When was the last time you sharpened your axe?

 I promised you a story of the axe. Here I am. ‘You can Win’, by Shiv Khera is a must read for anyone who looks for self development for starters. That was one of my initial books I took up to during my MBA (PGDBM technically) days. I am not reproducing the story as it was in the book, but giving its net effect. There were two wood cutters Somappa & Gundappa (names changed for our relevance) working in a timber depot. Somappa joins on recommendation by Gundappa. Within 6 months Somappa starts earning double the income he started off on par with Gundappa. Can it be any different of what could be expected from Gundappa? Similar story, he goes in a rage and questions his boss, “how can you pay him more? I work as much as he does and I am senior?” to which the boss as the boss he is, conveniently diverts Gundappa to Somappa. Gundappa tells Somappa, “I work the same as you do and do not take breaks or waste time, then how is it that you are able to cut more trees than I do?” Somappa turns around and says, “I sharpen my axe each time I cut the tree.

When was the last time you sharpened your axe?”

Everyone is either bestowed with or works to hone some talent. The beauty is when one tries to understand its purpose and applies it for a constant relevance with time. The irony is, one works to hone a talent but after reaching a certain level tends to ignore the necessity to continue to hone it. It dawned upon me when I was explaining the theermanam adava (Thadinginathom) to my class that there is a beautiful lesson for life hidden in this adavu. To get something you first give and that is why it justifies give and take to make them think about give and take in this new age of selfishness and self centeredness. It was a moment of pride when my student Neeti said, “Didi don’t you think it’s also give, take and pass on?” In the thadhinginathom, when you stretch your hand holding tripatakam forward, it is giving. When it comes to the chest level – it is taking and when one turns back to stretch it back – it is passing.

Yet another whet, my 5 to 10 years group students are ever curious. When I was teaching them double hand gestures – samyutha hasthas, one student almost interrogated me why the hands only had a few incarnations if there are 10 (she was referring to dashavatharas) Who said a teacher perhaps has to be a book worm and you could win the class, now - a - days a teacher should be street smart! Thank God, my smartness that day helped me from not getting me on street J I without a second thought convinced her that this sequence actually depicts Darwin’s theory.  The first form- of life – aquatic – matsya (fish), next – amphibian – kurma (tortoise), next – terrestrial – varaha (boar) – next – from ground in to the sky – the Aves (birds) – Garuda (Eagle). I am glad they didn’t ask me how is that correlated as Natyashastra is stated to be written in 2nd century BC and Darwin is from AD! But isn’t it lovely when one tries to customize and draw relevance to the current affairs, our age old affairs are still relevant?

It will always remain relevant because then everything surrounded and was based on one main objective – ‘for the welfare of humankind’. It was yet another day that these hasthas came to my rescue. 2 of my little students had some tiff during the nature break. Irony is, there was a real nature break, they wouldn’t see eye to eye when they got back. I didn’t say a word, the best thing to do at such situations is to ignore. When I was dealing the theory, I stressed on pasha keelakow. I said see, even these hands state after every fallout there has to follow love. Smiles all over and they have never brought the fights in to the class at least.

But, just like whilst sharpening the axe there is a risk of chopping one’s own hand, trying to comprehend all traditions has the risk of losing their true identity. It’s in one’s hand to know whether they turn it a boon or a bane like our arala viniyoga – Vishadhyamrutha panesha – whether you use the hands to consume poison or nectar – all lies in one’s own hands!

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