I was reflecting today on the movie “3 Idiots”, arguably the greatest movie hit in India (the Idiots are called so because they do not fit convention, not because they are dull or lazy).
We see one Idiot who grows up over the course of the movie to develop a spine, to get courage and confidence to do the right thing, to be honest and truthful no matter what the stakes.
We see a second Idiot who throws convention out the door, rebels to pursue his real passion in face of opposition, driven by the quiet conviction of one who knows where his happiness lies.
We see a third Idiot who cuts all superficiality and goes straight to the core – the real thing which matters is what we are inside, how we continuously learn and upgrade our soul, capability and knowledge, and how we use it to benefit those around us. All else is superficial.
We also see a fourth Idiot who appreciates goodness and simplicity, and rejects vacuous wealth and its promise of branded happiness – a “X lakh ki ghadi Y lakh ki sherwani” – for something different.
During the movie, most of us find something to admire in these characters, relating more to one or the other.
And then we see a clever person – Chatur. Chatur flashes his designation – “Vice President”. He states his location proudly – “USA”. He grandly states name of the company he works at. He shows photos of his mansion and car. He reels off statistics about his income, and its relative proportion. He is competitive, and enjoys making others feel bad about themselves. Belittling others is his way of elevating himself.
Most of us do not see ourselves in him. We do not admire him. We do not want to be like him. We walk out of the theater pretty sure of ourselves and what we are. If someone were to run a survey, you would be a combo of the Idiots, with not a droplet of Chatur.
Now let’s face the mirror, and find out who we really are.
Last I checked, here is what a typical young software engineer, or indeed every “educated” person, wants: More salary and income. A fancy designation. Works at “MNC”. Relocates to USA. Puts others down to get ahead. Big house, big car. And s/he wants to put all of it up on social networks – lemme take a selfie! – for others to envy.
Wow – look at those points! Think about it for a minute. Through our desires, which match absolutely exactly what Chatur did, we have made Chatur a model for ourselves! We admired the Idiots in our minds, but in our actions we are pursuing Chatur – ah the sweet ironies of life.
Why really do we want to become Chatur? Does education make us sheep of a herd, instead of humans who can think different? Is growing up a process of discovering our uniqueness to enjoy its flowering, or is it a process of learning what is expected and fitting in to convention?
When our heart yearns for goodness and simplicity, for improving our inner self and capabilities, when our heart pursues contentment and truth, when our heart knows what makes us happy and brilliant, when our heart admires the core and rejects the superficial – when our heart knows all these things and is there to guide us – why then do we allow our head to rule?
Is it a desire for the safe choice, the loss of innocence, the development of rationale? The loss of our selves?
What do Idiots have in their hearts, which lets them overrule the head? Courage. Courage for mischief, courage for fun, but more importantly – courage to stand up for the right thing. To stand away from the crowd, sometimes alone. To get to the core of things. To do stuff that matters.
Think about yourself for a minute. Did you admire Chatur, or one of the Idiots? Which life do you want to lead? And where are you headed? While you grew up, did you sacrifice your individuality at the altar of convention, did you lose your courage?
Today, ask yourself: are you becoming that which you do not admire? And what is it that you DO admire?