For heaven’s sake, it is not ‘zindagi ka suffer’….!

Suffering is self-inflicted. If you are suffering in any situation, you have only yourself to blame.
Yesterday a friend texted me his predicament. He said he was unable to reconcile with my thoughts, which I share in my daily blogposts, on a “practical, real Life basis”. “While I agree in theory to what you say every day, I simply can’t believe that you can be happy without money. Means to earn a living, having money for everyday needs, to me, is a critical pre-requisite. I am suffering because I have no job and no money,” he confessed.
I can empathize with my friend. I have been in his shoes too with regard to postponing happiness by imposing pre-conditions on Life. I have suffered too for weeks, months and years. Until I realized that you suffer only when you set conditions on Life. How can you? How can you insist that Life deal with you in specific manner when you don’t even know how Life works and thinks? The problem with such condition-setting is that whenever Life does not conform to your expectations, which will be ever so often, you will suffer. Today, I am still in my friend’s shoes – I have no work and no money too, but I have learnt not to suffer. Because I have accepted my situation unconditionally. I keep trying harder every single day, with my wife, to put our business back on track but I don’t say anymore that I will be unhappy with what I have, and my Life, unless my business turns around. Resultantly, while there is intense pain – if you are living or have lived without money, you may feel my pain – there is no suffering.
I am reminded of that beautiful song from the Hindi movie Safar (1970, Asit Sen, Kalyanji Anandji, Indeevar, Kishore Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore) which talks about the inscrutable nature of the journey of Life. The lyrics go…’zindagi ka safar, hai yeh kaisa safar, koi jaana nahin, koi samjha nahin…’ Safar in Hindi means journey and zindagi means Life, but, ironically many are living their lives and humming this song as ‘zindagi ka suffer… This is not intelligent punning. This is the reality. Many, like my friend, are resisting their realities and that’s why they are suffering.

To summarize, you suffer only because you have chosen to suffer. Accepting your reality, the Life that you have, cannot solve your problems. It cannot take away your pain. But it surely can help you not to suffer. It is only when you choose not to suffer, will you be able to attempt better solutions to your problems. Remember: you have been given this Life, this zindagi, for you to journey (safar) through, experience and learn from this lifetime, and not to suffer! So, whatever it is that you are dealing with, accept it and journey on…with a song in your heart!

A lesson in intelligent living from Rajesh Khanna’s superstardom

Learn to live Life ever-so-humbly, ever-grateful and ever-accepting!
Rajesh Khanna: Dec 29 1942 ~ Jul 18 2012
Picture Courtesy: Internet
A new book on India’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna – Dark Star – The Loneliness of Rajesh Khanna by Gautam Chintamani (Harper Collins, Page 242, Price: Rs.499/-) – “paints”, as Kaveree Bamzai reviews in the latest issue of India Today,  “a startling portrait of a star in terminal decline”. It is now, perhaps, common knowledge that Khanna’s attitude, all through his magical superstar years, 1969~1973, and afterward, had an arrogant ‘I-am-God’ quality to it. Whether it was his forever arriving late on sets, or his handing a half-finished cigarette to acclaimed writer Gulshan Nanda (who wrote ‘Kati Patang’ and ‘Daag’ , both Khanna hits, among others) while he went to complete a shot, or his making his displeasure known of his self-appointed rival by calling Amitabh Bachchan manhoos(unlucky), or his planning a party, the very night a film magazine denied him an award, to teach ‘them’ a lesson (until they come to him begging him to attend their event), or his refusing to visit a local district collector’s residence despite long-time friend and director Shakti Samanta’s insistence – all these and more made Khanna the complete snob, the one who played tantrums with anyone and everyone – taking his stardom to be permanent and himself to be invincible. But Chintamani’s book brilliantly chronicles Khanna’s fall from grace, from the limelight to the darkness of his Carter Road home, Aashirwad, and Khanna’s slipping into his all-night drinking binges, during one of which he is reported to have gone up to the terrace, and while it rained heavily, he is believed to have asked a menacingly dark sky, “Why me?”. The reference of that loaded question was, obviously, to Khanna’s losing out to the Bachchan era, his falling out with the writer-duo of Salim-Javed whom he had helped with an independent writing credit for his hit movie Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), his being dropped from Yash Chopra’s list of “must-have” stars and him being replaced by Shashi Kapoor in Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978).
Now, who was responsible for Khanna’s superstardom falling apart? Who was responsible for everything that he touched, in the second half of his Life, turning to dust – from films to relationships to politics? So much so, as Chintamani reveals in his book, he once had to trade his imported car for a Maruti 800 and had to switch to smoking Gold Flake from 555. While it may be argued that time and events conspire to plot our destinies, I also believe that being humble is a responsibility that all of us must be both aware of and fulfill. Be humble to know that everything happens through you and not because of you. This means, if you are a star today, the first duty you have is to the industry and the audience that made you one. Be responsible and humble towards them. Treat your work with respect and treat your colleagues as human beings. I guess Khanna lacked this perspective. And when things go wrong, as they often will, and you fall, have the wisdom and humility to accept that what goes up comes down. So, when you are down, don’t grieve. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Just treat it as a phase in Life that you can learn faith and patience from. I guess Khanna lacked this perspective too.
But let’s not forget that there’s a Khanna in each of us. At various times, in varying degrees, each of us does get carried away by our success or gets snowed under when we fail at something. We must all realize that the nature of Life is cyclical. Each dark night will be interrupted by a brilliant dawn. And each day will dissolve into darkness. To imagine that we are consigned to a lifetime of darkness, whenever things don’t go “our” way, or to believe that we will be blessed with sunshine for eternity, when everything’s going per “our” plan,  is immature to say the least. The best way to live Life is to live ever-so-humbly for what you have managed to achieve, ever-grateful for what you have and ever-accepting of what you don’t have or don’t get. This is the one lesson I will take away from Rajesh Khanna’s Life – a lesson that he, unfortunately, failed to learn himself, until perhaps in the last couple of years of his Life!    

Lessons from a Star and a Super Star

Never get deceived by success and fame. They are both fickle and fleeting.
Yuvi: With Player of The Tournament Trophy and ICC ODI WC 2011
Picture Courtesy: Internet
As the curtains came down on the ICC T20 WC at Dhaka last night, India’s sad loss in the Final led to angry fans venting their fury against Yuvraj Singh, once India’s Star player, online. While many critical views were expressed, questioning the pace of his innings (11 runs off 21 balls) and his very place in the team, some were outrageously rabid. Many called Yuvi a traitor. Some called him an “idiot” or such other uncharitable names. Although in Life, and in sport, you are only as good as your last effort or innings, and while critique is understandable, my personal view is that mindless criticism must ideally be avoided. Yuvi’s classic performance in the ICC ODI WC in 2011, which India won, and in which he was the Player of the Tournament, seems to have been forgotten. Also his record-making, six sixes in an over in the 2007 ICC T20 WC in South Africa, seemed a distant, historic data point last night. What was uppermost on everyone’s mind was that Yuvi had failed – yet again in the just-concluded championship – and that he needed to be crucified for India’s defeat in the Finals.
There’s a lesson for all of us from this chapter in Yuvi’s roller-coaster Life – if we care to pause and reflect. I am not suggesting that we should not review M S Dhoni’s decision to play Yuvi in the Final or in the slot that he batted. That’s the job of Team India and the selection committee of the BCCI. I am not saying fans don’t have a right to feel outraged. All I am saying is that here’s a lesson for all of us. No matter who you are or what you have achieved and how well you have served, when you fail, at whatever you are doing, you will find yourself alone. In that moment of loneliness, introspection is the key. Don’t grieve over what the world says, don’t agonize over the loss of fame or name, don’t brood over you actions – simply take Life as it is happening to you just then.
The nature of Life is that it can never keep you in one place. If you are on top, a fall is inevitable. If you are down, you can’t stay there for too long either – you will be hoisted up for sure. No fall is permanent. No conquest is forever. And no pole position is permanent. Each of us is a product of the time that we go through. For Yuvi, the fall will hurt harder because it is cricket – the sport is a religion in India, the fans are very demanding and unforgiving, and so he has to deal with a public scrutiny of his intent and talent. For many of us, our falls happen in our own limited, private, often small worlds. Even so, our pain will be the same as Yuvi’s. Whether you lose in business or in career or in a relationship – whatever be your loss, analysis by peers, family and society only makes the loss even more difficult to fathom and accept. The best way to deal with such situations is to remind yourself that everything is transient. Most certainly, fame, money, glory, success, defeat and loss are impermanent!
I remember an acceptance speech that Bollywood’s first and original Super Star Rajesh Khanna delivered at an India International Film Award event some years ago, when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the man who dethroned him from superstardom, Amitabh Bachchan. Khanna said: “Everything – name, fame, glory – everything is impermanent. Where I am now someone else was in this place and someone else will be in this place when I am gone…” (Follow this link Rajesh Khanna IFFA Acceptance Speech to listen to that memorable acceptance speech) This is the irrefutable truth about Life.
The lesson from Yuvi’s fall from grace last night – and from Khanna’s wisdom – is that we must learn to take success, defeat, fame, fall, glory and loss all in the stride. We must learn to practice equanimity – which is really the ability to be untouched and unmoved by anything, in any situation. This may appear difficult to do. But this is the only way you can be peaceful within – and avoid all suffering – even as you deal with Life’s vagaries outside. 

Lose yourself to creation and you will never be lost in Life!


In everyone’s Life, there will come a time, when you feel lost. You don’t know where your career is headed. Or what’s happening to your relationship. You feel you are doing too many things, are busy all the time, but don’t find time for yourself. There’s this emptiness in you. Sometimes you feel unhappy. Sometimes you feel nothing. You just feel you are missing something although you can’t say what it is. Everything you do is weighing you down. There’s a reluctance with which you are living.

Such living is not living in the truest sense. It is merely existing!

The truth is that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you happy. But you miss it because you are so full of yourself. And you imagine instead that just the opposite is true __ that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you unhappy, when, in reality, there is no such design! The reason why you imagine that the Universe contributes to your unhappiness, your emptiness, your reluctance to live fully, to your ‘merely existing’ state, is that you attach too much importance to yourself. All the time you are fearing how your Life will end up. And such constant thinking, that fear, that anxiety, clearly inhibits your ability to live freely, fully.

In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Hindi classic Anand (1971 – Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna), there’s a patient (played by Asit Sen) who keeps visiting Dr.Prakash Kulkarni (Ramesh Deo) with some imagined ailment or the other. The man is really not sick. He is just imagining his conditions. Dr.Kulkarni keeps treating him and keeps getting paid a fee for each visit. Dr.Bhaskar Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), a good friend and colleague of Dr.Kulkarni, protests this ‘malpractice’. He chides his friend Dr.Kulkarni for feecing an innocent patient. Dr.Kulkarni defends his position admirably. He says (something to this effect), “I have not conspired to make the man ill or feed his imaginations. His problem is not that he imagines too much. His problem is that he loves being sick.”

So do we! We love being clueless, being lost in Life! We love feeling empty, unhappy, worried and fearful of everything in Life. Pining for a new Life seems to be more fashionable than doing something about creating that Life! If everything is going right per our expectations, we worry about how long this run will last; and if everything is not right, we worry about how long more it will take for the tide to turn. We doubt simple, unconnected events, harmless intentions of people around us and live in fear and anxiety of how it will all add up in the end.  

The antidote to such a phase, the only circuit breaker available to snap out of this vicious, self-destructive cycle, the only way to repair, revive and recharge yourself, is to lose yourself to creation. 

Try this: Lose yourself to a sunrise or walk in the rain. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Look at a flower. Hear the bird songs, look at your child sleeping peacefully, hold your companion’s hand, watch a tree laden with fruit…..do any of these or your own. But for a full minute. In that minute, as long as you have lost yourself to creation, I promise you, there will be no unhappiness, no worry, no turmoil in you. The Cosmic Design has a unique feature that only makes all of creation happy. But to experience that you have to learn to lose yourself. You have rid yourself of yourself, of your thought and immerse your Self in the beauty of this Universe.

When you fight with creation, the Universal whole, you are bound to lose. In your emptiness you are actually feeling the sense of futility of an unequal battle. You have everything material, but you don’t have the most priceless of the Universe’s offerings, available free, 24×7, perennially __ happiness. On the other hand, when you have surrendered to creation, immersed in it, lost yourself to it, you may find happiness even if you have nothing material. You may well have found your true Self! It is unbelievable. But this is the only way it works. This is no rocket science. It works simply because the human form is an expression of the Universal energy.  Logically therefore, Bliss, really, truly, is a by-product of losing yourself to creation!