Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Randy Pausch , Anand and Spirit of life

A few days ago I watched famed "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" (click for video Link) by Late Prof Randy Pausch . Anyone who has watched the lecture will testify that his simple words are very inspiring. His intensity, energy, humor and mannerism seem so poignant because all the while we know that this man fighting with pancreatic cancer has only few months of life left. No wonder the video was rated excellent every time it was viewed on net. After seeing the video I read and saw almost everything on Randy Pausch that was available on net. To say the least, he truly was a man with a deep strength of character.

‘Anand’   was a film produced by legendary director Hrishikesh Mukherjee   which won film-fare award in 1971. The film is about a cancer patient named Anand ( Rajesh Khanna) who, despite knowing that he has just a few months of life left, believes in living his life to the fullest. He comes to Mumbai to live his last days and comes in contact with Bhaskar Banerjee (Amitabh Bachan) , a honest and serious doctor, who is distressed seeing poverty  and vegetation in the slums where he treats poor patients.  Bhaskar’s interactions with Anand make him notice the colors behind all the despair and complexity in one’s life, and teach him a lesson. After spreading happiness everywhere around him and changing the lives of many, Anand, as destined, leaves them all, which inspires Dr.Bhaskar to write a book on his life. (Click here for a video Clip

Well,  we all know that death is inevitable  and grim reaper will surely come one day,  but does it perturb us or creates an urgency in us, to focus  on set purpose of our life. Fact is most of us live with leitmotif that tomorrow will have more time than today and we presume to have an eternity to achieve our true objectives. Zest of life sets frenzy for attaining more materialistic things and in that passion we begin to take our relationships and friends for granted. When the reality strikes in a form of an ultimatum of some months, we realize that things and people that truly matter were often most neglected. When we die, for most of the world our absence shall mean nothing, however, for a very few, life will never be same again. Sadly, during the course of routine life these very people do not get the time and attention they deserve.

It concerns me that despite knowing the universal truth of mortality, an average Indian does not prepare for death. By preparedness, I basically mean two things. First, there should be sharing of information about assets, liabilities investments and commitments with someone close in family , so that there are no hassles that add salt to injury.  Second, it is duty of every individual to ensure that his aggrieved family is monetarily comfortable. Insurance by many is looked at as expense and some combine investments with insurance, which in my opinion is naive. To exemplify, a 3 lac rupee insurance with LIC costs me RS 19300 per year under assured return plan, if nothing happens to me this amount will be given to me after 20 years with 8% bonus. On the other hand a term plan for insurance of 25 lacs costs me just Rs 13500 per year but here if I remain alive I don’t get anything back. You see, if I remain alive I should thank my stars that I have another year to make and enjoy money with my near and dear ones, If that proves to be otherwise,  at least they will be financially little comfortable. Term plans like fire extinguishers are investments for exigency.

Isn’t it strange that what develops over years disappears in a flash? Even stranger is the fact that death is a great re-conciliator that  takes away all the severity leaving behind some impressions and some memories .The essence of life is truly contained , in the famous saying “Live every day as if it were your last and then some day you'll be right”. 


  1. Thought provoking post... and very succinct!

    Yes death is the great leveller. At the same time... it reminds one of the words of wisdom spoken by Shri Krishna to Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita:

    "Nainam chindanti shastrani,
    Nainam dahati pavakaha,

    Na chainam kledayantyapo,
    Na shoshayati marutaha"

    It is from the Bhagavad Gita... and means:

    I am the spirit/soul... atman... any weapon, elements of life or any danger cannot destroy me... I am eternal... energetic...

    Lord Sri Krishna describes (to Arjun) the human soul as something that cannot be cut by weapons, cannot be burnt by fire, cannot be drowned in water, and cannot be blown by the wind...

    Just as a man casts off his worn out/old clothes and puts on new ones, similarly... the embodied self casts off its worn out bodies and enters into others that are new. Weapons cleave It not, fire burns It not, water wets It not, wind dries It not. This self cannot be cut, not burnt, nor get wet, nor dried up. It is eternal, all-pervading, stable, immovable and ancient. This [self] is said to be unmanifested, unthinkable and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing This to be such you should not grieve.

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  3. You highlighted some very important issues and did not indulge in the abstract notions that people harbour about death. I say this from personal experience: let me share...

    One of my cousin brother, had TB, he did not tell his family, we got to know only after his untimely death. He did not treat the disease, it became a multi-drug-resistant variety and he was aware that his time was limited. Yet after his death, his widowed wife with a 5 year old son found out that he had not paid the insurance premium and so they would not be getting any money. Loss of a near and dear one is difficult to deal with, but such impracticality makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow.

    Whenever my dad leaves on a trip he sits me down and makes me understand the paperworks , he always stresses the importance of learning to deal with finances, making it a habit to learn how things work at a bank, how to pay the bills. I feel it is such an important part of growing up.

    Really nice post!

  4. cri@Roshmi The core quintessence of Bhagwat Gita lies in ‘Karma’ .It is about things that we can do while we are living .Soul , as quoted by you, is indestructible because soul is energy driving the thought process and action .We know that energy cannot be produced or destroyed and it can only change forms. Actions stop and thoughts cease to come, when soul departs the body and we call that death. A couplet that immediately came to my mind after reading your comment was
    “Marke tuta hai kahin silsilaye quaide hayat *
    Magar itna haii ki zanzir badal jati hai.
    (*captivity with life)
    Gibran has epitomized it so nicely
    You would know the secret of death.
    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
    The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
    If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
    So very true, isn’t it?
    The river of life is destined to reach the sea of death, we at the most can do a little about streamlining its flow in what we call journey of life.

  5. @Shiny Thanks, I appreciate that you understood the core thought perfectly. It is preciously the people like your cousin that I wanted to address through the post. Death we cannot do anything about but there is a lot that we can do to our lives while we are alive. When one gets married, has children or aged parents, one must do something about their security and protection. It is so childish to think that the whole world will die with you or to wonder, oh my God, even I am going to die.
    Living a meaningful and thus a happy life is the sole purpose of life. When I say meaningful, I don’t want to attach to it some great philosophy and spirituality. Everyone has a right to be happy but one must understand that others also have the similar right. Sahir one of my very favorite poets has so nicely said
    “Maut anzame zindagi hai magar
    Log marte hain zindagi ke liye”
    This in English means death is the ultimate consequence of life but people die for life.
    Lastly , your dad is nicely preparing you for life .

  6. @ Sunilji: Thanks for the wonderful Kibran quote Sunilji. Wonderful words indeed.

    P.S. There is a parallel between this shloka and the "first law of thermodynamics" also known as the "Law of conservation of energy":

    Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; It can be converted from one form to other; the total amount of energy in the universe remains the same.

    Physics in the Bhagavad Gita or the Bhagavad Gita in physics... a point to ponder... what say... ???

  7. @Roshmi Thanks for encouragement.
    The word physics has come from Greek root PHYSIS which means nature and its study. in ancient times the physicist were called natural philosophers .So origin of Physics dates back to origin of nature . Bhagwat geeta besides being a most important scripture on spirituality is very scientific because it stresses on Karma (meaningful work ) and does not mislead into believing that things happen on their own just by praying or following some sets of set religious rituals.Prayer can be source of strength and confidence but accomplishments come only by Karma.
    So physics in Geeta but Geeta also is a subset of much larger set nature so Geeta in physics .


Your viewpoint will definitely give it wider perspective


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