Legend about Legends…

16 Oct

I am not particularly proud about the fact that my scepticism and criticism takes a front seat when it comes to judging people’s words. Whenever I hear that someone is legendary or that someone achieved something great, my immediate response is one to think about how difficult I perceive that “act” to be and if it is not worth for what it is claimed, I try to be brutally blatant in my response. But then, if not for the brutal part, I think many of us are like that. Anyway, when I talk about judging great people, I am talking about people whom everyone considers legendary, like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Einstein and so on. Most of us havent met any of these people. Most of what we perceive is based upon stories that we read from books. We do need legendary examples to motivate us. But, I do think that books hype things a bit more about great individuals? Do we hail them just because everybody else does or for what they are really worth? Lot of times, I have observed that, when it comes to taking a critical stand on great people, we refrain from it just so that we avoid conflicts. But, I am sure if you look into the lives of great people, there are lots of things that are not noteworthy which the great people themselves are not proud of. Knowing that I am not the only one to question conventional wisdom, these great people still survived all the odds of criticism and are still esteemed very highly. I decided to continue with my quest to know what is so great about these people that I am not aware of. Okay okay, it was nothing close to a quest as much as it was my curiosity..:)…

Recently, I got to meet Dr.Shantha. She is a cancer specialist and serves as the chairperson of Adyar cancer institute, Chennai. She has won several accolades including Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and the well renowned Magsaysay award as well. Some call her the Mother Teresa of South India. I had the greatest privilege of meeting her in person. There is always some sort of fantasy that overwhelms me before I get to meet someone famous. But then, when it happens, it’s not as eventful as I imagine. Same was the case with me when I first met her. The best I could come up with was a smile and a half-baked hello. But then, I got to attend a dinner event sponsored by the bay area cancer institute foundation (CIF) the following day. She gave a talk about what her institution was all about and how everyone could help her cause. Following that was a Q&A session. A rare oppurtunity knocked my door to ask the question that I always wanted to ask a person of her cadre… I asked her, “What motivates you? To me, working on the same topic for a few years becomes demotivating after a point.. You have been leading this organization for the past 55 years. Every morning when you wake up, what is it that motivates you to keep doing what you do, constantly ?”… (Did I tell you, Dr.Shantha is 80+ yrs old). She initially said that it was a difficult question to answer. Then, she recited a few words from Bhagvad Gita, the gist of which translates to, doing one’s duty and not expect results. I wasnt convinced with the answer, but then, I nodded as if I was convinced. Time went by and the dinner event concluded and there she was sitting in a chair talking to volunteers and guests in a more informal setting. I stood close to her. When her eyes laid upon me, I reminded her about the question I asked and said that I did like her answer, but still was highly puzzled on where her motivation came from. She looked at me straight in the eye and said, “You know what. I wasnt entirely honest earlier. People normally see only the brighter side of things. I have certainly had my ups and downs. There are times when I have thought about why I do what I do. But then, you see the positive outcomes and how it changes people’s lives… And that, brings hope and happiness to me and I continue…” I was quite impressed with the answer. I realised, great people are afer all human too. The only thing that is different is the fact that, she chose a path and stuck to it, with complete belief that it is the right path. Irrespective of what happened, she stayed in the path and still does… Ofcourse, there are irregularities, anomalies, controversies and so on. But, the one thing that remains constant is that great people like Dr. Shantha have very strong will…One could interpret that strong will to be dedication, kindness, focus, stubbornness or just plain ego. In my opinion, such focus is what differentiates legends from normal people. Whether it be Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Einstein or Bill Gates, I think that is the commonality. I think, leadership and legendary attributes are cultivated by egoistic minds working towards the welfare of society…As Teddy Roosevelt rightly said, as long as we strive to be the person in the arena and by continuously doing so, we are all legends in our own ways…


Posted by on October 16, 2007 in From AM-KICKING blog


3 responses to “Legend about Legends…

  1. Saumya

    October 16, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    That is very true. In recent years, Narayan Murthy has been made out to be a icon in the Indian and International press. While I admire what he has done for the Indian economy and appreciate it tremendously, I could not digest some of his other ‘preachings’ if you may.
    Even voiced to close friends, I used to get that vibe that we should not critique such a well-meaning man. My rebuke used to be: “I really admire what he is doing to the country, and his thought process. I just don’t agree with this.”

    I used to work at the headquarters in Bangalore, and I knew that when I saw him in the canteen in the queue for food, there was going to be an article the next day about he humbly stands in line for food. Right enough, the next day would be a picture of him standing in line.

    Nothing wrong…..he was human too. And I saw that….

    Daring to risk it all to reach a goal enables the good to be great and the great to achieve greatness.

  2. Survivor

    October 17, 2007 at 4:31 am

    Agree with you 100% .
    I have an egoistic mind and try to work towards the welfare of society ……getting there…I guess…

    Looks like the wise man has traveled back in time and is trying to satisfy with a thought provoking blog.;-)

  3. sdpal

    October 18, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Wonderful blog mindframes. Nicely written with a great message.


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