think I would have still been my low confident self. I can’t say with certainty that I would have been doing a regular job. Maybe I would have joined the church or been a teacher in some school or maybe I would have been associated with the tourism industry as a foot soldier. Over the years infact the tourism industry has exerted some influence over the lives of Goan people. Most have taken to rental income from hotels and guest houses which have mushroomed. But sadly tourism industry have also made the men folk lazy and drunk. No business is transacted in Margao between 1 pm and 4 pm and most of the shops and office down shutters.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

THE CULTURAL IMPACT OF SACRIFICE ON CORRUPTION IN INDIA


The length and breadth of India is over shadowed by the disease of corruption. Geography will pale in comparison when one weighs without any exaggeration that the depth of life in this country and its basic fiber is grossly impacted by the tentacles of corruption. Before rushing ahead in this tom-toming of who else is also corrupt, let us spare a thought on what exactly constitutes corruption.
Transparency International states that; “Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.” While the Oxford Dictionary defines corruption to mean; “(i) dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery, (ii) the action or effect of making someone or something morally depraved”. I believe that the moment has arrived for a broader reading of the import of this definition. To my mind, it would be most narrow-minded, very immature and blatantly foolish to consider and recognise only those people in positions of organised authority like government and the bureaucracy as the conspicuous targets. To my mind every individual has an extent of power over his or her own self and this aspect of position of authority is being conveniently overlooked. When one conspires with the Gods, when one tries to manipulate the natural course of events by invoking the supernatural powers of the universe through the various ritual of sacrifice, to beg and bargain for unwarranted gains, it certainly amounts to bribery which is a brazen example of corruption as well, at a very personal level. That should bring us to the next question about what is this stuff called rituals of sacrifice.
When one digs into the facets of life during the Vedic times in this region which arguably lasted till about 400 BC, one encounters the oft repeated mention of Yajna. The basic ritual according to Vedic tradition is Yajna. To borrow directly from various materials available on the internet on the stated subject “the Sanskrit word Yajna is derived from the root ‘Yaj’ which means to worship, to sacrifice, to bestow, and to offer. The word Yaga also has the same meaning, worship in the form of offering oblations or a sacrifice for the gods. It is also defined as the Tyaga – giving up or offering – for any specific deity or some deities at the same time. It is a link between the gods and the human beings. The essence of the sacrifice was a proof of one’s devotion to the deity. The human-divine link played by the role of Yajna was to obtain gods favors either in the external worlds or in the internal (psychological) world of the practitioners, for obtaining health, wealth, long life, offspring, cattle, victory, good harvest, freedom from evil forces, total salvation. The sacrifices in the form of offerings were made to the fire god Agni and are the first original and basic dharma according to Rig Veda”.
The Vedic practice of Yajna or sacrifice has continued into the Hindu religion and right into the present times.  Today Yajna is conducted during occasions as well as non-occasions, both at public temples as well as at private homes. The practice has worked its way into the blood of the inhabitants of this region. It has become a sort of basic trait that defines the Hindu people. The influence of Yajna on the behavior and psyche of the Hindu people which has now adapted into certain natural characteristics namely; (a) never to be satisfied with whatever is there (b) to desire more but never to work or strive hard (c) to find some short cut means (d) the end always justifies every kind of means. Somehow the concept of sacrifice always works. When you give up certain privileges bestowed to you by nature, it is always replenished with better set of privileges. The Hindu’s have known this secret since thousands of years and have practiced it till it has become a second nature to them. Temples in India have always been known to possess unheard of riches and even today we see such practices continue. The Hindu people sacrifice their wealth to the temples in the search or rather craving for more wealth, instead of (and sadly so) working hard for it. It has been the same story for every other kind of benefit.
Bribing the Gods for various favors is an unashamed form of corruption. It is an abuse of natural law. It is morally depraving and a dishonest act against oneself, against one’s karma. Let us see and accept the truth about ourselves, that we are a very corrupt people, we have corruption in our genes. There is no point in blaming the bureaucrat, the politician, or the businessmen when the nation itself is corrupt.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Brooding





Why do you brood?
Silly Bo!

When thing’s said by people who matter
Creates thought like a chatter
With imagination it expands fatter
Plays on the fertile mind greater
Repeatedly till it influences behavior.

Mind is a potent player
Life’s vicissitudes germinator
Consciously we attend his theater
Knowing the inevitable baiter
Yet we slip into his trap the trickster
Unable to resist the attacker.

Therefore I brood

Like a silly Bo.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

PARASITIC EXISTANCE

 
Another tax filing season, completion of financial statements season. Another season of false assurances, false certifications. Another September season. Another season of bitterness, frustration and helplessness.
In India the understanding that is believed sacrosanct is that the business never dies even though the businessman may die. A sick man can go to the doctor and get himself treated. A man suffering from cardiac arrest possibly due to irresponsible living, can start afresh with a surgery, then rest and medication. But a sick business is never declared. Hiding the sickness could lead to further sickness, well so be it. There is no honour in declaring that the business cannot sustain itself. No law enables it. Financers and creditors would not listen to any such thing. It would be termed suicidal. The businessman would be considered non-bankable and financially untouchable. He would be socially ostracized and declared an utter failure in life. Who would want such a fate! Never! Not even for one’s enemy. Well then the obvious question that should strike a sensible mind is; how does an Indian businessman keep a dead business alive? Abracadabra! He has a magic portion, an elixir, in the form of his auditor who for a few rupees more would be ready to attest any bullshit. Without casting aspersions around, permit me to confess, I am one such leech. Pathetic but true. I am transformed into a parasite who survives on the shameful yet practical and natural act of surviving of the dead.
Do not misunderstand this to be some boast. This is more of mourn from the slashed guts of a sterile, inept and defeated man. However even if it is taken to be a boast, what good or bad can it do to my already existing miserable state? Still I do dare to publish this repulsive post into public domain in some foolish hope of deliverance. My good friend advises me, “Don’t make it to be such a strong issue. The more you repulse it, the more it will become big. Behave as if it is nothing, have a pleasant mind and some day it will simply not be there”. Excellent advice and I have to work on its implementation. I could possibly view this as an act of kindness, a social service where I help keep the smile on the faces of the various stakeholders of the business. Else I can pretend to be a doctor who tries in vain struggling against the will of God and artificially sustaining life through some extraneous life support machines. 
Economic activity is a game of the mind, it is all an illusion. One illusion sustains another and an unbroken chain of illusions are created and then sustained through deliberate human endeavor. Once caught in this whirlpool there is no escape. Therefore having chosen to be a part of this falsifying racket I should not be claiming the desire to walk the moral high grounds of “Oh, how I hate doing this stuff”. That makes me a class one hypocrite and a confused idiot to the boot.
This raises the fundamental problem all over again, what am I doing here, this is not the right place for me. As always I do not have an answer to this. Not yet.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

THE ASARAM SYNDROME



Just as politics is the last resort of the scoundrel, spirituality has become the last resort of the lascivious. Just as strongly the believers in the country’s potential would add that all politicians are not bad, the faithful’s of the cults of God would append that all Gurus are not lewd. So why this fallacy? Why is this initial statement of fact such a common sight in this country and yet we would be happy and positively inclined to accept the latter opposite. Are we all blind or can’t we accept the reality?

This post is not about the politicians but rather about the Godmen and well, things are not so plain vanilla as they appear to be. For starters, the spiritual life is the most difficult of choices which an individual can attempt and yet supposedly the simplest way of living imaginable. Then, a spiritual aspirant cannot afford to fall from grace while his path is right on the razors edge. Further, it may seem ordinary but yet very difficult to honestly lead an ordinary spiritual life because the lure of fame, comfort and sense gratification are too powerful to resist.

There are two issues involved. The first is the control over one’s mind. When one choses the spiritual life, it is meant to be a sacrifice of all sense desires. However for that one has to be aware of one’s body, the sense organs and their objectives, the depth and strength of the relationship between the mind and the body. To be able to keep the mind light and free of attachments, cravings and aversions is the foundation of the spiritual life. To ignore these aspects or to not ascribe the necessary importance to it is akin to inviting ones doom. Sooner or later the spiritual aspirant is bound to fall prey to the enticing mind.

The other issue is the knowledge of one’s self. To know you is first to understand and then acknowledge, accept the nature and character of your mind as well as intelligence and second to work diligently within its limits towards the selected goals. The present nature and character of the mind and intelligence is a cumulative establishment of all previous actions and conduct through numerous life times. They cannot be easily deciphered and the least easy to accept. Every individual is carried away by the thought and power of present potential and therefore becomes a victim to the past tendencies of the mind and intelligence. One has to carefully observe the play of events around oneself to gather clues about the nature of one’s mind, and then wield and wed it to the spiritual goals. This is never easy because the cycle of karmic retribution has to unfold and one has to undergo the consequences of one’s past conduct. It becomes an immensely difficult task to balance and merge the past effects with the future aims. The level of difficulty is similar for both the good as well as bad past effects because they will ensure inspite of whether one wants them or not.

For those who are not careful about these things, the Asaram Bapu kind of episodes will happen. Where was the need to retain that girl with him in his room all alone for an hour and half? There is a raunchy joke on this. A wife catches her husband red handed in bed with the maid. Wife weeping: I didn’t expect you to stoop so low! Husband: Dear please listen, this was an experiment. Even Gandhi ji used to lay naked with his wife to test his self-control. Wife: So what did you find out? Husband: That I am no Mahatma!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

TOO MANY WISE MEN IN INDIA



“Within weeks of the Prime Minister’s Office pitching for relaxation of iron ore exports, the Steel Ministry and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council are trying to block it. They have argued that lowering of the 30 per cent duty on exports of the mineral would raise the cost of production for domestic steel companies currently battling a downturn and rising input costs. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently suggested relaxing the duty on iron ore exports as a key measure to contain the nation’s current account deficit.” This is an excerpt from Indian Express 25th August 2013 news item titled ‘NMCC, steel ministry try to block iron ore exports’. One man proposes, another disposes. Everybody is wise, everybody has a say, and everybody’s say counts. This has the sad story of the government in this country since the past many years. Have they been able to stop corruption and crime – no! Have they been able to show exemplary leadership – to some extent, maybe! Have they become fearful of taking decisions – yes! Have they managed to tie themselves up in knots – yes! Has this situation been brought about by greed, dishonest and unscrupulous handling of the affairs of the state – of course yes! Does every citizen today feel depressed and hopeless about the future of the country in the hands of such people – I think it is a yes! Definitely!

Three major events have marked the quality of government that we have seen under the present Prime Minister; the telecom fiasco, the mining fiasco and the retrospective amendment fiasco. Let us for a moment hypothetically assume that there was no corruption involved, there were no vested interests and the decision makers were honestly going about their duties in a mundane manner. The way in which these legislative processes were undertaken smacks of unprofessionalism and irresponsible conduct. The bureaucracy and the legislature have behaved as if they were new to the tasks and that making mistakes was a part of the game. On many occasions we have sadly seen one department obstructing another department, one minister arguing with another minister, to bring the development process to a standstill. That an entire nation is going to be affected by their one wrong step even if such a step is taken in ignorance never seem to cross their minds. That an angry and hungry opposition would pounce to make their lives miserable also does not cross their minds. Now, if one were told to break off the sweet assumptions of honesty, absence of corruption and vested interest in public life and view the whole thing along with such misdemeanors, then all that we ordinary citizens are left with are woeful cries of agony and frustration from the heart.

In fact every other fragment of the nations’ governance which include the Reserve Bank, the Central Investigators, the Auditor General and the News media have conducted themselves in a reactionary and short-sighted manner. All these organisations have never weighed the psychological influence of hyping of their actions over the citizens, which communicates that the hue and cry over loss of public funds, public assets and resources do not adversely disturb any individual in particular. The attitude they displayed is always that of trying to help the nation, to protect it from thieves. Thus we have had every group straining to hurt every other group through senseless acrimony, doing it simply with an intention of constructive condemnation and ultimately ending up destroying the economic wealth of the country which they presumed to enhance.

Do we deserve this? Oh yes! We as a nation certainly deserve our problems because it represents the common attitude and behavior of the people – the electors and the elected, the law creators, upholders and followers. Jointly as a nation we have failed; (a) to curb our reactionary tendencies to events which have made us drift along with the flow without a destination, (b) to ensure consensus amongst ourselves on sharing of land and mineral resources for our own consumption, (c) to recognise sacrifices made by certain sections of citizens in the march towards economic development whereby they got left behind, (d) to ensure a dignified living for every group of people as a compensation for their contribution towards the common goal, (e) to keep our political strategy aside from the nations’ economic strategy, (f)  to appeal to reasons based on good arguments and convincing capability so as to talk all sections of people along, (g) to create a long term vision for the nation where everyone’s destiny is involved and of course (h) because we have come to accept corruption and dishonesty as an inevitable part of daily living.

Another way of looking at this chaos is that it is a part of the growing up process. We see many adult nations, many strong nations and also many weaker nations. We see our problems, we see choice of actions in front of us, we wish to tackle our problems in our own way, and we do not want to be heralded by anyone wiser than us, so we react, make mistakes, fall, get up, and thus grow. Unfortunately compared to many nations one could conclude that India is retarded because its growth is like two steps forward and then two steps back. From 4% growth we went upto 9% growth and then are back at 4% again within 20 years. In some way this chaos is good because everybody in the country is realizing the enormity of the task, the demands of various groups which are at cross purpose to each other, the mistakes being committed and the its accompanying pain, and the never ending search for solutions. So far the leadership of Mr. Manmohan Singh has been benevolent, trying to accommodate everyone, trying to resolve every problem with compassion and wisdom. One may choose to call it pitfalls of democracy but atleast every citizen feels that they are on board.

Certain valuable lessons that this mess reveals and needs to be observed and imbibed by one and all are:

 Essential to Respect the Individual: The individual person is most important and each individual is a mixture of his abilities, talents, karmic strengths and obligations. Feeling of love and goodwill for each other is the best way to progress ahead together. An individual can be rich or poor on account of monetary wealth, health and physical strength, mental abilities, behavior as well as intuitive or judgmental powers all of which are factors under that individual’s control. The gap between such rich and poor would always continue and can never ever be breached but it should also be accepted that a rich man deserves as much respect as a poor man. The dignity of the rich is equal to that of the poor. Therefore discrimination of people through caste, colour, birth or any standards which is beyond their control, which becomes the basis for difference in treatment being meted out should be abandoned. Open display of discriminative manipulations creates heartburn and acrimony; it is sensed as an insult and seeks its own retribution. It is high time people of this country understand this. Secondly it is also the need of the hour to take all sections of the population together in the march towards progress. Everybody has to be given a hearing under Indian pluralistic environment and it is imperative that all decisions have to be for the common good. There may be a fierce debate held under amiable conditions rather than stalling any discussion which invariably would scuttle dissenting voices.   

Addressing Fears will take its own Time: Every human wants to enjoy the fruits of development, wants a comfortable living. But they have their fears and sense of insecurity. When people are used to a certain way of life, it is impossible to immediately give it up and adopt another. For example, expecting Tribal’s or farmers to leave their land for growth of industry cannot be achieved overnight. We need a more compassionate approach. Sharing of land as well as the resources above and below it for the common good of everyone has to be explained, justified and solid proof in its favour has to be delivered. One has to appeal to reasons and this may take a pretty long time. There is no other substitute or short cut. Unless we assuage their feelings of insecurity, address and resolve it, they will not relent and chaos will continue. Once again respect for the individual is important here also.

Corruption has become the Convention: Everyone wants to become wealthy and powerful as soon as possible and is willing to adopt even unethical means to reach his goals. The vulnerability of people towards bribe culture has destroyed the ethos and morals of more than one generation today. Such a vulnerability flows due to our weak strength of character from wanting to protect our own people and our family member from adversities leading to accepting and giving bribes and nepotism. It is now a commonly accepted fact in India that generally people will accept as well as adopt corrupt ways to expect even ordinary tasks which in the past would have gone down as responsibility in the course of duty. Since principles are not valued anymore therefore governance also has to shift from the culture of principle based working to rule based working which makes it imperative for the enforcement of compliances through extended use of technology. It thus follows that people are obliged to become tech savvy.

Technology has become Crucial: The strength of the west is its education of fearlessly questioning the conventional wisdom while its folly is its arrogance. We Indians are exactly the opposite in our views. While the west has made remarkable progress in the field of new technologies, we Indians lack the appetite for hard core R and D. Modern living is entirely dependent on technical appliances which the west will sell costly because there aren’t too many sellers. In return they would buy our antique but basic goods but at a cheap price because there are too many sellers. Net result is out adverse foreign trade deficit which very badly impacts our ability to grow as a nation and be able to provide a better living for our people. We Indians have to shun this culture of instant gratification, this trap of consumption of western technology based life style products and focus on being able to produce such similar products with indigenous technology and slowly struggle to a position of strength. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

ABOUT FEAR



A lot of people proclaim a lack of fear as their bedrock manly character. Truth is that those who talk about conquering fear do not understand the first word about fear. Very typically soldiers are trained to make a brave choice which is in the region of offering sacrifice of personal life in the face of adversity. Students are taught to avoid dishonesty as their way out of mistakes and to accept the loss of face as being a sign of fearlessness. In movies we can find the Hero literally executing impossible stunts to overcome the baddies to protect his lady love or his own or family honour without a care for his own bodily injury. The surgeon tells his patient to bravely face the knife so that some future pains can be avoided. There are innumerable such instances in daily life. The one common factor in such bravery asserting situations is the protection and perpetuation of or the avoidance of loss of, property, life, honour and physical wellness.

Well, bravery does mean standing up to face fear rather than the absence of fear. The most important question that cries out for an answer is whether it is possible to live without fear. For that one has to address the question as to what is fear. A few good thinkers articulated thus; J. Krishnamurti “We are all afraid of something; there is no fear in abstraction, it is always in relation to something……. One of the major causes of fear is that we do not want to face ourselves as we are.” Marianne Williamson Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.” H. P. Lovecraft. "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear."

Fear is a basic tenet of the mind. This is because the mind does not have a physical existence like the body nor does it have an enigmatic one like the soul. It exists out of a need for the body to function properly and it has no other real purpose or objective. The existence of the mind is thus ephemeral. However when it succeeds in creating an opaque purpose of its own through the cultivation of desires and the working of ego, the fear of its evaporation into thin air strongly persists.  The mind remains always aware of its non-real nature, and when is begins to enjoy an abnormal importance it is also aware of its falsehood. Fear is recognition of a probable cessation of existence and thus a natural trait of its anomalous subsistence.

For every life form, survival is its primary function or if one may use the word responsibility. Since every life form is a result of tremendous efforts by nature of mixing and matching various elements, therefore come what may, it is programmed to make efforts to protect its existence for which the mind and intellect have to work together with the body. The body could become internally ill and suffer dysfunction; it could be attacked by other organisms / life forms and become decapitated, it could become the victim of some minor or major natural disaster, or it could also suffer from birth related deformities and all of these threaten its basic existence. To this factor the mind adds the qualitative term ‘comfortable’ existence. The mind justifies its survival on an elaborate and strategic working towards possession of varied things and loss of any possession worries the mind. Whenever basic survival is threatened, fear instantaneously escalates. Every life form is therefore programmed to employ various methods starting from anger, resistance, flight, reason, to surrender just to ensure its survival.  Thus I consider that for a human being who lives a normal worldly life it is not possible to live without fear.


But does that mean that nobody can overcome fear. No it is not so. Those beings who are not excessively worried about continuity of present existence, who are not bothered about their having or not having any kind (material or intrinsic) of possessions and those who can subdue the noisy clutter of their mind and keep it continuously tied to its basis duty, only they can claim fearlessness and can really understand the meaning of fear. The only way to overcome fear is to face it, accept it and then rationalize with it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

RAJU BHARWAD IS MY HERO


There was a news article in the media last month about a very ordinary citizen in this country, an auto rickshaw driver belonging to Ahmedabad Gujarat called Raju Bharwad. It was a lone piece tucked away in one corner, not wanting to and neither expecting much attention. Raju Bharwad received a cheque from the Gujarat government of Rs. 1.9 crores as a settlement for land acquired, which his family had owned until some 25 years back at Sanand. They had sold the piece of land for Rs. 9 lacs at that time but the sale was not registered in the names of the new owners. The erstwhile owners as per land records thus received the compensation. Our dear Raju Bharwad however thought that the money does not belong to him, if he accepted and encashed the cheque which he very well could have, the present owners and tenants would suffer and therefore he went and returned the mighty amount. As an auto rickshaw driver the amount could only be of his dream, yet he had it in his hands, and the cheque also was in his name, and then he answered the call of his conscience. Sir, you are my hero.

One can imagine the conflicts that were going on in his mind, the mixed feelings, the priorities and the problems in life, the opinion of friends and relatives, and also the moral high grounds of honesty. As an auto rickshaw driver his earnings would be meager and he can never reach or even think of reaching the magic figures which were mentioned on the cheque. He has a family to take care of and costs of livings are not moving south. Each friend and relative would have an independent opinion on what best could be done to retain the money as well as the pitfalls of being honest. Raju Bharwad must have had a tough time in countering all these thoughts and firming on his choice.

The courage and the principles of this man and the way he has been brought up by his parents has to be appreciated. Normally I would associate such strength of character with Indians who lived a few decades ago. The present generation in this country is devoid of such beliefs and definitely considers them traditional and reckless. That Raju Bharwad’s resolve is made of steel came as a pleasant surprise to me, that such great and young men still walk this land bring tears to my eyes. A man who would not bow to temptation, who would disregard his own discomfort in front of the discomfort of others, who is contented with his own life poor as it may be, I salute such an individual and pray that this country should see a swell in their numbers. Thank you Raju Bharwad for being a torch bearer, this nation needs such men like you to show that we can get rid of corruption, dishonesty and selfishness from our midst if we so make up our mind.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

THE VEXED QUESTION



The thought “why do we live?” evokes no real answer. The religious texts proclaim that life is a game being played by God. Period. Science can only go into technicalities like heartbeat, brain programme and oxygen in the blood stream to explain how the body actually works but cannot answer the question about the purpose of our living. It looks that the answer will continue to elude humans because it is beyond our functional capability to address this issue. In management there is a concept in MIS where information sharing is done on the basis of ‘need to know’. It seems that we humans do not need to know the answer to this vexed question while continuing with daily living. In a funny sort of way it confirms that there is intelligence beyond our comprehension which some of us chose to call God.

To my understanding we only live to survive. While this does not tackle the question ‘why do we live’ in any sort of way, it clarifies the situation of continuation of some life form or the other on this planet since millions of years. There have been various kinds of periods on Earth, we had the pre ice age and the post ice age, we had the pre dinosaur age, the dinosaur age and the post dinosaur age, we had the apes and then the humans descending from apes, and then finally we had the humans from Africa migrating to various corners of the planet.  Such a long history makes the tales of Ram and Krishna sound very recent and our own personal lives less than insignificant, doesn’t it? The point is that life in some form or the other continued to exist on Earth. While some new species came into existence, some became extinct, while some evolved new capabilities to be able to survive under water or to fly, some others were killed to the last number like the Dodo bird for sport or food. But irrespective of whether the life form was moving or non-moving like the plants and trees, life continued to exist on Earth. Therefore I have arrived at the conclusion that we live only to survive.


To survive on Earth any life form has to accomplish only two activities – eat and reproduce. In fact these two activities have been programmed into every life form in such a way that even if some other activities are not fully enabled due to a malfunctioning body or mind, eating and partaking in sex is always on auto-pilot. Definitely we do have accidents happening when some people have digestion issues while some have deformed sex organs but they form a miniscule minority. Most life forms on Earth, with the sole exceptions of the humans who indulge in various other creative acts, only do these two activities and nothing else.  The middle portion of the body consisting of the food processing (digestive) system and the sex organ is the engine of the body. Eating food enables the body to survive today while reproducing enable the specie to survive tomorrow. In fact the first and primary obstacle that Saints and every spiritual aspirant have to overcome is the overwhelming power of the desires of the tongue and the sex organ before they can merge their mind with the universal energy. The Saints add a whole new dimension to the subject matter on hand when they say that the only objective of living is to work towards escaping and interrupting the regular cycle of death and birth.

THE GOSPEL OF KABIR


Kabir was an illiterate weaver but was realized with true knowledge about life. Living in the traditional city of Varanasi steeped in tradition and rituals it was impossible to convince the religious establishment about the simplicity of his message. They created an unfortunate ruckus about this caste and lack of erudition. The religious zealots of both communities as well as the military rulers insulted and persecuted him. He in turn also resorted to similar tactics to ridicule the establishment and their ways. He explained that experience is the only basis of true knowledge.  Without practice, without realization, erudition is only a burden on the mind.  The infinite cannot be comprehended through the finite means of intellect and logic, nor can it be described in language, which again is limited to the world of mind and matter. Kabir strongly rejected all external observances and worship and said that if by worshipping stone God could be met, he would have gladly adored a mountain. Even when he was near his death, while most people would reach Varanasi for their final breath, he walked out to die in Magahar (Uttar Pradesh) only to prove that it does not matter where the body is discarded. Such was the courage of his spirit and conviction. However to be fair, Kabir was not a rebel by any standards. His message and poems resonates with the rhythm of the Vedas, Upanishads and the teachings of Gautama Buddha. In a sense Kabir did not utter anything new that was unknown to this land but like the Buddha he only distributed existing knowledge in the language of the common folk. Like the Buddha Kabir too was self-realized and was loved by the ordinary folks but disliked by the upper castes who felt threatened by their sincerity and popularity.

Kabir laced his teachings and his poems with examples from the daily routine life which he saw around him, that of a weaver or a potter. He created link between their how they lived and how they ought to live. He motivated his followers to break their ties with this illusory and impermanent world and establish ties with the supreme formless and attributeless God. Kabir spoke about ‘dying while living’, ‘dying before death’, implying to become ‘dead’ or imperious to the world and its attachments, that is adopting a mental attitude of complete detachment from all physical comforts and needs. He said that the sense organs are the gateways through which one became entrapped and therefore one has to watch over the sense organs to remain detached and focused on God. For Kabir, God was the universal energy that existed in everything around us, and yet neither bound nor restricted to anything. God represented the life force freely flowing across various forms and the master of all moving and nonmoving elements. Such a God could never be known through texts and rituals or the outer sensory world. Such a God could only be found by turning one’s focus inwards, could only be experienced through meditation aided with name repetition. For the sake of his various followers he would chose to call his Master both Ram and Allah because naming it anything would not change its essence.

Kabir glorifies such a Master as the fountainhead of ambrosia and says that even if one is able to unite with the Master at the cost of one’s head, it is a cheap bargain. The realization of the Master within oneself is possible only when ego is completely annihilated.  Such a state is the apex of love and surrender.  Kabir always equated God as love and love as God.  One should always be absorbed in the love for the Master because longing strengthens love.  It makes love all-absorbing and intense.  Kabir proclaimed that love is the essence of all spiritual pursuits.  Love is also a path of agony, sighs and tears; it is a path of sacrificing one’s entire being. He alone is entitled to drink the nectar of love who offers the price of his head.

 Kabir considers the sole objective of life to be united with the Master and for that the path is within. The biggest obstacle on this path is the mind.  Kabir calls it a thief because it robs a man from pursuing his sole purpose of life and diverts him to mindless pursuits through lust, anger attachment, greed, avarice, jealousy, hate and ego, thus dissipating the precious opportunity of human birth. Mind also is always changing, always restless, never sticking to one form of pleasure but delights in variety and gives up one pleasure the moment it tastes something better. Moreover in the world every action has a motive force or causes behind it and in turn, every action becomes the cause of future effects.  This sequence of cause and effect, which keeps the soul confirmed within the perimeter of the worlds of mind and matter, is known as the law of Karma. The motive force behind all karmas in the mind, and body is the instrument that executes the mind’s dictates.  As a result of these actions, the mind comes back to the world again and again in different bodies and surroundings.  The soul, knotted together with the mind, has to follow.  Kabir says that the soul is tied by the chain of karmas like day and night. Even good deeds cannot liberate the soul from the chain of birth and death, for such is the inexorable law of cause and affects that in order to enjoy the reward of good actions, the soul has to come back to this world. Kabir suggest three ways to overcome the force of the threefold affliction of karma; namely acceptance, surrender and name repetition practice. Kabir says that the devotee can only be free of the bondage of the mind by concentrating it on the region of the universal mind i.e. the all-pervading power. When the devotee grasps the original state of the mind, the mind becomes still. For this one has to take the help of the mind, for only through the mind, the mind can be controlled and attain perfection. 

The feelings of success and failure that accompanies the process of going through one’s destiny lead to further karmic bonds.  Man therefore should accept with open arms whatever comes his way.  Kabir urges his followers to live in the world like a guest and not get involved in the affairs of the world. Living according to God’s will means doing one’s duty in the world without getting involved in it and without bothering about the result of one’s efforts.  Kabir compares the human body to a pot made by the great potter where the pot has no say and is entirely at the potter’s mercy.  The potter can put them in the open to face the sun and rain or store them carefully within his house. Since he has molded them he protects then from damage if he wants to or breaks them if he so desires.

Kabir describes his path as the middle path.  It is neither a path of attachment, nor of renunciation. It is neither of involvement, nor of segregation. It is neither of abstinence, nor of indulgence.  It is a path of moderation. The true follower stays in his family, fulfills his obligations and attends to his spiritual exercises thus attaining a state of inner renunciation while living in the world with discrimination, contentment and purity of thought and conduct.


Bibliography: (a) Kabir – The Weaver’s Song by Vinay Dharwadker published by Penguin Books, First published 2003.  (b) Sant Kabir – Bard of Ram and Rahim by Pandit Ram Sharan published by Vijay Goel, First edition 2009. (c) 1008 Kabir Vani – Nectar of Truth and Knowledge by lalchand Doohan ‘Jigyasu’ published by Manoj Publication 2008 edition.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CHANGING COMPLICATIONS





The other day, as I was signing the financial statements of a client, the officer sitting in front of me burst out remarking, “You are a very ambitious man and also a very complicated one.” I stared at him and he continued that my signature seems to suggest that I was ambitious and complicated at the same time. I nodded and smiled but refrained from opening my mouth. After they all left I wondered at the ordinary remark. It was causing extraordinary disturbance. I knew that I was complicated but the ambitious adjective sounded false. How could I accept it when I prided myself as a person completely disinterested in money? Now doubts crept in.

Am I ambitious? How? By what parameters do I become so? What is the real complication in me? Why are these facts hidden from me when it is so apparent through my signature? Of course the thought did cross my mind that the officer could be an idiot and must have just uttered some nonsense to ignite conversation. But then I had never met him before and he had no justifiable intentions to cause me harm. It looked more like he was simply expressing something which he had observed as a reality. So I went on questioning myself in utter disbelief.

Slowly over the next few days I unraveled the mystery to uncover some essential truths about myself which ultimately brought in some peace.

No doubt since the past few years the charm of earning money and wealth has lost its intensity on me. But then ambition is not merely about money alone. At the bottom of my heart I still do crave for name, fame, appreciation, praise, sex and love. My day dreams are mostly about such ambitions with a pretty lot of activities ranging from work to leisure.  In all my day dreams I am always the seeker but very soon I laugh at my dreams, chiding my flights of fancy. I wring the neck of my dreams, now if that isn’t a complicated personality. I strangulate my ambitions with the justification that they are not meant to come true but the silent existence of the ambition inside my heart I have never questioned till date. If my conviction were to be so strong then these ambitions should never have survived in the very first place. I am floored; there is no answer to that and therefore now even the money matter claims come under a cloud. Besides, the clandestine presence of the ego does nothing to simplify the issue. The ego rises its head time and again especially to assert that I deserve or don’t deserve this and that. Thus, while I generally loathe the overall kind of life that I am leading, I find that I am still rolling in its distinctive corners enjoying myself.

Well that is not the end of the problem. On the one hand while I continue to entertain silly but worldly ambitions, on the other hand I am becoming more and more interested in the altruistic way of living. This is a complication that I am living through as a change that I can feel and experience. In this regard a few realisations have stuck to my heart. They came in one by one, for the first time many years ago and since then repeatedly many times and again recently through some books. One can very well say that they have been implanted and yet they seem so natural to my heart, so comforting. 

One, the illusions that we create and play out in everyday life so seriously amounts to nothing at all in the end. In the long run there is no such thing as good or bad, success or failure, big or small, white or black or even multi-colors. At the moment of the event it looks most important but from the very next moment, its importance starts to diminish until over time becomes zero. Some events take a negative value and sometimes the facts of the story changes to become a myth. For instance today religion is full of such supernatural myths which many thousand years ago would have been a popular history with some magic but atleast near to natural or normal, which again still earlier would have been actual events but with very different and ordinary facts. Then again while every living person has a personal story, for some reason known only to nature, only a rare few survive the test of time and value. Most fade out. Cities decay and die, places of worship and other structures crumble and fall, kingdoms vanish into the air, events of art and adventure are surpassed and forgotten, fashion and jewelry change with the winds, shape and size of life forms dissolve without any trace, relationships and sacrifice are also lost in time.  Change is the cornerstone of life, impermanence is its only structure and to survive is the sole objective.

Second, to survive is the only objective of living. Each life form on this planet essentially wants to survive this moment and the next, as simple as that. To survive this moment it has to eat and rest. For this it has to earn its food, take up some activity, build up some relationships, keep itself fit, create a quiet little place for it to rejuvenate, entertain its mind and indulge in creativity. To survive the next moment it has to partake in sex and procreate. Apart from these, life has no other purpose. Lest somebody misunderstands, I wish to reiterate that to survive is the objective of life meaning not only for humans but all life forms. Sadly other than humans, no other life form has taken life to mean anything more serious. I also find it funny that we humans have made life so complicated with the help of our mind which it was never meant to be. Basically the mind was never needed to survive but even with the use of the mind we have only crafted unhappiness for it.

Third, love is the only element binding everything around visible as well as invisible on this planet. The word ‘Love’ here is very symbolic and goes to denotes much more than mere affection and adoration. It includes such thoughts and also connotes a combination of caring, sharing, sacrificing, protecting, supporting, worshipping, pining, appreciating, and doting. Love means to have a very benevolent nature and attitude towards everything inside and outside. Love is the only way to live. To be less reactive and more grateful, it is the only rule that works.

Fourth, live your life in acceptance of your own inner calling, your own strengths and limitations, your own form and location. Everything that happens by itself and easily is the path of ones’ own soul and it could be either comfortable or difficult. A line borrowed from a famous writer, “It is better to commit mistakes on the path that ones’ soul is meant to walk on, than to live a perfect life on a path that is not meant for ones’ soul.”  Tough and pleasant times are only passing phases, and are mere perceptions. Live in acceptance of your fair share of circumstantial challenges, be honest and fair, facing bravely the good and the bad with similar strides and most important remaining unperturbed by both. Discharge your own obligations calmly without trying to influence and being influenced by the outside world.

In conclusion, experiencing a transformation generates confusion due to the dynamic fashion in which change is happening. Complication exists because the truth of yesterday in no more the complete truth today and is bound to become false tomorrow. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

History Repeats




I once again realized that I was a total good for nothing. Instances which bring such a realisation home happen often, at regular intervals, but that day was singularly special, and yes atrocious. A client who had run into financial bad weather had stopped the Stock Audit for nearly a year now which we were conducting. The work involved a lot of travel painful logistics and hard labour. The results were also positive and benefited the organisation immensely. Every year end as a part of the assignment I had to issue a Stock Certificate for the benefit of their Statutory Auditors. Last year the value of stocks in the certificate was inflated but I had certified. Anyway for some reason the work was called off. Therefore for this year end March 2013 I thought I would not be doing the dirty job again. However right on 1st of April itself, the entrepreneur telephoned me and requested me to sign the Stock Certificate, even for this year, even when we had not conducted any stock verification. I remained speechless for a while. He requested once again and I accepted silently.  I simply said, “OK send it” and hung up the phone. He sent a message immediately, “Thanks”.   I was shocked at the obvious triviality with which businessmen treat the CA profession and their responsibilities. I am terribly disappointed and upset in the manner in which I succumbed to the request. Before giving my consent the thought did cross my mind that I can easily and justifiably refuse. I was not obliged to sign as I had not undertaken the task and moreover nothing was going to be paid to me for signing such a false certificate. Such a certificate is misleading to the Statutory Auditors, to the financers and other users of the financial statements. I am misleading all of them.

 The only reason (and that too a hopeless one) that I found on searching myself was that someone had requested me and I could not refuse. Maybe he believed that he could succeed at convincing me because I am stupid. But that is beside the point. Maybe he believed that I won’t say no because I am not known to be strict and honest. That too is beside the point. The point is not about him, his attitude or his belief. The point here is that I could not refuse not to become a partner in the crime. The truth is that I do not value myself, and I do not value my work. The truth is also that I do not belong to this profession. I feel bad and criticize when others indulge in corrupt practices but I cannot hold myself back when it is my turn. I am too weak hearted and have no scruples. A number of times I have found myself wasting time and surfing the internet when I could easily go through some self-study literature and enhance my knowledge. At those moments I have found myself wanting, lazy and disinterested in the profession itself. My heart really is not in this. At the same time I am unable to move out of it. I feel trapped and possibly relishing this victimhood because I simply crib about it and do nothing else.

It is said that there is a time for everything and things happen at its own time. It is also said that events in life repeat when our attitude and response pattern remains the same. It is time for me to move on or is it? I trust my life to unravel the trash from the sublime and pray that I have the guts to distinguish the two and chose rightly.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Conversation on Life





Swaroopa sent me an SMS one day in the usual manner in which she sends strong thoughts. On that occasion it led to a prolonged conversation.
Swaroopa, “Life is many things, it is whatever meaning you give it, but no matter what it means, you must make the most out of it because you only have this life once.”
Reply, “Sorry I don’t agree.”
Swaroopa “But why?”
Reply, “Life has no significant purpose, infact it has no purpose at all, just like a tree or an insect lives, humans also live. Second, life does not happen once, we live again and again. Our thoughts and actions each time creates our circumstance for the next time. So…”
Swaroopa, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
Reply, “There is nothing unusual or ordinary in life, it is thinking which creates such images, and it differs from person to person.”
Swaroopa, “No, I have some reservations, trees and insects don’t have brains, to decide what is the purpose or aim of their life, whereas human beings can do so, may it be a right thought or not.”
Reply, “Every life form has a brain, it regulates the body, attacks or does some activity for food, takes care of new born and makes strategies for survival.”
Swaroopa, “Though we live again and again, not everybody remembers their past life, so jo bhi hai wahi sahi hai, that is the ultimate truth at that moment.”
Reply, “Correct, live for the moment and you will live happy. That is the only key.”
The dialogue over mobile phones ended there. I don’t know whether I succeeded in conveying my thoughts correctly to Swaroopa and therefore this explanatory blog came into being.

People now-a-days consider it wise to pass on philosophical messages downloaded from some website without examining its contents on the scale of impact and utility to human welfare. Some of such messages are downright wisecracks shrouded in the image of philosophy. Swaroopas’ message was one such, which is plain lies and only serves to put psychological pressure on the reader. Instead of making their lives easier it only taunts them to make it complicated.

Secondly the question also struck me as to who am I to oppose the YOLO cult and why should my belief be the sacrosanct one. I conceded that one in part. While I am definitely nobody to deny the YOLO cult of its rightful place in the world of beliefs, I know that my belief and understanding is the right one. Repeated births or rebirth has been clinically chronicled by a western Doctor, a product of its scientific culture, Dr. Brian Weiss in a series of publications since more than two decades ago. Since then many western and eastern medical doctors offer treatment for illness through Regression. Eastern pundits have been crying themselves hoarse propagating the rebirth theory since ages but here I chose to ignore them. But what is it that structure or element which ensures a rebirth? Well, it is the mind.

A body is temporary and intelligence and brain power is bound to the body. Mind is the platform that coordinates both intelligence and body so as to aspire towards dreams. While survival and progeny are the objectives of the body and intelligence, desire - its creation and fulfillment is the objective of the mind. Mind is the most powerful element in this world. When in focus and concentrated it can control anything in this universe but when let loose it has a tendency to wander, shift constantly from one subject to the next and become uncontrollable. To hold on to the mind is difficult but not impossible. The depth of the mind is known only to a few who have learnt to control it, but its height can be enjoyed by many as can be seen in the field of science and art, inventions and creativity. The mind has Electro-Magnetic (for want of better word) nature or character. A thought entertained in one’s mind attracts similar thoughts in others. A thought converted into desire works out its own fulfillment with the support of positive impulses and efforts from the body and intelligence and without any negative signals from anywhere. A strong and unfulfilled desire of the mind therefore plays out into a new body.

Life which ticks in every moving and non-moving form in this universe is energy. As a result of various activities of the mind, intelligence and body, one type of energy gets converted into another and a revised restoration of balance is ensured by nature. This restoration of balance happens in the form of destruction of extra benefits and factors which are causing the imbalance. While we can’t visualise and foresee the work of natural restoration of balance, we can often see it as a material price being paid for getting material something. However this rebalancing doesn’t always take place instantaneously and sometimes it takes its own sweet time. The mind is an element made of this life energy and is therefore ruled by the natural law of balance. The mind which has extracted some benefit without paying its price, or has made a sacrifice without enjoying the benefit is bound to return in a new body to repay.

A question arises that if the mind is so powerful and a part of the life energy then why should it get involved with unfulfilled desires and unpaid benefits. The answer is because the mind is bound to ignorant body and ignorant intelligence therefore in the relentless pursuit of Maya it too becomes ignorant and gets involved in the game of Maya.  Mind can become bound to a body by way of habits, sensations (good and bad) and sense gratifications. Mind is also molded by experience, arguments, influence and can be made to change with efforts. Such an ignorant mind which has lost touch with the truth and bound to the body and intelligence becomes the ego and an ego is always entangled in the cycle of rebirths.

Therefore my suggestion to all is that, ‘come, snap out of this illusion, recognise the truth about life, it has no purpose, break the chains of body and intelligence, detach the mind from them, and life simple, just because we breathe.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

IF I WERE TO DIE NOW



Sitting idle and staring out of the window suddenly I was hit by a questioning consideration that if these were to be the last few minutes of my life then what would I be doing and what would I be thinking? Given the suddenness of the question I concluded that I would still be staring out of the window and thinking that I am going to die now. Then I modified the question and asked again, “Listen Bo, let’s suppose that you are on your death bed, you could be dying for any reason like old age, accident, disease, suicide or all of them, there are few minutes left for the curtains to fall, you are definitely losing grip of all things around, now tell me, what would you be thinking”?. Hmmmm….! That one was a googly and I didn’t know how to play it. This sort of things need net practice and so I earnestly got down to putting my thoughts into black and white.

First thing, if I were to be near death, irrespective of my age, the body would be on the verge of collapse and in terrible pain. Possibly a few organs would have stopped regular function or some of them could be missing. Pain is such a repulsive feeling that even the mere thought of it generates surreal trauma in the mind. I wish I don’t have to die in a lot of pain, I wish I die in my sleep like a saint, I wish…. But the question did not suggest any such piety and therefore pain is a definite possibility. If I am dying and if I am in a lot of pain, would I be able to do or think about anything beyond the pain. I doubt it! But imagination has no full-stops and so I move ahead. If I am dying and also in pain then I would not like any life-saving medical procedures tried upon me like open heart surgery, angioplasty, ventilator, dialyses, organ transplant, blood transfusion or even being admitted to ICCU. I draw the line at medicines and injections and no further. I prefer to life and die with whatever nature has provided and would not like any manual interference in the natural scheme of things. I wish my family members and others close to me do remember and respect this intent of mine since I may not be capable of decision at that moment. Returning to the subject let’s say that if I am dying with pain, then I prefer to die so coupled with the minimum of fuss from everybody around. Given the opportunity and the chance I would surely move myself away from society during my last days, but then, let’s see what the future holds in store.

Second aspect of the question, what would I be thinking. What should a less than ordinary man be thinking on his deathbed apart from begging the Almighty for a few more days or weeks or months or years in bargain for a charitable disposition? Sorry but I thought that’s what people do. The reason for this being a compelling inability to comprehend whether one has lived enough. This brings to mind a dialogue from the film ‘Anand’, “Babumoshai zindagi badi honi chahiye lambi nahi” meaning ‘My friend life should be big and not long’. It is the varied experiences that one savors in life that makes it rich and such a rich life alone is satisfying. Going through the robotic motions of living like a derelict or living like an egoist conceit is not life and if that be the case invariably during the last moments one ends up thinking and grieving about people to thanks, people to love, people to say sorry, people to forgive, people to advice, so on and so forth. If one can lead a selfless life, living for the day as it unfolds, doing that which makes one happy, unaffected by victory and defeat, a life of, for and by truth alone, then in the end he or she would be able to say convincingly that yes I have lived enough. There would be no lamentations for such a life. I wish and I hope that I am able to fulfill such an expectation so that I can die in peace knowing well that I have done everything that I could have during my time of action. There possibly could be some unfinished tasks. Some places to visit, some experiences not encountered, and some people not met. It is said that one lifetime is not sufficient to go through all that which life offers. Another way to view this is that life is always work in progress, it can never be said to be complete. I think that is fine and that really won’t hamper my dying in peace.

Customarily when we think of death it gets linked to ageing. Today at the age of forty seven right in my middle age or past my prime I am looking forward to ageing with some degree of enthusiasm. Some say that it is also a stressful event where you are faced with reduced personal abilities and increased dependencies on others. Being alone I do not have the luxuries of these others and that makes it more challenging. I have already slowed down my lifestyle and curtailed my needs and have plans ready to reduce it further over the next few years. I have a lot of personal space and time for relaxation. I can spend countless hours sitting and doing nothing and this talent would be useful in times to come. Of course there are books, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar songs, the bicycle, camera and laptop. Infact I am well equipped. I can also sleep easily and so far the body has been holding on to health for which I am grateful to the Almighty and pray that it holds on. I am at peace with myself but not with all others, some people still creep under my skin. Maybe I am actually ready for lecturing on old age related lifestyle changes (wink!).