To live Life fully, just choose a path to follow, the one that gives you inner joy. And just keep walking, following your bliss! Remember you must keep plowing on regardless of what you have to face or what other people think of you. You will then eventually be successful. And that’s when you must remember to also stay humble.
As I write this, two important learnings come to mind.
One is from the south Indian Superstar Rajnikant, whose birthday it is today.
Owing to his immense popularity and his hysterical following in Tamil Nadu, it has been widely believed, over a period of time, that Rajni will enter politics. In fact each election season, his legions of fans in Tamil Nadu eagerly await his announcement of entering politics with bated breath. Several election seasons have gone by and that elusive announcement has not come. It never well may come either. Dr.Gayathri Srikanth, Rajini’s first biographer, writes in her book, ‘The Name Is Rajnikant’, that Rajni is very clear that his bliss lies in continuing to be, in spirit, the down-to-earth coolie and bus conductor he once was, while also continuing to earn a ‘livelihood’ from acting. Straying beyond these two dimensions of his personal or professional Life, Srikanth explains, summarizing her understanding of Rajni’s thinking, will disturb the man’s inner core. She recounts in detail in her book how Rajni stayed awake all night, about a decade ago, after receiving a call from the then Indian Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao who invited Rajni to join hands with the Congress party and in return offered him Tamil Nadu’s Chief Ministership. Rajni thought through the offer and declined it politely the next morning. I remember from Dr.Srikanth’s book, him being quoted as saying, “It was important to overcome that temptation to succumb to what people wanted me to do. What is important was that I knew I didn’t want to do it. Besides, without anything remarkable about me, I was still enjoying so much adulation by the people. I don’t think I deserved anymore and I did not want to let them down playing a role I knew I was not cut out for.” Writing today in Chennai Chronicle, Rajni’s wife, Lata, says similarly, “I am often asked about his political move. And I always reply that we must respect his decision for what he wants to do with his Life.”
Important perspective there for us to reflect upon:
- How often do we succumb to distractions that take us away from our inner core?
- And how often do we work for our bliss than play to the galleries doing what other people want us to do?
Pandit Ravi Shankar, the Sitar maestro, who passed away a few hours ago, at 92, has led the way for us similarly too. He was often accused by Indian music ‘purists’ as someone who sacrificed Indian art on the altar of western stardom. Talking to Laura Barnett of The Guardian for an interview in June 2011, Panditji had this to say: “(I am proud of) helping Western audiences to have a better understanding of Indian classical music. In the UK, classical music is composed by individuals, and written down. Indian music is based on certain sequences, called ragas. When I perform live, 95% of the music is improvised: it never sounds the same twice…Well, I’m 91 now, so if I haven’t learnt to live with it (the global acclaim and stardom), I never will. But some periods have been more difficult than others. When I started working with George Harrison [in 1966], I became like a pop star myself: everywhere I went, I was recognized. I didn’t like that at all. I don’t think I have sacrificed anything. But I do think that my Indian classical audiences thought I was sacrificing them through working with George. I became known as the “fifth Beatle”. In India, they thought I was mad.”
Such a brilliant, enlightening point of view. No wonder then that he has been so successful doing what he believed in and what gave him joy! And his humility? Legendary. When Barnett, in the course of the same interview, asked the maestro if he wanted to give any advice for young, aspiring musicians, he said, “I wouldn’t give them advice. I would learn from them.”
That’s really how you may want to consider living your Life: Always doing what you love, what gives you joy, learning and celebrating how miraculous and beautiful Life really is!