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Posts Tagged ‘Invictus’

Background

In this series, we consider some more movies through the spiritual lens of 12 personality traits mentioned by The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in India.

Part 1 had covered the traits of Sincerity and Humility. Part 2 had looked at movies which touch upon such traits as Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration and Receptivity.

In Part 3, we cover the following personality traits: Progress, Courage, Goodness and Generosity.

Progress

This could be of several kinds – material, spiritual and social. Most of us keep chasing materialistic goals in our lives. Some who feel a nagging emptiness within despite outstanding success on the material plane get awakened to the possibility of a spiritual growth. Few others try and work on such social ills as corruption and hygiene.

Guide (1965) showed us the transformation of an ambitious Raju (Dev Anand) from being an ordinary tourist guide to a successful businessman, thanks to a talented dancer Rosie (Waheeda Rehman). What followed was a web of commerce and misuse of funds, leading to a jail term for Raju. Eventually, upon nearing death, he experiences an awakening of the soul.

 

Invictus (2009) captures the manner in which Nelson Mandela endeavours to overcome racial prejudices not only in his team of personal assistants but also in his country, using the unlikely sport of rugby to make progress. The movie sets an inspiring example of achieving social harmony by dismantling apartheid through a spot of out-of-box thinking.

When it comes to progress on the social front, several movies have touched upon the issues of corruption, regressive attitudes and sexual exploitation.

 

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) and Well Done Abba (2009) addressed the issue of corruption with dollops of humour.

 

 

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha (2017) and Padman (2018) championed the cause of hygiene.

 

 

Gulaab Gang (2014) spoke of various ills plaguing the Indian society.

 

 

Mardaani (2014) and Lakshmi (2014) were both hard-hitting but highlighted the challenges one faces while battling human trafficking and child prostitution.

Movies which focus on social attitudes are often preachy and negative. But these serve a useful purpose by telling us where we are going wrong, thereby hampering our own progress.

Courage

The hero who shows courage by bashing up a bunch of goons to save the honour of his beloved on the silver screen gets lauded enthusiastically by a cheering audience. But here we shall touch upon the courage which manifests in many other ways, mostly utilized to achieve a higher goal in life.

Pyaasa (1957) depicted the courage of a poet Vijay (Guru Dutt) to denounce a corrupt and materialistic world. Unable to tolerate the hypocrisy in the society, he decides to start a new life with Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman), the woman in his life.

 

Lakshya (2004) takes us on an inner journey of a happy go lucky but aimless Karan Shergill (Hrithik Roshan) who joins the army during the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan. Death of a close friend leads him to discover his aim – that of capturing Point 5179, a strategic mountain peak on the border by ascending a 1000 feet high rocky vertical cliff.

 

A Wednesday (2008) shows the extent to which a common man (Naseeruddin Shah) can go to meticulously avenge all the terrorist attacks some people had helped carry out in Mumbai and other major cities of India, specifically the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.

 

Life of Pi (2012) shows the kind of courage it takes to survive and do well in life. The search for an identity becomes a voyage extraordinaire. The movie has a touch of sentimental spirituality.  Pi survives his great adventure of crossing an ocean in the company of an adult Bengal tiger!

 

Neerja (2016) is a tribute to Neerja Bhanot (played by Sonam Kapoor) who laid down her life while protecting passengers on a hijacked Pan Am flight 73. The film ends with a tribute to Neerja, who was eventually honoured posthumously with the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest military decoration awarded for peacetime valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice.

Goodness

When we overcome our greed and our prejudices, and when we learn to radiate love and display concern and empathy, we practice goodness.

Parakh (1960) was about an award from an anonymous donor of Rupees 5,00,000 to any resident of a particular village who will use it for the benefit of the entire village. Villagers decide to use democratic methods and favour an election where the winner gets the money. Each candidate tries to woo the villagers by being sympathetic and by becoming a cheerful giver to all by offering various sops. Goodness, however superficial, prevails. Eventually, the decision comes from the benefactor who lives in the village in disguise. At a deeper level, the movie highlighted the limitations of the concept of democracy.

 

Satyakam (1969) introduced us to Satyapriya (Dharmendra) who tries to live a truthful, honest and good life. Even in great adversity he doesn’t let go of his ideals. A fatal illness leads to his death and the grandfather (Ashok Kumar) who had sworn him to a path of righteousness realizes that even though he has spent his whole life studying religious scriptures and philosophical books as well as practising many rituals, he still had much to learn about the nature of truth. He overcomes his moral prejudices and vows to take care of his daughter-in-law (Sharmila Tagore) and the grand kid.

 

Raincoat (2004), based on O. Henry’s short story ‘The Gift of the Magi’, brings together two ex-lovers Mannu (Ajay Devgun) and Neeru (Aishwarya Rai). The former is unemployed and has limited means. The latter is now a housewife leading a frugal life. Each boasts to the other about their successful life but realize the hollowness of the other’s claims. Mannu ends up paying Neeru’s overdue rent for many months whereas she slips in two of her gold bangles into the pocket of a raincoat he has borrowed from her.

 

Patch Adams (1998) was all about the importance of laughter, empathy and concern for patients who are often treated in a soulless and mechanical manner in the medical world. The hero’s conviction of his own approach never waivers, except when his companion dies in unfortunate circumstances. But he soon recovers and reverts to his practice of goodness, dedicating his work to her memory.

Generosity

Many of us have occasionally had a helping hand from someone who went out of the way to offer support when it was badly needed. Those who are kind, empathic and compassionate could be said to be of a generous disposition. Somehow, life always gifts them with generous bonuses – whether financial or in terms of a cult status.

 

Schindler’s List (1993) portrayed the efforts of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, who saves the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish people from the Holocaust. When World War II is declared to be over, the workers give Schindler a signed statement attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives and present him with a ring engraved with a Talmudic quotation: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” Schindler is touched but also ashamed, as he feels he should have done even more. In a scene which is deeply touching, he breaks down sobbing, and is comforted by the workers.

 

 

Erin Brockovich (2000) was all about a legal clerk motivating a group of sufferers to stand up against a large company and get suitable compensation awarded by a court of law. Her identification with the cause and her perseverance – both are worth emulating. She does not expect any personal benefit in return, though she does get suitably rewarded for her services at the end of the movie.

The generosity showcased in these movies is neither feigned nor artificial. Both are based on actual incidents, restoring our faith in the innate goodness in people.

(This series of posts is dedicated to Ms Usha Bhatia, my late wife. Inputs from Mr Sanjay Mohan and Ms Gargi Banerjee are gratefully acknowledged)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/13/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-1-of-4

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/16/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-2-of-4

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-4-of-4)

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Quite a few CEOs, when they wake up the day after having secured a crucial business deal, experience a sense of calm happiness within. The flowers are in full bloom, the sun shines with due benevolence, the birds and the bees hop around doing what Mother Nature has ordained them to do, God is in heaven and all appears to be fine with the world.

If they happen to be at a resort with a fresh water lake nearby, they prefer to splash about a bit and invigorate themselves. While taking a leisurely swim, they even start exercising their vocal chords, belting out a favourite song of theirs, generating in the process an off-tune gruesome sound which is calculated to startle the stoutest. Two bees, buzzing among the roses, stop as one bee and look at each other with raised eyebrows. Snails withdraw into their shells. A squirrel practicing for her athletic performance in the upcoming Olympics on a nearby tree nearly falls off its branch. A deer roaming around in the bushes nearby, its reverie disrupted, decides to scoot off to a quieter location. But such CEOs, blissfully unaware of the confusion being caused in the animal kingdom by virtue of their expression of inner bliss, persevere in their endeavours.

Bhagavad Gita speaks of three kinds of happiness – the Sattvic (Pure) kind, the Rajasic (Passionate) kind, and the Tamasic (Dull) kind.

Sattvic: The unalloyed bliss of happiness

The happiness that a CEO experiences when she has executed a business plan successfully, or has convinced the board of directors of the merits of an acquisition proposal, would be that of the pure kind. A path-breaking approach has been taken. Her vision, courage and conviction are easily visible. Much hard work and effort has gone into the work accomplished. Details have been examined with a fine tooth comb. While working on such plans, the proverbial midnight oil has been burnt. Some personal sacrifices have been made. Initial pain and difficulties have been suffered and overcome. A combination of the hard work put in, the self-control exercised in the process, and the resultant sense of self-perfection leads to this kind of happiness.

When we use the term Peace, this is indeed the kind of happiness we refer to.

यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम् |
तत्सुखं सात्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम् || 18.37||

That which seems like poison at first, but tastes like nectar in the end, is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness. It is generated by the pure intellect that is situated in self-knowledge.

For those of you who have come across the movie Invictus, the visionary leadership of Nelson Mandela comes across very clearly. He blunts the edge of apartheid by using the game of rugby to unite his populace, when they cheer Springboks, the team of the South African Rugby Union, to a victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

The title of the movie could be translated from Latin to mean ‘unconquered’. Here is the poem bearing the same title:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

 

(William Ernest Henley)

 One can well imagine the kind of unalloyed happiness experienced by those at the helm of affairs in a challenging situation of that kind.

Many CEOs keep fighting the battle of the abdominal bulge. When they take their doctor’s advice seriously and start either jogging or brisk walking, the initial pain and resistance from within act as a deterrent. However, once a habit gets formed, they enjoy better health and happiness.

Rajasic: The mundane shade of happiness

The passionate kind of happiness gets experienced when her ambition of a C-suite gets fulfilled. Or, when she gets a reserved parking slot earmarked for her vehicle. Or, even when the security guard and the liftman salute her upon entry to her fiefdom. Power, pelf and prestige present a package which gives rise to a fleeting sense of happiness in her bosom. But beneath the happiness is a layer of anxiety, because none of these can be taken for granted. In fact, the risk of her developing a queen-size ego and believing that she is omnipotent is pretty high. A major setback in career could just be around the corner, sneaking up and striking her with the stuffed eel-skin of business life.

विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगाद्यत्तदग्रेऽमृतोपमम् |
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम् || 38||

Happiness is said to be in the mode of passion when it is derived from the contact of the senses with their objects. Such happiness is like nectar at first but poison at the end.

Indira Nooyi, ex-President of PepsiCo, says:

‘Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization.’

 

Tamasic: Happiness which leads to a fall from grace

The dull kind is one which is based entirely on the gratification of senses. Lord Krishna points out three specific causes which result in a happiness of this kind:

  1. When emotional and mental sleep leads to one not being able to understand the reality, or one trudges through life without a clear goal in life;
  2. A state of inertia of the intellect when one decides to let others govern one’s life, or allows one’s instincts and impulses to govern her decisions and approach to problem solving.
  3. Ignoring the ‘inner voice’, one perfects the art of heedlessness and often gets into an adventurous mode, indulging in sensory gratification, eventually leading to a spectacular downfall.

यदग्रे चानुबन्धे च सुखं मोहनमात्मन: |
निद्रालस्यप्रमादोत्थं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् || 39||

That happiness which covers the nature of the self from beginning to end, and which is derived from sleep, indolence, and negligence, is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

Ask Martin Winterkorn, the former chairman of the board of directors of Volkswagen AG, who put in his papers during September 2015, several days after the infamous emissions cheating scandal came up. He also resigned as chairman of Audi on 11 November 2015, after further information associated with the scandal was revealed in regard to VW’s gasoline-powered engines. He was criminally indicted over the emissions cheating scandal in the USA on May 3, 2018 on charges of fraud and conspiracy. In April 2019, he was criminally indicted on charges of fraud in Germany. His is a clear case for the kind of transient happiness CEOs should not aim for.

A wise CEO who happens to be aware of different hues of happiness would manage the wild horses of her desires, her egoistic tendencies and her anger and resentments in such a manner as to truly aim for the Sattvic variety of happiness. In other words, do a great job and experience the inner glow of contentment.

Peter Drucker is also of the opinion that happiness is irrelevant in the management context:

‘Never mind your happiness; do your duty.’

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/12/05/looking-for-a-ceo-who-is-peaceful-and-happy

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/a-quest-for-true-happiness)

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