Category: Sarva Dharma Sambhav


By: Keyur Seta

What should a person do to lead a spiritual life? Is he or she required to quit his job or business and retire to the Himalayas in order to walk on the path of spirituality? Or is it possible for him to continue his profession in the material world and at the same time work towards the goal of spirituality?

The answers to these questions were explored by Swami Sarvalokanandaji Maharaj at the weekly Bhagavad Gita class at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai.

The gist of his lecture is summarized as below:-

– Swamiji narrated an incident about a businessman, who was told by a monk or sanyasi to wind up his business and migrate to the Himalayas or any forest and become an ascetic. Obviously, the man was confused as he had to run his business to earn a living. This is when that person met a monk at Ramakrishna Mission. The monk explained that although what the saint said is true, it is not practical because he has to sustain and family.

Picture: Parallelperception.com

Picture: Parallelperception.com

– By shedding light on the verse from the Gita which states that one should work without focusing on the fruits of the action, Swamiji explained that one can lead a spiritual life while being into any material profession. This is called Karma Yoga.

– Karma Yoga is very difficult to achieve and it requires great effort but it is definitely attainable.

– Such a person is called the Enlightened while the opposite of it is the Ignorant. The ignorant works for personal gain and is obsessed with the fruits of his action. But the enlightened works for the welfare of others without thinking about the fruits of action. He gave this example – If a cricketer (batsman) only focuses only on the scoreboard, he won’t be able to concentrate on his play.

– Through the above incident, Swamiji also explained that the enlightened shouldn’t create confusion in the mind of the ignorant.

– He gave another similar example. Once, a devotee named Harish went to Sri Ramakrishna and said that he has decided to give up his professional or social life as he wants to lead a spiritual life in his company. But Sri Ramakrishna didn’t allow him and instead scolded him for this idea since he has a family to support. This doesn’t mean that Sri Ramakrishna discouraged him from being spiritual. He just meant that it is wrong to leave your dependents stranded in the name of spirituality.

– One has to tread onto the spiritual path slowly and gradually. For example, you can’t ask a 2-year-old kid to start running.

Such lectures take place on every Sunday from 5:45 onwards. But do call once and check before turning up.

By: Keyur Seta

‘Dreams’ is one topic that instantly arouses interest in almost all of us. People from different background, social status, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender, age and what not will unitedly listen to a person sharing his or her dream. So, what exactly are dreams? Do they have any connection with our real lives? Is it normal to dream yourself naked at a public place?

Mumbaikars were enlightened to the answers to these questions and a lot more at an interactive lecture titled ‘Reality of Dreams’ at New Acropolis Mumbai by one of their teachers.

The following are the excerpts from the lecture:-

Picture: News.softpedia.com

Picture: News.softpedia.com

Basic information about dreams:

  • We dream in color and not in black and white. However, the intensity of the colors varies from person to person. People from creative fields usually see more colorful dreams.
  • In a study in the US, it was found that the dreams of children below 5th grade (roughly 10 years old) are more colorful than the rest.
  • Blind people also dream. Their dreams are difficult to explain though. But those who are blind from birth, dream through other senses as they have never experienced vision ever.
  • Animals dream too.
  • You can sometimes get answers to your questions through dreams, although indirectly. This often happens with people who are into the profession of coding. There are also cases of inventions taking place through the help of dreams.
  • It is also believed that if you are seeking answers for the growth of humanity, you are likely to find them through dreams. For example, when Swami Vivekananda wasn’t sure of going to Chicago to attend the Parliament of Religions to represent India, he saw a symbolic dream about his master Sri Ramakrishna suggesting him to go ahead.
  • Many cultures have the same name for ‘dream’ and ‘vision’.
Picture: Trendingfeeds.com

Picture: Trendingfeeds.com

Most Common Dreams: (1) Falling down (2) Teeth falling out (3) Being chased (4) Turning up naked in public places (5) Unprepared for an exam (6) Pregnancy or something related to babies (7) Being late for something (8) Dying or death (9) Meeting a celebrity (10) Being out of control (11) Flying and (12) Having sex

Some of these dreams might appear abnormal but that is not true. It is absolutely normal to see any of the aforementioned dreams.

Interpretation of dreams: You will find thousands of pages on the internet about the meaning or interpretation of different types of dreams. However, that is not the right approach. It is not right for one person to determine the meaning of other person’s dream since different dreams can have different meanings for different people.

Stages of Sleep: The stage of sleep plays a major role in triggering dreams. Dreams mostly occur during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep and rarely during non-REM stage. The REM stage occurs generally during the starting and ending stage of sleep.

Trivia on Sleep:

  • The most common question about sleep is how much sleep do we need. It is believed that, on an average, a person requires 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep. Sleeping much lesser or higher than this stipulated time affects your mental ability.
  • Sleep also has more to do with the quality than quantity.
  • Monks or spiritually enlightened people can do with as less as 2.5 hours of sleep.
  • In a study, when people were made to stay awake for 17 days, they experienced hallucinations, were unable to focus and struggled to solve questions requiring logical sense.

By: Keyur Seta

In a country like India, misconceptions spread faster than genuine truth. Somehow, such myths don’t need any media or social media attention to spread its tentacles. The funniest thing is that such myths are accepted without questioning or, worse, without even using the simple logical techniques provided by the human mind.

One such misconception that has been spreading and continues to do so is about spirituality. Most of the people I come across have blindly accepted a false theory that spirituality is only meant for the old, fragile and helpless; those who are just a few kilometers away from death.

This also means that they get a shock when they see a person in his/her 20s or 30s treading onto the spiritual path. Their most common reaction being – “Why? What is the need? You are so young!” There will also be few who would feel bad or sorry for us as if we are victims of some tragedy.

Youth-group

Picture Source: pmubc.org

There are various definitions of spirituality. As far as I am concerned, it is a driving force that helps us face life in a positive manner. Spirituality doesn’t aim to provide a problem-free life, which is a myth. It empowers one to solve problems by facing them instead of avoiding or brooding over them.

It brings a sense of peace and contentment from what you have in life or within you instead of looking for it in some material object or person. To achieve this goal, the aspirant mostly accepts the philosophy of a God or a Guru. But one mustn’t confuse spirituality with performing rituals. In fact, being ritualistic is against the principles of spirituality, at least in my book.

Now, why can’t a youngster live life according to the above points? Why does s/he need to be a senior citizen to follow this? But there are more points that prove that spirituality is ideally for youngsters. These points are based on simple logic rather than some deep, complex insights.

They are as follows:-

Picture Source: Hindustantimes.com

Picture Source: Hindustantimes.com

1. The basic aim of spirituality is to make your life better. So it is logical to start doing it from a young age itself. Doing it after you become a senior citizen is almost impossible as you can’t change yourself in that age.

2. But in case if you are able to change yourself after crossing 60 or 70, it is not of much use. I am saying this from a practical point of view and don’t wish to sound rude. At 60, 70 or above, you don’t have much time left. So whatever enlightenment or change you will encounter will be valid only for few years. The point I am trying to make is that it is much better and viable to live with a positive mindset for as many years as possible. And for this, it is imperative to tread on this path as early as possible.

3. If one attains spiritual enlightenment at a younger age, s/he would not only be able to help himself lead a more meaningful life but will also be able to help people around him/her. In other words, s/he would stand a chance of doing something for the society or nation.

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4. Treading on this path will provide you with more energy and enthusiasm, which will be carried on for the rest of your lives, including old age. Won’t you love that?

5. As you would be able to deal with tension, stress and pressure in a more positive way, you will stay away from harmful practices like smoking. Quitting smoking after turning 60 won’t serve any purpose as the damage will already be done.

6. Think about spiritual gurus and one of the first names that come to our minds is Swami Vivekananda. The powerful monk achieved, what you can call, the PhD in spirituality and he lived for only 39 years. The fact that he is known as a Youth Icon and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day is also a big indication that Spirituality is for the youth.

To conclude, I will put Swami Vivekananda’s messages for the youth:

Swami-Vivekananda1. I want young men. “It is the young, the strong, and healthy, of sharp intellect that will reach the Lord”, say the Vedas. This is the time to decide your future — while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigor of youth. Work — this is the time; for the freshest, the untouched and un-smelled flowers alone are to be laid at the feet of the Lord, and such He receives.

2. Be strong, my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are bold words; but I have to say them, for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches. I have gained a little experience. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you.

3. Young men full of the spirit of renunciation are needed —those who will be ready to sacrifice their lives for others, instead of devoting themselves to their own happiness.

Review By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * * * *

On the surface, author Ashwin Sanghi’s The Krishna Key is a chase-oriented action thriller. But deep within, it is much, much more. The author has managed to enlighten about the glory of India’s ancient civilization while narrating a modern tale set in today’s times. The end result is a unique mixture of spiritual enlightenment and page-turning thrill.

The Krishna Key revolves around Ravi Mohan Saini, a historian in his 40s and scholar of sorts when it comes to epics like Mahabharata. He gets the shock of his life when he is accused of murdering his childhood friend Anil Varshney, an archeologist and linguistic expert. Varshney was on the verge of discovering a secret related to Lord Krishna, buried 5000 years ago.

Picture: Flipkart.com

Picture: Flipkart.com

Taarak Vakil, who considers himself as Kalki Avatar, the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, has committed the crime on the orders of Mataji. Out of nowhere, Saini gets a chance of proving himself innocent. For this, he needs to discover hidden meanings into ancient scriptures by traveling various places of importance. During the course of his secret investigation, Saini also tries solving the question of the existence of Lord Krishna.

The Krishna Key gets you hooked from the very first sentence itself. It is an example of an interesting and intriguing story narrated in an un-put-down-able manner. There are regular twists, which become more thrilling due to Sanghi’s manner of disclosing them. A few chapters are smartly left hanging, adding more excitement. The extended climax makes sure the book ends on a spiritually enlightening manner instead of mere action.

What makes the book more appealing is that he has managed such high quality of narration despite using simple words and sentences. So it manages to catch the interest of a person from vernacular background as well as someone interested in rich literature.

But the biggest reason that sets The Krishna Key apart is the ancient disclosures that it presents. They aren’t mentioned just for the sake of it. Sanghi has given references of a long list of real findings about the Vedic age and woven them intelligently around a fictitious tale. And most of these findings will truly amaze you and make you feel proud of our civilization. Although few appear unwanted, they are so fascinating that you don’t really mind it.

Here are few of them without spoilers:-

– The same planetary movements that were seen on the day the Mahabharata war took place were also seen on 9/11.

– Russian Professor A A Gorbovsky found an ancient skull on the site where Kurukshetra war took place. After studying the skull, it was found that it is 5000 years old and, most interestingly, it emitted nuclear radiations, indicating nuclear weapons being used in the Mahabharata war.

– Rigveda mentions that sun travels 2,202 in half a nimesha. Hence, sunlight travels at 186000 miles per second. The modern calculation of speed of light comes extremely close to 186000.

– J Oppenheimer quoted Bhagavad Gita after first successful test of atom bomb.

– Badshahnama, the complete account of Shah Jahan’s reign, mentions his beloved wife as Arjumand Banu Begum instead of Mumtaz Mahal.

– The dome at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and its surroundings are modeled on Shiv Linga. As real Shiv Lingas emit radiation, it is necessary to pour water on it from time to time. Water is poured on BARC dome for the same reason.

– This is just the tip of the iceberg. The total of such findings and lesser known facts easily go up to more than 100.

Amidst such positives, the book also has its share of negatives. A number of incidents and turns fall in the masala Hindi movie genre. Few mysterious questions remain unanswered. At times, there is an overdose of knowledge, which slightly shifts focus from the main story and increases the length. Thankfully, these points don’t hinder much of the enjoyment.

Overall: Ashwin Sanghi’s The Krishna Key is much more than merely a thriller novel.

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Pages: 475

Price: Rs 125

Publisher: Westland Ltd.

Genre: Thriller

Cover: Artistic and intriguing

By: Keyur Seta

He also speaks about airplanes during Ramayana era and other interesting things related to mythology during the launch of his book Shattered Deams.

Author Shubha Vilas explained the importance of epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata by highlighting that such books were the only source of learning even for great emperors. “Shivaji Maharaj gained knowledge and wisdom only from these epics. How can a great emperor like him rely only on two books? So I feel it is now time to show how exciting and enlightening these epics are.”

He was speaking at the launch of his book Shattered Dreams, the second in the six part series on Ramayana. The first titled Rise Of The Sun Prince released last year. Prominent columnist Anil Dharker was the guest at the event, which took place at the Kemps Corner branch of Crosswords in Mumbai on Thursday.

Shubha Vilas (centre), Anil Dharker (right). Picture: Newssuperfast.com

Shubha Vilas (centre), Anil Dharker (right). Picture: Newssuperfast.com

Vilas spoke about the mixture of entertainment and enlightenment produced by such epics. “The heart requires entertainment but mind requires enlightenment. When there is a mixture of both, it becomes a complete experience.”

In his book, Vilas has described an airplane called Pushpak Vimana. There have been a lot of talks and debates currently over whether there were airplanes in India thousands of years ago. So, obviously, Vilas was asked about this. His answer became the highlight of the event.

“NASA has appointed two Sanskrit scholars on their payroll. Their job is to interpret Vedic texts, especially Vimana Shastra, which was written during Ramayana by Maharishi Bhardwaj. Vimana Shastra has detailed descriptions on how to make a flying machine. So, if NASA believes in it, there has to be some truth in it,” he said.

By referring to his book, Vilas also described the dissatisfaction among people these days. “Villagers look for something more promising in cities, city dwellers look at America for the same reason and Americans look at the moon. The wise prefer to be satisfied in the existing.” He also criticized the attitude of people living in cities when it comes to reading epics. “They ask, what is in it for me and how will it help me if I invest two hours in it?”

During the course of the discussion, Dharker pointed out about the growing interest among authors in mythology. “Few years ago, you (Vilas) wouldn’t have thought about writing such a book. Also, nowadays publishers have opened up to different types of literature. It is good that people like Shubha are modernizing our epics and teaching life lessons through it.”

By: Keyur Seta

‘Common Man’ is no ordinary title. The term has given a unique and respectful identity to a large majority of Indians falling into the middle-class and upper middle-class category. They may be divided by religion, caste, language, region or what not, but they stand united under the umbrella of ‘Common Man’.

This title has given them a voice. It has highlighted the fact that the betterment of India can only take place when the life of people falling in this category is bettered. This can be seen from the fact that the main agenda of each political party in India is to serve the Common Man. Whether they have been able to achieve it is a different story. Hence, it won’t be an overstatement that ‘Common Man’ is a revolutionary title.

Picture: Fullonsms.com

Picture: Fullonsms.com

Today, the person who coined this title breathed his last. India’s greatest cartoonist R K Laxman returned to heavenly abode at a Pune hospital after a prolonged illness at the age of 94. May his soul Rest In Peace.

There is no doubt that he was an excellent cartoonist; easily the best the country has seen. However, he has influenced my life more by his ‘Common Man’ feature. In fact, I live this theory every moment as it has become the most important philosophy of my life.

Needless to say, the name of this blog is solely influenced by Laxman’s ‘Common Man’. Although I also considered Naseeruddin Shah’s character in A Wednesday while naming it, the germ of this philosophy was created by Laxman. Today, the name of my blog has played a large role in whatever little acceptance it has received from readers, friends and well-wishers. All thanks to R K Laxman!

The man has passed away but his legacy of ‘Common Man’ will be kept alive in various ways. The ‘Common Man’ might fail every now and then but he will never get tired. In this way, people like us will ensure that his cartoons never go waste.

R K Laxman’s Common Man. (Picture: Students.smcm.edu)

R K Laxman’s Common Man. (Picture: Students.smcm.edu)

By: Keyur Seta

Actress Kangana Ranaut has spoken about herself during her innumerable interviews. However, very few of us know that she considers Swami Vivekananda as her biggest inspiration and motivation. She spoke about this little known aspect about her life during the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai.

Kangana Ranaut. Picture Source: Sonam Budha @sonambudha1

Kangana Ranaut. Picture Source: Sonam Budha @sonambudha1

“There was a time in my life when I couldn’t face tough situations. I was a lot confused about a lot of things. One day, my Yoga Guru gave me few books on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. That changed everything. His book on Karma Yoga provided me with a lot of inspiration. Only I can understand how his teachings gave me another birth. I am Vivekananda’s product,” said Kangana with a broad smile.

She added, “I always wanted to connect with R K Mission. I am happy that I finally got a chance to be here and speak.”

As always, the address by Swami Sarvalokananda, secretary of RKM Mumbai, contained messages for the youth. “When Swamiji went to the west, he used to proudly say that he is from India. But today’s youth show a lot of hesitation to reveal that.” While speaking on leadership, he said, “We need servant leadership.”

Arunagiri Mudaaliar, Chairman and Chief Mentor of E Cube India, pointed out how Vivekananda’s teachings also help management students. “His most important teaching which the management students adhere to is – Before managing external environment, manage yourself internally.”

Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor at BARC and Dr Srikumar Banerjee, from the Atomic Energy Commission, Mumbai also spoke about the relevance of Vivekananda’s message in today’s times.

A large number of school and college students were invited for the event since Vivekananda’s birthday is also celebrated as National Youth Day in India. This time, his birth tithi coincided with his birthday.

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By: Keyur Seta

The scenes were unique at Mumbai’s Ramakrishna Math when the monks of the Ramakrishna order and a Catholic priest came together to celebrate Christmas Eve ahead of Christmas. This day is celebrated each year at various branches of the Ramakrishna Math.

The people gathered got to witness special scenes in the form of rituals and aarti for Jesus Christ by Ramakrishna monks. Along with the Christmas tree, colorful decoration, lights and a host of food items kept around the pictures of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary provided an enchanting picture.

Jesus Aarti

Jesus Aarti

Swami Shrimohananda started the celebration by reciting important verses from the Holy Bible. He also spoke about the high importance of the Christmas Eve with regards to Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda.

“Swami Vivekananda and fellow Ramakrishna disciples took Bramhacharya on December 24. Swamiji cited the example of the greatness of Jesus and his renunciation. But he and the rest did not know it was the Christmas Eve. They came to know about it later,” he said. He also spoke how Ramakrishna Paramhansa got absorbed in the picture of child Jesus once.

Father Joe D’Souza, who was the revered guest at the event, was overwhelmed to see such high number of Ramakrishna devotees attending Christmas Eve celebrations. He narrated the life story of Jesus along with other events surrounding it. He added, “We use candles to remove external darkness. But now, time has come for us to light a candle inside us to remove internal darkness.” He was pointing towards the mindless violence taking place around the world.

christmas-2014-mumbaiBut the biggest highlight of the evening arrived when D’Souza narrated an incident. Three weeks back, he was getting late for a speech so he pressed the accelerator of his car when he shouldn’t have. It resulted in his car hitting another car belonging to a Gujarati couple. The owner asked the Father to pay for the losses. He agreed but said that as he is a priest, he doesn’t carry money all the time. But he promised to visit their house and pay. The couple agreed.

Two days later, the Father received his salary. So he visited the couple to pay for the losses. But the couple warmly greeted him and said they just wanted to check whether he is a genuine priest. They not only strictly refused to accept the money but also urged the Father to give them Aashirwad and have breakfast with them.

Later on, the Father realized that the amount of Rs 5000, which he wanted to pay to the couple, is a gift from God. So he divided it into five parts and donated it to the needy.

Filled with emotion, he exclaimed, “Isn’t this exactly what Christmas is?”

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

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(This is the second episode of the series ‘Lessons from Mahabharata’. The sole aim of this series is to highlight that the many messages given in the greatest epic are completely relevant even today and will be forever… For previous episode, click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

The basic necessities of any human being are food, clothing and shelter. To fulfill these basic needs, it is essential for him or her to earn money. Hence, each one of us is into some profession or the other to make sure we keep earning to survive. But how much money is enough even after being able to live life comfortably? Or rather, is money ever enough?

We regularly come across people who are so rich that even their next few generations can live a decent lifestyle without having to work. But despite that, they aren’t satisfied. They continue to devise newer methods to earn even more. If you ask them the reason for their obsession to make more lakhs or crores, their standard answer is – To be happier! But happiness comes from a state of peace or absence of conflict. So can money surely being peace of mind?

Yudhishthir crowned the king (Picture: Wikipedia)

Yudhishthir crowned the king (Picture: Wikipedia)

Now let me present you with some interesting facts. There have been thousands of studies and surveys suggesting that the rich and the super-rich are more depressed than anyone else or are more prone to be depressed. But there is more to it. Many of these studies also suggest that suicidal tendencies are found the most among the wealthy lot. So naturally, psychiatrists come across a lot of people from this class suffering from depression.

I personally know quite a few super rich individuals who are depressed. I also know one such person who committed suicide few years back after being trapped into depression. Similarly, I have also witnessed some very well to do individuals getting treated for depression.

This, obviously, throws light on few important points – If money is enough to bring peace and happiness, why such large numbers of wealthy individuals are falling into depression? Worse, why some of them are ending their lives despite such a fat bank balance? If money is enough to bring happiness and peace, these people, leave alone committing suicide or even being depressed, should not be even close to depression.

This aspect is also seen in the great Indian epic Mahabharata after the war of Kurukshetra. As the Pandavas defeated the Kauravas, Yudhishthir, being the eldest of the Pandava brothers, was crowned as the King of Hastinapur. But was he or the other four Pandava brothers – Arjun, Bheem, Nakul and Sahadev – able to enjoy the fruits of the kingdom?

Despite being the rulers of the richest kingdom in the country, the Pandavas, especially Yudhishthir, weren’t happy or at peace simply because it was achieved after the annihilation of their own cousins, grandfather (Bheeshma), teacher (Drona), brother (Karna) and friends. Plus, thousands of warriors who fought for the Pandavas too had lost their lives on the battlefield.

When a kingdom is achieved after such terrible carnage, it becomes meaningless. So the Pandavas were just unable to enjoy its fruits as they were feeling remorseful. Hence, they retired to heavenly abode. I am not at all trying to say that the war shouldn’t have been fought. It was absolutely necessary to preserve Dharma by not allowing the Kauravas to succeed in their evil ways. I am just pointing out that wealth doesn’t mean much in the presence of inner conflict and remorse.

Now let us look at a fictional example. Mr X is the CEO of a big business empire. But his personal life is in disarray. His health is deteriorating while his family members are constantly into conflict. On the other hand, Mr Y is an executive earning a moderate income. With a healthy lifestyle, loving wife and obedient children, he is happy in his own little world.

So who of the two is richer? You decide.

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Pandavas on their way to heaven. (Picture: Goelweb.com)

Pandavas on their way to heaven. (Picture: Goelweb.com)

By: Keyur Seta (Copyright Protected)

Mumbai’s Versova locality is a residence for the rich and the super-rich of the city. As the price of a single apartment is easily over Rs 2 crore, it is impossible for the middle-class to reside in this suburban vicinity. This is solely the reason for the area to be home for a large number of film and television artists. Hence, owning a big apartment in this part of the city is proof enough of a family or a person’s healthy financial condition.

The same is the case with Dubey’s, who lived on the 10th floor of a typical posh Versova tower, overlooking a famous multiplex. With Mr Dubey striking gold in his garment business since more than a decade, his house is blessed with all the luxuries Mrs Dubey could ask for. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the family has maids and servants for every household chore. This ensures that Mrs Dubey can spend her day mostly watching television and socializing while their only child, Rajiv, juggles between school and coaching classes.

On one morning at around 11 am, Devi, their maid, returned with a stock of vegetables for the family. Like her normal routine, she stored them in the fridge. It was like an age old exercise except for the fact that the plastic bag carrying potatoes was torn, which the maid didn’t notice before storing. So the main bag, in which Devi carried all vegetables, had few potatoes left.

Around three hours later, Mrs Dubey ventured into the kitchen for her post-lunch fruit session when she noticed few potatoes lying in the bag. Cursing the maid, she decided to put them with the main stock.

versova

A tower in Versova (Picture: Mid-Day)

Not so far away from Versova falls the locality called Oshivara. There isn’t much difference between Versova and Oshivara but for the presence of some shanties in the latter. In one such namesake of a home stayed Shanta with her seven-year-old son Ramesh. Her husband and Ramesh’s father passed away few years back after falling prey to alcoholism. Considering their situation and the place they call home, it is needless to say that they literally lived from hand-to-mouth. Plus, Shanta’s self-respect doesn’t allow her to ask or beg for food from anyone.

Shanta, off late, has been in a dilemma as to whether she should continue sending Ramesh to the government school as her income as a sweeper and through some odd jobs is clearly not sufficient to support the two in today’s price-rise era. She is toying with the idea of getting Ramesh employed as a worker in a nearby plywood store. Her idea has created a bad blood between the mother and son as the latter wishes to study.

The tussle between the two reached a new level today. There were literally no vegetables left and there was still time before she got her next payment. On top of that, the vegetable vendor had plainly refused credit any more. This was enough for Shanta to force Ramesh in giving up studies so that he can earn. Although deep inside she didn’t like this at all, the thought of starving was too scary for her to ignore.

After a lot of conflict, Shanta announced, “Okay. If we get some food by today evening through some miracle, I will let you continue your school. If God really wants you to study, he will arrange something for our stomach by evening. If not, you should join that store from tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, while feasting her eyes on the sunset at Versova beach from Dubey’s apartment and at the same time speaking with someone over the phone, the chief maid was waiting for the woman who brings groceries for the family from the market. When the woman arrived, the chief maid signaled her to take the main bag and the money kept in the kitchen, which was the normal practice since months.

When Shanta picked up the main bag, she felt some heaviness. When she peered in she realized there were a few potatoes. She was highly surprised. But soon a wide smile emerged on her face. She recalled how Mrs Dubey had long back handed over few extra vegetables to her. She was sure she had done the same again. Now, she didn’t need to drop Ramesh from school.

“God wants Ramesh to continue studying,” she happily thought while leaving the house. How would she know that a phone ring had stopped Mrs Dubey for storing those potatoes after which she forgot about it? Few potatoes were no big deal for Mrs Dubey. But for Shanta, they were not only a big deal but a new lease of life.

When an unintentional distribution of food can bring more than a ray of hope, just imagine the positive effect of a small amount of intentional donation by those with surplus wealth. Considering India has 100 billionaires (out of the 2325 worldwide) and many rich and super-rich, it is surely not a big deal for them.

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