The black lotus app launched a new pack Live like a champion few months ago which was built in collaboration with India’s chess GM Vidit Gujrathi. It is one of its kind improvement program which combines the art of meditation with science to bring an overall improvement in one’s personality and bring a paradigm shift in way one approaches life. As the name suggests it is built to bring the best out of you, to take up a challenge and emerge as a champion. As part of the pack Vidit has shared all the habits and practices that have helped him immensely in his career and life. Along with the powerful guided meditations there are tasks that would train one to became a much better version of themselves.
I do not want to spill the beans any further on what all the app new pack has to offer but it is for the people who take self-improvement seriously as it stretches over 40 days.
As mentioned in my previous posts here and here, I have been involved in resilience building and bringing the best out of few of the students in my acquaintances. I have been closely working with Shridhar to bring him up to pace with his education and his hobbies.
With the Live like a champion I saw an opportunity to further bring out the best in Shridhar. Ever since we started in April (link), Shridhar has shown some improvement in his self-discipline and also an inclination towards meditation.
So, in mid of July 2021, we embarked on a journey to take up the 40 day pack with utmost seriousness and approach each task given in the app on daily basis like a mini exam. One activity in the pack involves doing a task daily that one might have never done in past. It basically helps the user to come out of his shell and break his / her conditioning and challenge once resilience.
Shridhar being an introvert took on these tasks to bring a major shift in his personality. Daily he used to take up tasks that would put him out of his comfort zone. Some of the examples being, speaking to stranger, bargaining with vegetable vendors, asking doubts in class, reading English for more than 30 mins, etc. These may sound mundane tasks for pro like you but these are the small wins that mean a lot for a 15 year old introvert boy who has been struggling academically since last 4 years and has been pushed down by society because of his “bad” report cards.
Over the period of 40 days Shridhar accumulated small chits of his daily wins in a piggy bank with an intent to make a collage out of it at the end of 40 days. Just imagine looking at a collage full of 40 small wins that will end up defining your personality in long term. That’s the beauty of an app like Black lotus and especially the Live like a champion pack.
At the end of 40 days Shridhar called me and said, “ I did it chachu, will send you the collage and lets rejoice”
4 days later while I was working late in the evening, Shridhar called me. He politely asked me “chachu are you in middle of your office work?”
“Yes, but tell me”
“Chachu, Papa has met with an accident, he is on ventilator”
A chill ran down my spine. My elder brother’s face started flashing in front of my eyes as I tried to understand the situation.
“I don’t know chachu what happened, mumy and akka (elder sister) have gone to pick him up from the accident spot and take him to hospital”
“chachu…can you please come?”
Without a second thought I assured him that I am coming at earliest.
Shridhar and his family is based out of central India in a tier 2 city of which does not have direct connectivity from Bangalore where I live. There were no direct or flights when I checked at 8 30 PM. The earliest I could leave was 6 15 next day morning. I had no option but to wait till then to book the ticket.
I called him back and assured that I am coming while I look at other arrangements in the meanwhile.
Late in the night when I had spoken to the people around my brother and realized things weren’t good at all, I called up Shridhar, who was at home alone with his grandparents hoping for a call with some good news.
I called up and asked him to start his sadhana. I gave him a mantra to chant until his father comes back home. That’s the only way I have learnt to deal with problems, That’s the only means thorough which we both connect the best.
I reached the hospital next day afternoon, travelling half of India via different modes of transport. There he was waiting for me, with his nerves of steel, and a penetrating look from those beautiful eyes of his. Shridhar was as calm as a lake, with a sea storm building in the background. If there is one thing that he is good at, it is at deceiving the outside world with his emotions. He would never give away what he is going through inside. That’s quite a big thing for a 15 year old trust me.
Over the next 4 days I hardly met Shridhar, I along with few of my close cousins worked hard to find the right hospital over 2 different cities to provide my brother with right treatment. But eventually we ran out of time. The universe went about executing its plan. My brother decided to leave behind few unsolved puzzles. All my life I had lived in his shadow as the younger one. He decided to bring the elder one out of me.
I called up Shridhar to inform him about the inevitable. I was in a city 3 hours away wrapping up the formalities to bring the body back home.
“Try your best to keep calm, ignore what others have to say around you. Wait until I come. We shall talk through it” I pleaded.
“Sure chachu” he replied in his stern and deceiving calm demeanor.
I reached home 12 hours later (yes this is how things work here)
In a crowd of people who had already gathered in the house, I was searching for the person I was most worried about. He walked in from behind and started conversation about the arrangements made for people who had arrived. I was stone cold looking at him. I do not recall what he spoke to me for 5 mins. I had lost a battle and come home. I did not have the courage to look into his eyes.
But Shridhar, being him, just got on with deceiving the world away from the storm that was building inside him. Or may be its just my illusion. May be he is way beyond my comprehension, I am yet to figure out, or dare I say I will never figure out.
I brought myself back in present moment and apprised him about the rituals that will start to take place from next day onwards. In sanatana dharma, the funeral is perhaps the most elaborate of processes which have rites and rituals spread over 15 days.
It was the first time I was going to see it in 36 years of my life. At 15, Shridhar was going to perform the most punishing of tasks to send his father back to the heavens. The most miserable thing for our family was he was the youngest person in the crowd of more than 200 people who had to go through all this. As all elders tried to comprehend what had happened, the youngest one sat down next to the priest and got on with the rituals.
“Try your best to do these acts as sincerely as possible. This is the one last thing we can do for papa” He nodded me his assurance.
While I am firm believer and follower of all Vedic rituals, in the heat of the moment, the rituals looked torturous to me, it killed any iota of resilience that the doer had. But maybe that is what they are meant for, building detachment with the departed.
After a long series of activities of 4 hours, we finally took the body to the funeral ground. All this while, since the body was brought to home, Shridhar alternated between letting out his emotions to getting on with the rituals with utmost attention and sincerity.
The final rituals in the funeral ground were an emotional drag. I had already lost my battle with emotions, while Shridhar continued to pay attention to instructions of the priest. With the body lying bare on the pyre, Shridhar did his rounds around it, with his feet stern on ground and swiftness reminiscent to Mahatma Gandhi or Paramacharya of Kanchi when they did their Pada Yatras (walking). The very lean body built of his surely reminds me of them.
Once last time, he looked at his father, lit the pyre and walked away instantly. I can’t recall what happened after that. The moment he turned around and looked at me I had a blackout. The next thing I recall is shridhar not around as he was taken back to home for tonsure and other rituals and very few of us left back watching the fire blaze in its majesty doing what we had prayed it for, taking away my brother on his next journey.
Over the next 12 days, shridhar went through each and every ritual giving his best. It involved sitting for more than 4 hours, doing acts that are difficult to perform physically and mentally. On the 10th day, by the river side, while it was raining heavily, shridhar stood there with a single piece of white cloth, taking more than 45 dips in chilling water.
That afternoon while I was cuddling Shridhar after all his hard work, I gathered courage to ask him how was he able to stand unfazed in the face of such a big storm over the last 15 days, how could he keep so calm?
“Chachu, It’s only since the last few months that I have started developing this level of composure. The older me would have got irritated with trying to focus on doing so many things while my mind not being at that place. Over the last few months, since I have been meditating regularly, I have developed more patience to sit down and do things for longer time”.
This could be one of the reasons, but there is more to him as a personality. The challenge of decoding him will keep me occupied for rest of my life.
A Swimming heat lasts for 4 mins, a football match lasts 90 mins, a live concert for 2 hours, an academic exam lasts for 3 hours, a tennis match 5 hours, and a cricket match for 1 day. Live like a champion feature in Black lotus app has been built to bring out the best out of younger generation. It has primarily been built to mold the future champions, grandmasters and concert musicians.
I also dreamt the same with Shridhar. I wanted him to discover his love for the art he loves, and build a champion out of himself. In Sep 2021 Shridhar grinded day in day out for 15 days in a row. From what I have seen, Shridhar has manifested the champion in himself. Just like the 3 acts of any successful magic, (The Pledge, The Turn, The Prestige), Shridhar has stunned each and everyone of us with his conduct over last few weeks.
Shridhar is my hero.
Jai Shri Hari
P.S. This post has been written with utmost honesty and sincerity, By no means it is to promote Black Lotus app. It is just how our life panned out over the last 3 months and Black Lotus was at the center of it.