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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

18 May 2005

Watching an interview on TV by Shobha de` over the weekend (Sahara One Channel – Slug: Power Trip) was an interesting experience. She was interviewing Anu Aga, the Chairperson of Thermax India, an energy solutions company. Her husband late Rohinton Aga had founded the company and Anu took over the reins after his demise. And later she lost her son also in an accident. Today she and her daughter Mehr Padamji are at the helm.

What astounded me throughout the interview were Anu’s complete composure and the sense of accepting reality. Talking about the loss of her husband and son, she says though it did shake her initially, the loss also made her realize the reality.

Some quotes:

“I wouldn’t call death, a tragedy. In fact death is the only reality in life. It is like sun set. You don’t call sunset a tragedy, right? To me, it would be tragedy if I don’t get along well with the living when I have the opportunity. To me it would be tragedy if I don’t invest my resources and potentials, when I have the energy and opportunity…. I love my solitude. I have learnt so much from my disadvantages. Sometimes good things can come out of bad things happening to you… ”

Amazing person. And so was the daughter who sounded absolutely practical and clear in her views.

On the contrary, much as I admire Shobha De`, I found her a bit self-conscious throughout the interview. Her measured words delivered in soft hesitant tone, made me doubt if she was in awe of her subjects. Watching through the 30 minutes show, it did come across so.

I liked Anu’s daughter Mehr Padamji’s comparison of Siberian Cranes to the management of corporate world was interesting. She was comparing the system, the discipline, the teamwork, etc.

In fact almost a decade ago, some other corporate personality, Hari Gunasingam of Singapore based control systems and automation company, Eutech Cybernetics, shared similar views about birds in one of my corporate interviews. “Cybernetics is the science of control. There is automation in living and non-living things. If you observe a flock of geese flying on the sky, you would notice that they form certain patterns. When the pattern changes, it is done automatically in tandem. By nature geese are guided by their own inherent rules, about their individual positions in relation to others and how to align with each other.” He was trying to explain the control systems.

Another person, who shared similar comparison and was inspired by birds, is President Abdul Kalaam. When I interviewed him in New Delhi for The Economic Times, soon after he was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award in 1997, he was narrating to me about his early days, his child hood in Rameshwaram and so on.

“ The seeds were sown way back in Rameshwaram, a town in southern India, where I was born and went to school.” He reminisced. “ Situated on the eastern sea coast, the town has sprawling beaches. My house was near seashore. The ocean birds flying in neat flocks and diving into the sea were some of the breath taking scenes that had a lasting effect on me – I used to visualize flying and as I grew, my dreams took concrete shape, ultimately motivating me in my space missions.” He recalled at that time.

06 May 2005

Sometimes certain things keep falling into your vision several times and you start wondering at the coincidence factor.

Reading two columns on the same day, echoing similar thought lines made me reflect. One was a op- ed piece in Hindu where the writer – Dylan Evans - reflects that not believing in God is no excuse for being virulently anti –religious or naively pro –science. “ When I say that I value religion, I do not mean that I see any truth in the stories about gods, devils, souls and saviors. But I do think there is one respect in which religion is more truthful than science – in its depiction of the longing for transcendent meaning that lies in Man’s heart. No scientific theory has ever done justice to this longing, and in this respect religions paint more faithful pictures of the human mind. My atheism sees religions as presenting potent metaphors and images to represent human aspirations for transcendence…”

His parable about a painting hung on wall being mistaken for reality under an illusion by some people. To make them realize the truth and to tell them the illusory nature of the scene, the artist then removed one of the bricks on the wall. “ Some of those who had mistaken the painting for reality were upset to have their illusion shattered. But the wise ones thanked the artist profusely. “ By revealing the fictitious nature of this landscape, “ they said, “You have allowed us to appreciate the beauty of your art.”

“ I think the best way, “ the write continues, “to think about religion is to see it like the painting in this parable. Religions are beautiful things, but their beauty can only be truly appreciated when they are seen as human creations – as works of art.”

“ Atheists who attack religions for painting a false picture of the world are as unsophisticated and immature as religious believers, who mistake the picture for reality. The only mature attitude to religion is to see it for what it is – kind of art, which only a child could mistake for reality, and which only a child would reject for being false”, the author concludes.

Now compare this with another similar one. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the link from ET site.

This was Mukul Sharma’s write up for a column in ET “Spiritual Quotient” that appears everyday on Ed –page. The piece titled, “There is a real need to lighten up”, – May 3rd 2005 – his effort to understand the mystery of life, begins like this.

“Okay, let’s accept that it’s a game of hid and seek. Or as R H Blythe puts it, it is about the God (or self) of the universe who sees life as a form of play. But since the self is what there is – and all that there is – and thus, has no one separate to play with, It plays the cosmic game with Itself. IN the process, It takes on the roles and masks of individual people such as we look like ………………

He takes the argument on the plane that ALL IS ONE theory. And then asks, what is the point “..if the whole idea of the game is to forget we’re playing a game ( my inference here - assuming as part of the WHOLE) then doesn’t waking out of it to realize it is only a game defeat our own purpose? Besides, who are we to tell ourselves what to do when every one of us knows – or at least should know – better? If the hide and seek is purposeless, as indeed most games are when one gets over the thrall of winning or losing, then it makes no difference to ourselves whether it goes on or not and enlightenment isn’t all that great or desirable. ( Me: Interesting doubt… :-) )

“……. Obviously then, the most laid back approach would be to forget enlightenment and instead concentrate on the game while remembering it’s only a game and not to be taken all that seriously, and that the cycle of life and death simply cannot go on forever because, what we are is never born and doesn’t die, remember? ….”

Mukul Sharma’s columns are always in riddles and puzzles and often I never understood – except the wit that runs undercurrent sometimes. This piece in ET also was something like that. All through the piece, I was trying to figure out what he was trying to say.

Confused or not, the last line had the expected punch which brought a smile on my face at last. He concludes,

“…… It would also help us to keep in mind how all - powerful we really are. After all, it takes some power to forget how powerful one is, and then remember to awaken to remind one self about it.”

That was a good one indeed, Mukul Sharma :-)