Make peace with an incomplete Life

No matter how hard you try, some part of your Life will remain unfulfilled, incomplete, sometimes, even irreparable….
This is true for each of us, for every Life.
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi: Worshipped by legions of fans
Picture: Raghu Rai Source: Internet
The latest issue of Open magazine has a poignant story of Raghavendra Bhimsen Joshi, 69, eldest son of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the late singer-genius. Raghavendra was born through Joshi’s first wife, Sunanda. Lhendup Bhutia, who wrote the Openpiece, talks to Raghavendra about the latter’s just-released Marathi book (also translated in Kannada) titled Ganaaryache Por (Singer’s Son). In the book, and in the interview with Bhutia, Raghavendra tells, with both reverence to his father and with total honesty, the tale of how his mother, he and his siblings had to face neglect and abandonment after his father married a second time, a woman named Vatsala, and eloped with her. “When people wrote articles or books on my father and his personal Life, we would never be mentioned…It was extremely hurtful. Here was this star, a public figure growing in stature, and here we were, neglected and alone,” Raghavendra told Bhutia. Raghavendra believes that as the years went by and as the guilt of neglecting his first wife and children grew, Joshi, who already loved his drink, took to the bottle more. Raghavendra confesses that he never really mustered the courage to either ask his famous father why Sunanda and her children were neglected. And although Raghavendra wanted to be a singer himself, he could never bring himself up to ask his accomplished father to train him. Then, a few years before Bhimsen Joshi’s death, as Joshi lay in bed with a fractured leg, Raghavendra asked him: “You could so effortlessly move people to tears with your voice, how could you be so cruel to your own family?” Joshi did not reply but, recalls Raghavendra, instead cried. Even as Joshi cried some more, Raghavendra took his permission and sang him a song. Again Joshi said nothing. Raghavendra sang for Joshi, one more time, a few years later, as Joshi lay on his deathbed. At the end of the song, Joshi, too weak to speak, gestured to the lone nurse in attendance in the room, with his eyes, what a fine Raghavendra was!
Such a great singer. Someone that legions of fans adored and worshipped. A Bharat Ratna. Yet Joshi died unable to express his love and admiration, per Raghavendra’s version, for his eldest son and without being able to ever acknowledge his first wife and her children in public.
This is Bhimsen Joshi’s story. Gandhi too, per his oldest  Hariram’s point of view, failed miserably as a father – although he is revered and remembered as the Father of the Nation! But none of us is any different. Each of us do have some part of our Life remaining unfulfilled or incomplete. With someone it could be a relationship with a spouse, with someone else it could be with a child. Someone could have a huge health challenge or the loss of particular physical faculty. Another could never perhaps get his career in order. Or someone will have either no parent to look up to or may not have one that understands.
Life deals with each of us differently. Even so, a spot of sunshine is surely ordained in everyone’s lifetime. Just as a patch of pain is. Sometimes, the factor causing pain may end up being a permanent aspect of your Life! When you realize that you can’t do anything to remove that factor which is causing you pain, learn to either accept it or ignore it. Accepting or ignoring the pain will not make the pain go away. But it will surely help you deal with it better. And it may well help you not to suffer.
But the choice to accept or ignore, whatever’s causing you pain, can be made only when you understand that there are some aspects of your Life which will be unfixable. Acceptance is easier in a physical context. For instance, if you lose a limb in an accident, it is easier for you to accept this reality and not grieve over it or suffer. But if you lose a parent’s trust or understanding or don’t get her affection, you will struggle with both accepting or ignoring it.
Intelligent living, however, means to be able to see a pattern to your Life – with regard to your relationships or with regard to those aspects that don’t seem to have ever worked and to simply move on. That’s when you will be in complete peace even with an incomplete Life!

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“Stay Simple. Stay Humble.” – the MS Way

The Google doodle today honors M.S.Subbulakshmi (1916~2004) on her 97th birthday. I don’t understand the nuances of music (the ragas, the construct, the delivery style and such) like most others do, but I love music and do know to appreciate when soul goes into producing great performances. And I believe MS’ soul was always on a song. For when she sang, she became the music. There was no more MS. Just the music flowed and swept away all those who listened to her.
M S Subbulakshmi: Humility Personified
As a young boy who took public transport to school, I have waited several mornings outside MS’ home (where the bus stop was located) on Village Road, in Chennai. I remember having seen her on a few occasions, stepping out into the courtyard to water the tulasiplant. I only knew of her then as a great musician that the world adored. It was when she was decorated with the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian honor) that I saw the exceptional human being and the embodiment of simplicity and humility in MS. For all the adulation, praise, rewards and recognition that came her way, she remained unaffected. All she knew was that her soul sang. And she let it sing whenever it felt like it. My impression of this side of MS was validated when, soon after her passing away in December 2004, The Hindu ran a series of tributes. Among them was one by M.Krishnaswami, Chairman of the Sri Thyagaraja Trust. He recalled an incident when the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had invited MS to perform to commemorate the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s visit to the famous shrine. The morning after her magnificent concert, TTD’s senior officials called on MS and requested her to accept the title of the TTD’s Asthana Vidwan (Court Singer) – a honor no one had ever been offered till that date. She was the first to be offered it. Krishnaswami, who was present at that meeting, reported that MS graciously declined to accept the honor. She told the TTD delegation that it would be improper on her part to accept this title when so many senior musicians, all of them stalwarts, had not been honoured with it. She named Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, in particular and said she revered these gentlemen and would not be able to accept an honor ahead of them. The TTD Team was touched by her thoughtfulness and decided to honor these senior artistes as well along with MS. That anecdote has left a deep impact on me and has, I believe, contributed to my evolution.
All of us crave for recognition. This craving comes from the feeling that we have created or achieved something and, therefore, we need to be celebrated for it. Nothing wrong with this thinking. Except that it will also be pertinent to remember that our lives happens through us – and not necessarily because of us. Whatever we create is an expression of what we are endowed with. We don’t make the music we render. It merely flows through us. We are but instruments. The stage is “given” to us. The music – the reference here is to any chosen vocation or craft that we pursue and is not limited to music – is “given” to us. We are mere delivery agents. Just as a courier delivery person cannot take credit or responsibility for the quality of communication, she or he is delivering, we too can’t. As long as we understand this truth and remain anchored with it, we will always be grounded – we too then will be unaffected by praise (or criticism) when it comes our way. When we discover how to be untouched by success (or failure), we would have found inner peace and bliss!
Here’s MS’ rendition of Hari Tum Haro…have a great week ahead!