The power of giving….

As children we were told that by giving we receive ten folds more. Every religion preaches the same thing. As a child, I took this sermon very seriously. I would “donate” my food to hungry dogs, straying cats, grazing cows, wandering goats, scurrying chicks and I would also share food with the domestic help, their children and give away my daily dose of the disgustingly tasting Bournvita milk to a potted plant in the corner of the living room. I did get the promised ten folds in return, amply delivered by short-tempered adults. None of these philanthropic activities as a child got me better grades or more pocket-money. But, I never gave up the hope. The “hope” that one day, the kind God, clad in his customary white, would appear in the backdrop of incense wisps and to the sound of the clanging bells and grant me the boon of passing my exams effortlessly. Never did any such thing happen. Every exam was a struggle and it surprisingly got worse every year too.

During my transmigration into adulthood, the “giving” activities seem to have increased naturally without having to listen to preaching adults and screeching discourses. The end result of “giving” slowly became obscure. Expectations finally took a back seat. The joy of giving took centre stage. When one gives without expectations, there is much power in giving. There were no bargains or business deals that I struck with God. It almost seemed contemptible to even think that way. This is precisely the moment when one feels more enlightened than even the sweet Buddha without having to spend those long years under a peepal tree. There is much exultation I have secured in watching a hungry puppy lap up the last drop of milk from a clanging bowl with his one paw dipping into it or seeing the grades of a child who has decided to deal with destiny in a different way to what his parents did.You don’t have to be Bill Gates who runs the largest transparently operated charitable foundation or Narayan Murthy who well and truly abides by his own belief that the real power of money lies in the power of giving it away. By doing what is easily in your reach, you can make the difference. The story behind every ordinary person who capably changes lives of others in an extraordinary fashion is awe-inspiring. Narayan Krishnan is one such and he was amongst the nominees for CNN heroes of 2010.

Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything.
“I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan said. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”Krishnan was visiting a temple in the south Indian city of Madurai in 2002 when he saw the man under a bridge. Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny.”That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame — to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves,” Krishnan said.Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — to India’s homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused.

Mother Teresa was one who did not care about the  background of the people she was serving. It would have hardly mattered to her even if she were offering food to a terrorist, for those who sought her help were never spurned. Altruism has no ulterior motive. Those who are not benevolent are the ones who seek an ulterior motive in the altruistic activities of others via their misanthropic thinking. Dr. Binayak Sen who served effortlessly extending health care to poor people in the rural-tribal areas of the Chhattisgarh state and doubling up as a human rights activist has been charged with sedition simply for carrying letters between jailed Naxalite leader Narayan Sanyal and businessman Piyush Guha. The man is a decorated Doctor with his Alma Mater being the highly acclaimed Christian Medical College in Vellore. If he wished, he could have had a flourishing practice quite easily than serve the needy tribes of Chhattisgarh. Alas, is the price that one pays for altruism?

In today’s fast paced world, most wish to be the beneficiary and rarely seek to be the benefactor. If this mind-set does not change, the world becomes more suffocating that what it already is.Some blow their trumpets, they start big and finish small. Let’s not be like them.You and I can make all the difference.Lets start small and finish big. The real power you wield is in the power of “giving”.


88 Responses to “The power of giving….”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by supershamz. supershamz said: My new post – The power of giving… […]

  2. To give out gracefully and to take gracefully are two aspects of the noble act…of giving…
    The guys like Krishnan are doing a great Job to the society…to the humanity… the other aspect of it is…more & more elders will and might be abandoned by their ruthless and money minded family..thinking that he/she will get help from somewhere…somewhere like such institution or something…lets shed our responsibilities….anyway…!
    Everybody can’t be Mother Theresa…and its important to know sometimes that the receivers are worthy of it or not…in my opinion…or there are many out there to abuse it and ready to take advantage of someones goodness…Treacherous ones don’t live in separate colonies…
    There is another lot of wealthy ones …who has made a mockery of this noble act of Giving…solely for their own Gains…For The Tax Purposes….lol…and they never fail or forget to invite media for their publicity(the same media they bickering about otherwise)….Of Their Noble And Generous Act Of Giving….. 🙂
    Hmm…is ‘generous’…. the right and appropriate selection of the word…!? mmm….I don’t know…! 😦

    • What differentiates Mother Teresa from the janata is the fact that it never mattered to her who she was helping or the ulterior motives of those who sought her help. Regarding children abandoning parents is a classic case of degeneration of culture and tradition. Thankfully there is a Krishnan to take care of these abandoned folks.

  3. Aishwarya Says:


    Roses were a rare and precious sight during my school days in Dubai, Dubai being a desert city. I once was sitting in our very crowded school bus and in came lil’ Khushnuma clutching 5 of the most exquisite roses I had ever seen! I couldnt believe my eyes! Seems her aunt had a rose garden. Khushnuma and I werent in the same class and we had rarely exchanged more than a Hi. She then began distributing the roses to her close friends. Later, she quietly came up to me and gifted me a rose – the most beautiful red rose ever! 25 years down the lane I still have the rose she gave me – dried and treasured in a place of honor in a pretty crystal vase – still as beautiful. A child’s act of loving and giving. I dont think she ever knew how touched I was by her selfless gesture.

    Giving doesnt have to be about money. The best things in life thankfully dont come with a price tag. A smile, a kind word, a shared meal, an offer of a helping hand costs nothing. Bless all those who choose to bring a smile on a person’s face today… and every day.

    I wonder how the potted plant felt about the taste of Bournvita though.



    • Aish – This is most beautiful and how clearly you have explained the art of giving!! Splendid.

      • Sharmila – ‘Giving’ also reminds me of Joey’s sweet and ridiculously funny speech for Monica’s and Chandler’s wedding (FRIENDS).

        “We are gathered here today, on this joyous occasion,
        to celebrate the special love that Monica and Chandler share.
        It is a love based on giving and receiving, as well as having and sharing,
        And that the love that they give and have, is shared and received,
        And through this having and giving, and sharing and receiving,
        We too can share and love, and have and…receive.”


    • Love Joey’s speech..he is my favorite in Friends.. so damn sweet.. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and through this receiving…

  4. […] PritishNandy: RT Read this. @supershamz My new post, The power of giving […]

  5. recluse63 Says:

    Could not help leaving a comment, as I have seen, the very act of giving often invites censure and distrust to say the least. It takes a worthy soul to find joy in the act of giving, because it is the giver who is obliged, not the given. The way the old lady at the railway station blesses you, touching your cheeks when you give the tenner, is enough to keep you airborne for some time!

    Especially appreciate the mention of Dr Binayak Sen. We are not a civil society after all, despite the spit and polish and high rises and malls and fast cars, far from it.

    Thanks for a wonderful post

  6. Sharmila,

    An act of kindness is not altruism.

    Allow me to quote my best reference on this subject – Ayn Rand. I cannot say it better.

    1. What is the moral code of altruism?

    The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

    Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

    Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”

    2. There are two moral questions which altruism lumps together into one “package-deal”: (1) What are values? (2) Who should be the beneficiary of values? Altruism substitutes the second for the first; it evades the task of defining a code of moral values, thus leaving man, in fact, without moral guidance.

    Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value—and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.

    3. It is your mind that they want you to surrender—all those who preach the creed of sacrifice, whatever their tags or their motives, whether they demand it for the sake of your soul or of your body, whether they promise you another life in heaven or a full stomach on this earth. Those who start by saying: “It is selfish to pursue your own wishes, you must sacrifice them to the wishes of others”—end up by saying: “It is selfish to uphold your convictions, you must sacrifice them to the convictions of others.”

    4. Now there is one word—a single word—which can blast the morality of altruism out of existence and which it cannot withstand—the word: “Why?” Why must man live for the sake of others? Why must he be a sacrificial animal? Why is that the good? There is no earthly reason for it—and, ladies and gentlemen, in the whole history of philosophy no earthly reason has ever been given.

    It is only mysticism that can permit moralists to get away with it. It was mysticism, the unearthly, the supernatural, the irrational that has always been called upon to justify it—or, to be exact, to escape the necessity of justification. One does not justify the irrational, one just takes it on faith. What most moralists—and few of their victims—realize is that reason and altruism are incompatible.

    5. Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others? Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it? Does virtue consist of serving vice? Is the moral purpose of those who are good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?

    The answer you evade, the monstrous answer is: No, the takers are not evil, provided they did not earn the value you gave them. It is not immoral for them to accept it, provided they are unable to produce it, unable to deserve it, unable to give you any value in return. It is not immoral for them to enjoy it, provided they do not obtain it by right.

    Such is the secret core of your creed, the other half of your double standard: it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others—it is immoral to consume your own product, but moral to consume the products of others—it is immoral to earn, but moral to mooch—it is the parasites who are the moral justification for the existence of the producers, but the existence of the parasites is an end in itself—it is evil to profit by achievement, but good to profit by sacrifice—it is evil to create your own happiness, but good to enjoy it at the price of the blood of others.

    Your code divides mankind into two castes and commands them to live by opposite rules: those who may desire anything and those who may desire nothing, the chosen and the damned, the riders and the carriers, the eaters and the eaten. What standard determines your caste? What passkey admits you to the moral elite? The passkey is lack of value.

    Whatever the value involved, it is your lack of it that gives you a claim upon those who don’t lack it. It is your need that gives you a claim to rewards. If you are able to satisfy your need, your ability annuls your right to satisfy it. But a need you are unable to satisfy gives you first right to the lives of mankind.

    If you succeed, any man who fails is your master; if you fail, any man who succeeds is your serf. Whether your failure is just or not, whether your wishes are rational or not, whether your misfortune is undeserved or the result of your vices, it is misfortune that gives you a right to rewards. It is pain, regardless of its nature or cause, pain as a primary absolute, that gives you a mortgage on all of existence.

    If you heal your pain by your own effort, you receive no moral credit: your code regards it scornfully as an act of self-interest. Whatever value you seek to acquire, be it wealth or food or love or rights, if you acquire it by means of your virtue, your code does not regard it as a moral acquisition: you occasion no loss to anyone, it is a trade, not alms; a payment, not a sacrifice. The deserved belongs in the selfish, commercial realm of mutual profit; it is only the undeserved that calls for that moral transaction which consists of profit to one at the price of disaster to the other. To demand rewards for your virtue is selfish and immoral; it is your lack of virtue that transforms your demand into a moral right.

    A morality that holds need as a claim, holds emptiness—non-existence—as its standard of value; it rewards an absence, a defect: weakness, inability, incompetence, suffering, disease, disaster, the lack, the fault, the flaw—the zero.

    6. Altruism holds death as its ultimate goal and standard of value.

    7. Since nature does not provide man with an automatic form of survival, since he has to support his life by his own effort, the doctrine that concern with one’s own interests is evil means that man’s desire to live is evil—that man’s life, as such, is evil. No doctrine could be more evil than that.

    Yet that is the meaning of altruism.

    Ayn Rand


  7. Sharmila,

    That was the theory.

    Here is the psychology:

    The psychological results of altruism may be observed in the fact that a great many people approach the subject of ethics by asking such questions as: “Should one risk one’s life to help a man who is: a) drowning, b) trapped in a fire, c) stepping in front of a speeding truck, d) hanging by his fingernails over an abyss?” Consider the implications of that approach. If a man accepts the ethics of altruism, he suffers the following consequences (in proportion to the degree of his acceptance):

    1.Lack of self-esteem—since his first concern in the realm of values is not how to live his life, but how to sacrifice it.

    2.Lack of respect for others—since he regards mankind as a herd of doomed beggars crying for someone’s help.

    3.A nightmare view of existence—since he believes that men are trapped in a “malevolent universe” where disasters are the constant and primary concern of their lives.

    4.And, in fact, a lethargic indifference to ethics, a hopelessly cynical amorality—since his questions involve situations which he is not likely ever to encounter, which bear no relation to the actual problems of his own life and thus leave him to live without any moral principles whatever.

    By elevating the issue of helping others into the central and primary issue of ethics, altruism has destroyed the concept of any authentic benevolence or good will among men. It has indoctrinated men with the idea that to value another human being is an act of selflessness, thus implying that a man can have no personal interest in others—that to value another means to sacrifice oneself—that any love, respect or admiration a man may feel for others is not and cannot be a source of his own enjoyment, but is a threat to his existence, a sacrificial blank check signed over to his loved ones.

    The men who accept that dichotomy but choose its other side, the ultimate products of altruism’s dehumanizing influence, are those psychopaths who do not challenge altruism’s basic premise, but proclaim their rebellion against self-sacrifice by announcing that they are totally indifferent to anything living and would not lift a finger to help a man or a dog left mangled by a hit-and-run driver (who is usually one of their own kind).


    [Intellectual appeasement] is an attempt to apologize for his intellectual concerns and to escape from the loneliness of a thinker by professing that his thinking is dedicated to some social-altruistic goal. It is an attempt that amounts to the wordless equivalent of the plea: “I’m not an outsider! I’m your friend! Please forgive me for using my mind—I’m using it only in order to serve you!”

    Whatever remnants of personal value he may preserve after a deal of that kind, self-esteem is not one of them.

    Such decisions are seldom, if ever, made consciously. They are made gradually, by subconscious emotional motivation and semi-conscious rationalization. Altruism offers an arsenal of such rationalizations: if an unformed adolescent can tell himself that his cowardice is humanitarian love, that his subservience is unselfishness, that his moral treason is spiritual nobility, he is hooked.


    The injunction “don’t judge” is the ultimate climax of the altruist morality which, today, can be seen in its naked essence. When men plead for forgiveness, for the nameless, cosmic forgiveness of an unconfessed evil, when they react with instantaneous compassion to any guilt, to the perpetrators of any atrocity, while turning away indifferently from the bleeding bodies of the victims and the innocent—one may see the actual purpose, motive and psychological appeal of the altruist code. When these same compassionate men turn with snarling hatred upon anyone who pronounces moral judgments, when they scream that the only evil is the determination to fight against evil—one may see the kind of moral blank check that the altruist morality hands out.

    Ayn Rand

  8. Sharmila,

    This is my practice.

    1. I do not stand in the path of a herd on a stampede. A stampede goes no-where and always reaches its destination – which is no-where.

    2. I don’t have the sense of humor of a hyena. I don’t see anything amusing in idol worship.

    My translations of the scriptures are my evidence. The way I lead my life is a demonstration. It is perfectly aligned with my beliefs.

    I have chosen not to preach only because I find it unethical to preach beliefs. Its contrary to the definition of ethics. Ethics is a personal code for applying virtues. Preaching is a political intervention.

  9. Muraliraja Says:

    After reading your post I tried hard to remember what I gave to this society. My memory has no trace of me giving anything to the society. Looks like I never gave anything. I guess I’m so consumed by my own problem, I never bothered to do my bit to this society.
    In a way your post has ignited a thought which I hope will guide me to “Art of giving”.

    Aishwarya: Your comment is really beautiful.

  10. What it means:

    An attitude is a Vritra, a hindrance and a barrier to the Yadnya, the endeavor.

    When an effort is interrupted by an attitude, step back, stop the effort and wait for the attitude to subside. Begin the yadnya again after the attitude is overcome.

    A fatal fallacy in dealing with attitudes is replacing an unacceptable one with a preferable one. An attitude is a Vritra. Both feel-good and feel-bad spoil the effort.

    I had described this once as a difference between good, lousy and legendry actors.

    A lousy actor assumes that every character he plays on the screen or stage has an attitude, and so keeps working at it.

    A good actor presents an attitude of the character only when the story of the character is interrupted by challenging events.

    A legendry actor doesn’t show an attitude even in those scenes!

  11. Here is an example. Note the delivery of dialogues of other actors as compared to AB. Too much attitude.

  12. Another classic example. Two legends of the Hindi silver screen. Neither showing any attitude in their characters. Simple and exquisite!

  13. Thanks Sharmila for a wonderful post !

    I must confess that currently there exists a very thin line for me on what i enjoy most : Sharmila’s post or Reader’s addition & comments to that ! Truly today for me – both are equally important. Thanks Sharmila & Reader for this wonderful practice of ” GIVING “. Each thought you have shared with us is another glorious example of your practice of the ” Art Of Giving ” ( as Murali put it )

    A special mention here & special thanks to Reader for sharing the meaning of the scriptures with us.

    Am somebody who has been learning and will continue to learn and explore new things through the thoughts that you have shared with us. Thank you for allowing me to partake of your thoughts & knowledge through this portal.

    Everytime you share your thoughts with us, we are humble recipients of your ” Power of Giving ” – the giving & sharing of your knowledge and thoughts .

    With every post & comment i feel more blessed for having discovered ” Sharmila Says ” and the wonderful group here. Thanks you Mr.Pritish Nandy for leading me to ‘Sharmila Says ” through your tweets.

    You must forgive me for making this sound like a typical ” Vote of Thanks ” speech, but words fail me to express the immense gratitude i feel.

    Thanks once again to this entire group for practising ” The Art Of Giving ”


    • Smiles, Sharmila,

      You just made me do that – Smile! Thank you for acknowledging the effort.

      Thanks to Sharmila for letting me use her space. I was always reluctant. The post area is her own. It is her blog. It is her domain.

      This process of learning scriptures was begun very early by my parents. I am merely sharing a gift that has passed my way. We are beneficiaries of great works of great people.

      I gain from this exercise as much as you do. I have learnt some of it, practiced it, and continue to discover something new every day.

      I am glad it is useful to you in some way. Its not a ‘giving’ in an altruistic sense. I am not sacrificing anything, if you see what I mean.


    • Smiles… All I can say is you have made my day and probably Reader’s too. You have given us both the finest gift with these magical words. Lots of love. Love your “speech”..happier that Mr Nandy led you here 🙂

  14. On the grapevine in Delhi:

    In the last elections the Congress party used A R Rahman’s ‘Jay ho’ from SM as their signature tune for the campaigns. In the next elections Sheila Dixit is planning to use ‘My name is Sheila’ from Tees Mar Khan. Some lyrics may have to be changed.

  15. Developing story on the grapevine in Delhi:

    Unwritten MOU between Corporates in the food sector, wholesellers and the Central Government –

    1. Phase out all roadside vending by 2014. Corporates shall increase shelf space for food stuff to at least 40% in their shopping malls.

    2. All stockists and retailers shall buy shelf-space from Corporates in the malls. They shall register their associations as Cooperative Societies to avoid being called cartels by the media.

    3. Citizens who buy more than one months food provisions shall be prosecuted for hoarding.

    4. The government shall acquire the agricultural land of those farmers who produce less crop than what is expected. The expected volume shall be decided by the government on the basis of demand.

    5. Item 4 is valid only till the parliament passes a bill to abolish all ‘private’ farming. By then, all farmers shall be appointed as government employees under a monthly payroll system.

    Vox populi vox dei

  16. On the grapevine in Delhi:

    A secret commitee of selected intellectuals is formed in Delhi.

    The commitee is drafting a brand new ideology for a new socio-political order.

    The commitee is including the best features of paganism, feudalism, aristocracy, socialism, communism, capitalism and democracy.

    The new ideology is titled ‘Capitalism for the Rich and Animalism for the Poor ‘…

    C.R.A.P ism , for short…

  17. Let this be a message to all that giving, sharing or caring has nothing to do with religious sanction or aethistic altruism. It’s a philosophical premise.

  18. Aishwarya Says:

    A complex topic – this giving. The reason being, we are all not the same.
    Expecting each to conform with society’s norms, rules, standards and regulations on how to lead our lives is unfair.

    I married the person I loved. I chose a profession I wanted to be in. As long as me opening the ‘umbrella’ of my life doesnt poke another in the eye, I am cool.

    Each of us has our life’s calling. If we follow it, the ‘giving’ is sure to follow and we wont even realize we gave…which is how it should be.

    The act of giving is perfect when the giver feels no glorified sense of sacrifice and the receiver feels no guilt. Only happiness, both ways.

  19. Which type of person needs to learn sharing and loving?

  20. 🙂 🙂

  21. Good Morning…Everybody… 🙂

    In the Hindu calendar, two sidereal solstices are named Makara Sankranti which marks the start of Uttarayana and Karkat Sankranti which marks the start of Dakshinayana. The former occurs around January 14 each year, while the latter occurs around July 14 each year. These mark the movement of the Sun along a sidereally fixed zodiac (precession is ignored) into Makara, the zodiacal sign which corresponds with Capricorn, and into Karkat, the zodiacal sign which corresponds with Cancer respectively.

    Happy Makar Sankranti….to all….! 🙂

  22. Congratulations to AB …on 1000 successful….posts and connects… with his friends/admirers/extended family….!
    Its not just another day…but a day with a significant number…!
    1 is the number assigned to The Sun ( the sum total of 1000 is 1)
    2 is assigned to The Moon (the sum total of 1001 is 2)
    His B’day falls on Oct 11….matches perfectly..
    Lucky days ….! 🙂

  23. Sorry….. Sharmila,
    I should have wished AB on his blog and not yours…
    Will keep that in mind…not to make the same mistake again…!

  24. Sharmila,

    What are you saying? 1000 days already?

    Have you heard the pursha sukta?

    It starts as:

    Sahasra shirsha purusha, sahasra aksha sahasra paath |

    Sah bhumim vishwato vritwa atya tistha dashangulam ||

    … … … Of thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet |

    … … … Ecapsulates the earth’s universe, yet resides in the 10 fingers ||

    AB is that purusha… he stoops to conquer!

    Says Mirza Ghalib:

    Hazaaron khwahishe aisi, ke har khwahish pe dum nikale

    Bahot nikale mere armaan, magar phir bhi kum nikale!

    Har ek baat pe kehte ho tum, ke tu kya hai?

    Tum hi kaho ke, yeh andaaz-e-guftagu kya hai?

    Here is a metaphorical dedication to AB: (applies more to AB than Ghalib today )

  25. Sharmila,

    Dying hours of the week-end here. I am as tired as one can be, like someone who does housekeeping once a week! I am shifting from this house in February as the contract expires for this one. So packing up in parts.

    900+ fat books (not counting box files and print-outs), 1000+ CDs & DVDs, two wardrobes, furniture, electronic stuff et al. I am going to need a bunch of packers-and-movers!!!!

    And the dust gives me allergies…

    That reminds me of something I wanted to say this morning, but held back for decorum.

    Have you seen a kid changing moods in a moment?

    One moment he is hurt and crying and then in the next he starts laughing because of some silly distraction.

    In my father’s house in Pune, there was a very large guava tree. One branch from it was spread over the kitchen roof.

    I was up that branch to get a ripe guava.

    My left hand was holding the branch and I plucked the fruit with the right hand. Then the branch broke under my weight!

    I clutched the end of the branch with the left hand, holding the guava firmly in my right and swung in the air!

    I cried out loudly for my elder brother and mother, “Aaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiii, Raavvviiiiiiiiii!”

    There was nothing more I could do.

    There I was, hanging by one hand and waiting for help. I might as well eat the guava, I thought. There was no point in wasting it.

    Presently both of them appeared on the ground below.

    Mother was the first to call out, “What are you doing up there, monkey!?”

    “The branch broke.” I said, matter-of-factly. I mean it was obvious for anyone who could see, but mothers always asked some silly question in such moments of crisis.

    “Come down!” She shouted.

    “I cannot, ” I said, “The tiles will break if I jump on the roof. This branch will break if I pull up.”

    “Hang on, ” said my intelligent brother, “I am coming up!”

    “I am hanging, can’t you see?” I said, getting restless as the arm was becoming numb.

    Some unfortunate things happen when one is not organized. Brother climbed up the branch and came up to where I was.

    As I had expected, the branch bent further and broke again where I was holding it.

    This time I went down with it. The tiled roof couldn’t take the impact. I passed straight through it and landed on the table in the center of the kitchen.

    Daylight returned in even time. I had shut my eyes all the way down.

    In a few seconds, mother and brother rushed in. I began to bawl purely out of shock. The fruit was still in my right hand. I continued to take bites and howling at the same time.

    Brother, meanwhile, said something that made me laugh. So, I was laughing with tears in my eyes.

    “Thats not allowed” he said, “You cannot laugh and cry at the same time. Do one thing. Cry or laugh”

    So, I laughed. And we moved on.

    The reason for recalling this is: I am still able to move seamlessly from crying to laughing . Its something I was taught very young and it has remained with me all along.

    Funny, these same reminiscences were like odes to them when both were alive. Today they sound like obituaries.

    Nothing changes really, does it?

    Ode today becomes an obituary tomorrow. Same memories, same words. Only the writer knows what he/she feels. What a reader thinks is an ode, may actually be an obituary for the author!

    • I pictured you sailing through the roof! But, more importantly I enjoyed the narrative. Anybody else would have not thought about the fruit in hand..

      • You noticed that! The fruit in hand is a constant! 🙂

        Reminds me of an old saying, Life is what happens when we are planning other things!!!

    • Fruit is always constant…regardless…
      That makes us humans…lol…no matter what Lord Krishna said in Bhagvad Geeta/Gita…about Karma and its Fruits….

      • 🙂

        I was focussed on the task and target – which was the guava fruit I had gone up there to get.

        The rest of the events happened around it!


      • On a sadder note:

        Sometimes one has to let go the fruit because the unforeseen events become too onerous!

      • You hit the Bull’s eye….rest of the events are like cherry on the Top…(What top…!?

  26. No one can predict what is in one’s mind. Words can be very decieving whether it comes from so called friends or presumed adversaries…unless one can use one’s superlative discriminative power rightfully and find out who really friends are …
    Friends are never friends many times and adversaries are really not adversaries….! Mind might speak something different logically …but heart will always know…
    Ode or obituary…it just depends on one’s perception…besides…who knows…!? who knows…how (good or bad) present/today turn into tomorrow…
    Why an innocent writer shall/has to be punished…!?

  27. I didn’t mean the writer is punished.

    What I meant was, the subject has already occured in a writer’s life before he/ she writes about it.

    For the reader it is an indulgence that may sound like an ode.

    For the writer it is an obituary on the subject that has already passed its time.

    • And…The best example is….!!!!?

      • There are so many:

        1. My translations of the Scriptures is one example.

        2. All these childhood events that I narrate on Sharmila’s blog (whenever I find space for them).

        3. Any memoir that is not relevant to the present or future is an example.

  28. How does your translation of the scriptures is an obituary..?
    If every memoir that is not relevant to present or future is an obitiary then…. everything is…everything is a past…this moment is a past in the next moment…and so on…

    • The scriptures are very basic and elementary in their content. They were part of a childs curriculum at the age of seven.

      Secondly, they are universal in context. So, either a person is already aligned to their import or practices another alternative. For an adult it is either a refresher or a quality check.

      Learning of a scripture in adulthood does not mean reform. Thats why Gandhi, Tagore, Radhakrishnan etc never preached the scriptures even though they were learned. They wrote their versions and let go.

      Attempting social reforms by preaching scriptures never works. Thats why I call it an ode for the listener and an obituary for the narrator.

      For example,

      Take any line from the posts so far:

      Say, Oppugn perceptions to acquire wisdom.

      This is a common scientific practice now, though it may not have been when the line was written.

      We study perceptions critically to know the concepts. Concepts transform into information, which then becomes knowledge and knowledge sans derivatives becomes wisdom.

      Nothing new. Even improved many times over than it was in the past.

  29. Hi Sharmila,

    Good topic.

    The act of giving if truly something wonderful and amazing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be materialistic things. Rather than material things a very special act of giving usually takes place, sometimes knowingly sometimes not, in the form of non-material things. One such act is Kindness.

    It could be as little as saying someone a kind word, giving a compliment, sharing knowledge, providing assurance or making someone smile.

    The key here is to give from the heart without expecting anything in return. This is where we fall back sometimes. When we do something good, we expect things in return. A very common example would be going to the temple, where more often than not we end up asking for things. We do our own rituals, make donations, provide food/money to the poor, but expecting that God is watching and will give us what we asked for. Expecting something in return is not actually giving, it then taken the form of barter. The intention of giving becomes the focal point during this act.

    With most material things in the world, there comes a limitation of how much one can give away. Fortunately, generosity and kindness do not have any limitations and every person can perform them.

    Here we have a day which is known as “Random Day of Kindness Day”. This is celebrated once a year where the idea is to take attention off “Self” and being kind to someone. In most cases this “someone” is completely stranger or your neighbor or a friend/colleague. The key being you are not expecting anything in return or not seeking any credit for your act.

    Some of the acts performed are
    Paying for the coffee of the person next to you at the cafe
    Wash someone’s car
    Leaving some money in the wending machine for the next person’s free snack
    Helping strangers at supermarkets with carrying their bags to their car
    Pay for stranger’s parking
    Call a friend who you have not spoken to for years and tell them you miss them/love them
    Drop some chocolates in every mailbox in your block
    Giving a flower to every patient at your nearby hospital

    The list goes on…

    The very idea of all the above examples makes me feel happy. Imagine performing the same and making someone’s day.

    I read a quote some years back and it has since stuck in my mind:
    “No person was ever honored for what he received, Honor has been the reward for what he gave”

    • Deepan – Absolutely wonderful set of thoughts here. Moved me a lot. Thank you. I love this ” Random act of kindness day”. something that all of us can implement. As you rightfully say, it is not the materialistic things. It could even be a smile, and they come cheap. Loved your comment.

      • Why does a Day should be assigned to the “Random act of Kindness”….Randomness means whenever the situation occurs or an opportunity is…one shall be ready to act accordingly…not that that do it for a particular day finding opportunity to feel Good…feel satisfied…and awestruck by self…for rest of the year…lol.. that is just another way to Narcissistic approach…

    • Muraliraja Says:

      Wonderful comment Deepan. I liked every bit of it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This “Random act of kindness day” concept is so good, I will try.

      • Ditto! albeit, if every day were the day like MonaLisa points out, the world would be a better place.

      • Thanks Muraliraja. I am glad to know that sharing my thoughts has encouraged you to start something positive in some part of the world. Trust me, it works and does wonders 🙂

        Monalisa: I agree with what you are saying that why only one day. However, it is not only one day. The great thing here is that this one day is celebrated in a big way to create awareness and encourage more and more people to perform their acts of kindness not only on this day but for weeks and months to come.

        Atleast for me it started with this day. And now, I am always on the lookout for every possible opportunity that I get to do something good. Similarly, I am sure that there are many people who are performing their individual acts of kindness whereever possible. Random Act of Kindness Day acts as a great way of getting more and more people involved and getting everyone in the right spirits.

        Sharmila: Thank You for your kind words. I am glad to know that you liked it.

  30. Here is a ghazal about giving and receiving…

    There were two ‘Kabhi Kabhi’ ghazals written by Sahir. One is the famous one that AB recites in a movie by the same name.

    The other one was written by him much earlier. Sahir was more youthful in that one. He was still hoping to marry Amrita Pritam then.

    Here it is: (Play the link while you read the words, adds Lata’s grace! ) 🙂

    Milti hai zindagi mein mohabbat kabhi kabhi
    Hotii hai dilbaron ki inaayat kabhi kabhi

    … … … Life begets love sometimes
    … … … Loving hearts are favoured sometimes

    Sharma ke munh na pher nazar ke sawaal parr
    Laati hai aise mod pe kismat kabhi kabhi

    … … … Don’t shy away from the questions in my eyes
    … … … Destiny brings one at such cross-roads sometimes

    Milti hai zindagi mein…

    Khulte nahin hai roz dareeche bahar ke
    Aati hai janeman yeh Qayamat kabhi kabhi

    … … … The doors of spring do not open every day
    … … … This catastrophe occurs, my dear, sometimes

    Milti hai zindagi mein..

    Tanha na kat sakenge javani ke raste
    Pesh aayegi kisiki zaroorat kabhi kabhi

    … … … Roads of youth are not traversed alone
    … … … One feels the need for someone sometimes

    Milti hai zindagi mein…

    Phir kho na jaayen kahin duniya ki bheed mein
    Milti paas aane ki mohalat kabhi kabhi

    … … … Lest we get lost again in the crowds of the world
    … … … Moments of closeness are found only sometimes

    Milti hai zindagi mein…

    • Magnificent Reader!!

    • The Indian way of loving someone and not able to be with that person for whatever reasons…reasons other than their own willingness…is too crapy…..and then live entire life without him/her feeling hurt and crying about it is crappier than that…
      If you really love someone…have some courage…for God’s sake…to hold her/his hands and shout from the highest pitch of your voice & let the world know….! everything else is an act of cowardice…everyone else …is a coward…! Those who try to find hundred reasons not to do it…sure are…! Or…It wasn’t Love….It could be everything else But Love…Damn it…!

      • Sahir’s case is far more complicated.

        He left for Pakistan during the partition with his mother. He started a newspaper called Inquilab, wrote against the community and was sentenced to death for blasphemy. Escaped to Delhi and Mumbai.

        Amrita Pritam was a punjabi hindu, in live with another rich guy, and refused to marry Sahir because of his political crusades.

        Sahir was an active socialist and worked in the film industry with other socialists in his day.

        Those songs were just venting his feelings, not the mission of his life.

  31. Philantrophy is much needed in India..great article. Azim Premji has done a good thing by giving $2bn for education.

    Btw you should research more on Narayan Murthy’s so called charitable contributions like you have suggested in the article. According to the investigative articles i have read, he comes across as a fraud. He talks a lot about charity and all the good things, but not much action follows that.

    • Ninad – It is Murthy’s wife Sudha who does most of the philanthropy on his behalf. Do read about what she has achieved.I am taken aback that somebody could label Murthy as a fraud. I know people who have worked with Murthy since the time he founded Infosys, there is much merit in the man and much he does not show off about. Raju was a fraud, but certainly not Murthy. Infact I have more regard for Murthy than even Premji. Murthy has not created a company for his family, he liquidated his stake and allowed external management, something that Premji would never do considering he is still holding on to 95% of the shareholding.

      • Yeah fraud wasn’t the right term. Raju is a fraud. But many articles have highlighted that Narayan Murthy hasn’t contributed a lot to charity as the media suggests. The founders of Infosys still own 16% of the stock and there was news that Narayan Murthy’s son and daughter also own significant number of shares in Infosys. You are right about Azim Premji, he still owns 70% but he is the single founder, as for Infosys I guess there were about 4-5 of them.

        Sudha Murthy runs the Infosys foundation, and the grants to this foundation from Infosys total some 20-30 crores per year according to the website…which is not much. I do not have figures of Murthy family’s personal contribution, but again according to some article’s old stats they do not contribute a lot of money by % of their income.

        It would be helpful to see out of Infosys Foundation endowment, how much is contribution ratio of Murthy family to the sum donated by the company and others.

    • You are right, Premji finally has further liquidated his stake, it hovers to around 70%. Yes, Murthy’s kids are shareholders but not part of the management and I doubt he would ever bring them in either. In contrast to the Murthy’s what do the Ambanis do. Neither do they liquidate their stock to do what Premji did neither do they contribute much to charity. Even the schools they run are for profit.

      • That’s very true. I was in fact going to ask you what’s the best thing to do in India right now. Give to charity or put back money into investment. I do not know the answer, but obviously we need both. We need charity to help people as well as investment to create jobs and in turn help people.

        Narayan Murthy and his friends have created so many IT jobs in India and earned foreign exchange which is much more than they could have done if they had given their initial investments to charity. A major part of India’s wealth today is because of these earlier IT entrepreneurs like Narayan Murthy and others.

        I think India needs more entrepreneurs who can earn foreign exchange and channel money into investments and create jobs.

  32. MonaLisa,

    This one is available here. Some regional restrictions on the one you put up.

  33. Sharmila,

    You must dedicate an entire post to inflation. No one is better qualified among us to understand this menace.


    The 2010 marathi film Mee Sindhutai is a bio-pic inspired by the true story of Sindhutai Sapkal. The film was selected for world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival.

    Interesting Story.

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