Saturday, January 31, 2015

EVERYONE WANTS SHIVAJI TO BE BORN... BUT, IN SOMEONE-ELSE'S HOME!





A friend of mine has a favorite line, and he recites it in his chaste Marathi. I wish, I could reproduce it here with the same effect. Nevertheless, what he wants to convey through it is:

”Everyone wants Shivaji to be born… but, in someone-else’s home!”


Most of us are cribbers of the first order. We complain about everything and everyone, and we do it everywhere and everytime… Why something or someone is wrong, we are first to point out. Why can’t it be done this way or that way… Why can’t he do it this or do that… Yes, cribbing and complaining comes to us, so effortlessly!

My friend puts these guys – the habitual cribbers – to a simple test… He asks them to come forward… take up the responsibility to lead and manage. If they are genuinely interested in the progress of the place – organization or community – if they are sincere, if their intentions are good, then, they will surely take it up. If not, they will give a hundred reasons why they can’t take up the responsibility…

And, there goes up the favorite punch-line of my friend:

“Everyone wants Shivaji Maharaj to be born… but, in someone-else’s home!”

It makes me, really, laugh!


We want our community - our surroundings, roads, housing societies, our education and political system to be run well… We have great ideas and suggestions… Yes, we want change, progress… But, then, the moment someone asks us to come forward and help – take up responsibility, that’s enough to make us come out with our hundred lame excuses…

So, the moral of the story is:

“If you can’t do it, let others do it… Help them do it well. But, for God’s sake, shut your cribbing mouth!”


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Rajiv Sharma


Friday, January 30, 2015

IF ALONE THE FISH KNEW IT WAS A BAIT!













Pic.: Usha Prasad


Not a single moment passes by without an urge in me to react: say something strongly to someone… That someone can be my own spouse, son, student, relative, friend, an associate, a neighbor, or, even, a stranger… There is this urge in me to say something strongly…

An urge is a craving of my mind… a compulsion… an addiction… an instinctive habit… It is my weakness. Whenever I consciously abstain from saying what I want to say mechanically, instinctively… yes, whenever I use my discretion, better judgment, I can sense the feeling of self-confidence in my heart… I feel the power and strength… I feel I am in charge… 

Yes, if just holding back a few strong comments, here and there, can give me that sense of well-being… Then, imagine, if I can keep abstaining from reacting more and more and more!

Like everyone else, I, too, know that all my thoughts and feelings need not be – and should not be – expressed. Similarly, all my opinions need not be – and should not be -  expressed… For, many of my thoughts and feelings come up from my deep conditioning, my biases. Ditto for my opinions… So, when I consciously choose to abstain from expressing them, I am in a position to get in touch with the space from which my urges and cravings spring up…

And, yes, whenever I am able to see that, I feel immensely strong, confident… and, even, compassionate…

With that, I have realized one more thing: till I don’t reach that state, I am unable to deal with the reactive behavior of those around me… You know, we cannot stop them from thinking, feeling and reacting in a certain way. They do that from their own conditionings and biases. But, because, I have that quiet strength now, I am in a position to deal with their reactions…

Yes, I don’t have to react to every reaction of others… no matter who they are, and how caustic their reactions are… I don’t’ have to express my opinion even though others think I should…

For my inner peace and confidence, I must learn to abstain from my indulgences… of body, mind and soul…

And, the best ‘time’ to start it from is - NOW…  The best ‘place’ to start it from is – HERE!

If alone the fish knew it was a bait!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Thursday, January 29, 2015

YOU SAID IT, LAXMAN SIR, BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE DID






Pic.: Pradeep Nanda

All through his professional life – for over six decades, that is – R.K. Laxman did only one thing: draw cartoons… He made that - otherwise ignored and uncared - common man speak through his silence, each day… and made him, literally, immortal. He made even that – otherwise most irritating and shooed bird - crow, immortal!

Imagine, a simple soul like you and me – a total common man – becoming a legend called R.K.Laxman… just by drawing his cartoons, every day! That, too, without formally learning to draw them from any school or teacher… Instead learning to do them on his own…

Yes, imagine, R.K. Laxman without his cartooning prowess!

It is just like imagining Amitabh Bachchan without his acting prowess… and Sachin Tendulkar without his batting prowess!

Amitabh did not go to any acting school and Sachin, though had learnt a few subtle things from his coach, Achrekar, I believe, had learnt on his own almost all his colossal batting-skills…

Ditto for Lata Mangeshkar, Milkha Singh or Dada Kondke… Ditto for Narendra Modi…

They learnt it on their own, and, they learnt it the hard way… with loads and loads of dedication, commitment, discipline and passion…

In life, none of us can be good at everything… leave alone ‘the best’. But, if we resolve to be good in one thing – that one thing which is close to our heart – and go about building up that skill, that prowess, by putting our entire heart and soul into it, can’t we excel in it?


Somewhere down the line, things have gone wrong when it comes to our self-belief. Parents, today, enroll their kids to great design schools without checking whether their kids have the aptitude and the attitude in place…

Design schools don’t bring out the designer in you… Your belief in the designer in you, does…

How many Arjuna’s could the great Dhronacharya produce? Don’t tell me, he had only one student under him! And, could Arjuna, the most-glorified student of Dhrona, learn the art of archery the way Eklavya could?

R.K. Laxman, his brother R.K. Narayan, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tenulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Milkha Singh and Narendra Modi… and hundreds of legends like these – are the Eklavya’s of this world… They discovered that one thing which they could do best in life… and invested all their energies into doing it… They believed in themselves… They remained completely faithful to their commitments…

Minus his cartoons, R.K. Laxman would have passed across this world just as his crow would have passed across the sky…
Just as his silent-man in checks-shirt would have!


You said it, Laxman sir, better than anybody else did!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

AT THE END OF OBAMA'S HARD, LONG DAY...











Pic.: Rajiv Sharma


I was watching on TV, last night, the special programmes on President Obama’s visit to India. I have long admired the way he communicates with such depth, confidence and √©lan, all at the same time, and all extempore… Yes, no matter how long he speaks. I follow him - of all the other things I admire him for – for this strength of his: the power of public-speaking.

“How does he do it?” my wife was spellbound, last night, “THAT is public-speaking!”

“You are right, darling,” I expressed my agreement, “THAT is why we are glued to him, like this!”

But, this Post is not about President Obama’s phenomenal ability to move people with his gift of gab. By now, no one on this earth would need me to point it to him or her… I, myself, have blogged many times about it, in the past… There are so many of his great speeches – particularly relating to his two-time Presidential-elections… Just a click on YouTube, you have them, right before you…

So, this Post is about a young-lady’s question to him, last night, while he was taking questions, jointly with our PM, Mr. Modi, on a radio programme. The lady was curious to know as to what helped President Obama maintain his sanity when he was home at the end of such a stressful day – a day which was so unpredictable and so full of burden - not just of his own vast country, but also of the whole world… Yes, how did he manage to be a normal husband for his wife, Michelle, and dad for his two young-girls, Malia and Sasha when he was home, at the end of the day?

More than the young-lady, who had asked that question, I found myself curious to know how the President of the most powerful nation on earth did it…

The answer made me smile… feel a lot stress-free and a lot hopeful about life. I am only paraphrasing what President Obama said…

“What keeps me maintain my sanity, my normal self when I am home, at the end of the day, is:

Some young-one like you, from a remote corner of my own country or another country tells me that the education programme which we were able to initiate made a huge difference in his or her life…

Someone sick, someone disabled, someone deprived of means to buy food, medicines or clothes… someone without a home, someone who is unable to pay his school-fees… yes, when he or she tells me how I made a difference in his or her life…

Yes, it is the sense of being able to contribute as the head of a great nation to the lives of so many people, that keeps me totally sane and human when I am home at the end of a hard, stressful day…”

“Sir, add this, too,” I found telling in my mind: “Someone, somewhere telling me how inspired he or she feels every time he or she hears me speak!”


At the end of the day, what keeps the President of the most powerful nation on earth firmly planted on this earth - sane and sensible, human and tender… is what keeps you and me, too, so…

THAT is what made me smile… made me feel a lot stress-free, a lot hopeful, last night.


GERALD D’CUNHA



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE SMASHAN VAIRAGYA






Pic.: Vinod Krishnan


Balloons go up only when you fill them with air… the hot-air. So, if they have to remain up there, if they have to keep soaring high – then, you need to ensure that the hot- air lasts in them for a long, long time…

But, do you see balloons floating long enough in the air?

Well, let me talk about another kind of balloons, now.

As I had promised to my friend, Harish, I held, yesterday, a four-hour programme for his wonderful staff in a hotel. Harish was very clear in his objective: he wanted his young boys and girls to ‘aspire’ for a better life… a productive and contributing life. For that, he wanted them to be ‘inspired’… So, rightly, he had coined the theme for the programme: ‘Inspire and Aspire’.

Well, I gave my best… and, I could make out that they were all ‘inspired’… Yes, pumped-up with that hot-air. At the end of the session, almost all young boys and girls came up to me to tell that they were charged-up, now… That, they were, now, ready to aspire for a more productive life…

I was glad…

Their boss, Harish, too, was glad… But, then, he knew his boys and girls better than I did. “I only don’t want it to be a ‘Smashan Vairagya’,” he said apprehensively…

I loved that…


When you are in a smashan – a crematorium – and when you see the dead body going in flames, getting reduced to ashes… invariably, the experience can be moving, life-transforming… Overwhelmed by emotions, and struck by sorrow, you, indeed, start contemplating on the kind of arrogance that has marked your life… the blind chase that you have pursued… the pain that you have caused to your near and dear ones, the grudges that you have held, the vices that you have fallen prey to…. And, standing there, right in front of the burning corpse, you begin to repent in your heart and resolve to put an end to your blind pursuits, you vices… You resolve to be a good soul…

The flames of pyre have filled your heart with hot-air, now… and, you leave the cremation ground, the smashan, aspiring for a better life… A lot inspired!

This kind of change of heart is known as ‘Smashan Vairagya’… and, we all go through this kind of vairagya – ‘detachment’, ‘change of heart’, ‘inspiration… call it whatever you wish -  time and time again, yes, when we are in near the funeral pyre… My friend, Harish, knew that his boys and girls were very moved, very inspired, yesterday, when they were in my presence… He knew that many of them would cry in their heart, resolve to change their ways… Yes, aspire to be better souls, better employees…

But, then, the smashan vairagya lasts only till you reach home… Maybe, for some more days after you leave the smashan! Then, your old-habits come back to rule you… You start running after the same-old stuff that had made you blind and heartless… You start giving in to the same-old vices… start holding on to the same-old grudges…

The hot-air from funeral-pyre has gone… The heart is back to its old business!


So, looking at the sky, I am smiling now...  “How long the hot-air, which I had filled last afternoon, will last in Harish’s balloons?” I wonder...

I, also, wonder, “Is there another way to send balloons high up in the sky?”


GERALD D’CUNHA



Saturday, January 24, 2015

YES, TIMES HAVE CHANGED... BUT, READING HASN'T









Pic.: Chetna Shetty







Reading hasn't become extinct, yet. People still read… Only question is: Whether they prefer reading online or offline… Whether the traditional book – the hard-copy or the trendy, convinient soft-copy…

I have just returned from the THE DAWN CLUB Certification function held in the local gymkhana today. During the course, one of the many things I had kept reminding them to do was: to read, read, and read…

Yes, read anything…

Read anything that helped them broaden their outlook towards life… “Reading helps you develop your world-view,” I would, often, tell them…

Read anything that helped them enhance their subject-knowledge… “Reading helps you in constantly enhancing your field-knowledge long after you have done with your college,” I would remind them…

Reading anything that helped them feel inspired to lead a better life… “Reading about successful people, their stories - biographies and autobiographers - helps you aspire for a similar life… to do well in life… lead  a productive and inspiring life,” I would emphasize…

Finally, reading anything that helped them relax in life… “Reading a good book is like being with a good friend… it helps you calm down, and be by yourself,” I would conclude.


So, while it is true, that the majority, today, do not read books, it is not true, that they do not read at all…

For, people still aspire for a great life… They still want to enhance their field-knowledge… They still want to broaden their world-view… They still want inspiration to succeed in life… And, yes, they still want to relax and lead a peaceful life…

Life, itself, is an open book…  Isn't it? So, how can one lead through it without reading it?

Whether online or offline… the hard-copy or soft-copy – it should not matter, then. Yes, times have changed… But, reading hasn't.


GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, January 23, 2015

A WALKING STICK OR A CRUTCH?















Pic.: Ashok Ahuja


One of the scenes I loved the most in the Hindi movie – ‘Black’ was this: Mr. Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan) has, already, brought his deaf, dumb and blind student, Michelle, (Rani Mukherjee), this far… But, he can see her helplessness without him, her dependence on him… He knows, that she cannot, and should not, cling to him lifelong… that, he can’t be there around, always… So, he has brought something that can do away this clinging, this helplessness… It is a walking stick. When Michelle senses, by touching it, that her dear teacher wants her to walk with the help of a stick, she bursts out, angrily -  “No!”

Mr. Sahai is kind, yet, firm. “This will make you independent,” he tells sternly to Michelle, “and not dependent.”

There is so much depth in that scene, that, I keep talking about it to my students and their parents, whenever I feel, I should…

I did it today, once again…

Nupur* was my dear student some twenty-five years ago. She would, always, tell me, that she had been inspired by me and looked up to me. She would tell it, often, to her friends and family, including her sons. This morning, she was here with her elder son, Kush*, to enroll him for twelfth-standard.

The young-man wants to be a Chartered Accountant and, the mother knows that it is not just the aptitude, but it is, also, the attitude that would decide whether or not the dream is worth pursuing. As a committed and focused student herself, she knows how important it is for her son to be self-disciplined… do his work without being pushed and nagged all the time… She knows why her son should trust in his own potential, be curious and excited about his studies, trust in himself and take risks, be a self-starter…

So, when they were here in my office, Nupur kept reminding her son to be more and more on his own, even though he would join my class… And, I fully agreed with her…

Beta, a coaching class and a teacher like me can do more harm to you than good,” I told Kush, “unless you use us wisely.” I continued, “Somewhere along, you guys have been made to believe, that we are required for your success… It is a lie,” I emphasized, “You have been brain-washed with that lie… Trust me, we are not required; you are good enough.”

Often, I tell my students and parents, this: “If there is no childlike curiosity, which is the seat of creativity… and if there is no self-trust and risk-taking ability in a student, the education is no education at all… Let no coaching class or teacher rob you of it.” And, yes, today, I said that to Kush before he would enroll to be my student… I told him about the scene in ‘Black’… I told him why the teacher wanted his student to use the walking stick… and stop clinging, stop being helpless…

“Join me to be independent,” I reminded Kush, with my parting hug, “not dependent.”

He did not scream, “NO!!!!”


* Names changed


GERALD D’CUNHA




Thursday, January 22, 2015

ENERGY FROM THE WHEELCHAIR







Pic.: Asha D'Souza


Two days ago, my mother-in-law underwent an angioplasty at Jaslok hospital. Yesterday, when I had been there, I saw something very heart-warming. In fact, inspiring!

It was the patient on the next bed, who was all set to be discharged… Her 60-year-old son and his wife were around. What must be the mother’s age? I wondered. Someone told me, it was 85!

What was so endearing was the way this elderly woman carried herself… Nobody would guess that she had just undergone an angioplasty… Her intellect was razor-sharp… Her eyes were as clear as a summer sky… Her ears were as sensitive as a BOSE microphone… Her smile could disarm an entire army…And, her zest could put anyone of us to shame!

My mother-in-law already had a couple of stories to tell me about the elderly lady. “The daughter-in-law tells that she has learnt everything from her mother-in-law,” my own mother-in-law told me, “She can see, hear and speak like a teenager.”

Yes, she could…

Right from the ward boys, ayas and nurses to the rest of patients and their relatives came forward to bid the old-lady goodbye. A young-patient, on the opposite bed, who could not get up, pleaded with his folded hands, “Dadi maa, do give me your blessings,” while his wife came near the wheelchair and touched feet with both her hands.”

Two beds away lay an African patient. He, too, leaned forward from his bed to bid goodbye to the old-lady, while his wife came forward to offer her hand affectionately…

All through the wheelchair journey, the charming old-woman kept greeting one and all on both sides of the passage… With her folded hands and childlike smile, she looked gracious, majestic!

“What a soul,” I exclaimed in my heart, “what a zest!”

When I left, I could feel the energy in my own heart… The old-lady had pumped it into me!


GERALD D’CUNHA




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

THERE ARE ONLY TWO KINDS OF TROUBLES IN MY LIFE













Pic.: Chetna Shetty



There are only two kinds of troubles in my life: the troubles, which come without my invitation… and the troubles which I self-invite. The more I look closer at my troubles, the clearer it becomes to me, that, there are no troubles in my life of a third kind!

Troubles, which come in my life without my invitation, are the ones I have no control on… Like the bus or taxi I travel by get knocked off by some drunk-motorist; my house is destroyed in a fire, earthquake or flood;  a major illness of my own or my dearest ones; someone burgles into my house and cleans-up my  treasury; my bank goes bust… or, my children get into some major problems…

Now, though the above troubles might come into my life without my invitation and are beyond my control, I still have a choice over how I react when they come… What I am unable to change or control, I must learn to accept… and, that quiet dignity, that silent grace is the key for my inner peace…

Yes, like everyone else’s life, my life, too, has many such troubles.  But, acceptance doesn’t come easily to me… In the beginning, it is, always, the resistance and denial, blame and self-pity that come and rob me of my peace… And, then, slowly, I learn to come to terms with ‘what is’… the reality… I stop arguing with it, let go… accept. And, silence settles.

On the other hand, there are many troubles in my life, which are there – because I have invited them… through my own choices and decisions. Yes, I can, certainly, do something about them… I can change my behavior… make conscious choices… Learn to assert myself, learn to be objective and less sentimental while dealing with people around me… I can learn not to take others’ troubles upon me… I can learn to manage my money well, eat sensibly, take good rest, exercise, recreate… Above all, I can learn to be less reactive in life…

Yes, the things, which are directly under my control, I should be first able to deal with… As Stephen Covey tells us, the more we focus on these things, our power increases… On the other hand, the less we focus on these things and worry about the troubles that rock us without our control, we lose our strength and end up feeling helpless, victimized and, even, bitter in life…


This morning, I caught myself reacting at someone-else’s’ behavior… It continued for long... and I was feeling the loss of strength… I was feeling hurt and angry. Along with that, there was this feeling of being a victim… Then, all of a sudden – yes, right in the thick of my turmoil – I saw the reality: that, I was focusing on ‘other’s behavior’ and not my own. I, instantly, brought the focus back on mine… how I was reacting to someone else’s behavior… and the story that I made out of it…

And, it was all over!

There are only two kinds of troubles in my life… Only two.


GERALD D’CUNHA


Monday, January 19, 2015

RUNNING OUR FULL MARATHONS





Pic.: Pradeep Nanda
So, the long-awaited - and  a lot-hyped-up - Mumbai Marathon, finally, got over, yesterday. “More than 40,000 took part,” today’s TOI headlines say, proudly…  Well, some ran full, some ran half, some quarter… and, some a little at least… Yes, there was a lot of buzz around it, a lot of life… The preparation for it, itself, was a huge thing… The participants, their families and friends were proud… 
as if, it was something extra-ordinary - like a great sacrifice or martyrdom… that deserved 21-gun-salutes from the rest of us, the bystanders… yes, those who did not or could not run…

Someone from our Society had been practicing for it along with his little girl for some time. He completed half, it seems. I did not know this. “We should honor them during the flag-hoisting ceremony in our colony,” a lady suggested to me, last evening, very excitedly. I am the Hon. Chairman of our Society, you see…
I smiled…
On the same day, that is on the Republic Day, a friend of mine has organized a special function to honor some of his loyal and dedicated staff. Incidentally, he has requested me to do the honors. When he came with a request, my friend was extremely delighted to speak about one senior employee – a peon. “He has been responsible to keep our entire office spic and span,” he told me proudly about his staff, “He is the first to arrive here and he is the last to leave… Come rain, come storm, he would never compromise on that… and, for years and years he has been doing that.”
When I first heard it from my friend, I smiled and said, “It would be my privilege to honor him on the RD day… He is a hero!”
Now, this elderly man has been running the full marathon, and he has been doing it for years…
Why is TOI not covering it?
Why is there no buzz around it?
Why are there no bystanders to cheer this hero?
Let me tell you this: the watchmen of our society, who do 12-hour duty – day or night – take home only peanuts. They are like us – have their homes to run, children to be educated, bills to be paid, young girls to be married, sick parents to be treated… Yes, all with those peanuts.
I feel guilty… that I cannot do much about it…
But, if I am asked to do honors for running a full marathon, I would happily and proudly do it for one of them, who really deserve it… Whose names don’t flash on headlines, nor their faces on TV…
Their entire life is a preparation and event… And, they cannot afford to run it half, quarter or a bit… Only full!

So, now, that the buzz is over…
Thought, I would say something about this hoopla called Mumbai Marathon…
We all were running our-own marathons, yesterday, as 40,000 did it on our streets…
I am happy, I ran my full marathon… and, I would do so, always.

GERALD D’CUNHA

Saturday, January 17, 2015

IT IS LAWFUL TO DO GOOD ON THE SABBATH














Allow me to use one more leaf from the movie PK… It is the very end of the movie… After one year’… you read on the screen… “We are about to land in a while,” PK announces, obviously, he is back with many more PKs from his gola… But, now he knows some wired truths on this gola called ‘Earth’… so, he shares them with his fellow-beings…. Some funny truths, some dos and donts. I loved one of them particularly. “If you hear anyone say ‘I love chicken’ or ‘I love fish’, remember, it does not mean they have great love for chicken and fish… It only means, they love to eat them!"

Like everyone else did, I, too, left the movie hall with a chuckle in my heart… Only one more thing, I wished, PK had told his fellow-creatures… “Look guys, here, on this gola called ‘Earth’, if any one tries to tell you too much about rules and regulations, just remember this: He is a plain hypocrite… suffering from a disease called, ‘Crab Mentality’!”

These guys will neither do good nor will allow anyone else to do good… If I can’t have it, I will see to it that, you, too, will not have it… So, like the crabs in that bucket, which kept dragging each other down and, eventually, ensured their collective demise, these guys are relentlessly busy pulling each other down – blaming, accusing, defaming… worst, citing some laws of this land, not because they have great respect for those laws, but because, they do not want to see you succeed…

Plain jealousy… Petty-mindedness… yes, all stemming from frustrations and failures in their own lives…

When another person does good, you and I have the intelligence to note that it is good. Then, why don’t we acknowledge the good done by someone, appreciate it, support it and thereby, ensure our collective upliftment? Why do we do exactly the opposite… Cite some crazy laws and stop the man from doing good?

Because, it feeds our egos!


There was this man with his withered hands (leper). It was the Sabbath day, the day Jews did not work because the old Hebrew Law said so. Now, the people who had come to Jesus, asking whether it was lawful to heal a leper on the Sabbath day, were not the ones who had some great respect for life or law – whether it was the law of land or the law of God… they just had come to trap Jesus who went about his life doing good work. These men couldn’t see it… They were jealous, insecure, self-righteous…

And, what did Jesus tell them?

“Imagine your sheep falls into a ditch on the Sabbath day… Now, what will you do – will you leave it there and go, or will you gently lift it out of the ditch? How much more valuable, then, is a man than a sheep?... So, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath!”


The Pharisees and hypocrites are still around us… rather, they still live in us… and make us cite dead laws, pull others down… and, yes, yes – as PK pointed to his country-creatures -  go around harping…

“I LOVE chicken… I LOVE fish!”

Today is a Saturday… the day of Sabbath as per the Hebrew calendar…

Hope, I have not sinned!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Chetna Shetty

Thursday, January 15, 2015

BE TRUE TO YOUR OWN FAITH






Pic.: Chetna Shetty

On this Sunday morning, my wife and I had been to the Global Vipasana Centre (Pagoda) at Gorai. For a long time, I have been longing to visit this magnificent piece of architecture. I love anything and everything inspiring… great work of architecture… be it commercial or residential towers or be it cathedrals, temples, mosques or gurudwaras… or even bridges and flyovers… I feel inspired by the thought that loads of passion goes into building them…

Another reason why I wanted to visit Pagoda was this: I have been, always, influenced by the teachings of Gautama Buddha, who, in my view, did not teach mankind any religion… In fact, everywhere around the Vipasana centres, you get to read this truth: Vipasana, the meditation taught by the Buddha himself, doesn't belong to any sect or religion…

But, then, somewhere down the line, the essence and the truth get polluted by us – the followers, the interpreters, the mortals, the gullible… We, invariably, end up making a religion out of what we follow… be it the teachings of Christ, Krishna, Mohammad, Nanak or Gautama… We tend to believe that our truth is the only truth, our teacher is the true teacher, and our God is the only God, the true God…

And, then, we go about propagating that belief of ours… yes, with an evangelistic fervor… aggressively, even if that means distancing ourselves from our fellow-beings and creating walls between us…

On Sunday, at one of the desks at Pagoda, there was this elderly volunteer. In the process of doing his ‘seva’, he asked us too many questions… One of them was this:

“Have you watched PK?”

“Oh yes.”

“Do you remember the bus scene?”

“Yes.”

“Can you tell me, in that scene, PK goes and sits next to whom?”

My wife and I looked at each other and started guessing…

“The widow in white saree?”

“That’s the point you missed,” the gentleman pointed to us with a teasing smile, “He sat next to a Buddhist monk!”

Now, that’s true… We remembered PK had settled down next to a young Buddhist-monk in the bus…

But, then, why was this elderly volunteer reminding us of it? That, PK, the alien, had found only a Buddhist to be a true spiritual being on this planet?


Every time a Westerner showed his or her interest to become a Hindu, Gandhi would remind them, “There is no need for you to become a Hindu… Be a true Christian.” There is, also, a poignant scene in Sir Richard Attenborough’s movie, Gandhi… A young Christian priest is giving sermon during mass in a church… He talks about Gandhi… a Hindu… how his philosophy makes sense and how practical spirituality that is… and, you can see the reaction: one by one, the members of the audience start leaving the church… Yes, they don’t want to hear what is being said about a Hindu by a Christian priest… that, too, from the pulpit!

Christ, Krishna, Mohammad, Nanak and Buddha… all inspire me…

In all of them, I find peace… a meaning to my existence…

Gandhi’s words, keep haunting me:
“You need not become a Hindu; be a good Christian.”


GERALD D’CUNHA