Monday, June 24, 2013


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 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.


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.