Life is a cycle of joys and sorrows. Most of us are carried away by them and feel happy or unhappy accordingly. Our seers have contemplated a lot on this subject and have advised us to rise above both of them. They say that there is no absoluteness about them and both are fleeting moments of life. In other words, joy and sorrow are only external happenings and affect us only when we come to know of such happenings. If we are ignorant about them, they create no effect on us. Also, the same event creates a different feeling in different persons. It depends upon our relationship with the event at that point of time. If they were absolute, they would evoke same feelings in all of us even if we didn’t know about them. In addition, the impact of any event, good or bad, fades with time and we remain affected neither by a good event nor by a bad event in due course of time.
I am narrating a personal experience here to support the above. It was in May, 1983, when I was posted as District Magistrate in Basti. At that time, one of my close friends was posted as District Magistrate in Almora (at that time Uttarakhand was a part of UP). He invited us to visit Almora, which is one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. Those days, my father-in-law, who was in Delhi, was not well and there was a risk to his life. However, after being assured that there was no immediate danger, I decided to undertake the trip with my family. My friend had made good arrangements for our stay and travel within the district.
There were several places worth visiting including Ranikhet, known as the ‘Queen of Hills’. Overall, we enjoyed our stay and had a nice time. At that time, communication by telephone was not very advanced. Hill districts, in particular, had poor services and it was very difficult to get in touch even with Delhi. As a result, we had no information about the condition of my father-in-law. As we were returning to Basti from Almora, we stopped briefly at Lucknow, and I contacted Delhi from there. I learnt that my father-in-law had passed away two days back and by that time he had also been cremated. This came as a great shock to us and I, with my wife, travelled to Delhi the same evening and observed the mourning period there.
While all this was being done, the philosophical thoughts about our joy at Almora and sorrow after learning about the death kept occupying my mind. This contemplation made me believe that our joy is nothing but our ignorance and by the same logic, our sorrow is equally our ignorance. A wise person neither gets elated with joy nor gets depressed by sorrow. Since then, I have been trying to imbibe this wisdom.