The mythical Eklavya in the Indian Epic, Mahabharat, when refused training by the legendary Royal Guru Dronacharya, epitomises the Guru in a statue and with extraordinary discipline trains himself in the art of archery to become better than the best than, Arjuna. When the learned Guru Drona realises that a non royal outcast has trained himself to be better than his best pupil, connives & conspires and asks for GuruDakshina – his fees … strangely enough for actually not having imparted any art to the poor trainee who had rather magnanimously assumed the learned Guru to be his spiritual teacher. The gullible and awestruck poor lad agrees. What does the Guru ask.. His Thumb. And the poor lad.. without blinking an eye cuts off the thumb and offers it to the Sage.
In the same Mahabharat, the Empress Draupadi is disrobed and abused in the most profane language that would put some of our uncouth lads of today to shame… bang in between a fullhouse royal court that had in attendance & dishonourable witness of the iniquitous act.. the then epitomes of character & wisdom, the mightiest of thé mighty warriors… Mighty Bheeshma.. akin to the Empress’s Grandfather.. Mighty Guru Dronacharya.. her fathers best friend, the blind conniving emperor, Dhritarashtra.. akin to her father in law, and her defeated husbands and the mightiest of them all.. Arjuna, Bheema… all bowing their heads in helplessness imposed by self preached dogmas… of purported dharma..chained in their own twisted philosophies of truth…. nevertheless a lady of the stature of an empress was being violated and shamed in their helpless witness.. the very act notarising their acquiescence of the concupiscence of the depraved brutes who were like her own brothers.
In Ramayana, Sita gets abducted and the entire epic gets written as she accepts the request for alms from a scheming treacherous demon king Ravana who is disguised as a sage and rituals have it that sages begging for alms cannot be turned away.
Alas. Alasss. Ohhh God… Alas…. All that these hapless victims of so called preordained fate had to do was take a stand. Say NO.
By saying No, the unsuspecting pupil perhaps would never have become an embodiment of sacrifice and a devout pupil of historical repute… but might have taken his rightful place as the best archer in the world .. better than Arjuna, as he was.
By saying No to being a mute spectator to the revoltingly perverted act of a woman’s public dishonour much less that of an empress.. that told of the plight of the women of the times, the Mighty Bheeshma, or the Mighty Guru Drona may never have been considered as epitomes of loyalty in servitude towards their motherland… but rather might have saved millions of lives from meaningless savage deaths in the name of the bloodiest of battles ever fought and may also have had history respect them as real men… of substance.. who refused to allow such depravity to be conducted in their witness to happen and were willing to let go of bogus oaths that shames humanity forever in its upkeep.
And by saying No, the Dharmaraj Yudhisthira.. The helpless emperor, whose wife was molested in front of his own eyes by agents of decadence may never have been respected as a man who could sacrifice anything for the pretentious upkeep of dharma.. which was not more or could ever be more than the honour of the woman whom he had vowed to protect… what use was his dharmic pretension or the might of Bheema with his strength of 10,000 elephants or the expertise of Arjuna who could destroy any chakravyuha or bore the eye of a fish hanging in sky with his arrow, when their collective strength & wisdom could not protect their own wife.. their honour.. their empress and least of all their subject of avowed protection.
By saying No, to the demon king disguised as a sage, Mother Sita would have bore the brunt of the ire of a wicked disguised demon.. who would have been unable to do anything actually… but instead would have saved the whole brouhaha of a massive war that killed so many and led to issues galore. Instead Lord Ram would still have got to know of this vile attempt and would still have befittingly punished Ravana.. minus the bloodshed of the innocent… perhaps…
And we face many such traumatic dilemmas daily in our lives. And our yes costs us dearly… We so want to say No.. Our heart and soul and mind cries out to say No and lo behold our tongue refuses and orders itself to parrot a Yes. And that ruins a lot of things.. potential to achieve greater good as we saw in the many examples above.. possibilities unexplored that could have resulted in far better outcomes… or plainly peace of mind .. in having done what YOU wanted to do and what YOU felt right.. instead of silently suffering .. for the sake of being goody goody.. being known as a pleasing personality.. an amicable fool. All that you are buying .. is not peace of mind.. or even the brownie points of someone else who disrespected you enough to ask you to do what you perhaps don’t want to.. rather you are bargaining for devaluation of your self esteem.. degradation of your self respect and a possibility of you slowly metamorphosing into a replica of the type of personality you so violently detest.
Mark Manson in his celebrated treatise, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck says “We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it’s easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risk we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they’re given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it’s not necessarily the people with the best cards.”
There are only so many yesses that you have.. to so carelessly squander away. I say the real game lies in the choices we make with our yesses and nos… the risk we know is comparative happiness and the consequences… calculated.. yet not self defiling & self destructive. For the want of saying a No at a right time, many a possible great has been defrauded of his/her magnanimous future .. many a human parasite has gotten away with his/her devious plans and many an extraordinary possibility vanished into the dismal cavernous abyss of nothingness…
If you want to be happy… If you want to earn your rightful respect, if you want to pursue your well earned peace of mind.. learn to say NO. You have only awfully limited yesses in your life to keep dishing it out at every given opportunity. A simple no would have changed the course of Indian History many times.. from Ekalavya to Bheeshma.. to Dhritarashtra.. to Yudhisthira.. to Bheema.. to Arjuna… to those who said yes to Robert Clive’s convoluted plans.. to Gandhi… to Nehru… to those who said yes to the partition.. to those millions of hapless coward parents who said yes to selling their daughters… to those millions of children across generations who said yes to their parent’s dream of making them an engineer or something like that.. against their passionate pursuits … to those who said yes to anyone buying their right of franchise for a few pennies or a quarter bottle of cheap alcohol… to those who said yes to every whims and fancies of their bosses against what is right for the organisation that feeds them… to those who said no to their thinking minds and said yes against their conscience.. against their values… against the good and against the primal possibilities of intrinsic greatness inherent to be nurtured.. cultivated and bloomed.
Every ill-timed Yes sets you back irreparably and the nation’s clock with many an unsaid no keeps turning its possibilities back to centuries… as the breed of the No Sayers keep diminishing through the altered inherited DNA.
Just Say No My Friend… When the Heart and Soul says so. Heed the Right. Change the course of history… Just imagine the possibilities with the right No.. said at the right time in the limited examples above… India would have seized her rightful place in the comity of nations… in the front ranks..
At least, if not the country.. we would have been happier.. by saying NO at the RIGHT time.
Second Lieutenant to India’s first Field Marshal… Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw popularly known as Sam Bahadur was the best that they ever make. In 1931, Sam’s father refused to send him to London to pursue medicine as he was passionate about. In 1931 the Indian Military College Committee, recommended the establishment of a military academy in India to train Indians for officer commissions in the army. Through a competitive exam set up by the Public Service Commission fir the first time Indian Youth were allowed to compete and become officers in the Indian Army by joining a course in the IMA. In an act of rebellion against his father’s refusal, Manekshaw applied for a place and sat the entrance exams in Delhi. On 1 October 1932, he was one of the fifteen cadets to be selected through open competition. Manekshaw was placed sixth in the order of merit. And here started a journey which scripted a rare chapter of extraordinary contribution to the Indian History.
What’s my point? And why bring Sam Manekshaw to the fore with this topic. Well if there can ever be an outshining exemplar of the topic in question here, Sam Bahadur would unanimously be at the top rung. Best is a word.. if it ever were to have a life of its own.. would feel infinitely proud for having been attached to such a fine gentleman.. officer.. leader.. human being. Such men take humanity and excellence of being .. a notch higher than it was ever envisaged by the creators of life and the epitomes of quality manuals envisioned in the departments of excellence in the heavenly offices.
Folklore legend has it that when Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked the Indian Army Chief Sam Manekshaw if the Indian Army was ready for a war against Pakistan in April 1971, against her own assessment and the advice of the cabinet, he told her about the inevitable defeat if India attacked East Pakistan untimely. The Field Marshal narrated this incident as a personal example of moral courage, at the inaugural Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture in October 1995 at Delhi:
“There is a very thin line between being dismissed and becoming a Field Marshal. In 1971, when Pakistan cracked down in East Pakistan, hundreds and thousands of refugees started pouring into India, into West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The Prime Minister held a Cabinet meeting in her office. The External Affairs Minister Sardar Swaran Singh, the Agriculture Minister, Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, the Defence Minister, Babu Jagjivan Ram and the Finance Minister, Yashwant Rao Chavan were present. I was then summoned.”
A very angry, grim-faced Prime Minister read out the telegrams from the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. She then turned around to me and said, “What are you doing about it?”
And I said, “Nothing, it’s got nothing to do with me. You didn’t consult me when you allowed the BSF, the CRP and RAW to encourage the Pakistanis to revolt. Now that you are in trouble, you come to me. I have a long nose. I know what’s happening.”
I then asked her what she wanted me to do.
She said, “I want you to enter Pakistan.”
And I responded, “That means war!”
She said, “I do not mind if it is war.”
“Have you read the Bible?”, I said.
The Foreign Minister, Sardar Swaran Singh asked, “What has Bible got to do with this?”
I explained, that the first book, the first chapter, the first words, the first sentence God said was, “Let there be light” and there was light. Now you say, “Let there be war” and there will be war, but are you prepared? I am certainly not. This is the end of April. The Himalayan passes are opening and there can be an attack from China if China gives us an ultimatum.
The Foreign Minister asked, “Will China give an ultimatum?” And I said, “You are the Foreign Minister, you tell me”. I told them that my armoured division and two of my infantry divisions were away. One in the Jhansi/Babina area, the other in Samba and the third one in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. I mentioned that I will require all the road space, all the railway wagons, the entire railway system to move these formations to the operational areas and that harvesting was in progress in the Punjab and UP and they would not be able to move the harvest which would rot; and I pointed out to the Agriculture Minister that it wouldn’t be my responsibility if there was a famine. Then I said, “My armoured division, which is my big striking force is supposed to have 189 tanks operational. I have got only 11 tanks that are fit to fight.”
The Finance Minister, who is a friend of mine asked, “Sam why only 11?”
So I told him, “Because you are the Finance Minister. I have been asking you for money for over a year and you say you haven’t got it!”
And finally I turned around to the Prime Minister and said that the rains were about to start in East Pakistan and when it rains there, it pours and when it pours, the whole countryside is flooded. The snows are melting, the rivers would become like oceans. If you stand on one bank, you can’t see the other. All my movement would be confined to roads. The Air Force, because of climatic conditions would not be able to support me. Now Prime Minister, give me your orders. The grim Prime Minister with her teeth clenched said, “The Cabinet will meet again at four o’clock”.
The members of the Cabinet started walking out. I being the junior most was the last to go and as I was leaving, she said,”Chief, will you stay back?”
I turned around and said, “Prime Minister, before you open your mouth, may I send you my resignation on grounds of health, mental or physical?”
She said, “Every thing you told me is true”.
“Yes! It is my job to tell you the truth” I responded, “and it is my job to fight, it is my job to fight to win and I have to tell you the truth.”
She smiled at me and said, “All right Sam, you know what I want?”
I said, “Yes, I know what you want!”
Now this is what the anti yes men cult are made of. Even when facing imminent dishonourable discharge, even when facing the pinnacle of power, the officer in charge of taking a decision did but budge from the stand of what was factual, the best option for the responsibility he represented in his line of duty. A simple yes to all that the cabinet said could have won him incomparable brownie points and benefits. His moral compass was however inclined towards the facts in hand and the best option that his experience and training accorded him.
In fact in yet another place Sam Bahadur so wonderfully lays this treatise simply thus:
The problem with us is the lack of leadership.
There is lack of leadership in every walk of life, whether it is political, administrative, in our educational institutions, or whether it is our sports organizations. Wherever you look, there is lack of leadership.
So, if leaders are not born, can leaders be made? My answer is yes. Give me a man or a woman with a common sense and decency, and I can make a leader out of him or her.
What are the attributes of leadership? The first, the primary, indeed the cardinal attribute of leadership is professional knowledge and professional competence. Now you will agree with me that you cannot be born with professional knowledge and professional competence even if you are a child of Prime Minister, or the son of an industrialist, or the progeny of a Field Marshal. Professional knowledge and professional competence have to be acquired by hard work and by constant study. In this fast- moving technologically developing world, you can never acquire sufficient professional knowledge. Professional knowledge and professional competence are a sine qua non of leadership
What is the next thing you need for leadership? It is the ability to make up your mind to make a decision and accept full responsibility for that decision. Have you ever wondered why people do not make a decision? The answer is quite simple. It is because they lack professional competence, or they are worried that their decision may be wrong and they will have to carry the can. According to the law of averages, if you take ten decisions, five ought to be right. If you have professional knowledge and professional competence, nine will be right, and the one that might not be correct will probably be put right by a subordinate officer or a colleague. But if you do not take a decision, you are doing something wrong. An act of omission is much worse than an act of commission. An act of commission can be put right. An act of omission cannot …
AND THATS THE CRUX. Acts of professional turpitude orchestrated by the yes men who throng the aura of a decision maker like a halo of a evil do untold harm to the one who falls for their ill meant advices as also those who bear the brunt of the impacts of such decisions influenced by vile sycophants.
Corporate and political history is abound with the travesties caused by such evil minions which eventually led to the downfall of dynasties, corporations and the even sovereignty of nations. Not to mention the calculated systematic meticulous destruction of superlative talent that could have reversed the fortunes of such nations, corporations or even dynasties. That’s the evil axis of influence of these lackeys in the garb of polite pleasing yes men … who can corrode the very pillars of what any entity stands for or ever stood for. These talent termites eat away every single possibility of excellence, every iota of potential and every ounce of opportunity ever presented by factual realistic representation of those who were competent and capable.
Yet, the silver lining is the path tread by such outstanding resplendent precedents like the Field Marshal Sam Bahadur who with their scant regard for systemic destruction, yet never gave up on the ideals and values on which humanity thrives. Becoming legend perhaps was never their aim. Being & doing the right always was. Irrespective of the fate that the sycophants scripted for them. They lived far taller than the mightiest peaks in their steely resolve and their unbridled pursuit of extraordinary excellence.
And it’s these instruments of change that Steve Jobs spoke of when he said: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. … They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
“Remember, It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17
The real-estate value by size (not sure by its inhabitants) of its occupancy or even its known contribution to the vast expanse of our galaxy would be ridiculously negligible. I wouldn’t even want to attempt comprehension of its market value in the comity of galaxies or worse, universe… if any such concept were to exist.
In this ridiculously negligible span of time that we, the invisible denizens of such a ridiculously otiose pixel in the unimaginably vast screen of the universe, while away that precious, unreplenishable resource, cosmically gifted to us, with the caveat that, not a single unit can ever be saved, bought or retracted…
Divinity is abound with innumerous tales & instances where even the all-powerful deities or prophets or messiahs… staunchly refused to tamper with what they called as predestined preordained action of a particular point of time. They, with their divine cosmic superlative powers could have commanded the all pervasive “time” to change its course of any of those undesirable actions that led to events in time of en masse destruction of mankind, erosion of the morality, vanquishing of the virtuous, debasement of the innocent, genocides perpetrated by repulsive cruelties of few, putting the very existence of this mote of dust, meaninglessly suspended in the universe into peril of its own survival… why, even their own death, sometimes inhumanly, when they chose to incarnate as a human being… for the purported good of the same species which condemned them to their cruel end here. Thus the divine themselves ordained their most unique of all creations … time… as indestructibly unreplenishibly supreme.
Merriam Webster calls “time” as a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future. By that standards, the continuum can thus, also be inversely measured in terms of non-events – non-actions – non-respect to its existence, non-valuation of its being unreplenishible… in short by its criminal wastage. Mankind in its majoritarian perspective must be notorious in the annals of universe’s history – if there is such a thing, as I presume there is… for its cruel expenditure of this scarce resource in the pursuit of nothing. All the while, merely choosing to exist in the megalomaniac imaginations of self-delusional importance, of their own infallibilities, of their own indispensability, of their own gloated bloated egoistic self-worship, in such pursuit’s absence, dooming this speck of dust from rotating in its own axis and revolving in the glory of the self-declared importance of the self-professed messiahs of humanity.
And if we aren’t really doing that, then we are indulging in more important existential tasks. Of vehemently chasing mediocrity… of conditioning ourselves to be subservient to the trodden paths in the pride of clockwork precision, of wallowing in self pity induced by the cruelties of the fate that had declared enmity with our existence even before our souls were activated to life by some cosmic sms code. We choose to exist. We choose to survive. We choose to become great. We choose to be important or unimportant. We choose to be useful or useless. We choose to be successful or unsuccessful. We choose to be optimistically pessimist or pessimistically optimist, or positively optimistic or negatively pessimistic, or whatever that we choose to make out of circumstances and experiences in or not in our controls. We are a continual product of our choices.
What we certainly don’t choose… at least many of us… is to accord the divinity and importance to this most celestial of all that the divine ever bestowed to mankind – “time”. The facets of the time accorded to mankind’s existential roadmap, hasn’t really changed metamorphically over the thousands of years of its evolution. The way we are born. The way we grow, infancy, toddlerhood, teenage, sophomore years, adulthood, middle-age, geriatric phase… all the biological milestones have been quite the same since the advent of the BC/AD bifurcation of Time. What perhaps is unique to each of these phases is what we make of it… to some stage what circumstances make of us and after some stage what we make of those circumstances. The millions of marked and umarked graves over the tens of thousands of years of the existence of humanity are a gruesome testimony to the fact that “Time” could really move on without an iota of any visibly recorded glitch in its own ordained journey. Or any remorse towards its disrespect by its prisoner. It doesn’t matter to “Time” what you make of it. It matters to “You” what you make of the ridiculously short amount of “Time” granted to “You”.
And we still, all knowing… all knowledgeable… all important… all indispensable… all powerful… somehow only preach about the value of “Time”. Like the author himself here is realizing as he writes this. Perhaps that must have been the intent of the guardian deities set over the author and helping him type out this homily… to perhaps realize the gist of the peroration and set on the path to maximize the efficiency of the limited resources of time allocated to each of us. We have somehow compartmentalized our robotic existence into chunks of 365 days. In the long range zone of the life.. for a large part we are chasing a mirage… many blocks of 365 days went away attempting to get good scores… many blocks of 365 days went away in recognition of the purpose of this existence … many blocks of 365 days went away in chasing dream jobs/means of livelihood… many blocks of 365 days went away dreaming about that elusive love and related paraphernalia… yet again blocks of 365 days went away in making a mark in the compromised means of existence… compromising with personal values and kowtowing to circumstances (as many choose to land in professions of monetary gratification rather than passionate pursuits).. now blocks of many 365 days … as you head to the last quarter of the average mortality…are in a chain going away in remaining relevant.. pleasing the unpleasable and hovering between the stinging peak of self-actualization where the likes of Monsieur Maslow have uncomfortably seated us and surfing the waves of the sophomore passions that never really deserted us. So if we had to eventually land in this risky zone.. what did we chase in the last three four decades of our survival.. what did we achieve.. where are we going.. what is the purpose.. before we get answers to this.. we will be either counting our savings and looking for ancestral property values or desperately creating the means of possible comforts that would make the ‘ultimate inevitable truth’ an easy exit and not as gory as the biologists these day are scripting for humanity or the insurers with their devastating factual statistics would have us believe. Testimony to this meaningless mortality in recent pandemic times are the lakhs of cadavers who were unceremoniously & disrespectfully expended into anonymity.. without a trace or without even according them the dignity of perfunctory rituals rightfully bestowed upon them by their creed.
So what did we chase. What happened to the ideals for which the epitomes of divine lived and died for. What happened to the reality of what they stood for. Where are even those who wanted to leave indelible imprints on the sand of time with their thesis of life and values. Where are those who lived in the exalted realm of the belief that the world would not do without them. Where are those who declared that the paths they propagated were the only paths of existence and the rest were the doomsday trails. Where are those who philosophized, prophesied, sermonized the indisputable facets of existence. Where are the giants of history or for that matter where are the dwarfs of mediocrity. All the rulers and the ruled, the tyrants and their victims, all the heroes and villains of time, all the poets and authors of repute, all the experts and the amateurs of anything worth a piece of thought, all the immortal lovers, prophets, thespians, philosophers, writers, dictators, freedom fighters, teachers, students, creators, parasites….all those significant and insignificant lives that treaded the paleolithic or neolithic paths of humanity and have become fossils in the vast depths of the sands of time.
What ever lived is the purpose… if they ever had any… in their own lifetimes… in its pursuit and achievement… within the limited confines of the apportioned nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of the moments fully lived in serving the useful purposes of its meaningful existence, of the pursuit of passions that made your circumference of influence on this planet a notch better that you found it… in the allocation of a respectable meaning to your existence within the limited rim of allocated “Time” …and the joys of its achievement… in chasing and achieving the primal extraordinary that is genetically bestowed to the species of sapiens.. in its staunch refusal of thriving in the muck of the mediocrity that is the default setting of the societies currently evolving under the tutelage of its self-ordained masters who have muscled their way into owning & programming the mindframes of the androids of the sapien society… living their abominable lives poncing on the mindnumbed masses…
Let us choose our purposes carefully. For they will define the quality of our otherwise limited existence here. And to conclude my final thoughts on the original topic… Yes I believe that Time… Also is one of the Gods… for sure. For if the other Gods that ever recorded their existence on this small insignificant pixel of the Universe’s screen also refused to tamper/modify/influence/contort/customize/control this instrument of their (as we presume) creation – “TIME” then for sure it either must have been an ally from their own ilk or at least they divined it so much that we have but no choice to accept the inevitable truth.
Lets learn to respect this living God amongst us. And accord it the respect of meaningful purpose, value it with the preciousness it deserves and if not deify it.. at least respectfully value its abysmal shortage and span in our limited distance journey and maximize its efficiency in making our existence meaningfully utilitarian and excitingly influential.
Between the chasm of life and death… the way you lived out the allocated time.. will define the answer to the happiness quotient of its sum total and its relevance to you… your loved ones and your society.
As said Durden in the Fight Club… On a long enough timeline… the survival rate for everyone drops to zero..
Before 14th June, I only liked Sushant Singh Rajput as a great actor, given my penchant for cinema and the avid movie buff that I am.
And then 14th happened.
I was taking my weekend power nap, when I was jolted awake by my daughter who just uttered that SSR had committed suicide. I jumped out of the bed and rushed to the television, in utter disbelief, only to hear the corroborative narration that an entire shocked nation was hearing.
It catapulted me to my sophomore years when I was gallivanting away from my college in my mofussil town and my close confidante … my friend in all deeds & misdeeds came chasing in search of me, the chain of his dilapidated cycle having failed as usual and he jumped down as blurred out… Divya Bharti is dead. Those were the days when news wasn’t a 24/7 gory business and I had to await the next days newspaper to get the details of the unbelievable painful tale of the death of someone whom I simply adored … along with millions of other admirers.
It was the first time that I had realised that these screen deities were also human beings… flesh and blood… and it hit really hard… this couldn’t be happening … it was just not possible… should I still chase my dreams of becoming an actor.. or is my dad right and engineering is the real thing… crazy random thoughts… it took an investment of some stolen money on a leading film glossy that carried the painful details… conspiracy theories … the picture of the place where the deity had fallen… intact… shattered… window without a grill… drunken parties till late nights… mother and father… separate accusations … the entire month was a nightmare..
And now this. As I .. glued to myriad channels.. where the merchants of pain spread their investigative paraphernalia and sold their sordid tales of grisly details… it is here that I discovered the extraordinary human soul behind the actor’s mask. And hitherto unknown facts came to my notice. The melancholic pain has consistently been increasing by the passing day. Inspite of the fact that other than the bond of humanity I had nothing binding me to this great soul. I tried searching for reasons on why I was suffering from so much distress on SSR giving up on life. Why did my eyes water at watching Dhoni the movie.. that I had already consumed a dozen times before… Why did the lines… Bin pooche mera naam aur pataa…. Rasmon ko rakh ke pare… Chaar kadam bas chaar kadam…. Chaldona saath mere… suddenly acquire a new lugubrious context…
Was it because of him being a fellow Bihari? Was it because that we tend to relate more to the success of the underdog stories? Was it because he left without according the basic etiquette of explaining his reasons to the masses who worshipped him and thus became enigmatic and the conundrum was killing us…
All the research that I set upon only disclosed a far superior quality of intellect behind that disarmingly enchanting endearing smile… a thinking brain… an intellectually advanced lifeform with an enviably fine balance of emotion between the heart and the mind… a positive persona with indefatigable zest for life and a passion par excellence to chase and achieve the extraordinary in the mediocre maze of this existence… It is here that I connected. It is here that the spark of pain became unbearable. A relationship between a thinking intellectual soul and another is one of the finest bonds that unites the known with the unknown … converting stranger souls into bonds of familiarity… based on mutual respect and admiration. This explained the lump in throat and the wetness of the eyes of my mind at every mention of the excellence that rid itself of a lifeform.
The pain now is more severe. For now, all the claims of depressive state of affairs or the compulsions imposed by the heinous conspiracies of the invisible omertà or the struggle cum failure stories, or the myriad relationships souring… nothing really justified the exit of a reasonably intelligent soul. As one who related to the same and may have borne the brunt of similar or far more devastating colourful blows of fate, I couldn’t for the respect of existence, in any order condone or corroborate any cause as worthy of depriving the already intellectually bankrupt existence of the times that we suffer.
I tried to look for the reasons in the immediate postings of SSR on his various social platforms and found these relevant random thoughts that perhaps joined the dots…..
April: What if consciousness is not something special that the brain does but is instead a quality inherent to all matter in the universe?
May: The Avatamsaka Sutra describes enlightenment as an awareness of the “interpenetration of space and time.” One can’t help but wonder if Einstein’s theory of relativity that unifies space and time was just a stroke of genius or also a glimpse of the divine. June: Blurred past evaporating from teardrops. Unending dreams carving an arc of smile. And a fleeting life, negotiating between the two…
All the above point to an extraordinarily advanced computation of the unseen aspects of existence or its meaning. The negotiation between thé blurred past evaporating from the teardrops and the unending dreams attempting to carve an arc of smile seem to have failed. The fleeting moment when the negotiations failed, SSR decided perhaps to merge the consciousness with the matter. Perhaps in such a random moment of some advanced realisation of the meaning of life… he merged with the divine. As SSR prophesied in one of his several musings…somewhere between the neurons of his passion and the narratives of his circumstances… he was born… lived… dreamt… and died…
And he converted his dream of being eternal into an immediate reality. May not be a right way to do so.. but who are we to judge the brightness of an exalted soul that might have sought and achieved enlightenment. History is abound with hundreds of stories of enlightened souls who never lived thereafter with the masses post enlightenment of the kind where the mysteries of life seem to have disclosed itself to them. Life is simply complicated. It’s the most misunderstood concept and the reality of death has only compounded the conundrum. We keep chasing death in the garb of living life. We surrender the genetically intelligent neurons to the narratives of mediocrity.
A dear friend if mine passionately attempted to mull about as to who we were to say that this lifetime is our entire book. That perhaps this may be a chapter… biding by its allocated time within the limited confines of the words and pages allocated to it. There may have been many chapters before or many ahead… Perhaps..
I fell for this concept.. And it is here … that with so much pain at the departing of such an inspiring soul as SSR.. it is but with respect we must accord his right to have refused to grant right to the limitations of the pages and words and spaces et al by ending the chapter consciously… perhaps he intuitively knew about the excitement and comparative superiority of the quality of the upcoming chapter… or perhaps the powerful omertà of the universe had authored the chapter to end thus.
Whatever be the case… the heart rules over the mind here and no explanation lessens the pain of reaching the last period of this chapter. The reader, who falls in love with the tale .. shall always have to bear the pangs of pain at the ending of such a tale. Many more tales may come… yet the nostalgia of the tale so loved shall continue to stab the memory… especially, when the author chose to end it at a sharp heartthrobbingly & mysteriously incomplete abrupt juncture… with no climax in sight… well the pain of suffering such a story that never ended and yet ended is only known to such unfortunate readers like us.
Hoping that SSR moved on to a happier chapter as he wanted. This ununderstood ending.. for sure will join the list of many such burning .. soul stirring … intellect confusing unanswered list of enigmatic queries that I have been collecting since my chapter began… to be asked and answer sought only from the supreme author.
In the lines of Kaifi Azmi Saab:
रहने को सदा दहर में आता नहीं कोई.
तुम जैसे गए ऐसे भी जाता नहीं कोई…
डरता हूँ कहीं ख़ुश्क न हो जाए समुंदर
राख अपनी कभी आप बहाता नहीं कोई
इक बार तो ख़ुद मौत भी घबरा गई होगी
यूँ मौत को सीने से लगाता नहीं कोई
माना कि उजालों ने तुम्हें दाग़ दिए थे
बे-रात ढले शम्अ बुझाता नहीं कोई
साक़ी से गिला था तुम्हें मय-ख़ाने से शिकवा
अब ज़हर से भी प्यास बुझाता नहीं कोई
हर सुब्ह हिला देता था ज़ंजीर ज़माना
क्यूँ आज दिवाने को जगाता नहीं कोई
अर्थी तो उठा लेते हैं सब अश्क बहा के
नाज़-ए-दिल-ए-बेताब उठाता नहीं कोई
At the risk of uttering a generalisation, which has been said to be the true enemy of mankind, I daresay that if it were to be ever attempted to understand what prohibits intrinsic potential of human capital from converting to delivered reality, it’s the spirit of incompetence, FOMO and mediocrity mindset of the men/women set over them.
Incompetence begets Incompetence. Incompetence promotes Incompetence. Incompetence recognises Incompetence. Incompetence favours Incompetence. For its the most viciously lethal & a treacherously silent killer of excellence that organisations acquire in the form of extraordinary talent but nurture and acclimatising it towards averaged mediocrity. Incompetence is the harbinger of the corporate food chain which cannibalises competence in favour of its own ilk, albeit proportional to its owner’s absolute vested powers.
Incompetence in itself isn’t treacherous. It’s advocacy and subscription as well as its tacit promotion is treason. It’s the here and now crisis that comes forcefully between actualisation of an organisation’s intrinsic inherent potential and the actual abysmally accepted achievement of incompetent targets. No Organisation worth it’s salt ever hires an underperformer, knowingly. Only the good and the excellent make the cut in lateral hirings. What then goes wrong when over time these resources who were hired for their ability to deliver and perhaps a proven track record of achievements, go on to become average and underperforming castoffs. Who went wrong. What went wrong. Who is to be held accountable. Why does the perpetrator go scot free and the unassuming victim penalised in various forms.
In 1999 two Cornell psychologists – David Dunning and Justin Kruger, in their eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect propagated a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence. And not only do they fail to recognize their incompetence, they’re also likely to feel confident that they actually are competent. Mark Murphy speaks about this in a Forbes article where he analysed that it’s this very cognitive bias why some people think they’re great… even when their performance is terrible to say the least …
Once I stumbled upon this theory, a lot became crystal clear to me and many a vainglorious cavalier behavioural pattern of some people in positions of influence crystallised into a symptomatic trend of what is eating away the very pillars of values that any organisational entity propagates to stand on. However, We in the fraternity are yet to find a L,T & D or OD cure or worse .. even a behavioural vaccination that can insulate organisations from this treacherous epidemic. This… due to continual lethargy and inability and lack of intentions.. so to say.. of the decision empowered honchos over the decades… which has now acquired terminal stage of ailment in the corridors of corporate leadership…
Over a period of time… number crunchers with scant regard to ethics or processes or abilities, sycophants who crooned hosannas in glory of their masters, epitomes of mediocrity who with unenviable ‘abilities’ to please their masters, masters who themselves climbed the ladder on similar exalted grounds of incompetence and saw mirror images of their “competence” in these puppy eyed glorified fawners, have given rise to a decadent breed of swathes of averagers. In the swamp of this rot.. the superlative sparks of excellence have been savagely extinguished … sacrificed on the altars of mutual respect/empathetic comatose conscience of the leadership of the averagers ilk.
How long will the Ekalavyas have to chop off their thumbs to favour the rise of the Master’s Favourites. How long will the Karnas continue to be beheaded deceitfully in the garb of righteousness that is decided by the few. How long will the Ashok Khemkas of life keep getting booted out every six months to a new city to accommodate the vile… How long will the meritorious sacrifice his/her rightful due since he/she did not lower his/her standards of competence to kowtow with the incompetence of the majority… How long will the average merit the exceeded personal expectations ranking of the mighty against those who actually exceeded the expectations which were not aligned to the actual considered factors of the masters mediocre expectations.
Leadership which keeps consistently turning a blind eye is equally complicit in the crime. This is organisational treason. This is corporate treason. Any wilful covert acts of treachery … which can be detrimental and devastating to the state.. country or an organisation is treason. Retribution for treason across ages and across geographies have been uniform, owing to the heinous and loathsome nature of the crime. History also has been testimony that those who turned a blind eye to injustice weren’t really spared the larger net of harm over time. Across the ruthlessness of timelines, infallible giants like PanAm, Kodak, Nokia, HMT, Enron, Kingfisher, Yes Bank, Polaroid, Yahoo, Motorola… and so many of them bit the dust as they were victims of consistent incompetence of some leader or the other there.. somebody who tolerated mediocrity of intellect… someone up in the hierarchy who was willing to accept low standards of delivery … and who slowly, gradually and consistently compromised on performance, excellence and foresight…. these are treasonous actions that merit the highest form of punitive accountability … for with their action millions of shareholders, employees and gigantic valuations had to succumb to obscurity and bear the savage barbarous brunt as a resultant of the actions of few incompetents.
However no amount of punitive action can ever suitably account for the murder of competent dreams, strangling of well deserved aspirations, culling away of slabs of time spent in the hope of justice someday… worse … the bestial destruction of innocence that all management theories or education ever propagated… that excellence is rewarded and competence will empower you to succeed in your chosen career…
Who will be held accountable for the defiling of the aspirations built on the foundations of delivered excellence or the promise of extraordinary latent talent waiting to be guided to deliver by the incompetent mentors who are entrusted with such competent team members. Surely not the conspirators who across ranks are in cahoots to acclimatise the eager ones who want to challenge the status quo.. live the organisational values and pursue the vision and mission with religious fervour…. for these innocent imbeciles are yet to learn to read between the incoherent lines of mediocrity that are chanted and disseminated by the entire heinous hierarchy.
As long as incompetence will continue to be deceptively rewarded in the cloaks of transparency that doesn’t exist except for in the devious opaqueness of the perpetrator’s minds… this treason against the organisation will continue to haunt the potential of the organisation… and the threat of gradual obliteration will continue to hang. Values of any organisation are to be treated as verbs by the top nouns of the management. Else … all indications in any case are predicting doomsday…
The only leverage that any brand has its ability to visibly translate its claims of integrity into action. And it’s the only legacy that any leader worth his salt can ever leave for posterity. And an organisation that doesn’t endeavour to keep its handful of employees happy in lines with its visibly practiced values … can never expect to gain the trust and respect of the proportional numbers of customers and stakeholders it wishes these employees to delight ..
I was having a chat with a very dear friend who was narrating an incident where a toxic senior at workplace was becoming overwhelmingly unbearable. In line with the conversation, I tried explaining the management of both toxic as well as adorable people that we meet in the journey of our lives referring to a train journey in India.
If you have traveled on a long distance train journey here, you will know what I am about to tell. Seated at a window berth ensconced in a small cubicle you are exposed to the vastness of this piece of continent of this planet. Large swathes of land pass by for hours at a stretch while you recollect how people quarrel back home for inches of land. In such interesting journeys, I have had the endearing opportunity of meeting some very interesting people. Be it the First class where I have met retired commanders of the navy now brokering arms deals, giving me invaluable insights on myriad topics ranging from the mindsets of the MOD babus at south block to how Kurian the father of milk revolution was eventually shortchanged at his own territories. In the second AC I have met plant heads talking about the intricacies of managing plants along with a ringside view of their insecurities which don’t differ much from the air conditioned corridors of multinationals or service industries, Pensioners with their woes of age and offspring management, astrologers who have raked it big cashing in on the human psyche, govt servants with diverse opinions on varied governments they served etc etc..
I have also sometimes had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with rude co passengers fighting ferociously over luggage space beneath the berth or switching the fan on or off as the case may be and ensuring that the remaining journey passes by enduring the emitted bone-chilling coldness of Siberian deserts.
But why am I narrating all about a train journey in such detail.
Well, Life is almost like a train journey, is what I told my dear friend. The journey is not the destination. Neither is the destination the only purpose of our lives. In varied circumstances and needs we undertake various journeys and reach various destinations for various purposes. We get to meet adorably wonderful people and abhorrently toxic people. When we meet the wonderful ones, you get a feeling that you have forged lifetime relationships and that may be true too. But that doesn’t mean you let go of the journey or your destination and become their guests for lifetime since you liked them a lot. And when you get to meet the toxic people, you eventually learn to ignore them almost like how your nose is not obstructing your eye from reading this article. It has learnt to ignore any impediment to its vision at a young age itself. The co-passengers of your journey do not define your journey or its destination or its purpose… they may add value or be an irritant as the case may be, yet they are nothing to your plan of things.
One needs to learn to learn from the experiences and keep moving. The toxicity of any individual can only impact you if it is allowed an entry into your scheme of things. And this decision is yours to make. People will come and go in your life. What you choose to do with them, the learnings they give, the experiences that they impart is absolutely your decision. How much importance you may want to accord to their endearabilty or despicability is totally your choice. And your choice will have its bearing on the quality of the journeys you have to make. At the end of the day, we cannot ignore the fact that the destination will come and you have to alight from the train and carry on chasing the purpose of your journey. Nothing is really more important than you, your journey or your purpose.
Enjoy your journeys, chase your purposes with passion and learn to exhilarate while having great experiences and ignore any meaningless temporary toxicity of any other passenger. You are the owner of your feelings. You are the owner of your mind. Let the mind not dictate to you what you ought to feel or not… As you saw through the window, it’s a very large expanse of universe that we are living in and there are so many places we do not know of or so many people and dialects and nature that we aren’t yet exposed to. What is for sure is that if this journey wasn’t up to the mark, the next one will be. Hope and opportunity are actually infinitely provided by the infinite source. Choose to own your experiences, journeys and destinations.