Why this ‘kolaveri’ against Sanjay Dutt?

You must have walked their path if you must offer an opinion about someone.
Sanjay Dutt leaving Yerawada Prison in Pune
Picture Courtesy: Internet
I am appalled with the quality of social media/public opinion being hurled at Sanjay Dutt over his release from prison earlier this week. I like Sanjay, the actor. But I love him for the courage he has displayed to face Life, go through a legal process and serve a jail term. Yes, it can be argued that he tried to avoid the jail term as much as possible; he used every legal option available to him. And it can be further argued that while in jail he kept seeking – and getting – paroles. And now, he’s walked out eight months ahead of schedule. So, it’s natural that people ask: will others accused of a crime or prisoners get such a differential, preferred treatment? I guess that question is more relevant when posed to the government and the prison authorities. As far as Sanjay is concerned he only did what anyone in his position will do – which is, explore all legal avenues available to first avoid a prison term and then to reduce it. After all who wants to be in jail?
This is my personal view.
I say this not as a means of offering just yet another opinion. I say this because I have come close to incarceration on more than one occasion. Like Sanjay has admitted to having made mistakes, I too, in the context of the poor financial decisions that I took, have made mistakes. And while there is a realization today of follies having been committed, I did not see anything inappropriate about seeking and utilizing legal counsel to stay away from jail. I believe apart from being a constitutional right, it is also a normal, human urge to not want to go to jail. I can totally relate to Sanjay declaring, upon his release, “It has been a long walk to freedom.” I haven’t had to – so far – face a situation of my physical freedom being taken away. But since I have come close (I share one such episode in my Book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’; Westland, August 2014), let me tell you, even that is something that I wish no one should ever have to experience. Which is why I salute Sanjay for not running away from the country or hanging himself from a ceiling fan – he could have done either long, long back; and many in his shoes (may) have done that surely! – instead he stayed on, faced the 23-year-process stoically and served a sentence that the highest court in the land ordered him to.
I am not trying to be preachy here. I am just sharing what I deeply feel. I know the pain of being judged by public – and private – opinion. I know what it is to be called a cheat (by my own family). I know what it means to be unable to redeem yourself, your credibility, when Life check-mates you, only because you blinked and made a couple of lousy decisions. Most people who are hanging Sanjay in a public trail have, mercifully, never had to go through a situation that he has faced. Perhaps they would have crumbled long, long ago had they ever had to face one themselves.

Here’s the nub: if you haven’t walked someone’s path yourself, please don’t rush to offer an opinion about them. Please respect the other person’s right to dignity!   
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Learn from your mistakes, don’t brood over them!


It is perfectly fine to make a few mistakes in Life. So don’t ever waste time regretting or brooding over what’s happened. When you make a mistake, and you realize it, get up, dust yourself, look for the learning(s) from the experience, and move on!

Sreesanth : Not guilty until proven

India was shocked yesterday as news broke, yet again, of spot-fixing in cricket matches and a well-known player Sreesanth was arrested with a few others. It was also yesterday that Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt surrendered in court to complete his 42-month jail term for a crime he inadvertently committed in 1993. Both events, naturally, led to mixed reactions from people. Many were quick to write Sreesanth’s epithet and to conclude that Dutt perhaps deserved this. I would, however, humbly urge that we look at the learnings here rather than judge, criticize and opine.

Each of us, at some point or the other, has erred. Sometimes wantonly, sometimes knowingly, and at other times, simply, unknowingly. To not make mistakes is inhuman. What’s important__and intelligent__ however is to learn from mistakes and not repeat the same mistake twice. Clinging on to regrets in Life is a sure recipe for disaster. More disastrous, at times, than even the mistake and its repercussions!

To that extent there’s a big learning from Dutt’s surrender. People are free to argue that he was left with no other choice. But did he not display enormous courage and personal leadership while surrendering in the face of such intense public scrutiny? True courage is not really physical! Courage is always about facing the harsh realities in Life. It is all the more difficult to face them when those realities are an outcome of a mistake you have made. It surely takes great courage to stand up and say that “I messed up” and to “own the outcome” of one’s actions __ whatever they may be. That’s really what Dutt’s surrender teaches us.

Let’s stop thinking of Life as having to be clinically perfect. We are not robots. We will make mistakes. And it’s fine. No matter what we do. What is crucial is to learn from our actions, our decisions and their outcomes. And the learning will be complete and the awakening brilliant when we don’t grieve and regret over what we have done. Another principle worth following is, since none of us is perfect, and we have all made mistakes, it is best not to opine, not to judge when we see others having to pay for their mistakes. It is a simple courtesy we can extend to fellow human beings who are going through their own learning curves in Life!

Simply, to make a mistake is not a terrible thing to happen in Life. To brood over it definitely is!


Everyone has to bear their own cross in Life


Life and grief comes to each of us in different ways. Often times something may not be hurting you directly. Someone you love may be going through, pain, suffering, agony and grief. Watching that person suffer, will force grief on to you! The situation gets amplified when it is someone very, very dear __ a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling or very close friend.

How do you handle a situation where someone else’s suffering is consuming you?

There is no easy or one way to do this. Even so, it is possible to avoid being consumed by someone else’s suffering. Surely, you can make a beginning by seeing the situation as an opportunity to train yourself to be detached.

Yesterday, a friend called to say that his teenage daughter, who often has been prone to depression over the past few years, confessed to him that she “had lost interest in Life”. My friend lamented over the phone that he couldn’t handle “her suffering” anymore. The girl had been under medical treatment and was receiving counseling regularly. Her parents, I know, had been the most understanding, despite their conservative background. I could understand and empathize with my friend’s sense of helplessness and grief. “I am suffering watching her suffer. I feel I will break down. I need a solution. I demand to know why my child is undergoing this turmoil and why we have to be put through this,”he exclaimed.

“Why” is the simplest and the most profound of all questions! Answering Life’s “Whys” eludes all of us uniformly. Well, if only we knew the answers to our “Whys”, Life will no longer be a mystery, right? So, think of such a situation, as the one my friend is facing, as an opportunity to understand Life itself, your role in it and to practice detachment.

Understand, first of all, that each one in Life has to bear her or his own cross. In India, actor Sanjay Dutt’s impending return to jail, over a folly he committed 20 years ago, is making headlines because of the Supreme Court awarding him the sentence finally. Most people know that Dutt is both guilty and repentant. But despite his huge fan following and his network of admirers and believers including the powerful in India, Dutt may still have to go back to jail. Unless of course the Governor of the state pardons him. I remember seeing pictures of Dutt’s father, Sunil Dutt, waiting outside the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, for days on end, during his son’s frequent incarcerations there. Dutt Senior did his jail duty diligently as long as he was alive. I am sure he was pained. Maybe he even died with some of that pain and a sense of incompletion that he could not see his son’s name cleared. This is true of each of our lives__that each of us has to face and endure the Life given to us. Obviously, this includes what even your own child has to go through! Very simply, the moment we are born, our Life meter starts ticking and our Life’s screenplay starts unfolding. A good amount of that screenplay will have several episodes of pain. If we grieve for each of them, either our own or for others, we will end up spending an entire lifetime simply grieving. Not living.

Once you realize this truth about Life, accept that the painful experience someone is going through is for them to learn something. Pain is a great teacher. She teaches us to stop expecting Life to be painless. She also teaches us that suffering is a meaningless option, that we often end up choosing by default! Without pain, there would be no suffering. Unless you suffer, you will not realize that it is a completely wasted response to Life. So, if someone you know is suffering, believe that they are actually learning something. When your child is studying hard, staying up awake most nights, for a school or University examination, do you grieve? Don’t you admire your child for the focus and resilience? Then why do you grieve when your child is having to face a real Life examination? Well it may not be a child all the time, but know that whoever is facing Life’s tests is surely learning invaluable lessons too.

Finally, this person you grieve for is not going to be there forever. Death is bound to separate you. If not now, some day. So, let go! Detach from wanting for things to be different for that person. Accept the current reality and the eventual reality__of a physical separation__and practice detachment. This does not mean you should not feel or pray for the person. Of course you must if you can and want to. Just don’t grieve though. Because grief debilitates. It takes away your spirit. It draws you further out of your inner core of happiness and peace.

All of us grow in Life. Our families have grown. We have grown. Our assets and wealth may have also grown. That growth’s pointing to the physical, financial and biological aspects of Life. But there is another dimension. Growing intelligently. Using such trying situations as personal growth opportunities__to practice detachment__is about evolving, about growing intelligently in Life!