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Updated: November 11, 2013 18:46 IST

Look for inspiration

RAVI MENON
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Take it in your stride: For a cheerful tomorrow. Photo: A. M. Faruqui
The Hindu
Take it in your stride: For a cheerful tomorrow. Photo: A. M. Faruqui

Here are two stories that speak of how an admonishment can change our way of thinking.

There are times when we think that parents have only time to scold. Well, it just seems that way and our parents do have a duty to correct and guide us. This is part of growing up. There is an anecdote of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, getting in trouble with his father. He was born into a rich family and his father was a lawyer. He was a strong personality and most people were afraid of him. They lived in a large house in Allahabad.

Like many successful lawyers, Motilal Nehru too, had a room in the house called a study. Jawaharlal like most boys loved to visit his father’s study. His father always kept two pens on the table. One day, Jawahar needed a pen and he took one of his father’s pens from the table. He told himself that his father would never use both pens at the same time.

That evening when his father returned from court, there was uproar. One of the two pens in the study was missing!

When Jawaharlal’s father was angry, everyone in the house was scared. Servants ran from room to room in a bid to find the pen. Motilal was sure someone had stolen his expensive pen.

Finally the pen was found in Jawaharlal’s room. His father was very angry that he had taken the pen without permission. He beat him severely. Jawaharlal wept and ran to his mother for comfort.

Jawaharlal learned two important lessons that day — never to do things on the sly and never to disobey his father.

But, more importantly, he understood why his father had beaten him. He says in his autobiography that though he forgave his father, from that time on, his love for his father was mixed with fear.

Focus

There is a parallel to this story in the epic the Mahabharata. One of the gurus of the Pandavas was Dronacharya. One day, a youth came to him and asked him to accept him as a disciple and to teach him marital arts. Drona refused. The youth, Ekalavya, refused to give up. He went home and built a statue of Drona. Every day, he prostrated before the statue as one would do to a Guru and sought his blessings. Each day’s exercise and training was dedicated to the statue. He spent hours every day training and practising. It was as if he was training and learning under the eye of Drona himself. Over time, it is said, he developed into an archer of outstanding skill. It is said he was as good an archer as Arjuna, Drona’s favourite disciple and the greatest archer of his time.

Everyone needs a source of inspiration. Focus on the good in people. So if your teacher treats you unfairly or your father is needlessly harsh with you do not despair. The important thing is it is not what happens to you that is important but what you do as a result of that experience that counts. In other words, it is how we act that makes all the difference to our lives.

As Batman says, “It’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you.”

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