Sunny Leone is more spiritual than most people around us

Important Note: This Blog will continue to feature my daily blogposts. In addition, on Sundays, public holidays and long weekends, I will feature The Happiness Road Series and my #HelpYourselfToHappiness Vlog Series!
Here’s today’s blogpost!
Spirituality does not impose any conditions on your being. It is the flowering of inner awareness that brings you to be present in whatever is.
Sunny Leone
Picture Courtesy: Internet
There’s this whole song and dance, well we can call it drama too, over Bollywood actor Sunny Leone’s interview with CNN-IBN’s Bhupendra Chaubey. I have not seen any of Sunny Leone’s movies nor have I dug up her footprint, as an erstwhile porn star, online. I have also had no interest in any interview she has given up until now. That’s when my friend BG’s story on the actor and her interview appeared in The Hindu this morning. Now, BG’s someone I respect a lot. And his concluding line, “…Until now, she was a small-time actor, the interview made her a heroine.”…caught my attention. So I googled and pulled up Chaubey’s interview with Leone and watched it. I not only concur with BG’s perspective but I go a step further: I don’t just think Leone is gorgeous-looking, sexy if you will, I believe she’s very, very, spiritual too.
I have no comments to offer on Chaubey’s interviewing style or the quality and tone of his questions. That’s his way of Life. So, my perspective here is not because I disagree with what Chaubey asked or did, but is here because I agree with, and can relate to, everything that Leone said. It takes an evolved person to say that I have no regrets about the past. And Leone does not just say it, she says it with a deep conviction. She says, “ …Everything that I have done in my Life, has led me (in)to this seat…it’s a chain reaction that happens…everything is a stepping stone…when you are young you make decisions that lead you to who you are as an adult…” To me, Leone’s interview offers an unputdownable lesson in spirituality. It left me admiring this young lady for her ability to hold herself up with dignity, when so many people are hell bent on judging her. Watch the full interview here:

I make no comparisons here. But interestingly, at the recently concluded Hindu Lit for Life event, ace photographer Raghu Rai, who was in conversation with renowned art editor Sadanand Menon, said something very similar: “I am just a sum of all the experiences I have been through in Life. Everything that I have done in my Life has made me the person that I am today.” Everyone who heard Rai share with Menon came back feeling reflective and spiritual.

And truly, that’s all there is to Life. We all are a product of the time and the experiences we go through. There’s nothing right or wrong about the choices we make. Each choice leads us to another one and that one leads to yet another. And through choosing, falling, crawling, getting up, flying and falling again, we learn to choose better and cruise along in Life. Leone’s choice of opting to be in the porn industry was not very different from my choice of having been a salesman early on in my career or Rai’s choice of being a news photographer for several years. In the end, really, no experience is a waste and no experience is bad. Each one teaches you something, provided you are willing to learn.

As I see it, there’s a lot I can learn from Leone. She displays humility, acceptance and a keenness to just let things be. For instance, she says that she has neither been “haunted” or “held back” by her past. She tells Chaubey that she does not want to think of a future – of acting with a big star like Aamir Khan – that is not yet born: “At this moment I don’t know (about the future) any better.” I wish, instead of bringing a hypocritical sense of morality into play, that people pause and reflect on Leone’s interview for the honesty she inspires through it. That and her ability to be who she is, celebrating herself, without any regrets of a past that is dead and gone, and without any anxieties over an unborn future, are very spiritual qualities.  To me, those qualities make her more spiritual – and not just sexy – than most people around us are. 

“Why?”, in the context of Life, is a wasted question!

Life knows no fair play or foul play. Life is simply in an eternal state of play!
As I write this The Hindu’s website is breaking news that there has allegedly been a rape on the Pune campus of IT major Infosys (Infy). My first reaction, that I even tweeted (@AVISViswanathan), was “Gosh! There must be a way to end all this!” Earlier this morning in The Hindu’s Open Page, Rya Sanovar asks a very pertinent, albeit disturbing, question: “Why do I get and they don’t? Is this world we live in so unfair that it can’t provide its people the basic amenities of Life?”
The word ‘amenities’ can be replaced with ‘security’, or with ‘dignity’, and Sanovar’s question will still ring true. Yet there’s no point asking that question. Life never promised anything, least of all fairness, to anyone. Fairness and unfairness are social labels. They expectations that are born from within us humans. Life is simply at play. Life keeps on happening: one event after another. And each event, each happening in Life, is an experience for sure, and, if you care to pause and reflect, it can be a learning too. To crave for fair play from Life is to invite misery. Period.
In the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Zoya Akhtar, 2011), Farhan Akhtar recites his father Javed Akhtar’s poetry. One of the poems is this one:
Dil Aakhir Tu Kyun Rota Hai?
Jab jab dard ka baadal chhaya

Jab gham ka saya lehraaya

Jab aansoo palkon tak aaya

Jab yeh tanha dil ghabraaya

Hum ne dil ko yeh samjhaya

Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai?

Duniya mein yun hi hota hai

Yeh jo gehre sannate hain

Waqt ne sabko hi baante hain
Thoda gham hai sabka qissa
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa

Aankh teri bekaar hi nam hai

Har pal ek naya mausam hai

Kyun tu aise pal khota hai

Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai

Listen to/watch the original poem here


The poem so beautifully captures the essence of what I am trying to say here – that Life distributes sunshine and sorrow equally. Yet, it appears unequal to us because we compare. When you compare your home with Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s Antilia, you may feel, in real estate terms, poorer, less endowed. But when you see what you have compared to the person who seeks your attention – and alms – at a traffic signal, and who sleeps on the pavement, you feel so much more blessed. The truth is all our lives are perfect – yours, mine, Mukesh’s and Nita’s, and the pavement dweller’s. Each of us has what we need and gets what is due to us. Comparisons, therefore, serve no purpose. They simply ruin your inner peace. Besides, there’s no point in asking why is Life unfair or why is there inequality, why is there hunger, why is there rape and so on. “Why?”, in the context of Life, is a wasted question! Instead ask yourself how you can contribute to make this world better – how you can bridge the inequality gap, how you can feed someone today, how you can touch a Life and make a difference?

Life may not have promised fair play. But Life’s always open to you playing along. Will you?

Stop being a ‘thought terrorist’!

You are human first. Your gender, your religion, your nationality, your qualifications and your income come later and, quite honestly, don’t matter at all.
Misbah Quadri
Picture Courtesy: The Hindu
This morning’s Hindureports the shocking story of a 25-year-old young lady, Misbah Quadri, being denied accommodation in all of Mumbai just because she is a Muslim! “Mumbai – of all places?” I thought. If Mumbai has become so parochial, the rest of India may well be damned! But this is not an isolated story or occurrence. The other day I was at a friend’s place for dinner. And he openly acknowledged that he would never rent his apartment to Muslims. He confessed: “Call me conservative or anti-Muslim, I cannot simply trust people who belong to that religion.” My friend is educated, widely traveled, does business globally and yet he holds such a regressive view? Within my own family, I have someone who cannot refer to Muslims without using an expletive alongside. This is a sad trend and needs to be condemned with as much intensity as it is being propagated.
When I think about it deeply, dispassionately, I believe we are finding it convenient to generalize and to hide behind our insecurities and flawed assumptions. While it is true that most acts of terror in the world are conducted by Muslims, it is wrong to imagine that all Muslims are terrorists. Perhaps, people find it simpler to banish an entire community because they have never tried to – or wanted to – be discerning in their judgment. Another reason why people cannot understand or appreciate Muslims may be because of their inscrutable practices, rituals and traditions – from circumcision to Muharram to the ubiquitous burkha. But that is no valid argument. Every religion, the way each of us is raised, every community has its own idiosyncratic methods and beliefs. If you find a burkha restricting women empowerment, then you should find the Hindu practice of disallowing girl children from performing the last rites of a dead parent equally restrictive. A sandhyavandanam can be as banal as Muharram if you don’t understand the significance of either.
I think there are as many reasons to divide humanity in this world as there are people on the planet. We don’t need to invent newer ways or choose to alienate a particular community or religion just because we don’t know or understand someone or something. Those who think they are very smart in exercising options such as the ones my friend has chosen, or what building societies in Mumbai have chosen against young Misbah, are actually sick in their heads and hearts. The very thought that you can discriminate against someone just because he or she belongs to a particular community or religion is an act of violence. As Gandhi would say, it is himsa (violence) of the highest order. It is worse than the acts of terror that kill people around the world each year. We must drop this tendency to be violent in our thoughts, in our perceptions, that lead us to discriminate against fellow human beings – urgently and wholeheartedly.

Fundamentally, let’s remember that there are only two kinds of people in the world. Humans who practice love and compassion. And humans who indulge in hatred and violence. If you cannot immediately decide which category someone belongs to, it is fine. But don’t imagine they belong to the latter category just because they come from a community that you think is redoubtable. If you do that, in the absence of valid, irrefutable evidence, unfortunately, sadly, you will be indulging in himsa too! When you discriminate against someone, you are being violent in thought. And, to be sure, thoughts can kill – they are like cancer, chewing away humanity! So, unless you are one, stop being a ‘thought terrorist’! 

Living fully is more important than arriving first

Don’t compete with anyone or anything in Life. Life’s is not a race that you must aim to complete first. It’s not a battle either where only the fittest will survive. It is about living, letting others live too, and enjoying every moment that you are on this planet doing what you are good at and love doing.
For the last four weeks, the front pages of the Chennai editions of most leading newspapers have been taken by Kalyan Jewellers. Announcing the brand’s arrival in Chennai the ads claimed that Kalyan’s was the largest jewellery showroom in the world!!! A high-voltage star-studded campaign featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Prabhu, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Nagarjuna led the media blitzkrieg. But even as Kalyan opened their showroom last Friday, their rivals Prince, Lalitha and Joy Alukkas upped the ante splurging on full page ads. This morning’s Page 1 of The Hindu’s Chennai edition was taken by Joy Alukkas to claim that they owned the world’s largest jewelry showroom “as certified by the Limca Book of World Record”. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you are the first or the largest, what really matters is that you are great on service and quality, ethical and true to your customers. To me, this avaricious need to be “seen” in a certain way takes away the joy out of living and doing business!
Unfortunately, our education system and our social architecture promotes just the opposite sentiment. Both erroneously, irresponsibly, define excellence as being the first and getting on top of the world. So, in school you are encouraged to top the class and in society you are measured by the wealth, power and stature you have. Therefore, many of us are running a rat race, trying to outdo the others, wanting to be first and more importantly be seen as the first. A way to examine this perspective is to understand that ultimately, however fast we get anywhere in Life, our stories will allhave to end. So, why are we rushing? Think about it. Our Life is ticking away, one moment at a time. So, does it make sense to run at all, worse, run faster and only to get to the end faster or is it prudent to savor each moment, drink in its beauty, help others with whatever we can and arrive at our story’s end, gracefully, peacefully?
Celebrated Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar, helps us understand this perspective by sharing why he chose notto direct the remake of the film that his father Yash Johar had originally produced. In 1990, Yash Johar, had produced ‘Agneepath’with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. While the film won a lot of critical acclaim and also got Amitabh Bachchan his first National Award, it failed to be a commercial success. This left Yash Johar personally heart-broken and financially broke. Karan Johar recalls that his father eventually died grieving his favorite production’s failure. As a token of respect to his father and to celebrate his memory, Karan has produced the remake of ‘Agneepath’ (in 2012) with Hrithik Roshan playing the role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. Times of India asked Karan Johar why he chose not to direct the film himself: “Dad had pinned a lot of hopes on it as the previews had been full of praise, but when the film didn’t do well at the box office it broke his heart. Dad always wanted to remake it. One day Karan (Malhotra), who was my associate director on ‘My Name Is Khan’, and I were chatting when I told him about my desire to make it again. Karan told me he was a huge fan of the original so I asked him if he would revisit it. He agreed immediately. I am incapable of directing a film like ‘Agneepath’. I can do only what I am good at, so I would have been the worst choice to direct it. It has aggression, action and an inherent violence in it – things I am not capable of directing in my films. Karan is an exceptionally talented and angry boy, and for this film one requirement was anger. There’s an inherent sense of suppressed anger in Karan and ‘Agneepath’was the platform to express that.”
So beautiful. Karan Johar is such a successful director and has delivered several blockbuster hits over the last 15 years. There sure may have been a temptation to want to direct it himself had someone else been in his shoes. But that’s intelligent living. When you make a powerful choice of enjoying Life rather than proving or making a point. Because, in the end, to have lived__fully__is more important than to have arrived__first!

An unalterable reality: dealing with detractors is a part of Life!

There’s no point in killing your creativity and stifling who you are to please others. You live when you do what you love doing. If you stop doing that, then you merely exist, you don’t live!
The Tamil writer Perumal Murugan is in the eye of storm in Tamil Nadu. One of his works, Madhorubhagan, has come under fire from Hindu outfits who feel it should be banned and Murugan arrested. The book has also been translated into English by Penguin and is titled One Part Woman. The fundamentalists allege that it shows Lord Shiva in poor light. Murugan, on the other hand, has been defending his work saying it is a love story of a couple, Kali and Ponna, who are unable to conceive a child. Societal pressures cast a shadow on their relationship and Murugan tells their story set in Thiruchengode of the past.
Over the last couple of weeks the protests over Murugan’s book have turned ugly – copies of Madhorubhagan have been burnt and the decibel level against Murugan has been high. Yesterday Murugan, in utter frustration, decided to quit writing altogether. “Perumal Murugan, the writer is dead. As he is no God, he is not going to resurrect himself. He also has no faith in rebirth. An ordinary teacher, he will live as P. Murugan. Leave him alone,” he posted on his facebook Page.
To me, Murugan’s reaction is emotional. This will only accentuate his pain and prolong his suffering. This is a classic case of inability to deal with people who practice value systems that are different from your own. So, you end up quitting in a huff. You want to sacrifice your joy, in an act of inverted martyrdom, in the hope that your action will appeal emotionally to the conscience of your detractors. The brutal truth is it will not. Please understand that if someone is your detractor, it is only because that someone has a different value system than your own, has few or no scruples, and has a conscience which is on an endless vacation. Appealing to or trying to communicate with such people is trying to do a data transfer between two devices via Bluetooth, when one of the device’s Bluetooth option is turned off or is simply not turning on. It is from personal experience that I say that inverted martyrdom does not work. I have voluntarily sacrificed opportunities, entitlements and given up what’s legitimately due to me because I have wanted to emotionally appeal to people who were playing plain dirty. And every time I did that, I was hoping that my actions would transform them. But each time my efforts came to a naught and I ended up giving up on what was logically, legitimately mine. Inverted martyrdom is the act of sacrifice that people indulge in to prove a point, to demonstrate their goodness and righteousness to the world around them. Unfortunately, inverted martyrdom achieves nothing – it is like talking to wall. You just end up berating yourself!

Murugan has done precisely that. His decision to give up writing – something which gave him joy and which was his very Life – is something he must seriously review. In fact, in a recent interview to Akila Kannadasan of The Hindu, Murugan has said, “I am a writer first. I started teaching since I couldn’t make a living out of writing. Writing is my jeevan (Life). Teaching is my jeevanam (bread and butter).”

The Murugan drama offers us all, who are dealing with detractors in some context or the other all the time, a valuable lesson: Dealing with detractors is a part of Life. You simply can’t escape it. And it definitely is part of walking the road less trodden, or taking the creative path. Remember that your detractors revel in making you feel weak and impotent. You don’t need to necessarily fight them. Because to fight them you have to stoop to their levels. And that’s what will weaken you. Instead, you just need to stand there and keep doing what you always do – which is, live your Life fully, do what you love doing and refuse to cower, refuse to capitulate. In the face of integrity of Purpose, I have discovered, no destabilizing force can ever thrive. And integrity of Purpose is the ability to go on, no matter what challenges you are faced with, doing what you love doing.  

Create your own magic, let your music happen and be happy!

When you can immerse yourself into doing something, no matter where you are, and you love doing it so much that you lose yourself, in it, to it – well, that’s one sure way to be happy!
T.M.Krishna in “One”
Picture Courtesy: One with Music/facebook Page
A couple of days ago, I watched the opening of Carnatic classicist T.M.Krishna’s “One” (P.Jayendra, 2014) at Sathyam Cinemas. It was a magical experience. Jayendra calls his film an “experiment” to take the artiste out of the confines of a studio and/or auditorium and allow him to perform unbridled and free in nature – where the artiste experiences a oneness with creation itself. But the “experiment” actually ends up breaking tradition, blazing a new trail and setting musicians and music free. None could have been a better protagonist for this path-breaking initiative than Krishna. As Krishna himself told Narayan Lakshman of The Hindu, a few days before “One’s” release: “I have, over the years, moved to a different space in what music means to me and what the experience of music is; singing in tranquil, lush surroundings such as the foothills and forests of the Nilgiris allowed me to feel the air and space, actually experience beauty, and let the music happen.” When you watch the film, you too will realize how Krishna let go and let the music flow – unmindful of the film’s crew at work or of the three cameras that were capturing his every move and the seven microphones that were recording live sound – of not just the singing, but of the water flowing, the birds chirping, the clouds rumbling and the leaves rustling. Clearly, there appeared to be no retakes – Krishna sang from his soul and the crew recorded. Which explains how they finished recording the entire film’s content – all the songs – in just two days! That was my key takeaway from the “One” experience – Krishna just lost himself to what he was feeling, immersed himself in the moment and let the music happen.
For lack of a better quote, let me repeat, one more time, what Osho, the Master, has always said and championed: “When the dancer becomes the dance, when the singer becomes the song, when the musician becomes the music, magic happens.” Clearly you can witness and feel the magic happening in “One”. Interestingly, we too can create this kind of magic in our lives if we too follow our bliss – doing what gives us joy and immersing ourselves doing it all the time.
My bliss comes from being able to express myself through my writing, my public speaking engagements and through leading and inspiring change among people in workshops that I lead. I have found that every time take the floor, I just forget where I am and even who I am. I simply become the subject that I am championing.
I remember, some years ago, we were mandated with leading change in a very fractious environment at a leading healthcare company. I was anchoring a crucial offsite workshop, which marked the culmination of several months of our intervention. But parallel to our professional commitments, there was a big seismic event happening in our Life – we were just coming to terms with the fact that as a Firm we were bankrupt and penniless as a family! One of our creditors, from a large, multi-national bank, had figured out where we were conducting the workshop for this client and landed up at the hotel’s banquet area. He accosted me during the coffee break and threatened to both disrupt the proceedings by informing our client of our “dishonorable nature” and to also sue us in court. I told the gentleman and his contingent that while I appreciated their claim I could not fathom them interrupting me while I was at work. I requested that we meet another day at my office. But the creditor insisted on creating a ruckus. There were raised tones and some aggressive body language followed. This led to my client’s Executive Director, to walk up to me and ask if everything was okay. Her intervention led to the creditor and his team backing off. They agreed to meet me the next day at my office. But my equilibrium was clearly disturbed. I requested my client if I could extend the break by a few more minutes just to gather myself. When I resumed, and took the floor again, after 10 additional minutes, the Chairman of my client company also joined his team. Over the next two hours, I made an impassioned plea and case for change, citing opportunities that this team had, and highlighting the problems that needed resolution urgently. I lost myself to the cause that I was championing. When I finished, the Chairman, rose and soon the whole team, gave me a rousing, standing ovation. Each of them, including the rabid elements on the team, without any suggestion from me or the Chairman, promised to personally change and pledged to transform their company. When I got back home that evening, I marveled at how I had shut out such a disconcerting experience with the creditor and yet had been able to contribute so passionately to a client’s cause. I reckoned that this was possible only because I had done what I love doing, because I had immersed myself both to the cause and in the moment. In a couple of quarters after this workshop I bumped into the Chairman of this company again at the lobby of the Taj Coromandel Hotel and he told me this: “Your intervention was magical. It healed my team. Of course we had to let a couple of managers go, but the rest of them have truly changed the way they think and behave. Resultantly, they are performing better. This would not have been possible without what you did for us.” It was a humbling compliment. I cherished it more because is showcased to me that it is possible to banish worry and anxiety, anger and grief, and to let your music happen, if you do what you love doing and learn to be in the moment!

You too can do this. Despite what you are going through and what you are faced with, choose to spend an hour every day doing what you love doing – be it cooking, walking, gardening, reading, singing, dancing, writing, driving or even working (if you enjoy your job). Immerse yourself in that activity. You will soon discover that it is possible to lose yourself to what you love doing. That’s how you create your own magic, let your music happen, and learn to be happy! 

On making this ‘absurd’ Life worthwhile!

Despite the absolute meaninglessness of Life itself, its absurdity, you have to make it worth living.  
Abbott cradles Hughes after the bouncer felled him
Picture Courtesy: Agencies/Internet
In today’s Hindu, noted sports writer and columnist, Nirmal Shekar, writes an open letter to New South Wales’ fast-medium bowler Sean Abbott, whose freak bouncer critically injured Phil Hughes last Tuesday  – an accident that claimed Hughes’ Life a few days later. Shekar’s letter is poignant and is an essay on Life itself. Urging Abbott to treat the incident only as an accident, Shekar talks about the absurd nature of Life. He writes: “…If the ball had climbed an inch higher or moved a shade wider, the world would be a different place for you (Abbott) today — as it would be for all of us, as cricket lovers. It was the rarest of rare accidents that cost Hughes his Life and you just happened to be at the wrong end of one of Life’s devilish deals…How can a person make sense of something that lies beyond all conventional powers of explanation, you might ask. After all, you chose to play a sport — and one of the most culturally sophisticated ones at that. And you might not have killed a fly in your Life…Why me, you might ask…But that’s Life Sean. There are no answers for certain questions, except that much of Life is down to sheer chance. And viewed from this standpoint, Life does indeed seem absurd…”
Shekar’s writing is simple and the wisdom he offers Abbott is profound. There is indeed no point in asking ‘Why me?’ in Life. People, events, situations, moods, attitudes, opportunities and challenges – most of them beyond your comprehension or control when they happen – conspire to take your Life forward. Your Life’s path is never your own doing alone. Some believe it is preordained. Others try to disagree, intellectualizing their argument with rational thinking and evidence. But whatever happens in Life, simply happens. Abbott’s and Hughes’ case is just another one in point. Two young cricketers, both of them in their prime, readying to play a big role for their national team in the upcoming World Cup – and suddenly one of them dies and the other is buried in grief and guilt; all this while playing a game that was their raison d’etre!. What did they do wrong? Nothing! They were simply playing a game! Therein lies the answer to the various contexts and situations, where we find ourselves entangled, in Life. We must recognize that we are just playing this game called Life. The only right we have is to keep playing this game well, being true to ourselves and the spirit of the game, no matter what happens to us.
And everything that happens to us will be – and is – meaningless. We came with nothing. And we will go with nothing. So, why then go through the travails of an academic education, why earn, why raise families, why create assets and why work? If none of what we acquire – degrees, wealth, name, fame and experience – is ever going to matter, why go through the grind of ‘earning-a-living’? So, evidently, everything’s meaningless.
But the purpose of Life is not to make meaning out it. It is never about you alone. And which is why you must often pause to reflect on what you are doing. Your upbringing teaches you that you must be self-obsessed with your grades, your money, your family and your career. But Life’s beauty lies in going through the unknown – called this lifetime – while being useful to others, to humanity. Life’s essence lies in being able to serve before you say you deserve! Only this attitude can make Life meaningful for you. Without this understanding, you will remain self-centered forever. And the more self-centered you are, the more you will resist the Life that is happening – and will happen – to you. That how you end up suffering and agonizing so much.
Life is just a series of events and experiences. The only way to live it well is to go through each of them with a child-like innocence and a student-like curiosity, serving humanity selflessly at every opportunity. Along the way you will learn to live your Life better and better. Every bouncer from Life will then not torment you and every fall will then not finish you. Because you will have learnt to get up, dust yourself and move on … playing on, and making a difference, until the last ball is bowled!

“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.”

The more we respect each other as human beings the more peaceful our inner and outer worlds will be.
Yesterday, I was sitting with a couple from Hyderabad. The husband, a close friend, who has been living in Hyderabad for decades now was telling me that he was considering moving out to another state. When I asked him why, he replied that post the formation of Telangana as a separate state (it comes into effect on June 2nd, Monday), anti-Andhra and anti-Seema sentiments are running very high. Since he hails from Andhra, he preferred to move to a more “accommodating, neutral” city. Honestly, while he was dead serious about his impending decision, I did not think much of it. But this morning’s Hindu’sPage 1 headline shocked me. It read: “‘Andhra-domicile’ staff can’t work in Telangana: KCR”. Obviously the reference is to Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K.Chandrashekar Rao’s (KCR) threat to people in government jobs. But I am sure, as my friend and his wife fear, these divisive sentiments can impact general public too. In fact, according to them, they can already feel the hate and the heat. 
Just the other day, a friend’s facebook status, in the wake of the NaMo wave, read: “I feel ashamed and insecure of being an Indian Muslim today.”
In an increasingly connected world, thanks to technology and social media, I wonder why are we are allowing people to play up divisive politics? At the very basic level, can’t we not insist that everyone respects each other as humans? Now, if this is how people are going to feel about being who they are, obviously there is an urgent need to reach out be inclusive as nation. And that job, really, is not to be left to the politicians or to the government. We, the people, have to make an effort in our daily interactions and start a movement that thrives on, above all, being human first.
In today’s Hindu itself, interestingly, I found an inspiration from a source where one would least expect an attitudinal change coming from. The Vithal Rukmini Temple Trust, in Pandharpur, which functions under the Maharashtra government, has decided to allow, for the first time, women, and men from all castes, to be priests at the famous 900-year-old temple. The Trust’s Chairman, Anna Dange, told The Hindu: “For the first time, a temple is throwing open its doors to everyone. We thought it was time now for us to set an example. No group should claim monopoly for serving as priests in the temple.”
I believe there must be more efforts like Dange’s and his Trust’s. Each of us has to champion the message of equality and freedom for all to everyone in our circles of influence. For my part, I would like to leave you with this quote from Clive Barker, the famous American author and filmmaker: “Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” Think about it. Irrespective of what we wear, what we do, how much we earn, where we live, who we pray to or what we are about, we are the same within – powered by a red blood and the same source of Life! Do we need any further evidence of our equal nature?