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Friday, February 8, 2013

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE….


College life is something that we all think of as we grow and learn the lessons of life the hard way. But it is also true that many a times we begin to think of those times when that one teacher in college who has had such an impact on you as a person. This blog is dedicated on such teacher during my college days that had an influence on my thinking and did contribute in some may to who I am today.

Recently I had an opportunity to visit my home town Allahabad. Much before my plans were being made I had started feeling like meeting one of my teachers of college days. He was young those days and was a brilliant scholar who was able to connect with the students. His great quality was that he could touch the students at their heart and make a difference.

I reached Allahabad and met some of my old friends of college days. I asked them about the teacher and no one had a clue about him nor had any one visited him for a long time. But I continued to enquire and search for him and finally I decided to take two of my friends and go on a search for him in the most possible areas around the University residences. I was finally able to locate his house and asked a person standing out that I wanted to meet him. I was taken to a house and told that he lives here. A person came out of the house and told me that he does not meet anyone anymore. I told that please tell him that an old students of his has come to see him. The person returned after may be talking to him and told that he will see you. I was taken to a room where he was lying on a bed with all hospital equipment attached to his body. The room looked like a hospital room and the feel of the hospital was there. Many packets of medicines were lying on his bed and the table on which a dialysis machine was placed.

When I entered the room he looked at me but I am sure he did not recognize me as it was about 30 years since I had last seen him. I walked to his bed side and sat on the chair near the head side of the bed along with my friends who sat next to me. Slowly he moved his hand and took my hands in his as I told him who I was. Holding my hand he just closed his eyes and tears started to roll. He did not say anything for about 15 min and there was complete silence in the room. He just held on to my hand through out as if to say..just stay here and don’t leave me like this. I felt that he was scared that if he leaves my hand I will leave the room. Then his eyes opened and he looked at me and said I heard that you have become a Vice Chancellor of a University. I said yes that is true and he said this the day for which we as teachers live. To see our students reach new heights that we were never able to achieve. Then we talked of the old days and how life was in those days. As the conversation moved he started becoming very emotional and at one point looked at me still holding my hand and said “I Don’t Want to Live anymore”. He said that I am so happy to see you and to know that you have made so much progress in life. I did not know how to respond to such a situation and I told him that you will be fine and things will return to normal soon. He said “whatever I had to give to this world I have given to you all and now it is your work that will continue to make me live a new life”. Always treat your students the way I treated you all and that is all I want to leave for you all who have been my students.

Time was running out and we had already spent over 90 min and it was time to leave. He looked at us and said I know you have to go now and do other things.  He said I don’t know if I will see you again so it is a good time to say goodbye and he slowly pulling his hand away from my hand as if he was slipping in his sleep with his eyes closed and the tears started to roll again. I had tears in my eyes as I walked passed his bed and out of the room giving a last look at him from the door to say may you have the best in the next life for having given me so much of yourself.

When I reflect back on that day I still feel the vibrations in that room, the joy of seeing me and the sorry of departing, it makes me think this is life in its true sense. So were ever we are no matter how difficult the situations has been, it is good to help one and all.

MAHA KUMBH: THE TWO FACES OF INDIA


I recently had an opportunity to be at the Maha Kumbh Mela at Prayag (Allahabad). It is the world largest human gathering in one place with millions of people assembled at the SANGAM, the confluence of the three rivers of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. It was a sight to see and digest the enormity of the spiritual and religious significance of the place itself. One is spell bound by the extent to which the eyes can see the spread of the place and people having the holy dip in the river. One is able to see a massive makeshift city with all possible arrangements for the devotees and visitors from ordinary people to the VVIPs, from small Sadhus to high profile saints, from self proclaimed God men to religious leaders, all for the purpose of salvation and a better life.

Although, I had a better understanding of what triggers people in India and the masses who are looking for something to hold on to and be able to create an identity for them self, there is something more interesting that I noticed and that is the two real faces of India. The divide is so apparent that you cannot miss it. At one end of the river there is so much glory and at the other end there is so much misery and poverty that is visible.

The disparity in India is not just restricted to economic and social disparity, we also find that even at the place of God there are the haves and the have not’s and they all are served by the middlemen who are the path to reach God.

At one end of the river which is the new area in the Mela are located, the shivirs of the great saints who serve the interests of the rich and the powerful. They are the intermediaries between the rich and God. These include the likes of Swami of Parmarth Niketan, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Asharam Bapu, Murari Bapu and a lot more of the same stature. Their following consist of the people from the upper strata of Indian society with most of them having followers from the international community as well. The photograph above is one such camp where the high and the mighty visit throughout the day and night. They have very good accommodation for their VIP guests, and they are treated like kings. I can’t say that their camps are not open to those from the lower strata of society but none are visible around the place. The camps are guarded by state police personnel with guns, may be they are there to protect the VVIPs who are coming in their fancy cars with red lights flashing all along throughout the day. Special arrangements are made for the VIPs to visit the Sangam and all doors are open for them.

What a way to reach God, the easy way for some. These camps are a true reflection of the divisions in our society. The other interesting part of this side of the river is that they are all so concerned about the poor and want to do so much for them. I guess that is how they get donations to expand their religious empires. It is like many of our National socialites, who have NGOs through which they help the poor. In the name of the poor they have misused the funds to their advantage. Having said this, I want my readers to understand that I am not putting anyone down or hurting the sentiments of anyone; this is just my own reflection of what I have seen and felt. It is my way to saying what I see in the Kumbh Mela is a true reflection of our society and that even in the house of God we have a divide that is visible. I hope God is witness to this type of event. Is this the kind of religion and spirituality that we want to embrace?

The other side of the River is another story, this is where Bharat lives. These are the millions who are shivering in the cold around fire burning with food being cooked in small makeshift tents. There are no red light flashing cars, in fact everyone seems to be on foot. There is water all over and people walking through them, there are no red or green carpets all over. These are just ordinary people of Bharat who also want a place in the house of God. Their middlemen are the small time Sadhus and babas who are a reflection of the community they serve.

What a contrast and how ever religion has not been left from the reality of the haves and the have not’s. This is my India, a country of so much diversity in field of social, economic and religion. But a Nations that is held together through a tight tope called spirituality and trust me there is still true happiness on this side of the river Ganges.