Folks like RJ Balaji must help the youth focus on doing greater good that can change India forever.
This post is in continuation of my post of yesterday on Life having a Higher Purpose. I have been watching the Jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu with curiosity. While the peaceful manner in which the protests have been held so far is commendable, I feel a great opportunity needs to be urgently leveraged. This opportunity is really about creating a mass, democratic movement that has the potential to change the socio-political landscape of not just Tamil Nadu, but of the entire country. But for this to happen, this youth movement must rise above temptations of petty, regional, jingoism and embrace a Higher Purpose.
So far the protests across Tamil Nadu are known to have a focus only on the Jallikattu issue. I feel this is a very myopic way to look at preserving Tamizh culture and to channelize youth energy. It is very disturbing when you consider that many – artists, intellectuals, commonfolk – really don’t appear to be seeing the bigger picture. I have a simple question: don’t #Manushanda and #Indianda come far ahead of the parochial #Tamizhanda war-cry? I don’t want to emphasize on the unconfirmed references to purported secessionist clarion calls by a section of the protestors who played up the Eelam card or held up pictures of the late LTTE commando Prabhakaran. I also don’t want to lament the behavior – again unconfirmed –of a section of the protestors who purportedly used abusive language in reference to PM Modi and CM O Paneerselvam. Such discordant notes are bound to be struck when so much energy comes rising up – without proper channelization, without a bonding glue, without a Higher Purpose. The only voice that made sense, though it may be accused of being unnecessarily rabid, was that of RJ Balaji. I totally agree with Balaji that the time has come for ordinary citizens to join the democratic process – first, by going beyond just voting in every election. He champions for us to stand up, even if it means protesting every single time an issue arises – and in India, there is an issue born or created almost all the time, 24×7 – and raise questions. And what better way to get started on this journey than by allowing ourselves to be led by the youth of our land? Yes, I have a fundamental disagreement with Jallikattu being a cause for an uprising. But somewhere, somehow, a beginning had to be made. It has so happened that Jallikattu has now united a diverse set of people to a cause. So far, the political class has been getting away with sacrilege and the murder of democracy because there was no movement that had managed to reach as far as this youth effort in Tamil Nadu has gotten. This is why this opportunity, of making #Jallikattu a lasting metaphor, must be seized, urgently, immediately.
This is where a huge responsibility vests with people like RJ Balaji. There have been youthful voices like his in the recent past in India – but, at least to my mind, they have been laced with secessionist and communal flavors. Balaji, and a majority of the youth in the Tamil Nadu movement, have been, commendably, apolitical and non-communal. So, if anybody must be supported, it must be them.
We must all encourage and invite them to embrace a Higher Purpose. That Higher Purpose must simply be to cleanse Indian society of its corrupt, insensitive, ineffective political system. Here corruption does not refer to money bribes and illegitimate material accumulations alone, it also includes a corrupt thought process. When anything is taken up with Higher Purpose – which by character, by its very nature, goes beyond money, name, fame and power – it always succeeds. This is the only reason the Civil Disobedience Movement that Gandhi led succeeded – it got us our freedom! So, per me, embracing the Higher Purpose of cleansing our society means to create a nationwide movement that must aim to get elected only educated, honest, skilled representatives to both Houses of Parliament and to every State Assembly. That’s ensuring the selection and election of a few thousand people – from among 1.25 billion Indians. Extremely doable! I believe this is really what our youth want and are capable of achieving. I only hope they can define and internalize this Higher Purpose for themselves – for all of them, for all of us – and build a national movement. Only this will ensure that their energy is not frittered away and they remain united in the face of any pressure that the political class is bound to mount.
To be unfrustrated when you don’t get the results you want is a skill that you can teach yourself.
A gentleman asked me the other day: “It must be so frustrating AVIS to endure a bankruptcy for such a long time. Why do talented and ethical people like you have to go through a tough Life?” I smiled back at him. My reply: “Talent and integrity don’t ensure a crisis-free Life. The nature of Life is such that it is one continuous adventure. You just have to deal with whatever comes your way.”
I feel people unnecessarily complicate Life by imagining that they should be free from problems, challenges or crises. To be sure, Life never promised anyone a hassle-free ride. In fact, Life makes no promises. We humans bring our expectations to the party and then we invite suffering into our Life when those expectations are not met. When Life makes no promises, and when you expect something out of Life, and that expectation is not fulfilled, and you suffer, who is to blame? Of course, you have only yourself to blame. So, simply, drop all expectations and Life will be a lot easier to deal with.
In “Gandhi The Man”, Eknath Easwaran (1910~1999), writes about how Mahatma Gandhi drew great inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita to keep the focus only on his efforts and to learn to be detached from the outcomes. The Gita says: ‘Do your allotted work, but renounce its fruit – be detached and work – have no desire for reward and work’. And Gandhi internalized this learning thus: “This is the unmistakable teaching of the Gita. He who gives up action falls. He who gives up only the reward rises. But renunciation of fruit in no way means indifference to the result. In regard to every action one must know the result that is expected to follow, the means thereto, and the capacity for it. He, who, being thus equipped, is without desire for the result, and is yet wholly engrossed in the due fulfillment of the task before him, is said to have renounced the fruits of his action.”
I meditated, during my daily mouna (silence periods) sessions, on this learning for weeks on end some years ago. And over time I cultivated the ability to stay detached from the outcomes of my efforts. Vaani helped me through this process. This is how both of us have been able to deal with our Life with great equanimity.
Internalizing this learning has helped us immensely to remain unfrustrated when we don’t get what we want despite our very sincere efforts and all our integrity. When you are unfrustrated then you see any challenge only as an opportunity to learn patience and to retry. Which is why, when people often ask me, when do I think we will get out of our bankruptcy, I always reply, “I know we will be out of this. I just can’t say when.”
To be unfrustrated is a skill that can be learnt with practice. It requires training your mind to engage with only the present moment, with only the efforts. Simply, when there is integrity of Purpose, when there is relentless, unsparing effort, when you trust the process of Life, then you can never be frustrated with the outcomes!
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