Guru Purnima- let’s broaden the definition of Guru

Gururbrahma gururvishnuh
gururdevo maheshwarah |
Guruhsakshat parabrahma
tasmai shrigurave namah ||

Today is Guru Purnima, an important day that celebrates the position a guru enjoys in our society as also continuation of Guru-shishya parampara or tradition that’s now limited to a few old gharanas of Hindustani music.

Guru is Shiva sans his three eyes, Vishnu sans his four arms, Brahma sans his four heads. He is parama Shiva himself in human form – Brahmanda Puran.

Guru Purnima honours Ved Vyasa, known as one of the most honoured Gurus of ancient India. Senior Ayurvedic consultant Dr Vishakha Mahindroo says, “Veda Vyasa, structured the four Vedas, composed the epic of the Mahabharata, created the foundation for the many Puranas and the vast encyclopedias of Hindu sacred lore. Guru Purnima represents the date on which Lord Shiva as the Adi Guru or original guru taught the seven rishis who were the seers of the Vedas. In the Yoga Sutras, Ishvara as Pranava or Om is said to be the Adi Guru of Yoga. Lord Buddha was said to have delivered his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, reflecting the power of this sacred time.”

Guru Purnima is celebrated to honour our teachers, who remove the darkness from our minds. They have a special place in the lives of their followers since ancient times. All the holy books of Hinduism dictate the importance of Gurus and the extraordinary bond between a Guru and his Shishya (disciple). An age-old Sanskrit phrase ‘Mata Pitah Guru Daivam’, says that the first place is reserved for the mother, second for the father, third for Guru and forth for God. Thus, teachers have been given a higher place than Gods in Hindu tradition.

Given that it’s a very pious and deep rooted tradition that has a direct reference to our mythology and culture, I pay obeisance to my gurus – the parents, any person’s first gurus, school, college, university teachers, professional gurus who train you in one’s work and several others whom we across and learn something from- on this Guru Purnima day. However, at this age, when I have also worked for decades coming across hundreds of juniors , a few admirers have also been sending me Pranam on this Guru Purnima. While humbly acknowledging their kind gesture, I would like to tell them that I do not consider myself worthy of all their respect and affection as I am yet to achieve any major milestone in my life other than day to day struggle to meet mine and my family’s normal requirements. I consider myself a student, trying to imbibe a single drop from this vast ocean of knowledge, though I am always ready to disseminate or share whatever little I have!

It’s such a beautiful thought that all elders are our gurus and so are those who are doing good for an organisation, society, community, city or country! Corona warriors are one such group that are waging a battle, sometime losing, with the pandemic to keep us safe! Our forces defending our borders are another example! Likes of Mother Teresa, Baba Amte and several other unsung heroes are all gurus that deserve our respect. Because God himself does not always come to our rescue or to remove darkness – whether of ignorance, mal practices of something like Corona virus, he sends his representatives- our Gurus, who are our teachers, mentors, advisors, protectors and above all a bridge to connect with the God himself!

Happy Guru Purnima to all !

Saroj Khan – Bollywood’s Numero Uno choreographer

It’s a big tragedy of showbiz, more so of Bollywood that we adore and remember only those whom we see on the screen. We all have our favourite actors and if you stretch this a bit more, favourite directors and music composers. But thousands of others – light boys, technicians, sound recorders, cameramen, set organisers, extras, choreographers, lyricists, screenplay writer et al- it’s a long list – remain anonymous and unrecognised. In fact, once past their prime, they are left to die in extreme penury.

However, a few dared to mark their presence with very distinguished work. The first name that readily comes to one’s mind is that of Salim Javed, the writer duo and the names behind blockbusters such as Sholay, Deewar and Zanjeer. If you scratch your mind, the names such as Waman Guru ( editors who again hit big time with Sholay), Bhanu Athaiya ( who made her mark as costume designer for Richard Attenborough’s magnum opus Gandhi) or Resul Pookutty, sound designer, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.

Another name that worked behind the scenes but acquired celebrity, almost cult status, was that of Saroj Khan, who breathed her last a couple of days ago. A life full of ups and downs, mainly downs, her parents, refugees from Pakistan, had difficulty in making the two ends meet of a rather largish family. Her father died when she was hardly 10 and it befell upon her to financially support her family having her widowed mother and younger siblings. Though obsessed with dancing since infancy, she had no connections in Bollywood, though an acquaintance got her into background group dancing. Master Sohan Lal and his brother Hira Lal, who till then were mainly focused on South, spotted young Saroj as a powerhouse of talent and soon, Master Sohanlal made Saroj, who was just 13 years old then, her assistant. A young and highly vulnerable Saroj fell for the charms of her Guru, senior to her by 28 years and she bore him two children out of wedlock. As Sohanlal was a much married man having 4 children with his wife, he refused to adopt Saroj or her children. While how she met her future husband Roshan Khan is a separate story, but success remained elusive to her till early 80s, when Subhash Ghai picked her up to choreograph numbers of his blockbusters Hero. As proverbial saying goes – there was no looking back for Saroj. She directed all major heroines of that time – Sridevi, Madhuri, Juhi, Raveena etc. Her repertoire includes super hit numbers such as Ek do teen, Choli Ke peeche , hawa hawai, kaate nahin katate, dhak dhak, dola re dola, the list is very long! Towards the end, she was active on TV also, frequently appearing on realty shows relating to dancing.

She was self made, who had passion for dancing, an art that she pursued right till her end mastered it without any real formal training. She was fiercely independent who raised her children single handedly when Sohanlal refused to lend his name. And she was forward thinking, innovative, experimental and most graceful. Even double entendre songs such as Choli ke Peeche have become gracious thanks to Madhuri and person behind her moves, Saroj.

It’s a rag to riches story of how someone starting from a scratch reached the zenith to acquire celebrity status to become the best in her chosen field. She faced problems galore, but overcame them all with her sheer grit, determination and of course, talent and hard work.

RIP Saroj ! As long as your iconic songs continue to enthrall audiences, your name will remain etched in their memories.

We are humans first

The inspiration for this blog comes from Mahatria’s today’s thought received from my friend. It says:

All of us need endorsement from the world for a few aspects. If you need endorsement from the world for every aspect, then you are not happy about yourself, you have not loved yourself, you have never respected yourself. If you have never loved yourself, if you have never respected yourself, you will keep demanding respect from everybody on some ground or other like I am the boss, I am the senior etc. You will hide behind the label.

It’s a beautiful thought and while we can deny this being applicable to us, what we can’t deny is that all of us would have come across such persons in our day to day life experiences. Why there are so many funny and not so funny folklores around boss- subordinate relationship? Ditto senior-junior! And this list can be expanded to include combinations such as rich-poor, husband-wife, topper- laggard, weak-strong etc.

There’s an old saying that respect has to be earned and not given or demanded. In today’s world, we are all interdependent! An entrepreneur needs people to work for him for which he pays wages ! And this can be extended to any relationship- boss and subordinate, buyer and seller, cabbie and passenger, our drivers, security guards, maids – we pay them for the services availed of them! Does this automatically entitle employer, hirer, boss, senior, landlord et al to be respected? Unless there’s a larger purpose linked to our action and our acts are selfless, we will be entitled to be respected not for our own self but because of the position we hold!

Let’s not worry about being respected but try and become humans first. When we pay for a stuff or service, it’s a transaction; when we do something without expecting anything in return, it’s the larger purpose! When we applaud Corona warriors and supply them with PPE kits, masks and hand sanitizers, when we pay salaries to our servants, maids, drivers, employees during months of lockdown instead of laying them off, when we donate for PM Cares, Aamphan and Nisarga victims, when we stand behind our soldiers braving the enemy brutality, in short, when we selflessly think about community, society, nation, city, underprivileged, weak without expecting anything in return or recognition, we become eligible of being respected by no less than the almighty himself, leaving no desire for being respected by ordinary human mortals!

Happy half year

I have just received a post informing that today is the 183rd day of the year 2020 and there are 183 days left in the remaining part of this leap year.

I think that in the living memory of the current generation, there wouldn’t be any other period as difficult as the last 183 days of the current year have been! It started with the usual fanfare- start of a new decade, some people equating the new year to be be as exciting as the cricketing game of 20::20 and such usual stuff that we experience at the beginning of each new year!

Corona virus was still a Wuhan centric phenomenon and social media was agog with curiosity for this new contagious viral strain. And February saw Covid making its muted presence in India in Kerala and by third week of March, we had one day Janata curfew, which was soon followed by lockdown that has continued till date – tightly enforced in some parts a little relaxed in a few others.

What started mutely is now in its full pandemic flow and major cities of India – Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai are in its grip. Businesses are down, joblessness increasing, stories of human tragedy are unfolding and there’s no end in sight! As if this was not enough, two severe cyclones ravaged East and West coasts, untimely rains have wreaked havoc on ready to reap crops and India had to face the ugly face of Chinese expansionism by losing 20 of its brave hearts. Pakistan is choosing to spread terror here rather than control Covid back home and Nepal is turning out to be China’s new ally!

The very thought that the we are only halfway through with this year 2020 is shuddering. Moreover, while Corona doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to spare us from its fangs, where are China and Pakistan going? We have to face it all – bravely, intelligently and unitedly !

If Corona spares me

Why should I be happy?

For I have lost my job

And my life has become so crappy!

Cars and vehicles are not on road

But petrol is rocketing Sky high

All I can do to look skywards

And ask the almighty, why?

Bible says love thy neighbours

But that only I am supposed to know

For our neighbours Pakistan and China

It’s conspiracy so that India goes slow

I welcomed 2020 with great fanfare

The way I welcome each new year

Half way down the line

There’s no cheer but only eye with a tear!

Let’s hope the next 183 days are at least not worse if the happy days are still some distance away.

Live the moment

Just saw the above photograph posted by someone in a Facebook group of which I am a member too! As is said , “ a picture is worth a thousand words”. The above picture shook me to the core of my heart. The boy has used his chappal as a prop for mobile phone with camera to click a selfie with his other innocent friends. The picture immediately transported me back to my early childhood when all our desires used to get fulfilled by use of props as our parents could not afford any of the expensive reals. The chopper that was used for washing clothes when washing machines were unheard of would double up as a cricket bat ! A 25 p non working plastic watch would adorn my wrist, being displayed with pride.

As a small boy, I was extremely fond of toys such as mini bus, truck or car. It was difficult for my parents to buy such toys as they were expensive by our economic standards. I distinctly remember making a bus out of an empty shoe box or any other solid cube having 3 dimensions would be my car or truck! I also remember my father having actually bought me a pick up truck toy on my 7th birthday that I used for years though it’s wheels and body crumbled under its excess exploitation!

In contrast, children of today belonging to affluent families have expensive phones, watches, shoes, toys at their beck and call and they hardly value them. What was a childhood dream and a pure aspiration of yore is taken for granted today! But in these days of Corona, when lockdown is providing people lot of time to take stock of their lives, it’s pictures like the above that remind you of the fact that happiness is not a function of what you have what you don’t but how you enjoy whatever you have and live the moment. We waste our lifetime running after material possessions – the joy provided by that prop of an empty cardboard box doubling up as a toy car was several notches above the joy of actually possessing a luxury sedan!

As Mahatria would say: “

Contentment is your ability to look back the past with no regrets. You should be happy with what you have. It does not stop you from being ambitious about your future. Contentment is a result and effect that is born from the past. Ambition is a futuristic emotion.

One of the takeaways from the current Corona pandemic is – let’s live the moment and be happy with whatever we have for now we have learnt that it’s completely unknown when a crisis will bring everything to a standstill. The children in the photograph are superb interpretation of Mahatria’s thoughts.

3 Cs or C Cube

Please don’t get perplexed by the title and as the blog progresses, readers will understand the appropriateness of the title.

We have a way of expressing things in triplets or sets of three. In our childhood, we all would have heard the importance of possessing 3 Rs – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (and not 3 Rs of the image above, which is a today’s take), which basically highlighted the need for education. We all would have heard of 3 Ws that was mainly used in the context of good lives associated with sailors – Women, Wealth and Wine! Similarly, understanding and realising the criticality of 3Cs and adjusting to the new way of life is of absolute relevance in today’s context – Corona, China and Cyclones!

Corona is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon and social distancing, masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places are new normals. China is a superpower that wants to rule the world. Actually, it’s expansionism knows no bounds. Having established its economic supremacy over the entire world by becoming the global manufacturing hub, it now wants to establish geographical supremacy by lording over seas and land masses. So it’s pursuing ambitious road corridors projects that are basically aimed at dumping Chinese goods into countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Taiwan, Vietnam and consolidating its military fortification on the borders with these countries. It’s dominance ( the appropriate word would be Dadagiri) of South China Sea is now a global concern. Unfortunately, it’s our neighbour with whom we share a long border and hence multiple troubled spots. In a way, it’s unfortunate for China too that mighty India has the ability to check its evil design. And the third C is for cyclones- first Aamphan, then Nisarga. The way monsoon has covered the entire country ( spread has been the fastest in many years) and wreaking havoc in Central and Eastern parts is also not normal but in a manner of speaking, cyclonic. And what would you call Tiddi dal or the swarms of locusts destroying our crops? Aren’t they a kind of cyclone?

And C cube is basically representative of volume or the dimensions plus the depth of the issues affecting us! These are not ordinary issues that come and go or are encountered frequently! These are grave once in a lifetime issues that are leaving such a deep and lasting impact on our lives that our future generations may lead an altogether new lifestyle! And here I am not only talking of Corona ! We are so used to everything Chinese that even our idols, to whom we offer prayers everyday are made in China. Next generation may like to be more aatmanirbhar or self dependent! And the abuse of nature by our generation is definitely making the next generation more alive to environmental issue and that’s the context of cyclones!

We are deep into a malaise and while we should all look skywards for divine help, let’s not leave everything to 3 Gs – Government, Gallantry (of our forces) and God! Let’s get up and do our bit!

What a day it is !

Usually, I am an optimist. It’s very rare that an event can send me into throes of depression and negativity. I love development, growth, progress, communities, traditions, festivals – in sum, anything that has anything to do with humans and their spirit. This inherent trait of mine shines the brightest on days like today that are special, rare and significant for multiple reasons. Today is 21st June and it’s difficult to find another day that packs so much in it ! Today is Father’s Day, Internationals Yoga Day, Solar Eclipse and summer solstice that makes 21st June the longest day of the year!

Now the moot point is that why someone of an eternal optimist like me should be feeling low on such a day that in fact should be fascinating! When the country is facing the worst of Corona pandemic, with India now recording 4th highest number of cases in the world and we are all mourning the martyrdom of 20 of our bravest sons, who died fighting an evil enemy, even the most fascinating of the events can be sombre.

Annulus Solar eclipse is an astronomical event when moon comes between sun and earth, covering the sun, almost fully, but leaving its edges shining bright like a golden ring. Annulus solar eclipse is in a sense different from full solar eclipse for the moon is far too off to cover the sun fully! However, astrologists, soothsayers and people of their ilk are seeing this natural event almost as one of the most inauspicious happening impacting all the sun signs adversely. My take is that how come this class of people come thronging everywhere voicing their views on such occasions with so much emphasis and conviction but are most of the times clueless forecasting tragedies like Corona pandemic? If astrology is a science, it needs to provide solid evidence like other sciences; lest people are having enough of this!

I have earlier also in one of the blogs written that while certain days like Environment day etc are important to sensitise the people towards nature, days like father’s and mother’s are really not important, especially in Indian milieu where mother and father are given the status of Gods and respected like them. For us, like offering prayer to God is a everyday affair, respecting parents is also an important daily chore. Yoga is now an acknowledged practice that’s a holistic treatment for mankind’s well being. Summer solstice heralds change in the planetary positions and for us in India, indicative of summer having reached its peak. We can expect rains and then autumn, leading to onset of winters that are still some distance away!

The above is all part of nature and life as usual, but martyrdom of 20 of our brave hearts is a consequence of human greed and their need to possess indefinitely. For Pakistan, Kashmir remains the only agenda and it can go any far to try to attain its unholy ambition, though in the process that country is itself getting disintegrated. China’s ambition to dominate and rule the whole world is now a known fact and in doing so it can lay it’s claim on any part of the land! Nepal that always looked more to be an Indian state rather than a sovereign country is raising serious territorial issues with India.

In a sense, even Corona seems to be part of man’s insatiable greed if conspiracy theory of virus being synthetic manufactured in a lab in China is to be believed. Even if not so, our propensity to breed uncontrollably has made this pandemic exceptionally contagious in over populated and dense places like New York, Mumbai and Delhi!

My pessimism or loss of optimism arises from facts that Corona is only spreading and not going off any time soon, our unfriendly neighbours will be dealt with appropriately but in the process a few of our brave hearts could get martyred and at this stage I would rather not worry about Pakistan, Nepal, economy and other such issues.

My optimism or pessimism doesn’t matter. What matters is the well being and prosperity of my country and countrymen. If India becomes stronger, more prosperous and the most peaceful state, we will all be the winners.

May God bless my country, it’s citizens and it’s brave forces who are facing the worst of enemies in the most unfriendly situations ensuring our protection and prosperity!

Salute to brave hearts

The scenes are soul stirring. As the dead bodies of the National heroes, martyred in border skirmish with Chinese soldiers, reach their respective hometowns wrapped in National tricolour, their widows, young children, old parents and others attending funeral bid final adieu to their beloved! Of course, these scenes enrage the entire country and there’s no doubt that their extreme sacrifice will not go waste and the enemy will have to pay for their act of backstabbing our brave hearts.

It’s most unfortunate that for all our strengths, this propensity to politicise everything is proving to be a weak link. Whether it’s article 370 or Corona virus or now showdown with China, we as a nation are not able to pose a united front. Where’s the room for politics in martyrdom of our 20 brave hearts?

I would not risk prophesying what’s going to happen in future? Are we going to tackle China diplomatically or militarily? Will there be a precise military action or a full fledged war? What will be the consequences? How will other hostile neighbours react?

Actually, there was a time when this world had only two super powers – US and USSR! With the break up of USSR into several independent states, it no longer enjoys the might of yore! It’s poor economy has also contributed to its waning power. In the meantime, China first became economic superpower, being the manufacturing hub of the world and is now the second superpower along with US! This has severely disturbed balance of power in this region, with the unholy axis comprising China, Pakistan and now even Nepal threatening to keep Indian forces on their toes!

But we have nothing to worry for ours is a land of saints and seers, have historically faced enemies and intruders of all hues and colours, have the misfortune of having the worst neighbours, but we have inherent strength and resilience that’s reflected in the determination and resolve of our forces. Only, we must be one in the face of adversity, because apart from sovereignty of India, nothing else matters!

Let’s not forget the sacrifice of these 20 martyrs and the best obeisance we can pay them is by taking forward this war against enemy by uniting!

First Corona and now PLA

All along the day, the news said that 3 Indian soldiers, including one commanding officer, Colonel Santhosh Babu, were killed. And mind you, the deaths happened without a single bullet being fired; it happened in a physical scuffle with Chinese soldiers. It was the most upsetting news because while the Indian and the Chinese armies were staring at each other for the last few days, all channels of peaceful resolution were simultaneously working. And then this happened.

And towards the end of the day, this figure of 3 that sustained the whole day mounted to 20 and the number could be rising. I think it’s one of the most dastardly acts of unprovoked aggression by PLA by unilaterally choosing to disrespect LAC.

When Trump calls Corona virus Chinese Corona, it upsets China no end! The fact remains that this global pandemic started from China and now its policy to browbeat could also lead to onset of the great global disorder, if it does not restrain its ambition to dominate this world!

Will this blow up into a full fledged war or good sense will prevail on the aggressor ? Only time will tell! Right now, let’s pray for our lion hearted martyrs who laid down their lives selflessly and others who are fighting the enemies on multiple fronts! There’s no doubt on their bravery, tactical smartness or their capability! Our nation is safe with our brave hearts fighting a treacherous aggressor in one of the most hostile terrains! But let’s not divert their energy and attention by calling upon them for civil duties when police is unable to control attacks on Corona warriors or other such acts of disobedience by public in these most testing times for the country.

I pray to all Indians to keep aside their political ideologies, faith or any other divisive issue and stand behind our Government and our Army! For an internally strong and stable India will effectively rebuff the evil design of all the enemies, even if they choose to test its strength together!

Bharat Mata ki Jai! Long live Indian Army!

Bollywood is getting jinxed

One of the most talented of the younger lot of the Bollywood actors, Sushant Singh Rajput, who was already an A lister , aiming for the top spot in Bollywood, has committed suicide. 34 years old actor, whose last superhit film Chicchore won rave reviews and did a decent business in commercial terms.

Actually, in some senses he was following the footsteps of Shahrukh Khan. An actor who made the grade through TV, who can forget his performance on popular daily soap Pavitra Rishta that topped the TRP ratings for weeks and during the course of shooting which he met his longtime girlfriend Ankita Lokhande. Bollywood saw the talent in him and in no time he became the darling of the filmgoers, who lapped up his performance in movies like Kai Po Che, Shuddh Desi Romance, PK and Byomkesh Bakshi. He hit big time in his role of MS Dhoni in the eponymous movie that captured the life and time of India’s iconic cricketer. It was as if Sushant infused his heart and soul into the role immortalising Dhoni on silver screen.

Was it another case of a middle class Patna boy unable to take the name, fame and glamour of Bollywood in his stride? Or was it his failure in his personal relationships? A fortnight ago or so his ex secretary Disha Saliyan had committed suicide under mysterious circumstances!

Whatever be the cause, the outcome is premature death of another Bollywood star and a great future hope Sushant Singh Rajput is a great loss to Bollywood that’s yet to come out of the grief due to death of so many of its alumni – Irrfan, Rishi, Basu Chatterjee, Sajid, Yogesh, Chiranjivi ….. ! The current pandemic due to COVID only adds to the gloom!

RIP Sushant! This was the distance you were destined to traverse! I pray to God to give peace to this world, our country, our city and our Bollywood by eradicating COVID !