A life well lived
Shivi Verma, in a candid conversation with D R Kaarthikeyan, discovers the integrity and devotion behind the man who has been promoting the cause of LP with missionary zeal
Padma Shree awardee, Director General, National Human Rights Commission, Mr D R Kaarthikeyan, is the president of Life Positive magazine. Our readers recognise him as the warm-hearted presence at the International Life Positive Spiritual Festivals. One of the greatest well-wishers of Life Positive, he is forever espousing the magazine’s cause at all national and international forums, exhorting people to read it and spread the word about a publication like this.
Also the former chief of the CBI, Mr Kaarthikeyan is a distinguished and sought-after personality of India, who rubs shoulders with the mightiest in the political and spiritual circles of the country. He is constantly travelling to high-level summits in India and abroad, raising awareness about important human issues, and making significant interventions.
His dedication to the cause of human upliftment is total, and his will to continue working in this direction is indomitable.
Despite his towering personality and many accomplishments, Mr Kaarthikeyan is an extremely humble and down-to-earth person. Each time anyone from team Life Positive visits his home in New Delhi, he treats them to a lavish lunch served with much love and care. He speaks from his heart and does not hide his feelings—a trait which endears him to anyone who meets him.
He completed 80 years in 2019, and we felt that it was the best time to interview him for Life Positive.
I met him at his residence in Anand Lok on a rainy Sunday, and he spoke at length about his life and interest in spirituality.
Please share your life journey. When did your interest in spirituality begin?
I belong to a family which believes in the traditional form of worship. From childhood, I was trained in this kind of life. We had a big pooja (worship) room in my house in a village near Coimbatore. As children, we were assigned the duty of picking flowers from the garden every morning. After that, we used to go for a bath. My parents used to remove old flowers placed before the deities and replace them with fresh flowers collected by us children. We had small idols of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva on our family altar, and I was taught to do their abhishekam (ritual of pouring on the deity) with milk, water, and honey. We used to burn dhoop (incense sticks) and chant shlokas (sacred verses) in praise of the gods. This training became a part of my nature, and I continue to perform this ritual worship till date. Even during my college days, I used to perform these daily rituals. We used to visit holy places and read religious books available in Tamil and Sanskrit. I grew up in a bhakti (devotional) environment. We had deep faith in God, and when you have faith, you also cultivate values. Discriminating between right and wrong, respecting elders, being kind to people, and helping the poor were values that got deeply ingrained in our minds from a young age because of our deep faith in the Almighty. We had a big farm, and we treated our farmworkers very kindly. During festivals, new clothes were given to them, and they were given a lavish feast. My mother too was a very kind woman who took great care of all those who worked for her household.
When we moved to the town, many people from my village used to visit us and seek shelter for the night if they missed the last bus to the village. My mother would get up at 10.00 p.m. to cook food for them and serve them, without waking up the servants. This was her greatness. I never saw her frowning even once in my life.
My late wife, Kala Kaarthikeyan, too was like that. I was always out in connection with my duties as an IPS officer in Jammu and Kashmir and other states. My colleagues from the CRPF would often come looking for me, and she would never let them go without making them eat something. I don’t know if this is spirituality, but this is definitely the essence of life. Having compassion and empathy are integral to being spiritual.
I was quite strict as a police officer, but my nature was tempered to a large extent by the influence of my mother and, later, my wife.
As an officer on duty, one has to be very ruthless. If any of my colleagues were found drunk on duty or misbehaving with anyone, I never spared them. I used to dismiss them after a couple of warnings. It is important to punish the wrongdoers, otherwise, how will you prevent crime? Then their family used to come crying and begging for mercy, but since I had the responsibility of ensuring that the force did not get a bad name, I never took them back. But as I knew the value of empathy as practised by my mother and wife, I used to get them some other job.
Did you ever feel the dilemma which a righteous police officer faces while framing charges, wondering if the one he is penalising is actually the culprit? If yes, then how did you go about it?
See, it is very important to ensure that an innocent person is not prosecuted. I used to be very careful about this fact. If I had even an iota of doubt, I would not pursue the suspect. Often, somebody who appears to be guilty, on further investigation, is found innocent. Once this was established, I used to stop further action against that person. And often someone who looks innocent is found guilty later on. Therefore, one has to tread very carefully while investigating a crime scene. At the same time, it is important not to let the criminal get away scot-free. So, I was always aware of the precariousness of my work. Even at a higher level in the CBI, I was empathetic while taking action against errant officers. See, one has to be strict as well as fair. One has to be spiritual. There is no other option.
Did you ever question the rituals you were performing as a child? As in, if these gods were for real?
What is there to question in the rituals? Traditions have to be maintained as they have a lot of value in them. Everything has a deep purpose. You may not know why they started, but this does not diminish their value in our lives. For example, whenever you go to a Vishnu temple, you offer the leaves of tulsi (holy basil). As a child, I used to take holy basil to Lord Vishnu’s idol and chew it too. Or when you worship Lord Ganesha, you offer grass as He is supposed to be fond of it. We offer bael (wood apple) leaves to Lord Shiva. We have the tradition of worshipping Goddess Durga with haldi (turmeric) and paan (betel leaf). There is big science hidden in all this.
For example, turmeric has anticancer properties. And everywhere in India, we use turmeric while performing religious worship. It is so potent that the USA wanted to patent it, but we fought it out and told them that it belonged to us. The essence of turmeric, which is curcumin, is used in preventing as well as curing cancer. But you have to eat plenty of turmeric for a little curcumin to enter your body. Then the powder form became available, and its absorption is a little better. Now, nano-curcumin has been developed in Hyderabad. You have to take a pinch of it in a glass of warm water, and in three months your immunity levels will shoot up. I took it to America the last time I went there, and they told me that they do not make it. But soon they will start making it and selling it for hundreds of dollars. So, the whole idea is that our traditions have a very valid base, but we have forgotten about them. There is no superstition at all. All the researches validate our practices. Our kitchen is a pharmacy; every plant is a pharmacy. We are not aware of all the properties of a plant or a tree, but as more research surfaces, we will come to know about them. Astonishingly, our ancient texts carry all the information about the immense value of each and every tree, plant, and vegetation. We worship trees because our rishis and munis (sages) knew their power, and to ensure their survival, made it mandatory for people to worship them.
What are you doing to spread this knowledge amongst the masses?
I am deeply involved in the bio-energy movement. Since I support the alternative integrated medicine, I was given a doctorate in Colombo at the International University of Integrated Medicine. I stand for this form of healing where one heals with nature because if you follow the natural order of things, you can heal faster without taking strong allopathic medicines.
Dr Arul of Miracle Healing Foundation, an allopathic surgeon, dismisses chemotherapy and now focuses on using curcumin, Vitamin C, and ozone to heal his cancer patients. He lost both his parents to cancer, and now, wherever there is any research on cancer, he flies there and learns as much as possible. These are discoveries that are going to transform the world within two or three years. Most of our ancient practices are gems of wisdom from great gyanis (realised ones).
You have turned 80 this year. What is the secret of your health and vitality at your age?
Every morning I take tulsi and paan, and this practice has given me amazing health benefits. Wherever possible, I take grass and even bael leaves. Apart from this, there is no secret. I try to do good, be good. I try to do right things and avoid doing wrong things and having wrong thoughts. I am a vegetarian. I trust and respect people. I do not hate anybody. Out of jealousy, people might have harmed me, but I do not hate any of them.
My mother and father taught me the value of hard work. They used to work on the farm and always did the right thing, and I received my values from them.
You should have seen me when my wife was alive. I was the epitome of well-being at that time, and she gives me energy till today.
Please share something about your late wife.
My wife, Kala, was a major source of joy and inspiration for me. When she passed away suddenly, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev consoled me saying, “She gave comfort to so many people. Let us not hurt her soul by mourning so much. She never went to any foreign school but she met and entertained all foreign diplomats very comfortably. I want to start an academy for housewives to teach them confidence and leadership.” Dr APJ Kalam came the same night and said that we will not find a person like her and how fortunate I was to have lived all my life with her. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that very few people go away peacefully in sleep, and she was one such blessed soul. But I was still inconsolable. Then BKS Iyengar told me that I should not mourn her so much because she was a part of me and will always be with me. After that, I stabilised. Then I received a soul message from my wife which was channelled by Dadi Janaki. She communicated to me that her work on earth was complete, but I still had a lot of contribution to make to the world. Therefore, I must perform my duties and not grieve for her as it comes in the way of her journey.
Each day, I offer flowers and perform aarti (ritual worship) before her picture. Some people told me that I should not worship my wife, but then a young swami (ascetic religious teacher) told me that worship was nothing but love, devotion, and prayer and what you do reflects the sincerity and purity of your connection with your wife. Therefore, do not question what you are doing.
Do you feel that spirituality can bring any difference to the world of politics and administration as you have worked in these fields?
Of course. If you are spiritual you will not commit wrongdoings. You will develop a conscience and have good values. You will not be tempted by money or incentives or get dislodged by threats. You become your own master. Nobody can own you. You will be guided only by your conscience. When APJ Kalam became the president of India, he asked me if I wanted to become the governor of any state as I had done a lot for the country. But I said that I had done my duty to the nation, and I was satisfied. I did not want to lose my conscience by obeying the diktats of any party as most governors are compelled to do so. My wife too was of the same opinion and supported me in my decision.
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