Guru’s position – a disciple’s perspective.

5 09 2014

Prologue : A teacher is one who wants to teach you, a ‘Guru’ is one who makes you learn. A students idea is ‘to be’, whereas a disciple (shishya) is the one who wants ‘to become’. In other words a student is looking for change while a disciple is aspiring to transform.

Whatever I say is with this context in mind.

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Many years back, must be my secondary school days, if i remember it well, around my wonder years,  back in time when I was studying in 8th or 9th grade, I happened to read a story. This story has had a lasting impact on my thought process. I do not clearly remember that story and its context, but it is this one scene from the story which has stayed with me and shaped my understanding. It goes like this.

A young disciple, completely devoted to his guru, was someone who was committed to follow on the path shown by his guru. He had this habit of always going to his guru whenever in some critical decision making situation. And the Guru would readily guide him out during each such instance; in the process the guru would enlighten the disciple. One fine day, in a similar situation as the disciple reaches out to his Guru, the Guru doesn’t offer him any guidance. The disciple is astonished and couldn’t believe this fact. The Guru sends him back by saying “Son, I have given you enough, I leave you now to imbibe all of that, find your own path, and make your own experiences. Its time you take your decisions without me.”

Now this incident from the story found its way deep within myself. Over different periods of my existence this story has provided me different lessons. It started with me believing that a ‘guru’ can only take one this far. One cannot have a guide to eternity. At some later stages i realized the importance of ‘swadhyay’ or ‘learning by self’. Further ahead I understood that it will all be fruitless if one does not learn to take his/her own decisions.

Over many summers of my existence I was fortunate to come across many learned people and many loving teachers. It was quite later in my young life that i discovered a ‘Guru’. It was destined for me to get my greatest lessons from this one person. However the above story was always a part of me, and hence in spite of total surrender I never actually became dependent. That infinite love and reverence can thrive and still one remains boundless was a unique experience and a learning for me. Secondly I knew that the physical proximity and one-to-one transfer of knowledge with the ‘Guru’ can only happen till a limited period of time. This understanding fueled my urge to learn and make the most of those transactions. Many individuals close to me, around that period, sensed a transformation in me, they sensed an urgency in me; I could not explain it to them, than, but deep down i knew that i need to build myself to a level from where I can be on my own. Also I never wanted to come to a point, like the boy in that story had to, where my Guru feels that his disciple has not learned to be on his own.

Many Guru – Disciple relations end in agony and bitterness or in sheer blinded dependence. The crux of this eventuality is the non-realization of the fact that – a guru can only take you this far. With this dawned another important learning from that story and a whole new dimension of learning opened up for me. A disciple is the one who is aspiring to move to a higher destination, in every which way. A ‘guru’ is the form who takes the disciple to that destination. However if one remains focused on the destination and not the form, than ‘guru’ dissolves his form and becomes a part of your being. Somewhere within you the ‘guru’ is installed, and without any one-to-one interaction the transaction continues. Whenever in doubts or in crisis  I am able to talk with my ‘guru’ without even talking with him. In certain extraordinary situations i would have resorted to the one-to-one interactions, but largely I have come this far with the help of the ‘guru’ within. Many times while I ponder on all that I have received from my ‘guru’, I end up tearful. The enormity of the receipt is so huge that all the ego inside me is pushed out by way of tears.

And so I learn that the ‘guru’ in the story while denying his disciple the guidance, has actually given him the greatest lesson anyone can learn. That ‘without’ can be turned into ‘within’.

This has been my experience since a decade now, whereby the ‘Guru’ has found a position ‘within’. In his distinct  style he had shared something, which for me is the articulation of the above learning. He said to a few of us, “I do not want you to be learned, I want you to be learners’.

In whatever limited capacity, with pride, I can tell myself, that I have not stopped learning and I know, the ‘Guru’ within would not let me decay ever.

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There is no shortcut to love & affection

6 03 2013

Speech given at Entreplexus 5.0 (Bi annual Alumni Meet) welcoming the new Trustees as Board of Governors of EDI Alumni Association.

Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad, March 2, 2013.

© mihir gajrawala

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My teachers – Respected Dr. Awasthi and Dr. Shukla, my colleagues Gaurav, Mitul and Rutul, the newly elected BOG members, fellow alumni members and my dear current batch students; Good Evening and Welcome to Entreplexus 5.0.

Today is the day of ‘change’. Today is the day we celebrate ‘change’. Every beautiful flower that blooms to its peak gets its time out in the sun and it gets its time to spread its fragrance in the world around. What also is a fact is that every flower after having spent its time out in the sun, has to decay, has to fall on the ground and become part of the soil, to eventually let a new flower bloom and to let the new flower give its fragrance to the world.

Friends; Change is the law of nature; Change is a fundamental of Universe, Change is divine. We as Trustees of the esteemed EDI Alumni association are glad to have been able to bring this moment of change to you. It is a moment of pride for us to have brought the association to this stage whereby we can ‘handover’; handover the reigns of this dynamic and potent alumni body to a new team of volunteers. We give you a fresh pair of 14 hands and 7 strong willed hearts as care takers of EDI Alumni Association. On behalf of the alma mater I welcome you all on Board.

To have reached here, to be able to do all that we could, let me tell you it was not easy. It was daunting and extremely challenging for us to bring the association at this stage. And I specifically wish to talk about those challenges, particularly to the newly elected team and the young students who would soon be alumni, and warn you that it is not going to be an easy role to play. All the challenges that we have faced and I am sure which you shall face too, can be summed up as follows:

  1. The first challenge that we had to confront was – Accepting our own limitations.

You will pass through a phase where you would feel “maine to itna kiya, usne to kuch nai kiya”, “ye mera kaam nahi, ye mujhse nahi hoga” etc.  So many ideas you will come up with, and realize that it’s not becoming possible to achieve them.  And this would be extremely disheartening. You will have to learn to understand yours and your team’s limitation, and prepare yourself to accept those limitations. Unless you will accept them, you would not be able to function as a team and give value to a public forum like ours.

2. The second challenge to hit you will be – Disillusionment.

Imagine you have done a lot of hardwork, taken a lot of pain, invested your heart and soul in creating some value for the alumni community, and when the day of event turns up, you do not see any participation. When you have to get on stage and talk to empty chairs, it will disillusion you to the core. And it has happened to us quite a few times. I remember as I went back to home, retire on my bed, a tear would roll down my cheek and I would question myself, “What and for whom am I actually working? ; Am I doing the right thing? , Should I continue?” Yes we as a team have experienced such disillusionment, to the maximum magnitude possible; but than we learnt to confront it; overcome it; and the same would be expected of you.

3.  The third and the deadly challenge to face is – Not becoming Bitter.

A voluntary task or for that matter any task that we undertake is bound to have constraints. Environmental and external constraints manifest more and affect greatly in voluntary and part time endeavors.  It is very normal to accuse the constraints and say “isme to kuch nahi ho sakta”, “ye to aisa hi rehne wala hai”, “chhodo hame kya”. Out there in the world there are two set of forces or energies that are trying to enter your system – The bitter forces and the better forces; and it is absolutely upto us to make the choice. At the end of every challenge do you wish to become ‘bitter’ or do you choose to become ‘better’; that choice will decide the course of your life.

Its not that these challenges would show up only once; not at all; we have faced them frequently and adequately during this course of 6 years. We had our moments when we would have thought to ‘give up’. But some how during this journey we learned to overcome this feeling of ‘giving up’. Today I stand before you, and with immense pride I say that inspite of every challenge, we managed to survive, sustain and deliver.

And it was possible for us to overcome these challenges because we are filled with genuine love and affection for this institute, for this education and for the teachers who delivered this education to us. Every brick that you see around, every wall of this complex, we are in love with every bit of this institute; we love the individuals who have graduated from this illustrious institute. That is the reason that every challenge had to lose against our armour of love and affection.

It would be unwise to say that we came along with truck loads of love and affection inside us. It wasn’t as if whenever required we pulled out a bucket full of love and affection from our stock and pour it on our challenges. No, that wasn’t the case.

In our journey we have met such amazing individuals, rare gems, who reinstated this value in us, time and again.

During our initial days in EDIAA office, while we were working on the first Entreplexus, we came across this extraordinary volunteer called YK (Yaduvendra Singh). He along with his amazing team mates from batch 10, likes of Ryan, Minal, Minakshi, Zalak, Trupti showed us the meaning of working with love and affection for the alma mater. As we progressed we met more gems from batch 11. I must mention this amazing lady namely Shuchi Roy, first. Along with her we met Nibha, Sonali, Nikhil, Bhushan, Ashish, Vikrant and likes. This team has resulted in the most impactful Entreplexus till date. There came a time that our interaction with students went down, particulary with batch 12, and we were skeptical about the result of fourth entreplexus. At his juncture we came across Deepak, a rare species in volunteerism who just reconnected us with the batches here and we managed a wonderful event under his leadership. Look I might be missing out on names, but I am sure the people whom I am talking about, know that I am talking about them. Finaly it has brought us to this batch, you guys – the batch 14. And if I were to put it in one line I would say – Entreplexus 5.0 has been made possible by one guys conviction and that is GG (Gaurav Gupta) – the latest find in my collection of priceless gems. Some 8 months back when we first met GG and his team of Raunak, Sonu, Hardik and likes for the first time they made us realize our age. Yeah guys, their spark and enthusiasm proved to us that you guys are not ten years behind but ten years ahead of us. And I must compliment them for it.

This brings us to this one person – who like a tower – has stood by with the association forever. He was there even before we came into office and will remain even after we leave. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Ganapathi. Tears swell up in my eyes, when I think of acknowledging his love and affection for the alumni; an extraordinary human and the greatest support of EDIAA. Today during the morning meeting with the new team, he states to the new team that  “24 x 7 x 365 I am available and you can count on me always”; there’s no one else who would do this for EDIAA.

And friends let me make it clear, that none of these individuals were on board, neither were they remunerated nor were they honoured or named. It is a sheer exhibition of volunteerism fuelled by love and affection for the alma mater. These individuals, Gems as I would prefer to call them, showed us that the only way to fight a challenge –

  • to prevent oneself from getting disheartened,
  • to save oneself from being disillusioned and
  • to control oneself from becoming bitter

is by building genuine love and affection for the purpose in question.

I thank all of these extraordinary individuals for being our guides and showing us the way.

And I strongly believe, without any doubt in my mind that the only way to build great institutions is by cultivating a culture of giving out of love and affection.

I must also tell you that it is easy to learn the tricks of the trade and skills required to get various things done, but remember that there is no short cut to love and affection. It has to be cultivated.

I wish and I pray that you guys, the new team, experience this emotion during your time and tenure.

Thank You.





‘Happy’ Birthday to me? – not yet!

4 06 2010

“I truly believe that Teaching and Medicine are the noblest of vocations, among all. And they should remain like that. Any institute or individual who takes up these vocations for greed or any other motive other than teaching and curing will only dilute its true delivery. I am a teacher and I would never be my student’s consultant.”

That’s how Dr. KVSM Krishna, my teacher and Course Director responded when I generally queried about his view and interest in associating himself with the ‘so-called’ A-Listed business schools around.

Back in 2000-2001, when I did my PG at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Dr. Krishna was then the Course Director and our teacher for Economics and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. But for me he turned out to be my Teacher for Life. Innumerable lessons on Life and Self Awareness that were bestowed upon me by him. All of these occurred during those hundreds of hours of class room talks as well as countless after class room discussions that happened in his office. Even after the course completion, till date I have the privilege of being blessed with his teachings through various e-mail and phone conversations; though he has been moving to different geographical locations we managed quite a few meetings over the last decade. Each and every of this interaction, be it a casual 5 minute call, he has never left without giving – giving to his student pearls of wisdom from his vast ocean of knowledge.

I credit all my successes to HIM and I accept all my shortcomings as my inability to understand and/or follow his teachings.

His understanding of things is very in depth and focused. His teachings sound simple but takes a lot to understand and comprehend its true meaning. He comes across as a grumpy ol’ chap; but a true student will see a TEACHER in every cell of him. His dedication and commitment towards his students is unparalleled and he would stretch himself to newer limits to touch and teach his students.

As our course started off, it didn’t take me much time to bond with him. The lessons had started flowing and soon, over a year – an introvert, shy, low on confidence, hyper anxious and clouded youngster who could barely understand his self and the world around, some one who had no drive and no ambition – turned into STUDENT OF THE YEAR, scored maximum in almost all subjects and most importantly gained confidence to embark upon an enterprising journey. All of this happened because of an intervention called Dr. Krishna.

At every point, smallest of issue to biggest of resistances that I would have discussed with him, each and every time he has come across as a Teacher to me; and that has helped survive the student in me. His strongest impact on me has been in making me realize the value of “LEARN TILL YOUR LAST MOMENT”.

He would tell us “I want you all to be LEARNERS and not become LEARNED”

The lessons were just not limited to economics or entrepreneurship. We would have talked and discussed almost every subject on this planet. From human development to spirituality; from inter gender dynamics to family businesses; from poverty alleviation to self development; from marriages to education system every topic was put across in a light so as to understand its significance. Most importantly, over all this years, till date his sole effort through every talk is to make his student know and realize his latent potential.

This belief – a strong and honest belief of my teacher in me forms the seed of my awareness; forms the basis of my understanding of me, it powers my vision of life and energizes my every attempt of developing myself. My thought processes and cognitive mechanisms have evolved from the seed of knowledge that he had sowed.

I attained the form of flesh and blood in 1979, whereas I derived my mind in 2000. My teacher gave me REBIRTH.

I feel that I am no way near in being a worthy student. If his teachings manifest themselves in my doings and I truly embody all that I am learning only then will I feel happy and contended.

Many Birthday’s have since gone by, it really doesn’t matter to me; but it is the ‘Rebirth day’ that holds greater significance to me. And I Endeavour to give myself a HAPPY RE BIRTH DAY – the day I shall be contended, the day I feel a sense of pride, the day I feel worthy, not in anyone else’s eye, but in my own assessment.

That day, I shall wish myself a Happy (re)Birth day!

PS : I have always debated with Dr. Krishna about attempting to publish his thoughts or atleast to blog so that a large number of ‘students’ be touched. However he remains so involved with the students around him that he hardly thinks of documenting himself. On this birthday of mine I initiate this segment on my blog in which I shall attempt to present the various talks that I had with him. It’s going to be a task to put various chats that I have had with him over varied contexts in the most correct manner. I take it up with a hope of letting more STUDENTS reach to a true TEACHER.