Harsha Bhogle and the art of winning a battle without fighting

Fight only if you must. Sometimes, the best way to win a battle is not to fight at all.

harsha2Harsha Bhogle has been axed as commentator by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from the IPL 9 Season. As is the case with most BCCI decisions, no reasons are forthcoming. Meanwhile, the rumor mills are working overtime to suggest that any of these three – or all – reasons may be valid: BCCI being ‘deeply influenced’ by innocuous (per me) Tweets by Amitabh Bachchan and M.S.Dhoni conveying their personal opinions on how commentators must commentate; Harsha’s run-in with a Vidarbha Cricket Association official in Nagpur over a common-sensical suggestion and how Shashank Manohar, the current BCCI President, stepped in and stood up for this official; or how players have begun to influence the BCCI on who should be chosen as commentators. But when news broke out on Saturday evening, when the first match of IPL 9 was being played between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants, that Harsha will not commentate, the man in the spotlight was off to watch a movie with his wife Anita in Mumbai. All he did was he tweeted his surprise at the turn of events.

I think this is a phenomenal quality that Harsha’s got – to not fight everything and everyone that comes in your way!

Though not among my personal favorites (L.Sivaramakrishnan and Danny Morrison are), Harsha is clearly a world-class cricket commentator. He’s worked hard to follow his bliss and he, deservedly, is very, very admired. Just the outpouring of sentiment in his favor, over his axing, is evidence of how much he’s loved. Yet, the landscape in which he plies his trade is fraught with BCCI’s mafia-like ‘control’ of the game and infested with intra-organizational, political landmines. And Harsha perhaps knows this better than anyone else. Hence his choice to not lose his dignity or sanity trying to stir an already confounded situation is commendable. Undoubtedly, the public – his fans and followers of the game – is with him.

There’s a learning here for all of us. When someone queers your pitch, just walk away. You don’t have to respond to every provocation or pick up every gauntlet that’s hurled at you. Some battles are best left unfought. People react to situations based on their own insecurities, perversions or justifications. Things happen in Life because that’s the way Life is – it keeps on happening, endlessly, often mindlessly. So, if you get embroiled in trying to bulldoze your way every single time someone or something becomes an obstacle, you will only be fighting inconsequential battles all your Life. Precious personal positive energy will get drained this way. Sometimes it is better to be silent and work around a problem person or situation than wanting to decimate an obstruction. Be stingy about where your energies go. Choose the good fight – where there’s a cause, where more than just you will be benefited, where there’s an opportunity that your victory can make the world better. For any other battle, not fighting is perhaps the best way to win!

Forgive, even if you can’t forget, let go and move on!

When you end up having to fight someone or something, or plain injustice, don’t let emotion rule you. Being angry and emotional will only ruin your inner peace.
This morning’s Chennai Times reports Tamil lyricist Thamarai’s on-going protest against her husband Thiyagu. The couple have been estranged for a few months and Thamarai’s been on a sit-in protest with her son Samaran outside Thiyagu’s office for the last few days. She’s been demanding that her husband apologize to her and, possibly, reunite with her. The media has been full of stories of her protest. Today’s Chennai Times leads with this heading, a quote from Thamarai, for a story by Janani Karthik: “I need the 20 years I spent with my husband back.” 
Samaran and Thamarai sit in protest
Picture Courtesy: Internet
I felt sorry for Thamarai. Not just because she is having to grapple with a personal challenge. But also because someone as intelligent and as deeply soulful (her work in Tamil cinema in recent years is unputdownable) as she is, has lost her equanimity and is responding in such a futile manner to the situation. I am not even speaking in favor of or against either Thamarai or Thiyagu. I don’t know them. If we were to go by Thamarai’s version, Thiyagu left home in November last year and has been refusing to resume ties with her ever since. Clearly, it shows that the couple have stopped relating to each other. When there’s no relating between two people, what is the point in berating the relationship – that too in public? I feel sorry for Thamarai that she does not realize that her relationship with Thiyagu is dead. It’s over. Even if they come back together, it will be more for a social need than for experiencing the joy of being together. Also, by demanding something which cannot happen – wanting back the 20 years she spent with him – Thamarai is only causing herself more grief and agony. Which, although she claims otherwise, will affect her craft – something that is the bliss factor in her Life, something that she undoubtedly is a master of. In trying to shame Thiyagu and in trying to win the sympathy of her professional circle and of her fans, she’s simply on a mission to destroy her inner peace. In the context of a marital dispute, there are laws and the country’s family courts are more than equipped to sort out such an issue. In the context of her inner peace, she is only ruining it further by resisting what has already happened to her and failing to accept that her marriage with Thiaygu is, obviously, over! My advice, unsolicited obviously, to Thamarai is this: forgive, even if you can’t forget, simply let go and move on!

There’s a huge learning we can draw from l’affaire Thamarai. Very often in Life we may end up feeling let down, trampled upon, pissed on and passed over. We will want to avenge the person or the act or both. Every cell in our body will want revenge. After all, who can accept or tolerate injustice? This is when we must realize that the best way to win a battle is to not fight – emotionally – at all. Emotions only make any matter worse. By all means fight, but don’t respond emotionally. Chose a legal or sometimes a practical, strategic approach. Think through what you want. And act with a plan. Don’t react. In a dispute such as Thamarai’s and Thiyagu’s, public shaming will get neither party anywhere. Definitely not to feeling peaceful. Remember that people always do what they do because they feel they are right. In trying to tell someone that they are wrong, when they believe they are right, you may well end up burning a lot of your precious positive energy. You build up negativity and stress in you and, eventually, turn depressive. Instead if you approach the situation with peace, calm and – if possible, forgiveness, you will be able to operate with more clarity. When you are able to see the situation – and your Life – more clearly, you may really not want anything other than your inner peace. Most important, you may not want to fight at all. That’s when you will realize that there’s great value in forgiving someone, even if you can’t necessarily forget what they did to you!  

The best way to win any battle is not to fight at all.

Really, nothing is ever worth fighting for. When we fight anything__injustice, insult, injury__we are becoming centres of negative energy. This breeds hatred, anger and contempt.

By not fighting, the advocacy is not to give up one’s rights. Or to give up wanting to correct a wrong. You can claim your rights and set a deviant process or method right by addressing the core issue rather than turning yourself into a volcano that is boiling over__hurting yourself and others in the process.

So, the best approach to deal with situations that you don’t agree with, that you want to change, is to remain silent and yet keep working on taking irreversible corrective action. The immediate urge to explode, to seize control of and to prove a point must be avoided. The physical dimensions of a fight are simply not worth it. But at the same time keep at bringing about lasting changes to whatever you deem as unjust, unethical and improper. That way, you will contribute to a larger cause__of making a difference with your Life__as opposed to merely feeding your ego.

On a spiritual plane, and Life always bears testimony to this indisputable reality, when you let go, everything that you always wanted and more will come back to you!

3 Words to Bliss: Yes. No. Peace.

The three most practical, magical, profound words, in any language, are also the simplest. They are Yes, No and Peace.

As long as we say Yes when we must say so and say No when we must say no, and as long as we work for Peace and never fight ego battles, we will always be blissful.


The trouble is when we end up swapping yes for a no, or vice versa, because we are caught up in playing good and looking good than feeling good. Right from saying no to a visitor who arrives unannounced at your workplace or home, when you are busy with other priorities, to saying yes to goofing off with the family because you want to catch up on email on Sunday night, ahead of a busy week, we have a skewed sense of how to think, live and work. Resultantly, we end up getting stressed out over situations which otherwise could have been very peaceful. Just consider this: had you politely told off your surprise visitor, wouldn’t you have been more peaceful? Or had you chosen fun over mail at home, opting to wake up early Monday morning and work while the family was still asleep, wouldn’t you have been more at peace?

These are simple, seemingly innocuous moments in an otherwise more complicated Life. But it is important to recognize that how you live the small moments of your Life determine how you live Life on the whole.

Another dimension of our lives where peace is a casualty is the battles we choose to fight. In fact, as someone said so wisely, the best way to win a battle is to not fight at all. And even if you must fight, work for peace than fight an ego battle. Many a time, we get caught up in situations where the ego comes in the way of a resolution. The ego feeds on fights. So, whenever you differ with someone on any issue, and your disagreement, for whatever reason, turns acrimonious, then work for peace. Don’t let your ego feed on the fight. Know that just as you are entitled to your opinion, others are too. And if constructive confrontation__the ability to resolve conflict in a civilized, dignified manner__fails, then there’s no point being in the battle at all. When you don’t fight, when you don’t contest, when you don’t mind being ‘defeated’, how can you not be at peace?


So, if it is bliss that you are looking for, keep it simple: Say Yes when you must yes and say No when you must say no. And don’t ever let your ego lead you into a fight where, among many other things, you may well lose your inner peace!