Personal Growth - A matter of perspective
by A Agrawal
It was a stormy monsoon night, and the Sathe family, seated around their dining table, tucked heartily into their piping hot meal. The menu was a Mumbai favourite, pao bhaji, and Avijit had already made his way through a pile of paos without showing any visible signs of slowing down.
Just then, Mom spoke up, addressing Dad. “You know for the greater part of my life I have felt misunderstood. Why am I not understood?”
Dad patted her on the shoulder comfortingly, “What has brought this on?” he asked.
“I had gone over to Sushma’s house (a building friend) for a chat and we got talking about the malls that are cropping up all over Malad. I expressed my view that malls were actually big business which would soon close down individual shops just like they did in the US. She accused me of being anti-progress and of not wanting the middle class to finally thrive. I tried to explain my point of view but she simply could not get it.
"And another time, she was sharing about how untrustworthy the world had become and how many people had cheated her. I told her that perhaps it was her belief that the world was untrustworthy that brought on that reality in her life. And that I, for my part, thought the world was largely trustworthy. Immediately she accused me of having a rosy and unrealistic picture of the world. I am accused of being too idealistic, and too positive. ”
Ajoba was listening to Mom with interest. “Beti,” he said, “This is not unusual. And nor are you to be blamed for it. Your friend seems to have a more narrow perspective than you have. She will naturally never understand your broader perspective. She cannot. Her mind cannot contain it. Remember this, the higher can understand the lower but the lower cannot understand the higher.”
Mom’s eyes lit up. “I had not thought of it this way. It makes sense. God, for instance, may have such a lofty view of us while we cannot possible be able to see Him in entirety because our minds simply can’t contain His immensity.”
“Exactly,” said Ajoba enthusiastically. “Another excellent example of the lower not understanding the higher is the British colonisation of India. They could not understand the loftiness of Indian philosophy and therefore decided that we were savages in need of colonisation, whereas in actuality our perspective was far broader and deeper than theirs.”
“Well, the world is recognising that now,” said Dad. Avijit leaned towards Nisha and whispered sotto voce, “I knew he would start on his Vedanta any moment. Any excuse will do.” Nisha giggled conspiratorially.
Ajoba glanced at them and a twinkle came into his eyes. “Why look any further,’ he said. “Look at these kids. Do they understand us? Not a bit. And yet they think they know it all.”
Avijit cleared his throat self-consciously and tried to look nonchalant. Then he gave up the attempt and grinned. “You may have a point, Ajoba,” he said.
Then he changed the subject, “You know, Dad,” he said, “There was a big scandal in college a few days back.” Heads swivelled towards him. “Mahesh Sagar, who is the son of a bigwig, was caught openly cheating in an exam. The principal was about to rusticate him, but guess what, his Dad pulled clout and spoke to the school’s trustees and Mahesh is back on board. We are all sick about this. What kind of message is the college sending?"
Dad looked stern. “This is what happens when parents refuse to allow their children to bear the consequences of their actions. They ruin them morally and introduce corruption into the system. If I had been the father, I would have allowed the college to rusticate the boy. It would have taught him that the world is not oriented to please him and he would have had half a chance of becoming a decent person. Now, he will create a lot more suffering for people around him before he gets the message.”
“Wow,” said Alka in an awed voice, “that’s awesome thinking, Dad. So if we do something wrong, we may actually learn to be a better person?”
“Mistakes are the curriculum of life, sweetie,” said Mom. “But that will happen only if you face the mistake and not have your parents bail you out. Life is for learning, kids. Never forget it.”
“So there goes my chance of robbing a bank and getting rich for life." pouted Avijit and the others laughed.
Sathe family fact file: The Sathe family lives in Mumbai and consists of Ashwin Sathe, a trainer and counsellor and Abha Sathe, a writer of children’s books. Ashwin’s parents, known as Aji and Ajoba, stay with them. Ajoba is a retired college professor turned Vedanta teacher. Ashwin and Abha have three children Avijit (20) an engineering student, Nisha (19) in her second year in college studying Eng Lit and Alka (15) in her class 10.
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