Wednesday, May 14, 2008

That Unseen Power

Every year, 13th May is a special day for all Art of Living devotees. This day happens to be the birthday of Sri Sri Ravishankar, known and accepted as "Guruji" by millions of his followers. On this day devotees hold special sudarshan kriya sessions and satsangs and yesterday was no different. This day 13th May 2008 turned out to be very special for me. Kriya at the crack of dawn was mind blowing, but more importantly this day demonstrated forcefully the undisputed presence and power of divine grace.

We, Indians, generally believe in divine grace or will of god or a supreme unseen force that guides our destinies. This faith is so complete and unconditional that it baffles many a foreigner and it also invites ridicule from many of our so-called "educated" and "modern" Indians. This behaviour is also very unique to us - beyond a point we surrender to this divine force and leave it at that.

Let me share what happened to me yesterday. I boarded the local train at Churchgate to go home. As is the normal practice, I kept my bag on the luggage rack and settled down to the forty-five minute journey to Andheri. As things would have it, a momentary lapse of attention and I got off at Andheri forgetting my bag on the luggage rack. I realised as I was walking on the platform, and, rushed back to the compartment to retrieve my bag. To my horror the bag was missing. Some eagle eyed light-footed blighter made of with my bag.

I was devastated. The bag contained our passports and we were scheduled to fly to London in four days time. It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened. My wife joined me at the railway station. Subsequent procedures of filing police complaints and getting their FIR took the next one-hour.

On the drive back home, I realised that I was not cursing my carelessness but was quite cool and very much in the present moment. My only prayer was that I should be getting back my passports and just left the whole thing to that "unseen power".

On reaching home, I spoke to the travel agent, the passport agent, some acquaintance in the police, a few close friends......and to my surprise every one advised me to pray, saying, "Only God can save you". It struck me that prayer and surrender is so natural to us that in times of crisis this acts as a major stress buster and helps you to focus on other things.

To cut things short, the eagle eyed fleet footed blighter could find only a cell phone of interest and he dumped the bag on the Vile Parle station where it lay unattended for about two hours before the police constable on duty took it in custody. Before midnight we got the bag and passports back.

I just want to highlight our belief in prayers and when things are beyond our control a sense of surrender. I also experienced first hand the presence of such a power. I believe that it was also divine grace that saw me through this short drama without any damage. Contemplating on the events that unfolded, it became very apparent that this was no ordinary co-incidence. It was that supreme unseen power at work.

I am blessed for I believe, I know and I have experienced. It does not matter if others would choose to call it mere co-incidence.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Mad Annual Ritual

Every year the months of March and April witness the great Indian phenomenon called Annual Examinations.

Infact, it will not be out of place to call it the Mad Annual Ritual. Millions of school and junior college students participate in this ritual with a prayer on their lips. I guess many of them would be praying only at exam times.

The whole scene borders on the bizzare with students cramming tons of information only to spill it out in those "eventful three hours" and then to forget it all as quickly. In this whole process one gets to see a whole range of activities, emotions, feelings tightly packed together.

The situation attains immense gravity with parents declaring their expectations. No prizes for guessing, every parent wants their child to excel and top the class. Noble intention but that is the root cause of all problems that tend to follow.

Stress levels skyrocket and often one’s self-esteem is measured by the success one will achieve at the examinations. This is a very heavy burden for any person to carry, leave alone a young student. More often than not there is bliss in surrendering and accepting a lower slot. Many succumb and resort to extreme steps.

When I see the annual ritual being so fanatically played out year after year, I wonder whether we are missing something in life. One has played out this ridiculous game for ten long years in school and in the end has learnt nothing. We have mass-produced literates but probably left them empty and ill prepared to face life.

I believe in academic rigour and the need for good education. I also have nothing against anyone wanting to excel but I think it is high time we do not get obsessed with marks and ranks.

Highest marks do not necessarily mean success (in the conventional sense) in later years. On the contrary one could be dysfunctional in many areas.

We as parents who have seen more of life need to take a practical view. Let us not try to drive our children to despair with our obsessions and queer their natural development. My wife and I on our part have played it cool with our daughters and helped them with their studies whenever they needed it. We have tried to emphasize on all round development and ingrain in them that they must enjoy whatever they do. The next thing was to keep conveying that we value them as human beings rather than the marks that they get.

I see this approach paying off in the long term and they blossoming into emotionally well-balanced human beings. They will carry with them sweet memories of their school and college days and have the satisfaction of having done well at academics also.

It is entirely incidental that both my daughters have consistently excelled at their studies.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Begining

I have always wanted to articulate my thoughts on so many things. Somebody advised that I blog and I looked with doubt written all over my face.

This led to a lot of thought and hesitation. Finally, I decided to start. It does not matter that this will be just another voice in the cacophony out there.

My focus will be to comment on India. This is that ancient land which claims to have the answers to the deepest riddles that have foxed mankind eons on end and yet it struggles to find answers to various issues that seem to keep it chained to the dark ages.

India has been an unending mystery where the ancient co-exists with the modern, where a fledgling democracy wages a valiant battle with feudalistic mores, where modern values attempt to heal deep societal divisions.

Yet, India is fascinating and deep.

I hope to comment on many of these different hues that make India. This is an attempt by a sensitive mind to explore different perspectives and present them as a voice of moderation, a voice of reason, a voice of proportion and probably a voice of the silent majority or as a commentary on the many streams of contemporary life.

With these comments I commence my journey in this vast e-universe.