Destiny vs Choice

Once too often, I was always asked the same question, by the same person. Is it destiny or is it choice? And every time my answer would vary and be a little bit different as I would weigh all that had happened in between then and the last time I was asked the same question and I would rethink and decide that I was still not convinced by the answer of my choice. As much as I fought for choice as the answer, somewhere destiny did keep sticking it’s nagging head in and silently making a strong foothold over choice.

You see, I was always brought up in an extremely scientific environment, which was always swept clean of any superfluous or irrational thought. We were taught to believe that the only thing that made a difference were the choices that we made in life and our decisions, which would affect the outcome of our journeys. I cannot disagree with that even till today and yes I do believe our decisions on a day-to-day basis do define the next stage on the sets of life. But is there something more powerful at play? Is there a predetermined larger scheme of things guided by a force that we refuse to recognize, as we haven’t been tutored to believe in it?

An incident happened a couple of year’s back that made me retrace my steps and once again evaluate my own thought process. A few years back I had gone on vacation to the Mediterranean and once aboard a fancy Royal Caribbean cruise I decided to pick up a few souvenirs for loved ones. So I bought a t-shirt for a very dear Uncle of mine. Once I returned I gifted it to him and soon after since he had been suffering from a malignancy, he passed away. A year later I went to our ancestral home, where he had lived his entire life and which was located in a very small town in India, for his first death anniversary. To my amazement I found a favourite household help of my Uncles’s wearing that Royal Caribbean t-shirt that I had gifted to my Uncle. I then found out that before his death my Uncle had gifted that particular t-shirt to this fellow. As trivial as this incident sounds it just made me look at the larger perspective and think of how a t-shirt that was made somewhere in the middle of Europe, had been bought as a gift for somebody in India, had ended up on a man, who had absolutely no idea of what the Royal Caribbean was all about, in a tiny village in India.

I cannot say whether it was the destiny of that t-shirt to make this journey or of that man’s to own it. But here I was face to face with destiny and marveling at it for sure as this was not the journey that I had intended or chosen for that gift for my Uncle.

Life is unpredictable and as much as we like to plan nothing ever works out exactly like that. After much questioning and many mental dilemma’s I have come to appreciate that true happiness lies in enjoying the beauty of the unplanned and all the hidden surprises that come along in that package.  Maybe it is destiny over choice and maybe the only thing that is required from our end is some faith in our destiny. 

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

Superb Speech by RATAN TATA

At Symbiosis, Pune....  

"Don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life.   Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.  There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup.  There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.   Don't take life seriously. Life is not meant to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here.  We all are like a prepaid card with limited validity. Each of us has average lifespan tht may last 70 years. And 70 years is just 3,600 weekends.

Spend them all wisely. Do we really need to get so worked up for mundane matters of life? …so It's OK, Bunk few classes, score low in couple of papers, take leave from work, fall in love, fight a little with ur spouse... It's ok... We are people, not programmed devices..!

Don't be serious, enjoy Life as it comes"

Do Share it with all the Good People In ur Life...i just did....!!

~ shared with us by Sanjay Dutt

Man versus Wild

While watching a documentary recently on the one subject that I do watch with passion, that is wildlife, I was struck with a very essential difference between human beings and animals. As the proud human race we insist on showing off our superiority and finesse by correcting the behavior of others and constantly reminding them, to not behave like animals. This documentary was focused on predators in the wild with particular emphasis on the cheetah. The film began with a hair-raising shot of the cheetah going for a kill of a gazelle and missing his target by barely a few centimeters. I wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved for the gazelle or sorry for the cheetah that was about to go hungry. A little of both maybe!

In spite of being the fastest animal on land the cheetah missed his kill, here is why.  The cheetah gains his maximum speed in just a few seconds and is not able to hold that speed for over a minute as his body heats up to an extent that he can breakdown. Which means that he has to plan his hunt extremely carefully as chances of success are very often, quite low. If unsuccessful he could go for days without food and if successful he will still have to try and protect his prize from other predators and scavengers that are in the jungle. Quite often, his kill is snatched away by other more powerful animals making the entire exercise futile.

The comparison between humans and animals lies in this that an animal like the cheetah that has great speed and limited strength in terms of protecting his own interests has a much stronger sense of security as compared to us. He has the confidence in his own ability that will sooner or later lead him to a successful kill. In all honesty this is a matter of life and death for him and yet he is unafraid. Now coming to the far superior race of human beings. We display an immense lack of any security in ourselves on a very daily and sometimes even trivial basis. The biggest example of that is our need to constantly hoard. The need to amass and collect for years and years regardless of what our true consumption is. Whereas with the cheetah or any other predator there is no guarantee of the next meal or whether or not they will live to see another day and yet there is a clear absence of any hoarding behavior. I actually used to know a lady who thought she would run out of ice apart from other things and went and bought an oversized deep freezer for her tiny and over stuffed house so that she could store ice that would last an entire year!

Evolution that has supposedly turned us into very advanced beings has also made us highly insecure. The knowledge that should have given us the strength to say whatever comes our way we have the ability to handle it has actually made us more afraid. The more we learn, the more we look at other learned people and think of how little we know. The more wealth we amass, the more we envy the fortune of others. Now I don’t mean to imply that hunger and thirst are not good. These are qualities that keep us going and help us strive towards excellence. But somehow, somewhere we have surpassed our basic instincts and gone beyond to the primal sin of gluttony. Nothing satisfies us and nothing is enough. We need to constantly hoard and put away for the future, even if it means inconveniencing today just to ensure we have something as childish as ice for a year. Living for the moment has degenerated to a very popular phrase, which is to be only given to others as advise and never really followed by us.

At this point I am forced to look beyond the so called educated hoarders and look at a day labourer. He looks to earn in a day what he is capable of consuming in that day. The minute he reaches his daily requirement, he stops work and returns home to either family or friends. He is larger hearted and more giving than some of the richest hoarders I know. When he sleeps at night, it is with an empty pocket, a clear conscience and a sense of security and confidence in himself and his tomorrow. In a very basic and animalistic way, he is closer to the cheetah in all his glory and sense of pride than the richest and most powerful men that can afford to employ him daily. Maybe the real animal is no longer living in the jungle.
About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback.

To see more work by Neha Parmar
Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author

Smiles at the The Fabindia School..Always so refreshing

The Karma of Individuality

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”
-       An old proverb

This world belongs to those that have won and not those that have lost. A history teacher I once knew had pointed out a very relevant fact to me which was basically that history had been written by those that had won, therefore it was not a definite that history was not going to be skewed towards them. The winner would rewrite history in order to make them seem favourable and the better lot. I’ve thought about this quite often and wondered what if Hitler had won the world war? Would we be still condemning the holocaust? Or had the Kauravas won the battle of Kurukshetra, would the Bhagwad Gita still be our holy text? What if the Mahabharata had been written from the point of view of the Kauravas? Maybe the Pandavas would have been portrayed as the evil cousins who came again and again to snatch away the kingdom that rightfully belonged to the Kauravas till they were finally defeated in the battle of Kurukshetra? Would Karma have still meant what it does today or what it was intended to ?

The philosophy of Karma yoga states that we carry forward all our Karma through all our lifetimes and reap the results of what we sow from our past and present lives. The Bhagwad Gita says that we must fulfill our moral duty towards God through action and not inaction. Karma should renounce desire of the fruit of one’s actions and be free of all attachments.  

I don’t wish to contest what the Bhagwad Gita says as I don’t proclaim myself to be an expert on this magnificent piece of intellect. But somewhere when I consider Karma I am forced to think. In my very small and microscopic view of life as I have seen it as I have not seen a previous life and am not aware of what happened in which life. Those that believe in Karma from previous lives as well might have seen their previous incarnations and that is what has convinced them into believing that their present condition in life is not due to what they have done in this life but what they might have done in another life.

While I vehemently believe in the theory of Karma and that you reap what you sow, I also believe and hope that you do so in this life and not carry forward or bring forth balance from others. The Bhagwad Gita is a way of life that lays down moral guidelines to help us charter our own paths. With many different interpretations of the Gita that exist today I like to think that there should be some personal involvement while interpreting it as well as that will help us apply the principles better to our individual situations. Duality is the life sustaining force in our existence. Action or inaction, dharma or adharma, good or evil, action and reaction, male and female, life and death, sun and moon, hot and cold, yin and yang and so on are all defining aspects of this duality. Their very existence is inter-dependent and as they cease to exist without each other this duality becomes a single interaction. Therefore as every action has an equal and opposite reaction every Karma has a reaction attached to it.

Practice what you preach. Many things are easier said than done and while reading the Bhagwad Gita I realized that the way to the eternal truth is also paved in being sinless. In the world that we live in today, sin has reached different meanings altogether and many things that are morally and ethically wrong are being accepted as part of life. In short, they are not seen as sin any longer. The standards for wrongdoing have become higher and people actually work hard to achieve those. Honesty and integrity are seen as faults that simpletons are supposed to possess as opposed to the righteous lot. With the sort of corruption and evil that exists around our very center of being in this world where being human or moral is seen as a fault, how does one exist without committing some sin or the other? Sometimes I feel it is impossible. I haven’t seen an after or before life and in my very limited view and experience of this life petty crimes, lying cheating and being unethical are seen as practical ways to live and move up the ladder.

While I struggle to explore these many thoughts and truths the one thing that stays untouched and stands forth is that the whole is greater than the individual manifestations. The Bhagwad Gita along with the existence of duality somewhere puts back faith in Karma and that even if the Kauravas had won the battle of Kurukshetra, and history been written with a different perspective, the balance that duality seeks to establish naturally would have remained and the Bhagwad Gita have survived as the eternal truth. There for the taking and understanding for those that wish to. Shadow will not exist without light and that which is false will not exist without the truth.

As individuals and young people it is our moral and ethical responsibility to use our capacity for thought and judgment in order to decide what we want in our lives and what we don’t want. Accepting anything on a platter whether right or wrong without applying one’s own judgment may be the deciding factor in what paths we choose to travel to what end. History could be written to glorify the hunter but if we start to question and apply our moral and ethical compass to chart our roadmaps, somewhere the eternal truth shall prevail.

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha Parmar  

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author

Change begins at home

Sometimes I wonder. What is the cost that we are paying for progress? Can progress come hand in hand with preservation? By preservation I don’t mean just preservation of our natural heritage but also our traditions, our historical heritage and our culture. In the enthusiasm to embrace a more modern or progressive approach and thought process, with each passing generation are we losing touch with who we really are? This is a very highly debatable topic and much can be said about it, so I shall try to address but fragments of it.

Many believe that tradition and preservation cannot go hand in hand with progress. I’m not sure if I agree. To overlook traditions in our race to move ahead is to take the easy way out. It is definitely a far shorter route that will yield quick results and help many earn the quick green buck. But as a young nation are we going to just sit back and watch our future destroyed in this race while our natural and traditional heritage is being pillaged and deformed?

While I ponder in my thoughts over this issue I can think of many examples that can prove the necessity to maintain our traditions. The most primary purpose served by our traditions is that they define who we are and give us a sense of belonging. While many will call our traditions a detrimental factor to progress they seem to forget that most customs have a very logical and sometimes scientific reason behind them being formed. Take a simple thing as fasting. The only thing people focus on is that a person is fasting for a religious purpose therefore it is useless and he or she is caught in the mental depravity of rituals. Why don’t you stop and think that maybe getting people to fast through the medium of religion was actually just a simple way of getting them to give a break to their bodies from over indulging and allow their bodies time to heal. This is what naturopathy is all about isn’t it? While we continue to belittle these simple traditions and customs there is an increasingly large number of our own populace and that of foreign countries that is slowly turning back towards either naturopathy or Ayurveda as a form of healing as compared to more modern medicine. Maybe there is a good reason for us to allow our traditions to remain.

The thought process associated with modernity has turned it’s back on who we are and where we come from. Traditions and preservation are seen as road blocks in achieving success. Well if short-term monetary gain with no regard for the future and for others is what is in mind then Yes ! letting go of your ideals is the best way forward. The other route forward might be a slightly longer one with maybe a higher gestation period but the fruits will last longer and preserve our heritage.

Somewhere the need to hoard has aided consumerism and this ravenous appetite for development at the cost of depleting our natural heritage and resources. The daily wage earner does the least amount of wastage and damage as he only buys what he can consume and is not the driver of this humongous need to hoard.

Coming to conservation, which is very close to my heart. One of the most successful conservation projects, that has ever been launched in the world was Project Tiger under Indira Gandhi. The success rate of the project was phenomenal initially, as the tiger populace in the country was significantly revived. Once again the government due to it’s lack of vision and ability to try and take progress and conservation hand in hand gave into economic greed and let the project and the tiger population deteriorate after it’s initial success.  At this point in time, with a new government in-charge, we stand at a crossroads waiting for them to decide which way to take our country. What price are we going to pay for progress this time? Will the downfall come at an even more accelerated rate in their race to prove how successful they can make our country economically as compared to their predecessors? Or will there be an effort to ensure that progress and preservation go hand in hand? The bigger question that comes to my mind is that, are we the people, going to once again sit quietly and watch and complaint to each other about the state of affairs or are we willing to take the initiative in raising our voices?

“Do not cut down the forest with its tigers and do not banish the tigers from the forest; the tiger perishes without the forest and the forest perishes without its tigers”
- Mahabharata, 400 BCE, Udyogaparva.

And we perish without our forests.

A very famous comedian by the name of George Carlin had once said in one of his routines. The earth doesn’t need us to heal it. The earth will heal itself and the earth will remain. What will go is the human race.

Change begins at home. To state a small example, when my father was building our home many years ago, the land was originally a mango orchard. When the time for construction came I put my nine-year-old foot down and refused to allow him to cut trees in order to build the house. As a result only one tree was cut and the rest of the trees were incorporated into the designing of the house. Today even in the sweltering summer heat there is much life that has survived due to this and these trees continue to house many different species of birds and insect lives and allow us to live in harmony with nature. We still have a home without having destroyed what gives us life. Change does not have to be at a very large magnitude. If only such things can be done at an individual level then much can still be saved. All we need is to be that catalyst towards change and progress needn’t come at a price that is unaffordable.  

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha Parmar 

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

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