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Talk at Banasthali University

We will start with a prayer.


Sahanaavavatu sahanaubhunaktu,Sahaveeryam karavaavahai, Tejaswinavadheethamastu maavidvishaavahaihi

AUM, Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi hi, AUM,

Shri Gurubhyo Namaha, Hari Aum

We are very hap­py to be with you all. I am Adi, this is my wife Smrithi. The intro­duc­tion that she just gave looks a bit flam­boy­ant. We are nor­mal peo­ple. Are we not? See in fact, I even have hair like you (Laugh­ter). She asked me to tie it, so it is like this (Laughs). The rea­son why we start with a prayer is very sim­ple. Just as we set the out­er envi­ron­ment con­ducive to the pur­pose at hand, it is very very impor­tant to fix the inner envi­ron­ment. It shuld be con­ducive right? Now you can have an out­er AC. But inward­ly it can be all like real­ly hot and humid …inward­ly. Many of us face this. That is called peace of mind. So it is very impor­tant to fix an AC inward­ly as well right? So cul­ti­vat­ing that inner envi­ron­ment appro­pri­ate­ly is the role of prayer. Prayer sets the inten­tion. Out­er envi­ron­ment we set it through our engi­neer­ing effort and action. Inner envi­ron­ment we cul­ti­vate through appro­pri­ate inten­tions and there are also tools. One of the most pow­er­ful and direct tools is a prayer. So as part of this prayer, what we…this is very sim­ple. Sahanaava­vatu means let us live togeth­er. Shanaub­hu­nak­tu, let us have food togeth­er, sahaveeryam kar­avava­hai, let us put our ener­gies togeth­er to work towards a com­mon goal. Let us get illu­mined with knowl­edge togeth­er, tejaswina­va dhee­ta­mas­tu. But in this process…what hap­pens when we live togeth­er, work togeth­er, what typ­i­cal­ly hap­pens? Con­flicts hap­pen. There is a rub-off, ego clash, and hence maavid­vishava­hai, may we not have any ill-feel­ing towards each oth­er. And that is very crit­i­cal, of you work in a…you have all done intern­ships. You have been part of team­work. You would see, it typ­i­cal­ly hap­pens -“Hey, no! I did all the work. She did not do any­thing. What?! She is get­ting the cred­it.”

So many things hap­pen, and it is very easy. But in the process what hap­pens? Our inner envi­ron­ment is in sham­bles. It goes berserk and hence we lose our peace of mind. So maavid­vishava­hai­hi. And hence, we set the inten­tion, we invoke the feel­ing, may we not have any ill-feel­ing towards each oth­er, because it is very easy. And hence we invoke the right inner envi­ron­ment for what pur­pose? So that actu­al­ly we can march towards our own suc­cess, because suc­cess is very crit­i­cal. Let’s say you put all your effort, is suc­cess gau­ran­teed? Sure? No. Then what is the point in putting in effort? At least we give it a try.

Atleast we give it a try, yes. So there are mul­ti­ple com­po­nents, if we break it down, we see, our putting in effort is very very impor­tant but it is not just that “atleast we give it a try”. We give it a good try and pow­er­ful­ly well, that is the spir­it. Oth­er­wise it is like “hmm..Atleast I also give it a try “..(with no spir­it) (Laugh­ter). That is a dif­fer­ent try.

We say shan­thi­hi 3 times. You know why 3 times? These are called tap­a­treya, or 3 major sources of sup­port, also that which can pose obsta­cles. So the first lev­el of sup­port that we seek, or peace or har­mo­ny that we seek is at the lev­el of adi daivi­ka. Adi daivi­ka are the nat­ur­al forces around us. If this (pro­gram) has to hap­pen, there shoould be no nat­ur­al calami­ty. See, reg­u­lar­ly in sum­mers we take stu­dents to Himalayas. So this June, we are tak­ing about 70 stu­dents, col­lege youth to Gan­gotri, Gomukh and then Yamunotri, so it is a glacial trek. You have been there? Oh not yet?! …so not yet…it is about 60 km of trek at an alti­tude of about 13,000 ft above sea lev­el, in about 4 days time. So it is chal­leng­ing in many ways. So we go there, any­time there could be land­slide. Rains, gone! Snow­fall, gone! Now, see here it is rel­a­tive­ly sta­ble and hence we don’t even care about it. Oth­er­wise you will see the sup­port of nat­ur­al forces is so very impor­tant for even a sin­gle step to be suc­cess­ful.

Like for exam­ple, I (Smrithi) spent about 1 year in a small town in Italy. So this small town was called L’ Aquila. And this is on the earth­quake belt. So atleast when I was there, for the peri­od of 1 year, there were about 9 tremors in that place and in 2009, there was a major earth­quake there and then many peo­ple lost their lives and so, even if there is a slight tremor, actu­al­ly peo­ple become very pan­icky there. They tend to close down the shops, and then that is when we under­stood that these nat­ur­al forces’ sup­port is so impor­tant for us to per­form our jobs reg­u­lar­ly. That is so very crit­i­cal.

In fact, oth­ers used to joke that I(Adi) let her go…she spent (time in L’Aquila) in 2010 and 2009 was a major earth­quake. So peo­ple used to joke, “Okay..this is a good way to get rid of .…” (Laugh­ter) But we have a very very good time togeth­er. We have been mar­ried for about 13–14 years now. That is not the rea­son, so you know now. But the sup­port of the nat­ur­al forces…we hap­pened to inter­act with sur­vivors from the 2004 tsuna­mi. So when it struck the penin­su­lar India, they were men­tion­ing how every­thing was going fine. One moment, after that their lives are com­plete­ly washed out! Their rel­a­tives are gone, every­thing about their lives has been changed. They some­how sur­vived. It is pure luck. That is when we start under­stand­ing the role of adi daivika.Or the nat­ur­al forces. So at that lev­el, we invoke for those forces to be har­mo­nious, peace­ful, sup­port­ive of our endeav­our. That is also a con­crete recog­ni­tion

The sec­ond lev­el of har­mo­ny or sup­port, we call it adi bhau­ti­ka. Adi bhau­ti­ka is the peo­ple around us, the social cir­cum­stances around us, adi bhau­ti­ka. Now this is the most crit­i­cal chal­lenge that most peo­ple face. So let us say, you did­n’t want to be here, but your par­ents want­ed you to do MBA, how would it be? There would be a tremen­dous inner con­flict. It will be like “Aaaaargh! Why am I here?” Every moment will be a strug­gle. Even for a sim­ple assign­ment, you may end up get­ting philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions. Right before an exam, it will be like “What is the point in life? What is the pur­pose of my exis­tence?” In fact, the ques­tions that we put in the descrip­tion are the ones that you ask before the exams (Laugh­ter).

So adi bhau­ti­ka is the peo­ple around you. They need to sup­port you in your endeav­our. If you don’t win their sup­port, you will see, they can pose tremen­dous obsta­cles on your path to progress. Let’s say you don’t have the sup­port of your room­mates, or your hostel­mates, or your class­mates, you will see, even a sin­gle step will be so very dif­fi­cult. And hence gain­ing their sup­port, win­ning their sup­port, becomes very crit­i­cal. In fact in 2009 we were trav­el­ling to Leh and Ladakh. So there on the way to Leh and Ladakh we stayed in a place close to the neigh­bour­ing coun­try bor­ders. There is just one small stream, it is a big riv­er, but there is only so much water that sep­a­rates the bor­ders. And then when we were stand­ing there, every­where it was writ­ten “Beware, the ene­my is watch­ing.” We nor­mal­ly do not encounter or use the word “ene­my” in that sense. So we just asked the com­man­der over there “Why is the word ‘ene­my’ writ­ten?” And he said “Any moment the bul­let could just land on your head.” That is the kind of social sit­u­a­tion that is preva­lent on the bor­ders. Hence that sec­ond shan­thi that we say is to achieve peace and har­mo­ny in that dimen­sion. In fact if you look at the Ramayana, Mahab­hara­ta and our puranas and so on – you know, pro­fes­sor was just show­ing us your library which had all the books…I don’t know if you have tak­en a look at that (Laugh­ter). But if you look at the tech­ni­cal lit­er­a­ture, our iti­hasas, puranas, our niti shas­tras, dhar­ma shas­tras and so on, they will explic­it­ly say what all a leader needs to do to main­tain bal­ance in adi daivi­ka and adi bhau­ti­ka, so that the indi­vid­ual can pros­per. Oth­er­wise the indi­vid­ual can­not take care of adi daivi­ka and adi bhati­ka ful­ly. It is the leader – who­ev­er occu­pies the lead­er­ship posi­tion will need to ensure that these are tak­en care of. That was con­sid­ered the sign of a good rajya, or raja. So that is part of the raja dhar­ma. And hence, even now when peo­ple talk of Rama Rajya and so on, it is basi­cal­ly because, in Ramayana, orig­i­nal text you will find, Rama’s Rajya is so famous because Rama had absolute con­trol over adi daivia and adi bhau­ti­ka in his rajya. There was no nat­ur­al dis­as­ter. Even now we aim for that. We try to pre­vent our­selves from the impact of fire, or earth­quake – earth­quake-resis­tant struc­tures – and so on, but we are still in the process. Still there is a lot of loss of life, even in devel­oped nations. But Rama had achieved such great admin­is­tra­tion and good gov­er­nance that adi daivi­ka and adi bhu­ati­ka ‑that is even social dis­tur­bances and all of that was tak­en care of just through good gov­er­nance and admin­is­tra­tion. That is how impor­tant the role of a leader is. That is not prop­er­ly under­stood these days and hence any­body gets ele­vat­ed to polit­i­cal lead­er­ship posi­tions, not only those that have the skill and the good­ness, the virtue, who get ele­vat­ed , who get empow­ered to the right posi­tion, not oth­er­wise. So till a few years back we have seen the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion was very very…it did not ful­ly take care of the adi daivi­ka and adi bhau­ti­ka. Only now con­crete steps are being tak­en in that direc­tion in a very strong man­ner. Some­times, with­in an indi­vid­ual, there are 2 iden­ti­ties. At one time, he may feel that,” I am hap­py and sat­is­fied. I am enjoy­ing what I do.” At anoth­er time, he may feel,”Why am I here? What am I doing here?” How do we resolve this?

That is a beau­ti­ful ques­tion. This is a ques­tion that every­body faces, this is almost uni­ver­sal. I had been to Europe. I met a very old Pro­fes­sor there. He revealed a philo­soph­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ty that he has about 80 years of age. So even at that age, there are ques­tions, so it is not just youth. At all ages, peo­ple face this dilem­ma, or ques­tion, or con­flicts of iden­ti­ties are inter­ests, right? It is very easy. Now a typ­i­cal approach that peo­ple wish to take is “From today onwards my life is going to be in a cer­tain way”. It is almost like your entire life has been decid­ed from this moment. How can that be? When we trav­el, trek up the Himalayas, we have a plan of action. We have a sched­ule, every­thing lined up, but we are ever-ready, we are sens­ing how the sit­u­a­tion is, con­stant­ly. And ready to act, whn­ev­er there is a need, we jump into action. To make sure that the over­all bal­ance is main­tained. So it is just like a car, you go on roads, there is a pothole..tilt, but it should not top­ple. That means the cen­tre of mass should be with­in the struc­ture oth­er­wise it top­ples. If you man­age, if you get a hang of this, you will man­age your lives where your cen­tre of mass does not top­ple. Then you will see, pot­holes, it is okay, you can man­age, and when you need to race, you can race. So you can enjoy the best of every­thing. For that you need to get a..your inner com­pass right. The feel right. The hang right. So there are tools avail­able for that. For exam­ple, yog­ic tools, there are many tools avail­able for that to keep your inner bal­ance con­stant­ly on. Then you will actu­al­ly achieve a good work-life bal­ance. If you depend only on plan of action, you will con­stant­ly encounter rugged edges. One plan, sud­denyl some­thing hap­pens and your plan s gone. Then you will be like — “Arrrrrgh!” and that is all, gone! Your inner feel will be like hay­wire. You under­stand this. You all would have expe­ri­enced this, it is a no-brain­er. It is not a big deal at all, that is where get­ting this hang of this bal­ance beceoms crit­i­cal. Then you will see, you will be able to nav­i­gate any ter­ri­to­ry, no mat­ter what chal­lenges you face in life, your bal­ance will not be gone and that will be a cool life. That is what Sri Krish­na (and oth­er great beings) demon­strat­ed. They were cool guys. Not bad at all right? Were they not cool? I don’t know how you look at them, I look at them as cool, real­ly cool. Or is it not the appro­pri­ate word to use, I don’t know. (laugh­ter) Is it okay, or .…I don’t know this con­text here (at the Uni­ver­si­ty) They were cool and awe­some peo­ple. Oth­er­wise who will remem­ber .…will any­body remem­ber us? How long will peo­ple remem­ber us, after we pass away? I don’t know, maybe 10 days…after that. Being remem­bered for 5000–6000 years is real­ly great, and cel­e­brat­ing their lives is some­thing. They should have been like awe­somest peo­ple on earth right? Oth­er­wise who will cel­e­brate our lives? Will any­body cel­e­brate. Even now for a birth­day, we have to invite peo­ple and they will say “Arey yaar, kuch our kaam hai, jal­di karo na? Cake ban­to, jaao. (Oh man! I have some­thing else to do, just do it quick­ly. Dis­trib­ute the cake man! ” Who cares? (Laugh­ter) And as you grow old­er they ask “ith­ni zaroori hai kya? You have gone half bald, you cel­e­brate your chil­dren’s birth­day, why do you care about your birth­day?”. That is how it goes! (Laugh­ter) I am just kid­ding. In a way it is true. Right? So that is a very good ques­tion. In fact, these are the chal­lenges we wish to address.

Since all of you are stu­dents, we thought we will ask you about the kind of chal­lenges that you face as a stu­dent. Chal­lenges in any dimen­sion. For exam­ple, in engag­ing with stud­ies, or work, fam­i­ly. What kind of chal­lenges do you face?

Con­cen­tra­tion, Time man­age­ment, Pro­cras­ti­na­tion, Non-agree­ment with par­ents

Okay. All the time (Laugh­ter) That we very well under­stand. See, we have a 11-year old son, so the moment we ask him “Have you stud­ied this?” he would say,” No, I want to become a bad­minton play­er. Edu­ca­tion is not the thing that I want to invest my time on.” (Laugh­ter) And then the non-agree­ment with par­ents starts there. But actu­al­ly, the non-agree­ment is not with us, but our par­ents. Because we are okay, we are both , so it is okay, you know (Laugh­ter)

Chal­lenges: Peace, Work-life bal­ance, Inter­nal con­flict of iden­ti­ties, Dis­cre­tion –what is right and what is wrong, Deci­sion mak­ing, Neg­a­tive thoughts, Jeal­ousy, Com­par­i­son (between two indi­vid­u­als)

In fact, when I was in school and when­ev­er I return from an exam­i­na­tion, first thing my moth­er would ask “How much did Renu­ka score?”(Laughter)

Chal­lenges: Expec­ta­tions, Fear of fail­ure, Fear of future, uncer­tain future, Inde­pen­dence, freedom(not seek­ing sup­port con­stant­ly), Han­dling crit­i­cism, Some­thing to val­i­date our thought process, our deci­sion process

So that we know that there is one more per­son oth­er than us who thinks we are right.

So these are I think, broad enough chal­lenges. So one com­po­nent atleast that I see miss­ing here is do with the phys­i­cal health. Health atleast we have seen that it is very impor­tant, in order to car­ry for­ward what we intend to do, because that can act as a speed break­er. Because we know that we are pro­ceed­ing fast and then some­thing hap­pens to our health, it could be a small cold, or a cough , some­thing sim­ple, but then it could just act as a speed break­er. And then, since all are women stu­dents here, atleast we thought we would touch upon some dimen­sions of these aspects that you have men­tioned and also bring a lit­tle bit of a gen­der context,because atleast we feel this crowd will be able to appre­ci­ate it bet­ter.

Now when we say health, health is again, in terms of a bal­ance. For what we wish to achieve, this body should not be an imped­i­ment. Let’s say you don’t want to sleep, but sleep hap­pens inspite of your effort, your wish, then that is an imped­i­ment. Let’s say in class, you don’t want to sleep, but most might want to sleep, that is a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. You don’t want to but still the effect of grav­i­ty on the eye­lids might be so high that (Laugh­ter) How do we take care of health in a very very sim­ple man­ner. The Indi­an prin­ci­ples of approach­ing health are very sim­ple and straight­for­ward. I have been into yog­ic prac­tice for more than 25 years. I have seen the sig­nif­i­cant effects in terms of so many oth­er ben­e­fits, but some of which is also phys­i­cal ben­e­fit. So in fact. When we were dis­cussing with Ankur­ji yes­ter­day, he was men­tion­ing how the pro­gram here is unique­ly designed so that it does not ful­ly bring a mas­cu­line approach to man­age­ment. That is a very impor­tant thing as such, because espe­cial­ly when women stu­dents are involved with the pro­gram, it is also impor­tant to pre­serve cer­tain unique­ness that women bring to the envi­ron­ment. So espe­cial­ly, when­ev­er I go around and talk to women stu­dents, I ask them about what is dif­fer­ent between men and women, have you expe­ri­enced any dif­fer­ences? Any stereo­types? So they gen­er­al­ly talk about peo­ple per­ceiv­ing that women can do only cer­tain kind of things. They are not strong enough. Or they are very emo­tion­al, always these tear dams are full. Any time they can just over­flow and things like that. But of course we know that not all these stereo­types are true, but at least at the phys­i­cal health per­spec­tive, there are dif­fer­ences. We must acknowl­edge that there are dif­fer­ences. And acknowl­edg­ing and under­stand­ing those dif­fer­ences real­ly helps us to pro­ceed on the path of suc­cess with­out much dif­fi­cul­ty. Atleast that is the way I have looked at it. Though I am sen­si­tive about not dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing men and women, I also hihg­light a sense of unique­ness that women bring to the envi­ron­ment in terms of their phys­i­cal health. That is where I have observed that in the dif­fer­ent phas­es of a wom­an’s life, there are def­i­nite­ly some very strong hor­mon­al changes that hap­pen. Until the age of 12. After the age of 12, until peo­ple get mar­ried, after mar­riage, after hav­ing a child, and then, above 40. Each phase is very dif­fer­ent in terms of how the woman inter­acts with her envi­ron­ment. So tak­ing cog­nizance of these hor­mon­al changes also becomes impor­tant because you will be tak­ing up lead­er­ship roles in dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions. You will be man­ag­ing teams, you will be pro­ceed­ing very fast in your careers. You will also be man­ag­ing fam­i­lies. So at dif­fer­ent points in time, it is very impor­tant to pay atten­tion to what is hap­pen­ing with­in you in terms of health. And bal­anc­ing those hor­mones becomes very impor­tant because as we have expe­ri­enced in our life, the endocrine sys­tem is clear­ly linked to the emo­tions that we dis­play. And keep­ing the endocrinal sys­tem healthy is very impor­tant for women because that is the rea­son many peo­ple per­ceive that women are emo­tion­al, they tend to cry for every­thing. That is the rea­son, main­ly because the endocrinal sys­tem is being stressed out at cer­tain points in time because there are some dif­fer­ences with respect to the hor­mones. And hence we gen­er­al­ly advice on some prac­tices that stu­dents, not just women, but stu­dents can take up so that the hor­mon­al bal­ance is also main­tained. And the oth­er thing that I have seen, espe­cial­ly with respect to women, some­thing that is very much required is like, have you observed the dif­fer­ence between a pen­cil and a rub­ber band? When you apply a lot of force, what hap­pens to a pen­cil when you apply a lot of pres­sure? It breaks. And what hap­pens to a rub­ber band? It stretch­es. At some point it will break but it still has a lot of flex­i­bil­i­ty. So the flex­i­bil­i­ty like a rub­ber band is very impor­tant. That is why we found that yog­ic prac­tices have helped us keep up that flex­i­bil­i­ty, and it also leads to a men­tal flex­i­bil­i­ty, because when we climb up the Himalayas, we have seen that a lot of phys­i­cal sta­mi­na is required, be it a woman or a man. That is when this flex­i­bil­i­ty real­ly helps, and yog­ic prac­tices have helped us to keep up that sta­mi­na for a very long peri­od of time and also help you to bend your body when required, bend your mind, when it is required. So there we again look at a bal­anced state of health. So towards that one aspect is the phys­i­cal com­po­nent, which is phys­i­cal exer­cise ‑even asanas, or surya namaskara, or some­thing that chal­lenges your cur­rent lev­el of sta­mi­na, or cur­rent state of phys­i­cal health. So tak­ing up such a chal­lenge becomes very use­ful. Not over-stretch­ing it or ver-doing it, but def­i­nite­ly some­thing chal­leng­ing phys­i­cal­ly. Because many emo­tions are also to do with, as she right­ly point­ed out, it is to do with the endocrinal sys­tem. You know what the endocrinal sys­tem is? It is very sim­ple. These glands, the pitu­itary gland, the thy­roid gland, the thy­mus, the gonads, the adren­al glands, pan­creas. So these glands secrete hor­mones which give rise to feel­ing. How we feel is close­ly inter­linked with the glan­du­lar secre­tion. If hor­mon­al imbal­ance is there, then you will feel bad. You can­not do any­thing about it. But you will see that you will jump up and down, and flay your arms and this and that, and imme­di­ate­ly you will feel good. This is why many peo­ple, some of our friends and stu­dents we have seen in Ban­ga­lore who are in the soft­ware indus­try, week­days the accu­mu­late all of these hor­mon­al stress­es, week­ends they go bag their heads. “Are yaar, phir se Mon­day aa gaya.” There are these pubs and dis­cos, and that is called head-bang­ing. So they go there and they do this head bang­ing to relieve their stress. It is not wrong, but if you under­stand the prin­ci­ple behind it, you can do it at home as well, with­out bang­ing your head on the wall.(Laughter) And get­ting guar­an­teed results.

So in the yog­ic prac­tices, we guide it appro­pri­ate­ly, under­stand­ing these prin­ci­ples. Even phys­i­cal exer­cis­es work this way. But phys­i­cal exer­cis­es gen­er­al­ly work at the mus­cu­la­ture, skele­tal and car­dio­vas­cu­lar lev­els. But yog­ic prac­tices go deep­er. There are mul­ti­ple aspects, mul­ti­ple dimen­sions to a human being. So they go deep­er. This if you under­stand, and get into phys­i­cal exer­cis­es, exer­cise rou­tine, even for 15 mins a day, or peri­od­i­cal­ly when you require it, then you will see, your state of emo­tions will also be bal­anced, and you will have good phys­i­cal sta­mi­na, good sup­ple­ness, and what she said as the elas­tic and ten­sile strength. That becomes very crit­i­cal. That is about the phys­i­cal aspect that you need to take care of, because it is not overnight that you devel­op it. If you invest in it life­long, then that stays bal­anced. If you don’t invest in it. It is like not brush­ing your teeth. If you don’t keep it up, because it is a state of dynam­ic bal­ance of the hor­mones. If you don’t keep it up, you will see a slide. That hap­pens to most peo­ple because of a lack of under­stand­ing. So invest­ing in your phys­i­cal health is a very very impor­tant thing. At least 10–15 mins of some phys­i­cal prac­tice. If there are surya namaskaras and asanas taught, they act at all these lev­els. If not that, at least some gym, or jog, not as a heavy exer­cise. It should not drain you, but it should keep you.…it should be a feel good. That will also be close­ly inter­linked to your emo­tion­al feel. Then you will see many of the prob­lems you will not have. They will dis­ap­pear. And all that has hap­pened is a hor­mon­al bal­ance that is all. Hor­mones can real­ly make you go hay­wire. All inner con­fu­sions and they will keep grow­ing! — “Kya ho raha hai” All because the hor­mones are going hay­wire. Through phys­i­cal activ­i­ty you can actu­al­ly bring a bal­ance. That is how impor­tant phys­i­cal activ­i­ty is.

So these (chal­lenges) can…some of these are to do with cog­ni­tive aspects. Some of these are to do with emo­tion­al aspects. If you get a sense of emo­tion­al bal­ance, then some of these aspects will be tak­en care of. If you get a sense of cog­ni­tive bal­ance, some of these aspects will be tak­en care of. The emo­tion­al aspects we will look at lat­er. First let us look at some key things. For exam­ple, con­cen­tra­tion, time man­age­ment, goal man­age­ment, these are crit­i­cal things. But gen­er­al­ly what is our idea of con­cen­tra­tion? That also becomes impor­tant. If your def­i­n­i­tion of con­cen­tra­tion is like “Okay! I am going to just sit like this and fin­ish off the entire book.” Will it hap­pen? For me, it will hap­pen, I will tell you. (Laugh­ter) I have tried it. I have tried many things. I have spent about 100 days in mau­na tapasya in a hut. She allowed me to. So in a hut, away from peo­ple, not eat­ing, not sleep­ing. Sounds crazy? It is valid exper­i­men­ta­tion. It is like Ph.D in inner sci­ences. Con­cen­tra­tion is also inter­linked with time man­age­ment and goal man­age­ment. Because you will see, let us say, you have an assign­ment to sub­mit, but you are here in class. What hap­pens to your con­cen­tra­tion — “Ye sub­mit kar­na hai. Wo sub­mit kar­na hai. Kab karen? Abhi karenge? Nahi mag­ar ye, nahi karne denge.” All this goes on, and hence what hap­pens to your con­cen­tra­tion? Gone. This is not about phi­los­o­phy. It is about very prac­ti­cal thing. This is about time man­age­ment. If you work it back­wards. Let’s say you have a diary or a cal­en­dar, you say, “Okay this is the dead­line.” For achiev­ing this, you need to work back­ward and draw up a prac­ti­cal sched­ule, “Okay this week, I need to cov­er this much ground in order to be able to achieve that at that point in time.” If you work it back­wards then you will see it is rea­son­able — “Abhi, yeh kar­na hai.” That is all. It is no big deal. Then you will see, you have the nec­es­sary con­cen­tra­tion. It is not a big deal at all. You might have this habit of pro­cras­ti­na­tion. See it is a habit. It is habit­u­al. If you under­stand how the mind works, it is very sim­ple. These are called vasanas or sam­skaras. Sam­skaras are habit­u­al pat­terns. You do it, you do it, you do it, repeat, repeat, repeat — “mein vaisa hi hun”. You will claim that “I am like that.” But it is sim­ply rep­e­ti­tion, rep­e­ti­tion that has led you to say “Ah. I am like this. I have neg­a­tive atti­tude.” You don’t have neg­a­tive atti­tude, but you have con­stant­ly asso­ci­at­ed with that process of rep­e­ti­tion and hence, now you feel “Oh, I am stuck.” Even pro­cras­ti­na­tion works that way. That is the rea­son why we set our inten­tion, we say to our­selves “I am going to do this, for a spe­cif­ic length of time.”. So this pro­cras­ti­na­tion is a habit and not your nature. You need to break it. When you say “Now”, it is now, that is it. But don’t extend that “now” for -” Okay, now I am going to sit and study for 5 hours. 18 hours a day I am going to sit and study.” Don’t make such a plan. This one step, how am I going to take, that is all. Not a big plan and all. Don’t imme­di­ate­ly build up a plan of action. No. “Now, for 10 min­utes, I am going to do this. That is all.” 10 min­utes break it down. We eat only this much. There is so much food, we can­not gob­ble it up all at one time. We can have a plan of action, our plan will most prob­a­bly fail, because there might be no capac­i­ty. At this time, 10 min­utes, done! Action is much bet­ter than all this plan­ning. You do plan­ning, plan­ning, plan­ning for one full day, at the end of the day will you be hap­py? You will be mis­er­able. Instead you just do one thing, 10 min­utes. It is done and dust­ed. That is it. It is gone, out of your mind. So that is the key strat­e­gy to break pro­cras­ti­na­tion. It is action, but it is quick and dirty action. You know, I was a hack­er, not a neg­a­tive thing, in com­put­er sci­ence, there are these things. A crack­er is one with mali­cious inten­tions. Hack­ing is some­thing to improve the soft­ware, okay. So even a hack, you know what a hack is? Ye jugaad jo bolt hai? It is a hack, right? Some­thing quick and dirty so that it works that is all. That is called a hack. I was a Lin­ux hack­er. There are grand plans. That is well-rea­soned out, and that also you need to do. But every small action you turn it into a grand life­time achieve­ment, you don’t get a life­time achieve­ment award. These small small things should be kept small and quick. Then you will see, you have time for the big things also. Oth­er­wise you will not have time for any­thing. Why? Because you are all the time, here, think­ing about time. So the key thing is action. You do it, done, it is done. So keep it small, keep it quick, just do it. The big things, you need to plan appro­pri­ate­ly. So pro­cras­ti­na­tion, time man­age­ment, goal man­age­ment, and con­cen­tra­tion all of these are inter­linked. So it is not to do ith big con­cen­tra­tion or any­thing. Even con­cen­tra­tion works that way. Let us say, you need to med­i­tate. How long can you sit. This is pad­masana. How long can you sit in this? 10 min­utes? Very good. How about 10 hours? You can sit in this with per­fect con­cen­tra­tion for 15 min­utes? (strain­ing in pain, laugh­ter) So that does not exact­ly lead to what is called an asana. Asana means sthi­ram, sukham, ithi asanam. It should be sukha — “Ah!” You can just relax, chill out and “Wow man.” If it is not like that, then it is not an asana for you. Not for­ev­er. That is not the idea. Not now. For exam­ple, this was not an asana for me years back. Now it is an asana. So you can work towards it Any­thing and every­thing you can work towards it. That is the whole idea. Not yet, or not now might be a good under­stand­ing. So you set mean­ing­ful tar­gets and achieve it. And it should be quick and small so that you also feel “ Kuch tho kiya hai.” Not “Kuch tho socha hai” No. “Kuch tho kiya hai.” — that is the crit­i­cal thing. So all of this, if you just learn to action­ate, you are­on board. It is very very sim­ple. Then you will see, in fact most of your oth­er chal­lenges also get met. In fact, Smrithi is a woman of action. She can speak more about this.

So in fact, many peo­ple get stressed out when they have a lot of things to do, lot of things on their plate. So she was ask­ing about work life bal­ance. You just do not know how to take care of that as well as this – what­ev­er it could be ‑2 things or mul­ti­ple things. So in fact, who are some of the women char­ac­ters in the Mahab­hara­ta that you know of? Drau­pa­di, Gand­hari, Kun­ti, Gan­ga, Sub­hadra, and many more char­ac­ters. When we talk of Drau­pa­di, what comes to your mind?

Strong woman.

Atleast many peo­ple in the south remem­ber her only as a woman with 5 hus­bands. But tht is not the only thing that Mahab­hara­ta talks about when we talk of Drauap­di. So there is very beau­ti­ful con­ver­a­tion that hap­pens between Drau­pa­di and Satyab­hama. So Satyab­hama asks Drau­pa­di — “I am always observ­ing that all the Pan­davas are very devot­ed to you. They are ready to do what­ev­er you say, very ded­i­cat­ed to you. So is it some kind of a mantra, tantra that you have put on them, any charm that you have cast on them, that they are so devot­ed to you.” Then Drau­pa­di, as you said, she is a very strong woman, she gets very offend­ed by this state­ment. “I did­n’t put any mantra tantra, but the very way I lead my life is what is mak­ing them devot­ed to me.” So she lists, or gives a detail of what she does every­day. Very very fas­ci­nat­ing to know about the kid of life that she led. So she would always be the first per­son to wake up in the morn­ing, to take care of var­i­ous aspects and she would be the last per­son to go to bed. And in the process, she was the one who knew…who had an account of every pen­ny which was there in the trea­sury. Only she was the per­son who was aware of how much was going out, how much was com­ing in, to the pen­ny. She was the one who knew that. And then when­ev­er Yud­hishthi­ra or any of the Pan­davas went on an expe­di­tion, there would be a lot of peo­ple sur­round­ing them, there would be sol­diers, 10s and 1000s of sol­diers, at least 30–40,000 peo­ple sur­round­ing each king and his char­i­ot and thn they would be going on an expe­di­tion. So Drau­pa­di was the per­son who would sort of design, who would be there, accom­pa­ny­ing the king when they go on an expe­di­tion. Who are the peo­ple – she knew the sol­diers names, their wives names, and their chil­dren’s names and she also patient­ly used to hear each of the prob­lems that each of the sol­diers faced in their per­son­al lives, and who came to work that day, who did not come to work. If they did not come to work, what wa the prob­lem that they were fac­ing. Are their chil­dren ill? Is there some­thing going on in their life? It is not like a reg­is­ter that she used to main­tain. It is not like, some­body came, atten­dance reg­is­ter, log book of prob­lems or any­thing. But the very com­pas­sion that she dis­played towards…enhanced her cog­ni­tive capa­bil­i­ties so much that she could actu­al­ly have all the data in her and then be an impact­ful leader. So if at all there was one leader that stood out in the Mahab­haara­ta, you know Krish­na is of course there, but as a woman leader, I think we can def­i­nite­ly give cred­it to Drau­pa­di, that way. Because pay­ing atten­tion to detail is some­thing that we all have to cul­ti­vate. I have seen many lead­ers take very rash deci­sions with­out pay­ing atten­tion to how it could actu­al­ly be impact­ing their per­son­al lives, the lives of peo­ple around them as well as the soci­ety. So pay­ing atten­tion to those details becomes very impor­tant. I have also inter­act­ed with lead­ers who actu­al­ly have excel­lent mem­o­ry. Mem­o­ry in the sense, they can actu­al­ly crunch so much data and they know pre­cise­ly what each per­son needs, who are they, what is their back­ground and what is their need, what are the peo­ple that sur­round them, so much detail that their each deci­sion would actu­al­ly be tak­ing into account all these aspects,. That is when we get stressed out, right? We get stressed out because we do not know much about the impact of our deci­sions. We think about one per­son, and then we say, “If I take this deci­sion this per­son would be affect­ed.” We do agree that this one per­son would be affect­ed, but if it is impact­ing a larg­er group of peo­ple, then prob­a­bly we need to take that deci­sion.

At every point in time, we have faced that ques­tion, for exam­ple, I chose to return from the US, and my par­ents were very very unhap­py about it. Every­body around me was unhap­py about it, but I felt only that would be good, because look­ing for­ward I want­ed to be of ser­vice to this nation, and that was a con­crete deci­sion. Once a deci­sion is tak­en and it wa com­plete­ly con­vinc­ing for me, I allowed some time for my par­ents and all of them to get on board. They were con­vinced of this deci­sion lat­er on, but ini­tial­ly there was severe oppo­si­tion. Over a peri­od of time, through my actions, I gained their sup­port, because they saw my con­vic­tion and I was turn­ing it into suc­cess, it was not that …and I have nev­er repent­ed such a deci­sion. When will you not have a fear of uncer­tain­ty of the future. For exam­ple, for us, if you take our cur­rent state, it is com­plete­ly uncer­tain future. We have start­ed Anaa­di Foun­da­tion. What is the future of Anaa­di Foun­da­tion? It is just as open as this world. We can achieve any­thing, or we can be a com­plete fail­ure. The way it works for us is, the day we decide, we have already start­ed run­ning, and we run very hard, and hence we are con­sid­ered suc­cess by every­body around us, because we don’t keep look­ing back and repent­ing”. Arey yaar, US se nahi aana tha, kya life tha…!” Nev­er once has it even occurred to me because we have run so far, there is no point in look­ing back and there is no way to look back because you are like real­ly far ahead, you have just gone. That is a very sim­ple way to take care of future uncer­tain­ties. You run hard, and that is to do with acti­vat­ing. You have ideas, you action­ate, and just fol­low it up, by run­ning hard, and it builds up, it is about momen­tum. If you gain the right momen­tum, then fear or no fear, all that becomes the­o­ret­i­cal. “Ahh.…okay, fear…” It is not about phys­i­cal fear okay? It is lie a dog is bark­ing at you? Will you have fear? That is actu­al fear — “Are kya ho jayega? Kaate­ga tho gaya.” It is like gone. But that is like actu­al fear, but this is imag­ined fear, this is psy­cho­log­i­cal fear. Not that it is pure­ly imag­ined, it also ha valid­i­ty, just that you should not make it true. All the fears if they come true, how would it be? It is in our hands to make it invalid, and there if you are com­plete­ly con­vinced about a deci­sion, not ad hoc deci­sions, you have thought about it, you have ana­lyzed it from dif­fer­ent angles, you have con­sult­ed peo­ple, you have sound board­ed ideas, still it is your life, and you decide, there is no gain say in that. Once you have decid­ed, you should run so hard that there is no time for fear. You work, you sleep, you work , you sleep, and all the time is enjoy­ing. If you think, think, think, imag­ine, imag­ine, imag­ine, not plan­ning, not strate­giz­ing, but just imag­ine, give in to your anx­i­eties, you will con­stant­ly have anx­i­ety attacks. That is the crit­i­cal part. Then you will see, with suc­cess, you will gain a lot of friends. All your rel­a­tives every­one will stand by you.One suc­cess after the oth­er, they any­how will have the con­fi­dence that you will make it hap­pen, because it is you.

Just a lit­tle sen­si­ble action, one minute, 5 mins, 10 mins, what­ev­er is sen­si­ble and prac­ti­ca­ble in your lives, you just action­ate on it, then you will see, actu­al­ly you will gain the sup­port of peo­ple. For the time being maybe, some­times I have not…I can proud­ly say that I have failed in so many things. I have been a big fail­ure, but that has been okay. That does­n’t mean I am beat­en. You don’t need to car­ry the atti­tude of a los­er. You can learn from each thing, action­ate appro­pri­ate­ly, that is the crit­i­cal thing. There, you do what you are con­fi­dent about, gain bet­ter con­fi­dence from there you do what you are con­fi­dent about, and that is how it pro­ceeds. Then you will see, it is not a lin­ear growth, it is actu­al­ly an expo­nen­tial growth. That’s life. Car­ry the right atti­tude, and again the right atti­tude is rep­e­ti­tion. That is very very impor­tant, and there your friends can be very very good sup­port. That is where, a friend is a real friend, who gives you the nec­es­sary sup­port and strength to go for­ward with what is prac­ti­ca­ble, and what is good for you.

So it has been a won­der­ful time with you all…

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