Preaching without practising?

The New Indian Express (TNIE) reports that the inaugural of a political party’s 10th State conference at Tiruchy in Tamil Nadu on Saturday, February 15, 2014 was scheduled for 9.00 am, but the party president arrived at the venue well past 10.30 am. He unfurled the party flag on a 90 ft pole 10 minutes later to mark the inauguration of the conference. This was done deliberately because Raahu Kaalam (a period of time that is considered inauspicious) was between 9 am and 10.30 am that day.

This information is surprising, if not shocking, because the political party is the DMK and the party president is Dr. M. Karunanidhi, who, as TNIE reports, “made rationalism the cornerstone of his politics”.

The TNIE report states that this was not a coincidence because the DMK’s local heavyweight K N Nehru had informed the women’s wing on January 20 that, “We will bring Thalaivar (‘leader’ or ‘boss’ in Tamil) to the stage after 10.30 am as we want to avoid Raahu Kaalam.”

The report also states that ‘this is not the first time Karunanidhi has let his rationalist mask slip. During the millennium fete of the Brahadeeswara temple, he chose to enter the temple through a side gate because of the myth that netas visiting the 10th century Big Temple through the main gate would either lose their life or power.’

One wonders whether Karunanidhi has always been only preaching rationalism but practising the opposite, or whether he has become irrationally superstitious only in old age!

It is common to see ‘leaders’, political or otherwise, practising the exact opposite of what they preach. Many regional political parties advocate the boycott of the English language, but the leaders of most of these parties get their children educated in English medium schools.

Leaders of all political parties in India talk of internal democracy, but, without exception, they all practise ‘high command’ culture.

Don’t the followers of such leaders realize that their leaders are taking them for a ride?

In contrast, here is a true story: The Little Boy and Sugar

One day, a mother came to Gandhi with her little boy for help. She asked Gandhi, “Please, Bapu, will you tell my little boy to stop eating sugar. He simply eats too much sugar and will not stop.” Gandhi told the mother to leave and come back with the boy in three days.

Three days later, the mother returned with her son and said to Gandhi, “We have come back as you asked.” Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “Young boy, stop eating sweets. They are not good for you.”

The mother then asked Gandhi, “Bapu, why didn’t you tell my son that when we first came to see you? Why did you ask us to leave and come back in three days? I don’t understand.”

Gandhi said to the woman, “I asked you to return with the boy in three days, because three days ago, I, too, was eating sweets. I could not ask him to stop eating sweets so long as I had not stopped eating sweets.”