Hooo… teri bhakti ka vardaan hai
Jo kamaye vo dhanvaan hai
Bin kinare ki kashti hai vo..
Deva tujhse jo anjaan hai…

it's the boon of devotion for you,
who earns (this devotion) is rich..
(while) he is a boat with no shore,
who does not know you…

It was a packed batch, late evening, yesterday… I still had one more batch to go. I was in my best flow and everything was going well, except these three boys… the perennial trouble makers!

After almost thirty-six years of teaching college kids (including teaching while still in college), I was no stranger to the restlessness, mischief, nuisance – whatever you call it – of some students. Yes, you can not expect all students to be equally nice… the basket does contain one or two bad apples.

But, as they say, those one or two are enough to spoil the entire basket!

It was happening in my class, last evening. In fact, it was happening for quite some time. I have been gently, tactfully and firmly dealing with these three young ones all this time. They hailed from affluent families… two of them were repeating their year… One of them had done his schooling in one of the best boarding schools… and, here were they, now, with me… Their parents, hoping to see some miracle under my tutelage!

Yes, as I told you, I have dealt with even the worst, the most hopeless cases over all these years. I do not distinguish, brand or condemn my students… even though they come about as spoilt brats or the so-called perennial trouble-makers. Yes, I believe, the bad apples may have something good about them… I try to save them. Yes, I do.

But then, the way you go about dealing with these kids can not be the conventional one. You need to get down to their level, at times, use their very-own  lingo to stir them, touch them, provoke them… use crude words, even!

Last evening, I did. I had, already, spent almost three-fourth of my lecture, and I had exhausted all my conventional weapons… Then, as a last resort, I deployed the ‘brahmastra: my anger… the fire!

The impact of the anger could be deadly! Sometimes, it can backfire, badly. In a packed classroom, if you target young ones like these, they may not take it lying down… they may go on the offensive… even though you, the teacher, have the best of the reasons to say and do what you like. Yes, your brahmastra can boomerang!

Luckily, mine did not! I was lucky to get away with it. Perhaps, the goodness of my heart must have overshadowed the crudeness of my words. The young ones must have felt it…

The class went on even better, after that…

But, I had charged the atmosphere with an eerie silence… and, I knew, like Hiroshima, I had won the war… but, probably – I do not know – probably, might have lost the battle, last evening!

I had one more batch after that. The fire was still burning…

At nine, when I wound up, I was left drained…

Had I lost the battle?

Was the path of fire – the agni-path – 

the right path? 

Could I have avoided it? 

Why am I so restless, now? 

What about those young kids… 

Did I save them or lose them? 

Did I help them or cause more harm?

I very, very rarely use so much fire in my class… My heart was still burning!

In the darkness, as I was walking my way back home, mind clouded with such unrest, I heard the familiar beats of ‘Deva Shree Ganesha ‘song from ‘Agneepath’ movie. It was coming from a nearby Ganesh pandal… I found myself overpowered by the beats and the rhythm… the tempo, the movement, the power… so much so, I saw myself moved completely… my heart was experiencing a new silence midst that deafening, frantic and  overpowering ambiance  I just stood there, in one corner, all by myself… and allowed the rhythm of this amazing song to sink deep in. Even after the song got over, I did not move from that place, for some time1

I am a die-hard fan of Amitabh Bachchan. (and his great poet-father Shri. Harivansh Rai Bachchan). But, I had decided not to watch his ‘Agneepath’. I did not like that kind of fire, which calls you to ‘avenge your past’… I am, also, very fond of Hritik Roshan. So, reluctantly, I had watched this second take on ‘Agneepath’ along with my wife. It was the late night show… I still remember how we both were left disturbed that night!

Even though, my soul has loads and loads of anger within, and even though, like a volcano, it erupts, sometimes… I just cannot bring myself to take that oath: walk the path of fire… Kar shapath, kar shapath, kar shapath… Agneepath, agneepath, agneepat!

So, here I was, on another night… standing there all alone, left all disturbed… but, mysteriously, being calmed down by a song from the very movie, which, just some months ago, had left me so disturbed!


And, now, as I write this Post, this afternoon, I hear, from all around me - near and far, all over -  the beats of the song, all over again… It is the eleventh day, the day of the final visarjan…There is a profound silence within… the fire is doused… the Elephant God, the darling of millions, is being taken on his final journey… How ironical, how mysterious all these things can be: Ganpati Bappa morya… Pudchya varshi loukar yaa!

Yes, why we need fire to worship our Gods… this shall always remain a mystery to me!
And, why I need to go through this path of fire… this test of fire… in order to experience His grace, His touch, in my soul… yes, this, too.

Lord, have mercy!!!


Pics.: Prakash Nayak


A very honest post. could relate. thank you... Vikrant
Anonymous said…
You have made us walk our familiar territory!
Naidu said…
Just overpowering!!! Naidu
Hema Dhige said…
Liked the line: the end of anger is the birth of compassion! Inspiring post!... Hema Dhige
Girish Purav said…
the path of fire is a path of destruction.
- Girish

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