Last month, I bid adieu to one of the most important and charismatic individual in my life. My Grandmother passed away 18th of September, a day I will never forget for many reasons, one of which was the sheer amount of respect her holy corpse was able to receive. The whole episode was like a beautifully assembled pack of cards pulled down by the weight of time in a matter of seconds. 15 days before this, she was on her way to a pilgrim site, Naimisaranya in Uttar Pradesh; she perhaps already knew this was going to be her last visit to a holy site and then it would be her ultimate call up to the heavens. The reason I say this is because of something that happened on the day of her departure to the site.
My brought up and the values instilled in me by her and my Mother are culturally and traditionally orthodox, touching the feet for blessings before leaving the house is some sort of a mandate; but I never believed in it. My gut always told me, if I believe in it, I should do it, else there is no point. And hence, I often am forced to do so; but having noticed my reluctance, my Grandmother stopped asking me to do it. But the day before she left to Naimisaranya, I visited her to say bye; and even on that day, before leaving I did not bend down to touch her feet and take blessings; and at that point, at that very moment something happened that will stay with me for the rest of my life. When I said "Bye Ammamma", she looked at me with teary eyes and said, "Come here, touch my feet and take my blessings, who knows if I will come back from this trip or not, I am old and getting ready for the big journey as the days go by". That to me, is the biggest moment of my life; something I will wear up my sleeves every time I bend down to touch the feet of an elderly. But has it changed the way I think about the whole thing? No.
My Grandmother has seen not one, not two but three of her beloved Men fall to the graves in the last decade. Including her, the four big pillars of the Mahakali family are no more, but they left behind their moral sense of responsibility and a deep well of excellence that could by itself overpower an ocean of wisdom. The virtues that my family and more specifically my Grandparents have instilled in me form the fundamentals of my daily being. But the question today is, how important is my belief in these virtues? Is the belief in a virtue more important than the virtue itself? Introspecting this idea yields me different questions.
Could it be how rational thought destroys our soul? Could it be about the triumph of irrationality and the power that is in that? You know, we spend a lot of time trying to organize the world. We build clocks and calendars and we try to predict the weather. But what part of our life is truly under our control?
What if we choose to exist purely in a reality of our own making? Does that render us insane? And if it does, isn't that better than a life of despair? But then, what would be the true purpose of the life of our own making? Would we have a desire to excel? Would we be able to justify the true purpose of our being?
But rationality and irrationality is purely subjective. Also what's better is only a matter of how deeply you apply your thoughts to it. If being happy and content is all that you want in life, then isn't living an insane life in a world of your own, the perfect thing for you. The problem with us is that we don't know what we actually want, and when we do, we hate to accept them and instead conceal them in some virtuous thoughts. What matters is not the virtue but how much you believe in this virtue because at the end of the day the only person you are answerable to is your own self.
So I say, live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their views, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. Let us all, and I mean this generation of us all, make our ancestors proud again; let's keep our differences aside, let's show them all who live their life in hatred, conflict and cynicism, how family as an entity and society as a change are strengths.
When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. And then at the end, when your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. I literally mean, Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.