Does he know a mother’s heart, How suffering refutes religions is Arun Shourie’s 26th book. He has written more books that many of our MPs have read in their lifetime. Arun Shourie is a man with many hats. He received his Phd in economic, worked with world bank, he worked as an editor of Indian Express twice and once as editor of Times of India. He was then nominated to Rajya Sabha and served as disinvestment minister and telecom minister in Vajpeyiji’s cabinet.
His performance as a minister was illustrative and he perhaps showed us how good ministers can bring a change in the system and turn around the fortunes of the nation. The corrupt UPA government and their agent Kapil Sibbal tried a lot to make Dr. Shourie a casualty in the recent 2G scam. Not only that CBI submitted that they have nothing against Shourie but they ended up holing Murasoli Maran, UPA’s own man.
Leaving all this aside. Let us come back to the book.
This book is very much different from Shourie’s other books. You can clearly see that this book is written more by a father than a scholar. Not that is lacks in scholarly analysis but his emotions are so clearly visible. Also while reading this book you realize that this man, who fought many battles for our country has also fought some severe battles at home.
Arun and Anita was the happiest couple when they got married. They spent 9 years in US. Then Adit was born and their life was turned upside down. A child withe cerebral palsy. A child that will never walk or work like other children. What did the father and mother felt? It came as a big blow.
And then Shourie realized that the fate has indeed inflicted a great suffering on his life as well as the life of his helpless child. The questions that came in his mind was WHY ME?
We are culturaly nurtutred to belive in the existence of a God. All religions tell us invariably that the God is all merciful and loves all while not a leaf moves but his will. Arun Shourie reverts to the texts. He reads up bible, Koran, Gita, Upanishads and everything else to figure out the utility of suffering.
The kind of analysis he generally applies to government reports and judicial documents he applies the same to old testament and Koran and the Upanishads. He shows how most of the explanations are clearly self serving and logically inconsistent. He also shows how mahatma Gandhi concocted similar stupid arguments.
He cites paragraphs after paragraphs to show how inconsistent our scriptures are. To go by Gandhiji’s logic, the child is inflicted with pain so that the parents learn some kindness and humility. But then why the all merciful God inflict such pain on the child? What was the child’s fault?
No but the child had committed some sin in past says someone. But if everything that happens according to God’s will then whatever that child did was also as per the God’s will. Why blame the poor child for which the God himself motivated his acts ?
When a plane crashes and none but a 5 year old girl survives we say that it was by God’s grace but aren’t the 300 people who have killed are murdered by God by the same logic ? No but they had committed some sin that’s why they were punished someone will say.
This kind of arguments make no sense. We attribute all the good to his mercy but in case of suffering put the blame on the victim himself.
If my son indeed committed some sin in past life, says Shourie, in this life he is actually very happy. He is full of love and joy.
In a heart rendering tale Arun Shourie tells how he setup a school for such special children in Delhi. It was first such school in the whole country. But as soon as he did it , one casteist minister who was responsible for reservations demanded why there are no caste based reservations in this school an demanded action against the school. Schools organized a concert by Subbalaxmi to raise funds. As soon as she started singing Adit started crying. Shourie realised that it is the words of the songs that are making an impact on the kids mind. Shourie hugged him and took him out and said “Tum royo mat beta, yeh toh sirf gana hai”. Subbalaxmi told Shourie that this is perhaps because Adit has an earn to classical music. Which turned out to be true. God indeed has bestowed sharp memory and strong hearing power to this kid.
But after few years when shourie and adit were in the garden, subbalaxmi happened to sing another song on the radio. The song moved Shourie. He could not stop his tears. The young Adit could not see his father face but he called him, hugged him and said “Papa tum royo mat”.
In other instance Adit fell off a wheelchair and broke his two front teeth. He was full of blood. Arun and Anita rushed him to the dentist who removed his two front teeth. Adit called the doctor to come close and then blew a kiss to say thank you and the doctor was completely stunned.
Shourie then turns to the masters. Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s teaching are discussed and he infers that both the saints were so much different from the God described in the books. They never hated anyone, neither did they hurt even those who were sinners. Instead they were full of compassion to every living thing around them.
The book is convincing to show us that the God as described in the scripture is inconsistent. He is arbitrary and random. There is no correlation between his ledger keeping and what happens to people. He is weird and hence probably irrelevant to our lives.
Shourie seems to accept the Buddhist philosophy that suffering is the ultimate truth of life. That you can not escape it. That there is no answer to why it is inflicted only upon you. Suffering is in our mind. To overcome suffering one has to overcome his mind through whatever that works.
He rightly points out that there is not better solution that what works for an individual. A ritual, a God, a godman or pure atheism. Shourie personally puts his suffering to work. He sees a teacher in his child Adit. Who has taught him so many thing, non-attachment.
Given news of multi-crore scams by our ministers it sounds a bit weird but the fact about this book is as follows. After NDA’s defeat Shourie criticized the party pointing out several problems with the party organizations. Like any corrupt organization BJP was quick in sidelining this man. Shourie lost interest in what he was doing in Delhi. Besides Delhi winter was too harsh for his wife who has been suffering from Parkinson for last 22 years. Her condition was becoming worse. Shourie decided to bid goodbye to delhi and used all his life savings into building a home in Lavasa near pune. The home was built right from scratch taking into consideration the wheelchair bound Adit and Anita.
But one day Adit suffered a convulsion. They have assumed that this was cured by Ayurveda 30 years ago. It was so serious that Adit had to be helicoptered out of Lavasa to Pune. Where doctors said it is not possible Shourie to return to Lavasa again because such thing can happen again at any time.
“Adit taught me the true meaning of non-attachment” says Arun Shorie.
Wonder if this will be the last book by this man. I wonder how should we feel about Dr. Manmohan Singh who has known Shourie’s family for years tried to implicate Shourie in 2G and other scams. I wonder what I should feel about Kapil Sibbal who tried to frame Shourie in a completely baseless case related to VSNL disinvestment.
Famous movie troy ends with a speech from Odysseus; “If they ever tell my story, let them say I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Hector, tamer of horses. Let them say I lived in the time of Achilles.”
We too lived in times of people like Shourie.