Sticky Wickets in the Role of a Leader

Often a leader is compelled to do things or go through Rota merely in order to set a fitting example to his followers, even though the activities no longer have personal significance for him whatsoever.

According to sister Nivedita, the ardent follower of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamasa, “In an aristocratic society such as Valmiki contemplates, the severity of social discipline increases towards the summit. Those who have the greatest power must practice the greatest restraint, partly because noblesse oblige partly because such austere discipline is the necessary condition without which power would naturally melt away.”

Valmiki is considered to be a social architect of a utopian society in the guise of a poet. He glorifies the character of Rama, urging the reader or listener of the Ramayana to follow the footsteps of the greatest hero ever. The ultimate test of Rama’s flawless leadership lands him in a personal loss, when he is forced to repudiate his loving, chaste and loyal wife Sita, not once but twice, though all the time perfectly satisfied in his own mind of her complete faithfulness.

Rama spurned his pregnant wife Sita and sent her to the forest in order to establish evenhanded justice in his kingdom. Being the king, Rama had the power to squish the washer man who cast ugly aspersions on his virtuous wife. Rama could have wielded an iron hand on the dhobi with a loose tongue who dared to comment on the king and queen of the land while taking his wife to task for having spent the night outside her home.

The king of Ayodhya also had the option to sweep the matter under the carpet and pretend all was well. After all not all the people of Ayodhya had derogatory opinions on the pregnant queen. Yet, he chose to sever his relationship with the woman whom he loved with all his heart, for whom he fought against all odds to regain her from the clutches of Ravana and most of all chose to spurn the spouse who was bearing the scion of the illustrious race of Raghu in her womb.

Rama preferred to take this difficult path in life because he was aware that his subjects were constantly looking up to him for support, guidance and he had to watch his step as their leader despite the sticky wickets.

A Lost Childhood for Present Generation

When middle school children were introduced to R K Narayan’s book “Swami and His Friends.” it was astonishing to note that they were not able to   relate to the stories at all. No, it is not just about urban kids, even girls and boys from small towns were unable to identify themselves, empathise or laugh with or at Swami and his friends.

It is hard to believe that we as a country have changed so much in just about half a century. When we make a conscious effort to list the similarities between the past and present, the basic facts remain pretty much the same. We are still following the system of education left behind by the British.

The premium is still laid on learning English and being tutored in the English medium schools has not lost momentum. The children get to study the same six or seven subjects with a syllabus that is altered with times. Learners have to take up tests and examinations based on the prescribed books to prove their worth and go on to the next academic level.

When we compare the emotional and intelligence quotient of children in the past and present we find that it operates in inverse proportion. True, children are well informed and intelligent today compared to the earlier generations.

Stressed minds

Yet when it comes to happiness and carefree attitude, they fail to measure up to children of previous decades. Even tiny tots who attend pre nursery and montessori classes are being subjected to a lot of stress. Not only do they have to perform well, but they need to clear interviews at esteemed schools to gain admission.

Then the mammoth responsibility of taking care of oneself from preying paedophiles is thrust on them. The ugly truth about the big bad world out there to devour their innocence is slowly but surely injected into their radar of understanding.

Children who instinctively attract a hug, kiss or a pat because of their cuteness now have to evaluate the affection shown to them in terms of good touch or a bad touch.

Gone are the days when young ones could be showered with candies and sweets at
the drop of a hat. A health check up in the school would amount to checking the height weight and sometimes the eyesight of the child.

However, nowadays, children happen to be bearing the brunt of lifestyle diseases for no fault of theirs. Juvenile diabetics, thyroid issues, obesity, asthma, a host of pollution related allergies and even cancer have stepped into the world of youngsters. They cannot enjoy a meal let alone junk food without caution.

Joys of ganging up

Unlike the past, children these days are usually loners either by choice or because the ones they want to associate with prefer being alone. They have one or two and sometimes no siblings to share their toys, clothes and books with.

Moreover, parents who can afford the money ensure that their child does not crave for anything. They seem to be totally unaware of the joys of ganging up to climb up trees and steal fruits, play “I spy” or hopscotch because lessons in being careful have far outweighed lessons on solidarity.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why children these days are a cleaner lot than their parents were at their age because they only play games on the touch screen when they are not sweating at their studies.

Those who do care for physical activities hardly find playgrounds or parks near their homes and there are also times when they do not have playmates because everyone is busy trying to ace the rat race.

The few who do indulge in sports and athletics do it with a definite aim of making it big; hence the slightest downfall or failure to win makes them turn to drugs or depression.

We cannot expect kids who have inherited an overtly exploited planet riddled with natural calamities and terrorism to be cherubic angels in folk tales and fairy tales. They are dealing with life as directed by their parents, guardians, society and system at large. Hence, it is not their fault if they could not appreciate Swami and his friends.

Nevertheless, it is in our hand to steer them clear from becoming contrite and contrived instead of becoming conscientious and constructive citizens in future.

True Greatness Lies in Humility

People who have power and position get used to being eulogized and pandered to, to the point that it becomes habitual. When there is a little digression or difference in the way they are treated, th-ey feel offended. If they find another person matching up to their abilities they become insecure.

Then the latent lean mean personality manifests its ugly self, revealing their true colours. The Bhagavata Purana suggests that the only panacea for this condition is that the celebrity should give up jealousy and learn to be humble, broad-minded and feel confident about oneself.

Once, the residents of Gokula decided to offer their annual prayers to Mount Govardhan instead of Lord Indra. The villagers did not mean any disrespect to the lord of the gods. They only wanted to show the-ir appreciation to the mountain that sustained their crops and cattle. Indra did not take the decision of his worshippers graciously. He forgot that they had been his staunch devotees and still were. They were only expressing gratitude towards another benefactor.

Instead of appreciating the fair-minded followers, Indra let loose his anger on them in the form of torrential rains. The hamlet was flooded. Life and property was imperiled. When chaos and confusion took control of the circumstance, Lord Krishna, who was a little lad, asked the populace to follow him with their families, cattle and possessions. When the crowd reached the foothills of Govardhan, little Krishna bent down and picked up the mountain. He ushered the astounded drenched multitudes to sta-nd beneath the base of the mountain. Then he held the mountain effortlessly aloft on the tip of his right hand little finger. The miraculous act of Krishna and standing under the umbrella of Govardhan whom they had worshipped sometime ago was an overwhelming experience for the Gokula residents.

In the meanwhile Indra realised that he had been foolish and unreasonable in is envy. He recognized the supreme soul in Krishna who unassumingly helped the people who were not even aware of his true personality. He stopped the rains and made haste to make reparations for his unwarranted behaviour.