Monday, December 31, 2007

I've learnt...

Through a fairly painful process called Life, I've learnt a few things. I'm sharing these with anyone who wants to avoid the entire cycle & prosper on borrowed wisdom!
  • Not to offer advice unsolicited.
  • Never to criticize anyone. It shatters the other person's self-esteem. A gentle word is more important than correcting somebody. The Quran apparently says something to this effect on criticism: "Criticism is akin to eating the flesh of your brother"!
  • No matter how many interests I cultivate, no matter how much I know about everything, No matter how much capacity my brain has been blessed with, I've learnt that even that has it's limits. I know now that in order to achieve something big, you have to make sacrifices, you sometimes have to go through trauma.
  • I've learnt: that often we’re too hard on ourselves. We judge ourselves too harshly, expect too much, even perfection from ourselves. I've learnt that it's not working for me. I've learnt that we’re as ordinary or just as significant as everyone else. So what I’ve learnt is this: No more judging harshly, and no more totally unrealistic expectations! Ambition yes, but none of the previous expecting the earth stuff!
  • I've learnt that I'm as important or as strong and as susceptible as the next guy. So no more fear of bullies. You can tackle them, and with just a little bit of luck superbly! So no more getting intimidated by bullies or unnerved in the face of aggression! Stay & FIGHT! You stand almost as much a chance of winning if you fight. If you don’t fight, then you stand no chance at all!
  • We don't understand right from wrong, or spirituality or religion when we are young. We understand these things only later, when we're battered and bruised. After we have sinned(?) and learnt some lessons in humility and in our fragility and impermanence. And we have been thru moh and have realized what a devious mistress it is. And that the devil is a seducer who tempts as depicted so effectively in The Devil's Advocate. How even a virtue can become a vice if taken to extremes.
  • Peter sinned before finally tending to the flock. Even Jesus and Mohammad started preaching late in life. Using that analogy we realize that we lesser mortals have stained damans before we begin to receive the first rays of enlightenment. Because it is only the test of fire that makes fine steel.
  • Not to worry. Worry leads to anxiety & stress, and these can become lifelong mental & physical conditions is unchecked. After all, there are billions who go through life's ups & downs unpeturbed. What do they lose? They same that everyone else loses! Also, read these two excellent couplets from 2 great poets:

Chinta se ghate chaturai,

Dukh se ghate sharir,

Lobh se ghate laxmi,

Kah gaye das Kabir..*


Chinta se chaturai ghate

ghate rup aur gyan

chinta badi abhagini

chinta chita saman

tulsi bharose ram ke

nischint hoyi ke soye

anhoni honi nahi

honi hoye so hoye!*

  • I've realized after much misunderstanding & maligning it, that Religion is essentially a school. Or a course therein. Of Spirituality. When you want to learn about Law, you go to Law school; when you wanna learn about God and Spirituality, Religion teaches you.

Note: This list will expand.


  1. The Quranic verse is actually about 'backbiting' instead of criticism :) It says dont backbite as it is like eating the flesh of your dead brother. It is a hard hitting phrase meaning that when you backbite you jeopardise the respect and honour of someone. It is equated to like killing the person. And then you enjoy in doing that as linked with enjoying in eating the flesh.

  2. Thanks anon... I gathered that a few days back from the Internet. :-)

  3. Hi Opinionated, this is Amit from IndianMuslims. Your comments actually prompted me to read a bit, and I came across this on the RSS page on wikipedia:

    "There is in Hinduism room enough for Jesus, as there is for Mohammed, Zoroster and Moses" and that "majority of the Muslims of India are converts to that faith from Hinduism through force of circumstances. They are still Hindu in many essential ways and, in a free, prosperous, progressive India, they would find it the most natural thing in the world to revert to their ancient faith and ways of life."

    What really surprised me is that this was said by Gandhi. :)

    Anyway, it was nice having the civil conversation with you on IM blog, and I actually live in the US, though I was born in India, so I won't be voting for either BJP or Congress. I can understand why BJP draws so much flak, more so among Muslims, but everyone votes partly for their self-interests, and not everyone who votes for BJP is a Muslim-hater.

    You said that you vote for Congress. Now if you were having a conversation with a Sikh and told him that, what do you think he'd say to you, more so if he'd lost loved ones in 1984? So you're voting because it is in your self interest to vote for Congress, because it helps you. But it's not the same for a Sikh. Now what would you say if the Sikh asked you why are you voting for Congress knowing very well what they did to my family and community? Now just because you vote for Congress does not make you a Sikh-hater, does it?

    Life's complex. :)

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Amit,

    Thanks for visiting.

    Let me start at the bottom.

    I understand that life's complex. And I don't brand every BJP voter a muslim hater. Like I stated somewhere before, I have relatives & friends who vote for them ever since they were the jansangh. We call them jansanghis derogatively! :-)
    I have a close friend you used to be a shiv sena fan. Until he fell in love with a muslim girl & married her. It's about being misguided, it's about changing perspective. I come from a family where the first child used to be made a Sikh. I was the first child by the way, but thankfully the tradition had died out a few generations ago. Yes, life's complex.
    Yet I vote for the Congress. Because the Congress feels responsible for what happened some of their elements did then & has issued all kinds of apologies.

    And like life, human's too are complex.
    Therefore for Gandhiji to have made that statement is not entirely impossible.
    However, I believe that Gandhiji, if he actually said that, would've meant it very differently, and entirely without an agenda.
    The RSS's interpretation of it & usage of the comment is not without subterfuge, connotation & agenda.
    The only reason I'm unsure of whether to believe the comment or not is because you've picked it off an RSS mini-site. I am very very wary of them. They're unscrupulous propogandistas who think nothing of tampering with history! They don't play fair! It's OK to pursue an agenda, but if you don't play fair, then you're like the Aussies in the last test.

    And a word of caution about Wiki, despite my extensive usage of it: It's built by people like you & me, and not by researchers & scholars devoted to knowledge. It's an amatuer's encyclopedia not a professionals if I can put it that way.

  6. Opinionated:

    Thanks. That quote is from the wikipedia, and yes, I am well-aware of the caveat emptor that goes with it, but a little search on the web should confirm whether Gandhi really said it or not. Also we tend to mention this warning about wikipedia almost always when we don't agree with what's being quoted, or it goes against our world-view. If I presented an untrue quote from wikipedia that criticized RSS, you wouldn't be giving me that warning. :D

    That's true for me too - it's just human nature.

    I don't know much about RSS so when I read up on it (from the source, not the news media), I'll add something to the discussion. Maybe I'll see things your way.
    -Amit, a lifelong sikh

  7. Amit,

    Your point about human nature is well taken. I agree that I too probably do that, but I must say that I have always believed that I am somewhat different from most people, not radically so, but somewhat. Which is why you'll find me battling popularly held notions. Of others? Probably. My point is that I do make an attempt to hear the other side. It's just that I haven't come across a convincing enough argument for them. More against them actually. Anyway arguments for debates sake are OK, but it's very difficult to ignore their historical & current stance.

  8. Opinionated,

    I agree, and it's nice to have a conversation without getting angry and calling each other names. :)

    I don't quite place Gandhi on a pedestal - he had both positive and negative aspects. He was a complex human being, and there's no doubt that he contributed a lot to India's freedom and Indian society. But there are also some troubling aspects of his personality and actions that just don't jibe, and are not borne out by evidence. An example is Gandhi and the Khilafat movement and Moplah riots. Some of the statements he made were absurd!! This is not from RSS propaganda books, but historical facts.

    As for history, there are plenty of examples of Congress-Marxist scholars glossing over facts or presenting them incorrectly, which of course, BJP corrected when it came to power, but introduced some of their own lies - the pendulum keeps swinging from one end to the other, and while some errors are corrected, new ones are introduced. That is life. :)


  9. Amit,

    Yes it's nice to be able to debate something without flying off the handle.

    As for putting people on a pedestal, you must be putting someone up there. I'd really like to know who makes it there, so that I can compare & judge for myself, your choice of heroes.
    Not that it makes a difference to Gandhi's stature whether you & I put him on a pedestal or not. I don't think he cared then & he's definitely past caring now!
    As for the BJP correcting Cong-Marxist hisotrians, that's a very very tall claim. One that will need to be substantiated.
    To begin with, I don't get what possible benefit would accrue from the Cong-Marxists writing history their way. How does it serve their possible hidden agenda?
    In contrast, the BJP & it's parent has a clear Hindu nation agenda & their actions vis a vis the rewriting of history books clearly points to this!
    As far as "life" is concerned, you're probably aware by now that I am personally driven by a strong sense of right & wrong as opposed to "chalta-hai" or "hota-hai".
    I'm all for pragmatism, but there has to be space for some idealism as well.

    -1conoclast, a lifelong anti-BJP crusader. :-)

  10. I don't really have anyone on a pedestal in the sense that there is a perfect and unblemished person out there who I want to emulate and look up to - I know that people are complex and have their "good" and "bad" sides. I try and accept them as they are without judgment. As for admiration, there's Nader. I like some philosophical aspects of Kabir, Gautam Buddha and Jiddu K.

  11. As for re-writing history by Congress-Marxists, there's plenty of credible sources out there - google is your friend. As for their reason, I'm not a psychiatrist, but since Communism-Marxism is against religions (though for some reason, in India, only against Hinduism), that could be a possibility.

  12. Amit,

    Fair point about putting people on pedestals. It's better to subscribe to ideals, right?

    As for rewriting of history by the Cong.-Marx types, Google may kick in someday, but I'm shelving it for now. Unless someone is kind enough to send me some credible proof.

    And WHERE has this notion come from that secularism in India is anti-Hindu??? India is secular in part because of the Hindus!!!
    If this is not propaganda, what is it?
    Pray, explain.


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