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My first experience with Righteousness

It was a hot, windy, dry late morning that year, 11:40 hours, June 26, 1973. As soon as my father parked our Lambretta scooter under a neem tree, another scooter standing ricketically on its lock-knee legs, fell down. I eagerly jumped down from backseat to see what has happened. My father simply placed it upright again, and along with my mother went inside the Punjab National Bank for money (the first bank I came to know after arriving into this world). I stayed back and investigated. The other scooter had a minor petrol spill too. I waited till its owner! A bespectacled man in his late-forties with a beard on his sweaty face, arrived and started his scooter. As soon he tried to fly away, I stopped him by telling him about the leak. He got down to see everything, and looked curiously in my eyes. I narrated him the whole incident and told him that my father is inside the bank, and I will take you along to make you meet him. Inside the bank I escorted and introduced him to my father and sat on a bench to see what happens. My father went out with him explained him something and gave him 2 rupees.

Happy that I was with myself; like a conqueror, I proudly took the front standing part of the scooter and we rode back home, as my mother and father took their seats. During the journey, they were grim and did not talk to each other. I only recollect one thing that my father blurted when we got home: “Saala Harishchandra! hamaare yahaan he paida hona tha” (King Harishchandra, historically known to reign in Treta Yuga is revered for his truthfulness and honesty as ‘King Sage’). Closely watching, I saw tears in his eyes (the only time that I saw them) as he looked at me, then. But he never uttered a word to me. Narrating this with a heavy heart and lot of tears, realizing….his silence actually grilled righteousness into me.

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My First Brush with Humility

I must have been 10 then. I was playing around my uncles’ motorcycle, while he was inside the bank for some work. Having been taken around the town on the glittering motorcycle for quite a few times, I had developed a certain possessiveness about it. Possibly that was the reason I got irritated to see a Sadhu – in the typical gerua attire and kamandal – sitting on the parked vehicle with an unparalleled élan. I did not say or do anything, but that was more out of a certain scare. I kept fuming inside, waiting for my uncle to emerge out of the bank and teach the sadhu a befitting lesson.

But to my frustrating surprise, my uncle greeted the Sadhu and asked respectfully if he could take away his motorcycle.

The Sadhu jumped off, smiled warmly, and complimented my uncle’s humility. “Keep up the goodness in you”, he said.

I was bewildered to the core.

It took me three decades to understand that moment and imbibe it in my persona.

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World Environment Day

Today is the World Environment Day!
There’s not enough buzz on the social media and the event seems all set to be buried in the jingoism of India’s cricket win on Pakistan. Isn’t this an indication of our apathy to the Mother Nature? ‘We the people’, who flood our FB walls with love messages on Valentines and Mother’s day, conveniently choose to ignore the environment day and assign the entire responsibility of its upkeep to the Paris Climate Deal, Donald Trump, and Modi.
And this despite the fact that we have been continuously reeling under the effect of the ‘dangerous climatic changes’. Chennai has been experiencing above 40 degrees Celsius of heat incessantly for more than a month now. Drought hit Chennai reached this state after the flash floods of 2015 and cyclone Vardah last year swept off more than 20,000 tons of wood. Who is responsible for this?
Besides criticizing governments for not bringing in enough legislation to curb the violators of emission norms, we should start thinking of the measures we can take to make our city, state, country, and planet a better place to inhabit. Chennai has been witnessing mindless proliferation for quite some time now, and in the process of building the concrete jungle, we didn’t think twice in blocking the water ways. In other words, we invited the misery we are currently into. And are still not thinking of planting enough saplings to replenish the green cover lost in ‘Vardah’. Are we awaiting for the situation to become even grimmer? Or have we actually decided to confine our efforts simply to all-round-criticism and delegation (to State and Central government) on such matters of mass concern, while we continue to celebrate Valentines with all pomp and show!!! Remember, in democracy, we get only as efficient and responsible a government as we ourselves are!

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Look for reasons to stay positive

Karna asks Krishna – “My mother left me the moment I was born.
Is it my fault I was born an illegitimate child?

I did not get education from Dhronacharya because I was considered a non Kshatriya.

Parshuram taught me but then gave me the curse to forget everything since I was a kshatriya.

A cow was accidentally hit by my arrow & its owner cursed me for no fault of mine.

I was disgraced in Draupadi’s swayamvar.

Even Kunti finally told me the truth only to save her other sons.

Whatever I received was through Dhuryodhana’s charity. So how am I wrong in taking his side?”

Krishna replies,
“Karna, I was born in a jail.

Death was waiting for me even before my birth.

The night I was born I was separated from my birth parents.

From childhood you grew up hearing the noise of swords, chariots, horses, bow and arrows.

I got only cow herd’s shed, dung and multiple attempts on my life even before I could walk!

No army, no education.

I could hear people saying I am the reason for all their problems.

When all of you were being appreciated for your valour by your teachers, I had not even received any education.

I joined gurukula of Rishi Sandipani only at the age of 16!

You are married to a girl of your choice.

I didn’t get the girl I loved & rather ended up marrying those who wanted me or the ones I rescued from demons.

I had to move my whole community from the banks of Yamuna to far off Sea shore, to save them from Jarasandh. I was called a coward for running away.

If Dhuryodhana wins the war you will get lot of credit.
What do I get if Dharmaraja wins the war? Only the blame for the war and all related problems.

Remember one thing Karna….

Everybody has challenges in life.

LIFE IS NOT FAIR ON ANYBODY..

Dhuryodhan also has a lot of unfairness in life and so has Yudhishthir.

But what is Right (Dharma) is known to your Mind (Conscience)….

No matter how much unfairness we got, how many times we were disgraced, how many times we were denied what was due to us, what is important is how you REACTED at that time…

Stop whining Karna.

Life’s unfairness does not give you license to walk the wrong path of अधर्म.