No pretensions, Please
by Kumuda Purushotham
A young boy in a non discript town of Gujarath was watching the play "Satya Harischandra' along with other boys of his age.All of them enjoyed the play as long as it lasted and forgot about it. But this boy carried the message of ' truth' all his life.His love for truth combined with non violence took greater significance when he launched the freedom movement that ultimately brought an end to the British rule in our country. This boy Mohandas Gandhi became a Mahatma to the world and a loving 'Bapu' to his countrymen.
Narendra, a young student of a Calcutta college was an atheist. One day he went to meet a Godman purely out of curiosity. His spirit of enquiry led him to ask a bold question of the Godman. He stood up and asked "have you seen God?" The Godman's answer in the affirmative bowled him over completely. This was the turning point that eventually saw the rebirth of Narendra as Swamy Vivekananda. The Swamy by his wakeup call inspired an entire generation of young Indians to be bold, be proud of themselves and work for the weak and the downtrodden.
Each one of us at some point of time would have faced some influence that changed our lives. The influence could be by an individual,a place, an event, or even a book. Some times the influence are so subtle that it goes unnoticed. What we are today is the sum total of all the influences and the turning points that we have passed through.
When I look back I clearly perceive an event that had a major influence on me and changed my equations with my fellow beings.
I had just graduated from college and was taking a break for a year. One evening after watching a movie at a theatre I was walking to the bus stop in the busy Majestic area. I was trying to find my way through the crowd on the foot path. Whom do I see but my Physics teacher On the opposite foot path? Like me she too was struggling to find her way through the surging crowd. To this day I do not know why I behaved the way I did. I just moved along pretending not to have seen her! Why did I not make an effort to to go and greet her? Was it because I was in a hurry to catch the bus? In a class of over hundred students did I think she would not remember me as according to me I was not her favourite student? Having never interacted with her at any level other than academic did I feel shy to talk to her? Whatever be the reason I moved away.
Few steps later I heard someone calling my name right behind me! There she was smiling and extending her hands to hold mine. I was thoroughly embarrassed but managed to pretend I had just seen her by showing surprise like a veteran actor! At the bottom of my heart I knew that she knew the truth. The great lady that she was never showed it. After enquiring about my welfare and future plans she went her way.
As I sat in the bus I could not shake off the feeling of repugnance for my behavior. Gradually it gave way to repentance. Then and there I resolved never to resort to pretences but be truthful to myself henceforth. On that day my teacher, apart from Physics, had taught the lesson in living too.
Since then I have always been the first to greet an acquaintance, a friend or a relative not waiting for the other to make the first move. It may just be a smile,a wave of the hand,or a pleasant 'hello'. In return I have received a lot of warmth and friendliness from the other person.
At a discourse on Ramayana recently the learned scholar was explaining the meaning of a shloka describing the traits of lord Ramachandra. One attribute was 'poorva bhashi' meaning 'one who was the first to speak'. Elaborating he said lord Rama, though a prince, never waited for others to come and speak to him. He made the first move whether the person was rich or poor, young or old.
My teacher had demonstrated this very effectively. My thanks to her.