Mahadevan's Monologues

If we had the vision and feeling of ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. – George Eliot

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


In his well known Play ‘Pygmalion’ (Source of the Movie ‘My Fair Lady’ ), George Bernard Shaw says that ‘the difference between a Lady and a flower girl lies not in what they are, but how they are treated’. What a great observation!

A poor flower girl did not have proper English diction and cultural finesse. A Professor, determined to transform her, gave her all the treatments normally meted out to a well groomed lady and this poor timid girl, became indistinguishable from a maiden from May Fair. Many culturally advanced families adopt children from orphanages and transform these children into examples of excellence in etiquette. It is how they were treated, that made the difference.

We have this evil tendency of looking down upon some and treating them contemptuously while venerating others. Karna, because of his alleged low class (caste!) birth, was not treated humanely. Duryodhana gave him a ‘local habitation and a name’ and what a difference it made! He proved himself to be the most dreaded warrior and for sheer prowess, was spoken of in the same breathe as Arjuna and Parasuram. The treatment meted to him made the difference. When we treat somebody contemptuously, we lower his/her self esteem which in turn would extinguish their potential abilities. Some teachers, snub a few students who, as a result, never blossom. Those who are encouraged at home and in the school turn out to be bright students.

The Monarchs in the earlier periods, when they conquer a territory, would take a way the women to their harems, reduce the men to be mere slaves and such vanquished kingdoms never produced geniuses. A bruised ego cannot innovate and improve upon.

Reaching out to people, extending a supporting arm, providing a healing touch or even a mere reassuring look can do wonders. Daughters in law in the earlier generations were not very assertive. They always used to look for moral support from some members of the family, besides their husband. This support, they greatly used to cherish. Even those fiercely ragging boys and girls, seek to justify their actions saying that they merely try to remove inhibitions and build up a feeling of camaraderie.

Today we use phrases like ‘level playing ground’ which essentially means to give identical good treatment to all. The conditions of the then social outcaste in our society, reflects very poorly on our cultural traditions. They therefore flock where their feelings are assuaged. That is why great social reformers always tried to provide equal treatments to all. Baba Amte dedicated his life to the well being of lepers, the most condemned group in the society.

In large organizations, well established trade unions, gradually nourish the newly joined employees and they remain fiercely loyal to such Unions. Here again the treatment given to the employees, won their hearts.
The Vedanta Philosophy and Indian sages say that every one is potentially Divine. The whole purpose of life is to fully realize this Divine nature. We do not look down upon anybody as Sinner. When we look upon every one as potentially Divine, how do we condemn people as unworthy? Let us condemn the acts and not the persons. Let us also praise the individuals and not merely their fine gestures. This attitude can certainly transform Flower Girls into accomplished Ladies.
And finally as John Dryden put it, ‘let us raise Mortals to the Skies and not pull Angels down’.