THE SOUL GURU
Without Malice /Ravi V. Chhabra
On a lazy Saturday afternoon, post lavish lunch of mutton curry-rice and mango-powder-stuffed green chillies, I would have loved to retire for a siesta, while listening to Herbie Mann’s flute. But this was not to be. I succumbed to my wife’s pestering, who tagged me along with her in the prickly heat of August 7th sun as she dashed-drove us to the India Habitat Center.
“How dare you not be excited for a discussion on the book ‘Meet Your Soul’ by Ashok Arora, an erstwhile leading lawyer of standing and ex-Secretary, Supreme Court Bar,” she kept telling me in the car. I did not speak a word in retaliation as my head was beginning to pain and I had drained out the last Saridon in the car a few days back. Now, all I wanted was a hot cup of brown caffeine as soon as I would reach the august spot.
It was a small gathering and Ashokji asked us for an introduction. When I told him I was from a website surnamed News for Soul, his face lit up as he said, “Ah! So there is a journalist from a soul-based news portal!" I smiled back.
His brief talk with many anecdotes was an instantaneous rapport-forming and the 30-odd attendees were completely glued to his gestured words.
He spoke with many a pause to recite an Urdu couplet from Amir Khusro, Ghalib and old Hindi songs, conveyed that his philosophy of love, happiness and brotherhood of man – was an all encompassing one for the soul – that was simplest to imbibe. For a change, unlike other times, when I had met and interviewed renowned management gurus who appeared like aliens, this time, I actually felt I was meeting somebody whom I had met earlier and known intimately since decades. This thought perturbed me as I heard him speak smilingly and self-effacively.
I recall now some of the quotes: “Know yourself to know others”, “The real poor man is not the one who lacks money, but one who lacks the joy of heart”, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘Thank you God’ that would suffice”, “Laughing faces do not mean that there is an absence of sorrow, but it means that they have the ability to deal with the sorrow.”
At the end of the discussion and what appeared to all as a bounty, he autographed and personally gave us all a copy each of his recently published book tilted ‘Meet your Soul’, which has a foreword by noted Indian legal eagle Ram Jethmalani. The book ‘Meet Your Soul’ is based on his life’s experiences and reflections and I find the one big message that comes across in his book is to keep the ego low and be humble in diversity (when you get fame and wealth) and despite the myriad provocations.
He says if Jesus Christ, Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi could train their minds and keep their heart warm and fluid for all human beings, it is definitely not impossible for us to do the same. In a chapter tilted ‘Friends on the Path’ he quotes: “One good book is equal to a hundred friends, but one good friend is worth more than a library.”
fnbworld: How would you describe the soul?
A.A: Anything that touches your heart most is all about the soul.
fnbworld: Any correlation between laughter and elevation of the soul?
A.A: When we laugh, we are away from negativity and that relieves the bad vibes, thus, it beneits our soul but most important is when we make others laugh...
fnbworld: How would you define a soul-mate?
A.A: It is essentially about being in the company of those who feel pleased and happy with you as much as you do with them.
The one that really touched me is a favorite of Bapu (MKG): Vaishnavi jan to tennhe kahiye jo pierd parayi jaane re (the true human being is one who feels the pain of others). I felt refreshed at the end of the presentation-talk with the beautiful interaction backed up with fine black coffee and chocolate-chip cookies. On the way back, I took the steering wheel and teased my wife that at last I had met my soul-mate!