Work is Worship!

Everything else is after WORK is completed!

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                                          श्रावण मासी हर्ष मानसी हिरवळ दाटे चोहिकडे, 
                                          क्षणात येते सर सर शिरवे क्षणात फिरुनि ऊन पडे 

These are the first two lines of the famous poem श्रावण मासी हर्ष मानसी by celebrated Marathi poet बालकवी ठोंबरे, Balkavi Thombare! The poem is the celebration of the month Shravan from the Hindu Calendar. Every child who had taken education in Marathi in our times knows at  a least a few lines, even today. It has become part of Marathi folklore.

We were going out somewhere, while entering the car a drizzle started. Today we went out a couple of times and both times it was same. In one moment there was rain, the next moment a heavy shower followed by a peek a boo by the Sun! I said to Jaya, “This is typical weather for the Hindu calendar month of Shravan.” I hummed the above lines; but then I remembered that currently the Hindu month going on is Ashadh! This is due to Adhik Mass in Hindu calendar. This calendar is based on Lunar month which is 29 ½ days of our normal calendar. To compensate for this loss of days, every two and half years we have Adhik Mass.

I am good with this but there is a major issue. All Hindu festivals and everything related to the God is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. The palkhi, (https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/palkhi-the-great-tradition/ ) the Palaquin procession terminates on Ashadhi Ekadashi i.e. 11th day of the month of Ashadh. This is where the issue starts. Large number of farmers take part in the procession and the total time taken by Palkhi to reach Pandharpur is 21 days. It is expected that they complete their work in the farms and take some time off for Palkhi. For a couple of years Palkhi starts in 3rd week of June and if there is Adhik Mass then it starts later in July as per Gregorian Calendar. Our seasons are discussed based on Gregorian calendar. So, rain gods follow the Gregorian calendar. Now, how can farmers be away from work, in major part of July, when they need to be on the farms?

Palkhi, bhakti, pooja all these things are fine but if the appropriate things are not done at the right time on the farms, the produce can get damaged, quality can go down! In fact, all the crop could go bust! How to do the right things? Has this ever been discussed in farming community? The farming depends on vagaries of weather, market conditions, disease and many such variables! So, if they remain away from the farms at the wrong time, then I shudder to even think what can happen. 21 days is not a small time to be away.

This brings us to other subject on the topic of farming. The subject that is being discussed much is the excess production in certain areas of farming. In many areas production is quite high and ever-increasing population also is not able to consume it. Let us look at Sugar. Since sugarcane is a cash crop, everybody wants to grow sugarcane. Our annual requirement of sugar is 25 million tons and we have produced 30 million tons. What to do with this sugar? International market is also weak hence the price that one gets is also not remunerative. Strikes? Government support? Government cannot support everything.

Same thing is happening in animal husbandry. Once people realized that milk production is a good business, a large number of people went into that business. They got themselves imported Jersey animals which produce a lot of milk compared to local animals. They took loans and when the going was good everything was fine. Large number of cooperative organizations have come up which collect the milk, process it and bring it to market. Excess milk is converted into milk powder. Milk collection has become quite organized but India has fully market driven system. Government may give some support but ultimately it is buyer and seller system. Excess production and supply will put the rates under pressure and which currently has happened. Solution? People are being misguided by the so-called leaders. They have asked the people to throw away the  milk every day and not give it to collection centers. With this, endless loop is formed where farmers lose more money.

Is it the way to do it? In many European countries milk business is under stress, most of the time. A few farmers do commit suicides but there is no suicide epidemic. They protest in a different way. They take their cows in large numbers to the departmental stores as a protest. They create traffic jams by bringing the tractors in the cities with the purpose of creating jam. In a factory in Japan there was some labour dispute going on for a long time. With no solution in site, the workers resorted to a novel method of protest. They kept on manufacturing shoes only for the left foot. After one week of this protest, a solution was reached. There was only temporary loss in sell but production did not suffer.

In the initial phase of independent India, there was shortage of everything. Food, Milk, Grams, Grain, you name it, we had shortage. We were forced to accept low quality grains, generally fed to animals in the US, as we had no choice. In last 40 years we have made a lot of progress. Go to any market, go to any shop. We see abundance of everything. The way we survived shortages, we have to learn the art and science of handling excesses also. It is the right balance of keeping manufacturing expenses under control, at the same time we should manage to keep final selling price under control, to keep inflation under control.

This needs a lot working together and the system must try and become independent of government support. After all government is you and me. If one hand is paid in excess then the other hand will also need money to buy costly stuff. It is all fine to say that it is middlemen or agents who are the culprits. But the major markets for everything are towns and cities. Reaching produce to the right market at the right time, needs planning, logistics, storage which many a time has to be cold storage. Even with great storage and logistics, Europe is supposedly sitting on big mountain of butter. Similarly, India is sitting on a mountain of milk powder.

It is easier said than done. Farmers have no time and money to do the marketing of their crop. This also needs money.  As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we don’t see problems in farmers from Konkan and Western Maharashtra. The milk problem appears to be problem of more developed society same as in Europe. But in eastern and north eastern areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada these problems and suicides are in large numbers. Experts need to study the reasons for this and find out the real problem behind this. It could be something social, it could be something to do with aspirations. It may be related to way the people think.

In the society, these upheavals keep on happening but the so called advanced communities keep on advancing socially in each generation. They don’t depend on government support and dole all the time. Till the time, societies don’t follow the basic ethics of “Work is Worship”, there will be problems galore. We see that in the  large cities like Mumbai and Pune, any person who wants to work has work. The fighters among them move up fast in the society, not those who want support, all the time, generation after  generation! Don’t make looking for support from someone your habit. Find your own solution, your own path. Take part in Palkhi if it is in June as hundreds of years seems to have proven that during this period basic work for the farms is done and end June and beginning July is a lull time! By all means, during your farming schedules, follow Hindu rituals but not Hindu calendar!

Bravado or Truth!

Accept the tough situation in life and face it upfront!

The other day my niece’s husband Dr. Makarand asked me a very pertinent question. He said, “Kaka when you were going through treatment for cancer, we all could see that you were very positive during and after the treatment. Can you share with me if this was Bravado or that is what you really felt?” It was a very valid question. In the face of tough situation as the cliché goes, “Tough get Going”! It is all fine to mention clichés, make a show of not being bothered or nor showing any concern. 

Makarand’s question got my thought process going and I went back four years, to 2013 Dec 1st, when my cancer was detected. This detection was done by Dr. Sant in his clinic and set the wheels rolling. Raju was with me; when we came out from the clinic Raju said, “You don’t worry, I will drive the car.” We had taken my car. I told him, “Oh, come on! What has diagnosis got to do with my driving the car? In fact, first let us eat something as I am hungry.” Our next step was the hospital where Atul was waiting for me to get the CAT scan done, to check the extent of spread. What were the thoughts in mind, besides deciding what to eat? Honestly, I did not feel worried, afraid or did not have a question in my mind “Why me?”. In the CAT it was found that there was no spread and the growth looked local. Was I relieved. I don’t remember having any specific feeling of relief.  

It was decided to perform the biopsy on 7th December. We took a family decision that managing newly born Kittu and my cancer treatment cannot be handled together, in our regular home. We had already hired one condo next to Priya’s. We took a decision to move stuff to the new condo. Next 4/5 days we were busy moving our stuff to this condo. That week was very busy, and I did not have time to think of anything other than shifting furniture. Did I have apprehensions about the result of the biopsy? Not really because Dr. Sant was very confident that growth was cancerous. I had totally believed in his judgment and did not get unduly worried when Lab confirmation was received on 10th Dec. 

Another ten days in deciding the logistics and getting the drug from Pharma Company. Jaya and I were busy setting up the new condo, plus my work continued. When I was told that the first immunotherapy was to be given in an ICU, I did feel apprehensive. What is the reason for ICU? What can happen? What can go wrong? Somehow, I had a feeling that cancer had luckily been detected at a very early phase then why this sudden change in threat level? I asked my Onco surgeon. He said, “Pramod, this is just a precaution we are taking. Once in a blue moon some patients have reaction against the drug hence this step.” I was relieved and was back to my normal mood.  

Ignorance reduces your anxiety levels. When the cancer was detected, I was told that there would be Radiation therapy along with Immunotherapy. My lack of knowledge prepared me for a couple of radiation sittings. When we had our discussion with Radiation Oncologist, the doctor told me that there will be 32 to 34 sittings. For a moment, I was stunned. But when the doctor explained, I understood the process. He said that 1 or 2 radiations are given in case of patients who have tough cancer and need palliative treatment. He also said that when chances of overcoming the cancer are good, number of sittings are more and depend on different factors. Knowledge acquired, I was back to normal way of thinking.  

Coming back to the question asked by Makarand. Was I truly not much concerned or was it my bravado? I can safely conclude that it was not my bravado. Why was I not worried? Why do people get worried? It is natural to get worried, anxious, it is ok to get terrified also. There are some situations in life which tend make even tough people panicky! In my case, I do not know why I was not worried. Maybe I have learnt to take things in stride. Maybe my mind is such that I move on. I am a normal human and I also get anxious, worried but somehow, I never remember being afraid of a situation. Maybe I have never faced a situation which can scare me,yet. Rather than being brave or tough, I feel that I am a normal person who is little luckier than others, who was never required to face a situation where I was almost required to give up. Another possible reason could be that I am pragmatic and accept situations which are not under my control.  

Am I the person to preach people how to handle the difficult situations? Definitely not! But I can share my experience with others. Did I pray to god? No, I believe in some high-level spirit which can be called God. But I am not into prayers, since childhood. I have always seen my father doing Namaskar to God but he was never into prayers and pooja! This was imbibed in me from childhood. Other than this, I always had great support from Jaya and my children, especially during my tough phase. Positivity of the whole family including my nephews and nieces went a long way I keeping me balanced.  

Makarand, yes, I was really not afraid, nor did any of us panic! It was not bravado but overall managing the whole situation as a project, keeping emotions in control, when it was necessitated. Thank you for asking me this question which made me introspect about the tough phase in our life, it was not only my life! I have not done something great that I can advise people but I have suggestions for all who get into any tough situation; it could be illness, it could be family issues, it could be money issues. Be in it together, face the situation upfront. Acceptance is the key to fighting back. Every fight is winnable to an extent. Leave rest to Him!  

Goodness is Godliness!

Spread the spirit of Goodness!

My friend Vivek sent me a video. I saw the video once and watched it so many times, that had it been a vinyl record, it would have worn out! I have shared that clip below and I am sure you will love it too!  

 

A couple of months back I had written a blog “Oh! My God!” It was about the things that happen in this world which are not under our control but under HIS control. But anytime I see something good, it always reminds me of God! I am almost an atheist. Atheist is a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God. By this definition, I am not an Atheist but I can be called 95% Atheist! I do believe that there is a super power in this world that can be called God. But I don’t believe in religious rituals. As a family if we go to a mandir, I feel nice when I go there. I have visited Churches, Gurudwaras, Dargahs. All these are pristine places and give me a feeling that I have reached near Him! But that does not mean that I must visit Mandirs frequently, perform the poojas and so on!  

But do we really have to go to these places of worship to be near Him? HE is there in everything, a stone, a pond, a river, a child! HE is there on the road, in the jungle, in the skies! HE is there in a beggar and in an animal. When he is everywhere why humans take so much efforts to reach HIM, by way of rituals and physically go to places of worship?  We are forced into this by the society in general; people are scared that something will go wrong if some rituals are not followed! People tend to wear their God on their sleeves! Why this is done? If HE is everywhere, you don’t have wear a cap or a shawl displaying HIS Name. Does someone not wearing something displaying HIS name a lesser follower or a bad person?  

I have observed that in most religions, the so-called God men make sure that people will feel that if they don’t meet HIM regularly in a Mandir or a church, don’t follow the rituals regularly, they are in for trouble! Most people do this out of fear. I am aware that some of us just feel nice, going to places of worship and they may do so. But this habit should not get converted into a ritual. One should not feel, “Oh I have not visited the mandir in last two weeks, something bad is going to happen!” Because in such cases, it becomes a ritual followed out of fear!  

I am writing more about Hinduism, because as a Hindu I know a little more about Hindu rituals than those of other religions. Be honest to yourself and think whether your heart was touched more by the video clip above or by some rituals you follow, most of the time blindly or because someone else does it. I feel that if your heart is in the right place, the video film will beat everything else most of the times. Look at the Godliness in the film. The child believes that there is God in this world; his mother beautifully supports that innocent idea. He is too young to follow any teachings. He might have just heard from his teachers and parents that there is God and he is good! The reverse side of the story is that for homeless woman getting something to eat and the love she received unconditionally cannot be anything else but an act of God! The beautiful end is when the child tells his mother, “I met God today, but God is a lady with a beautiful smile!” Similarly, the homeless lady tells her partner, ” I met God today but he was much younger than expected!” What a beautiful way of expressing!

Think of this small film and the story. A great meaning is hidden in this story! Ultimately what do all the religions teach you? They say that be happy, be generous, love unconditionally and do not expect returns for your good deeds. The religions also tell you that He always knows and sees what is happening in our lives; He acts when we are destined to be rescued or served! Both the child and the homeless do not expect anything else from the encounter! The matter of fact way in which both share their experience, the child with his mother and homeless lady with her partner is to be seen to be believed!  

Today is the Christmas eve; Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25, as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast. This is a Christian festival but the ritual followed in Christmas is one which teaches children from childhood, that Santa gives gifts for the good deeds that we perform throughout the year! Its a great way of teaching children to be good, all the time! In childhood it is great way of teaching goodness! Ultimately, Goodness is Godliness!  

Merry Christmas to all my friends and let us listen to HO HO HO from Santa Claus!

 

Strange are the ways!

A look at strange behavior of people!

InternetGenie

 

 Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod today I am going to share some incidents and I want you honest answer, Ok?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to what Genie asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, when you were in school, there used to be a  Cricket commentator called Vizy, Maharaj kumar of Vijaya Nagaram. If there were an award for most boring commentator, he would have won it hands down. You were listening to the commentary and Vizy was telling some boring story on the lines of, “In 1936, when I was in England…” he kept on talking and talking. In between 2/3 times you heard sudden crowd noise in the background. Vizy kept on talking, then his co commentator suggested, “Vizy should we update our listeners about today’s match?” He said, “Ok, I will update.” He coolly said, “In the meanwhile India has lost three wickets!” Pramod, was it not a strange way to handle the situation? Did Vizy forget that he was there to explain the match to listeners and not talk only about his nostalgia?

Pramod, this incident is a bit serious! You were chatting to a friend who had gone on a holiday to Europe, along with a group of friends! When you asked how the tour was? He said, “Fantastico!” Obviously, they had visited Italy too! Then he told you about St Moritz, Lucerne and many such lovely places. All in all, they were extremely happy with the experience! You had heard that there was a mishap on the tour. So, you asked about it. He said, “Oh! So and so died as he had a stroke and hemorrhage on the bus while we were in the middle of nowhere!”  My worry is about “Fantastico”. How can one say that tour was Fantastico when someone from the group died! Pramod, was it not a strange way to react to a sad event?

Pramod, this is even stranger issue as it was the way things were handled by a group of Professionals. A friend of yours had a massive heart attack; next day doctors declared that patient’s heart was working at 18/20%. Doctors said that even if he survived, he would be left completely bed ridden. Next strange action was that he was put on a ventilator for 3 weeks. Obviously nothing was improving. Then they took a decision to perform the bye pass surgery and convinced the family how it is essential! Next day the surgery was performed. Result. Doctors came out and said, “ Surgery is successful!” After four hours they declared, “The patient died; his body could not handle the surgery!” Pramod, is this not a very strange way of handling the situation? That too by professionals. They performed the bye pass surgery only from commercial angle!

Pramod, last one is even stranger. A person died and he was a non believer. Cremation was done without any religious stuff. Then you were told that there  will be pooja on 13th day. This was a surprise to you. When you went for pooja, you found that there was a big religious stuff planned. Thoughts about the person who died and his immediate family be damned! The reason, there was a marriage in the extended family in a couple of months. The dark shadows formed because of death were to be thwarted. Who cares about the thought process of the person who died? Pramod, can anything be stranger than this? Tell me why people behave in such a strange way?

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, you have told me so many incidents, I have to give you an explanation, incident wise.  Ok, Vizy was an old guy and in his own world. That a few wickets fell in between did not really matter. But in the case of European tour, how can the response be Fantastico?  Tour must have been terrible, post the death of a person from the group! The response should have been “Europe was good, but we had a very sad experience due the death of a friend on the tour”! In the case of the heart patient, the doctors should have advised the family that nothing more could be done. They should have allowed the patient to die peacefully! In the last incident, if people cannot honour the wishes of the dead then I don’t know what type of family are they?”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp. Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and the system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “Pramod I agree with you, but what has world come to! Is there no humanity left?”

 

Self-development or Nirvana!

A dear friend of mine is going away from whatsapp groups in pursuit of self-development which I want to term as Nirvana! As per thinking in Hinduism there are four Ashrams; Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanprastha, Sanyasa. I am just trying to relate this in today’s times of superb communications. As per historians Ashrams are ideals to be followed in an Utopian world. First two Brahmacharya, Grihastha have been crossed long back by me and my friends. In olden days how many really reached Vanprastha, Sanyasa stage, I am really not sure, because average life expectancy for a male in India in the year 1900 was about 24 years. (Only men supposedly took path of ashrams, women even in those days followed “whatevermalesallowed” ashram)  Realistically these ashrams look to me more hypothetical.

In olden days say 2000 years back, life as we expect today did not exist. Ashrams were supposedly defined in that period. There was almost nothing from today’s world. Simple things like having fire to cook, clean water, basic travel were a big struggle. Every basic thing was a big, tough and difficult task. It started with gathering basic food on a daily as there was no organized farming. I can’t imagine how people must have handled basic illness like cough, cold and loose motions.  With such difficult times and people dying so early (I am sure a few survived and maybe reached the age of 80/90- they were called rishis and were of indeterminate age as they had seen more than 3 generations so nobody really knew their age- some rishis were said to be 2000 years old!) ashrams were really the imagination of writers. But these writers were correct between say 1950 to 2000 when the dawn of current century started with Internet. With proliferation of internet ashram theories are getting tossed out of window. Let me explain.

In my father’s time or before, you had Grihastha ashram, retired from service and if you did not die early you could think of Vanprastha because there was nothing else to do. Most of the people of your generation were either dead or sick or too old. They were practically surviving on day to day basis. They were never a part of social circles and would spend time doing Pooja, singing Bhajans and so on. Now when people born in 40’s started retiring e mails and better communication had just started. People had started communicating easily and better. With this, locating old friends had become easier. Add to this life expectancy improvement. They could now meet old friends; switch to 2016. Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter wow! Looking for old friends, and for that matter flames if you may, and classmates is just like looking into phone directories (who looks into phone directories now!)

With these tools you are pulled into so many groups on various tools. Then you have weekly tea meetings, monthly breakfast meetings, half yearly dinner and yearly jamboree! You are really in touch with a large number of people and inadvertently get into a lot of discussions, arguments and so on. Vanprastha ashram goes for a toss in such situations. But my argument is that true Vanprastha can be achieved only today when you have so many things open for you, as so many things are available at your fingertips. Life expectancy has reasonably improved, average health is also better. Going away from at least some of the things for some time or permanently is Vanprastha ashram. One has to be a bit careful here. Do you really want to go away from your friends? Do you really not want to travel and see the world? Do you really not want to taste different delicacies and wines? If you are able to achieve Vanprastha in moderation you are really achieving something! It is not necessary that old theory of giving up “Everything” was correct! When there was nothing to give up what did you give up? Yes but today I am sure you can really give up something and try to achieve Nirvana!

I wish all the best my dear friend and salute you!