Here’s to you, Mrs.Nayan Sreesanth…

Where there is compassion, there can be no separateness.
All of us believe we love people that are close to us. But there’s a higher quality than love. It is compassion. Compassion has its roots in Latin and simply means ‘co-suffering’ or ‘to suffer together’. But a more relevant meaning is that compassion is about ‘having a deep awareness of another’s suffering and wanting to relieve it.’  Love, on the other hand, is about possessing someone. It has, over time, acquired a conditionality. ‘I will love you if you love me’ or ‘I will love you if you are truthful or this or that…’ The moment a condition specific to the relationship is not met or fulfilled, the love ‘deal’ is off! But compassion is unconditional. Which is why it is beyond love.
Pic: Nirmal Harindran, The Indian Express
Yesterday, S.Sreesanth, 30, the ‘enfant terrible’ of Indian cricket, married his girlfriend of six years, Bhuwaneshwari Shekawat, 28, a.k.a Nayan, who is from one of the royal families of Rajasthan and is a jewellery designer. Sreesanth has been in the eye of the spot-fixing scandal that broke in the Indian Premier League in May this year. He has since been banned from all forms of the game by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He spent a few weeks in Tihar jail earlier this year and has been booked under the stringent provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (a law that was enacted to combat crime and terrorism). The whole country, led by the media whipping up a frenzy over the scandal, the social media and almost anyone who voiced an opinion – went against Sreesanth. Most believed he was guilty beyond doubt, several opined that he deserved what he was faced with and many, many others felt his whole Life was over. Perhaps, he too must have thought it was all over. But Nayan did not think so. Nor did she believe what the world was saying. She stood by him as he was taken from one court to another, one investigation to another, one lock-up to another, to finally a longish term at the Tihar jail, before being granted bail. And at a time, when most others would have broken off the relationship, Nayan agreed to go ahead with her marriage to Sreesanth! A friend of mine, on facebook, marvelled at the young lady’s conviction in her beau. I too admire that quality. I am not here to comment on what Sreesanth did or what course the law will take on his case(s). That’s for the legal system to decide. But I want to celebrate the compassion that this young lady has displayed. In a world, where everything is conditional, to standby someone – who has already been tried by the media, pronounced guilty by popular perception and ostracized by society – is really, truly remarkable.
You don’t have compassion for another. You arecompassion. The Buddha has described compassion as the feeling, the quality that transcends love. When you love someone you are desirous of that someone, you need that someone to complete you, but when you are compassionate, that same love becomes a sharing. You not only relate better to the other person, you actually feel for that person better – sometimes even better than the way the person feels for herself or himself. Compassion heals – definitely the person who is compassionate, but also the one who receives compassion. It is the highest form of energy – one that dissolves all separateness and makes way for our souls to be in unison, in harmony!
It was compassion that made Gandhi and Mother Teresa do what they did. We don’t even have to rise in love to those heights. If we can just stop asking ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ in each interaction in Life and give others our unconditional support and understanding, without judging them, we would have walked the path of compassion. And for this learning, this morning, with due respect to Simon and Garfunkel (ref. ‘Mrs.Robinson, written by Paul Simon, performed first as a single in 1968; Grammy 1969), ‘Here’s to you, Mrs.Nayan Sreesanth…More power to you…Mrs.Nayan Sreesanth…’!

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Lesson in Acceptance and Bliss from Afzal Guru



Just as it is in the English language that A precedes B, so it is in Life that Acceptance precedes Bliss!

Bliss has been marketed, over the centuries that human civilization has been around, as something that has to be pursued, sought for and found. In reality though Bliss is always available, 24×7, provided you are tuned in. Tuning in simply requires Acceptance of what is and not wishing what could be or should be or fearing what would be. Unfortunately, a large mass of humanity is wedded to what could be, should be and would be, and never really relates to what is. Therefore, Bliss is projected as something that is difficult to attain and something that has to be worked hard for! Resultantly, Bliss has a bit of a lousy reputation. To most people I guess it is like the Indian Chartered Accountancy exams, critical to appear for and useful in one’s career, but difficult to prepare for and almost impossible to clear in the first few attempts!

Since most of us are logically driven, let’s take a simple example. 2+2 = 4. This is what we have been taught. And this is what we have understood it to be. Also, what we eventually learned and found to be true too. Now, we accept that 2+2 CAN ONLY be 4. So, this Acceptance delivers us Bliss in that context. It is that simple. Just imagine how vexed you will be if you had worried about what 2+2 could be or should be or would be. Isn’t even that thought preposterous and unnerving? Think of someone trying to prove to the world that 2+2 could be 5 or should be 5 or would be 5! Now, think similarly of a situation in any other context of your Life. You get it? Focus on what is. Accept it. You will experience Bliss__then and there__in a nano-second.

Afzal Guru
Over the last couple of days I have learned a very important lesson from Afzal Guru, who was convicted in 2002 by a special Prevention of Terrorism Act court in the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and was hanged in Tihar Jail on Saturday, February 9th. Even before I share what I learned let me clarify that I am not opinionating on his actions, or the judgments of the various Indian courts including the Honorable Supreme Court, or on the President of India’s rejection of his mercy petition on February 3rdthis year, or the secrecy with which his execution was carried out. I am also not opinionating here in favor of or against capital punishment. I am here to share with you what I believe I have learned from Afzal Guru’s last day in Life. My learnings are based on what I have pieced together from media reports. The Hindu’s Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar, in his detailed account, quotes a jail official as saying that Guru was the most ‘calm and composed’ of all the 10 prisoners, he (the official) has seen in his career, who have been walked to the gallows at Tihar. Guru apparently talked of the similarities between Islam and Hinduism__having been well versed with both the Holy Quran and the four Vedas. In his last hour, an official described (to The Hindu) Guru as being ‘joyful’, greeting each of the jail staff by their first names and saying ‘al vida’ (good bye in Urdu) to the executioner, looking him in his eyes, before the black cloth was drawn over him! Importantly, reports The Hindu, “Another difference between Afzal and others who were executed for terrorist crimes terrorists, the official said, was that while almost all others had made religious or political cries before being hanged, Afzal just walked the last 100 steps from his cell to the gallows as he normally would and went away wishing those around him.” Today’s Times of India quotes a jail source, sharing broadly the content of the personal letter that Guru wrote to his wife Tabassum, who lives in Sopore in Kashmir: “It was an extremely personal letter where he told his wife to take care of their son and not agonize over his death. In very gently worded language, he said that she should remain strong for their son and not give in to despair. As ever, Guru was calm and dignified in his parting words.”

My learnings:

  1. Right or wrong, whether you are committing it or whether you are being subjected to it, has NO relevance in the realm of what is. It is only what it is, AS it is!
  2. Only Acceptance of what is, irrespective of who caused it, can heave you up from the abyss of suffering and deliver to the altar of bliss!

There can be several arguments in favor of Guru and against him. Contesting his execution and celebrating it. Mourning the lack of human decency in the manner in which his execution was carried out with no intimation to his family; to saying his family too deserved to experience the pain that his purported actions caused to people affected by them. But I am inviting you to rise above all that. A simple question needs consideration. How many of us will have the ability to be detached from our worldly moorings when death comes calling, especially when we KNOW that the end is upon us? Guru’s ability to have accepted his reality__again, I repeat, irrespective of any judgment of his deserving of it or otherwise__led him to his bliss which the jail authorities saw as his being ‘joyful, calm and composed’!

So live with and love what is. Don’t try to avoid it or resist it. Open your eyes and see your reality. Accept it with humility, compassion and love __ irrespective of who is responsible for this reality. The moment you Accept your reality, you will be, and in, Bliss!