Satsang Declassified

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A few instances leading to a few insights!

At first sight, he appears feeble and meek.  His walk is not very upright either, as he broke his hip bone a few months ago.  Casually dressed in a plain white dhoti and a shawl, one cannot but be deceived by his looks.  Hidden behind these looks is a startling personality – Subbha Rao.  This octogenarian young man is filled with the same energy and enthusiasm as that of a youngster in his teens.  He runs a small printing business that was established some 50 years ago, serving a select few customers who are loyal to him still.  He has no intentions whatsoever to strike it big and is very much content with what he earns from the business.

For some of us, good associations happen, as if by design.  For the others, He leads us to these people, by many ways that is beyond comprehension.

The interesting fact is that this business is the focal point of a large joint family of more than 30 people, living in the same house, something unheard of in our times.  When he broke his hip bone, all of us thought it was going to be extremely difficult for him to get back to his old ways.  We were all squarely mistaken and in for a surprise too.  His physiotherapist goes on to describe him as a man with the will power as that of Hitler.  He trotted back to near normal just under a month.

Ever composed and calm, he still holds fort for the family and is respected for his wisdom and thoughts, right from his great grandchildren.  Till today, in spite of his physical incapability, he acts as the central point of his business, providing guidance and direction and the best of his services to his few ‘privileged’ customers.  I assume that he deftly handles issues in the joint family, for there are bound to be many, but not a bit of it is visible to the outside world.  I get to see him almost thrice a week, and each time I am awed by his personality.  I have wondered several times how he always manages to lead from the front.  This more so for a man who started his livelihood as a humble cook without any formal ‘management’ education!  I am inclined to believe that he is one of the very best leaders that I have experienced!  He ingeniously seems to be radiating leadership lessons for me every day.

Ambi Mama, as he was fondly called, attained the Lord’s feet several years ago.  While he tried his best with his limited skills and capacity, he was hardly able to run the small family of four.  Two good meals a day was a bit of a luxury.  The 200 square feet of shelter in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, was just about the space for the family to squeeze into.  A simpleton by nature, most relatives were affectionate and much attached to him.  The house was indeed very small but was located in a prime locality in Coimbatore.  So much so, any relative visiting Coimbatore would find the house easily accessible and would not hesitate to stop over for the night or even for a couple of days.  They used to come at any time of the day or night.  Never could anyone see even a small sign of frustration or discomfort on his face.  The doors were open 24/7.  He used to welcome them with the same enthusiasm as that of a young child eagerly awaiting the mother’s return every day from work.  What more, even if the visitors appeared at midnight, buttermilk and some rice, cooked in anticipation, was always there for the guests to consume!  Yes, space was a big constraint at home and so was his capacity to entertain people coming home.  But never once was he constrained at heart to keep giving and giving more.  Ambi Mama not only cherished hospitality but was a man big at heart, as large as the immeasurable Universe.  The impact of his deeds has permeated far beyond his immediate family to people like me who were associated with him.

It was very little coincidence that I landed up in the commerce stream of Class 11, as the passion for the subject was present in me much earlier.  So, in my enthusiasm, one day I offered to finish a few accounting-related work for our newly recruited lady staff at home.  The politely spoken lady with all due respect and a soft smile said, “I wish to do my work all by myself.”  For a moment, I just could not digest the fact that she refused to take help, as I thought I knew the subject at hand much better than her.  After all, she had bare minimum qualifications, I thought.  Several years after this small incident was I to realise how much she had in her to teach me than I to her!

I have a symbol of loyalty and sincerity at an arm’s reach for inspiration!  Why would I ever have to search for inspiration elsewhere?

Rain, storm, heat, wind – it does not matter, ever!  The ring bell on our doors chimes for the past 22 years at 9.30 a.m. without fail.  Health conditions have taken a toll on her in the past few years and yet she is never late.  Mala Maami takes care of the administrative activities related to our business from our home.  Making deposits at the bank, paying bills, filing important papers and documents… all have been part of her job profile for the past so many years.  She has so much become an integral part of our family that the collective information she holds about our family is more than what any of us, as individuals, know.  No one has seen her indulge in any kind of gossip or small talk.  Not once have any of us even had an iota of doubt about her sincerity and loyalty.

Karna to me is an epic character of Mahabharata etched in history for his unstinted loyalty.  My grandmother has told me bedtime stories about him; later, I have read about him in comics during my childhood days and then watched his character unfold in a movie and TV serial.  Mala Maami is someone who I have experienced day in and day out and stands out as a symbol of trust and loyalty more than anyone else that I can even think of.  I have a symbol of loyalty and sincerity at an arm’s reach for inspiration!  Why would I ever have to search for inspiration elsewhere?

If I think back, this list goes on and on.  There are countless people in this world whom we may not know, but having lived with such wonderful qualities would have impacted fellow humans.  The truth is that every one of us is indeed associated with such noble souls, very close and near to us, every day!  It is just that many a time, we fail to recognise their presence and proceed to seek inspiration from people whom we do not know in person.  For sure, people in close proximity are far more likely to create positive impact than someone living in a distant land or in virtual reality.  We get the opportunity to interact with them every day and EXPERIENCE them.

One has no control or choice of where, when or to whom he or she is born to.  But we definitely do have control with whom we get associated and be receptive to be influenced during our lifetimes.  For some of us, good associations happen, as if by design.  For the others, He leads us to these people, by many ways that are beyond comprehension.  If we are receptive and grasp these positive associations with an open mind, devoid of ego, we are bound to cultivate a better and much nicer ‘me’.

This more so for a man who started his livelihood as a humble cook without any formal ‘management’ education!

We need not go anywhere to prove that such associations are indeed in the framework of satsang (sat – truth, sang – company) that our culture stands testimony to.  The very fact that all of us are sharing positive thoughts, those that we have personally experienced, and silently creating an ever expanding positive energy space is proof enough of a powerful satsang.  As many of us have expressed in the review columns of infinithoughts, satsang moulds one’s attitude so as to become more bearable, patient and composed while dealing with situations we face in our daily life.

So powerful is satsang that it eventually leads us to mukti as in the words of the great
Adi Shankara:

“Satsangatve nissangatvam, nissangatve nirmohatvam

Nirmohatve nischalatatvam, nischalatatve jeevan muktih.”

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