Zindagi….ik paheli (Life…an enigma)

जो उलझी थी कभी आदम के हाथों,
वो गुत्थी आज तक सुलझा रहा हूँ|
(that which got entangled by the hands of Adam, even today I am trying to unravel that knot) Indeed Firaq Gorakhpuri said it rightly. From times immemorial, life has truly been an intractable puzzle. Generations before me, and people certainly much smarter than me, have tried to understand life and it’s conundrums. But the jury is still out. None are able to make sense of the constant twists and turns. While the What & the How are somewhat intelligible, the Why still eludes us and we are all the time wondering how to play the cards Life has dealt us.

The constant refrain is of wonder….wonder Why this is happening??? And Why is this happening to me???? The questions continue. Over a period we see the answers to the same question changes. Very similar to a roving spotlight that reveals more and more of the object as the spotlight moves. But try as we will, we never get to understand the whole picture, see the entire object, understand life in toto and what it entails!!!!

The whole experience is akin to the words of Adeem Hashmi who sings वो के ख़ुशबू की तरह फैला था मेरे चार सू,
मैं उसे महसूस कर सकता था छू सकता न था|
(It was like a perfume that spread all around me; I could feel it but I could not touch it) That truly is the beauty of life. We are in the fish bowl. We are surrounded by the water. We sense and feel the water and all that it envelopes. We see the other fish…swimming, struggling, moving all around us. But we can only “spectate”. The “साक्षी भIव sakshi bhav” propounded by Hindu & Buddhist scriptures as the ideal mindset to be in, while in the world.

See everything as a spectator, do not involve, do not entangle. Much like the glob of mercury which changes shape even as you touch it, you can never hold the mercurial Life, as it will always shy away, transmute and tease you as you go closer. Grasping never lets you hold the sand of life. The particles are too thin. You must keep an open palm, not try to hold or grasp, but rather keep your self open to experience the sands of time and the grains of Life. They are free agents and will not be molded even as they shape you.

हम किस को दिखIते हैं शब-ए-फुरकत की उदासी

सब ख्वाब में थे रात को बेदार हम ही थे (To whom could I show the sadness of the night of separation? All were deep in their dreams and I alone was disturbed in the night). (Taashshuq Lakhnavi) Travails of the Life you face are indeed so personal that try as you will, you may never be able to get others to understand and live your pain. Possibly that is why Voltaire averred,:” Man is a social animal, but everywhere he is in chains”.

The chains, the walls around us, the constraints, the loneliness, the pain….all are real and tangible. To you. You are confined only by the walls you build yourself. And all this is creating & shaping your Life/experience. A signature experience. Living together, having the same roof, traversing the same path, experiencing the same friends…still we all lead very different lives. Even couples are independent logs floating down the same river, parallelly, but independently; together yet separate. So the faster we understand Firaq Gorakhpuri who tells the Powers that Be भरम तेरे सितम का खुल चुका है,
मैं तुझसे आज क्यों शर्मा रहा हूँ|
We must quickly see through the irony, the mischievousness, the sheer tyranny of Life and living in the garb of joke, to be able to maintain our keel and dignity amidst buffeting storms and towering waves of the perfect storm that we call Life.

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood…” begins the famous poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W H Auden.
Some of you may know the poem by Auden, inspired by the painting by Breughel, of Icarus falling from the sky into the green water to his death. Poets and painters understand suffering, and the related phenomena: how others shy away, pretend not to notice, like the ploughman working his field, and the passengers aboard the delicate ship that sails calmly on. When a stupendous flight of Icarus to the Sun goes unnoticed, who indeed are we mere mortals?

What makes understanding & living Life difficult is our very human-ness. Being human we soon become enmeshed in all that surrounds us. We talk of My family, My child, My house, My Friends, My Company, and so on. As Firaq Gorakhpuri observes मुहब्बत अब मुहब्बत हो चली है,
तुझे कुछ भूलता-सा जा रहा हूँ|
Being too close to the problem, our independent identity ceases. We soon become a part of the problem and so cannot find a solution, as we are as much a part of the problem, as we are a part of the solution. Identity fuses together. Try a simple experiment to understand what I am saying. Move a chair while standing independent of it. Easy? Now sit on the chair. Firmly, with both your feet on the ground. Can you move the chair now? The same chair is impossible to move now. Because you are too close to it. Only distance will help you take an objective stance. मुहब्बत हो चली है then independent POV is impossible. It is natural then that तुझे कुछ भूलता-सा जा रहा हूँ| The human condition and its dilemma is well captured by Adeem Hashmi’s couplet ये भी सब वीरानियाँ उस के जुदा होने से थीं, आँख धुँधलाई हुई थी, शहर धुँधलाया न था| (All the barrenness has come after separating from her; my eyes have got clouded but the city still surrounds me). However much you try, the situational reality remains the same and continues to haunt you.

Given this background and the negativity all around, I take heart in the words of Napoleon,” I am driven towards an end that I do not know. As I reach it, as I become unnecessary, an atom shall suffice to shatter me. Until then, all forces of humankind can do nothing to stop me”. Remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall!!

सितारों से उलझता जा रहा हूँ,
शब-ए-फ़ुरक़त बहुत घबरा रहा हूँ|

( I am fighting with the stars, as the night of separation comes close, I am afraid….vikas)

PS : Gratefully acknowledge Shri Krishna Sharmaji’s blog https://samaysakshi.in/blog which has been an inspiration for many of the sher quoted here

16 Replies to “Zindagi….ik paheli (Life…an enigma)”

  1. Life should be the knots you shown very beautiful till lifelong and its our lifestyle like butterfly.Enjoy..


  2. JLS
    In that regard I feel I am blessed
    Even today Siemens Workers Union invites me for their annual retreat when they want to deliberate the strategy FW
    I treasure that far far more than any reawrd or recognition from the Managemnts I served
    Ashok bhai greeting me with a rose when ever he meets me and complaining: Saheb aapne hume bigad diya. Ave ame dhamal nathi karta karan tame amne judo rasto bataivo
    What can be a bigger certificate ?

    The beauty of Life is the Opposite of Every Great Truth is also a Great Truth
    we all who have understood this possibly live a more relaxed life than the “bhaktas” who aver that theirs is the ONLY TRUTH

    I have learnt that tolerance and acceptance brings you closer to the “real” God

    Thanks for remaining engaged as I delve into issues that bother me


  3. Sir, a terrific piece of writing, expressing the countless hours you must have spent brooding this conundrum called life! Indeed it is un understandable not only at the philosophical level, but at the biological level also!


  4. Very well written. Relate to every word, every sentiment and every emotion. As one reads this, it leaves you with a wave of thoughts.

    The feeling of life slowly slipping (like the sand through your fingers may make one feel helpless and sad) and overwhelming but soon you are enveloped in peace when you realise one day, this too shall pass and with us.

    Accept, experience, embrace, celebrate and enjoy as you are in a given moment. Life is infinite; may be in different shapes and sizes. 🙏


    1. Thanks Deepak for your kind words
      you have always been a good friend & I love your positivity and energy
      one more role model for people like me Keep encouraging
      Keep writing in


  5. जीवनं कश्चित् नाटकम्
    तस्मिन् लगु नटकोऽहम् ।
    वायुना नीता वाणीव​
    सञ्चराम्येतस्मिन् मीरे ॥

    Life is a play; I am a small player there.
    Like how a cloud is led by wind, I move in this ocean of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Vikas dada,

    I love philosophical discussions and this one surely is one 🙂 You are ascending spiritually, or your writings are, for sure.

    I loved the below lines from your post-
    “Travails of the Life you face are indeed so personal that try as you will, you may never be able to get others to understand and live your pain.”

    “Even couples are independent logs floating down the same river, parallelly, but independently; together yet separate.”

    Indeed, each of our journey is unique and we have to traverse on our own. Most of my life, I’ve been an action oriented person – did not believe in being a by-stander or spectator much. But as I grow older I realize the wisdom in that in certain situations. You have to let certain situations unfold in divine timing, you cannot hurry the end result.

    Life is all about knowing when to be patient and when to act. Its a balance between letting go and holding on. It is an enigma, indeed!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nilu
      thanks for the comments
      Really liked your point about Action orientation and Stepping back
      Most of us go through an evangelist phase
      and then we realise wiser people than us have tried to change the world and still the world continues unchanged
      Does it mean you do not try?
      of course not
      we owe it to ourselves to exert
      but still learning hat must be on
      When I was in Cal in the late 70s Naxalites were very strong influence
      there was a saying then
      If you are not a Naxalite when you are in your 20/30s you do not have a heart
      If you are a Naxalite in your 40s and thereafter, then you do not have a head

      That is why I have said keep asking the same questions and watch your answers change
      possibly that is a measure of PRAGALBHATA/maturity?

      when I sat to write this one, it was obvious this will be different, heavy and possibly little preachy
      But then I felt why not?

      I am glad many people including you like it
      thanks for your faith and trust
      vikibaba punter


    1. शर्मा जी
      ये आप ही के ब्लॉग का इंस्पीरेशन है
      हम तो सिर्फ आप के पेड़ के आम खा रहे है


  7. With every blog, you seem to be elevating your thought process to higher and still higher level of search for the truth in life!

    I am reminded of that very thoughtful song of the 1970s..:

    ज़िन्दगी का सफर ,है एक ऐसा सफर,
    कोई समझा नहीं , कोई जाना नहीं

    I have been a student of science. I am amazed at what scientific approach has been able to achieve over the past few centuries. I am ,however, also aware of the limitations of a purely scientific/logical approach in understanding Life.

    There is a general belief that if not now, over next years (God knows how many) , Science will discover the Life. Even if that is going to happen, it does not help me, with a finite life of a few years (??) still left.

    Should I not look then, for some other optional ways of looking at Life, if that gives me immediate ways to be happy and peaceful with myself?

    The caveat is : one needs to have a “LEAP” of faith to understand and internalise what these optional approach to Life has to offer. There will be no ‘proof’ in the conventional sense about what is being said . The only proof will be an experience!!

    And here I am again going to come to my ‘default’ topic of Brahma Kumaris (BK)

    You ask ANYONE who is convinced of the BK philosophy of Life (and there are just about a million people by now globally ,cutting across the religions/regions/caste/creed etc), S/he will have clear answers to the following fundamental Qs of Life:
    • Who am I (the soul)?
    • Where do I come from?
    • What will happen to me after I leave this body?
    • What is the nature of the World Drama that we live in?
    • Who is God?
    • What is His role in the world drama?
    • How does He help me?
    • What is Karma? How does it affect me
    Etc etc

    I feel somewhat hesitant to mention this on a general platform as it conveys an unintended undertone of “ I know more than others”…or “ I am more elevated”…etc.

    All the same, when you have raised such an honest inquiry about Life, i feel ,I should share what I know about it…and am convinced of it ,based on my personal experience over 3 decades.

    To believe it or not ,remains the prerogative of the reader !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jagdish bhai
      many thanks for your frank and open comments
      and your words of praise right in the beginning

      I was indeed very scared when I sat to write this one as I knew it would turn out preachy and a “holier than thou” attitude which I hate
      but the WA and SMS and comments I have got from well wishers like you make me feel I should not have hesitated

      Call it my low self esteem, call it my humility, call it what you will but I have always been a person who is happiest to be considered a joker, a salt of the earth, a person who is similar to the lowest of the lows
      It may be inverse pride or exclusivity but very very consciously I have never told anyone I was a gold medallist in BA and MA have also consciously down played my Fellowship from IIMC
      the simple logic was if I tell people what I am, I am living in the past, I am creating a barrier to relate to the Ashok Guzders & Tiwaris & Nanu Ravals of the world
      and I do believe real learning lies with these people and never in tomes of philosophy and esoteric religious thinking.
      Remember, the bigger they are thee harder they fall!
      have always stood against any organized religion or regulated thinking and I think the fresh air I feel gives me much freedom
      Of course all talk of the importance of a Guru to show us the path
      I agree Koi Samaza nahi Koi jaana nahi
      and that to me is the true potential
      Grow as you will
      all of us have chance to move forward.

      I am truly happy for you that you have found your road and answers thru BK
      and I am always impressed that an IIT engineer with such a great exposure and experience is finding his truth
      All power to you and BK and so i am happy you chose to bear your heart on the public platform
      I hope some readers take inspiration from you

      as Koran says there are multiple ways to reach the Allah
      and each path is radiant and welcoming

      Once again, many many thanks for your comments
      as you know I always look FW to your feedback
      I am glad that you found my search for meaning genuine and trusthful
      hope I continue to raise the right questions in future too


      1. Thanks VS for your very thoughtful response!

        I like the approach you have described ,wherein you ensured all the time that barriers were not created while dealing with Gazders and Tiwaris of the world.
        i have seen that this approach of yours has won their hearts. Even now, after so many years, they have respect as well fascination for you!

        I want to say ,however, that a person with a low self esteem cannot do this. Such a person would like to announce from the roof tops about Gold Medals , IIMs etc.
        In Gujarati ,we say: “અધૂરો ઘડો છલકાય” !!

        As you have observed ,I do feel happy that I have found what I consider to be a right path. Having said that ,I am aware that I have miles to go .
        The satisfaction is that every little step that I take is on this path !

        Thanks again for your very encouraging comments ,as always!

        Liked by 1 person

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