Warm hugs and Namaskar to everyone in the loving and lovely os.me family . I have divided this long post into 3 sections . The story, the lecture, and the lessons . While its heavily referenced and linked -I am confident the links would be worth your time .
The Story : It was a lazy Saturday morning when I looked at my phone . Our beloved Swati Gunwant posted a beautiful link of an interview by Dr Krishnakant Shukla , a renowned Physicist and mathematician turned musician and spiritual ecologist . Dr Shukla’s bhajans recorded in Sri Badrika Ashram have also been uploaded by Black Lotus on Youtube (Do listen in….they are truly mesmerizing and I have been listening to them on loop).
I am an impatient and restless person who finds it hard to watch long videos (except those from Swami ji) and I either try to flick ahead or glance through snippets and move on. But somehow I was really drawn to this video and I kept watching for the full 54 minute. Then I did the unthinkable – I replayed it and watched it with even greater absorption. Dr Shukla talked about science and spirituality, how Vedanta principles are buried in modern Physics, Nature, Musical traditions and more. I didn’t know why I had the irresistible urge to watch that video over and over.
“Don’t you have an interview to prepare for?” my husband shouted from the bathroom as he could listen to me replaying the same video repeatedly. I did have an interview in the afternoon but I couldn’t stop staring at Dr Shukla
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Dr Shukla’s manner of speaking, his thoughts, and ideas were strikingly similar to those of my late father. I saw the reflection of my father in him. I wasn’t hallucinating. My mother, elder cousins, aunts found him exactly like my late father . Dr Shukla’s bio mentioned that he had studied Physics at St. Stephen’s College – which is where my father taught for more than 25 years. I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer. I dug out his email address somehow and mailed him—sharing my admiration and gratitude and wondering if he had come across my father. I wasn’t sure if he will get the email, let alone respond. But I did have a tiny sliver of hope in my eager heart. My heart did a little joyful jig when I saw a reply from him post midnight. Here is the beautiful email he wrote.
What’s more , he also forwarded the email to Dr Sanjay Jain (mentioned in his email) who was the Head of Department, Physics, Delhi University and at 4am I had a very touching and heartfelt email from Dr Jain as well.
Reading about my father in these emails made my heart swell with pride and ache with longing for him.
Its now been more than 27 years since my father passed away. He passed away when I was just 12. I never could learn Physics from him. I wish I had the opportunity, but I had heard numerous stories of how he like an alchemist transformed the lives he touched —through his magical touch—be it through Physics, Mathematics or Homeopathy. The impact he made was astounding. His grateful students remembered him fondly well after their retirement. 2 students of his who got nominated for prestigious international awards in Physics had dedicated the research to him. His own life’s candle while short—burned brightly and illuminated so many others .
The lecture : Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen has written an amazing bestselling book called How will you measure your life ?(this title is shamelessly stolen and the article linked from Harvard Business Review is really worth a read )Its summarized as a great TED talk . Prof Christensen argues that businesses and individuals are smart and they don’t intend to or set out to fail. However, some big businesses such as Yahoo , Nokia etc do fail as they try short term profit maximization at the cost of long run progress. Individuals too sacrifice their health and relationships at the altar of quick gains such as money and career progression- which is a bad decision strategy .
The two key points he makes are on having a purpose driven life and following the right strategy for your life . He emphasizes importance of family ties on long term happiness and coaches on how to measure the worth of your life in the long run.
Is it through money , status , material success? He answers convincingly – these are limited measures for limited situations . God or Nature is not bound by these limits – so these would be incorrect measures . What would be a good approximation of your worth is how much of a difference did you make to the lives of people you worked with in any situation. Enriching and impacting the lives of people you work with ( and at home) is a true indicator of your worth .
The lessons: Reading the emails from the 2 luminaries made me remember again the impact my father had on a generation of students. We had very limited means, not too much wealth or too many comforts but the respect and honour he commanded because of the impact he had— made my father stand out—as an epitome of Prof Christensen’s philosophy.
I visited the Ashram in December ‘2021. My heart was heavy with pent up angst (against some of my closest family members – a story for another time ) and my mind totally muddled with mid-life anxieties of what I was doing in my career. I was swinging between pursuing meaningful (but lesser paid ) vocations and pursuing a direction that ensured financial security and creature comforts. I didn’t ask Swami ji or share any of this. Truth be told, I was totally dumbfounded when I saw HIS GLORIOUS FORM and these petty thoughts never came to my head.
However, as I returned (and today completes a month after the visit) Swami ji’s magical touch silently transformed me. The angst dissolved on its own and I felt light and free like a bird. Reading through the recollections about my father—I suddenly realized—I had lost sight of the purpose I started with and was chasing the wrong mirages in life. I had diminished the worth of my life. Suddenly, it felt like Swami ji has lifted the veil of darkness and I could see my goals and purpose clearly . Swami ji has written often about a purpose driven life and suddenly rediscovering my own purpose filled me with energy and confidence
To summarize from these different and seemingly unrelated strands of thought—being a fountain of joy and impact for those around you in all situations is the ultimate measure of a life well lived . Whether through our work or through RAKs— we all can embellish the measure of our lives and leave a rich legacy behind. To end with the oft quoted cliché – what matters is not the years in life but the life in those years . My father’s short but very meaningful life is an example ( read here )