Kṛṣṇa & Neuro Linguistic Programming – Part 4

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is a great way to observe, analyze, assess, intervene and assist people needing help and indeed to assist ourselves. It is a great tool to assist when we are at our weakest.

Recap of Series: Parts 1 – 3

We present the proposition, Kṛṣṇa is a Master at Neuro Linguistic Programming over a series of articles titled Kṛṣṇa & Neuro Linguistic Programming. For the sake of completeness I think its best that I provide a short Recap of the previous articles, before I move ahead to complete the proposition in the last part of this series.

Part 3 of this series, Kṛṣṇa & Neuro Linguistic Programming shows how that great warrior Arjuna is flummoxed (greatly confused). He is faced with the prospect of going to war with armies comprising of relatives, friends and kinsmen. We get an opportunity to delve deep into his mind, through his comments, statements and body language.
In Part 2, we present the basic tenets of NLP - Neuro Linguistic Programming. I mention briefly here the various steps and techniques that form the basis of NLP. They are Sentiment Analysis, Intent, Topics, Language, Reframing Issues, Anchoring, Building Rapport, Pacing & Leading, Mirroring, Remodeling Beliefs & Perceptions. Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP as its referred to in short, is predominantly about outcome facilitation. It is very powerful and used in many different ways including, effective communication, personal development and psychotherapy. When adopted in day to day life it has application in personal and professional situations. We also compared this battlefield setting to situations in a corporate setting.
In Part 1, we present common dilemmas faced by people from all walks of life, which affect mental health and cause inability to take appropriate decisions. We mention that this work is based on the most famous Indian scripture, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. However, we have shied away from the religious and spiritual aspects of the text and instead merely used the backstories and the narrative to set context. 

Responses from Kṛṣṇa: Neuro Linguistic Programming

This entire series deals with my proposition that Kṛṣṇa is a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner. This Part 3 deals with how Kṛṣṇa responds to Arjuna using classic NLP techniques and strategies.

Kṛṣṇa pays close attention to Arjuna’s comments and observes his body language. He is aware of the context, the intent and the circumstances. His role is that of mentor, guru, charioteer, friend and relative. It is on the basis of all these roles, he intervenes and assists Arjuna is arriving at the right decision and facilitate an outcome.

What Arjuna certainly didn’t contend with is that, in Kṛṣṇa, he had not merely the best possible guide, but simultaneously a most difficult task master. One who would not permit weakness and let a just cause be lost, under any circumstances. Little did Arjuna realize that with the utmost skill and dexterity, Kṛṣṇa would do nothing short of getting his Chief Executive to complete the mission.

Through masterful intervention techniques, all based on Neuro Linguistic Programming, Kṛṣṇa compels Arjuna to submit to his will and finally Arjuna accepts Kṛṣṇa as his Guru and asks for instructions. 

Quoting Kṛṣṇa

We now quote His words from certain relevant verses from Bhagavad-gītā As It Is.

Seeing Arjuna full of compassion, his mind depressed, his eyes full of tears, Madhusūdana, Kṛṣṇa, spoke the following words.

Bg. 2.1

My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.

Bg. 2.2

O son of Pṛthā, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.

Bg. 2.3

O descendant of Bharata, at that time Kṛṣṇa, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.

Bg. 2.10

While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.

Bg. 2.11:

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

Bg. 2.13

O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

Bg. 2.14

O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.

Bg. 2.15

O Pārtha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?

Bg. 2.21

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

Bg. 2.22

If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] will always be born and die forever, you still have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed.

Bg. 2.26

One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

Bg. 2.27

Considering your specific duty as a kṣatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting; and so there is no need for hesitation.

Bg. 2.31

O Pārtha, happy are the kṣatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.

Bg. 2.32

If, however, you do not perform your duty of fighting, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.

Bg. 2.33

People will always speak of your infamy, and for a respectable person, dishonor is worse than death.

Bg. 2.34

The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you insignificant.

Bg. 2.35

Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful for you?

Bg. 2.36

O son of Kuntī, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up with determination and fight.

Bg. 2.37

In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.

Bg. 2.40

Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.

Bg. 2.41

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

Bg. 2.47

Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.

Bg. 2.48

When your intelligence has passed out of the dense forest of delusion, you shall become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.

Bg. 2.52

One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind.

Bg. 2.56

In the material world, one who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain, neither praising it nor despising it, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.

Bg. 2.57

One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.

Bg. 2.58

The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them.

Bg. 2.60

One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.

Bg. 2.61

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

Bg. 2.62

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.

Bg. 2.63

But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.

Bg. 2.64

For one thus satisfied, the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such satisfied consciousness, one’s intelligence is soon well established.

Bg. 2.65

As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.

Bg. 2.67

Therefore, O mighty-armed, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence.

Bg. 2.68

Kṛṣṇa’s Approach – Positive & Negative Discrimination

Let’s see how Kṛṣṇa speaks. Let’s see how he uses tone variations, context comparisons, a coaxing manner, cajoling, chastisement, reasoning and motivation.

When Kṛṣṇa sees that Arjuna is deluded, unclear of mind and lay down his arms, he acted decisively. He didn’t mince his words, some of which were scathing!

His approach was simple, that of using his mastery of NLP to overcome Arjuna’s preference to hide behind frivolous rationalizations and achieve his overall objectives.

He uses negatives and positives or the proverbial stick and the carrot.

Kṛṣṇa Uses Mirroring – Hard Hitting Truths

He uses negatives to strike at the heart of Arjuna’s weakness.

  • He calls Arjuna delusional and impotent.
  • He cautions that Arjuna will earn infamy, because he is an acclaimed warrior and a warrior who chooses not to fight, no matter the reason, runs the risk of being called a coward.
  • Krishna accuses him of being weak, of being in grief, mourning and lamenting needlessly.
  • He calls Arjuna bewildered.
  • He tells Arjuna that he doesn’t comprehend the value of life.
  • He says that impurities have come upon Arjuna.
  • He cautions Arjuna not to give in to degraded impotence.
  • Krishna tells Arjuna that he is being petty and weak of heart. 
He strikes hard. He hurts to the core. He knows that each word will shake Arjuna up and will make him rise to the occasion. He chastises and indeed smashes the deluded Arjuna. 

A great warrior like Arjuna takes pride in his ability to do battle, to use his mind to strategize how to overcome the enemy. By questioning and commenting on these aspects, this is exactly where Krishna is hitting him. 

Whereas modern day management may advocate not to use negative approaches, we need to realize that at some times, we need hard measures. Time is of the essence and being nice and sweet isn’t an option.

Kṛṣṇa Speaks: Motivation & Teaching

So Kṛṣṇa being such a master and a person in absolute command of a very precarious situation, also uses positives.
  • In some cases he openly praises Arjuna.
  • He calls Arjuna chastiser of the enemy. 
  • Apart from chastisement, interspersed with a few words of praise, he also extolled the virtues of wise people.
  • Even though he is scathing with his words, indirectly he is telling Arjuna, that Arjuna is better than he thinks.
  • He empowers Arjuna to be liberated from his flawed thinking.
  • He explains to Arjuna how to deal with mental anguish and teaches him techniques to regain equilibrium
  • The overall messages to Arjuna are that there is a need to shed his petty weakness and rebound to who he is and what he’s capable of.
  • He also leans on religious and spiritual principles, but as we decided, we will in this series, shy away from those aspects. 

Kṛṣṇa’s Actions, Motivations, Techniques

Why Does Kṛṣṇa Act?

It is important to understand Kṛṣṇa’s mission and his motivations to truly understand his contextual responses. 

Yes, the Pandavas were his friends and were also related, but that’s not why he was so keen to guide them. 

He sought the greater common good of the people. He wanted what was best for them. Kṛṣṇa wanted that the reigns of the kingdom pass to rightful, righteous, just, able and desirable rulers. 

Therefore, Kṛṣṇa's supports and guides Arjuna through a labyrinth of confusion, delusion and self-doubt, disguised in the garb of lofty ideals. He is the exemplary charioteer, guiding Arjuna through the battlefield in his mind. 

What Was Kṛṣṇa Thinking?

In a position of responsibility and leadership, we must gauge the situation we’re faced with and act expeditiously. Timely action and responses are key to address the situation.

We have but two options. The obvious option that a lot of us exercise is to take things on ourselves and eliminate the ones we entrusted in the first place. 

The challenge is to get people to do what they are charged with. The easiest thing to do is to eliminate the weak link, however the purpose served is limited. 

As leaders, mentors and guides we are better served to get work done from those entrusted. There is only so much we can accomplish by ourselves.

Examples: 

If we’re teaching someone to ride, our role is to reinstate the fallen onto the saddle. Learning is possible when in the saddle, not off it.

As managers we’ve hired people based on certain skill sets and we’ve budgeted for both their contribution and their costs. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to justify the spend and ensure that people do what they’re paid to do.

Therefore the answer lies, not in doing ourselves what we’re paying others to do. Instead we adopt ways and means to get people to do their jobs and play the roles they are assigned. 

We hire based on certain job families, categories and job descriptions. Even before we bring people on board, we give them a brief of our expectations. Therefore there can’t be any excuses not to perform.

Need for Intervention & Use Cases for NLP

Despite our best intentions and despite hiring the right people, we must contend certain realities. The primary reality is, People will be People. People have personal motivations that sometimes don’t align with the organization’s mission. They have different operating styles. People don’t always perform. They face bottlenecks and impediments. A lot of these impediments lie in the mind.

When such impediments and obstacles get in the way of staying on mission and achieving desired goals, we need interventions.

Some issues are more easy to address than others. The tricky ones are where a person’s personal nature, behavior and motivations come in the way.

I offer that the best way to carry out interventions and to facilitate desired outcomes is by a mastery of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming. 

NLP has many uses such as persuasion, sales, negotiation, management training, sports, teaching, coaching, team building, public speaking, recruitment and behavior management.

Warning:

Neuro Linguistic Programming has been called many things, pseudo-science, hypnosis, magic, manipulative, unethical and what not. Most practitioners shy away from overtly telling people that they are practitioners due to these reasons.

Regardless of the various opinions, it is a fact that using the right approaches, the right words, the right tone, chastising, coaxing, cajoling, encouraging, soothing, inspiring, instructing….anything goes. 

Finally it is about the end game. It is all about facilitating desirable outcomes.

In effect, Kṛṣṇa now needs to eradicate the influences that make Arjuna succumb.

Contextual Intervention – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Now Arjuna is no fool. He is a highly erudite and well trained Kshatriya or warrior, Yet, despite all his knowledge and training, his senses elude him at the penultimate moment. A moment where he needs all his mental and physical faculties to be working at peak levels.

We act based upon whom we’re dealing with and our actions need to be contextual. There is time for dialogue, but when dialogue yields no results, we must act. 

At times we impart knowledge and guidance, yet at other times we instruct. 

Kṛṣṇa uses several techniques which are nothing short of management excellence. 

Despite dealing with a person of great stature and capability, Kṛṣṇa uses the strong medicine of his words and some of the words and phrases he elects to use are potent. 

Conclusion

A reading of Arjuna’s statements and Krishna’s responses, the perspectives provided give credence and weightage to my proposition. Krishna is a master of NLP and he uses this to manage a difficult situation.

Finally, I would hope that this does serve as a guide to us all, not just in management, but also in our day to day lives to deal with the realities of life.

The Power of Words

Words we use have a telling impact on the outcome of the communique. Words trigger responses. Therefore, using the right words, phrases, tone and examples in our communication are important. They almost guarantee the outcomes we desire when we need to act and be decisive.

Words that denote negatives such as “not”, “cannot”, “can’t”, “won’t”, all create acceptance barriers as most people do not like it when we use the negative. It triggers negative feelings and/or emotions.

Words like “can”, “yes”, “sure”, “absolutely”, are all positive and create a positive impact.

Words denoting indecision or pre-conditions such as,  “if”, “then”, “else”, “but”, “could”, “would”, “should”, “maybe”, are generally used by people who are unable to take decisions, or to delay decisions or then pass the buck by posing pre-conditions.

Neuro Lingusitic Programming – A Means to an End

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is something that I advocate strongly. I urge that one at least understand the basics. NLP not only enables outcome facilitation when dealing with people and situations. Once its tenets are well understood, can be used for our personal self-development, self-improvement and behavior correction.

Being part of a social fabric, we either need to assist others through adversity or then be assisted through it. Regardless of the role we play (assisted or the one assisting), we need learn how to manage the situation and ensure that our mental wellbeing is sacrosanct.

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is a great way to observe, analyze, assess, intervene and assist people needing help and indeed to assist ourselves. It is a great tool to assist when we are at our weakest.

Up Next

Watch out for the video podcasts related to this series of articles on Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming and a quick reference guide on NLP.

Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming – Part 3

Before we verbalze, we usually concoct something that we are able to accept in our minds (rationalization and excuses) and then once this self-convincing is done, we sell this to the ones we’re dealing with.

In Summary – Part 1 & 2

This Part 3 in the series, Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming, picks up from where we left off in Part 2.

In Part 2, we very briefly mention that Arjuna, on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, surveys both armies lined up on the battlefield and he falters. He is prepared to give up the mission he’s been entrusted with.

We propose in Part 2 that Krishna is a master Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. Just so the context is clearly understood, we digress a bit and explain the basic tenets of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

In Part 2, we also speak about the role Krishna plays and distance ourselves from sprituality and religion, despite the fact that we lean on a spritual text as a reference. We do this to ensure that we don’t bring in any spiritual overtones and stay true to the subject of NLP.

We then draw parallels or establish a ratio between the roles of Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield, by comparing the situation to similar situations faced in the corporate world.

In Part 1, we talk about common dilemmas that many of us we face in day to day life, about battles in the mind and we alsp provide the backstory on which this series is based.

We use this backstory as a springboard into our topic, Krishna and Neuro Linguistic Programming. We also speak about the time, place, circumstance, situation, the power of words and actions under different conditions.

Examining the Mind of Arjuna

We are now at a point in time where Arjuna is unable to act!

We use Arjuna’s own words to dive deep into his mind. A mind that conjures up a variety of reasons (read excuses) why he should not fight.

Some of the reasons cited by Arjuna seem entirely plausible, even noble, on the face of it and yet others are overtly frivolous. 

As far as roles go, let’s reiterate that Krishna is the Chairman of the Board, setting direction and Arjuna is the Chief Executive, holding a mandate, one that he’s very reluctant to carry out.

Dilemas of the Mind, Rationalization & Excuses

We Indians usually find it difficult to be decisive. That we struggle to deliver appropriate or hard messages is a given. This, even when we receive unwelcome, persistent, awkward advances or attention from a person. We find it difficult to say “no”. Little do we realise, that inability to say “no” can be construed (assumed) as a “yes”.

We choose to be polite. We choose not to shut down such advances firmly and conclusively. Instead we sidestep the issue or then delay conveying the appropriate message. 

In doing so, we run the risk of a continuance of this behavior, which can further escalate to obsessive behavior. We do not understand the motivations of such people and we choose not to be alert. 

With certain people we can deliver the message in a gentle or roundabout manner. However with others we need to be very firm and even blunt.

If we’re smart, with the benefit of hindsight, we realize that our choice to be needlessly polite, encourages inappropriate behavior. Behaviour that can potentially have dire consequences. 

However, in my experience we often choose not to be smart and shy away from taking necessary steps, or using the right words and instead, continue to remain needlessly polite.

We owe it to ourselves to maintain our self-respect and our mental well being as opposed to worrying how our responses will be perceived.

Personal Experiences & Realizations

Throughout my life, scores of people have sought out my counsel (parties of the first part). Almost in every situation there is a person of the opposite sex involved. 

By now, I can guage the situation almost before the entire story unfolds. it is the situations, the words, the instances and manner in which the episodes are narrated, that send the alarm bells ringing in my head.

It is usually about a girl or a guy, who has made voluntary or involuntary decisions (sometimes under guidance), to sever association with people who are a bad influence. 

People choose to eschew and give up abominable (bad) habits, with a view to make personal improvements. 

At such times, the inappropriate associations we elect to spend time with react negatively. They make it very difficult for persons to better themselves.

Neuro Lingusitic Programming is not just a means to help others. The study and practice of NLP techniques is also a great means of self help. It promotes self-analysis and clarity of thought. It assists in  making changes, we must most certainly make to become a better version of ourselves.

Oftentimes we realise that we are in a downward spiral. However, we are so steeped in negative association and bad habits, that we take that to be our normal state. As a result we fall back on the very sources of our negativity (association and bad habits). We begin to believe in our minds, that we actually are better served to remain in that state.

Here is a short video on the subject of association and intoxicants.

Arjuna’s Excuses

Before we verbalze our excuses, we usually concoct something that we are able to accept in our minds (rationalization and excuses). Once this self-convincing is done, we sell this to the ones we’re dealing with. 

After all, what is the best way to sell a concept to a buyer? Sell it to ourselves first!

That is exactly what Arjuna does!

He defends his lack of resolve by citing lofty ideals and notions. He cites a litany of justifications (excuses) and bases them on the following tenets (foundations).

  • compassion and kinship
  • not wanting to cause misfortune.
  • not wanting to deprive relatives and friends of property, etc..
  • wanting to avoid sinfulness associated with taking lives.
  • wanting to follow social and family traditions.
  • be forgiving as opposed to punishing.
  • not deprive people of happiness.
  • considering dynastic angles.
  • not destroy the male population and thereby not leave women and children destitute and unprotected to ensure that exploitation of women and children does not ensue due to the dearth of male protectors. (see Aside # 1 below)
  • ensuring that offerings and obligations continue to ensure that they receive salvation. (see Aside # 2 below)
  • not enjoying at the expense of others and preferring self-sacrifice.
  • not bring about the advent of irreligion.

Aside # 1

As an aside, the institution of multiple marriages in Islam was an outcome of the Crusades.
This was done so that women and children who lost their fathers and or husbands or brothers in the Crusades, would be under the protection of surviving males.

Multiple Marriages in Islam

Aside # 2

In India, we offer “dan” (pinda) to our departed forebears during a period called “shraddh”.

Shraddh Rites

Mental & Bodily Manifestations

The practice of NLP, as we say in Part 2, involves observations of behaviour and also bodily reactions.

Arjuna exhibits classic behaviour and bodily manifestations (reactions).

Hi is overwhelmed. He prefers compassion to war, He is in despair and grieving. His limbs quiver. His mouth is dry. His body trembles. His skin burns. He gets hot flashes, The hairs on his body stand on end. His limbs are uncoordinated.

His famed Gandiva bow slips from his hands.

We see how Arjuna, at the beginning has gusto. He sounds the battle cry on his conch shell and then comes the damp squib, when he lays down his weapon. 

Anatomy of Indecision

The verses from the Bhagavad-Gita describe verse after verse, how Arjuna does a volte face (changes his mind).

This is a perfect case study for someone who wishes to understand how we permit our minds to play us.

Before leaping into action, Arjuna wishes to survey the situation and therefore he says to his charioteer, Krishna……

Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.

Bg. 1.21-22

The visual that greets him is as follows…..

There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers.

Bg. 1.26

Weakness to Excuses & Escuses to Rationalization

Arjuna’s statements are revealing and his arguments compelling.

Initially perhaps, we will agree with Arjuna and be hoodwinked by his logic. However, when Krishna responds to Arjuna we will realize how to put such dilemmas in the right perspective, such that we are able to deal with them. 

This is the genesis of Arjuna’s breakdown and the step by step revelations of his mind. 

I've reproduced the relevant verses verbatim from the online version of the Bhagavad-Gita from Vedabase, which is a great resource for a deeper study. 

This resource contains the Sanskrit shokas (verses), the meanings of the words, the transliteration and the purport (disertation).

When the son of Kuntī, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.

Bg. 1.27

Arjuna said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.

Bg. 1.28

My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gāṇḍīva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.

Bg. 1.29

I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Kṛṣṇa, killer of the Keśī demon.

Bg. 1.30

I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Kṛṣṇa, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom or happiness.

Bg. 1.31

O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusūdana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra?

Bg. 1.32-35

Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and our friends. What should we gain, O Kṛṣṇa, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?

Bg. 1.36

O Janārdana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin?

Bg. 1.37-38

With the destruction of the dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion.

Bg. 1.39

When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Kṛṣṇa, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, comes unwanted progeny.

Bg. 1.40

An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped.

Bg. 1.41

By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.

Bg. 1.42

O Kṛṣṇa, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those whose family traditions are destroyed dwell always in hell.

Bg. 1.43

Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen.

Bg. 1.44

Better for me if the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield.

Bg. 1.45

Sañjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Bg. 1.46

Arjuna said: O killer of enemies, O killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhīṣma and Droṇa, who are worthy of my worship?

Bg. 2.4

It would be better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though desiring worldly gain, they are superiors. If they are killed, everything we enjoy will be tainted with blood.

Bg. 2.5

Nor do we know which is better – conquering them or being conquered by them. If we killed the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, we should not care to live. Yet they are now standing before us on the battlefield.

Bg. 2.6
This is the point at which Arjuna takes Krishna as his Guru and asks for guidance and instruction.

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

Bg. 2.7

I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to dispel it even if I win a prosperous, unrivaled kingdom on earth with sovereignty like the demigods in heaven.

Bg. 2.8

Sañjaya said: Having spoken thus, Arjuna, chastiser of enemies, told Kṛṣṇa, “Govinda, I shall not fight,” and fell silent.

Bg. 2.9

Relatable Dilemma

If we eliminate the grave nature of Arjuna’s dilemma and dial it down several notches, we are able to apply a ratio and examine several incidents in our lives that are contextually comparable.

These incidents may relate to friends, relatives, parents, kids, acquaintances, work colleagues and significant others.

Enter Krishna – Friend, Philosopher, Guide

What do we do at times when we are unable to handle the situation by ourselves?

We seek counsel, advice and guidance from people wiser than us and perhaps from people who have far more experience than us.

In this instance, of course Krishna is at hand and hears Arjuna’s desperation, his angst and his cry for help.

Krishna’s responses and guidance to Arjuna are nothing less than epic and thus the great epic the Bhagavad-Gita comes into being. 

When two erudite people have a discussion, the narrative and the lessons are available for a larger audience and that is what the Bhagavad-Gita is. A guidance for us all, in the form of a dialogue between a confused Arjuna (Us) and an all knowing Krishna (our learned guides, mentors, teachers, Gurus). 

Coming Up In Part 4

The next part in this series deals with how the master Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner deals with the vacillating Arjuna. As I’ve said in previously, he tackles Arjuna is a variety of ways and uses textbook NLP techniques and strategies. He listens, he coaxes, cajoles, chastises, encourages, reasons and finally gets Arjuna back on track and enables him to arrive at the conclusion that there is no option left, but to fight.

Feel free to write to me on sumir@sumirnagar.com. You can slso join my Telegram Channel: NotJustSprituality.

Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming: Part 2

What I propose is that Krishna uses basic and fundamental NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques tIn India and elsewhere, but mostly India, we worship, revere and regard Krishna as the Supreme Godhead. However, in this piece we look at his role as a friend, philosopher, guide, mentor and Guru. We also examine what techniques and stratagem Krishna uses in His advisory capacity.hat we can learn from to achieve breakthrough results and deliver the remits that we are charged with in our day to day lives.

In Krishna & NLP – Part 1, we talk about dilemmas we face in day to day life. We also examine how people from all walks of life, are incapacited due to battles in the mind. The body exhibits our mental state by manifesting certain symptoms/reactions. We use an illustration from the Battle of Kurukshretra to set context and base my propositions on this illustration.

Back to Our Illustration

Now the day of reckoning arrives and the armies are lined up across each other on the battlefield and a lot of chest-thumping, psyching of the self and opposite side ensues.
Arjuna, the commander in chief of the Pandava armies takes stock of the battle arrays. He is a seasoned war veteran, yet he balks when he sees the lineup. Not out of fear. Nor is it because he is taken by surprise. He knows all along who will be lined up against him, as the seeds have are sown a very long time ago. Despite his fearlessness, despite being in the know, despite being confident of victory, he faces a dilemma. 

He grows weak at the knees. He shivers as he contemplates the consequences of the actions he is about to take.

Seeing his state of mind and listening to Arjuna’s words,  Krishna, Arjuna’s childhood friend and charioteer (soon to become Guru) has to act! 

Krishna’s Roles

In India and elsewhere, but mostly India, we worship, revere and regard Krishna as the Supreme Godhead. However, in this piece we look at his role as a friend, philosopher, guide, mentor and Guru. We also examine what techniques and stratagem Krishna uses in His advisory capacity.

Krishna As “Sarathi” (Charioteer)

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna’s role as charioteer is to guide Arjuna the warrior, through the battlefield and protect him from harm. He navigates the battlefield efficiently, thus leaving Arjuna to focus on the fight and not worry about navigating the battle formations or covering his flanks.

Ratio – Applying our Illustration to the Corporate World

Let’s abstract this and apply a ratio, in the interest of steering away from religion and spirituality. Let’s say that Pandava Inc. is a leading organization. Krishna is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Pandava Inc. and Arjuna is the Chief Executive. 

In his capacity as Chairperson, Krishna sets the tone. He provides overall guidance and remains in an advisory capacity and delegates the execution to Arjuna as his Chief Executive.

Despite the planning, the strategy, when push comes to shove, the Chief Executive isn’t delivering. Therefore Krishna uses a variety of means to get his Chief Executive to stay on mission.

The Twist – A Very Different Take

Despite this series being based on a widely acclaimed spiritual text, we seek to give it a twist that has not hitherto been examined. At least not with the angle that I’m about to propose! 

The Proposition – Krishna Uses Neuro Linguistic Programming Techniques

What I propose is that Krishna uses basic and fundamental NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques that we can learn from to achieve breakthrough results and deliver the remits that we are charged with in our day to day lives.

In Focus – Krishna Intervenes Using NLP

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) comes naturally to me, as it does to people who have a high EQ - Emotional Quotient. That should be no surprise because EQ comprises, ​​self-awareness, management, social awareness and relationship management.

As we proceed, I propose to demonstrate how Krishna used every aspect of NLP to turn Arjuna around. 

But before I even go there, perhaps it is only fair that I introduce you to my pet subject, 

Neoro Linguistic Programming – What is it? 

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP as its referred to in short, is predominantly about outcome facilitation. And outcomes depend on several factors, predominantly sentiment analysis.

It is very powerful and used in many differernt ways including, effective communication, personal development and psychotherapy.

It can not only be used in dealing with others, but is an excellent system to deal with our own issues.

The Four Pillars of NLP

NLP provides a framework and a set of techniques to facilitate desirable outcomes.

It deals with Sensory Acuity or awareness about how good our senses are at doing what they should do. It is the ability to use our senses to make unbiased observations about ourselves or other people.

Behavioral Flexibility is the ability to modify our own behavior to prompt a desired response from another person. NLP experts develop an wide range of responses to handle any given situation instead of falling back on stereotype responses, which are limiting and inhibit performance potential.

Building Rapport gives us the ability to relate to others to create trust and understanding. The ability to understand opposing points of view, doesn’t mean that we have to agree to the point of view or even like it. It just makes communication easier.

The Power of Observation


Data about a person is collected via various means by observing physical reactions of people and closely heeding verbal exchanges. These observations are categorized based on sentiments, which enable us to gain a deeper understanding of what lies behind the outward physical reactions and the choice of words.

Sentiment Analysis

More often than not, we humans base our decisions on sentiments. Therefore understanding sentiments is paramount in facilitating desireable outcomes. Further classification of sentiments is possible based intent, topics and language.

NLP Techniques


Certain techniques are applied that alter or correct a person’s thought process, for once the mind is set right, desired action is a logical outcome.

Reframing

It is always best to remain objective to take appropriate decisions. Staying steeped in subjectivity (when we’re immersed in that situation) personal biases or motivations, prevent us from examining the facts. Therefore, in NLP we swap the problem situation of by either putting it into a different context or a different setting. This allows us to step back and reassess sentiments and the reactions that the sentiments drive. We Reframe the problem statement by abstracting the root cause and apply a ratio to a comparable but different statement.

Anchoring

In NLP, Anchoring is the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger. In this way the response may be quickly and often covertly determined.

Why covert? As NLP practioioners we realise that people may not overtly (openly) divulge the entirety of the problem.

It’s like going to a doctor. Suitable treatment is possible only when the doctor has all the facts/symptoms of our ailment. Doctors ask all kind of questions and prescribe different tests to identify the nature of the ailment. Inquiries are made in a probing, yet gentle manner without letting the person know why the question is being asked. This provides answers that the patient may not readily provide.

There are five keys to anchoring:

  • Intensity – which helps us to determine how serious the issue is.
  • Timing – To determine when the situation arizes.
  • Uniqueness – To narrow down the root cause of the issue at hand.
  • Replicability – To see if the issue can be replicated in different ways.
  • Number of times – To determine if the issue is just a one-off issue or there is a pattern.

The quick way to do this is:

  • Determine how we want to feel. If we want to feel confident, we recall a time when we were confident and examine why we felt confident. Remember the visual, sound and the feeling when we were confident.
  • Using a device an anchor (something we can touch and feel) that makes us replicate that positive time.

Rapport

When faced with trying or vexatious situations, we tend to be more open and talk to people we trust. Before trust is established we need to build Rapport. In NLP rapport is measured by how responsive a person is. The test of responsiveness is that people you are interacting with, consciously and unconsciously respond and therefore you have the upper hand and can lead the conversation.

Pacing

When we communicate with people one technique is join that person in his/her model world/state of mind by matching their external behaviour, such as speed (tempo) of talking or body posture. This is done over a period of time to gain and then maintain the rapport.

Leading

When people are in a state where they cannot arrive at a conclusion or a decision, we need to lead them to a conclusion. When we say “leading” we do not try to make a decision for the person. Instead, simply state the facts about the situation. State what you believe to be true about what they are experiencing. Then use it to lead them to a conclusion which influences a decision.

Remodeling

The words we use, the actions we take or the habits of the past that we hold on to, reflect the subconscious perception of our problems. When words, actions, habits and perceptions are inaccurate, they create an underlying and persistent problem as long as we choose to remain associated with them.

Therefore, more often than not, our attitudes and persistent behaviour become a prophecy that our subconcious perceptions are driving to fulfilment. The subconscious mind then assists us by forming rationalizations about why we choose to continue to be immersed in our situations.

I often hear people talk about “coping mechanisms”. Coping mechanisms are roundabout ways that we formulate to deal with our own lackings or even to deal with how people deal with us. Whereas coping mechanisms do have some efficacy, they are merely temporary fixes and are not conducive to a permanent solution.

In NLP, we need to consciously make an effort to delve into the current state of being. Only then can assist them in remodeling.

Remodeling involves taking current patterns, reactions and stimulus to determine what the underlying triggers are. Only when we understand the triggers can we develop a framework to slowly remove those negative perceptions, influences and habits. Once these negatives are removed we evolve or help others to evolve into a healthier state of existence.

Mirroring

Mirroring is perhaps the trickiest part of the NLP techniques. Simply because when we are feeling low, the last thing we want is for someone to show us the mirror to our true selves.

Therefore it is fundamentally important to build rapport, trust, reframe the issues and only then delve into Mirroring.

Combination of Approaches & Techniques

What we need to realise is that we humans are complex and one size doesn’t fit all. A combination of techniques is used to deal with our own situations and to assist the people who need our assistance.

NLP Resources

NLP is a very vast subject. I have merely provided a teaser. I have used the best possible example from the Bnagavad-Gita.

However, it is best that I leave you with resources to read and learn more about this most powerful method.

A mastery, or even a basic fimiliarity will help you. You will see your communication skills sharpen. You will see that you will achieve the desired result.

Our ability to manage personal and professional relationships will see measurable improvement. Our ability to resolve problems for ourselves and to assist people who need intervention and guidance will be enhanced.

Finally I end this part with some links to resources if you need more information.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming
  2. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/neuro-linguistic-programming
  3. https://www.nlp.com/what-is-nlp/
  4. https://beyondnlpcoaching.com.au

Up Next

In Part 3 of this series, Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming, we take a look at a bewildered Arjuna. We examine his state of mind, his words and his actions. Finally in Part 4, we look at Krishna, a master Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner. We see how he deals with the bewildered Arjuna and facilitates an outcome. An outcome were Arjuna arrives at the conclusion most conducive to resolve the problem conclusively.

Plants Teach Us So Much About Behavior.

A couple of weeks ago the flowering plants in my balcony blossomed beautiful flowers. Once in full bloom I plucked them and offered them to Gopal – Krishna in the form of Shaligram as part of my daily prayer. What happened next is a lesson in constructive and destructive behavior from the humble plant. It made me think about various roles we play in life, the interplay between those roles and responsibilities and our relationships.

A couple of weeks ago the flowering plants in my balcony blossomed beautiful flowers. Once in full bloom I plucked them and offered them to Gopal – Krishna in the form of Shaligram as part of my daily prayer. What happened next is a lesson in behavior from the humble plant. It made me think about various roles we play in life, the interplay between those roles and responsibilities, our relationships and destructive and constructive behaviors.

I’ve been observing the plants since then, especially the stems from where I’d plucked the beautiful flowers. I saw them wither for a bit, then recuperate and I now see that on the Rose plant the stems that were laid bare are now sprouting leaves. On the other plant a beautiful flower has emerged in place of the one I had plucked.

sunrise

This morning, as I sat in my balcony watching the sun rise and sipping my morning coffee, I had a realization which helped me to relate observations about life, people, how we treat each other and how we can choose to react when we face life changing situations or circumstances.

Take the flowers. We plant them, we provide nourishment by way of fertile soil, water and place them in sunlight. All essential to enable the plants to sprout beautiful flowers, so colorful, so pleasing to the eye and possibly fragrant as well.

The flowers initially start as little buds which start opening up as the flowers grow and then finally the flowers emerge in their full splendor.

What do we do then? We have two options, we allow them to wither, or then we pluck them for our own use. Let's draw a parallel of this to our lives with a few examples. 
nurture and care

Don’t we nurture our children in the same way as grow or nurture plants? And then as they go through life they will face what the beautiful flowers face.

They are exposed to the real world, as they are now adults and in full bloom. The experiences that they go through in life make or break them. They can either be exposed and experience beautiful moments or then they can face adversities and be exploited as we exploit flowers using them for our advantage and then discarding them, as they may possibly wither and die just as the flower dies once its separated from the plant that nurtured it.

Let’s also take relationships, be they personal or professional. We deal with relationships falling back on inherent or influenced destructive or constructive behaviors. In personal relationships, we are often used or we end up extracting all that is good and pure from our partners, significant others or associates and when we are done, some of us discard them and seek other things of beauty, leaving the party of the other half sad, forlorn, damaged and hurt. Sometimes irreparably. Unfortunately some of us do this fully well knowing what the fallout will be.

Doesn’t this also often times happen on the corporate or professional front? We hire, train, groom and nurture our proteges, our resources, only to discard them once we’ve extracted the creative and productive juices from them? Don’t employees also in a similar vein do the same. Take up jobs, use them as springboards and then jump ship for grass that seems greener on the other side of the fence?

Whereas this is an inevitable part of life, a perpetual cycle, I’d look to the plant that the flowers were plucked from and learn from the humble plant that cannot cry out in pain when their flowers have been uprooted. What do they do? How do they react? They wither for a bit (suffer as we do) and fall back on the soil, water and sun to overcome the pain and start the process of regeneration once again. So that’s the destructive and constructive behavior examples from plants.

Parents, well-wishers, mentors, friends are all like plants, insofar as they sometimes need to see their kids, friends, mentees, significant others get plucked and wither away, when they fall upon bad times, or bad association, or bad habits. They can see trouble on the horizon for the ones they love and yet, sometimes are so helpless to do much about it.

Many people we know are like the flowers. They are nurtured, they grow, they blossom, only to be plucked away by undesirable conditions, be they influences, social indoctrination, social pressures, family pressures or even personal choices and end up making foolish choices that are surely not conducive to a brighter life.

The Influence Spectrum

So what advice can I give to both plants and flowers, To personify them, plants are parents, those who nurture friends, relationships and flowers being the ones who run the risk of being plucked, used, exposed, exploited or then willfully and wantonly exposing themselves to risk and disaster.

For those playing the role of the ones doing the nurturing, I'd say lick your wounds, fall back on things that help us restore and rejuvenate and prepare to continue our chosen mission of being the ones to do the nurturing. Especially as parents, give your kids the love, upbringing, values, emotional, spiritual and educational nourishment that your kids (flowers) will surely need as they navigate life. You have a great responsibility and play a fundamental role in ensuring that the seeds we plant become our responsibility and we are accountable for their well being and future.

For the flowers, remember how you were nurtured and fall back on that when faced with adversity and come out on top of the situation or circumstances. Don’t needlessly and foolishly be exposed to what you know will be detrimental to you and to those around you. Finally, don’t end up compromising what could possibly be a bright future by taking impulsive decisions, some of which cannot be undone. The modern day snare is the influences from social media that are often misleading and disrupt lives adversely. Instant gratification is a myth, get that into your head. It takes hard work to get where you want to get.

Harsh but valuable advise…..if you find that your circumstances, foundations, social circle or social indoctrination aren’t conducive for you to grow and bloom, be prepared to take hard decisions to discard all that is not conducive to what is best for you.

Some of the most toxic people in our lives come disguised as family and friends and therefore its hard to overcome these influences due to our attachment to such people. What ends up happening is that we oftentimes sacrifice ourselves for the very people who contribute so heavily in preventing us from flourishing and even dragging us down as they continue on their downward spiral.

Don’t willingly and knowingly harm or cause harm to others by your words, actions and decisions, for when we hurt ourselves, we also end up hurting people who care about us and are concerned about our well being.

The humble, silent and resilient plants, standing quietly, enduring all kinds of weather, does nurture and sprout beautiful flowers. Lets’ learn from the humble plant.

The Firstborn’s Wedding.

My First Born got married a short while ago. It was a very emotional moment for me.

If you call me emotional you wouldn’t be wrong, as was evinced with the emotional reaction, floods et all…a mix of so many emotions, that I couldn’t keep the floods at bay.

I remember the day he was born. I was just twenty seven or thereabouts, too young to be a father, but a father I became.

The Day He Was Born

He’s now all of thirty one years. For a very long time he maintained he didn’t really want the whole marriage and family thing. Methinks, I may have contributed, in no small measure, to that mindset and preference.

Then a few years ago, something happened, at first a friendship with her brother, then his sister. The rest is what you’re reading about right now. A friendship that blossomed into something more, much more and here we are today!

More often than not, I go with the flow, tend not to analyze my every thought and emotion, however on some rare occasions and under some compelling circumstances, I do.

So, this time I did. Post floods and en route back from the wedding, I immersed myself in thought. What brought on the said flood of tears.

Was it happiness alone, were they tears of joy, or were they just an outburst signifying more, much more? Without a doubt, it was the much more! It was happiness without a doubt, it was joy not a doubt about that! What was the “more”? 

I suspect it was the marking of a milestone, the firstborn getting hitched, a rite of passage to a life of responsibility. Did it also have to do something with my own state of mind? It was.

Whereas the impending marriage was off the cards, then on the cards again, before the “on” was more the finality, it suddenly hit me.

I’m now a father by law and in time, I’m going to be a grandfather! Grandfather! Imagine that! The setting, the gathering of relatives, friends, well wishers and the enormity of it all hit me square.

And there we have it!

My son in messages on the core family group called “Cosa Nostra” meaning “This Circle of Ours” said, “I’m so excited”.

He sounded so happy. He’d overcome his demons, the gremlins and made a decision and was happy with how the decision sat with him.

When he and the missus (about to be) called to give me the news, I was overjoyed, nay, I was elated and yet it took the enormity of the actual vows to bowl me over.

Apart of naturally being happy for him and the missus (about to be), this has a lot to do with me. Was it loneliness? Was it distance from family? Was it my own personal circumstances? Was it concern? Was it care? What exactly was it? I guess it was everything?

I’m not a person who likes to attend weddings and am known for being nefarious for not attending, of even those closest to me and if I do, I’m there, but, also out of there in a flash! Especially if its a big wedding. The meet and greet kinda don’t gel with me too much. I seem like an extrovert, but in reality I’m a complete introvert. What’s the word they have for people like me? Ah yes! Introverted – extrovert. Spot on!!! So it was no surprise when my son repeatedly called to ascertain for sure that I would be there! How could I not attend? This is my son!

What I also realized is that this kid (yes, they are always kids to us) was special to me and all of us in the immediate family. I don’t play favorites with my kids and love them all dearly and equally, albeit in different ways. So why special? Special, because he’s old enough to have seen me go through all possible phases of my rollercoaster life, both professional and personal, from the abysmal lows and the heady highs. He’s seen me take the hard knocks, some that affected family so deeply and for a young boy, that surely must have impacted him.

I so clearly remember, like it was yesterday, when he came to me and said he didn’t want the usual, run of the mill business or job and that he wanted to be a photography professional. I supported him wholeheartedly, despite the expected pushback from all possible quarters and I’m so pleased that my support and confidence in that decision have made him the brilliant photographer that he is. Whereas I can’t take credit for his achievements, neither do I seek to, I do and can take credit for being the one that get him initially interested.

My kids are more like my buddies and the eldest is no exception. “Bhai“ is what I’m called and it means brother. No dad, papa, baba, pop (except occasionally when the girl calls me “pops”) but that’s pretty rare), just Bhai and I love it. It’s really special! “Bhai” is what my kid sister called me when she was little and does until this day and eventually “Bhai” kinda caught on and stuck pretty good. It was adopted by family, the kid’s friends, co-workers alike.

Now that I’ve mentioned my sister…she’s all of fourteen years younger and in effect is my first “Baby”.

She made the trek from the US for the wedding. See? Here is the thing! There is also a fourteen year gap between my “baby” sister and my eldest. So he’s her first kid and they have that special bond.She just had to come! 

So seeing my sister there at the wedding, after a gap of four years or more, was certainly a contributing factor. Brought back memories of her getting married. I guess the feeling dawned on me, that sooner or later everybody leaves and leads their own lives. As they are entitled to and must do, but does that infallible fact make it any easier for a father or a parent for that matter?

I cried causing my sister to cry and to our wonder and amazement, so did a couple of my son’s friends. So I guess I was the trigger. And I’m told the mother of the bride did precisely that in the morning before the ceremony.

Truth be told, I cry when I see touching movies or touching scenes in movies, but this was really strong.

Now my daughter is as cool a cucumber as there can be. Calm and collected is a really mild way to put it. She’s not prone to show emotion but feels it. So talking about her, I wish I could have spent more time with her at the wedding, but didn’t get enough of that as it was hectic as such things usually are. But, what I did get was precious.

The youngest and I shared a room so that was cool. He’s another cool dude. What an amazing dry sense of humor!

Memories of childhood, of dinners, birthdays, road trips, adventures and the like had no small role to play as the ingredients that caused by to have the pearls roll down.

I believe that another thing that hit me was that my dear departed father was missing and I distinctly recall that he was in tears as well, when I got married.

I’ve spent quality time with him, being his chauffeur, office assistant, confidant in some matters and even though I never did take up the family business, he was so very supportive and encouraged me to forge my own path and allowing me the latitude to make my own mistakes and learn from them.

All in all being with family and friends, chilling a couple of days before the wedding was so very pleasant and uplifting. We spent a day at Malini’s grandmother’s place and what an amazing time we all had.

Of course the way we were taken care of and made to feel welcome by the Chakraborty family was an experience that was just so endearing. So many people came up to me and Bhavna and said what a fine son we have and that made me swell with pride and joy. I guess as parents, we didn’t do too badly. But I must admit, Bhavna did most of the heavy lifting, due to my preoccupation with so many other things.

The venue for the wedding reception was as prestigious as was possible and that just added to the pomp and ceremony, despite the wedding ceremony itself being a very simple affair, attended by only the closest relatives and the best friends.

I fondly remembered all the great times we had as family, the road trips, the fun, frolic, adventures and laughter. Of the time, Krishanu came and spent his eighteenth birthday with me in London. Of the road trip we did in the UK, from London to Scotland and so many places in between. Those days are now just memories and as much as I’d like to relive them, they will remain fond memories. Of the bicycle rides we went on.

So as I did mention to a few, one down – two to go.

As a father I can wish, hope and pray that they find amazing life partners and end up as happy as their elder brother. As words of advise, I will say this to them and all young kids, when you find someone and you most certainly will, do anything and everything possible to develop, nurture and grow as partners and as individuals. Life is short and we must give happiness our very best shot, for life can be trying and uncertain at times and it is precisely at such times that we need to rally and stick together. It always takes two and we owe it to ourselves not to be lacking when push comes to shove.

Caste System: Series-Perception & Fact (Part 5).

Is it not such a sad thing and a miserable failure on our part, that we see so many instances of people from all parts of the world, coming to India, for our Santana Dharma, for our yoga, for our food, for our art forms for tourism, to learn how to live simpler, wholesome lives? And yet, we are unable to see value in what should naturally belong in the very center of our hearts?

I conclude the series in Part 5 which deals with the biggest myth around the Caste System and I go on to talk about practical reasons why class based communities are formed, how strict conformity to the castes began to ease up, how things changed due to external influences and how the Brahmins have lost out the most in the reshuffling of the social order. I also talk about our rich culture and why we need not and indeed must not fall prey to malicious interests and finally a call to arms to perhaps remedy the situation.

The big thing that goes around is this incorrect notion, this huge and I’d even call it gross misunderstanding about the so called Indian Caste system, that you are born into a certain Caste and therefore you are stuck into a life that is predetermined for you, due to the family you’re born into.

Quite the opposite in fact! Brahmin by Birth is nothing short of a figment of overactive imaginations.

Whereas there is no truth to this thought that you can be a Brahmin only by dint of your birth , there are certain facts that we need to bear in mind. In India, like in many societies, a son will inherit his father’s job. This inheritance continued across generations and it ended up as a community, jaati or a caste in the Indian system.

People of similar dispositions huddling, living and forming communities is nothing more than forming communities based on interests or needs. It its just seeking out people who followed similar lifestyles, professions and vocations. This community bonding just got stronger as realization dawned that a person from your own community and background would understand more easily, any issues or dilemma faced by their members and thus a strong support structure was formed.

Is that not just like people from one country settling in foreign countries, but choosing to be co-located with other families from their own home countries?

We’ve established clearly that categorization actually existed since medieval times, throughout history, across continents, in almost every civilization and until this day exists, albeit they stricter classifications have morphed over time.

In comparison, the Indian Caste System is NOT based on birth. It is actually based on Qualities, Attitude, Skills and Knowledge.

Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy.

bhagavat gita, Chapter 18, text 41.

Therefore, I reiterate, underscore and propose that we talk about Classes as opposed to Castes, treat, talk and deal with this no differently than we would deal with class segregation in other parts of the world.

I also propose that as time passed and the stricter classifications were diluted out of need, oppression and economic necessity. We see Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras NOT following their traditional family profession or vocation and instead taking up whatever work they are more suited for or for that matter can get.

What went wrong with the caste system is that in some cases, those in a position of knowledge or power, ended up getting power hungry and failed to use that for the greater common good. This is what gave them a bad name and this is why Brahmins came to be looked down upon.

Another huge factor is that as Indian Society started coming under the influence of so many races and cultures from invasions, traders and travellers, many new concepts and influences went into the melting pot and out the door went the purity of Indian culture and beliefs. 

As a result, the influence of the Brahmins was on the wane and they found themselves marginalized and even disregarded. Even their frugal way of life was threatened and therefore, they took to other professions. Worse yet, was that for survival they zealously began to guard their knowledge and stopped imparting advice, counsel and dharmic knowledge to those needing it for free, but instead demanded higher compensation.

So on the one hand they are marginalized, whereas on the other hand they need to make a living and yet on the other hand they chose professions not necessarily suited to their well being and in turn there was this degradation of vedic principles and even abandonment.

Personally, I am Brahmin and have that DNA from my fathers and mother’s side of the family, in addition to which I do follow the general principles, have the qualities, the acumen and the experience. However, I don’t ever flaunt it, as I find it’s largely irrelevant and on a need to know basis only.

As I look back at my life and my contribution to my personal circle and professional roles, I can certainly say that I’ve largely played the part. However, I have been subservient, I have been an advisor and I have been an entrepreneur, so by definition, I must say that I am Shudra, Brahmin and Vaisya.

I try to stay as far away from Caste as far as possible, but I will openly admit that I do look at things like family background. Though that’s not the basis on which I make decisions. I certainly do weigh these things in the background and this does sometimes find its way into my final decision. 

Another reason why I don’t flaunt Brahmin is somewhat more practical. The word does polarise people into making snap judgements due to bad memories, experiences, misconceptions, false notions and hearsay. But if it does come down to a debate or for that matter, if my lineage becomes a focal point of the debate, I can pretty much hold my end of the debate. I value my ethnicity, my roots and the ideology I choose to follow, ie: Varna-Ashrama Dharma.

I strongly propose that India or our culture and beliefs cannot and must not stand needless and baseless criticism and/or accusation by people, quite the opposite! It needs to be lauded for its Varna-Ashrama Dharma and “Caste System” is a gross and seriously misinterpreted translation of what is a practical and workable system.

Due to the lack of understanding about the “Caste System” and the lack of knowledge about how and why society is naturally divided into Classes, in modern day India, the Brahmins are the new Dalits, for they are the ones oppressed and are eliminated from opportunities around jobs and education, just because their birth certificates carry the classification of “Brahmins”. We see a vast part of the Brahmin community or class driving rickshaws and cleaning toilets, whereas we see Vaisyas and Shudras in important roles.

Like every system or process, its genesis, maintenance, morphing and adaptation depends on people and it is people with serious and malicious vested interests who tend to misuse power, privilege and connections to suit only certain quarters, instead of thinking of the greater common good.

Knocking people misusing systems, processes and privileges is more appropriate than making wide sweeping generalizations against communities, classes and sects such as the Bramins or for that matter the Shudras as is the common trend today.

Despite the gross misunderstanding around Sanatan Dharma (ignorantly labeled as Hinduism), the oldest religion, will not only survive but thrive as a troubled world searches for peace and happiness.

Is it not such a sad thing and a miserable failure on our part, that we see so many instances of people from all parts of the world, coming to India, for our Santana Dharma, for our yoga, for our food, for our art forms for tourism, to learn how to live simpler, wholesome lives? And yet, we are unable to see value in what should naturally belong in the very center of our hearts?

What is certainly needed is a call to arms, with a view to spread the correct perspectives and factual position about so many aspects of our way of life, culture, traditions, beliefs and practices. 

This topic is just one of many and I hope to bring more topics of interest to you as a humble effort in this regard.

Once again, Spirituality and Beyond podcasts are available on all major Podcast channels such as Apple, Spotify, Breaker and Google and is my way of providing relevant perspectives and insights on Spirituality, based on research and my own experiences in an uncomplicated manner. Additional content of interest is also available via blogs on www.sumirnagar.com and Medium. We will soon be on Clubhouse as well. I can also be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Tumbler and I’d be delighted to have you follow me there for updates and further engagement.

I did say at the outset that this is a controversial topic and I’d love to engage and hear your thoughts. Please feel free to reach out to me via email: sumir@sumirnagar.com or leave your comments here,

Cast System: Series-Perception & Fact (Part 4).

By now I’ve talked from my personal point of view and my umbrage at the way the Caste System is spoken about, what the true purport is from a Scriptural perspective and various models followed by other ancient civilizations and societies and have even touched upon the Animal Kingdom and a political perspective. In this installment, I’m going to be talking about certain practical aspects. I’m also going to be talking about how we have a classification in sports, the corporate world, the Pareto Principle and stratification based on money.

Let’s also look at biology, genetics and how the Double Helix plays a role in categorization. It is a pretty well established fact that we inherit certain traits, skills etc from our parents, who in turn inherit from their ancestors. So what happens over time is that certain families or races end up with certain skills, qualities that are inherent in that race, breed, sect or geography. Genetics spans the color of eyes, skin, hair, height, strength and so on.

So it is a combination of hereditary traits coupled by training which establishes a position of leadership or specialization for that particular family or race or community. Thus classification became a natural outcome of this process.

Let’s talk about leaders and followers an in that context look at the general perception that the trait of leadership is inherited. “He’s a born leader”.

Then we have the Pareto Principle or the 80:20 Rule, “The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is an aphorism which asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event.

It is a clearly established and well accepted fact that not EVERYBODY can be a leader, trailblazer or decision maker. So to expect all classes of society to lead or take pragmatic decisions is nothing short of fallacy or a recipe for disaster. Someone has to lead and others follow, else what we’re looking at is sheer anarchy.

The real question is who do we choose to lead us? People who have the background, knowledge and skills or do we put our faith and trust in the hands of someone who isn’t cut out for the job or task at hand? It’s plain stupid to ask an electriciain to deliver a child.

If I were to take examples from sports and games and I will take a game that is close to my heart and a game that is so popular not just in India but also internationally, I’d take American Football and Cricket. In American Football, the guy who calls the shots is the Quarterback (leader, or King). He’s kind of a captain and he calls the plays. The playbook is developed by experts in the field (strategic advisors or Brahmanas). The Quarterback tends to pass the ball to the person who will be able to gain the maximum yards on the field. The game has a side where the team in possession of the ball, needs to drive the ball to the end of the field and score points by getting one of their guys to carry the ball into the endzone of the opposite team and then kick a field goal. The team that does not have the ball is in defence mode and they need to prevent the offencive team from advancing or then even take the ball away from them. The Quarterback is defended by linebackers (army or Kshatriyas)and he has wide receivers who carry the ball into enemy territory.

Similarly in the game of cricket, the captain (leader) will put in a certain batsman or bowler for a higher likelihood to get more runs or wickets.

Now both the Quarterback and the Cricket Captain, do have at their disposal ADVISORS or Strategists and they fall back and take guidance or bounce of ideas and plans with such advisors.

The corporate world works no differently. There is the CEO or the MD, who is answerable to a Board of Directors and the CEO is guided by expert advisors. These advisors are nothing but the Brahmanas, or thinkers.

If you abstract all classes across the Globe what you will most certainly see is that society is divided into certain wide classes, in some way shape or form:

  • Thinkers.
  • Doers.
  • Seekers.
  • Slackers.

Now isn’t exactly what happens in real life? 

Let's talk about the dynamics of money and its role in classification. It is also a well known fact that things like knowledge and money, do give an edge to the people who have it and thus they are in a position to influence those who don’t have it. 
Money means different things to different classes of peopl and thus So Money itself becomes a means of classification.

What also ends up happening when money enters the equation is that, most rules about classification go out the window and out with it goes culture, traditions and upbringing thus unhinging generations of the social order.

Have you heard people saying, they come from old money or new money? What they're saying is that when someone moves up the social ladder solely on the basis of the money in her/her pocket, there is a tendency to loud, aggressive and the fact that money is available is flaunted in a way that makes them stick out like a sore thumb. It takes at least a generation or two for the refined tastes to develop and emerge which makes them more acceptable in circles that they were not privy to earlier. Old money does not accept new money easily and even when they do it is done begrudgingly.

With that I conclude my propositions for Part 4 which deals more with practical aspects of social stratification and will conclude the series in Part 5.

Write in and tell me what you think about this! I can be reached at sumir@sumirnagar.com or you can even leave your comments here. Don't forget that this series is also available via podcast on all major podcast channels like, Apple, Google, Spotify and Breaker. All you need to do is look for "Spirituality and Beyond" on any of these platforms.

Caste System: Series-Perception & Fact (Part 3).

Surely, you will now see, that in some way shape or form, there is a division or classification of society based on various factors such as birth, age, ethnicity, capabilities, socio-political factors or then a combination thereof. Perhaps you will now see why I see red when the Indian Caste System is singled out?

Part 1 of this Series dealt with my desire to debunk popular misconceptions around the Caste System and in Part 2, I’ve spoken about the true purport or true meaning of the Caste System. I now propose and establish in Part 3 of this series, that some form of Caste or Class segregation has existed all over the world, to set the right context. And to establish this I’m looking at social stratification in ancient civilizations, political systems and the animal kingdom.

Right from ancient times, ancient civilizations such as the Aztec, Mesopotamia, Greece, Russia, China, Japan, Norse, right through to the time of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, society was always divided into classes and indeed class based segregation exists even today in every society. Not just that, in a lot of the Societies and Civilizations people were even bought and sold, so let’s not kid ourselves and go knocking our Culture and Social Stratification.

Let’s start with the British as they are responsible for so much of the social upheaval that started from the time they first stated trading with us centuries ago and then finally came to establish their dominion over us through their divide and rule strategy.

The British had the Monarchy, the Nobleman, The Yeomen, The Gentry, The Merchants and the Peasants and each class were entitled differently. More recently the classes became the Upper Class, the Middle Class, the Working Class and the Under Class. The Monarchs and Aristocrats were determined by birth or by lineage and a commoner could never be anything more than a commoner.
Russia had the Upper Classes composed of Royalty, Nobility, Clergy. The Middle Classes were the Merchants, Bureaucrats and Professionals. The Working Classes were factory workers, artisans, soldiers, sailors and the Peasants were the farmers.
How about China? There we had the Nobles and Wealthy People, Farmers or Peasants, Artisans, Craftsmen and Merchants.
In Japan we saw the Samurai, Peasants, Artisans, Merchants and yes, not to forget the Untouchables – those falling outside mainstream society.
Let’s move to Latin America where we find the Aztecs. Aztec society consisted of the Nobility or Pipiltin, the Commoners or the Macehualtin, the Serfs or the Mayeque and Slaves or the Tlacotin.
Mesopotamia was no different! There was the King and Nobility, The Priests and Priestesses, The Upper Class, Lower Class and Slaves.
Greek civilization is ancient too and even there we have the Athenians or the Upper Class, the Middle Class or the Metics, the Freedmen or the Lower Class and then came the Slaves.
The Vikings or the Norsefolk had their Earls or Jarlar, the Karlar or the Free Men and Women and finally at the bottom rung were the Proelar.

Effectively, a Caste or rather Class system, either formal or informal was in existence or came into being, or then was adopted almost by all cultures from ancient times.

Political Systems.

Switching track a bit, but still staying on topic, let’s talk Political Systems. For example, Communism. This word stems from Commune or Community Living. Under this system, tasks and responsibilities were given to commune members as per their abilities and rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties were assigned as per a pecking order. There was always a commune leader.

The Animal Kingdom.

The Birds, The Bees and the Ants: Ever heard of queen ants, warrior ants, worker ants, slave making ants? Even the Animal Kingdom has classes, or divisions based on size, strength, abilities and age. Even the bees have Queen Bees, Drones and Workers.

The Lion is the King of the Jungle. Why is this so? Why is this majestic creature feared by man and bast alike?

The Law of Nature has as its basic tenet, Survival of the Fittest. So in this context the fittest are the ones who are knowledgeable and can think for themselves. Similarly the Law of Nature encompasses Humans as well and it is but natural that divisions and classes will exist, just so that Society can function, people can be categorized and allocated duties and responsibilities based on skills, location, abilities and attitudes.

Let me tell you this and this is not something we like to hear. There is nothing like WIN - WIN. Somebody will always win and someone will always lose. The degree of win or loss is what defines the winner and loser and more likely than not, probability favors that winners are the ones who have the muscle, the clout, the acumen and the smarts to get ahead and these traits often come from our roots, our background and our DNA.

Surely, you will now see, that in some way shape or form, there is a division or classification of society based on various factors such as birth, age, ethnicity, capabilities, socio-political factors or then a combination thereof. Perhaps you will now see why I see red when the Indian Caste System is singled out?

With that I conclude my propositions for Part 3 and promise more in Part 4, which is a departure from scripture, civilization and deals more with practical aspects of social stratification.

Write in and tell me what you think about this! I can be reached at sumir@sumirnagar.com or you can even leave your comments here.

After The Corporate Years #2.

It’s now almost two years coming up in a few short weeks, and the journey has been great. Amazing in fact. The company grows from strength to strength…..we have overcome some hairy challenges and taken a few hard knocks, but always rallied and always overcome. The hours are long, the hands a few too less, but do I wake up raring to go? Absolutely!

Beyond the large corporates lie really fantastic opportunities, albeit in smaller firms and companies, such as startups.

Having been deeply immersed in the startup ecosystem for the past decade, and during the nascent years of my professional journey, this feeling is solidly confirmed having lived and breathed in it.

As I write about my life and about my professional journey, it dawns upon me that I’ve never actually gone out and looked for a job. Save one time, and that one time was the very first time that I went and worked for someone else as CFO. First job and that as CFO, not bad, eh? Take how I got into ICICI, HSBC, Agile and my current role, all known people, or a friend of a friend, or an ex-colleague and friend.

It also strikes me that there are no coincidences in life, none whatsoever. I think it has more to do with fate, destiny, being in the right place at the right time.

The way I look at almost everything, is slotting all that I end up doing or experiencing, into this rather interesting matrix (not inspired by the movie, by the way). It’s called the Matrix of Six. Yes, you might have guessed. That another piece I’m working on. Soon coming to a blog page near you.

Best I get on with the current role, after that rather long preamble, so this story picks up from the earlier startup experience.

As it happens, during my previous startup role as COO, a friend (ex friend now), called me out of the blue very early one morning and after a rather fake exchange of pleasantries, said he’s working for this guy, someone who he said I knew (I didn’t) from my time in Singapore – Circa 2002/2003. So despite the long silence between us, and a less than cordial relationship post the exing, I agreed to introduce him and his boss to the CEO of the company.

I turns out that Prateek, one of my colleagues (we become close friends) from the Dubai startup, ended up working for Ram before I did. So this Prateek character calls one day as asks to be introduced to decision makers at various banks in India, and I do so devoid of any hesitation, as I’ve always helped friends out no matter what.

Why is this relevant? Simply because that Ram, the one I’d never met, would a few years later come looking for me.

I did open a few doors for Prateek, and once fine day, soon after the door opening part, Ram calls me from Singapore, and says he’s sending me a visa and ticket. What don’t you come down to Singapore for a few days and lets talk about how we can collaborate. If my memory serves me that was in July or August 2017.

If you have read my previous anecdote, you will recall that I had quit this Dubai startup, and was in this “in-between” phase again, the one in which I was part of the startup ecosystem as a mentor. So I was kinda figuring out what to do next, and had a few exciting ideas in mind, including interesting job opportunities. One idea was more exciting than others, and remains something I’d like to do if I ever get an opportunity. That was to set up a platform or a service, to help Indian companies, or any company for that matter, to develop business in Africa, and guide them how to manage African initiatives.

I think, I’ve already mentioned before, that doing business in Africa as a whole, and some countries in APAC is nothing short of a fine art. There is no science in it, just art and finesse.

See? I drifted again, sorry. Anyway, I’m headed to Singapore and Ram has been the perfect host. We talk a lot, about life, personal and professional, we open up to each other. He talks about Bank-Genie, how it started. We drink a bit, we get to know one another, and at some point he kinda pops it on me. Why don’t you come work with us?

The company and its prospects seem quite interesting, well conceptualised, but the role is that of a person who can do some serious heavy lifting. Something I have always done and can do with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back, but I’m not really looking at a “heavy-lifting” role, so I’m a bit iffy. But all in all and interesting opportunity.

The thing I was quite upfront about is the compensation, and quite transparently I caution him that he should deliberate carefully as I don’t come cheap, and paying me or someone like me, would put a dent in the books.

I head back to India, we keep in touch, we talk numbers, and we go back and forth a lot, we both jockey for position, and finally after being at this for a month we arrive at a middle ground. I agree to a fixed compensation component less than what I want, deserve, am capable of earning, and he takes a couple of steps up, and finally we are agreed on the numbers, and all that remains is to ink the deal.

The other thing that I was a bit concerned about was the location. Mysore! Small town, deep south, nothing much going on, I’m a city boy and have lived and worked in four continents and lived in five major internationally acclaimed cities. How in the name of hell will I live in Mysore? But that’s a non-negotiable item, and so i finally relent. Taking a huge leap of faith, I head on over to Mysore, even before a contract has been signed, and technically I’m on board October 4th.

Four days later I’m headed to Singapore once again, this time to meet the investors who want to eyeball this so called “heavy-hitter”, with the concern that having come from a pedigree international bank, I may not be able to hack the transition to the startup realities. Ha, Ha!!!

I’m presenting a four day view of the company, and what my four day impressions are, what I make of the COO role, and what I think I have cut out for me. The presentation goes down well, and I still have a job (save a little job threatening episode in the first week itself) so I’m guessing I’ve done something right.

It’s now almost two years coming up in a few short weeks, and the journey has been great. Amazing in fact. The company grows from strength to strength…..we have overcome some hairy challenges and taken a few hard knocks, but always rallied and always overcome. The hours are long, the hands a few too less, but do I wake up raring to go? Absolutely! All this combined with visiting and experiencing new countries, is nothing short of a heady mix, a kind of a perpetual high, and no I having been smoking!

Working – The Road Warrior>

We are Now at an inflection point, with tremendous upside.

Along the way, what has built up is trust, a good working relationship, one where the CXO team relies and leverages off the strengths of the others, and compensates where required. The team is superlative in terms of their efforts, loyalty and feeling of belonging, and this is the ONLY place I’ve worked at thus far, where I’ve never had to crack the whip on a development team. The work just gets done, as if by magic, and that’s something that is really rare and something I cherish. I’ve never even had to even once request someone to stay late and finish work, or please come over the weekend. If there is work, nothing needs telling, it just gets done!

Whatever happened to the apprehensions about being based in Mysore? If I say I’m in heaven, that would obviously be a gross misstatement, but what’s not to like? Clean air, almost no traffic, cycling heaven (yes this is in heaven category), heart of Karnatic Music and Arts, peace and quiet to get work done, no long commute to and back from work, really inexpensive, delicious southern cuisine. In short no more apprehension, quite the opposite, I love it!

What next? For me? For Bank-Genie? I guess I’m at an inflection point as well, a fork in the road of sorts. On the one hand I completed fifty seven years this year, so I’d like to sit back, write, ride my bicycle, study, read, mentor, teach Students about the real world they are about to venture into (they are ill equipped to survive and succeed) and distribute the learning’s from a working life that started at the age of 18 years. Whereas on the other hand, I stay the course and bring this baby to term, watch it grow, and once it starts running at speed, recede into the shadows or the background, and be available as a counsel or sounding board as and when called.

All going as planned, I’m leaning more towards bringing the baby to term and beyond as there is real traction here, a tremendous opportunity. An opportunity for everybody at Bank-Genie to fulfil their potential, and an opportunity for Bank-Genie to be recognised as a formidable name as a FinTech that services the needs of banks both big and small, the microfinance eco system, and an opportunity for the CXO team to create a foundation for the nextgen to take to higher levels.

These are opportunities are seldom present themselves at large corporates and are available almost exclusively at the startups, smaller firms and companies, the ones fraught with challenges, yet most satisfying to ones soul. I’d pick a startup any day, and I’d urge students to take up roles at startups, for what you will learn at a startup is something no school will ever come close to teaching, and that is my next blog post. Look out for it. Cheers!

.

Mi Padre, Mi Papa – Part 1.

As far as I am concerned, his passing was no longer a matter of sympathizing or for that matter empathizing with someone else who has lost a dear one. This is as close to home as it can get. This is Papa. Papa was special. He wasn’t just papa, he was my friend. My friend is gone, and he’s not coming back, ever….

“In Memory of Papa. 1929 – 2018”.

That’s what my Facebook update said a few months ago. That and a few pictures of papa is all I could conjure up at that time. This post has been in the making since then, and whereas I’m super quick at starting and completing my blogs, this one has just been so hard to write.

I really don’t know who I’m writing this for, or why, but I am. Perhaps I’m talking to Papa, perhaps I want my kids to know what he meant to me, perhaps I’m just dealing with my sorrow in this way. Whatever be the reason/s, I think it’s a good thing, to talk about an extraordinary human being.

As on the date of publishing this post, it has now been a few months since I got that ill fated call at around 11 am on January 1, 2018.

Post that day, through the few days off from work with family around in Bombay, there was sadness, but the magnitude of my loss, our loss, has begun to sink in with each passing day.

New Year Day commenced with a reeling mind, mixed feelings, a ton of sadness, and in general feelings and emotions that really can’t be described in words. On the one hand I was happy for Papa that he left, since he had really suffered these last six months or so, and on the other hand, I was steeped in grief.

I rationalized that for a man who was so active at a ripe old age, making that trek from our home in Bandra to our office downtown (most Saturdays included), not being able to move around was pure torture.

For years now, he had heart issues, coupled with a rare neurological condition, Myasthenia Gravis, and the only way to manage that was certain prescription steroids. These steroids were so strong that they caused acute discomfort, and an inability to swallow, accompanied with all its related complications. In the final stages the disease had spread affecting movement of other muscle groups, and caused severe restriction of movement. Despite the discomfort, despite the acute frustration, all he wanted to do is get back to his routine. Morning cuppa, papers, bathe, deep reflection through prayer, get ready (in no real hurry), go to work, back in the evening, bathe, prayer, dinner, TV with The Mother, sleep. Right until a few days before he passed.

Only those who have been through similar experiences personally or have observed loved ones go through such torture, can come close to fathoming what its like.

As far as I am concerned, his passing was no longer a matter of sympathizing or for that matter empathizing with someone else who has lost a dear one. This is as close to home as it can get. This is Papa. Papa was special. He wasn’t just papa, he was my friend. My friend is gone, and he’s not coming back, ever….

This seems to be the hardest part….it still feels, after all these months that he’s gone away for a bit, and he will be back. His photographs, all over the house now, are just so lifelike.

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Apparently I’m not the only one who feels like this. Mama, Bhavna, Krishanu, Shruti, Keertana, Kartikeya, no exceptions.

Now I’m not one to dream a lot while sleeping, or rather I seldom do. But he’s been visiting me in my dreams fairly regularly, but then he would, he’s my friend.

Despite the fact that in my heart of hearts I had always known that this would come to pass, despite the fact that I was in constant wait for that call, saying that papa is no more, I wasn’t really ready to accept the inevitable. Papa and I have spent so much quality time together, as co-workers, as father and son, as friends, that this was difficult to deal with.

When I was in college, I would drive him to his office, then attend college, and in the afternoons would go and work at his office, learning the ropes of his business of metal fabrication, exports, imports and trading. Whatever, I learned at an early age, is experience and knowledge I have acquired by being around Papa, his business associates, his staff, his Chartered Accountant and a family friend and well-wisher Dushyant, his lawyer Mr. Purohit, who was not just a lawyer, but also an old time stock broker, a philosopher and a lawyer par excellence. I learned documentation pertaining to exports, imports, book keeping and the like, under the watchful tutelage of these associates and friends. That was but natural, I was supposed to inherit his business at some point. Some of his associates called me Prince. But for various reasons, beyond a point, I exited the family business and ventured out on my own.

But the lessons I learned working for Papa, all stood me in good stead throughout my career.

Nothing, believe me, nothing can prepare you for a loss of this magnitude. no amount of preparation, no amount of knowing….. nothing prepares you for this. The words, which I have said to so many others, “I’m so sorry for your loss”, mean nothing, as well intended and comforting as they are intended to sound.

You now begin to really understand things like, “from ashes to ashes, from dust to dust”. A living and breathing human being and at the end, we end up like this! This is stark. This is harsh. And then once you’ve immersed the ashes in water, even the ashes and bones are no more.

I am no stranger to death. I have seen a few, have even had a couple of close calls myself, have lit a few funereal pyres. My Nana, Naani, an ex-bosses wife, Bhavna’s mother…. Especially Bhavna’s mother, who literally passed in my arms.

There was emotion then, but this is a whole different level. This is when you realize that life is but temporary. Now you see him, now he’s gone. This is when you realize that this is going to be you, sooner, later, who knows?

I have read in scripture, the moment a person is born, he or she begins to die. This is when that naked truth hit home, no mincing of words there.

The sadness and pain just don’t go away. People say time heals everything, everything will be fine, but this one seems to buck the popular belief. As one of Shruti’s friends, Anvesha said to me a few weeks ago, “Bhai, people say the pain will ebb, but they say that just to console and comfort you”. She lost her dad several years ago, and says that it still feels the same. She’s so right. It’s been a few months, but this feels like its a permanent state on sadness, of emptiness, of helplessness. He’s gone.

As a person I don’t rattle easy, but when things were spiraling beyond a reasonable ability to deal with stuff, the only person who could give me respite or comfort me, during those weak seconds, was Papa. All I needed to hear was his saying, “Bete sab theek ho jayega, tu Bhagavan pe bharosa karta his na? Voh tereko sambhalenge”. Son, all will be well, don’t worry. You have such firm faith in God right? He will take care of you.

Of course, he would be deeply concerned, and I have caused him the deepest of concern through some of my decisions, my actions, my circumstances. I would see him sit in his armchair late into the night, not say a word, just reflect and chant on his chanting beads.

I’ve always believed and continue to believe that we learn something new each and every day. However, this is learning that causes permanent sorrow, permanent loss, and creates a chasm that cannot be filled. These are scars that don’t heal.

One morning several months ago, The Mother came to my room…maybe it was about 8.30 or 9 am. Shes worried, her face says it. Papa is unwell and asking to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Papa asking for an ambulance!!! Incredulous! Unheard of! For those who knew my dad, he was a tough old man, with rare strength, with rare….. well, everything. This sent shivers down my spine!

Waiting for an ambulance was just a pain, and so I took him by the hand, down to the car and we were in Asian Heart at BKC shortly thereafter. They had been prepped, and alerted to his impending arrival, and as per their exemplary service standards (and the fact that his old time friend and well-wisher Dushyant was associated with the hospital), he was rushed to Emergency. As The Mother and I waited outside, we feared the worst.

Then the test results start coming in, his heart function is less than 50%, down to 30 odd %. We are informed that he needs immediate surgery.

I wasn’t exactly pleased with this, simply because my gut told me that he was far too weak, far too old and as such I feared that he would not survive a surgery. Therefore, we didn’t rush into taking that decision, and it was the right thing to do, as validated by several well wishers including my Mami, who is as astute a Doctor as are around. Then there was Dr. Pandit, my friend Neha’s father, who by listening on the phone, to my descriptions of Papa’s condition, and the report results, was spot on in his diagnosis and his advice as well. Don’t operate.

En route to the hospital, my infallible (almost) gut, told me that he would not last too long, and despite my wanting to be the eternal optimist (like Papa), in the deepest recesses of my heart, I knew that it was merely a matter of time. I guess we all knew. Shruti Mama and me. Whereas my sister and I, we spoke about this quite openly on our video calls, its not something you can really discuss with you mother.

How can you tell your Mother, a woman who has had only one man throughout her life, sailed the most turbulent oceans with him, overcome every hurdle together, that it is merely a matter of time, that her one and only man, is soon to depart? A formidable couple. Not seen these days.

Still, I am the son, and it falls on me, and as things are, I’m pretty much the only person who can have these difficult conversations with The Mother. She loves me to bits, and therefore I usually get elected to break unpleasant news, or then, to calm her fiery temper, or smooth over some hurt that may have been caused to her. Even Papa would come to me from time to time, when he has tried his luck reasoning with her, and got his rear chewed out.

In jest and out of affection as well Bhavna calls her “The Higher Authority”. When we were younger Shruti and I called her “GOC Commanding”, or “General Officer in Chief – Commanding”. The Mother is not to be messed with, though I mess and get away with minor skirmish evidence.

And so, given that I have this special bond with Mama, I did broach this rather delicate subject …. indirectly, and from her reaction, I knew that she knew as well.

From that point on, he was in and out of hospital quite a few times, the last stint being the week of Dec 25, 2017, when he was adamant to be treated for his neurological condition at the hands of a Doctor who had advised him a course of injections through the week. You will run once you undergo the treatment, he said, and papa being Papa, was adamant and go himself admitted. He called me on Sunday, and we spoke about this. I’m going in my head, Papa don’t do it, but he had made up his mind, and there was no further debate.

He was discharged on Saturday, Dec 31, 2017 and chose to leave his body on New Year’s Day 2018.

Shruti, my baby (mother of two) sister is in the US. She cannot reach until 36-48 hours later, and so we agreed with her not to wait for the last rites, and chose instead to do this as soon as my eldest son Krishanu and I landed in Bombay later that night.

During the last couple of years, Papa who normally would never ask me, when I would be back, when leaving for a business trip, always would ask. It hurt like hell, because I knew that he wanted a son around since he was growing old.

I’d been trying to go home each weekend but new job, new challenges, new responsibilities, startup environment, I postponed. He actually asked me a couple of weeks before he passed, “tu kab aa raha hai”, when are you coming? I said, Papa, next week. That next week never came, and he was gone. He left waiting to see his son, his friend. This is the single biggest regret of my life, and I have a few! This one…..well…..

I reach home to a packed house, with several familiar and often seen faces, but some familiar faces, but seen seldom and usually on such occasions. If I didn’t really acknowledge those seldom seen faces, it was not out of disrespect, but due to my mind having switched on auto-pilot, just capable with dealing with the fact and nothing else.

I didn’t shed a single tear, I didn’t emote, and I’m pretty sure several thought that odd, or even drummed up some silly stories of Papa and me not being too close, and quite honestly, I don’t give a flying f@#k! Mi Padre and I were OK, and I really don’t need anybody’s opinion on that.

After sending off so many on their final journey, I am now doing the same for my own dad. I can’t quite describe what I felt, how I felt, or even the thoughts that ran through my mind.

We followed all reasonable tradition and rituals in sending him off, and I hope we did it right.

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If it wasn’t textbook, it was heartfelt, especially considering that many had many opinions on the exact nature of rituals and ceremonies. I finally laid down the law, and followed the way he would have followed, leaving people to their own opinions when in disagreement.

Through all this, I was particularly reassured to have my kids around me, and I think this is the first time I have ever felt the need for that kind of moral support. Perhaps its what Papa had been feeling, and that is why he kept asking me how long I would be away for?

Papa has touched so many people, helped so many people, earned the trust and respect of so many people. Even people like Divya my friend, a sports therapist, who came home to attend to his movement disabilities, who knew him for the shortest possible time, even Jitu his day nurse, who knew him only through his illness….they all commented on just how much he touched them.

That was Papa’s nature, his persona. He exuded joy and happiness and love. Our smallest successes pleased him no end, and he was always in the mood to celebrate. Sweets, flowers, cake, dinner at the club. Govind!!! Would go The Mother, expressing her displeasure at splurging a tad too much. Keertana describes and imitates this best.

It is no wonder then, that when we had a prayer meeting in his honor, and in memory of Papa, so many old friends and business associates showed up.

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I can’t help reflecting, introspecting, have I been a good son? Good perhaps not, but being there when he needed me most, a debatable yes. It is an equation that won’t balance, the LHS > RHS. Period.

In ending, all of you out there, who have old parents, treat each day as if it may be their last, and make the most of whatever time you are able to spend with them. If there is history, bad blood, let it go. its not worth it. Don’t end up like me, living in regret that however justifiable the reasons, I didn’t realize that Papa was saying, come see me, I’m not going to be here much longer.

I miss you Papa, I wish I was able to say all this to you, but you and I know that this is what it would take for me to say what I needed to say. There is much to talk about, there is much to reminisce. I hope that this reaches you, I just need you to know….

 

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