Guru Purnima

The above Doha by Sant Kabir ranks Guru higher than God, for realisation of God wouldn’t have been possible without the Guru.

Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur devo Maheshwara,

Guru sakshat, Parma Brahma, tasmai Shri Guruvay nama.

Guru is Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Mahesh (destroyer) and I pay my obeisance to my Guru who helps me realise God by removing darkness.

Today is Guru Purnima. As per the legend, this was the day when Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa – author of the Mahabharata – was born to sage Parashara and a fisherman’s daughter Satyavati; thus this day is also celebrated as Vyasa Purnima. As Veda Vyasa is universally acknowledged as a Guru, hence his birthday is celebrated as Guru Purnima.

In yogic lore, it is said that Guru Purnima was the day that saw Shiva become the Adi Guru, or the first Guru. The story goes that over 15,000 years ago, a yogi appeared in the upper regions of the Himalayas. Nobody knew what his origins were. But his presence was extraordinary, and people gathered. However, he exhibited no signs of life, but for the occasional tears of ecstasy that rolled down his face. People began to drift away, but seven men stayed on. When he opened his eyes, they pleaded with him, wanting to experience whatever was happening to him. He dismissed them, but they persevered. Finally, he gave them a simple preparatory step and ‘closed’ his eyes again. The seven men began to prepare. Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, but the yogi’s attention did not fall upon them again. After 84 years of sadhana, on the summer solstice that marks the advent of Dakshinayana, the earth’s southern run, the yogi looked at them again. They had become shining receptacles, wonderfully receptive. He could not ignore them anymore. On the very next full moon day, the yogi turned south and sat as a Guru to these seven men. Shiva, the Adiyogi (the first yogi) thus became the Adi Guru. Adiyogi expounded these mechanics of life for many years. The seven disciples became celebrated as the Saptarishis and took this knowledge across the world.

In modern lore, when the education has become highly commercialised and Guru-shishya parampara a thing of the past, I have seen some posts on social media worshiping the most knowledgeable of all the Gurus – Google!Whether it’s Ved Vyasa, Adi Guru, our school/college teachers or “know all” Google, the theme of Guru Purnima is that knowledge should be respected and the source from where knowledge is obtained is more venerable than God itself. In that context, even our parents are our Gurus being responsible for the first knowledge bites! On this auspicious day, let’s make two easy resolutions – (1) knowledge is power and given its vastness let’s imbibe a small nugget each day and (2) let’s respect our elders, who bestow their blessings on us besides providing worldly knowledge, something that Google is incapable of!

Happy Guru Purnima!

Cliff hangers

Sunday saw two closely fought games- World Cup cricket final between the hosts England and New Zealand at Lords and Wimbledon Men’s single final between legends Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the Centre Court! Though, India was directly unconnected with both this big games, lovers of tennis and cricket were treated to a real feast.

The World Cup final was a game to die for. New Zealand, batting first, put up a moderate score and then fielded and bowled well to defend the target. However, heroic performances by the men for all seasons, Buttler and Stokes tied the scores, dragging the match into Super Over. At the end of two super overs, bowled by Boult for New Zealand and Archer for England, the scores were still tied. Finally the rules of the game came into play resulting in England getting declared as the Champion. You seldom get to see such a close encounter with nothing to choose between the two teams. Of course, I read some interesting trivia about the tournament. Pakistan was the only team team to have beaten both – England and New Zealand, while India lost to both, but defeated Pakistan most convincingly. We can conclude that while Pakistan is a giant killer, India is an effective killer 🤪. Something to rejoice for neutral spectators!

Joker- Federer game was the longest final game played ever in the history of Wimbledon. The eventual champion had to save two championship points. Amongst the three of them – Nadal, Novak and Federer have won 11 grand slam tournaments on the trot! Goes on to show the complete dominance by these top 3 players. A special mention must be made of Roger Federer, who at 37 continues to be a top player, having already registered his name in the list of “All time Greats” !

India had a great team but some poor strategy and planning and a bit of adverse luck, ensured that its campaign ended rather prematurely. Though, we saw some individual brilliance from Rohit, Kohli, Bumrah, Shami and Jadeja, probably that temperament to perform on the big day was lacking. In Tennis, after eclipse of Bhupathi and Paes, who won a few grand slam doubles by partnering each other as also other players, we have not really seen a talent capable of offering formidable challenge to top players. But let’s not forget that if cricketers did not fulfil our expectation and tennis was a distant dream, Dutee Chand won 100 metres gold in 2019 Summer Universiad and has brought great glory and cheers to our nation. Let’s encourage all sports persons and their disciplines and that may lessen the load of expectations that we put on our cricketers!

Bits and pieces players

Recently while commentating for the World Cup cricket, former cricketer turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar created furore by calling all rounder Ravindra Jadeja a “bits and pieces player”. It’s a different story altogether that Ravindra Jadeja paid back by playing the knock of his life in the semifinal fixture between India and New Zealand.

But why so much noise has been created on this admittedly unwanted comment ! There was a time in cricket when we had 5 specialist batsmen, 5 specialist bowlers and a wicketkeeper. Once the first five batsmen were out, wicket keeper, who could bat a bit would delay the end of the innings for a few overs along with tailenders. Tailenders were not expected to last more than a few balls- remember Bedi, Prasanna and Chandra, who went inside just to come back. Though we did have all rounders earlier- Gary Sobers, Vinu Mankad etc., genuine all rounders came much later. We had Eknath Solkar, who could bat a bit, bowl a bit but could also merit a place in side on the strength of his fielding as also Abid Ali, Ghavri etc. However, the respect for all rounders got cemented firmly by the troika of Botham, Imran and Kapil and all rounders actually became strength of a team rather than being bits and pieces players.

Ravindra Jadeja should not take any offence to this unwanted comment by Manjrekar. For once, all all -rounders in that sense are bits and pieces players for they can do a bit of this, a bit of that and a bit of everything. By this analogy, Sanjay has inadvertently placed Ravindra in the grand company great all rounders as named above. Secondly, the comment itself came from a player who himself was a bits and pieces player averaging 33 in 37 odd tests that he played! An ordinary player cannot be expected to have an extraordinary judgement!

Mr V K Malik – A very unique personality

What if someone fires you for even the minutest of your mistake or omission, is highly temperamental, speaks his mind and is absolutely blunt? Fear him? Avoid him? Dislike him? No, not quite! Not if the person in question is Mr V K Malik.

I was a young, scrawny, immature, Mama’s boy probationary officer, leaving my parents for the first time in life to report at Ludhiana office for 3 months training. I reached late in the evening and decided to check-in at a hotel as Punjab terrorism was at its peak and it was very unsafe to move around after dusk. Next morning, very unsure of myself, I reported at the branch and bumped into this gentleman. He spoke aggressively, had a tremendous gait and seemed to be a man in hurry, very unlike staid, chair bound bankers. But in no time I could make out that behind this aggression, speed, restlessness, no-nonsense facade was a very tender and affectionate heart. What he put up was just a pretence! Inside it was all very soft tender, eager to go out of way to help a needy or give comfort to even a stranger! Who was I to him? No one- a nomad coming for a few months and then moving ahead in life! I could have served no purpose to him and yet he went out of way; patiently taught me work, took care of my accommodation and meals, protected me in a strange city and virtually took me under his wings to make my stay at Ludhiana memorable!

As aforesaid, I moved on and like any ordinary selfish human being forgot him, till I needed him again at a new Centre. Again I was a nomad coming to a strange centre and this time with wife and a kid in tow! There he was like an angel – ready to come to my rescue once again and supporting me and my family till I got my bearings back.

A highly intelligent man from a very literate family, his father being a dentist and elder brothers in top notch jobs, he suffered professionally for his attitude that was uncompromising to the hilt. Always calling a spade a spade, this hierarchical system requiring boss management never suited him and he suffered punishment postings and delayed promotions till he decided to quit and avail of a voluntary retirement plan at his prime. But I have seldom seen any regret on his face. He actually feels relieved and liberated and has been living peacefully with his daughter’s family by his side. Actually both his daughters are so caring and affectionate that it belies the myth that sons are required for care during old age. He continues to display same passion for whatever he’s doing – cleaning, gardening, cooking or just reading!

What have I learnt from him ?Self respect, uncompromising attitude on certain principles, never say die spirit, daredevilry, plain speaking, meticulousness and of course, spirit of helping others with or without him or her soliciting the same!

I am lucky to have known him and on his 75th Birthday wish him, great health and life till life immemorial because people like him have so much to do selflessly for others! I wish Mrs Malik also for her rock solid support by managing children single handedly all the while he used to be away to those god forsaken places as punishment posting.

Mahatria

Mahatria, as he is fondly addressed by tens and thousands of his followers, is the founder of Infinitheism that inspires human spirit to realise its humongous, boundless potential. Through his awe inspiring messages, thoughts, discourses and tweets, he spreads knowledge filled with happiness that acts as guiding light for the ordinary mortals to better their lives.

I have been privy to Mahatria’s thoughts and discourses, courtesy an old friend of mine Nachiappan, a committed Mahatria follower. He unabashedly claims his life to have changed for the better after coming in contact with the great man. As an ordinary person, watching and hearing Mahatria from a distance, I feel inspired to pen a few lines in eulogy to the great philosopher and guide to thousands. The title of the poem is inspired by Mahatria’s thoughts that life is a celebration. The poem reads:

Life is a celebration

Life is a celebration

And is meant to be lived fully,

Then why let the adversities

Create hurdles and act as a bully!

From childhood to youth

And adulthood to old age,

Worries, problems and anxieties behold us

Causing a severe psychological damage!

Problems arise for we look for

Life that’s always consistent,

In a world full of pluralities

Where change only is persistent!

We chase a mirage that

Is not real or gettable,

And in the course of doing so

We create moments that are forgettable!

How do we slow down the pace

And get some lasting peace,

Is a perpetual mental struggle

That doesn’t leave us in one piece!

But all is not lost for believers

As there’s hope and there’s light,

Clearing all webs and clouds of darkness

God’s very own Mahatria shines bright!

Hope this humble attempt of mine is liked by the followers and disciples of Mahatria.

Godly qualities

There’s hardly any publicity or marketing, but there are queues outside temples, churches and gurudwaras. People come, pay ( in the form of offering- keeping aside the ticket factor for the time being) and go back highly satisfied with complete peace of mind. It sometimes wonders me what are these godly qualities that attract everyone, do not guarantee any cure or resolution and yet provide deep satisfaction to a customer?

I think one proverb that I learnt in my primary school, but it still rings in my ears is “Silence is Golden”. God is silent; you speak all your problems to him or her and he/she listens patiently without interrupting or repudiating you. Alas today this golden quality is all but vanished. Be it politicians, news channel hosts, activists or anybody who is somebody! They all speak at the top of their voices creating din and pollution that’s now infested deep into our social fabric.

Secondly, it’s the lack of identity of anyone visiting God’s place. Everyone is welcome to God’s place and no one asks the identity of a pilgrim. We on the other hand treat with people according to their status, religion, gender, backgrounds and in the process create such a deep divide that it is increasingly getting more difficult to bridge.

There’s no ask from the God whether you offer Re1 or gold biscuit. Everyone has access to the same audience and (probably) the same treatment and though commercialism has led to a few high profile places having deluxe and super deluxe darshans at a cost, largely the God has remained agnostic to material offerings; these are more for one’s personal satisfaction.

There’s no quid pro quo! God bestows largesse on all – believers and non believers, man and women, rich and poor, northerner and southerner- without expecting anything in return!

Lastly, the ecosystem around the God is serene, peaceful, pious, comforting and highly satisfying. One goes to God’s place with heavy heart and tense mind, but comes out with renewed hope and vigour.

I will stop here with Godly qualities for now but correlate it to another very important proverb that I learnt in my secondary school. “Work is worship”. As I heard today, Michelangelo, the great Artist, once said, ” One should excel in whatever one is doing. My mother doesn’t care whether I am an artist; but if I am one am I at the top? She exhorts me to be anything, even a sweeper, but the one who sweeps the best!” Work is worship is not only about excelling in your field! It’s about working with the Godly qualities, explained above viz. selflessly, without discrimination or prejudice, for the betterment of all, by making your place of work to be God’s place. And you will have a society where politicians serve rather than rule, police helps rather than bother, people love each other rather than fight or murder and you will see the real Ramrajya that we have all read about in our scriptures!

We are on the top

World Cup cricket tournament for a cricket aficionado like me is a big event and definitely merits more than one blog. Of course, I have reserved the best for the day India lifts the coveted cup for third time and brings Virat at par with his illustrious predecessors Kapil and Dhoni. However, the fact also remains that India has already achieved a few mini victories – it convincingly defeated arch rival Pakistan (the team, especially their skipper Sarfaraz, came under lot of fire for their spineless display from home fans) and team India finished at the top of the league table by winning all its matches except loss to England and sharing of points with New Zealand for the match abandoned due to rain. We must celebrate each occasion of happiness and each moment of pride that comes our way!

Of course, there have also been great personal feats. Rohit broke Sangakkara’s record of 4 centuries in a single World Cup and also finished at the top of the league table as the highest run getter. Looking to his current form and possibility of India playing 2 more games, more records from this inform man could be in the offing. Shami’s hat trick against Afghanistan and Kuldeep’s beauty of a delivery that clean bowled Babar Azam (it’s being hailed as the delivery of the tournament being equated with all time classic delivery by Shane Warne that bowled Mike Gatting round his legs) have all added sheen to India’s campaign so far.

While all Indians pray and hope for the great show by Team India in the remaining critical fixtures that are going to decide the World champion, let’s also take a dispassionate look at the things India would like to fix before playing semis:

(1) Law of averages did not work for Shakib Al Hasan and it need not work for Rohit, who can continue his blistering display for 2 more matches (in fact Rohit has already failed twice being out on low scores).

(2) We will need 5 bowlers, not only to assist Hardik in finishing his 10 overs, but also to provide for one of the main line bowlers having an off day ( we saw both Shami and Bhuvi having off days).

(3) Middle order, line up after Virat – Rishabh, Dhoni, Hardik, Jadeja- must play responsibly and avoid collapse.

(4) We have taken some brilliant catches but missed some sitters. We must hold on to whatever that comes our way.

As catchline of a commercial goes, “phir ek baar…” that aptly sums up the desire of all Indians. Under Virat, we have built a formidable contingent that’s currently looking the best outfit! They can do it; they just have to do it!