TAT TVAM ASI: PINKY ACHARYA: BECOME SHAKESPEARE . com : PAGES 115 : PRICE : RS 150/-
At first sight, one would have thought that this book belongs to the genre of philosophy. The book title ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ in Sanskrit gives that impression. After all, this is one of the four Mahaavaakyaas from the Chaandogyo panishad. And the cover page image by the author’s daughter conveys another impression altogether. It goes to the credit of author Pinky Acharya that this intriguing combination of title and image compels the reader not to brush it aside but to give it a serious look. Running into 115 pages, the book is in the form of short and personal real life soul-searching anecdotes and is an easy read. The author has used a very lofty and noble concept to trick the reader to understand in common parlance what the title means. The reader is the winner.
This is the first book of the author on a very profound subject. The three word title literally means “Thou Art That”. There are various interpretations of this short aphorism. What it essentially conveys is that we all are a part of the Almighty, the Supreme Godhead. This is not a book on Vedanta. But it carries the message of Vedanta in the form of importance of self-realization and that good values which if practiced can make a person happy. After all, every person seeks happiness. The author Pinky Acharya tries to highlight important values in people’s lives which if followed can bring about truly a societal transformation for the good of mankind.
The book has 21 short chapters each conveying a message for the reader. There is an illustration at the beginning of each chapter and at the end of most chapters a quotation from a famous personality which underpins the theme of the chapter. Having been fortunate to have been brought up in an atmosphere of love, kindness, compassion, empathy, devotion to elders and bhakti,the author is a personification of all these virtues and practices them in her daily life within her own family and circle of her near and dear ones. Here we come across not an academician explaining a concept which is very sublime but one who champions it by example as an object lesson for all ages and genders to lead a truly noble and useful life.
Pinky Acharya begins with a flying start. ‘You can’t change the world around you, but you can change the one within’. Look within and try to cleanse your soul. The first chapter on ‘Seva’ is very touching. How an elderly spinster reaches out to the have-nots and provides medicines and food supplies to them in spite of lack of funds at her disposal. She provides a cellphone to an incapacitated octogenarian to enable her to remain in touch with her daughter. She galvanizes old and lonely people for religious activity and arranges their visits to temples from Kashmir to Kanyakumari thus giving them hope and cheer and a meaning in life which they had totally lost due to their incapacities.
In each of the subsequent chapters, there is a lesson and a message. How technological progress has its upsides and downsides, how impromptu acts of kindness can resonate two hearts in unison, why one should cut one’s coat according to the available cloth, why one should respect food and not waste it (‘annam na nindyaat’), how a carpenter felt he was overpaid and travelled a long distance to return the extra money, how a well-to-do person decided to give up everything in life to follow his calling of helping the needy and less privileged by living minimalistically on the pavements, how we should sustain an atmosphere of good values at home for the young to learn and mould their characters, that wisdom and education are not necessarily the same, how some doctors are like good Samaritans and help the patient in the process of healing by giving appropriate medicines and subjecting them only to the minimal number of medical tests, how loss of vision due to an operation which went horribly wrong did not deter the lady from remaining positive and in channelizing her energies to purify her inner self, how the death of a child transformed the parents and spurred them to work ceaselessly for the cause of building a medical foundation to help poor children suffering from terminal diseases which became a mission for them thus converting their huge personal loss into an emotional societal gain, how understanding and empathy can build lasting relationships, how the food one eats reflects one’s personality, how the company one keeps indicates the character of the person, the feelings of a mother when she gives birth to a new life. how a septuagenarian lady teacher decided to earn a living for herself and her family who now are totally dependent on her earnings by leaving the amount of fees to be paid by the child’s parents to their discretion and not asking for some huge tuition fees and how the teacher is more important than what the teacher teaches. These examples and anecdotes leave a lasting impression in our minds. We realize that there are indeed such people around of outstanding character and values who make their own contributions to the improvement of society by their selfless deeds.
I have given a few examples above of the importance of moral values in one’s life emphasized by Pinky Acharya. They are very basic. Integrity, honesty, kindness, sympathy and empathy, love and compassion, eating the right type of food, keeping the company of good people etc. These values can uplift a person to great heights resulting in moral and spiritual elevation leading to a high degree of happiness which all of us crave for. One has to continuously soul- search and purify one’s soul.
The author is a deeply religious person and is blessed with a loving family. She shares her experience in a simple and engaging style rid of any mumbo-jumbo. She does not sermonize. She beseeches the readers to pause and think of how they are handling their lives in this modern age and materialistic world. How in our anxiety to become rich we are missing the essential values that transforms a person into a noble personality.
I recommend this book to the youth as well as to the middle-aged and seniors. There are lessons to be learnt by all. One should not get intimidated by the Sanskrit title on the cover page. It is neither a philosophical book nor a book containing some esoteric secrets. It is a book to read and lead a happy and contented life. Let the spark of the Supreme Godhead in everyone of us be lit and illuminate us by unfolding the divinity that is lurking in our hearts.