Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Words That Trouble Me

Philosophy and Social Service. Two beautiful words. Used (actually abused) a lot in daily conversations. Have the potential to have deep profound impact on an individual and society but get relegated to the back of the conversation line so often that they almost become obscure. Thats why I call them bad words.

Friend : I am facing this terrible problem

Me : OK did you try this or that .

Friend : Yeah they did not work .

Me : Hmm...did you try talking to XYZ.

Friend : Yeah that did not work either.

Me : Hmm...yeah just stay calm and have faith in God. Things will get better.

Friend (getting upset) : Don't give me philosophy.

"Don't give me philosophy" - What a fine way of taking the real solution to the problem and throwing it into a deep well and continue to reel in misery !!!

This I believe is the problem. You visit someone's home and find beautiful bound copies of the Bhagavad Gita ,writings by Swami Vivekananda, Srimad Bhagwatam - all nicely adorning the top shelf of a bookshelf - conveniently out of bounds to the hands or the mind. Whats the point of this precious knowledge if one is unwilling to incorporate it into daily life ?

This for me has been the most beautiful experience on this wonderful path called the Art Of Living. Guruji's path of seva-sadhana-satsang is so simple, practical yet so profound that it really almost forces one to LIVE the knowledge. Regular Sadhana builds the awareness and the calm space for the knowledge to settle, knowledge and bhajan satsangs fill this space with awareness and beauty and seva is the ultimate lab/practical/ expression of this awareness and beauty. How amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The other word is "Social Service". I remember commuting between Pune and Mumbai some years ago. The train pantry would serve snacks in paper plates and beverages in paper/plastic cups. Where do you think these plates/cups would settle after they had been used ? Under the seats, in the passage, in the toilet bowl. Some kindred soul decided to take it upon himself to fix this mess. He would put on a pair of gloves and a trash bag and go from seat to seat asking people for their trash. He would collect it all together and dispose it off at the next station in a trash can. Guess what he got in return - Smirks from passengers, snide comments like "Dekho Samaaj Seva Kar Raha Hai", cold unfriendly stares. The poor guy gave it up after some time.

Why has "Social Service" become such a catch phrase that applies only to a small group in school or NSS groups in college or college graduates in Social Work ? What about the rest of us ?

My memories go back to school when in the 8th Grade we were given the option to join the Boy Scouts or join the Social Service group. Here is how it would work : All the tall, well built, cool guys who were on some sports team or those with a pleasing personality used to get selected for the Boy Scouts group. The rest had no choice. Rejected by the scouts group, they joined the Social Service Group. Their job - keeping the school premises clean while the scouts folks had cool camps to attend. What they got in return : Snide remarks from the smartly dressed students in a Scouts uniform : Abbe Jhaduwale (Hey Janitor). Smarting under the humiliation of being rejected by the scouts group and the remarks they got, these folks would obviously disregard their duties.

Small wonder that social work is not a fashionable thing to do in our country. Until it finds its place of pride along with professions like medicine, engineering, finance and other exalted (and overrated) occupations, this beloved country of ours with a brilliant past faces a bleak future.

Words like philosophy (read knowledge) and service need to be the most important words in our vocabulary. Until them I will call them "bad words" :)

I am so grateful to Guruji for his guidance that turned my priorities upside down . I have learnt that to give is to really acknowledge the abundance I have been given.

Jai Guru Dev,


  1. Yes, bad words indeed. I remember in school, students from the middle school (classes 6-8, I was in 11th then) had this optional activity, to be done during lunch time. They had to do rounds of the canteen to ensure people didn't throw stuff and if they did fine them. The school management expected a great response, but there wasn't a single child who volunteered! Eventually, this had to be made compulsory and even then people would call them vella and what not! Sad. Very. :|

    And the line most often used when my friends speak to me "Yaar funde mat maar! Philosophy sar ke upar se nikal jaati hai" :(

  2. Yup Tara...I just pray that they may actually realize that doing an Art Of Living course makes these "fundes" real and easy to implement for them .


  3. Bang on! Most of the population usually avoid Physics and Philosophy.. :-)

    Most of us work for incentives. Self-help is an incentive which a lot of us never care about too much..and that is why we do not care enough about our surroundings.

    "Main aisa/aisi hi hun" are some more words which I do not like..I find it a way to avoid taking responsibility of ourselves and our actions..Most of the times it is used to convey stubbornness!

  4. @anusha : absolutely...mai aise hi on..:)