February 2016

The ultimate formula

(This is a feeble translation of "Gurumantra", a hilarious story by Munshi Premchand. The objective is merely to acquaint readers with Premchand's stories and to exhort them to read the original or better translations)

Owing to domestic bickerings and lack of invitations to free meals Pandit Chintamaniji developed an intense desire to renounce the world; he gave up the life of a householder and became an ascetic.

His dearest friend, Pandit Moteram Shashtri, advised him: "Friend! I have known some very great ascetics. When they go door-to-door begging for alms, they don't stretch their palms and grovel. When they arrive at some good man's house, they don't give empty and hypocritical blessings like 'may god always provide all your needs; may you live a happy life'. No! This is the manner of the beggar. Mendicants don't behave that way. Rather, they call out in a booming voice which startles the people in the house and causes them to rush to the door out of curiosity. I know a few phrases which the ascetics use on such occasions; you may adopt any one of them for your own use. Gudhdibaba used to say: 'If anyone were to die, let all five die'. On hearing this people prostrated at his feet. Then there was Sidhdhababa who had an excellent slogan: 'Eat, drink and make merry; but beware of Babaji's mace'. Nangababa's call was: 'Give if you will, else give me to drink, put me to sleep'. Understand this fact that the welcome and respect you receive depends much upon your war cry. What else can I say! Don't ever forget this. The two of us have spent many happy days together, and we have attended hundreds of feasts where we exhibited our voracious appetites. I will not be able to display the same eating skills now in your absence. May god always lead you along an aromatic path."

Chintamani wasn't quite happy with the slogans. "Think up a different catch phrase for me," he requested.

Moteram: Alright. How about this, "If you don't give, I will sit on you".

Chintamani: Yes, I like that. But, if you don't mind I would like to edit it.

"Certainly! Go ahead," Moteram said graciously.

Chintamani: Well then, let's put it this way "Give, else get squashed".

"Excellent!" Moteram said leaping up in excitement, "god knows this is an unexampled war cry. Devotion has sharpened your intellect. Utter it once again in a challenging voice; let's see how you deliver it."

Chintamani plugged his ears with his fingers, took a deep breath, and with all his might yelled, "Give, else get squashed." The noise was so deafening that even Moteram was alarmed. There were a few bats which instantly hid themselves in the trees; the dogs started barking.

Moteram: Friend! I was shaken to the core after hearing your war cry. One doesn't get to hear such a challenging sound; you roar like a lion. Well, now that we have decided upon the catch phrase, I will tell you a few important things; listen carefully. The ascetics speak in a language somewhat different from ours. While speaking with superiors or elders we address them using respectful terms, but when speaking with younger persons we forgo all formal modes of addressing. For the ascetics everyone is equal; they don't distinguish between rich and poor, superior and inferior, or old and young; they address everyone alike. Make abundant use of the words "mother" and "father" while speaking. Keep in mind one more thing: never speak in plain and grammatically-correct language, or your secret will be out. In the lingo of the ascetics it is incorrect to say 'Mother, please give me some food'; instead, you must say something like: 'Mother feed this body, you will be great religion'."


Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu

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