Happy 37th Birthday Aparna

Yes! 37th Birthday since we met and 31st as my better half and partner-in-crime. To say that it got better and better each year, would be stating the obvious or maybe an understatement. Looking back I can say that I don’t mind getting stranded on an uninhabited island after a ship wreck if she is around (so that she keeps reminding me that it was my fault 🤪)

If I were to list, Aparna has so many qualities that make her a very special person. But right on top that I have seen since 1993 every second of the day is what a wonderful mum she is. Not just to biological children but also to our manasik kids – “DaMaKis” gang. The ownership, the care, the rebukes and concern makes it so evident.

As some wise man said, I was lucky enough to have been blessed to be married to someone, not whom I can live with but whom I cannot live without. For no particular reason we have hit off. If someone asks me how, I always say, It just does. God has been Kind. Nothing else explains it. To be honest, it’s just perfect. It is a dream that is being lived every moment, thanks to her. An epitome who live the adage “Love like no other and you feel happy beyond your wildest dreams.”

The Chinese Virus screwed up and adversely affected all kinds of celebrations, some developments in some kids’ personal lives, celebrating as whole gang is now over Video calls. Nevertheless celebrating her existence in our lives never stopped.

Prayers to the Divine! And Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji to bless her with long, healthy, happy and joyful life ahead. May every moment of the year ahead be as special or better than today.

Today’s Birthday Gang
Your Birthday is a special moment for me. Let’s celebrate to treasure these memories forever.

Grace & its ways

I had written this down in response to a query (it was more a challenge) on twitter. Thought it is a good piece that is worth having it on this site with some additional experiences and learning gained ever since I tweeted them 4 years ago. By no means I claim this to be the ideal learning nor even as a prescription, it is just a scrawl of an avid Jigyaasu. I am blessed to be guided on this path, not just by way of various courses and discourses but learning from the Enlightened Master, Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, whose unmatchable persona embodies all these virtues that is worthy of emulation.

PC: Peter Hershey (Unsplash)

Grace as explained by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar :
When you receive a lot without making efforts for it, then it is said that you are blessed with anugraha. Usually you work hard at your job and then receive your salary. So you say, ‘I have earned my money’. But if someone gives you a gift, you do not say, ‘I have earned these gifts’. Can something that is earned be called a gift? No. You receive gifts without any efforts. So when you receive a great gift or an award that you feel you did not deserve, then that is called anugraha. When we receive something that we are not deserving of, or which exceeds our capabilities, then that is what is called Grace. When we see that in our life, we have received far more than what we deserve or are capable of, then gratitude dawns in us. We become thankful, complaints disappear and abundance grows.

My two pennies based on experience, generally reproduction of my tweets that were as explanation to a query. The tweet thread is here (at this time.)

Guru’s Grace & Blessings on His/Her Shishya(s) is infinite & is like a blank cheque that we can encash, provided we write our name on it in right (worthy) manner

Shishyas should satisfy two conditions:
1) Our Attitude and Mindset should be like an empty cup (if we think we are already full, then nothing can be poured in the cup)
2) Cup should be in right orientation. Empty cup face down cannot receive anything

Tumbler in Right Direction can accept Water Poured
Tumbler upside down can only mess the place

Grace can/will work only when used in Right Direction. So we as Shishya should have that viveka to ensure it is right. (If door opens inwards and you apply force in the wrong direction you shut it). Even the best of Guru’s Grace cannot work when your work is for wrong purpose

Applying efforts the wrong way
PC: Adobe Stock Photo

Guru’s grace though Free, it is not a Gift. Shishyas should have Arhata (deserving), Viveka (to use it for right reasons), know the Sannivesha (Context) and most importantly Sharanagati (state of surrender). The moment we think we are the Doers, we are DOOMED (Click on the link what “We are not the Doers mean)

As I experienced in various Paramparas, one important aspect they propagate is to refrain from Daiva/Guru Ninda (Defaming God/Guru) or anyone for that matter failing which the Good Karmic balance drastically reduces.

Wishing you loads of Divine, Guru and Elders’ Grace

Sustaining Volunteering-Dispassionate Attachment

Once again this is a collection of my tweets in a fairly verbose manner since this doesn’t have limtations of number of characters like on Twitter

सक्ता: कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत |
कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्चिकीर्षुर्लोकसंग्रहम् ||

saktāḥ karmaṇyavidvānso yathā kurvanti bhārata
kuryād vidvāns tathāsaktaśh chikīrṣhur loka-saṅgraham
Bhagavad Gita 3:25

As ignorant people perform their duties with attachment to the results, O scion of Bharat, so should the wise act without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path
Source of translation : https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

In context of Volunteering for the Fight against Covid19 Pandemic, what was initially thought as a short term battle, got extended wave after wave and as I write this we are already at the end of Year 2 and battling the 3rd wave (thankfully not so harsh like the 2nd wave). Original mobilisation was for just 2 months and it never seem to get over.

In an online talk to a collection of Civil Society, where I suggested a free-flowing Q&A model instead of a Lecture and then follow up questions. The first question I received was a interesting one. The participant wanted me to describe in a phrase (don’t know why this limit)- what can prevent Volunteering Fatigue, that would be natural due to unexpected extension of time devoted to a passionate cause, as against paid volunteering – My answer phrase was “Disapassionate Attachment” which is the essence of that particular verse from Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Everything else is subordinated to the Cause.

More often than not, especially in the current round of Volunteering, Young, energetic and passionate volunteers never needed any motivation as they are already inspired and self-fired. But those get fatigued are those who want to deliver perfection and fail.

न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् |
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्त: समाचरन्

na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karma-saṅginām
joṣhayet sarva-karmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācharan
Bhagavad Gita 3:25

The wise should not create discord in the intellects of ignorant people, who are attached to fruitive actions, by inducing them to stop work. Rather, by performing their duties in an enlightened manner, they should inspire the ignorant also to do their prescribed duties.

Whenever these inspirational gems talk to me about how to avoid failure in the task – I only request them not to aim for delivering perfect service, but aim to deliver acceptable service. Because what the beneficiary needs simply is unpredictable (COVID19 context)

Not all our stories ended up like in a fairy tale – but consolation is that it was not due to lack of effort. Not to let one setback paralyse because we then are letting down so many others waiting. Agreed we are not machines, but there is no choice but to move on.

Working in various verticals of my current efforts, establishing the basic framework and hand it over to the successor who can definitely do a better job than us to innovate and grow the vertical better to serve more people. Here, a mistake most leaders commit has to be discussed. Their inability to let go and trust the successor to do it better (there could be other reasons, but keeping it positive). Since it was conceptualised and executed first time by me, I always feel no one else can do that task as well as me (leave alone better). More often than not, a good capable leader is lost in the process because he/she is not available for any other task and occupied in something so mundane or routine by now, that anyone else could have done. As Chandan, one of the volunteers said, Once you weather the storm, leave it to someone to manage in calm waters. I have found some of them get fatigued in this situation. They assume they are in control of everything and get mentally tormented that in reality they are not in control of that situation. Fight against COVID19 was a cascading situation of this nature, even today. Letting go is an important achievement when you are in dispassionate attachment and helps avoid volunteering fatigue

I draw from my personal experience when I adopted this practice. Withdraw from the vertical once the assigned role of establishing framework is over (Dispassionate Attachment). In almost each Veriticals, my successor grew it in unimaginable scale (to be honest, I could not have done it at all)

The last round of volunteering was totally different model and found it was more enchanting. Zero Budget operation, Amorphous bunch of citizens coming together for a single cause – BeatTheVirus & slogan being WeWillWin, it came with horde of challenges. Navigating through unfriendly official system to deliver using the same system. Being amorphous itself brought some amount of unpredictability, with no formal organisation structure, one that emerged on its own during the course of operation (Swayambhu in action) and various pushes and pulls in different directions. But in the end DELIVERED

During the horrendous 2nd wave, it may not have ended well for some families but visible gratitude of people whom we touched, only reinforced the feeling that they did not give up on the world. When they say, Thanks for being besides us & making us realise not everything in this world is bad. It was personally very different this time. Losses were kind of certain – lost many of them known to me very well too, we were able to help some who emerged successfully from the havoc to come back and work with us.

With self fired young and enthusiastic Volunteers, only facilitative leadership works and best form in my opinion is Servant leadership. Transactional leadership is sure prescription for disenchantment. Show-how works better than know-how. Officialdom and bureacracy would well take note of the popular saying in QMS context, “Never end up having a system for documentation instead of a documented system”. One big mistake we do in the process of chasing a system it to create so much of documentation, most of them totally avoidable, that instead of working we had a team spending most of the time creating presentations and records. It is not about discipline or credit-chasing (young ones are smart they see it right away), look for method in madness especially in Unpredictable situation.

To add an important thing here- to avoid Volunteering Fatigue, consider Volunteering as a privilege not a favor we do to others. Reason why I had serious apprehensions about using the words like CoronaSainika or CoronaWarriors etc (though I plead guilty of using it many time myself)

In the context, Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar ji in 5 words said – “We Are Not The Doers“. What a lovely way to remain detached while remaining committed to the cause. Designations, hierarchy, results, even the organisation – nothing would matter once in this mode.

Thoughts of a fellow volunteer on org: I think this is the general phase of how it happens. Be it economy or any other thing, there is a phase of really good unselfish work, followed by growth, then peaks and due to vices and ego taking over, the downfall.

Signing off saying, Letting Go is not Giving Up, it is smart way to remain objectively detached (accepting that we are not the Doers) from outcomes, but ensuring there is no lack of effort.

Happy Volunteering