Straight talk… with philosophical sprinkling Two spiritual gurus, Mahatria Ra and Swami Sukhabodhananda, energised delegates.

Mahatria Ra

If you have to achieve a target of 1.25 million members in India by 2025, introduce Rotary to at least 15 million educated Indians. Instead of playing the National anthems of various countries in conventions, play one ‘Rotary anthem’.

Shrink the agenda, instead of speeches, have dialogues.

Talk Rotary to non-Rotarians.

These were some of the suggestions made by Mahatria Ra, philosopher and founder of Infinitheism. “I see so many elite Rotarians scrolling the screens of their mobile phones… some even sleeping and whenever they wake up, the speech is still continuing.” Commenting on the speakers focusing on retention of members, he said club presidents should dedicate at least one weekly meeting to ‘purely listen’ to their members. Everybody has an idea, everybody wants his/her voice to be counted… heard. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a forum where we can learn from each other, we are not leveraging collective intelligence. There is lot of focus on inviting speakers but hardly any thought to listen to the challenges club members face. When you give your team that opportunity to be heard, it will create a lot more attachment. Then you can retain your members,” he said.

Mahatria Ra being felicitated by DG Jawarilal Jain and his spouse Sumitra in the presence of RID C Basker and spouse Mala.
Mahatria Ra being felicitated by DG Jawarilal Jain and his spouse Sumitra in the presence of RID C Basker and spouse Mala.

Rotary events must invite non-Rotarians to give them a first-hand feel of the organisation. Otherwise, it is like the Vegetarian Congress where all vegetarians are invited, talk on vegetarianism to vegetarians, all vegetarians will applaud the goodness of vegetarianism and after the convention all vegetarians will remain vegetarians and all non-vegetarians will continue to remain non-vegetarians. Shouldn’t a Vegetarian Congress invite non-vegetarians? Even if one could be converted there would be some achievement. “I think outsiders like me should hear a lot more about the good work of Rotary, rather than Rotarians talking to Rotarians about Rotary.”

His list of templates for a successful life:

  • Go into any relationship with what you can give, not what you can receive… because that puts you at the mercy of somebody. It need not be material. A pat on the back at the right time is all it takes to make a difference. He said that while the senior leaders were walking into the hall, he watched PRIP K R Ravindran waving at people and inviting them to join the procession. “I know Rotary has very strict protocols, but by this gesture, he made them smile, recognised and feel included. A small gesture and that’s all it sometimes takes to make people feel special.”
  • Let problems come from anywhere, solutions will come from you for a complaint-free Rotary in India, as the solution lies only with you. Don’t over-dwell on the problem, invest less than 10 per cent on the problem, give 90 per cent of your intelligence to finding the solution.
  • The question is not from where to where; the question is from here to where? Do not sit on your past laurels and glory. Yesterday’s success does not need today’s applause. At some stage tell yourself that this is the new zero. Referring to the number of polio cases today, he said, “16 is the new zero. It is fantastic to know that 350,000 has come down to 16, but let’s work to bring it down to 12, and from there to zero. Planting one million trees is not a project, growing them is the project. You can plant so many trees; take pictures, get awards. But next year when you go there, half the trees are not there. Start a project that the next three presidents can take forward.
  • Bigger the goal, stronger the motivation. Nobler the ideal, greater the inspiration. Higher the altar, deeper the surrender. When we all come together as one team, we motivate each other and inspire others. If you do not have a strong enough ‘Why’, you cannot inspire others.
  • Focus is not only the ability to say ‘Yes’ to the one, but also the discipline to say ‘No’ to the remaining 99. Don’t crowd too many projects. When you take over as a DG or president you will be tempted to take as many things. But remember giving your 100 per cent to 10 projects is better than giving 10 per cent to 100 things.

 

Swami Sukhabodhananda

We’re technologically savvy, but the consciousness still remains a beggar,” observed Swami Sukhabodhananda, speaking on the theme, Unite to give. Weapons of mass destruction have increased, nations are more organised in destroying each other, but is this growth? He asked, pointing out that compassion and empathy are the need of the hour to set right a world filled with greed, corruption and hatred.

Swami Sukhabodhananda (left) with Session Chair PRID P T Prabhakar.
Swami Sukhabodhananda (left) with Session Chair PRID P T Prabhakar.

“Patthar ek baar mandir jata he aur bhagwan ban jata he; magar insaan baar baar mandir jaakar patthat hi rehta hai. Mandir aur masjid kya gazab ki jagah hai… bhikari log bahar mangtey hei aur amir log andar mangtey hei,” he thundered.

If you really ‘see’ around you, you will realise that there is so much to give. Real seeing is absorbing the situation and environment, rather than superficially seeing things. You’ll understand that giving is actually expanding. Learn to respond and not react. Give with a smile.

If you really ‘see’ around you, you will realise that there is so much to give. Real seeing is absorbing the situation and environment, rather than superficially seeing things.
– Swami Sukhabodhananda

Sukhabodhananda had the audience engaged with intermittent jokes and humorous examples illustrating his points. Talking about waiting for the right time to do good, he said, “Why wait for a conducive situation, it is all in the mind.” The hall reverberated with laughter when he recited an Urdu poem: As a bachelor, a man said, Takdir hei magar kismat nahi khulti; Taj Mahal banana chahta hu, magar Mumtaz nahi milti. When he found a girl, he said, Takdir hai magar kismat nahi khulti, Mumtaz mil gayi hai, magar Shadi nahi karti. After marriage, he wailed: Takdir hai magar kismat nahi khulti, Taj Mahal banana chahta hu, Magar Mumtaz nahi marti!

Give happily; live positively; love abundantly… were the other thoughts he left the delegates with.

The session was chaired by PRID P T Prabhakar.

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bharat-holgar
RI Director Bharat Pandya is Treasurer for Rotary International for 2020-21, when Holgar Knaack will be RI President, JohritaSolari will be the Vice President and Stephanie Urchick, the Executive Committee Chair.