Saturday, August 1, 2015

I am back! – My tribute to Dr Kalam.

Dr Kalam, the exalted Athman we are fortunate to have lived along with, is being remembered for having been an inspiration to many. My thoughts about him took me to the articles where I have written about him. One such article written soon after he became the President of India was lingering on my mind for long. It was about Karma and Destiny. Here I meant Karma in the meaning of action and destiny as the resultant action or Prarabdha Karma. Prarabdha Karma is what is going to happen whether we work towards it or not. But Karma is what we have to keep doing with our thoughts and decisions – which are of course motivated by our vasanas infused with the three gunas (sattwa, rajasa and tamasa). Under the spell of these gunas, and without being aware that we are indeed propelled by these gunas, we keep doing karma. (“na hi kaschit kshanamapi jaathu thishtatya karmakruth / kaaryathe hyavasha karma sarva prakruthi jair gunaihi//” BG – 3-5)

In that process, the kind of attitude that we develop – by the spell of gunas or by freewill – if it is there (!?) define how a person evolves. In a rejoinder to an article by Debarshi Sen highlighting the karmic angles in the lives of Dr Kalam and Mr Verghese Kurien, I wrote about the importance of attitude towards how an action needs to be done rather than the action (karma) itself. Reading those lines I thought – here lies the tribute that I have to offer to Dr Kalam!

I wrote, “These two (Dr Kalam and Mr Kurien) undoubtedly performed their karma in the new environs, but what fetched them rewards is their attitude — the mind to accept whatever comes in their way and perform with utmost commitment and dedication. Had they cast their eyes on the results of their karma, the disappointment from denial might have proved too much. They, instead, banked upon samathvam— treating failure and success alike — and went ahead with undiluted enthusiasm and dedication into what the Gita calls as karmasu kaushalam (dexterity in action). This attitude termed as samathvam, coupled with dexterity in action ensures that at no time failure bogs one down. A person with samathvam will care less about the results and instead start concentrating more on how to improve his performance.”

It is easier to write this and speak high about this virtue which is essentially the core of Sankhya yoga taught by Gitacharyan. But when we are actually facing a difficult situation – a crisis, this samathvam is just a word and not deed. When I myself faced tribulations in my life that put me offline for a year, I realized why Krishna specifically picked out King Janaka as an example for Karma yogi. It is easy to talk about karma and attitude, but to follow it when you are in the thick of the forest fire is something difficult.  May be you need a Divine help to regain your samathvam. The many thoughts on Dr Kalam that is around me at this moment of his departure made me think – should I allow my personal loss and pain derail my strive towards samathvam? This samathvam is not to do with results or expectations, but about how I am as always, in spite of the trials I am undergoing.

Most of the articles on Dr Kalam at this moment are about his connect with students or him as a People’s President. But not many seem to think how he had to wade through the aversion of the Sonia dispensation and Karunanidhis’ 'Kalam is kalagam' remark  that denied him a 2nd term.  Dr Kalam did not aspire for the position but he did want to become the President as that would give him another opportunity to make himself heard well and all around. When that opportunity was denied he did not get stuck, but instead found other ways to reach out to the youth – which he did till he breathed his last.

This is the message I read from him at this juncture in my life. As I go through the comments that have been piling up for a year – and numerous mails and phone calls that are asking me why I am silent, I am asking myself - Why am I silent? Am I lost into myself and in my pains? At the same time I know that nothing is going to be lost if a Jayasree does not write. Or can I allow myself to rust, or write whatever I know whether it is useful or not to others.

With these kinds of numerous thoughts, I thought of the remark of Dr Kalam as being on the God-synchronous orbit – a never ending travel that can only be stopped when God sucks you. Perhaps by getting back to writing till I am exhausted, I can pay him the best tribute that I can.