Money, fame, status... have always been a yardstick of how society judges an individual. Now, Sridevi reminds us of another interesting indicator with her superlative comeback role in English Vinglish. She has to endure small slights from her well-educated husband and daughter everyday because of her inability to speak and understand English. It made her feel insecure by her family and society at large. Sadly, this is no more just in the realms of movies. It’s an actual reflection of what’s happening in our society. But what saddens me more than our obsession with the colonial hangover is the blinkered yardsticks that we use to measure our status.
We are ever-ready to master languages, hone our culinary skills, perk up our laddoo-making, and improve gaming wizardry and so on... But very few seem to appreciate the need to learn about life. We are made to stick out like a sore thumb if we can’t speak proper English, but no such guilty feelings about not able to handle our anger, our relationships and any other emotions for that matter!
There is no harm in learning about anything and everything. In fact, it is desired. For, anything you have knowledge about becomes easy to handle. For those who have knowledge of cooking, even making an elaborate and lavish meal is a child’s play. But to the one who has no knowledge, even making a cup of tea becomes a challenging task. The same is true of every chore that we do in life. The same would be true of life too. If we acquire a little understanding about life -- how its different layers interplay, what controls our mind, what nourishes our soul, etc – it would become simpler to handle.
But the irony is here. Whatever we have learnt in life is because we have had a teacher to teach us. Sridevi learnt English because she went to an instructor. I know writing because I had teachers who taught me journalism. Many of us know driving because we learnt it from that instructor from the local driving school. The equation is that simple. We have always needed a guru to gain knowledge. But paradoxically we feel we don’t need a guru to learn about life. How can it be possible? Life is much more complicated a matter than cooking, gaming, driving, etc. Why, then, is this reluctance to accept a guru for life?
Is it because we don’t know whom to learn from about life? Or is it hard to trust someone with our lives? But Indian culture has always revered the concept of a spiritual guru or satguru. Even in the Sufi tradition, the system of peer-mursheed is sacrosanct! Having a master was not just considered a matter of pride, but a mandatory progression! Not having a master was looked down upon as being an orphan, being poor and a sign of misfortune.
Before life takes its toll, it will be wise to find a guru who can teach us life. A satguru who has depth to kindle life skills in us! The kind of knowledge a satguru gives is always life transforming, for he doesn’t stuuf with just information, but give a practical experience. He makes the abstract aspects of life more real and understandable; heightens our awareness. A guru bridges the gap that we see between wisdom and our own lives. He guides us to the ability to spontaneously integrate wisdom into our lives. Being with the guru is like being with one's higher self.
Ancient scriptures talk about five signs of a satguru. When we have a guru, knowledge flourishes, sorrow diminishes, joy wells up without any reason, abundance dawns and all talents manifest. A deadly combination of five things that can turn our lives around forever!
A satguru wouldn’t like urging people to feel guilty about anything. Yet I think it’s still a good idea to feel a little bit of pinch about having not had a teacher to teach us life! Better late than never! Let’s hail Sridevi’s spirit and find a guru now! Thankfully, we don’t have to go to Manhattan! Every corner of this country is blessed with enlightened sages!