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Happy Women’s Day!!

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

                                                                                                                                                     -Diane Mariechild

jan 052For the girl child

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jan 087a young bride

jan 038 three generations of mothers and daughters-in-law 

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Happy Women’s Day!!!

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Greatest charity: a true story

Today I want to share a real life story with you!

A few days back the newspaper carried a story about a family and their child who was kidnapped two years ago at the age of two. The child (name-Jignesh) was found after two years and when the cops handed him over to his mother Shital, she wept with joy, hugging her son tightly.

The story unfolded that Jignesh was abducted two years ago and could not be traced. Then, a few days back the people of the locality spotted the woman suspected of having kidnapped the child. The police was informed and the woman was arrested. During questioning the woman confessed that she had abducted a child from the locality and handed him over to a woman in Mumbai.

The drama then shifted to Mumbai. Police traced the woman (Named-Aarti) to whom the child was given. Aarti is a widow who also lost her only son soon after her husband’s death. The kidnapper gave her the child saying that he was her brother’s son and there was no one to take care of him. Aarti believed her, accepted the child and took him in as her own son.

Jignesh has only one functional kidney since birth and Aarti got his regular treatment done for the last two years. The kidnapper was booked and Aarti detained for questioning. Jignesh and Aarti were brought back to Ahmedabad where Jignesh was handed over to his mother.

When I read this story, though I felt that it was a happy ending for the mother(Shital), my heart went out to the woman who has been Jignesh’s mother for the last two years. She would have to face loss once again. Also, the child, now four years old would be thinking of Aarti as his mother. What about him? Seemed like a big tangled emotional mess.

Then today there was a follow up to that story that has put my faith back firmly to humanity, to empathy and to the belief that there are good Samaritans all around us.

The headlines read- “Mother Gives abducted son in adoption- Mumbai woman gets back boy handed to her by kidnapper” 

Yes, Shital has decided to give her son to Aarti in adoption. She says, “A woman can understand the separation of a mother and son better. Aarti has taken extremely good care of Jignesh, who has also bonded well with her. I don’t want Aarti to undergo the same trauma as mine.”

Seems like a movie story. The sacrifice that Shital has made is no small one. ‘Giving’ is a part of our cultural value but to give up one’s child has to be the greatest charity ever.

Stop Polluting The Rivers

A few weeks ago read an article in the newspaper, with the headline -‘Ganga now a deadly source of Cancer’. The holy Ganga; Ganga who washes away all our sins; our mother Ganga- it is a poisonous river today.She’s a dead river and who does she have to thank for her sad demise? Her own sons and daughters- the people of this land, who on  one hand give her the status of a Goddess, performing puja and Maha-aarti and on the other hand dump all the poisonous wastes, garbage, and worse, dead bodies, in the name of religion- have murdered her. And this is not the condition of the Ganga alone. Take any river of this country- they are either dead or dying a slow painful death.

I have an incident to narrate. Soon after our marriage, my husband and me, along with my parents-in-law, went for the customary pilgrimage to the holy lands of Lord Krishna- Mathura, Vrindavan and Mt.Govardhan. Holy river Yamuna- beloved of lord Krishna- flows through these lands, and is revered by the people just as equally as the Ganga.

One day, after performing puja on the banks of river Yamuna, the priest asked us( hubby and me) to take some river water in our hands and put it in our mouth( Aachaman). Looking at the water infested with floating garbage, plastics, mosquitoes and other insects, I was horrified at the idea. All the pious feelings flew out of my head. I could not put that water in my mouth and on the other hand did not want to look bad in the eyes of my in-laws so early in the marriage. I stole a glance at my husband and was relieved to see him equally disgusted. We both made an act of putting our hands to our lips and completed the puja. And this was 22 years ago. I dread to think what its condition might be now.

Not going very far- we live on the banks of the River Sabarmati. As I mentioned here ,(its looking clean in those pictures because that was just after the monsoons when the river had a lot of water flowing. Now with the lower levels of water the garbage has all come to the surface), its being developed as a river-front, and that’s where I go for my morning walks/jogs.The cool morning breeze, the variety of land and water birds that I get to see, all give me joy, but the condition of the river distresses me. The other day just as I was warming up for my jog, I saw two polythene bags filled with garbage land in the river, thrown by someone on the bridge.

Now, people of my country believe that anything that has been used for puja must not be thrown into the garbage bin but into a river or a major water body. So the river is full of floating flowers(at times, neatly packed in plastic bags), coconuts,pieces of fabric and all other kinds of materials- all in different stages of decay. making the river look like a giant dumping area.

I don’t claim to be a scholar of our holy texts, but I would really like to know where our religion tells us to use our rivers as a refuse dump.

During the last occasion of of Ganesh Festival, the government initially put a ban on immersing the Ganesh idols( mostly made of poisonous and non-biodegradable POP) into the river.Immediately all the Hindu outfits rose up to protest, to allow them to exercise their religious rights. The government had to relent but thankfully they prepared huge tanks on the river banks , filled with river water, where the idols could be immersed without causing too much damage to the river.

But I ask, is it also not the duty of the Hindus to take care of their rivers, to keep them clean and pristine, so they can really be called ‘Holy’.

And we can’t just leave the responsibility of keeping our rivers clean on the governments or the civic bodies. They can only do so much.We, each of us, as the sons and daughters of the rivers, have responsibility towards them. They give life to people,they nourish and sustain us. If all of us do our little bit towards keeping them clean, they will once again regain their glory. I have vowed never to throw anything into the river again.

So this Diwali, I simply collected everything after the puja and instead of throwing them into the river (as I did every year), I threw them into the bin. Feeling satisfied having done my bit, even if that means I have to burn in hell for eternity.

Posting some pictures of the river. I did not want to, because I felt it was like showing my ugly side to the world that is normally kept hidden away.DSCN0163

DSCN0168the garbage becomes a perching site for the pond heron

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DSCN0174floating coconuts

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Teacher’s Day

“A good teacher must know how to arouse the interest of the pupil in the field of study for which he is responsible. He must himself be a master in the field of study and be in touch with the latest development in the subject. He must himself be a fellow traveler in the exciting pursuit of knowledge.”

-Dr. S. Radhakrishnan

Today is 5th September. Birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second president of India, a philosopher, an academician , and a much loved teacher. Since 1962 when he became the president of India, his birthday came to be celebrated as ‘Teacher’s Day”.

Teachers are special. Not only do they impart knowledge but also guide you, mold you and teach you the ways of life. They make you who you are.

“those who educate children are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only give them life, those the art of living well.”

-Aristotle

Our culture has, for ages revered the teachers or Gurus. They have been put on a pedestal even higher than the Gods themselves. Our mythologies are strewn with stories where people have gone to the extremes to show there devotion to their gurus.

As the Sanskrit shloka , which is a prayer to the gurus, says-

Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu,
Gurur Devo Maheshvarah.
Guru Shakshat Para Brahma,
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah.

which means that,

The teacher is like Lord Bramha, who generates the light of knowledge within us. The teacher is like Lord Vishnu, who drives us towards excellence with the help of that knowledge. The teacher is like lord Shiva, who destroys the evils within us by showing us the right path. He is the Almighty God himself and to Him I pay my obeisance.

Saint Kabir said-

” Guru Govind  dono khade kake lagu paye,

balihari guru aapki, Govind diyo milaye”

Kabir says-

My guru and my god are both before me, so to whom should I pay my respects first. My guru is greater because it was due to the path shown by him that I found my god.

Teaching is a noble profession, we all know that. Teachers have  great powers in their hands. They have the power to mold the lives of whole generations. Thus a heavy responsibility lies on their shoulders. They can change the direction of an entire nation on to the roads of knowledge, prosperity and growth or they can lead an entire population to their downfall. All the religions of the world show us the power of a good teacher who brought to us the words, the knowledge that enable us to distinguish between the right and the wrong so that the world would be a better place.

So today, I take this opportunity to pay my respects to my teachers who have been an important part of my life.

And just for a thought-

anyone or anything that teaches us something can be the teacher-

the Sun teaches us never give up hope, a fruit laden tree teaches us humility because the more fruits it has the more it bends down, the ant teaches us the value of hard work and never giving up, a bird teaches us to reach for the skies, a baby teaches us to see the wonder in everyday little things of life that we have long ceased to see. We even learn from our mistakes. And our lives are said to be our greatest teacher.

And to end-

“the greatest teacher is the one who makes himself progressively unnecessary”

 

 

 

 

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE INDIA

The heading of this post is the tagline of a wonderful book that I’m reading currently.  I was browsing in a bookshop( one of my favorite occupations) when I happened upon this book in the non-fiction section. The title was ‘Leading Ladies’ penned by Sudha Menon.  For a moment I stood there, indecisive about picking up the book. When I did pick up the book, I turned a few pages, put it back on the shelf, moved on, then came back, looked at it some more and then on an impulse decide to buy it. And boy, am I glad I bought it.

The book is about the lives of some of the ladies who have achieved the impossible in the Indian corporate world.  The stories are not boring biographies but an insight into the minds and souls of these women who worked hard to achieve what they did, the motivation, inspiration and self belief that kept them going in a society that has always looked down upon women, in a society where women have to fight for their rights and their place under the sun.

I’d planned that I would wait till I finished the whole book then pick up one inspiring thought from each lady and write about it but half-way through I couldn’t wait any more so here I am with the first one.

This one comes from Meher Pudumjee– the chairperson of Thermax Ltd.

“do something to express and not to impress. If you enjoy what you do then it’s no longer a drudgery. When you do something for yourself that you are passionate about, the best will always come out.”  

How true is that? Happens all the time. We work hard to do something perfectly, spend time and energy, yet at times our creation lacks something that we cannot put our finger on. Something incomplete, as if the soul isn’t there. On the other hand when something flows from the heart, even though it may not be perfect technically, it strikes a cord with people, touches their heart and we are filled with a sense of accomplishment.

We’ve all experienced this some time or the other. Whenever we did anything under stress or pressure or half-heartedly, the results also have been below our own expectations.

Knew it always, but never gave it much of a thought. But while reading, the words ‘do something to express and not to impress’ simply jumped out at me and I wanted to share them with everyone.

Summing up- enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. Meanwhile I’ll look up and share more gems from our leading ladies in my coming posts.