Everyone knows how boring and tiring it is to deal with people who have no control over their emotions or worse, their reactions. To take on stress and to pass it on is tersely put as 'Tension lena aur tension dena' and colloquially described as 'pyaaz kaatna', to cut onions (on someone's head). A common set-up for this is a husband-wife relationship where the man works in a treadmill with no time to play and the bored, lonely, neglected wife raises Cain. It could equally be the working woman who is picked to pieces by a jealous husband, nagging in-laws, complaining parents, kids and general busybodies. It could be that colleagues get hyper and freak everybody out with their rages, moods and samosa-politics.
The sufferers in such situations are unable to sleep, they get headachy and depressed, begin to heartily dislike their oppressors or feel let down and disappointed, none of which adds to the greater good of the greater number. True, ours is a very competitive and rough society. In the larger view, this encourages effort and excellence. But the flip side, as we know, is that the worm of jealousy eats up the peace if people are always minutely comparing rewards, awards and acquisitions. A radical suggestion, though hardly new, is to learn to let go, to be a free spirit. A free spirit with a strong sense of duty, but nevertheless a free spirit. It really doesn't matter if someone else gets or is given more or less. The only competition is with yourself, if any. And even there, it's perfectly okay, it's absolutely honourable, to not to want to be superman or wonderwoman. The Gita tells us to work without attachment. Lord Shiva represents how it's possible to be engaged outside and detached inside. I guess we need to apply these life-saving maxims to everyday situations. The key may well lie in that enigmatic half-smile, almost a smirk, that all icons are depicted with. It means (let's say I had a dream about it, to speak with such ludicrous certainty), that though the rough-and-tumble of maya goes on outside, inside, the gods are dancing with wolves, buzzing with bees. Their faces are shown in screen-saver mode to tell us that there's a buffer that lets us filter the crash and bang of the outside world. It's an infographic. It's civilisational signage. We might like to look again.
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture