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How Many Miracles

There is a town near Delhi known as Mohan Nagar named after the family that established this town. The flag unit of this town is Mohan Meakins and its chairman is Col. Kapil Mohan. The life story of Col. Mohan is very inspiring. He is not only a good entrepreneur but also a good human being. Starting as a non-believer, he turned into a staunch devotee of Maa Durga and has constructed a very magnificent temple dedicated to her. In fact, my curiosity to meet Col. Mohan grew only after visiting the temple. Soon this opportunity also came and we spent some time together. In the process, we developed a liking for each other.

After a year or so of this meeting, I had another opportunity to interact with him; this time in an informal manner. The CEO of Mohan Meakins, who happens to be a good friend of mine, had invited me to dinner. After the dinner he took me to Col. Mohan who was at his dinner table at that time. Col. Mohan called us to the dinner table and we started talking. I noticed that his food was very simple which was a reflection of his personality. While engaged in talking, Col. Mohan suddenly drew my attention towards the ring he was wearing in one of his fingers and said that the same was given to him by Sathya Sai Baba. He also said that the ring was collected by Baba fr om space. Further, he asked me if I believed in such miracles.

I had already heard of many such incidents but I hold no specific opinion about them mainly because such an opinion hardly matters either to the believers or the non-believers. So I responded accordingly and opined that we considered such events as miracles because we were not used to them. In my opinion, every event of Nature is a miracle but since we watch them happening every day throughout our life, we don’t consider them so. I gave the example of digestion of food, which I was watching, as we were on the dinning table. Our role in this process is lim ited to gulping down the food. The rest of the process is taken care of by Nature without any effort on our part. The large variety of fruits, plants and flowers we see around us is a miracle to me. Col. Mohan was convinced with this argument and our interaction shifted to other matters.

I contemplate over this issue quite often. The more I think in this regard, the more I notice the mystery of Nature. The best creation of Nature, a human being, is perhaps the biggest miracle and like this every creation of Nature is a miracle. Thus, how many miracles of Nature shall we count? We being equipped
with the power of ‘thinking’ and ‘intellect’ start believing that we are the doers. This is nothing but ignorance because these powers have also been bestowed on us by Nature. Let us, therefore, live in tune with Nature and make the best use of the many wonderful faculties provided to us.

The best creation of Nature, a human being, is perhaps the biggest miracle and like this every creation of Nature is a miracle.

One Help Every Day

Though the Kabir Peace Mission was established in early 1990, it was almost on the ground for about a decade. One can also say that it was running on the tarmac before taking-off. In fact, it now appears that it was really so as is evident from what followed. In January 2000, I dedicated my first book to Kabir Peace Mission, which was a Hindi translation of two English books of mine. The title of the book was LoLFk fpUru ds iFk ij(Swastha Chintan Ke Path Par) and the book was released by the then Human Resource Development minister of India, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, in a well-attended function on 14th January in Lucknow. Dedicating the book to the mission meant that all proceeds from the book were to go to the mission. I have no hesitation in admitting that I thought several times before taking such a decision. But I reached a conclusion that in doing so, the overall gain was to be more than the pain. Subsequently, I dedicated all my books to the mission only.

With this clarity of mind, the mission got its receipt books printed and the first receipt was issued on January 14, 2000. At that time, I also wished and prayed that let Nature send at least one help to the mission, so that we could serve its cause with greater confidence and concentration. Perhaps, God found us worthy of His blessings as since then, the average help has been more than one every day. A large number of persons came in contact with the mission through various forums and programmes. This enriched the mission both ways, in terms of serving its purpose as well as harnessing resources. In a book written by Gandhiji, I read that for the success of any social activity, the required ingredients are – right objective, selfless service and transparency in working. Our effort has always been to achieve these qualifications and our prayer to God is also to keep us on this path. It also proves that any sacrifice is not a matter of self-deprivation but of self-preservation. When we give, we get more, maybe in a different form.

...any sacrifice is not a matter of self-deprivation but of self-preservation

Rich Man’s Diwali

India is a country of many festivals, celebrated by various communities in various parts of the country. Going by the Hindu calendar, almost each day is a festival in one way or the other. However, major festivals of various communities are few and celebrated with great joy and participation.

One of the major festivals of Hindus is Diwali. It is a festival of lights and sweets. It is celebrated on the dark night of Kartika and generally falls in the second half of October or the first half of November. On this day, Lord Rama had returned to his kingdom of Ayodhya after completing 14 years of exile and destroying countless demons during this period, including the powerful Ravana. Thus, this festival signifies the victory of light over darkness and of virtue over evil. That is why lamps are lit all around and sweets are distributed among friends and relatives. People visit each other carrying sweets and gifts as a mark of goodwill. They also enjoy fireworks and crackers in the night. With materialism on the rise, this exchange of sweets and gifts has assumed huge proportions and has become an expensive affair. Even the fireworks and crackers have become very expensive. In this way, this great festival has gradually become an extravaganza for the rich while the poor try to celebrate it with their limited resources, quite often envying the rich.

I have been observing this phenomenon since my childhood. I still remember the joy of buying a few kilograms of sweets in an open utensil in the company of my father. In those days, there was no packing and the prices were low. So we could buy lots of sweets within one hundred rupees and thereafter distributed them among friends. Not only this, eating sweets was a matter of great joy and each piece was enjoyed thoroughly. The whole community participated in each other's celebration with hardly any comparisons.

Today, things have changed greatly. I have watched this change more keenly as a member of the Indian Administrative Services. While in the initial years of service one pack of sweets was enough to show respect, currently it has no meaning. A good number of people, particularly the neo-rich, feel that respect is directly proportional to the price of gifts or the number of packets. They load their expensive cars with expensive sweets and gifts and pass them on to those whose pleasure can benefit them or displeasure may harm them. Quite often, their Diwali passes in running around the town or sending couriers to other towns. As a member of the Indian Administrative Services, I have also been a beneficiary of their charity. It is a different matter that most of them developed a personal relationship in due course and I share their gifts with many others.

But what about the rich man's own Diwali? While they distribute lots of sweets and dry fruits, I have not seen any of them enjoying even one piece of sweet. Whenever they are offered sweets, they beg to be excused with folded hands and say that during Diwali sweets are a taboo for them. And I very amusingly watch this, thinking that if they cannot even see sweets in Diwali, what kind of Diwali would they be celebrating. On the other hand, the lesser mortals enjoy sweets thoroughly and anything passed onto them is a matter of joy for the giver as well as the receiver. At least from this point of view, Diwali has no meaning for the rich; it is the poor who enjoy the festival the most. Surely, the poor need not envy the rich for their extravaganza.

Rakesh Mittal I A S


We are quite used to terms like ex-president, ex-mp, ex-prime minister, etc., but terms like ex-father or ex-mother are very surprising to us. But in modern times these terms have also come in vogue and are often used in western societies. No wonder these terms may gradually become part of the Indian society as well. I first came across this term in the year 2002 when I was in the USA. On a flight from New York to Denver, I was travelling alone sitting on an aisle seat. On my right, on the middle and window seats were two young boys who appeared to be twins. They were about 10 years old and were busy in their own conversation. There was no elderly person with them.

Though I had noticed their presence as soon as the plane took off, they drew my attention after about half an hour. Their conversation, though not very clear to me, made me curious to know about them. Therefore, I intervened in their conversation at an appropriate moment and enquired about them and about the purpose of their journey. Then they told me that they were twins and were going to meet their ex-father. Explaining further, they also told me that their mother had divorced their father to marry some other person and their father had also did the same. It also came out in conversation with them that it was not their first divorce and both their father as well as their mother had done so several times. At that time, they were living with their mother and new father and were going to meet their real father whom they referred to as ex-father.

This is how I came across this term and it set me thinking about the change in relationships in modern times. While I have no intention of sitting in judgement over such developments, I certainly feel that the subtle joy of relationships has been lost to a great extent in the modern times. That is why there is an increase in the loss of peace, tension, hatred and jealousy. If we are not able to feel joy with natural relationships, how can we find it with other relationships? While our ancient culture has talked of ‘Vasudhaiv-Kutumbkam’, the world is one family, the modern culture is finding it difficult to keep even one family intact.

Surely, there is a need of taking a re-look at our relationships and devising means to make them meaningful in a real sense. We had done so long back and perhaps for doing so once again, we have to learn from our past without shunning modern development so that we live in a win-win situation.

...we have to learn from our past without shunning modern development so that we live in a win-win situation.

Success has no Competition

We are living in an era of competition. Day by day the competition for success is becoming so intense that the very joy of living is being lost. What is worse is that the pressure of competition has engulfed our young generation also and this has resulted in several disorders. The increasing number of suicides among young students is mainly on account of this pressure. This is a serious issue and needs to be addressed correctly.

I had a first-hand experience of this narrow definition of success while I was addressing class XII students of Delhi Public School in Delhi, a few years back. It was a biology section with boys and girls in almost an equal number. When I asked them about their goal in life, everyone said that they wanted to become doctors. They also agreed that it was not possible for all to succeed in the entrance examination but the very thought of not getting selected made them miserable. Perhaps they had cultivated a very narrow definition of success in their minds. In short, success for them only meant becoming a doctor.

Regarding this, I gave the example of my nephew (sister’s son) who also entertained the desire of becoming a doctor while he was studying. He tried for the entrance after class XII, but failed. Thereafter, he sought admission in BSc, a two-year course at that time. He tried again after completing the first year of BSc but failed in that attempt too. Quite disappointed, he completed his BSc and gave a third attempt for the medical entrance with quite a good hope for selection. But third time also he could not succeed. Everyone was disappointed and thought that this boy will see no success in life.

But all were wrong including the boy. Having completed his graduation, he was left with no option but to seek admission in MSc. He chose agricultural botany as his subject and sought admission in a prestigious institute of Delhi. Gradually, he was coming to terms and started taking interest in his post-graduate studies. He did well and after completion, got admission for research in Australia. Having obtained his PhD from there, he completed his post-doctorate studies from the USA. Today, he is one of the leading bio-scientists-cum-entrepreneurs of the world in this field. His success is a matter of pride not only to him but to all his near and dear ones.

Hearing this example of success all the students started wondering. Perhaps they started rethinking about their definition of success. I also told them that this was just an example and there were countless of them. All this changed the environment of our discussion in a very positive way and they all participated in it with an open and happy mindset. Many of them told me over tea that they felt very relieved and the pressure of competing in the medical entrance had reduced to a great extent. Naturally, I also felt very happy and satisfied.

Perhaps all of us need to realise this aspect of success. Having born as human beings, we are the most precious creation of Nature. Nature has also not made any two human beings exactly the same. It means that each of us is a unique creation of Nature and there is a purpose behind our creation. Our efforts should be directed towards knowing that purpose and achieving it. For this, none of us needs to compete with others and if at all there is competition, it is with oneself only. This way our life should be a process of self-improvement. Once we do so, we get not only worldly success but achieve the goal of our life also. Surely, there is no competition in success. No wonder the famous philosopher J Krishnamoorti used to hate the word ‘competition’ as for him this was a synonym for ‘violence’.

...none of us needs to compete with others and if at all there is competition, it is with oneself only.

Smart Plus - Crime vs. Sin

The understanding of the difference between crime and sin is useful for positive living. In the absence of it, most of us often question the fairness of God and tend to follow the path of evil. I have done some contemplation on this subject, which I am sharing here. Like any other living creature, the human being is also a product of Nature. But man is unique in the sense that he has been endowed with the power of thinking as well as discrimination. With the help of these two powerful tools, he can make himself either a saint or a devil, depending upon their use. Nature expects him to use these powers in a positive manner and if he does so, he becomes a virtuous person. On the contrary, negative use of these powers makes him a sinful person. Thus, when we break a Nature-made or, in other words, God-made law we commit a sin. For example, God expects us to love each other and if one hates others, he commits a sin. Similarly, when we hurt others, lose our temper, boost our ego, don't help a person in trouble, etc., we break the law of Nature and commit a sin.

Nature has a perfect arrangement for punishing sin and rewarding virtue. No external agency is required to do this job. When we practice virtue, the inner joy obtained as a result of the same is in itself a great reward. It changes our body chemistry in such a manner that there is an overall positive effect on our body, mind, intellect and spirit. There may not be any monetary evaluation for this reward, but we get priceless joy. Similarly, when we commit a sin there is a change in our body chemistry, which brings negative effect on our body, mind, intellect and spirit. In this case, there is loss of joy, which again cannot be measured in monetary terms. In this way, being virtuous is in itself our reward. Someone has very rightly said: “We are not punished for our sins, but by our sins.

A wise person will therefore be virtuous by choice and not by compulsion. It is also true that this law of Nature never fails. On the other hand, crime is a violation of man-made laws. Man being a social entity, has to follow some man-made laws for the smooth running of the society. Better the compliance of these laws, more civilised will the society be. For this, there is a provision of reward and punishment through the judicial administrative process. Quite often justice is not administered correctly due to various reasons and many criminals don't get punished. In such a situation, most of us blame God and feel that He is not judicious.

In order to forego this impression, we shall have to understand that all crimes are not sins and similarly all sins may not necessarily be crimes. God punishes us only for our sins and if a crime falls in the category of sin also, it would certainly be punished by Nature. But, if a crime does not fall in the category of sin, Nature will not punish us and the punishment has to be imparted by society only. In that case, it is a human failure for which God cannot be blamed, as He has already equipped us with the power of intelligence and discrimination. Therefore, we all should live in accordance with the laws of Nature as well as of the society so that we commit neither a sin nor a crime.

Rakesh Mittal I A S

Marriage Technology

I had a friend who was a professor of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Kanpur, during the mid-eighties. During that period, I was also posted at Kanpur. Since he happened to be a relative of my wife and was a nice person by nature, we grew close and often visited each other. He had three daughters and one son who was the youngest in the family. All the children were bright in their studies and grew well. The son passed his engineering fr om BHU and did his masters as well as PhD from the USA. Thereafter, he started working in the USA but we remained in contact. This boy, apart from being good in studies was also a good tabla player, photographer and artist. All these made his personality very pleasing.

This boy got married in the year 2000 in India, but I couldn’t attend his wedding though I wanted to. In the USA, he was working in Denver and is continuing to do so. In 2002, I got an opportunity to visit Denver in connection with a ‘book fair’ wh ere one of my books was to be released. This was to be in the month of June. In the month of March, I met him in Delhi and when I told him about this forthcoming event, he insisted that I must come and stay with him. His presence there thus became an additional attraction and I decided to participate. I was also keen to meet his wife as I had not met her earlier. At Denver, he received me at the airport alone though I was expecting his wife also. I had also brought along a gift for her. But soon after we left the airport, my nephew told me that he had not shared a development with me.

Then he told me that his marriage had failed and he was living alone in a studio flat. This was a kind of shock to me but I took it coolly. I was in Denver for four days and during this period he shared a lot with me, which not only gave him a lot of consolation but strength also to face the reality gracefully. However, one thing was sure that the event had changed the boy and he had become scared even of the word ‘marriage’.

Throughout my stay at Denver and till today I often contemplate over this issue. While the USA has developed all the possible technologies of the world and countless objects of comfort for mankind, surely no one will deny that it has failed to produce happiness out of all these. Take the example of marriage itself. A successful marriage contributes a great deal to happiness in life. While most of the marriages in less developed countries are successful and last for an entire lifetime, this is not true in the case of developed countries. In a country like India, the institution of marriage is still very strong and is sustaining relationships well. Surely when it comes to the technology of marriage, India beats most of the developed countries.

...when it comes to the technology of marriage, India beats most of the developed countries.

No Fixed Deposits

There are a large number of organisations and institutions engaged in social activities. Most of these claim to be doing selfless service to society for a good cause. At the same time, we come across a good number of such bodies that collect money by various means including dubious ones with hardly any visible service. We also notice many of them closing their shops sooner or later. It, therefore, becomes a matter of consideration on how to sustain a social organisation in order to achieve its objectives. One simple way is to create enough fixed deposits and run the organisation out of the interest income.

Once I was contemplating over this matter in reference to Kabir Peace Mission. At that time, the organisation was in its childhood stage and the only source of income was its membership fee. For us too, one of the options was to create a corpus by seeking donations, but I was not very comfortable with this option. It was around this time that I came across a book of Mahatma Gandhi titled ‘Satyagraha in South Africa’. This book has a very good account of the Mahatma’s days in South Africa. In fact, it was during this period that Mohan Das was converted into a Mahatma. Overall, it is a very touching narration of events.

Somewhere in this book Gandhiji had mentioned the sustainability of his movement in South Africa. It was a great task and required a lot of resources, particularly money and people. He got both but he lays the condition for this arrangement of nature. Gandhiji clearly mentions that when one undertakes a social cause, only three conditions have to be fulfilled. The first condition is that the cause should be a felt need of the society and not the fancy or whim of one or few individuals. In other words, the cause should be owned by the society. The second condition is that the leadership or leaders behind the movement should be totally selfless and the third equally important condition is that the working of the organisation should be transparent, irrespective of the credibility of the leader or leaders. Gandhiji concludes by saying that if these conditions are fulfilled, no fixed deposit is required and the resources will be made available by nature perennially.

In these words of Gandhiji, I got the answer to my dilemma. The idea of fixed deposits was totally dropped and the whole concentration was shifted towards the cause, selflessness and transparency. Thereafter, the mission grew in an exponential manner with support coming from many sources. Incidentally, we now have some fixed deposits also which is the only cause of worry.

Felt need of the society; selfless leadership; and transparent working – conditions for undertaking a social cause.

American Neighbour

In the year 2000, I, along with my wife, had gone to attend the ‘World Peace Summit’ organised at the UN headquarters in New York, in the month of August. After the summit was over, we were staying with our nephew who was newly married and was living near New York.

During the same period, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan had organised a programme under the caption ‘Vande Matram’ in which the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, was the chief guest. Being a life member of the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, I was also invited to the programme and I had arranged an additional invitation for my nephew and his wife. My nephew was living in a small flat on the first floor and there was another similar flat opposite to his on the same floor. There was a common entrance for both at the ground floor and my nephew and his neighbour both possessed separate keys of that entrance gate. Except for this, they did not communicate with each other, as it turned out following the event given below.

We had gone to Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan’s programme after breakfast and while returning in the afternoon, my
nephew noticed that he had lost the keys to his flat including that of the common entrance gate. By the time he realised this we had almost reached home. He also realised that he had forgotten to pick up his bunch of keys after it was passed through the screening machine at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan `for security reasons. We had already travelled a lot and there appeared no sense in going back to the venue of the programme. So we decided to deal with the situation accordingly.

When we reached home, we thought of taking the neighbour’s help in getting the common entrance gate opened. But my nephew didn’t have his telephone number. Somehow, he managed to get in touch with him through the locality office and requested him to open the common gate. During all this activity, me and my wife were silent spectators, hoping that the neighbour would at least offer his flat for waiting and also offer a cup of tea or a drink, which we needed badly. However, when the neighbour came down to open the common lock, he was accompanied by a big dog and after opening the lock, rushed back in a very impersonal manner. All our hopes for comfortable waiting and a drink were shattered in no time.

Anyway, we kept waiting and sat on the stairs while my nephew arranged for a locksmith who came in about half an hour. After opening the lock of his flat in almost no time he charged fifty dollars as his wage. During this entire wait, we were fondly remembering our country where most of us consider it our good luck to help our neighbours, particularly in times of crisis. But in America, hoping for such courtesies was perhaps our ignorance. It also occurred to me that we should not follow the West blindly, lest our human qualities disappear. After all, India is a country which has always believed in the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’, the entire world is our family. It is a different matter that even the nuclear families are now breaking up in increasing numbers.

...we should not follow the West blindly, lest our human qualities disappear.

Not by Default

We all remain happy and motivated in good times. But no one can say when we may have to face bad times. In fact, life is a series of good and bad times and in a meaningful life they both have to be faced with equanimity. While it is easier to face good times with calmness, it is not so in bad times. The real test of our inner growth is in bad times only. But if we believe that bad times help us to grow internally, we can not only face them with calm, we can also win over them. I have a very glaring example of this fact, which I am narrating here. I had a friend who was a member of an important central service and we were together in the training course at Mussorie in the mid-seventies. Our friendship continued thereafter also and we remained in touch with each other.

I found him a very smart, competent and good person. He had a very co-operative wife and two bright sons. His life was going on smoothly when bad times shrouded him all of a sudden. Firstly, he contracted a nerve disease, which made him almost immobile as well as speechless. While this disease was in progress his elder son got murdered. The family was contesting this case with a lot of courage but during the course of trial, my friend also passed away. This left his wife alone with her younger son.

One can imagine the severity of the situation for the lady. I visited her one evening at her residence when she shared with me the challenge she was facing. I had always admired the courage she had shown till then, but that day she was somewhat nervous. When I was about to leave, she said that at times she feels that she is on the verge of breaking down and wants to give up the fight in the face of adverse circumstances. While a normal person would have done that much earlier, doing so after having gone so far in her fight against adversity did not appear appropriate to me. I also knew that it was only a transient phenomenon and a proper encouragement or support at that stage would give her the strength to fight her full battle. Suddenly, an idea came to my mind which I shared with her. The idea was that adversity should not be allowed to win by default and it should be given a full fight even if we don't feel strong enough to face it. Hearing these words she seemed to have regained her will power and determination to fight the battle till the end. This was amply reflected in her body language also.

Few days later, she told me over phone about the positive impact these words had on her. I was extremely gratified to receive this response. Thereafter, I kept full track of the events which followed in the whole struggle and how boldly and wisely she fought with the negative forces of the system. The final outcome was uncertain till at last the whole nation celebrated the day when she came out as a winner. Certainly, she rose above her adversity and defeated it with her firm resolve.

It will not be correct to presume that merely my words were a source of strength to her. Many help a courageous person and the maximum help comes from Nature. Perhaps, in her case, she refused to give a walkover to her adversity and fought with it till the last. The outcome was mainly on account of that fight.

Rakesh Mittal I A S