One & Only…Field Marshal Manekshaw

On his 102nd birth anniversary…Sam1

It’s true when they say God doesn’t make ’em like him any more. India’s first Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, popularly known as Sam Bahadur, was truly a quintessential soldier and a gentleman. Those who are part of the armed forces of India and their families will know of this great man. Those outside, may not even be aware of what his contribution is to the history of India & Indian Army.

Without delving too much into his early life, I would like to share some incidents & situations that made him who he was – a legend. Spanning four decades, his career began in pre independent India. Capt Manekshaw, fighting in WW II, led his company in a counter-attack against the invading Japanese Army and despite suffering 50% casualties the company managed to achieve its objective. In the counter attack, Capt Manekshaw got hit in the stomach by a machine gun fire. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Division, Maj Gen David Cowan, having witnessed Capt Manekshaw’s valour, rushed to his side. Fearing that the young officer would die, the general pinned his own Military Cross ribbon to Manekshaw saying, “A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross.”

Capt Manekshaw was evacuated to Rangoon, and, when the surgeon asked what had happened to him, he replied that he was “kicked by a donkey”.

In 1961, his outspoken frankness got him into trouble with Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon and Lt Gen B M Kaul. He refused to toe Menon’s line and was sidelined, albeit temporarily.

Manekshaw was vindicated soon after when the Indian army suffered a humiliating defeat in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), now Arunachal Pradesh, the next year, at the hands of the Chinese leading to Menon’s resignation. Prime Minister Nehru rushed Manekshaw to NEFA to command the retreating Indian forces. This had an electrifying effect on the demoralised officers.

In no time, Manekshaw convinced the troops that the Chinese soldier was not “10 feet tall”. His first order of the day said, “There will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued.” The soldiers showed faith in their new commander and successfully checked further ingress by the Chinese.

In 1964, he took over as Army Commander, Eastern Command in Kolkata. He successfully responded to the insurgency problem in Nagaland, dealt with the Mizo uprising and strived to bring normalcy to the North East. It was here that my father, serving as ADC to Maj Gen KP Candeth, ( commanding 8 Mountain Div) met his Army Commander for the first time. This interaction also taught a lesson that my father has handed down to the next two generations in our family. It so happened that after the day’s work, both Maj Gen Candeth & Lt Gen Manekshaw were relaxing that evening in the GOC’s quarters. My father, being the ADC wheeled in the bar trolley and lifted the bottle of whiskey to pour a drink for both Generals. Lt Gen Manekshaw saw the way this young captain was holding the glass and the whiskey bottle and asked him a question, “Young man, how long have you served with Unni (GOC’s nickname) and do you have a girlfriend?” My father replied, “I have been with Gen Candeth for 8 months Sir. And no Sir, I don’t have a girl friend.”

The Army Commander winked at my Dad and said, “It shows that you don’t have a girl friend by the way you hold the bottle. Remember, always hold the bottle by the neck and your girl by the waist. Never the other round…you will get a kick in the wrong place.” That priceless lesson was handed down to my brother and me and that was the first thing I noticed when I fell in love with my man. He got the permutation right!

As the 8th Chief of Army Staff, Gen Manekshaw’s experience was going to be put to test in 1971 when we went to war with Pakistan. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was yet to understand her Army Chief. When she asked him if we were ready for war, Sam Bahadur’s classic reply was, “I’m always ready, sweetie.” It makes me smile every time I think of the PM’s reaction to a statement like this. Having said that, he also pointed out that our armed forces had to be readied for war and that would take time. He said he could guarantee victory if she would allow him to prepare for the conflict on his terms, and set a date for it. The PM acceded to this and thus, Bangla Desh was born. When the PM asked him to go to Dhaka and accept the surrender of Pakistani forces, Manekshaw declined, magnanimously saying that the honour should go to his Eastern Army Commander, Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora.

He was the epitome of soldiering with dignity. After the 1971 War, he was visiting our injured soldiers in hospitals. He met a young man who had three bullet wounds and quipped, “You received three at this age; when I was of your age, I received nine bullets and look—today, I am the commander in chief of the Indian Army.” He ensured that the 93,000 prisoners of war were treated with utmost respect. Officers who served with him were told to maintain the dignity of the captured soldiers. He personally supervised some the PoW camps, which led to even some of the Pakistani officers salute him for is humane approach.

Handsome, charismatic and a razor sharp wit characterised Field Marshal Manekshaw. That he held politicians in disdain is no secret. He was blunt about the views he held of them, the most famous one being, “I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter.”

On another occasion, PM Gandhi asked him whether he was planning to take over the country. Pointing to his long nose, the General replied: “I don’t use it to poke into other’s affairs. I don’t interfere politically as long as nobody interferes with me in the Army.”

Suave in all his social interactions, Sam Bahadur could charm the pants off anyone, including Bollywood stars. This incident was in Nov/Dec 1999 in Mumbai. A talk & ceremony was organised to honour the heroes, martyrs and war widows of Kargil. The theme was “Lessons from Kargil” and Field Marshal was the main speaker that evening. My Dad had the opportunity to share some of his thoughts and we were in the audience. Some of our Bollywood stars like Raveena tandon & Nana Patekar had visited Kargil just before this event and were also present. It is was an emotianally charged atmosphere and Raveena in her exuberance declared that all soldiers of the Indian Army were like her brothers and wanted to tie a rakhi to Sam Bahadur. He promptly got up from his chair, hugged her and said, “Raveena, a pretty girl like you should tie rakhi to this young General and not me. You and I are friends.” The young General was my father, pushing sixty at that point!

Such a hero was treated shabbily by the government as they did not give him his dues as Field Marshal. His death also showed us how this country views it’s soldiers. Irrespective of how he got treated by the politician & bureaucrats in his life or death, Sam Bahadur will always be loved and respected by the likes of us who have known him or known of him.

And to think he wanted to become a gynaecologist when he was 15 years. When his father refused to send him to London to study, Sam Bahadur rebelled and applied for the entrance examination of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun.

Thank you Uncle Sam for rebelling when you did…because India got one her best and most celebrated army officer!

Living…with a dash of sass

There’s something about the year end that puts most of us in an introspective mood. This year end is no different. There have been ups & downs, mostly ups, which include my girls doing well in their respective lives, a brilliant holiday we all enjoyed together, setting up a second home in another city and the launch of a couple of new businesses. The downside is realising that we are fast losing one generation of people to the inexorable process of ageing. While on one hand, I understand this is part of life’s cycle, it nevertheless saddens me that this process deprives us of one of the most extraordinary generations that India has seen. The veterans of World War I are no more and the people born during World War II are in their late 70’s or early 80’s.

I have spent time with that generation. I have sat through their stories of growing up in an India that you and I can only visualise and never experience. This is not to undermine any other generation’s experience. I am writing to share what I have learnt from these septuagenarians and octogenarians. This particular blog is dedicated to all those who belong to the 15th Course of the National Defence Academy for you all have influenced me to lead a rich life!

Find Ways To Do

One of the easiest and simplest thing is to find reasons why we can’t do things. They are called excuses. My biggest lesson from these stalwarts is to find one simple reason to do things. That one overwhelming “why” that will ensure the barriers come crumbling down. Living in different cities, leading hectic lives make it difficult to meet close family & friends. However, the older generation has taught me that it’s important to cherish those relationships. I still see them make an effort to be a part of everyone’s lives around them. new-year-quotes-07

Share Your Life

My parents have shared their lives with my brother and me. It just made communication so much more easier for all of us. I never had a problem expressing to my parents what was going on in my mind and why. I also realise that this was only possible because they were genuinely interested in our lives and shared activities with my brother and me. A lot of things I do now in my life are because of activities initiated by my Dad and his friends, while I was growing up.

Choose Happiness

Almost everyone I have met in that wonderful age group focus on quality of life and they choose happiness as the one determining factor. Most of them have gone through some kind of illness/surgery/treatment in the recent years. They see a sense of fragility that belongs to these experiences as directly contributing to their ability to savour life. “Tomorrow is unknown, future uncertain at our age. Lighten up and live life completely today.” Wise words from wise people. Rythm

Accept Life & Connect With Yourself

The terrace at my parents’ place offers a lovely view of the green canopy of trees in a quiet residential area. A wall of windows at my second parents’ home overlooks a lovely verdant patch of lawn bordered by flowering shrubs and lemon tree. Having spent ample time in both places, I see that later life has brought all four of them a sense of wholeness, acceptance, and the ability to enjoy small pleasures. They love the place they live, people visit them and are always welcomed, they entertain the way they want to and not because they are expected to…a complete sense of liberation & contentment.

Build A Life With Someone You Respect & Love

It sounds simple. Yet, very few can say this. Most of the couples I know, in their grand old 70’s and 80’s are the ones who have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. What I have observed and learnt can be succinctly shared in the following words…you have to like each other. Be friends, try to get past the initial heaving and panting, and make sure there’s a real friendship underneath that. I don’t think identical interests are important, but shared values are. That is the bedrock of the relationship. And critical. Build on that a set of dreams that both cherish & work towards.

And as my soul mate and I complete three decades of knowing, understanding, accepting & loving each other, I can happily say, we both love certain kinds of things. We both love movies, good movies, and part of our courtship involved staying up all night and talking out what an Ingmar Bergman film really meant. We both love to read, and we love to talk about what we read. A similar sense of humour — that is a very important part of our life together. The ability to make each other smile and laugh has seen us through some difficult times. story3

Here’s wishing all of you all a magnificent 2016 and praying that Santa Claus fulfils your dreams (incidentally, I still believe in magic and miracles for my life has been so). I sign off with C Joybell C’s quote, “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

 

 

 

The Blood Flows And My Land Turns Red

Death visits the mundane a heightened gravity, making life’s trivia beautiful and everyday weighty. Had Col MN Rai, Lt Col Sankalp, Maj Mukund Varadrajan or the countless others lived, each of them would have grown old with their spouse, experienced the pains & pleasures of bringing up teenage children, cared for their parents, done their bit for society. Above all, they would have lived to tell the tale.

The last year and half has seen many deaths in the Kashmir Valley. Death – that is what it is like. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter how good the weapons are. And, that is the thing about death. No one can get used to it. Just when you think you are reconciled, accepted, you hear about it again, and it just hits you all over, that shock.

A lot of my friends had pertinent questions sometime ago, when we were discussing the futility of a war thrust upon a country because of political whims and fancies. Irrespective of how a war happens, one thing is certain…Herbert Hoover said, “older men declare war, younger men fight & die.” One of the questions that came up was, “when we talk of army preparedness and training and strategy, why is it that so many of our soldiers die?” Well, to all those who have that question on their mind, I would like them to read what Lt Gen Ata Hasnain of the Indian Army has to say. He said this in the context of Col MN Rai being martyred yesterday in the Valley.

“In ‘Last Mile’ tactical level operations for elimination of terrorists there will be casualties and the traditional ratios of own against terrorist losses will rise, at times abnormally. This must not draw the ire of the higher leadership but rather its constant monitoring and advice. Losses occur due to the lowering of guard and failure to take sufficient precautions in apparently simple operations. The return of suicide acts by terrorists, last witnessed in the early part of the millennium, remains a distinct possibility with targets being in the areas closer to the LoC. This has the effect of forcing LoC formations to shed more troops for security at the cost of the counter infiltration grid at the LoC.

Horribly proverbial but rightly predicted I feel. It takes away nothing from Late Col MN Rai’s valor and leadership. Most casualties occur either in the first TWO MINUTES of a contact or then, in urban ops, during attempts to break in by the Search elements. In this case it was neither. I recall a similar situation at a village called Batpura, on outskirts of the Old Airfield, where in a long stand off with six to eight LeT trts in 2000, the then GOC Victor Force forced me (I was then Col GS) against my advice to take him to the Cordon to witness the search operations. We were watching the operations without Bullet Proof Jackets and standing on a vantage point provided by the terrace of an incomplete house. Suddenly, I found two trts breaking the close cordon and running towards us, firing on the run. The fire raked the building around and we could just pull the GOC out of harms way. The valiant soldiers of 6 SIKH then eliminated the two trts. I learnt my lesson of not interfering with ops of ground troops.

Late Col Rai’s action is not akin to the above. He was providing frontline leadership. It is usual in the RR for the CO to move to the spot with his QRT and take charge. Let us not fault him on that at all. I am not aware whether he was wearing a BPJ; he must have been because that is an SOP. Possibly, for a momentary break in SOPs he stepped out from cover to examine for himself where the target area was. That is when possibly he was shot at. A case of sheer bad luck but then people have to realize that officers of our Army have this passion to be there with the men and facing the same odds that their men face. If it is not so, no individual under fire is going to raise his head. The presence of a CO with them energizes all ranks. That is the risk that Late Col Rai took and no one can fault him for it. Given the situation I would have done exactly what he did. There is an element of such risk which goes with your responsibility. That is why we are all saying that Late Col MN Rai, YSM, sacrificed his life in the finest tradition of the Indian Army. Such acts need not be faulted, for the sake of the officer – man relationship which exists in our Army.”

Leadership in the army is walk the talk. Harold AcAlindon once said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.  ” That is exactly what our brave soldiers do, when they are battling the enemy. They leave a trail behind them, a trail that few us can comprehend, much less follow. To such an army, what tribute or homage do I pay? My eyes are filled with unshed tears, knowing that while they lay down their lives to protect us, their families miss them in the everyday routine. A song heard, a festival celebrated, a birthday party hosted, a movie watched…how does one get over the vaccuum. The absence of that one person in the family leaves a void that can never be fulfilled, a dark gash that cuts through the family every time they think of him. I have lost friends who died fighting for us. The families feel proud….yet, there is an emotional part that dies with the soldier. A mother whose youth snapped over her son’s death, a father who weeps silently rocking himself on a chair, grandparents who keep wondering why it couldn’t be them, instead of their grandson, a wife who feels is presence in everything around her.

For my part, I can only spread the word, share my feelings and help build an awareness of what is it that our Armed Forces are all about. Remember, we have a confirmed threat against our country and I for one am grateful for the Indian Armed Forces sitting in deserts, on snowy peaks and plains all through out the year. I see three commonalities.

(1) Passion. The Indian Armed Forces runs on this one factor…passion to serve the nation, passion to protect, passion to be the best.

(2) This brings me to the second commonality…we are all Indians. Yes, we fuss, we have differences of opinions, but we are all Indians and not hyphenated Indians.

(3) The third and most important commonality is the fact that we all bleed red.

And from where I am, it is the same red blood that is seeping through my land, turning the colour of the soil, choking me, numbing me and a silent cry…how many more, how many more?

 

 

I’m Motivated…Therefore, I Am!

Gautam Buddha once said, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Very true. I am giving this a little twist and adding, “My mind is motivated…therefore I am!”

What brought this on? A multitude of interactions with people from different walks of life and a few movies I have watched over a period of time. Let me start with the movies. I saw “Mardaani”…a movie which has a heroine as the honest, passionate cop who uncovers a human trafficking racket in India. This is just one among the few from Bollywood. Hollywood has it’s share of such movies. One hero or heroine who is charged with a sense of mission, achievement and passion to make a difference. They are willing to overcome whatever obstacles come their way, throw a few challenges to people around them and generally come out looking good after achieving their goal. Love life

On the other hand, in my interactions with people around me – friends, family, acquaintances, people I work with – I have discovered what Zig Ziglar says is 100% true.” People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily.”

So, what struck me was why is it that a handful of people are inspired or motivated to do that much more in life, while, a majority go through life as a burden?

I draw my inspiration from some of the people around me…people who are “full of beans”, so to speak. One person I can name is a dear friend Chaya Srivatsa, whose zest for life is so infectious that it leaves me on a high. And then there are two old men (both in their 70’s) who keep me on my toes – Venky Patil & Niranjan Malik, both father figures for me – the former my biological and the latter, my godfather. Such enthusiasm for life they have and such happiness they spread.

My own excitement about living life knows no bounds. I chose the adrenalin rush that life brings, I opt for the positivity that comes with the sunrise every morning…therefore, life allows me to live the way I want to. People have asked me what works for me and I am sharing that with all my readers.

1. Life is a plan. Have you ever planned an event? When we plan, do we not take contingencies into account? People who plan for obstacles are more likely to stick with projects than those who don’t. There have been innumerable surveys conducted that have proved when you have a plan B, you are more likely to succeed in achieving your results, because, you don’t get stuck only with plan A. Michelle Tillis Lederman of New York City practiced this strategy when she was writing a book (11 Laws of Likability) last year. She installed blinds on her home-office door to minimize disruptions and hired an editor to give feedback on each chapter so she wouldn’t get stuck along the way. She also established rules, like checking e-mails only after she had written for two hours. “It was easier to follow this plan,” says Lederman, “than to wrestle with every distraction in the moment.”

2. Believe in ability. One person whose work I have admired is Prof Albert Bandura, professor of psychology at Stanford University. His work has shown that people who have perceived self-efficacy (that is, the belief that they can accomplish what they set out to do) perform better than those who don’t. That self-belief is what helped Ingrid Daniels of Newark, New Jersey, leave a stable corporate job to develop a T-shirt line after the birth of her first child. “It never occurred to me I could fail, even though I had no experience,” she says. Today Daniels runs two successful small businesses (the T-shirt company and a line of stationery), which allows her to stay at home with her three children. We have a great many examples like this all around us. Personally, this was a challenge I overcame myself, to be able to do what I want to do in life, rather than be stuck with what is “expected of me” because others perceive me in certain ways.  mandela

A quote that made a difference to my thinking goes as follows: People always say you have changed when they find you don’t fit into their framework.

3. SMART goals. I can’t emphasize enough about this. The best example I can give is when we all embark on weight loss programs. Over ambitious goals and hoping to fit in jeans that are two sizes smaller, is a sure shot way of remaining where we are. I am personally guilty of this. So, what I decided was to stick to realistic goals that were/are more achievable. Goals that are a stretch but not an overreach…stretch, so that I feel I have gone the extra mile and seen the results. Working on the goals or dreams everyday is the key to sustaining that bit motivation.

4. Declare your dreams. What good is it when your dreams die with you? For they surely will if you do not share them with anyone. As children we are encouraged to dream, parents feel happy when a child talks about his or her aspirations. What happens as the child grows? They are asked to be realistic. You may say that my previous point spoke about being realistic. Yes, that is for goals. If my dreams aren’t big enough, what will I look forward to?

More important, do not stop sharing and talking about your dreams. When you share, you are internally motivated to go out and do something more about fulfilling your dreams.

5. You are your priority. Put your needs first, even when it feels utterly selfish. You will derail your progress if you sacrifice yourself for others in order to please them. Very often we are inundated with comments like, “C’mon don’t be mean…just this once.”, “You’re doing it for me”, “I’ll be hurt if you don’t do this.”, “How can you do this?” etc, etc. Remember, these people may mean well…but, the dream is not theirs, it is yours. So, you have to become a priority with yourself. Also, when you are happy from inside, you will make others happy.  Inspirational-Quotes-483

6. Raise the challenge bar. One of the simplest ways of moving ahead and reaching goal posts is when we challenge ourselves that much more everyday. It’s hard to remain enthusiastic when everything stays the same. However, only I can change the status quo…right? Athletes and sports people do this constantly, as do creative people. They are constantly pushing the envelope where their talent and skills are concerned. It is that much more interesting when you do things a little differently.

7. Keep learning. One of the reasons I continue to love the man I love, is his curiosity to learn something new in every situation, from everyone he meets. In fact, he keeps my learning curve growing because of the knowledge he keeps sharing with me. It could be bits and bytes about travel, politics, work in the office, books, music, culture, friends, family…just about anything. The process of getting to the goal, rather than just eyeing the finish line., is so much more enjoyable. Very often we forget that.

8. Always focus on the personal aspect, deeper meaning. We are more likely to realize our goals and fulfil our dreams when there is personal significance attached to them. For example, I always set emotionally connected dates to reach certain milestones in life – birthdays, anniversaries are the best target days. The sense of achievement is fantastic! Similarly, doing something because it has an emotional connect is much more meaningful, than just doing something for the sake of it. So, go ahead and find the deeper meaning.

Vincent Van Gogh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” I could not agree more. My passion is what fuels me…do you have one is my question? Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears…..and finally, we become what we believe.

Remain inspired, remain motivated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La mia vita … le mie condizioni! My life…my terms!

I was reading an interview by Sophia Loren and her response to a question by the interviewer made me smile…big time 🙂

Interviewer: “Ms Loren, how would you say life has treated you?”

Sophia Loren: “Life doesn’t treat me…I treat life by living it on my terms.”

This brought to mind a question…is there any other way to live?

When I was a child & growing up, I was made to feel that I could conquer the world and nothing was impossible. This created in me an insatiable desire to achieve and achieve. It led to me becoming competitive. You may ask…what’s wrong with that.

Everything! Everything because I was competing with the external world. However, this was something I did not understand for a very very long time in my life. With every new achievement in my life there was a sense of exultation which I mistook for happiness. Or maybe it was happiness at that moment.living life quotes (4)

Funny things happen as you grow older. There was a kind of restlessness in me that I could not get over with. And it persisted. I had two choices then – either I continue to live with that restlessness or acknowledge it and do something about it. The question was what do I do?

It was time for some soul searching in my life…the only answer that came back to me again and again was a quote by an unknown person…”What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Failure still made a difference…it was so ingrained in me that I could not fail. Some more soul searching led me to read Napolean Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” in which he says “What if you fail?” That got me thinking…would I faint or worse would I die if failed? It was more to do with what would others think? Failure isn’t expected of me in any role that I play in my life. How many of us go through our lives with this foundation???

Books have always been my best friends…and I started finding my answers. It was then that I realised that the competitive spirit I had all my life had to be directed in a totally opposite direction. I had to compete with myself…if I had to grow as a human being. And since then my life changed…and how!!!

Once I discovered I could design my life in ways that I had only dreamt of earlier…it was an addiction. And it got it me hooked! Since then I have lived my life based on my dreams, wild, free and with integrity. I have been true to what my heart says…not what logic says. This has bought an insatiable desire to edify everyone who came into my life. Because everyone taught me something that I could use to lead a joyous life. live ur dreams

This in turn helped me become more and more fearless…in my mind. That was the most liberating feeling! It got me in touch with my own self…forgiving myself, loving myself and therefore healing myself. So, in the spirit of that love and freedom I am sharing 18 quotes that I live my life by…challenging everyone out there to live life on their own terms. Go ahead…do it folks…you will never look back with regret.

My Life…My Terms Building Blocks

1. Be grateful for what you have…all magic stems from gratitude.

2. “If you’re not willing to go all the way, don’t start the journey at all!” — Charlemagne

3. You are more important than you realize.

4. Be the type of person you want to meet.

5. Be so good that they can’t ignore you!

6. Wear your invisible crown every single day. Only then will you be treated like a king or a queen. 

7. “Don’t do anything you don’t believe in.” — Russell Simmons

8. Don’t change so someone will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you!

9. Understand what you tolerate. You will also realize why you tolerate.

10. Always always pay attention to your relationship with yourself.

11. Sometimes life is all about dolce far niente – it is all about the sweetness of doing nothing.

12. “Make no small plans for they cannot stir your soul.” Machiavelli

13. “Feet? Why do I need them when I have wings to fly.” Frida Kahlo

14. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds…explore, dream, discover” Mark Twain

15. Be drawn by what you really love. You will never go astray.12-morning-quotes-to-start-your-day7

16. Never be afraid to make mistakes or change courses mid stream. It is better to put your heart and soul into something you are passionate about rather than work on mediocrity.

17. It’s important to dream, plan and act. More fundamental is to believe.

18. Never ever give up on yourself, your dreams or your life.

Time to get out of bed every morning feeling excited about life…to be charmed by what the universe has to offer and pick and choose what you want for your dream life. Celebrate your life!!!

Success…Mantra Or Recipe

I am writing after a while…all this while my mind has been pondering about the word “success”. Yesterday I spent time with a self made millionaire, who was asked by someone “What is the mantra for your success?”. The same question has been asked by thousands & thousands of people world over to a Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Azim Premji, Mukesh Ambani, Akio Morita, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Jackson, Shakira, George Clooney, Amitabh Bachchan and others.

When I talk about success so passionately, a lot of my friends have told me that success means different things to different people. Sure I agree…my understanding is irrespective of what success means to you and in whatever field you achieve it, the recipe to achieve that success will be the same. Wouldn’t it?

That brings me back to the question…do successful people really have a recipe or a mantra that brings the success? Yes!!!  Yes, they do have a mantra or recipe. For me achieving success is like cooking a superb dish. The end result may be a simple dish, but the ingredients need to be in the right proportion. So what are the ingredients I am talking about? Let’s get to the kitchen of life…

To your pan of Passion, using the ladle of Positive Attitude, add the following ingredients. Mind you the ingredients are very BASIC 🙂

Belief – In order for you to achieve anything in your life – you have to first believe. You need to believe in yourself that you can achieve it. You must have faith in your goals and your path to that success. Once your mind is convinced that you can do it, nothing is impossible. Belief is the ‘mind and heart’ & ‘think and feel’ part of the recipe.

Action – Nothing moves until you do something. You belief alone is not enough…you need to act on that belief. However, if my passion is high, then my belief will move me to act. When you act upon what you believe, there is focus. And there is energy. That energy propels you to greater heights.

Skills – My passion, belief and action will come to nothing if I do not upgrade my skills required for my work. Skills are those tools that will help me move closer inch by inch, foot by foot everyday towards my goal post. In a fiercely competitive world, if I don’t increase my knowledge and hone my skills, what am I attracting? Not success for sure!

IntegrityIntegrity of thought & deed. Integrity to yourself and others working with you. Without this there is no credibility I can build for myself. Integrity will also tell that there are no short cuts to success. I have to find my path and walk on on it. Sometimes it will be smooth, mostly it is uphill. It is during those uphill walks, that my integrity will enable & empower me.

Consistency – The little waterfall did not change the shape of the rock because of it’s force, but by its consistent contact with the rock. Look at any successful person around you. What has worked for them is the consistency of action in their field. It could be a carpenter carving a beautiful chair or a musician creating music or playing an instrument. Relentless pursuit is what brings us closer to success.

Once this BASIC recipe starts simmering in your pan of Passion, then you need to add the right seasoning of Determination, Discipline & Dedication. Mix it up in a way that suits your life’s purpose and then you automatically have a purposeful life!!!

Here’s wishing you all a delicious day ahead 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Language Of The Souls…

Music is the shorthand of emotion…the language of souls – Leo Tolstoy.  

When we seek to express or evoke emotion we turn to melody. It is on this premise that entire movie industry is based on. How else do we account for heroes & heroines breaking into a song at the drop of a hat :). There is an inner connection between music and the spirit. When language aspires to the transcendent and the soul longs to break free of the gravitational pull of the earth, it modulates into song. Music, said Arnold Bennett is “a language which the soul alone understands but which the soul can never translate.” It is, in Richter’s words “the poetry of the air.”  Goethe said, “Religious worship cannot do without music. It is one of the foremost means to work upon man with an effect of marvel.”

Words are the language of the mind. Music is the language of the soul. Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.  You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body, said Oliver Wendell Holmes.

We use music in every aspect of life and one of music’s most prominent and most important role has been within the realm of religion. In various world religions, whether it be Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or Hinduism, music plays a significant part in the way that the believers relate to their Gods, to other believers, and in how they understand and pass down their religion. Music works as a means of expressing passion and gratitude to the subject of worship and for religious adherents to convey their feelings to the deity of choice.

Every day, in Judaism, the morning prayers are with Pesukei de-Zimra, the ‘Verses of Song’ with their magnificent crescendo, Psalm 150, in which instruments and the human voice combine to sing God’s praises.

The most important texts in Hinduism are the Vedas. The Veda “is regarded by some Hindus as a timeless revelation which is not of human authorship, is eternal, and contains all knowledge, while others regard it to be the revelation of God.” The original four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda are all comprised of hymns, songs, and mantras. Hindu devotional music is called Bhajan and finds it roots in Sama Veda.  With easy lilting flow, the colloquial renderings, these are sung in a group comprising devotees, with a lead singer.

Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith.  Most Christian music involves singing, whether by the whole congregation (assembly) or a specialized subgroup—such as a duet, trio, quartet, madrigal, choir, or worship band. One of the earliest forms of worship music in the church was the Gregorian chant. Pope Gregory I was acknowledged as the first person to order such music in the church, hinting the name “Gregorian” chant. The chant took place around 590–604 CE (reign of Pope Gregory I). 

While the question of permissibility of music in Islamic jurisprudence is historically disputed, and there are two perspectives, music nevertheless does exist as part of offering praises to the Lord. Certain sects of the mystic Sufi Muslims, believe that music impels a person to seek the spiritual world.  It is said that, “the nature of music’s influence on man very much depends on the basic intentions of the listener (Shiloah, 1995). Therefore, music is not inherently evil: rather, the listener’s interpretation of musical experience can be evil.”

Irrespective of what the source is, whether it is religious music, instrumental music, pop, rock, classical etc, one common factor is transcending racial, cultural, and ideological boundaries, music is a universal language that brings together human beings from all different origins, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Used in many cultures and traditions as a vehicle for inner reflection and contemplation, music invigorates the spirit and strengthens higher love. In addition, in recent years musicologists have explored numerous therapeutic and psychological benefits of music.

In his book, Musicophilia, the neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks tells the poignant story of Clive Wearing, an eminent musicologist who was struck by a devastating brain infection. The result was acute amnesia. He was unable to remember anything for more than a few seconds. As his wife Deborah put it, ‘It was as if every waking moment was the first waking moment.’

Unable to thread experiences together, he was caught in an endless present that had no connection with anything that had gone before. One day his wife found him holding a chocolate in one hand and repeatedly covering and uncovering it with the other hand, saying each time, ‘Look, it’s new.’ ‘It’s the same chocolate’, she said. ‘No’, he replied, ‘look. It’s changed.’ He had no past at all. In a moment of awareness he said about himself, ‘I haven’t heard anything, seen anything, touched anything, smelled anything. It’s like being dead.’

Two things broke through his isolation. One was his love for his wife. The other was music. He could still sing, play the organ and conduct a choir with all his old skill and verve. What was it about music, Sacks asked, that enabled him, while playing or conducting, to overcome his amnesia? The answer was that when we ‘remember’ a melody, we recall one note at a time, yet each note relates to the whole. Victor Zuckerkandl, who wrote, ‘Hearing a melody is hearing, having heard, and being about to hear, all at once. Every melody declares to us that the past can be there without being remembered, the future without being foreknown.’ Music is a form of sensed continuity that can sometimes break through the most overpowering disconnections in our experience of time. 

Music is also like faith. Music integrates. And as music connects note to note, so faith connects episode to episode, life to life, age to age in a timeless melody that breaks into time. I will say music is a signal of transcendence. So, every generation needs new songs. The history of human spirit is written in the songs we sing. The words do not change, but each generation needs its own melodies.

When the soul sings, the human spirit soars!