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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Stress Free Life Style!

A foreign journalist, a friend of mine, following Eat Pray Love unit in India was curious to know how most people could afford to have ever smiling faces in the countryside where he was covering the shootings of the film. At a get together in honor of the Hollywood super star Julia Roberts and other members of the cast and crew of the film, the journalist got the opportunity to ask a prominent person of Pataudi, the small town where the picture was being shot, the pertinent question that was uppermost in his mind since day one of his arrival there:

Q: “I'm pleasantly surprised to see all the people, young and old, in Pataudi always happy and smiling. Any special reason for them to retain the smile all the time?”

A: “It is their stress-free life style that keeps them quite happy and ever smiling. I give you my own example. When I was growing up, my parents told me that I do not have to worry for anything and I could study up to any level I want to, while enjoying my youth as much as I can. Now when I'm old, my children see to it that I live an absolutely stress-free life by providing all possible comforts to us in our old age. During the in-between period of life, whenever there was a problem, help was always instantly available from other members in our joint family on just a mention of my need. So, with everyone around in the family standing behind you, there was no way but to be always smiling in life, and praying to God to preserve our traditional family values till posterity.”

Wow, what an amazing simple solution to happiness in every home of that community in India's countryside, the journalist thought. That day onwards, alongside covering cast and crew of the extraordinary film, the journalist also kept contact with that person during the rest of his stay there to do some more research on the ever smiling Indians in the countryside. It was, indeed, an eye opener for him on how the traditional family values work to bring about peace and happiness in Indian homes that are still bound by them in their day-to-day life. The traditional family values are the foundation for how children grow, are taught and supported. These values are passed on from one generation to the next, giving families the structure and boundaries in which to function and thrive. The family supports and nourishes the members throughout the span of that family. A strong family unit creates a safe, positive and supportive place for all members to progress. They are able to utilize resources and to live together in a fairly healthy manner. They work together to solve problems, and they pass their skills on to the next generation. The most important element of the strong Indian family system is the feeling of being loved, of belonging to the group and being nurtured by it.

India is remarkable for its strongest family system in the world where people learn the essential themes of cultural life within the bosom of a family. The most widely desired residential unit is the joint family, all living under one roof, working, eating, worshiping, and cooperating together in mutually beneficial social and economic activities. Despite the continuous and growing impact of urbanization, secularization, and Westernization, the traditional joint household, both in ideal and in practice, remains the primary social force in the lives of most Indians. Loyalty to family is a deeply held ideal for almost everyone. The joint family is an ancient Indian institution, but even where the ideal joint family is seldom found, there are often strong networks of kinship ties through which economic assistance and other benefits are obtained. Not infrequently, clusters of relatives live very near each other, easily available to respond to the give and take of kinship obligations. Even when relatives cannot actually live in close proximity, they typically maintain strong bonds of kinship and attempt to provide each other with economic help, emotional support, and other benefits.

Depicting the importance of parents in our life, the finest anthology of verses from Indian scriptures for guiding towards better life, happiness and peace teach to respect and treat parents above everything else. If we keep our parents happy and satisfied then every god will be happy and satisfied with our deeds and acts. There is a mention in the Indian ancient scripture that if you have bad impact of Sun, you pray and seek the blessings of your parents and you will be alright. It is advised in Indian culture that every morning, immediately after waking up, we should touch the feet of our parents and seek their blessings for better day and fulfillment of our wishes and desires. Even today, in traditional Indian family this practice is followed like a ritual. So, to be happy and live life with utmost happiness, we must love, respect and offer our duty to our parents.

Another significant Sanskrit verse equates every member of the family to God - “Oh God! You are my mother and also my father. You are also my brother and sister and you are the supreme god for me.” If we see this verse in the context of our practical life and think of our father, mother, brother, sister as god and start respecting them like god; we will be able to live very happy, conducive and peaceful life on this planet.

Not only my journalist friend came back flabbergasted by the greatness of the Indian culture, the entire cast and crew of Eat Pray Love was visibly impressed and vocal about it. Julia Roberts is even reported to have converted to Hinduism on her return from India so that she can attain a serene and peaceful life in her next incarnation. Talking to the Elle magazine, Julia said, "I am definitely a practicing Hindu. " According to the actress, who was born to a Baptist and catholic couple, she observed Hindu culture and got herself immersed in Eastern philosophy and found the serenity and spirituality that she intends to have in her next incarnation. In the movie "Eat, Pray, Love", Julia plays the role of a woman who tries to decipher her inner self via spirituality and for this reason, she goes to India and studies and practices Hinduism.

The bottom line is that the basis of Indian culture is in the Indian family values and what inspires the ever smiling faces of ordinary Indians is clearly their culturally enshrined stress free life style.