Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Solace from the scriptures

Yet again, I find something apt and amazing in the Gita.

The scriptures say that there are 5 things that influence the outcome of any activity

1. The situation an individual finds himself in
2. The individual
2. His skills
4. How he uses those skills
5. Unknown factors

When I look at these five things that suit everything In life, I realise I only have control over who I am , what I know ( I can pick up skills) and what I can do with what I know. I can never know how the outcome will be though I can hope for something and I can never be sure of the situation I will find myself in. If I think that I have so much control over life, then happiness and I will never know each other.

As I try to do the best I can, today I promise myself that I will try as hard as I can to not be affected by the reward. Often, I do things for the joy of doing it but I expect something in return. It could be acceptance, it could be acknowledgement or it could be something more. By expecting the reward for an action, I am desiring something I can't control and setting myself up for sorrow. The moment I stop doing things for the pleasure they give me,I am trading my happiness for trouble and resentment.

This zen like attitude is going to be very difficult to attain and I wonder how long and how hard the competitive me has to work to attain it.

But I am confident that at work and at home, this is going to make life so much easier. Do your duty irrespective of the outcome. Do it the best way you know how to do and never let inaction stemming from fear of lack of rewards dictate how you dispense your duty.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Devdutt Pattanaik's Sita - not a book for me

Of the epics, I've never been able to identify with the Ramayana.

Why would an individual place his duty to the society over his duty to his self or his family? Maybe that's how the ideal world ought to be, but in such a world the society wouldn't have unfair expectations of its members too. It wouldn't expect a prince to live in the forest no matter how much he doesn't mind it and it wouldn't accept him abandoning his wife.

I liked the way Devdutt Pattanaik describes the Ramayana in his book. He's researched the different retellings and he tries to be impartial to the region while retelling the epic. I had avoided this book for so long as knowing my history with this epic, I wasn't sure I would like it. I finally gave in to temptation and as I read the book today, I realised I cannot be dispassionate about a philosophy I'd like to identify with but really can't.

I love a lot of shorter stories in the book and I love the way it's Sita who questions the norms while it's Rama who obeys it blindly as he as a king doesn't want to challenge convention. I like the romanticised relationship which is shown to be extremely intellectual providing companionship to the mind. But I cannot understand how such evolved individuals let the world around them dictate most of their actions. Maybe it did not matter to them as the author keeps pointing out but unlike Sita and the subjects of Ayodhya, I can only see the injustice of it all.

Maybe my individualism makes me adore Krishna much more but I am struggling to understand ram and see if I could any day reach the state of mind that he and Sita had. Maybe the day I learn to treat everything in life dispassionately and accept fate, I can appreciate their understanding but until then, I'll have to learn to live with being unable to appreciate a wonderful epic.