Dear Sri Sri, I planted a tree for you…!

An open letter with love, compassion and a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ for Sri Sri Ravishankar
Dear Sri Sri,
I must begin this letter with a confession. I am no follower of yours or of anybody else.
I am just a student of Life, learning from everyone around me.  I am just another fellow voyager – who believes totally in what the Dalai Lama so beautifully advocates – and practices – “responsible visitorship”. He reminds us that we are all mere tourists, visitors on this planet; our lifespans are a mere 100 years max compared to how long the planet has been and will be around. So, he says, we must act responsibly towards our inner and outer ecosystems and live meaningfully.
I understand spirituality to be simple and undemanding. It is the flowering of inner awareness. Period. An awakening that invites you to consider responsible visitorship and meaningful living. So, to me, anyone on the spiritual path, and that I imagine includes you and your organization Art of Living (AOL), must make an earnest attempt to live meaningfully and demonstrate responsible visitorship. If anyone is not making this earnest attempt, then, to me, they are not on the spiritual path. Period.
Around the same time that you and your organization Art of Living have refused to consider the sane counsel of the National Green Tribunal and are forging ahead with ‘your’ idea of preserving and promoting ‘world culture’, the people of Bhutan, have welcomed the country’s newborn Prince with planting 108,000 trees, each sealed with a prayer, for the heir to the kingdom’s throne. That, dear Sri Sri, is responsible visitorship. That is how, as I understand, culture is built, nurtured and protected.
So, I planted a tree for you. I planted it with love and compassion; I am sending you this open letter with my ‘jadoo ki jhappi’for you to receive my innermost energy and yearning for doing what is most compassionate for our world.
The word culture, again as I understand it, is best explained with the way the word appears in Tamizh: kalacharam. This word, kalacharam, is made up of two words kalai and acharam. kalai means art and acharam means discipline. The ‘art of living together in a disciplined manner’ is kalacharam, culture. And the art of living, dear Sri Sri, surely involves responsible visitorship!
I don’t think the world, most certainly not India, needs another culture festival. What the world needs is peace – both in our inner and outer ecosystems. Two of the world’s greatest musicians and singers, MS Subbalakshmi Amma and John Lennon, in their own way, left behind their soul-stirring reminders to what the world needs. Here’s a fusion of their Maithreem Bhajata and Imagine rendered by two contemporary artistes – Akhila Ramnarayan and Vedanth Bharadwaj. I am sending you this fusion single as well. Perhaps, after the dust settles down on your festival, and on the marauded plains of a beautiful river, this song – ironically and painfully titled ‘Pipe Dream’ – will invoke reflection and awakening.
I ask nothing of you dear Sri Sri or of Team AOL. I ask nothing of nobody. I have no hidden agenda, I practice no religion and support no political thought – and I am no foreign hand. I, however, make an earnest attempt towards responsible visitorship every single day, even while dealing with my own, often imponderable, real-world challenges (http://www.avisviswanathan.in/fall-like-a-rose-petal.html). So I guess I have earned my right to write you this letter.
All I have is love and compassion for you Sri Sri. The least I could do was plant a tree for you.
I feel immensely blessed I could do that.
With a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’,
AVIS Viswanathan, Chennai

@AVISViswanathan

“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?