You know of Arjuna. And Drona too. Probably the most famous guru-disciple pair in the world. The two were made for each other. The guru would not yeild. The disciple would not give up. The guru wanted nothing but complete submission and dedication. The disciple couldnt see anything but the eye of the bird. The guru wanted nothing but respcet. The disciple captured the kingdom of Drupada to salvage the guru’s respect.
Like most characters from the Mahabharata, both Arjuna and Drona have multiple personalities, are often open to interpretation and deeply flawed.
Look at Arjuna, arguably the greatest warrior of his time. On one side he’s a good son, an obedient brother, and a doting father. And on the other he’s taken shortcuts, partidipated in killing of his clan (even if it was for the greater good (what even is greater good?), including his very guru) and stayed silient when Draupadi had to go through the humiliation.
Drona had his share of flaws as well. The most famous is the episode with Eklavya. As a guru, you ought to be impartial and yet for Arjuna, Drona asked for Eklavya’s thumb. Some versions of Mahabharata claim that Drona did not like anyone but his own son and all that happened (Arjuna coming on top et al) was an accident.
I’d never know the truth but I do know that Arjuna was indeed a great warrior and Drona, a great guru.
And this is what my post for the day is about. Arjuna and Drona.
Lemme shift topics.
The thing is, each person here belives they are special and they deserve the best and they will conquer the world and live a life of riches. Even the most average people consider themselves special (hello Dunning Kruger). In modern parenting, we hard-code into our kids that they are special. They may very well be. But then by definition, there can only be one Sachin, one Ranveer, one Shohei, one Serena, one Arujna, one conquerer of worlds, who’s kirti traverses the tribhvuan.
I was no different. I have lived all my life believing that I am special. But as I turn 41, I realise that I may not be as special. If I am, I dont see it. I mean I live the most ordinary life for a 41-year-old. Heck, its not even ordinary. I am in deep debt, I dont have a family of my own (I belong to my parent’s family), I dont know what am supposed to do in life (this post is an attempt to find an answer) and I dont have a path that if I walked on for a few more years would take me to salvation. Whatever salvation is. I mean I dont know what Arjuna did after the war was over. Such a waste of talent to have won the war and then nothing from there on. I get it that he was like a warrior in the garden and his mere presence kept peace in the region.
I was digressing. The point is, each person lives their lives assuming they are special and they prepare for, they wait for greatness. All their lives are spent working towards that moment of truth when the greatness would be unveiled. And there are many – from each child in India preparing for a shot at cricket glory to each person in the bylanes of Aram Nagar acting and dancing hoping to make it big on the silverscreen to each student at engineering colleges across the country wanting to do a startup that would become a unicorn eventually to more such places where the odds of wild success are tiny and rewards for even mild success are grand.
Like I said, I am no different. At least from the time I realised I was a good coder at at obscure college in Delhi university, I have believed that I am special. I am sure I would’ve felt great even before that (thanks to my genes and me going to nondescript schools and all). And I have lived as if I am a big deal and I’ve never sweat on the small stuff. And I think it has served me well. I have taken the tougher road and I have even had to beg, borrow and steal to be able to survive. All in the hopes that some day it will all make sense and the end would justify the means.
But lately I am having second thoughts about things. May be this is what mid-life crisis is all about (here are my other pieces about this). You see your friends and acquaintances and everyone else doing well and you start to compare and you dont know what to do. And since I know that time and life is a one-way street, I know I can’t do much about my failures as a talent.
But what I can do for sure is, become a Drona. To potential Arjunas. You know, something like Richard to Serena and Venus (see this), Mahavir to Geeta and Babita (see this), Ramkant to Sachin, Maggie to Roger and JP (see this). Yeah, yeah I am inspired a lot by films. No wonder, filmmaking is a not-so-secret desire.
Of course the skills and talent I need to be able to be a Drona and do this vary widely from what I have prepared all my life for. And that’s a journey I need to go on. I dont know what is that path. I dont know how to prepare for it. I dont know what I need to undo in my personality. I just know that I have to do it. I owe this much to me. And to universe that has made me who I am.
While I do this, I need to be careful. I need to not become Vikramaditya. I need to try and not fall (this is probably going to be the most difficult thing ever). I need to get over with the guilt of being yet another in the long queue of “those who can, do; those who can’t teach”. And I know I will never be the person in arena and thus I need to build empathy.
Lemme take a break reproduce the text about the arena – this is a very powerful piece and you better read.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who lets refinement to develop in to fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a work day world.Theodore Roosevelt
I need to accept my failure to be the Arjuna and pivot to being a Drona. And I need to become better at being a teacher, a mentor and someone that young ones entrust. I need to learn how to detach. I need to be able to be a better Drona and not get attached to the people I work with. I can not live vicariously. I can not create these young ones into what I couldnt become.
And most importantly, I need to find young ones that are willing to be my guinea pigs and submit their lives to me.
This, I think, is it for the day. Over tomorrow.