“If it’s tough to play cricket at the international level, it’s madness to play the ‘monk’ game for so long. A cricketer has moments when he could chill out with friends and do all that is not cricket. He could also take a break from the game and anyways he doesn’t play the game all the time. Moreover he retires after some years of active play. We on the other hand can’t get complacent on our monk duties because the distractions can drag us down terribly, before we know what’s happening, we’d slip away from our spiritual standards. There is no break on the path of our spiritual practices and we retire at death. We play whole life, facing bouncers and googlies and doosra and negotiating all the temptations and obstacles. We get injured like the many batsmen who lose concentration and feel the hard ball on their fragile bodily parts. A moment of inattention in your ‘batting’ as a monk, and you could hurt yourself badly if not be thrown out of the ashram. You have to constantly be on guard, as the agents of illusion threaten to distract you from the path of prayers and connection to God. So although we can learn from Sachin but our challenge is greater; our game bigger and our failures magnified but success unnoticed. It’s a solitary victory; unlike Sachin our achievements of selfless service for even fifty years won’t be recognized by the media. It’s only between you and your worshippable Lord. It’s for your love, God. That’s it. This world has no place for you or me or for the timeless spiritual principles. It’s busy cheering on the fading stars, dancing on the stage of time. While new actors perform on this stage, the older ones are alone nursing their time inflicted wounds, quietly behind the curtains”
Cricket seemed silly now for Venky. He could clearly see Aki and a few other seniors in the ashram, including the sometimes cranky Parameshwar as more glorious than his former hero Sachin Tendulkar. While Sachin indeed was a noble soul, Aki and others faced similar challenges. Ironically while Sachin was hounded by the world, monks were persecuted by their own minds; Sachin didn’t let the world affect his batting, a monk too has to ensure that his connection and purity isn’t negatively affected by the saffron color he wore. Venky had heard Kishor tell Shyam at Lal’s house a few years ago that the saffron dress was heavy. While a policeman or a doctor or even an army constable would take off his uniform at some time and relax, monks wore their ‘uniforms’ all the time. They had to bat well, and always. The society expected you to be pure. You lived according to others’ expectations and the standards they imposed on the monks.
Aki had more to say on Sachin, “Life could be simple for the monks if they wished to, like cricket could have been a simple and nice game for Sachin if he wanted to. But he allowed others’ expectations to get him. So we too may succumb to what the world expects of us, and thereby disconnect from who we really are and what we could tangibly contribute to the world”
Venky was surprised, “I thought Sachin Tendulkar always enjoyed his game, and he played naturally and happily, that’s why he’s so successful”
Aki was prepared for this. “Yes, for most part of his career he was a natural and happy player. But even he went through his struggles. And that’s where we can learn lessons.
“Initially as a young boy he played cricket aggressively, not being affected by anyone. During the Australian tour of 1991-92, Craig Mcdermott and Merv Huges, part of a star studded Australian attack were bought to their knees by Sachin who was just eighteen years old then. The Aussies, well known for sledging, didn’t spare this young boy either from their vicious comments. Tendulkar just ignored the sledging and continuing hitting boundaries at Sydney and scored a scintillating 148. Mcdermott finally challenged him that the next match at Perth, the favorite hunting ground for seamers as the ball bounced hard and high he would get back at Sachin. But they were shown no mercy even at Perth; Sachin played even better and scored yet another century. He was a young boy then and as Waugh admitted, he toyed with them as if they were school boys.
To be continued…