Matrudevo bhava (Mother is God)

My colleague was scheduled to visit a factory in an industrial town about 300 km away on Friday to discuss the customer’s requirement of equipment for their expansion project. He was to leave by an early morning train and return by an evening train.

Three days before the meeting, the customer’s General Manager telephoned me and cancelled the meeting. He told me that their team would meet us in our office the next Friday since they would be in our city for some other work. I informed my colleague and requested him to cancel his tickets.

The next day, my colleague applied for a day’s leave on Friday, stating he had to attend to some personal work.

At the meeting the following Friday, the customer’s Purchase Manager told my colleague that he had seen him in a taxi near their factory the previous Friday. He enquired whether the elderly woman with my colleague was his mother.

My colleague clarified that the woman was not his mother, but his neighbour, who had a brother living in that town. When she had heard that my colleague was travelling to that town on work, she had told him that she wanted to visit her brother for a few weeks, and hesitatingly asked my colleague whether she could travel with him to that town. She was extremely apprehensive about travelling alone because, till her husband’s death a couple of years earlier, she had always travelled only with her husband, never on her own. My colleague had readily agreed, had booked her onward ticket along with his, and had offered to drop her at her brother’s residence, which was located quite close to our customer’s factory.

When the meeting at the customer’s factory was cancelled, my colleague realized that his neighbour would be disappointed about her visit being cancelled and would feel extremely miserable about her inability to travel alone. Since he didn’t want that to happen, he didn’t tell her about the cancellation of the meeting, but only changed his return booking. They travelled that morning as scheduled. After dropping her at her brother’s house, he returned to the railway station and returned to our city by the afternoon train. His neighbour was blissfully unaware of this. In fact, if the Purchase Manager had not seen him that day, nobody else would have known.

My colleague explained, “Most people think ‘Matrudevo bhava Pitrudevo bhava’ means ‘My parent is God’. So, while they have a lot of respect, love and concern for their own parents, they are indifferent to other elderly people or are sometimes disrespectful towards them. I believe ‘Matrudevo bhava Pitrudevo bhava’ means ‘Every parent is God’.”

The Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 says: “matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava.” It literally means “be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God.”: Wikipedia

Please also read Paid in Full (With High Interest), a truly touching post written by a mother.

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan

Please read this truly heartwarming report in The Hindu about Priya Semwal, “who lost her husband in a counter-insurgency operation two years back, (and) was inducted into the technical wing of the Armed Force as a young officer” around 4 weeks back.

It is heartwarming that Priya, who was a first-year undergraduate student when she got married, completed her graduation and post-graduation, acquired a degree in teaching, and took up a job, all after marriage, and that her husband, Amit Sharma had encouraged her to do this.

However, what is most heartwarming is the fact that, not only did Col. Arun Agarwal, her late husband’s Commanding Officer take the initiative of suggesting to Priya that she should become an officer in the Army, he also put in the effort to enable her and her family to overcome their apprehensions. The icing on the cake was his gesture of travelling from the northern border to the southern part of India to attend her passing out parade.

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan (‘Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer’ in Hindi) was a slogan coined by Lal Bahadur Shastri, India’s second Prime Minister in 1965. Among the many slogans coined by political leaders in India, Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan is probably the only slogan that has continued to inspire all Indians from the time it was created till today, almost 50 years later.

However, while we are genuinely enthusiastic about Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, I personally think we hail our soldiers and farmers much more in word, much less in deed.

Col. Arun Agarwal’s concern for his soldier’s family, and his support to them after the soldier’s death, is an inspiration to all of us to hail our soldiers and farmers not only in word, but also in deed.

Empathy

A friend sent me the following true story:

One day, a schoolteacher assigned each of her 5th Grade students a simple task e.g. bringing chalk pieces from the store, bringing a book from the staff room, bringing a glass of water from the water cooler, etc. The student was blindfolded, while a classmate would walk behind him to ensure that he did not injure himself. After performing the tasks, everyone realized how simple tasks became so difficult when one was blindfolded.

Next day, when they visited the School for the Blind along with their teacher, all these students were really appreciative about the work done by the blind students – the handicrafts, written books etc. They did not pity the blind children or look down on them; they empathized with them and respected them!

What a simple and lovely way to make young children empathize with the differently-abled! If we all tried to empathize with people who are in some way different from us, the world would be a better place.

Before we pass judgment on persons who have behaved in what we consider a foolish or abnormal manner, we must ask ourselves how we might have behaved if we had been in that person’s circumstances.

How to become rich! (‘GIFT’: a short film)

I was tempted to skip this week’s WoW prompt, but then I came across a lovely piece on NDTV. I’m sharing this link to a short film called GIFT. Please watch this short film. You will have to spend less than 8 minutes of your valuable time, but it’s worth watching.

I’m pleased to confirm that I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge.

In the April A to Z Challenge, participating bloggers post every day except Sundays during April, with the topic on April 1 starting with A, the topic on April 2 starting with B, and so on, ending with the topic on April 30 starting with Z.

My A to Z posts will generally focus on positive, truly heart-warming incidents involving ordinary persons whom we can all emulate. My A to Z Challenge Theme is:

26 Positive Takes on Life

The topics of my first five A-Z posts are:
April 1: Appreciation
April 2: Benefit of doubt
April 3: Customer delight
April 4: Dignity of labour
April 5: Empathy

I welcome you to read all my April A to Z Challenge posts and comment on them.

Have a nice weekend!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda (Prompt: the post must contain ‘I was tempted’.)

“Just having harmless fun” or simply being cruel?

One day, when I was in my final year at school, I noticed that, instead of entering the Lunch Room, a friend, who had joined our school that academic year, was walking empty-handed towards the Library. Thinking that he had forgotten to carry his lunch to school that day, I offered to share my lunch with him. He thanked me for my offer, but declined, saying that he was fasting that month according to the custom in his religion.

After having my lunch, I met this friend in the Library. I asked him whether he had observed this month-long dawn to dusk fast in the past or whether this was the first time. He replied that this was the second year. I told him that, while I knew that some of our classmates’ parents observed this particular fast, he was the first schoolboy I knew who did so. I then asked him the purpose of this fast. After he described the purposes and benefits, I asked him to clarify a particular point. All of a sudden, he got upset and accused me of trying to ridicule him and at his religion. He walked away, ignoring my assurance that I was genuinely interested in understanding this aspect of his religion.

At first, I was hurt by my friend’s behaviour, but later, I recalled that he had been upset that some of our classmates would make comments that poked fun at his religion. These comments had never been directed at him, but at other boys belonging to the same religion. The boys at whom these comments were directed appeared to be unperturbed by these comments, which were made by their closest friends. In turn, they made similar comments about their friends’ religious and food habits. Some of us found all these comments distasteful, but we could do nothing about it since there was no vulgar language used. On one occasion, when somebody had asked them to avoid such comments, these boys had replied that they were “just having harmless fun” among themselves. Obviously, they did not understand that their “harmless fun” was considered not fun, but cruelty by many others.

My friend had probably got upset with me because he had assumed that, like these classmates, I was also trying to poke fun at his religion.

Isn’t this kind of “harmless fun” found all over the place? Many of us indulge in it regularly, while some of us do so not very often. But, jokes and comments about physical appearance (height, weight, skin colour, etc.), dress sense, language, accents, age, gender, religion, caste, economic status, educational background, profession, place of residence, food habits, etc. are commonplace.

Most of us love to indulge in “harmless fun” at the expense of others, but how many of us actually enjoy “harmless fun” when it is directed at us? Some of us may enjoy it because we are capable of defending ourselves and/or giving back in kind. However, would we enjoy “harmless fun” if the targets are loved ones who are not capable of defending themselves and/or giving back in kind? Or would we like it if we are made targets of “harmless fun” by our superiors at work or others who have some kind of hold over us?

Next time we think of “just having harmless fun” at somebody else’s expense, let us stop and ask ourselves whether we’re “just having harmless fun” or simply being cruel.