Today on the occasion of your birth anniversary I would like to thank you for all your teachings which have helped me in facing this cruel life’s dilemmas.
“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and yourself melt away.”
Bapu, you truly were an enlightened soul. It is applaud-worthy how you gave a master solution to life’s biggest mysteries. Whenever I find myself on the crossroads & confused as to which path to select I always apply this test & ask myself if the poorest & weakest man I have known (me), will benefit anything from it. Usually though, I seem to be making stupid assumptions & continue to be unhappy & ‘spiritually starving’ but that’s another story.
Around my 18th birthday, just like every other teenager, I was extremely excited at the prospect of being a part of the real world, the world of grown-ups. I was elated about getting a driver’s license, voting ID etc. I knew they would serve the same purpose my goatee served, but were a little more official. A proof of my post-pubescent age. The day I received my voting ID I was very elated about being a part of the world’s largest democracy. But soon, I became a victim of the ailment that commonly affects the middle class-Dissatisfaction. Unsatisfied with the political & the judicial system. Unsatisfied with the existing infrastructure. Unsatisfied with the future I was being promised.(Also sexually, but I managed to convince myself that I was following the path of abstinence that you showed us)
Surely, this wasn’t the India that you had envisaged. So what went wrong? I mean, we had a plan. We had carefully calculated the reservation system. We had mixed religion & politics in the right proportions. We had censored everything which was Un-Indian or was hurting to our religious, patriotic or digestive sensitivities from our media. We had named at least 1 street in every city after your name. We had formed a systematic hierarchy for corruption. We criminalized the sale of sex-toys. We had a bullet-proof plan. We were so determined to create a utopian nation. So how did we reach on the verge of dystopia?
I once again turned to your teachings & decided to incorporate the ‘Non-cooperation movement’ & wash my hands of the whole fucked up system & join my peers in the ‘Quit India’ movement.
While my visa arrives, I make it a point to get into intellectually stimulating political discussions with my friends where we have long debates about the state of the nation. We discuss whether some other form of governance would have been more effective. You see, most of us are much more politically aware than the average citizen, because the ability to talk about such topics is very important to score well in Gd-Pi section of MBA entrance exams. You would be proud to know that I can talk about 5 minutes each on communism, socialism, capitalism, fascism, left wing, right wing types of government. 5 minutes each in support of & opposing it.
A few days ago I was trying to do a Google search for ‘sexy bikini babes’, but as soon as I typed “S” the auto-complete feature gave an option for ‘scams in India’. I was shocked. Scam before Sexy!! This challenged all my conceptions about the internet. But I decided to read on. I saved the web-page as memorizing the amounts could be helpful for some general awareness test in future. One of your most brilliant teachings helped me to be completely unsentimental about the whole discussion of the misuse of the tax-payers’ money.
I have learned to turn the other cheek.
We all have learned to turn the other cheek.
P.S. Bapu, remember Dandi March ? Where you walked 400 kms for a pinch of salt. You would be happy to know that people from Gujarat travel approximately same distance to Rajasthan border (some prefer Diu & Daman though) for ‘Satyagrah’.
There is salt involved most of the times.