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Friday, April 06, 2007

Living selfishly!

The reason I still haven’t lost hope in youth is that, firstly, if I did that, I would lose hope in living itself, and also because I have been blessed to know that even amidst the general atmosphere of sloth and apathy and dissolution and crass opportunism and bad taste, there are so many nice and bright and thoughtful young people all around – though they may be confused, and distracted, unsure about which way to go, discouraged from all sides and nobody to pour out their woes to, nobody to ask for help, terribly embarrassed to open up even before their peers for fear of being misunderstood, ridiculed and left out. It is to connect with them, and help them connect meaningfully with one another, that I am making this effort through orkut, gmail and my blog.
Raunak’s post (on the thread titled ‘You are doing it for yourself!” started by Sayak at my orkut community ‘The Good life!’) gives me the occasion to write this essay. The subject under discussion is selfishness – rightly and wrongly understood. On the one hand, we have always been told by grown-ups not to be selfish (though many of us have uneasily sensed since childhood that the grownups were not being very sincere about it!), because selfishness hurts the world and stamps you as a ‘bad’ person. And indeed, we must all admit, at least to ourselves, that there is a certain kind of selfishness (perhaps, even, the most common kind) which cannot be too strongly condemned.

Spreading nasty rumours about friends behind their backs, haggling rudely with poor hawkers over a rupee or two, depriving siblings of their share of chocolate or of parents’ money, indulging in good food and wine while your children’s school fees are not being paid, being ‘too busy’ to pay attention to your wife’s ailments when you actually fool and laze around at your workplace much of the time, adulterating medicines for some extra profit, rigging elections so that you may enjoy the loaves and fishes of government office for a few years more – such things are certainly bad and indefensible: the less of such selfishness we have, the better the world will be. Such selfishness, though, is born of folly rather than downright evil, if you ask me. And the reason that such things have been with us since the days of Troy and the Mahabharat is that either people refuse to listen to good counsel, or they are too lazy to change, or that they deeply believe that they are being clever by behaving thus. They will even solemnly assure you from ‘long personal experience’ that there is no other way to prosper and progress in life! You cannot argue with them, because they disagree with you over the definition of prosperity and progress itself. All you can ask them is whether Duryodhan and Ebenezer Scrooge and Harshad Mehta were the happiest men they know, despite all the gold and fine houses and dancing girls, and whether such people are really very good role models, and whether it is really not possible at all to be rich and famous and much admired without being petty and crooked. What about all the great philanthropes of the world from Anathpindada to Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates, what about the public assertion of the founders of Google Inc. that you can make money without doing evil, and what about so many people who have chosen to live simple and humble lives throughout history, like Socrates and the Buddha, Michelangelo and St. Francis and Einstein, and are remembered and revered by countless millions still? If those who are born good cannot take heart from all these instances to stay good simply because they find the pressure exerted by the bad herd overwhelming, they have only themselves to blame for their lives souring up and the world being a rather unpleasant place. When you have learnt to be honest with yourself, you cannot but admit that such selfishness simply does not ‘pay’, especially in the long run! Some people simply find that out when it is too late – look at Duryodhan again, or Macbeth, or Al Capone! Or simply check out with the boys who cheated through all their examinations and cannot find decent jobs now. Didn’t I say that such ‘selfish’ people are actually only very silly, and their own worst enemies?

But given this context, it does sound bizarre to a lot of young folks to hear anybody (whether it’s Raunak or Sayak’s dad or me or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) saying that apparently all religions tell us to be selfish! What rubbish, they will exclaim – we know very well that religion tells us to be kind and considerate and charitable and not greedy and grasping! We know that, even though we may have no desire to become that way, or feel incapable of becoming that way: we know that religion is all about being un -selfish!) We ‘know’ this so well that when some great man says he did all that he did for mankind, at great ‘cost’ to himself (in worldly terms, of course, right upto sacrificing his life) he did only because it made him feel good, many people have retorted, ‘Ah, in that case he acted out of a selfish motive, so he cannot be called truly great after all!’ (A very silly journalist made exactly that sort of remark when Mother Teresa assured him she did all her charity work not so much for the poor and destitute as for the sake of the Jesus inside her).

But the truth is that all the great books and wise men and true religions have started teaching the mass of mankind not by saying ‘be kind and good and loving and charitable and active and not-greedy’, but by insisting atmaanam viddhi, gnothi seauton, ‘know thyself’, ‘look inside yourself’, connect with the Real You, Be Who You Are. Whether we are comfortable with words like God, holy, sacred, divine or not, the deepest conviction of all truly wise men has always been that there is a Higher Self buried far beneath one’s superficial, smaller, lesser self. To rise above the smaller self – which is fearful and greedy and lazy and eternally seeking to avoid challenges and looking for ease and shortcuts, always chattering like an ape inside us and distracting and fooling and ultimately hurting us – is not just the key to the Good Life, it is the only real purpose of life: not merely making a living, not even winning Nobel Prizes and Oscars and Olympic golds. To make that connection, one needs first of all to avoid distraction of all sorts, or at least cut it down to the barest minimum. By distraction is meant everything from crowds to loud noises, drink and drugs and gambling and dancing girls and shopping malls and gossip and bothering about what people are saying about me and whether I am looking good and examination scores and pay packets… everything that doesn’t really matter, everything that keeps me away from the Real Me all the time. Meditation is one good way of doing it; good work (which includes everything from genuine scientific research to art to charity) is another. It is not an accident that the happiest and most successful men in the world – business tycoons, generals, scientists, poets and statesmen alike, not just bearded sages! – have been highly focused in this sense; they were always connected with their Real (or Higher) selves; they always knew with perfect clarity and conviction just what they (as distinct from their parents, neighbours, friends and relatives) wanted out of life. And most people of that type have always found out for themselves, without sages lecturing them, that being ‘unselfish’ in the conventional sense – that is to say, kind, loving, not-greedy, not ‘status’-conscious and charitable – helps to stay connected with the Higher Self and thus really to enjoy life the only way it can be enjoyed. See what a paradox that is: we discover the real worth of unselfishness only by being consistently and determinedly selfish, in the sense of being totally focused on the Self (the Real Me, that which does not die; the atmaan and not the aham)! – I shall make bold to say that the story called ‘Manager’s Lesson’ in this blog, properly read, might help quite a bit to resolve the paradox. Even if one gives up one’s life for another – one’s own blood relatives or one’s country or someone at the other end of the earth one has never even seen, it must be because it makes one’s Real Self supremely happy: there is never any other justification for good works, not even conventional ideas of ‘duty’. Beware: don’t even expect recognition or gratitude or reward from those you do good to: most of them will either forget or pay you back by reviling you – because they are still driven by their little selves, and all they can feel is burning, helpless envy at the fact that you are a better person than they! It is better by far to make a fortune through an honest business than to give away a fortune in the hope of fame and reverence: you will be cruelly cheated nine times out of ten, and you will have only yourself to blame for it. That is what Mother Teresa and all others like her have always known; one does even good works for selfish reasons alone (though some choose to call that Higher Self Krishna or Jesus or Allah or Wahe-guru; the eternal, the absolute, the universal, the totally-loving, all-good ever-friend – ‘though I walk in the shadow of the valley of death/ the Lord is my shepherd/ (so) I shall not want’!) Otherwise they would have changed their minds early on: read their biographies to find out how much abuse and ridicule and opposition they faced for trying to do good.

I would like to continue in this vein a little longer. But some readers are scared away by long posts on the blog, so I’ll pause for now. If my readers encourage me with their comments and questions, I’ll carry on from this point. Happy reading! - and get as many of your friends to read this as you can.


dipayan said...

The very word "selfish" is thought to be immoral as such. That's why tiny tots are always taught,"Never be selfish and always try to share things with others." But many people don't actually seem to realize the difference between 'selfish' and 'unselfish'. In very simple terms, the word "selfish" is used to signify those persons who "think about themselves only and don't care about others." Therefore the one who does the opposite is unselfish like Mother Teresa.
Everyone is free to live life in his own way.Likewise there is no harm in leading a selfish life either! But time and again many wise men have reminded us that life is wasted if you do not help your brothers(God's children). Selfish people also face ego-clashes regularly and envy is, therefore one of their traits.(Many people want to stay happy just by doing better than their neighbours!) In most cases it is seen that either they run a high risk of a heart-attack or their blood-pressure is too high. Summing up, it can be concluded that by living selfishly you remain mostly unhapy all the time no matter whether you are surrounded by all the riches of the world or not.
The problem is:many people have begun to think that success can be achieved by shortcuts and by being dishonest. In fact the world has become corrupt!(excuse the exaggeration) But everyone should realize that the immense satisfaction you get from helping the downtrodded in your society is far better than the one you experience after buying a Honda Civic!

rahul said...

hello sir,am from the 2002(ICSE) passout batch.Though I wasn't in your section,still I remember you vividly as one of the most revered teachers of Xaviers dgp,alongside the other great....Roy Sir ofcourse!!
I just went through ur latest post and it was really great,though it was a bit too lengthy(by my patience) still managed to read all of it!!
Actually there is nothing much I would like to comment on this post since I almost agree wid all of what you have written and I throughly enjoyed it.May be i'll have something more to comment,on ur previous post after I go thru them!!!!

Sudipto said...

If selfishness means doing something for your own happiness (in its true sense), then it's certainly good to be selfish. Ultimately living the good life is all about being happy.
If selfishness means discovering your own self and soul, its best to be selfish.

Actually taking shortcuts in life, earning money through unfair means, being rude and unkind to others makes one quite 'unselfish' in the sense that he/she never discovers his/her true self.

Navin said...

This is exactly the content of a moral science class taught by you when I was in class 10. Though I should say that it din't have much of the spiritual underpinnings which you have in this post. I still remember one statement ( among the very many counter intuitive facts that you had told in class) very clearly though.
"The world would be a better place if all of us would be a little more selfish.Many problems arise due to the over inquisitiveness which we have about others. For gods sake be interested in your own lives and instead of concentrating on other lives, worry about your own."

After this statement you had quoted a GB shaw(probably) quote about gossip, which was really damning for all of us who were interested in gossip.

Anindita said...

One particular idea that I read in A.P.J. Abdul Kalam"s "Wings Of Fire" was that once a person is able to widen his horizon,that is discover the higher and better virtues in himself/herself he can never fit back into his previous , pettier self.Simple daily incidents like offerring your seat to an elderly person in a very crowded bus makes us feel so good and happy about it.Being unselfish gives us this satisfaction of leading a good life.And we can be unselfish only when we are able to connect with the Higher-Self within ourselves.And to achieve that end we have we have to be "selfish",that is seek out that "Unselfish-Self".

RAUNAK said...

Thinking more and more about this word "selfish" makes me feel like a snake running behind its own tail.And after reading the post one might surely be pushed to think whether this word is to be used in a positive or negative sense.
Each and every word you said is true .I think it solely depends on the individual how he or she wants to interpret the word .

shubhranka said...

some months ago i read the book called ' the monk who sold his ferari'. i was so engrossed in reading the book that i finished reading it in less than a day's time. i started meditating from that very day and quite foolishly thought it would soon bring about a change in my life too!(because i was to restless and lacked concentration).fortunately that is when you explained the poem by Eliot -'the journey of the magi'. and i realised that spiritual attainment is no easy task.
the lawyer who turned into a monk in the above mentioned book led a completely spartan lifestyle. but in your post you said that one need not be a sage in order to realise ones 'real self'. i agree with the examples of people who have realised their self through sheer 'good' work (in your post). but i am unable to solve the contradiction. can you please help?
(anyway i am still trying to grow a regular habit of meditation)

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Simple living is essential, Shubhranka, though spartan living may not be necessary. Everybody needs ordinary, light, good food twice a day; nobody 'needs' to gorge at flashy overpriced restaurants twice a week; everybody needs clothes, nobody 'needs' designer labels. The same goes for fancy cars and houses, mobiles and jewellery (read the post titled 'Are you sure...?' on my blog; it'll help), etc etc. Alas, most middle-class people like us, who have probably never known genuine want, and never achieved any great success in their lives either, hanker after these trivialities all their lives, in the hope that possessing such things will 'impress' other silly people like themselves, and that there cannot be any higher purpose in life beyond 'impressing' stupid people!-If, instead, they lived simply, gave away most of their surpluses to the truly needy and concentrated on self-development, their spiritual growth (and consequently, both prosperity and happiness) would have been greatly accelerated. As you have rightly surmised, the journey is not easy at all, but the rewards multiply as you persevere (it's just like with exercising or studying, really!)

Did I manage to answer you satisfactorily? By the way, folks, I am expecting more questions like Shubhranka's here!

RAUNAK said...

U said --"in the hope that possessing such things will 'impress' other silly people like themselves, and that there cannot be any higher purpose in life beyond 'impressing' stupid people!-"
But is it actually wrong to own an expensive car or anything for that matter if you really cherish it or seriously love that thing.Its not always about impressing.. someone might be genuinely crazy about an object(mobile,watches etc). In this situation, should he restrain himself from buying the stuff(of course with his own money)????

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I'll just quote the poet at you, Raunak: 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, for you never know what is enough until you have seen what is more than enough'! So everyone of us has to find out for himself what he really 'needs', then stop hankering for things he can quite happily do without. Some people are born grasping, many more are made that way by parents, friends and neighbours; some few are naturally heedless of worldly goodies! Just reflect on two more things; one, Gandhi used to say 'the world has enough for man's needs, but not enough for man's greed' (he was thinking of the earth's finite resources and its ability to handle pollution); two, what do I mean by 'my money', after all? Nothing material is really mine except for a while, and except that I have been allowed to earn/inherit and spend it as I wish according to a certain kind of social consensus, isn't it? So I always have a certain degree of social responsibility in the way I earn and spend 'my' money, too! Recall that society keeps changing its mind from time to time: today I can't own human slaves even if I have a lot of money! And too much carelessness/callousness in this matter can bring disasters like the French and Russian revolutions upon us!

Have I answered your question satisfactorily? I shall be glad to answer more questions like this, everybody!

Subhadip said...

As you said Sir, selfishness is not at all a good thing that we should consciously or unconciously practise. All great men in the world have taught us to be kind, considerate towards others. But I remember that when I was in class 10 in your section, you told us one day "Be selfish. Everybody of us should be selfish. As long as we are selfish, and do not cause any kind of harm to anyone, so long selfishness is a good thing." As you said in "Living selfishly", people do not have time for their wives' ailments because they are "too busy wasting time" in their workplaces and enjoying drinking or having parties. People deprive their children of food and the basic requirements of life because they are in big financial problems as they have spent their money in "important activities" like drinking wine and attending "important personalities" like brothels. But this is very rarely seen in the middle class society. At least I have not seen such things in many families. But I shall also like to mention, that although I have seen such things not in many families, there is one family just next to my house, where a mother has spent all her life caring for her son and husband and now when she is absolutely paralysed by arthritis she has been left just to die by both of them. She spent all her money building a house for her son so that he may not have the burden of building a house by himself, especially because he does not earn much. But now that the mother is unable to go to the toilet because she cannot get up from the lying position and walk to the toilet, nobody helps her to do so. I have heard her screaming and shouting. And what is the reason? She has to go to toilet and there is nobody to help her. She even has to face abuses for wanting some co-operation from her family members.
But as you mentioned, great people like The Buddha, Mother Teresa were also selfish, but in a different sense. They wanted to attain "Moksha". I feel that this kind of selfishness is good for the self. And also whtever you taught in class is also correct. As long as we are selfish without hurting others, it is good. After all, we all are actually selfish- at least I feel so. Otherwise we shall not exist.

RAUNAK said...

When are you writing part two of this post ?

Suvro Chatterjee said...

But I have been writing, Raunak - by responding to queries! I am waiting for many queries to accumulate before I write another essay, actually. I have this horror of people saying 'gyaan dichchhe', so I wait till I am asked, not once but several times!

sudipto said...

You people who are a great fan of Suvroda and his writings and his worldly views probably do not know his hypocritic nature. I also held him in high esteem, but when i pass by his house nowadays,the signboard proclaiming the great english private tutors house amuses me. On it is written: "Suvro's", as if its something like a brand name.I wonder tutoring class 9 & 10 students can really be a career option.On it also written, parents who wish to talk about their son/daughter's progress should make an appointment and pay a consultation fee of Rs. 250.But you know people in Durgapur, they are so obsessed about their childrens education, they will do anything and everything they can.That's why they make a beeline for tutors who trumpet around.I don't have anything against him or his profession,but what he writes in his blog is nonsensical.He claims that people who study hard and get in IITs and IIM's and go abroad and work for MNC's and who fulfills their material wishes are selfish, don't know what they are doing etc. etc.
Who is he to judge people, when he himself is just a petty tutor making money even by talking to parents.
To all you hardworking and self made people,please do not waste your time in reading or commenting on a hyprocrit's blog.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Someone called Sudipto has just warned you all not to 'waste your time' reading my blog (see the above comment). At first I thought of laughing, then toyed with the idea of deleting his comment. But then again, I thought, all of you should reflect upon what he has said, draw your own conclusions (especially in the light of everything I have written in the last two posts, 'Living Selfishly' and 'Good career...'), and perhaps help out Sudipto by telling him what he hasn't noticed or understood, and how he could profit by all that is being said in my community and my blog, if only he could stop hating and envying me. It won't benefit me much, but it could help him greatly! You could put your remarks as comments on 'Living Selfishly'.

Abhirup said...

Sudipto's post, which reeks of ignorance, stupidity, and blind anger and prejudice, leaves me amused, exasperated and flabbergasted. Is there any point in trying to make him change his silly opinions, I ask myself. Probably not, but there's no harm in trying once. So, let me respond to his post step-by-step.

"I also held him in high esteem, but when i pass by his house nowadays,the signboard proclaiming the great english private tutors house amuses me. On it is written: "Suvro's", as if its something like a brand name."

Sir did not intend to use his name as a brand name. He counsels students and their parents, and hence, has put up a board (a pretty small and modest one, I would like to add) for those who do not know that Sir also counsels students, beside tutoring them. There is nothing wrong with that. It certainly doesn't look like chest-thumping or blowing one's own trumpet. If you look at the board with a clear, unbiased eye, and not through the lens of hatred and anger, you will discover that what I have said is true.

"I wonder tutoring class 9 & 10 students can really be a career option."

Actually, it is. The sages of ancient India, Aristotle, Diogenes, Socrates and John Pounds opted for this "career."
Moreover, I am of the opinion that every career is respectable, provided it doesn't harm others and is not carried out at the expense of others. So, it is not very civil of you to scorn a man's profession.

"On it also written, parents who wish to talk about their son/daughter's progress should make an appointment and pay a consultation fee of Rs. 250.But you know people in Durgapur, they are so obsessed about their childrens education, they will do anything and everything they can.That's why they make a beeline for tutors who trumpet around."

Sir is a busy man, that is why he asks parents to make prior appointment before coming to meet him. And since counselling is his profession, there is absolutely nothing wrong is being paid for it. In fact, the fee Sir charges (Rs. 250) is quite less compared to the quality of the counsel he offers, and the large number of ignorant, irritating parents he has to handle. My mother often says that Sir should change the Rs. 250 into $250. So, Sudipto, I don't really understand why you are so angry. Do you really have a grievance against Sir, or just a prejudice that's so meaningless but so intense that I am fighting a lost battle against it?

"I don't have anything against him or his profession"

Really? You have a funny way of showing it.

"He claims that people who study hard and get in IITs and IIM's and go abroad and work for MNC's and who fulfills their material wishes are selfish, don't know what they are doing etc. etc."

That's not what he said. This statement of yours calls into question your ability to read.
What Sir has always insisted is that getting into IIT is not something to be condemned, but nor is it something to boast about a lot, as many of the parents do. I think everyone will agree that getting into the IIT is not the equivalent of winning a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, Olympic medal, Oscar or Grammy, or creating something like the Missionaries of Charity or the Oxford Dictionary. I think all will also agree that despite all the obsession with studying science and getting into IIT, there's very little scientific research and innovations in India; how many remarkable scientists (by which I mean the likes of Einstein, Newton, Feynman, Satyen Bose and Meghnad Saha) has IIT produced? And how many inventions (read the book '1001 Great Inventions', and you will see that none of those 1001, from simple things such as the sellotape to sophisticated things like the laptop computer, has been invented by an Indian). Recently, an ex-IITian named Chetan Bhagat himself has ridiculed this mania about IIT in his book 'Five Point Someone.' These are the unpleasant truths Sir tries to make us aware of.
Sir doesn't have anything going to abroad either. He has encouraged many of his students, including me, to try and get foreign scholarships, for the standard of teacing in many American and European universities, as well as the opportunities for fulfilling our ambitions, are much better in those countries than in India. Then again, Sir is critical of those who regard getting a Green Card the dearest ambition in his/her life, and whose parents consider themselves demigods because their offsprings live in 'Umrica'. I do not find anything wrong with that either.
As for MNCs, well, explore and find out if those jobs are very lucrative and attractive. Once you have gathered the proper information, you yourself will realize whether Sir's views about them are right or not.
Finally, Sir DOES NOT disregard the importance of maerial wealth, nor does he criticize anybody for trying to satisfy his material wants. He holds in contempt those who cannot think of any other purpose in life than making money. He mocks those doctors, who, by virtue of being 'doctors', cannot find any time to read new books. No apology has to be issued for this. None but a fool will say that making money is bad; none but a me-first materialist will say that money is the only thing worth living for. Sir, I can say with confidence, is neither. Another thing he repeatedly tries to teach us is to get our priorities right. Do we want to live our own life, or the life others want us to live? Do we want wealth at the cost of our health, peace and family ties, or a relatively less lavish lifestyle where all these things are intact? Are we content with being a little more successful than our neighbour, or would we like to aim high and dream big? These are questions, I think, that we all should ponder upon.

"Who is he to judge people, when he himself is just a petty tutor making money even by talking to parents."

Sir has never posed as an oracle or a guru for anybody. He gives us his opinions and helps us with facts, but ultimately leaves us to take our own decision, which is what every good teacher does. It is you, Sudipto, who is trying to tell others whom they should respect and whom they must hate.

RAUNAK said...

I am abashed by MR.Sudiptos comments !! I think he really needed Sir's tuition in classes 9 and 10 to at least be able to comprehend an article(hahahaha)..I take the liberty here to call him an arrogant fool!!

Navin said...

also, I do not understand, what is the big deal even if some one who is good at something trumpets around.
Unnecessary modesty is often a sign of WEAKNESS. Even if Survo sir trumpets around, (which he most certainly does not)whats wrong with that ?

Sudipto said...

Here's a Sudipto who says that his namesake is just afraid to accept unpleasant truth.

Abhirup Da's comment is the best thing that can be said in Sir's "defence", though I don't think Sir needs one.

For every anti-Suvro Sir there are three or more Suvro Sir fans! That says it all.

Try to accept truth my dear namesake, and that includes unpleasant ones.

Sudipto Basu.

Nishant said...

Hey Mr. Sudipto (the malicious one)- I'm not even sure if that's your true identity.

'I wonder tutoring class 9 & 10 students can really be a career option.'
This is the cheapest thing I've ever heard from any person. In any case, the sentence itself shows your ignorance. Sir has being tutoring the students of that age group for a very long time now and he's been quite successful.

'But you know people in Durgapur, they are so obsessed about their childrens education, they will do anything and everything they can.'
If the people in Durgapur or even anywhere else were really concerned about their children's education, they wouldn't be looking only at short term goals like scoring good marks in the exams etc.

'He claims that people who study hard and get in IITs and IIM's ... ..... don't know what they are doing etc. etc.'
For the records, I am an IITian. And Sir, I think, is the first person who advised me about going for higher studies in the US. I would just say that I feel you haven't ever had the opportunity to attend any of Sir's classes. He's been very clear about things in life. He's never said that a man shouldn't earn money. As long as it's honest and hard earned, there's no problem. Sir's never been against working for an MNC or any other place since it depends entirely on the individual and his needs. What Sir has been against though is such people and their parents boasting about working in MNCs as if that's such a big achievement. He's more than just an instructor (in your words, a 'petty tutor'). Firstly of course he's a very good instructor - he atleast knows his subject completely and secondly, he's given us more by way of discussions and chat sessions and books than you can ever imagine (and that's what makes him a teacher as opposed to an instructor). And I'm just guessing but I think Sir does more charity work than you.

And the next time you visit someone's blog, please keep your odious opinion to yourself. The readers are mature enough to make their own opinions. If you find reading Sir's blog a waste of time, refrain yourself from doing so.
I hope you return to the scene of crime sometime and read this post.

Dutta said...

I was simply shocked at what Sudipto said about Sir! He has said that Sir considers his name to be a brand name and displays his name on a signboard as if to show people that he is somebody important. It has also been said in his comment that people who are working hard for the IIT's or the IIM's should not listen to what Sir tells them because that is going to cause them immense harm.
I presume thst Sudipto has had some kind of very bitter experience with Sir and has developed a hatred for him. Or he may have come to know Sir from the gossip thst other people involve themselves in about Sir.
I do not exactly know why Sudipto has developed such a kind of hatred for Sir and made comments such as "...please do not waste your time in reading...." and many more things of that sort. But I presume that Sudipto needs to reflect more on life-about the important aspects on life. Life is not just the IIT's or the IIM's and there is nothing to boast in getting admission to an IIT or an IIM as many people Feel and do. Everybody knows that every year thousands of students acquire admission in these reputed institutions.
Life is much larger than we understand. We are not that mature to reflect on life. We have not yet started to realize the bare minuimum op the aspects of life. I would request Sudipto to think on the really important things on life and stop caring for the trivialties. And if he is not willing to do so, I shall add something to what Raunak has said-"Sudipto is an arrogant, know-all, stupid, mentally retarded, GROWN-UP CHILD!"

Suvro Chatterjee said...

While I am heartened and grateful to all my young friends who have retorted angrily to Sudipto's vulgar post, do please understand, everybody, that I don't want anger and abuse: Sudipto's kind need sympathetic understanding and help: abuse is the one thing they have already learnt well, and what's the point in lowering ourselves into the gutter to join them? The best thing my friends (especially those who like reading my blog) can do for me is to explain, in calm and refined language, why they don't think I am a hypocrite (or someone 'talking down like a know-it-all with sanctimonious piety' as another abuser has remarked), and why they think reading my blog is not a 'waste of time'. If they do it with minute supportive references to things I have written on my blog, combining it with whatever they know about me as a person, my purpose will be well served. I have discovered that most of those who abuse me haven't even taken the trouble to read my posts carefully - or perhaps haven't understood at all, so either they quote things I never wrote, or twist things entirely out of context, or choose to take personal offence where none was given! I have a feeling they often don't even know the real meanings of the words they use, and are too lazy and irresponsible to look them up in the dictionary!

Dutta said...

I had got to write more the previous day about Sudipto. But I did not have enough time.
I would like to tell Sudipto that if he considers Suvro Sir to be a useless person, his blog to be even more useless, and the comments in his blog to be even more useless, then why does he waste his useful energy and time on visiting his useless blog and commenting on Sir's posts and advising us to turn our minds against him, when he knows that his "USEFUL" advices will have no effect on us? Has the whole world given him the responsibility of caring for their careers? I don't feel so. Everyone has got a head and has got parents to care for them.

Bijit said...

Suvroda, I went through your article and all the following comments with a great deal of interest. For those of us who have attended your moral science classes, there was nothing new, but only a more structured presentation of your thoughts. For those of us who have been with you for long, much of what you have said here have ALREADY become second nature as we have consciously tried to model ourselves on what we had been taught by you in our formative years.

It was therefore with a little more than normal interest that I read Sudipto's comments, and it reminded me of certain incidents of our first days in school with you when we too tried to gauge to what degree you were a fraud or a masquerade. The argument was already sealed in our favour (in confirmation of our worst fears about you) when we found that you had bought a motorcycle within days of sermonising on environmental pollution. We felt that we have had you on the mat!

And it was then that we started having our first doubts. Was it such a bad thing after all? It meant that you could stay back in school for a longer time and we too could hang around with you for that much longer! After all, were we not having a good time in the bargain (something that we cherish still)? So, it seems 'wisely' in hindsight, we reserved our "verdict" about you.

Days rolled on into months and months into years. Ideas blossomed, and were nurtured. Personalities evolved, and were lovingly shaped. Bonds developed, that have withstood the test of time. What had seemed as clinching evidence to prove a point had shrunk into insignificance, the very issue in question had paled beyond recognition. Time changed perspectives, maturity brought humility and the mind learnt to sift the grain from the chaff. What had appeared as a pointer to a fraudulent streak became what it actually was, just a 'bike'!

Reading Sudipto's comment and the vociferous protestations to the contrary, I must honestly say that I was pleasantly amused. It reminded me of my childhood, the anticipated thrill of unmasking a masquerading man, akin to Sherlock Holmes zeroing in on his final analysis. I wonder if Sudipto, whosoever he is, is reading this mail or not, but if he is, I would like to take him into confidence and say that he is not the only one, neither the first, to have tried to judge 'Suvro-da'! In our own way, we all have, at some point of time or the other. He has weathered the scrutiny for close to three decades or more (I can vouch for 19 years out of those) and apparently to a significant number of people he has passed muster, to say the least. So, to that extent Sudipto, in the parlance of a democratic country, you are entitled to your opinion but you are a minority.

However, to all the others who have been vociferous in their support and also a little vituperous at times, I would suggest that having proved the point that Suvroda "matters" to a significant number of us, we need not worry further about what one individual (god bless his soul!) has to say about another. As Voltaire had said to Rousseau, so let us say to Sudipto, "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to speak with my life". Let us be magnanimous to those who hold contrary 'opinion' (if Sudipto's outburst can be deemed so) as that in no way influences ours.

Don said...

In this context I would like to share a small story. When I was in class IV I used to like playing with yo-yos (actually I still do). So whenever my father went to Kolkata he would bring me one. As it happens with passengers, my father had got into a conversation with the man sitting next to him. When the 'ferriwala' entered the compartment my father bought a yo-yo. The man sitting next to him asked "Why did you buy that?"
"For my son. He will love it, he loves playing with these" replied my father.
"Why are you lying?" said the man.
"What do you mean, why should I lie. I bought it for my son!"
"No, you didn't. You bought it for yourself, because you would feel happy to see your son enjoying the toy." said the man.
The man may have been a 'not so educated' person, but he surely had understood life.
When my father had narrated me the incident, I was too small to realize its value and had forgotten about it, but now as I went through your blog it came back too. I must say – Thank You.

shubhranka said...

something that i have always liked about sir's profile(in orkut), is the way he answers to the no of children he has.it is something like:
"children- at home full time."
and later he also says that he lives with his "partner and kid(s)"
i only wish the much talked about mr.sudipto understands the real 'joy' of hearing happy children laughing at your courtyard all the time.i wish someday he realises that there is a great sense of happiness in answering to eager minds and ofcourse influencing the ' ignited minds'
i wish all of you should read(atleat once) the framed article called 'i am a teacher'that is hung in sir's room before you start your classes.i wish all could read and understand the last pages of GOODBYE MR.CHIPS...and feel the warmth of the last 'goodbye' said to retired teacher at his deathbed by one young little kid of his school............ (you could try out the story of the'selfish giant'too)!!...

RAUNAK said...

Sir, amidst all this "Hochpoch", i would again like to request you to write the second part of this post

Sayak said...

Sir,i am sorry for being late to write a comment to this post of yours.

I am not going to write a page long comment,but quote a few lines which i went through a few days back.I thought it would be apt in this place:

"I have to live with myself,and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye....."


Shilpi said...

Hullo, Mighty interesting post this...if there's one thing that I learnt from Rand's books (15 years ago) was this strange and novel idea which made great intuitive sense to me. It was the virtue of selfishness....yes, yes - agreed she stopped at one point...but the point in her books is not to be missed...the fact that most of us -more than most do not do what we want to do - and that doing what we really want to do (as in terms of doing 'good', doing the 'right thing', doing what we know must be done, because that, above all is what we wish to do) is an exceptionally hard thing. Not just the 'doing' of it - but even to know what the Self aspires to be, to be aware of what the Self wishes to do. Most people die without being aware of the dreams that they had dreamed of when young...and there's no greater sadness than that....maybe that's one of the reasons I started believing in the notion of reincarnation....now I think I'm moving off the topic - and I also fear that I'm not adding nor multiplying anything to what has been said....
As for the goat who wrote the nonsensical things about this post and Suvro da - I find him quite ridiculous...Why in heaven's name did he bother yapping here? I certainly do agree with Bijit da till a certain point - I, too would defend a person's right to speak - yet I don't think I would let the person holler in my ear. S/he can speak, demonstrate, do anti-me marches - but not in 'my' house, and not in front of my face. If the chap didn't like the post - maybe he should've yelled somewhere else. Since he didn't - I think all of Suvro da's ex-students who have barked at the said individual - have done right in shooing him away. I do agree that maybe one whack would be enough - but I say, I think we can reserve the right to decide where a person should or should not voice his/her rantings...

2 other comments:
Subhranka, I'm not being rude, but The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari came across as an exceptionally badly written book...the chap cannot write to save his life...and those very subtle ideas, and values seemed to be hammered into the pages by a Texan boot. The author seemed to be spouting the lines and doing a 'click-click' and 'wink' at the end.
Sayak: I loved the poem that you put up. I'd forgotten all about it...thank you.
Suvro da, Enjoyed this post. Thank you.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Just so as poor Shubhranka does not feel she's been put down, I'll just butt in, Shilpi, to say that these kids are at least eager and open minds who are trying to find out a few things. Let us allow them time to find out the difference between good and bad writing by themselves. Of course 'The Monk... ' is very poorly written stuff, and I can smell the glibness and insincerity, but at least it calls a philistine young generation's attention to things beyond crambooks, mall-crawling, cellphones, bikes, leching, credit cards, getting drunk at office parties.... I can assure you, Shilpi, that 90% of my ex-students, including all the 'educated' doctors, engineers and managers, NEVER venture beyond that sort of thing these days! I lamented elsewhere that the Dark Ages are almost upon us, so every flicker of light counts.

Rashmi said...

Dear Sir,
I have read your post and am so full of thoughts; I find it difficult to direct my writing properly.

‘selfish, in the sense of being totally focused on the Self (the Real Me, that which does not die; the ATMAAN and not the AHAM)!’

Sir, words fail me. If only I could express how grateful I am that you have introduced me to this perspective of life.How much more meaningful life would be if I could be more and more selfish!

Sir,I have three doubts.
1.How can one decide whether one is being truly selfish or not?

2.What are the steps that we should follow to be selfish? (because I face a lot of difficulty in it)

3. Sir,Yoga is supposed to bring one closer to the Atman. I have tried it and have observed that I do feel calm after a round of Suryanamaskaras or after 20 minutes of Pranayama.I can even recognize an unexpected hike in the concentration levels. But Sir, I encounter a strange problem in that state . I don’t feel like talking to anybody, even best of friends. I even stop being empathetic towards others. That is why I don’t like to be in that state. But surely, I am going terribly wrong somewhere.
Sir, I have not understood Yoga and meditation properly.I would be really grateful to you if you could enlighten me on this topic.

Warm regards

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you for commenting thoughtfully, Rashmi.

You will find answers to your questions in the blogpost itself, or else in some of the comments above. Nevertheless, because you asked:

1) You know you are being selfish in the right sense when whatever you do makes you happy, or at least not guilty and non-trivial at the end of the day;

2) The most important thing to do in order to be rightly selfish is to connect with your Higher Self (which is greatly facilitated by associating with the truly great, even if only through their biographies, and ruthlessly cutting out on the company of those who disturb, distract and delude you - that's 95% of the population these days - so avoid crowds like the plague, whether that be in malls or at weddings or college canteens!);

3) Yes, practices like yoga quieten you inside. If that makes you less eager to socialise and chatter, good for you, no need to worry! There's too much idle, pointless or malicious chatter all around us all the time, don't you think? The truly self-possessed person is always friendly and helpful, but most definitely not eager to socialise...