The day-to-day life chores, the unending race for opportunities and seizing them and other such mechanical things have made our lives listless and mundane.
You ask children who are around you about Vijayadashami, for instance, and the only thing that comes to their mind is probably the Jammi tree. Unlike in the good old days, mythological films are passé.
Televised serials of great epics have to compete with crazy soap operas, and thereby lose out. What has to be understood is that epics provide us with immense wisdom and make for wonderful ‘teachers’.
I started reading Ramayana and Mahabharata right from my childhood. I still cherish how I read Ramcharitmanas of Sant Tulsidas at least a dozen times.
By the way, my introduction to the unparallel epic itself has a very interesting twist. I was a very naughty boy. To engage me in some activity, my father introduced me to the majestic world of “puranas”.
I used to read the Ramayana aloud to the villagers in my native place. I had to explain the meaning behind it to the illiterate lot. Whatever little command I have on Telugu today is because of my repeated reading and narrating the great epics.
My father used to begin his day with an early morning reading of the Bhagavad Gita. It motivated me to glance through the pages now and then.
We must imbibe some of the ever relevant human values like love and loyalty for spouse, love for siblings, responsibility towards parents and elders that Ramayana extols. One should learn whatever is good from everything around you, whether you believe it or not.
I must confess that my ability to teach flows from that childhood experience of teaching the essence of epics to my fellow-villagers. It is always challenging to teach the less literate because it needs immense patience.
Many who see and admire my television shows often tell me that they particularly like my simple and comprehensive explanation of even complex issues. Perhaps, this has become in-born since the childhood experiment with Ramayana.
When I went to Mahaboobangar for the first time in my capacity as the Member of Legislative Council representing the district, a group of television reporters surrounded me the moment I got down from the bus. Television cameras zoomed at me. I was perplexed and wondered as to what I had done.
The reporters told me that they are here to capture the images of a sitting MLC travelling by bus! I found nothing unusual in it and I continued to travel by bus.
Using a car for long distances was way beyond my means. More than that, it is safer and better unless you have multiple and pressing engagements. They called it simplicity. I felt it was a routine fact of the matter happening.
I recall the pearls of wisdom from Mahabharata: The intoxication with power is worse than drunkenness with liquor and such, for he who is drunk with power does not come to his senses before he falls. Fortunately, I have no intoxication of either power or liquor.
My brother once asked me whether I am keen on contesting for the third time as a legislator. I said no because my profession was calling me. Like politics, journalism too gives me an opportunity to advocate public cause.
My brother said, ‘It’s my gut-feeling. You would certainly contest. Having enjoyed the privileges of position, no one will retire from it.’ Thank God, I don’t belong to that time-tested tribe.
The politicians, who are now competing to polticise India’s surgical strikes should read Mahabharata where in Duryodhana said, “Once war has been undertaken, no peace is made by pretending there is no war”.
Modern day politicians must read Mahabharata to get schooling in politics and governance too. Gurputra Ashwatthama once preached Duryodhana that “passion, engagement, skill and policy-these are the means to accomplish objectives”.
Shakuntala said “The wife is the first of friends”. Can there be a better teaching for the newly married to practice in life than this? This is precisely what I said when I was asked to describe my relationship with my wife in a television show that featured my family.
Successive generations need to be told about the ever relevant message from the Ramayana to create a society that is based on a strong ethical edifice.
Read these verses of Valmiki, one who authored Ramayana, whenever you encounter something unpleasant and unwarranted. Trust me, you will get enormous relief. Durlabham hi sadaa sukham’ – ‘To be happy always is something which is difficult to achieve’.
The holy text says, “Only the timid and the weak leave things to destiny (daivam) but the strong and the self-confident never bank on destiny or luck (bhagya)”.
During examinations, I used to paste these words on the walls of my room so that they reverberate in my ears again and again. Thus I began to hate someone determining my destiny even if he were God.
“Enthusiasm has great strength. There is no greater strength than enthusiasm. There is nothing which is not attainable in this world for the enthusiastic.” These words of Lakshmana are a simple but versatile lesson in personality development.
We find people plunging into despair even at an insignificant failure. But, they fail to realise this would further demoralise them.
Read these words of Ramayana: ‘Grief destroys one’s courage. It destroys one’s learning. It destroys one’s everything. There is no enemy greater than grief.’
Let the wisdom of centuries old epics dawn on you. Leave the unscientific in them. Learn the insight in them and lead life in all its glory.