Experiences and events shape life.
The year 1983 was an eventful one. My father had left us in January, having perhaps fulfilled his allotted mission on earth. I was 32. Presence of my loving wife and two young children, was a strong reason for me to find a purpose and overcome the shock of this grief. Yet it was not to be. I was in a state of shock and just unable to reconcile with the reality. Hallucinations, lethargy and a sense of futility filled my mind. I could not concentrate and was completely dissociated from my work as well. It was total disillusionment and I put everything on "ignore". Morbid thoughts, procrastination and chaos ruled. I was lost. This continued for almost 10 months and I found myself getting drowned with borrowings and debt.
Then came my birthday in October and as was the tradition, our family Purohit, Shri Gangaprasad Shastri from the Temple, came to perform puja at our home. In the past years Shastriji had performed the ritual puja, chanting mantras with the traditional havan. Never had we ever cared to ask for an explanation nor did he volunteer to elucidate. That one-hour event had always been a mere ritual ceremony and more of a social occasion for getting together.
However, this ceremony in the year Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Three was different. Upon completion of the ceremony, Shastriji, deviating from his regular routine, suddenly asked me if I knew the meaning of the following Shloka from the holy Gita:
This was a well-known shloka, and of course I knew its meaning! I immediately and involuntarily blurted:
"Action alone is your right, never the fruits thereof; let not thy motive be the fruit of action, nor should thou desire to avoid action."
But Shastriji was not happy with this answer. He interpreted it differently. He said, "Rajendra, the above meaning is not for you. For you this Shloka means -
Fix a goal (the fruit) and work towards it. Keep working until the goal is achieved. Even if you fail, try again. Persist and don't deviate from your goal."
Now this interpretation somehow appealed to me very deeply. Was my goal to be drenched with fear, hallucinations, morbid thoughts and chaos? Or was my goal to accept the reality and be very clear on my goals as a householder? I still remember the clarity of the question that emerged at that moment - it was quite in contrast to the clouded thinking that had overtaken my life for last several months. Of course the answer was obvious.
Just the subtle variation in interpretation told at the right moment had hit the "target". The sleeping man had woken. The purpose of life was clear. The goal well defined. And the desire to live crystallized. There was no looking back after that. It is 16 years to this day when this pithy Shloka was explained to me. And irrespective of the ups and downs of life, the great message from the Holy Gita has reverberated in my life and living. This Shloka took the form of an ever-present internal guide within me and has helped define and realize my life's goals.