Sunday, December 05, 2004


THE SPEAKING TREE: Father, Lead Me from Sakam to Nishkam - Anil Ambani

Karmayogi was my father Dhirubhai Ambani's other name. He was a man of action. But as a true follower of the Bhagavad Gita , he acted not for himself, but for humanity. In the true spirit of nishkam-karma , he remained free from attachment to the fruits of his action. Like a true bhakta , he attributed his good actions to the Lord of all souls.

The Gita is the essence of Krishna's message. Its wisdom and fundamental truths are eternal, guiding man through life by revealing the purpose of human existence. The timelessness of its teachings applies to all beings, helping them lead a divine life. The Gita , imparted directly to Arjuna by the Lord himself, calls for virtue and glory, truth and character, but, above all, for an unconditional surrender to God. "Come unto me for refuge", says Krishna. But the discerning have always realised that such an attitude of trust is only possible if it is not limited to the relationship between the human and the divine. Since the divine is an aspect of all of us, trust has a central place in all our relationships.

Among the many human failings, the one that is most destructive of trust is arrogance, which is rooted in the illusory reality of 'I' or 'ego'. The source of human ignorance and error lies in not being able to recognise that the individual atma or soul is but a part of Paramatma — the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. There can be no 'I' or 'ego' in atma , because that will set it farther apart from Paramatma . There is scarcely another human weakness that Krishna focuses on with greater urgency or insight.

Ego is the source of all our troubles. It is, as the divine text puts it, the feeling of separateness, the sense of duality, the idea of being distinct and different from others. It is an arrogant and obsessive sense of ownership, the passion of sakam , that has lost touch with dharma. Humility then is neither a sign of human weakness nor just another polite virtue. It is the essential foundation for building everything that is just, lasting and permanent. "Of creating without claiming", as the Tao Te Ching puts it, "of doing without taking credit, of guiding without interfering". This was the abiding truth which guided the life of Dhirubhai. He never saw himself as an owner.

I have often asked myself if humility and trust are matters of individual temperament — an aspect of our samskar and karma — or, in today's parlance, genetic coding. And, every time, I have come to the contrary conclusion. It's not easy, I admit, but we can all learn to be humble and trustful, as long as we have the ability to love all beings as one's own self. That is the quintessential first step in a long journey of individual, social and spiritual evolution.

All spiritual insights depend for their conviction and sustenance on a profound sense of faith. Without faith, there can be neither trust nor humility nor indeed respect — which is always commanded and never demanded. "The ignorant man, without faith" as the Gita puts it, "goes doubting to destruction... For the doubting self there is neither this world, nor the next, nor joy".

My thoughts are today focused on performing my duty or nishkam kartavya . To act without attachment or the desire for fruits. For that path alone, as the Gita says, would lead me to a purity of mind, and to attain Param Dham — the supreme realm of God when Jivatma drinks the nectar of eternal bliss. May the eternal prakash guide me, ever humble, towards manushya kalyan .
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