A good guru makes you realize yourself

A true, good guru is quite unlike the popular perception that exists of a guru. A good guru is simple, humble and unpretentious.She or he asks for nothing from the disciple except objectivity and making an informed choice. And a guru need not be in ochre robes or having matted hair. Nor does a guru need to be religious. A good guru is always a great teacher. Someone whose compassion and charisma draws you to that person no doubt, but equally important, the person invokes in you the urge to learn, to unlearn, and to make the journey inward, to find yourself. Your true self.
My experience with my gurus have all been uplifting. I have not found myself gravitating to a single person. Instead I have derived great inspiration, and gained even greater insights, from several gurus – from my barber Ramalingam (who taught me the essence of the Bhagavad Gita) in Bengaluru to my former colleague Deepak Pawar (who awakened me to realize that I was controlled by my ego) to my dear friend Raja Krishnamoorthy (who taught me to appreciate the inscrutability of Life and to learn to go with the flow) to Swami Sathya Sai Baba (who I have never met, but have always experienced, who taught me the way to live in the moment) to a Siddha Master Kavi Rajan (who taught me the Power of Acceptance and Loving What Is) to another dear friend Vijay Easwaran (who taught me the Power of Silence – shuba mouna yoga) to Osho, the Master (again, who I never met, but who taught me to celebrate Life) to Shirdi Sai Baba (who taught me Faith and Patience)! Apart from these notable influencers, I have learnt, and continue to learn, from the countless people that I encounter in Life. The word guru means the dispeller of darkness. Therefore, anyone, who can remove your ignorance, shine light upon you, dispel the darkness, is a guru. So, as I have realized, each person, including your detractors, brings along a teachable point of view, if you are open to the learning. As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher always appears!
This guru purnima day express your gratitude to all those who have taught you in Life. Without their influence on you, you wouldn’t be who you are today. More important, continue to be open to learning – and unlearning. As long as your sails are open and hoisted, as the venerable Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has said, the winds of grace, which are always blowing, will fill them and you will reach where you must and are destined to be.  

To be compassionate is being human

If there’s something you want to learn in Life, learn to be compassionate.Compassion is the purest form of love. When you have something to offer, something to give – out of a deep understanding of the other’s predicament or need, out of purely being human, without really worrying about what’s in it for you! When you pity someone, you don’t really understand that person’s situation. You merely feel an emotion that makes you feel superior than the one that you are pitying – which is, in a way, you feel subconsciously good within you that you are mercifully not in that person’s shoes. Compassion, on the other hand, helps you relate to the other person and gets you to see the world from that person’s situation and act from that reference point!
Devi, Sharma, Khan, Azmi – Being Human!
Pic Courtesy: The Indian Express
This morning’s papers in India have led with the story of two women who offered their kidneys to each other’s husbands in order to save their lives. These women are as disparate as you can find any two – age-wise, social-strata wise, education-wise, income-group-wise and religion-wise. Yet they reached out to each other and in the name of humanity offered to help each other. Fitraus Azmi, in her 20s, from Aurangabad, gave her kidney to save the Life of Uma Devi’s (in her 40s) husband, Devaki Nandan Sharma (52), who hails from Patna. And Devi, in turn, gave her kidney to Azmi’s husband, Mohammed Akhtar Khan, 29. The entire operation, in fact four of them, has been successful and has given the two men another lifeline from the acute renal failure situation that both were faced with. In a world where religion divides people, here compassion has brought them together. And how!
I am reminded of what Osho, the Master, has once said: “In compassion, you simply give. In love, you are thankful because the other has given something to you. In compassion, you are thankful because the other has taken something from you. You are thankful because the other has not rejected you. You had come with energy to give, you had come with many flowers to share, and the other allowed you, the other was receptive.”
Giving compassionately, contrary to popular sentiment, is not at all difficult. Though many will submit that getting rid of the what’s-in-it-for-me question is well impossible. To get over that limiting thought, to scale that hurdle, remember these (relevant) words from the Gita Saram (Essence of The Bhagavad Gita):
“…What did you bring with you, for you to lose it?

What did you create, for it to be wasted or destroyed?

Whatever you took, it was taken from here.

Whatever you gave, it was given from here.
Whatever is yours today, will belong to someone else tomorrow.
On another day, it will belong to yet another.
This change is the Law of the Universe.”

To be liberated, therefore, be compassionate, be human – give freely!

You are here to just play well and enjoy yourself


Don’t let either success or failure touch you. Accept that everything is impermanent, transient. When you live, work and play with this perspective deeply embedded in you, in your subconscious, you will perform best __ in whatever is your chosen field!

Last night, at the post-match presentation ceremony of the IPL (Indian Premier League, a top-draw T20 cricket tournament) in Chennai, Chennai Super Kings’ strike bowler, Dwayne Bravo, was invited by the anchor of the presentation party, Sanjay Manjrekar, to receive the Purple Cap. The Purple Cap is given to the highest wicket taker in the tournament. In IPL 6, the Purple Cap is being closely contested for by Sunil Narine, Vinay Kumar, Mitchell Johnson and Bravo. After last night’s match, the Purple Cap returned to Bravo, whose tally of wickets then stood at 24 this season.

Dwayne Bravo: No attachment to the Purple Cap
While presenting it to him, Manjrekar asked Bravo: “Did you imagine that this season you would be sporting the Purple Cap?”

Bravo replied with his trademark, genial, West Indian, swagger and beaming smile: “Not really. I just wanted to play good cricket. I did. And the Almighty Lord took care of the rest. I know this is with me today, as it has been a few times this tournament. And I know it will go away from me if someone takes more wickets than me. I am perfectly fine with that. It’s mine today. It may be with someone else tomorrow. I am here to just play well and enjoy myself.”

Bravo’s simple, down-to-earth philosophy inspired me. And so here I am sharing it.

Let’s understand and appreciate that we are all here on this planet to simply play our lives’ parts well and enjoy ourselves. And we can do that by choosing not to cling on to anything. Success and failure are both events. They occur as a culmination of effort. Either our own or of others. When an event occurs, it also ends. For instance, with daybreak, an event, daybreak is over. With a sunset, an event, the sunset is over. With a victory, an event, the victory is over. With a loss, an event, the loss is over. It is when we take an event and make it a label and wear it on ourselves, is when we suffer. Because both success and failure are impermanent and transient. In a moment, they both have become the past. Clinging on to the past is never wisdom. Being aware of this truth, accepting, as the Gita Saram (the essence of the Bhagavad Gita) says, that what is yours today will be someone else’s tomorrow and another’s the day after, is what intelligent living is all about.

When you live this way__playing your part well and enjoying yourself__you live freely. Without any shackles. That’s when your inner spirit is drenched in joy and you, therefore, perform best __ as if, like Bravo, you were on a song!


Being sensible with a Life that you can’t make sense of


Don’t try to make sense of Life. It is the way it is with a reason. If you realize what the reason is, it will cease to be a mystery. And just as a reminder, ever since the Universe was created, no one has been able to solve this mystery called Life!

But, yes, you can be sensible with Life. At least, with your Life.

A friend sent me this SMS last week.

Zindagi ko badalne mein waqt nahin lagta, lekin waqt ko badalne mein, kabhie kabhie, saari zindagi lag jaati hai.

Translated it means: “It doesn’t take too much time for Life to change. But sometimes for (your) time to change, it takes an entire lifetime.

We are all a product of the time we go through. Those who don’t believe in the concept of time and karma may find this simple point of view difficult to accept. But even they will attest to Life’s enduring mysterious nature.

In a way, to take a telecom analogy, we are all like pre-paid SIM cards, launched into this world with a pre-ordained set of features and a design we are not aware of. It is when we try to seek certain features that we are not designed with that we suffer. Without realizing the pre-paid nature of our existence, we punish ourselves by cursing our fate, blaming (a) God for being partisan or even non-existent, and compare ourselves with the features endowed in other creations. Just as a pre-paid SIM card can be recharged or re-equipped only if the Operator allows it and never by the customer alone desiring it, so it is with Life. We will do well to embrace, appreciate and celebrate this truth.

You and I are just a part of a larger, inscrutable cosmic design. Our roles are both inconsequential and crucial at the same time. This paradox is again part of Life’s mysterious design. At one level, we cause nothing to happen on this planet, because we are pre-ordained to live in a certain way. Yet, we are part of whatever happens, to us, around us, in our lifetime__be it success or failure. We also have a huge responsibility towards (our) Life. Which is toward action, toward doing what we can, in any given situation, dutifully. It is, for all these reasons, and more, as the Bhagavad Gita reminds us, we must stay detached from the outcome while willing to be accountable on our actions. Again paradoxical. But such is Life. Revisiting this truism on a daily basis, helps us stay anchored and humble.

This, interestingly, is the only sensible way to live a Life that you can’t ever make sense of!


Indeed, you cannot be serious about Life!


A key factor that inhibits progress on the spiritual path is our tendency to take Life too seriously. Everything that we do, it appears, seems to key us up. Every small conquest seems to be a moment to claim superiority and every failure is seen as a numbing, lethal, final blow! So much so, when a hard-earned victory comes our way, we fritter away the moment in showmanship and bury ourselves under a heap of unsolicited critique and free opinion, when we fumble and fall.

So, it was with great interest that I read noted columnist Nirmal Shekar’s views on Indian cricket captain M.S.Dhoni in yesterday’s Hindu. Celebrating Dhoni’s legendary equanimity, Shekar made a case for sportspersons having the ‘right perspective’ to their game. That perspective, wrote Shekar, is to understand that a game is just a game. “…Sport is not really a matter of life and death. Sport is enjoyable only so long as we can get our perspective right and put it in its place, put it where it really belongs in the big picture. If we let it become too important, then what was sought as a pleasurable experience will turn out to be a pain.”

I completely agree with both of Shekar’s views: on Dhoni’s attitude to the game and on the nature of sport itself.

My two-penny worth learning from this lifetime’s experience so far is that Life is no different. In Life too the right perspective is very important. And we must place ourselves, and our perspective, where they belong in the big picture. Else what could well be a pleasurable experience may well turn out to be a pain!!!

The past week, I have been limping around, literally, owing to a nagging, painful condition in my right leg. Even a small step forward, at times, requires a big effort. I felt, at several times, crippled unable to carry out my routine normally __ like a bath, or driving, or going out for my daily walk. However, on my visit to the hospital the other day for a review with the doctor, I found a young lady seated on a wheel-chair. She seemed fine, for all practical purposes, laughing and joking with her family and nurses. So, I even wondered what she was doing seated cross-legged on a wheel-chair. Only when I looked closely did I realize that all her limbs were deformed. She didn’t have legs to speak of! Her lower limbs had shrunk abnormally owing to either a disease or birth deformity. Her hands were not normally formed either and her fingers seemed to be sticking out, without a palm, on both hands. I reflected on her spirit. And on my condition. I felt ashamed about the brouhaha I was creating over it! The right perspective and its place in the big picture fell in place immediately. I laughed to myself, much to the surprise of the nurse attending on me. When she insisted I tell her what the joke was, I said, “This leg, this painful condition, is the biggest joke! I find it absolutely funny!”

So it is with everything in Life! What seems like a grave problem momentarily, over a period of time, surely turns out to be laughing matter!  The key, I believe, is not to get keyed up about Life. The operative word and sentiment here is equanimity. Equanimity is simply the ability to deal with both success and failure, victory and defeat, joy and sorrow, hope and despair, dispassionately. Dhoni has it. You too can. The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gitaends with the highest state of consciousness a human being can attain. Krishna, replying to Arjuna, says: “…He lives in wisdom…Who sees himself in all and all in him…. He is not elated by good fortune…Nor depressed by bad…Such is the seer…!”

Whatever you are going through, take it easy! This Monday resist the temptation to get wound up any further. Invoke the right perspective and place it where it belongs in the big picture. To quote Swami Sathya Sai Baba, “Don’t we sometimes wake up from a dream, ponder over our conquests and defeat in our sleep-state, and shrug it all off thinking ‘it was but a dream’? We need to bring the same approach to Life as well. Because this lifetime is nothing but a dream.” Indeed. Maybe you will not understand, appreciate or accept this perspective just yet. But, may be you will at the end of your journey on this planet. Just maybe. That you really cannot or should not (have ever been) be serious about Life!