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Posted on : July 11, 2012
Sairam and welcome to this new series “Satsang with a Techie”. It is a conversation between two fictional characters – Varun, a techie who lives in Bangalore and is immersed in the IT world, and Vivek, Varun's friend from his school days, who, after completing his studies, has settled down in Prasanthi Nilayam to dedicate his life in the service of Baba.
It all begins when Vivek, who has gone to Bangalore on some work, runs into Varun in a restaurant, where both are trying to grab a cup of coffee. Let's see what happens when they spot each other!
VARUN: Hi Vivek, long time no see!
VIVEK: Hello Varun, I too could say that! Anyway, I am glad to see you!
VARUN: I share your joy Vivek, but if we do not run into each other, that’s because we live in different worlds, don’t we?
VIVEK: I wouldn’t quite say that Varun. Not only do we both live on the same planet but in fact are barely 160 or so km away from each other, you in Bangalore and me in Puttaparthi. However, in a metaphorical sense, what you say is perhaps true.
VARUN: That’s right Vivek. But tell me, what brings you here to Bangalore? I thought you were busy all the time in Puttaparthi.
VIVEK: Very true Varun. However, I had a bit of work in this city and that is why I came here. In fact, I don’t think I would stay here too long, and by this evening I should be pushing off. Have been very busy this morning and being a bit tired, I thought I would grab a cup of coffee; and thanks to that cup, I have been able to run into you after so many years! Tell me, how is life treating you?
VARUN: Me, I have been doing fine thus far. You know how it is in the tech world; one slogs all the time and you think it is finally time to hit the bed, when you get a call from New York because people there have just started going to office. That guy in New York does not appreciate the time difference and goes on and on over the phone with the problem I have to fix for him.
VIVEK: Yes, I can imagine how it is; and I guess by the time you really put your head down on the pillow it is 3 a.m. or so, and before you know it, the phone is ringing again, with a fellow from Japan calling this time; for him it is already 8 a.m. and he thinks you are up and running. Right?
VARUN: [sighs] You are absolutely right, and that is why sometimes I am jealous of you!
VIVEK: Jealous of me? What for? I earn very little. I don’t jet around countries. I don’t command the material comforts you can and do. How could you be jealous of me? That's impossible!
VARUN: As you know Vivek, the grass always looks green yonder. What I know about you is that you are always happy.
VIVEK: That is very true. My work is of that nature and always fills me with bliss.
VARUN: And that Vivek, is one of the things that makes me jealous of you!
VIVEK: [laughs] I thought even a mouse would not be jealous of me, and here you are, the great jet-setting Varun, the darling of the boss, jealous of me! I am sure you must be joking!
VARUN: Not at all Vivek. I am quite jealous, that is, when I have time to be so! There is one more thing I am really jealous about you.
VIVEK: One more thing? What’s that?
VARUN: Well, compared to me, Vivek, you have so little work. No deadlines, no customers to please, not loaded with project after project, all of which must be completed yesterday! Do you realise how tension-free one would feel with that that kind of freedom?
VIVEK: My dear Varun, this might come as a surprise to you, but I too have projects, plenty of them, and deadlines too. So, in that respect, I am not at all that free as you imagine me to be. In fact, that is why I am in Puttaparthi all the time.
VARUN: Vivek, there is some kind of a mystery here. You are deep into Spirituality. I know about these Spirituality guys; they are to be found in all the metros these days and are on TV too. They are always singing bhajans, doing Yoga, meditating, and stuff like that. I mean that is not work, that is relaxation, 24/7! What is all this about projects and deadlines that you are talking about? Doesn’t make sense to me!
VIVEK: [looks at his watch] Varun, it appears we need to have a serious talk. And when we do, you would not only understand why I am busy all the time but also what exactly I am busy about.
VARUN: OK, what is it that keeps you so busy as you say?
VIVEK: Well, this might come as surprise to you but most of the time I am busy with various tasks connected with radio broadcasting.
VARUN: What?! Radio broadcasting? From Puttaparthi? You must be kidding! That is a small place, and frankly though I am told it is only 150 km or so from Bangalore, I don’t even know how to get there. I know there is an Ashram or something there, but broadcasting? What kind of broadcasting can one do from a small place – I guess your Puttaparthi is barely a rural town, right?
VIVEK: Varun, Varun, there is so much you must know! I still have some time before I have to rush off to the bus stand. So why don’t we spend whatever time I have, talking about a few things that would help you to understand many things better, including what I am doing and why? Game for it?
VARUN: Why not? After all, it is really very long since we met, and I sure would like to know what you are doing. And to keep us going, shall I order some coffee for us?
VIVEK: [smiles] That would be nice. Now, before I get on to the real nature of Spirituality, what I am doing and all that, I would like to ask a few questions. Can I?
VARUN: Sure, go right ahead.
VIVEK: Very well then. When was the last time you took a few minutes off to appreciate how beautiful our planet earth is?
VARUN: Come on Vivek, you can’t be serious! You know what a grind it is for us techies, even to survive! Who can waste time trying to find out how beautiful our planet is? I know it is beautiful, and sure manage to take a peek or two during vacations. I really don’t understand what you are trying to get at.
VIVEK: Hmm... a pity you are so busy that you cannot even spare a few moments to see and enjoy a beautiful sunset and have to appreciate it via some pictures sent by some friend via e-mail. And when you go on this so-called vacation, do you leave behind your Blackberry?
VARUN: Vivek, I was just trying to find out what keeps you busy and here you are talking about my vacation, Blackberry and what not! What’s going on? Are you OK?
VIVEK: Varun, it looks like you have got me completely wrong! Let me start all over again. You at least agree that planet Earth is very beautiful, do you not?
VARUN: Of course; who would doubt that?
VIVEK: Very good. And yet, in this beautiful planet that we all share, we also have so many problems, some of them pretty nightmarish.
There are problems associated with pollution, problems due to crime, problems due to poverty, and, of course, problems due to terrorism. The list seems to be endless, and wherever we turn, we seem to see plenty of problems. Agree?
Have you ever taken a minute off to wonder where all those problems come from, to spoil our beautiful earth and our lives too?
VARUN: Vivek, is that what you worry about?
VIVEK: Varun, I asked you a question and please would you give me a reply? Do you worry about the existence of such problems? Yes or no?
VARUN: Be serious! I have plenty of things to worry about and do you think I am going to waste my time about problems that I did not create in the first place and further, have nothing to do with me? But tell me, why do you waste your time worrying about all those problems? You mean to say there are no better things to do? I thought you were deep into Spirituality! What have all the problems you mention got to do with Spirituality?
VARUN: Oh my God! Frankly Vivek, I am wondering which of us two has gone nuts!
VIVEK: Varun, although we have not seen much of each other in recent times, earlier we grew up together and so closely too. On the strength of that old and strong friendship, I have to ask you to stop being brash and dismissive like many techies seem to be these days. If Spirituality was not connected with the problems faced by humanity, do you think I would spend time thinking and worrying about such problems?
Man, give me some credit for being intelligent!
VARUN: Sorry Vivek, looks Iike I have made a wrong start. OK, you have the floor, and make your point. I promise that I shall not interrupt, unless it be to ask a question or two; agree?
VIVEK: Thanks Varun! Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was trying to tell you something about the huge problems now confronting humanity. And what I was trying to tell you when we got side-tracked was that 1) that if we ignore these problems, then whether we are directly connected or not, one day they would swallow us. That is point number 1; point number 2 is that these problems arise because these days, humans are deliberately ignoring Spirituality.
VARUN: Vivek, hold on a minute! That precisely is where I have a huge problem.
VIVEK: I know what you are going to say! You would argue that Spirituality is for old and retired people whose end is coming near, and that young people like you have to dream about a future full of life as well as promise, and not one where death is just around the corner – that is what you want to say, is it not?
VARUN: Absolutely correct!
VIVEK: Well, in that case, let me take you head on. Consider the recent global market crisis, which someone described as an economic tsunami. It might have started in Wall Street, but you would agree wouldn’t you, that its impact has been felt the world over?
VARUN: OK, so what?
VIVEK: The point is that though neither you nor I might have triggered this disaster, such tidal waves have the effect of sweeping a lot of people and even drowning them, although they did not directly contribute to the disaster.
VARUN: What do you mean?
VIVEK: Here is a tragic example of how an individual was swept by that huge tidal wave. The person concerned was of Indian origin, a bright young man who graduated from the prestigious IIT, Madras, then went to America, did an MBA there, and, working his way up the ladder, soon he had everything that came along with the famous American Dream – a good job, a great house, a working wife and three sons, with the eldest in the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles Campus, etc.
It all seemed really like a wonderful dream realised, until one fine day, this young man became unemployed; to add to his misery, thanks to Wall Street collapse, his huge savings were wiped out in one instant, just like that.
VARUN: What happened then?
VIVEK: Well, the person I am referring to found that suddenly the bottom seemed to have fallen out of his dream. There were so many bills to be paid, and he had zero income – that is right, zero income. True, his wife was earning but his life style had been tuned to a much higher income. Confident of the future, he had borrowed heavily, but at that time, borrowing did not at all look like the trap it later became.
VARUN: Looks like I completely missed that story. What did this fellow do then?
VIVEK: This is what happened then. Debts began to mount rapidly, and our young man found the going to be really rough. He then began to be consumed with shame. One thing led to another, and one sad day, he purchased a gun – as you know, purchasing a gun is so easy out there. There he was, sliding down the slippery slope of depression and now he had a gun in his hand, about which no one in his family knew.
Finally, one night, when all were sleeping soundly, he systematically shot his wife, her mother, and his three sons. Mayhem completed, he shot himself, leaving a suicide note and a will.
No one in the neighbourhood knew anything about this massacre because all the windows had been sealed. However, next morning the neighbours learnt with deep shock what happens when the dream turns sour.
VARUN: Oh my God! That’s horrific!!
VIVEK: Yes it is. And I narrated that tragic story mainly to stress that just because we appear to be in a comfortable and safe position right now, we cannot assume that the bubble we have chosen to live in is all that secure. As such, we do have to spend at least some time, reflecting on the problems around us, how they could affect us, etc.
VARUN: I agree that we can suddenly find the bottom falling out due to no fault of ours.
VIVEK: That is right. Let us say that right here in Bangalore, we have a young man riding a bike, going back home from work. He has his helmet, his laptop, etc., but suddenly, a truck driven by a reckless driver hits this young man and he gets knocked down. As a result of the injury he suffers, he becomes paralysed, losing the power of all his four limbs. This condition is called quadriplegic.
VARUN: What you say is very true. In fact, the accident might as well have been caused by a bad pot-hole in the road, in which case one cannot blame any truck driver.
VIVEK: I entirely agree. The point I am trying to make is that many problems start in a small way and take root without our even being aware of it. However, they could easily snowball, and once they do, they begin affecting people even far away, including those that did not cause it by any means.
VARUN: You know Vivek, that is what I find so unfair about life. Why should it punish those who are not responsible? This seems to happen all the time, and I know how you Spirituality guys put the blame on Karma and stuff like that. I think that is like sweeping it all under the rug, and we simply cannot buy that!
I notice you are smiling; what are you smiling about?
VIVEK: I am smiling because slowly, we are coming to the heart of the matter.
VARUN: In what way?
VIVEK: Because all that we are now discussing is connected with Spirituality.
You see Varun, contrary to what you might be thinking, Spirituality is closely connected with the question of whether we can really afford to be so indifferent to the looming crisis and look the other way.
By the way, you do agree, do you not, that even though we might not cause the problems, they could actually engulf all of us, including you and me?
VARUN: I know there are problems like global warming and that kind of stuff, and that these problems are so huge that they could drag and swallow huge sections of the world’s population. But then, don’t you think there are enough people who are worrying about such problems and would fix them? That being the case, I don’t see why I have to spend time bothering about such things.
VIVEK: No Varun, it is not as simple as that. If you think about it carefully, you would begin to appreciate that we really cannot afford to live in a cocoon, as many of would like to. Maybe we can go into details later, but the point I would like to make right now is that being involved in the affairs of Society, especially solving the problems, is what Spirituality is all about?
VARUN: Really? I never knew that.
VIVEK: No surprise, since most people do not.
VARUN: You mean to say that Spirituality is not about rituals, chanting of mumbo-jumbo, meditation and stuff like that?
VIVEK: Well, that is the mistaken impression people tend to have because they have not taken the trouble to understand what Spirituality is all about.
VARUN: Looks like I have a lot to learn. Listen, we clearly cannot do that today; you have to go and so do I. When are you coming to Bangalore again?
VIVEK: I don’t think I would be coming in the near future. But I tell you what. Why don’t you come to Puttaparthi? I am sure you can do that during the weekend. If you come there, you can not only have Darshan of Bhagawan Baba but also chat with me. That way, we can continue where we leave off today. What do you say?
VARUN: Hey, that is a great idea. We shall keep in touch and I shall send you an e-mail about when I can come.
VIVEK: What you're saying sounds like, “Well, let us see when we can meet.” Instead, just say you would come! I assure you that you would benefit a lot, and coming to think of it, it would help me to think through many concepts carefully and achieve clarity in my own ideas. Who knows, you might even start believing in Spirituality!
VARUN: OK then, I shall come next Saturday morning.
VIVEK: See you then, and all the best till then! Take care.
VARUN: You too Vivek, and goodbye till then.
Illustrations: Saikaustuv Dasgupta
- Team Radio Sai