Stay Blessed

As if the goodness thrust upon us by leaders of various types was not enough. We now have goodness coming at us from family and friends as well. You could have too much of a good thing.

It could be in the form of:

“Smile more than you cry

Give more than you take

And love more than you hate.”


“Don’t overthink things

Don’t stress about what might not happen

Just chill out.”

That make you go HOW.

Smile more than you cry;” great idea, but please explain how.

…love more than you hate;” what a great piece of advice, but can you please elaborate and tell me how.

Don’t overthink things;” you are the best, please help me understand how.

A bit like the popular cook-book that publishes a recipe for cooking “delicious hare meat” but forgets the crucial first line, which is, “First catch your hare.”

Did it not strike our benefactors that they should also have provided an instruction manual? To answer the crucial HOW.

It could be in the form of:

“That being who neither runs away from disagreeable karma (unpleasent work, which causes bondage to itself or its fruits) nor gets attached to agreeable karma (pleasant work, duties), without any doubt such pure Satvik being is intelligent & true renunciater. As none of the human can renounce, entirely & completely, all the karmas, one who doesn’t gets attached to the karma & doesn’t desire fruits from Karma, is the true renunciater.”


“Beings who dont get free from attachment & desire of fruits from Karma, get good, bad or mixed fruit of their karma after their death (in terms of how & where they r born in next life). The one who doesn’t attaches himself with karma & doesn’t desire fruits from Karma, doesn’t face any fruit of it (as enlightened ones move out of circle of life n death).”

That make you go WOW. How come I did not receive this advice earlier (even discounting for the spelling and grammar issues)?

…one who doesn’t gets attached to the karma & doesn’t desire fruits from Karma, is the true renunciater.” You know I have been dying to become a true renunciater, no pun intended (on “dying”).

Beings who dont get free from attachment & desire of fruits from Karma, get good, bad or mixed fruit of their karma;” so it seems there is a choice of fruit available, please tell me where I need to click to indicate my choice?

Anyone can see that the advice dished out is so unique that nobody in his right mind would ever even dream of it on his own. Let’s be honest, without these messages, would you have guessed that you ought to “smile more than you cry?” Or even “don’t overthink things?” And it talks directly to that part of us that has been waiting for it eagerly from the time we were born, like becoming a  “renunciater” when we die.

Yes, we are talking about the greatest tool for peace, goodwill and harmony invented by mankind, Jan Koum and Brian Acton to be specific; the Group messenger on WhatsApp, the Wonder App, as christened by my friend N V S Sastry, and the favourite tool pf people who bombard unsuspecting, inveterate do-badders with these messages of love and goodness.

For years I have been bombarded with these messages, I believe they are called “inspirational”, on WhatsApp Groups, and for years I have been ignoring them.

It is not difficult to understand why I have not become a “true renunciater” or I don’t “smile more than cry”.

Suspicious as I have been of these messages, I have to reluctantly admit that they have been an invaluable source of strength for me in the most trying of times. Like at work, where they have helped me consume the tedium of office life by pretending to secretly read messages and responding, thereby appearing to be busy to others. They have also helped me in rapidly consuming my phone memory and equally rapidly upgrade to a phone with a memory, and cost, several times larger. And, above all else, by randomly forwarding messages that very few recipients will read, I suspect I have become a far more popular member of society. As has I believe everyone I know. Everyone has become more popular in equal measure.

And the do-gooders continue to boldly go where no WhatsApp Group message blind forwarder has been before.

They now blindly forward Good Morning messages. With the picture of a flower too.

Not any flower, but a rose. Not to me but to the whole group. Not to one but many many groups. And mind you, yesterday, it was yellow roses. And tulips a day prior.

They blindly forward videos of spiritual gurus, many of whom will probably later end up behind bars on account of sexual misconduct, on these groups.

Even inspirational quotes from unknown people, people who may have never existed.

All to reinforce the HOW and WOW effect.

In order to atone for past sins (some of them) and become a “true renunciater”, which I could not earlier, and to “smile more than cry” which, again, I could not earlier, I have started reading these forwards.

The first one I read was “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Almost immediately thereafter, the phone beeped again and came “Dreams don’t work unless you do” into another group.

Can someone please explain if I should dream or I should work.

The next one said “If someone points out your mistake, be happy that at least someone is interested in your perfection and success”, immediately followed by “Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution.”

Can someone please confirm that someone who points out your mistakes is a positive person.

Then came “The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows.” I swear even my wife does not know the Password to access my bank account. I am waiting for the success that is about to envelop me in its fold.

I was afraid these messages might stop after the Madras High Court recently foolishly ruled that forwarding a message tantamounts to deemed ownership of content and the person forwarding can be held accountable for spreading slander and misinformation if that be the case.

I spent many a sleepless night with my mobile clutched tightly to my chest. Each blindly forwarded message in every group being reason for me to eagerly lap it as if it would be the last.

But I had reckoned without the tenacity of the forwarders. They took as much notice of the forwarded message announcing the Madras Hight Court ruling as they have been doing of other messages they have been forwarding.

Needless to say, the goodness continues unabated.

I am nominating WhatsApp Group messages for the Nobel Peace Prize with an honourable mention for everyone who has blindly forwarded such messages to foster goodwill, peace and harmony in the world.

Like the ending of many of the blindly forwarded messages, “Stay Blessed!”


The good that men do

I recently got a message from my bank, one of the largest private banks in the country, informing me that with immediate effect, they would stop sending the monthly statement they have been sending for several years. Instead, they would issue a Passbook which I would need to get periodically updated by visiting the bank. This, they went on to inform me, was for my own good, as this was what most customers wanted.

Never one to stand in the way of someone wanting to do me a good deed, I welcomed the decision.

I recalled an occasion a few years back when the same bank had discontinued the Passbooks that were being used till then, and, instead, started sending monthly statements to customers. Even on that occasion, I fondly recollected, it had been done for my own good. After so many years, I am unable to recall if it was because that was what most customers had asked for. But it was certainly for my own good, since the bank had said so. One does not easily forget such things done for your own good. The memory brought a lump to my throat.

I have often struggled with making choices in an increasingly free-market driven society where there is a plethora of options available, often letting choices be made by default, in order that I cannot be blamed for making the wrong choice, except by my wife. But, I was happy that at least I had chosen the right bank. One that has never wavered in its resolve to take decisions for my good. One that did not shy away from taking decisions for my good that were the opposite of decisions taken for my good at other times. I thanked my stars and mentally patted myself on the back.

Sceptics argue that these could be examples of temporary aberrations. Satirists poke fun at and find faults with decisions taken for the good of others. But I disagree with them. To hell with the nay-sayers, I say. I have faith in mankind’s desire to do good for others. In fact, in my view, people act only for the good of others. I am going to town with my belief that the world is full of do-gooders. And, my belief is not without good reason.

I have worked for many years with multi-national corporations, those paragons of virtue. I was there when they decided to withdraw the transport facility provided to junior staff, for their own good. I was there when accumulated leave of staff, normally encashed at the time of leaving, was cancelled, for their own good. I was there when a part of fixed compensation was converted to variable, management-decision based award, again, for their own good.

And corporations are not the sole flag-bearers of the “for the good of others” movement. They, smart, profit-seeking entities that they are, seem to have acted upon cues received from the government, which has, as always, led from the front. Farmers’ lands, for example, have been acquired at throwaway prices for their own good so that a big businessman can set-up an industry and employ them as lowly paid workers. If their land had not been taken over at rock-bottom prices, how would they ever have found these jobs? They would have been forced to continue living as landowners and farmers.

Make no mistakes, the government has not been shy of taking difficult decisions. For the good of others naturally. The growth of the Maoist and Naxalite movements in the country can be directly attributed to the good successive governments have been trying to do to the tribal populations in the country. Successive governments have been asking tribal populations to give up their traditional lifestyles and vast areas of virgin lands they control so that they can get developed by coming and living in matchbox-size houses in cities with no electricity and water. They could even aspire to work as software engineers in Infosys. Who would not want that? Every tribal youngster should have that right. And the right to pretend to know English and work in the night-shift at a Call Centre.

The minister, speaking from his palatial bungalow in the capital, funded by taxpayer money, expressed shock when he came to know that not only do the tribals not have SUVs and powerful German engineered cars, they do not even have a single Japanese or Korean car. “How do they cross the road?”, the concerned minister apparently has wanted to know. Recovering from the shock of this discovery he went on to say, in no uncertain terms, “We know what is good for them because we live in cities. We also know how much compensation we need to give them when we acquire their land without giving them a choice, and take away their livelihood for their own good.”

Lest the government start believing that goodness to others is their contribution to the world, we need only look at some recent history that doing good to others has been a distinguishing feature of almost all governments and rulers in history. The greater the unchallenged authority of a regime, the greater the good it has done for others.

The last occupiers of the country have often being blamed for their mercenary outlook and ambition. “They occupied because they wanted access to cheap raw material”, “they occupied because they wanted a large market for goods being produced in their factories”, are some of the uncharitable reasons attributed to their expansionism.

Scratch the surface and you see the real reason. They occupied for the good of the occupied. They occupied because they wanted to reform the heathen. They occupied because they wanted to teach them about a God and a religious text born a couple of thousand years back, and not keep relying on undated, mythical, multiple ancient texts and figures. They occupied because they wanted to teach them to eat with a fork and knife, instead of using bare hands. They occupied because they wanted to teach them to use paper when they “go”, instead of water. Now, who in his right mind would not want to learn all that.

They might have even wanted to teach them how to get a job with a law firm or a consulting company, but since the twentieth century had not arrived they had to be content in doing the good they could in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

As it is election time, we are seeing that political parties are bad-mouthing opponents, digging up skeletons from cupboards and making unrealistic promises. For what? You guessed it, for the people’s own good.

Everyone is busy doing everyone else good. It is not a new phenomenon. Goodness has never been a matter of chance. It has always been perpetrated consciously and methodically.

Even in this day and age, when one comes across acts of such selfless service, it never fails to bring a lump to the throat.

In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony famously says “The evil that men do lives after them;  The good is oft interred with their bones”. I am forced to reword it to “The good that men do lives after them;  The evil is oft interred with their bones”. Sorry Bill!