UNDERSTANDING EXCELLENCE – PART II

We have a prayer for teachers of Shikshak Prabodhini (SP). It is a Marathi and Hindi adaptation of an English Prayer.

The English prayer is:

God Grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change.

Give me courage

To change the things that I can

And wisdom

To know the difference.

The Marathi version is:

जे टाळणे अशक्य, दे शक्ती ते सहाया |

जे अशक्यसाध्य आहे, निर्धार हे कराया ||

मज काय शक्य आहे, आहे अशक्य काय ||

माझे मला कळाया, दे बुद्धी देवराया ||

In Front of the selected students of Shikshak Prabodhini I started my interactive session. “Let us start with our prayer…” I said and one of my teachers wrote it in neat handwriting on the board.

“We need to understand the prayer before we sign it …” I said and read aloud the text. I had not planned to speak on the prayer. But during communication if I get a chance to introduce any new learning, I should not let it go a begging … so, I decided to continue. We started discussing the meaning of the poem. The students were coming out with interesting and valid remarks. How often we adults try to ‘teach’ the meaning rather than letting them ‘discover’.

“Can we point out key words in each line”, I gave direction to the proceedings. In line one, students marked ‘सहाया’ translated literally as ‘Tolerating’. Then through discussion it was pointed that the meaning was ‘accepting’. The emotional difference between these two terms was exactly described by students (all adult readers, please note).

In the second line, ‘निर्धार’ was the chosen word. “Which other word could have fitted here?’’ I asked. ‘निश्चय’ came the answer. We compared the two words and found ‘निर्धार’ had an edge over ‘निश्चय’. The word ‘धार’ means ‘sharp edge’ in Marathi … Wow, how wonderful… This had not occurred to me before.

In the third line, ‘शक्य-अशक्य’ were key-words, we discussed about how factors can be classified as within control and beyond control. We took example of a school examination and listed factors within and beyond control. We decided that this differentiation was very important and then it could help us to focus on factors within control.

In the fourth line, after deliberations, ‘माझे मला’ were chosen as key words. There was an interesting discussion on low ‘my realization’ is a key as against ‘others making one realize’.

“We need to sing the prayer uttering every word with its content echoing in our mind. Otherwise, the prayer looses its power”. I took example of the Sanskrit prayer, praising Goddess Saraswati and how the last words of the prayer ‘नि:शेष जाड्या पहा’ were misinterpreted by students. Everyone laughed. The word ‘जाड्या’ can be pronounced in different manners. If pronounced in Marathi phonetics it means a ‘fat person’ and if pronounced with Sanskrit phonetic flavor it means, ‘inertia of the intellect’. The prayer seeks blessings of the Goddess of knowledge to end ‘inertia of the intellect’.

“What should be our psychological disposition while praying?” I asked

“Calm…”

“Focused…”

“With humility…”

Pat came answers. Then I sang the Prayers, line by line. They followed.

After we completed the singing, I asked them, “What are the times when you will sing this prayer…”

A Flurry of responses followed… they were interesting

“Every morning…”

“Before going to sleep…”

“Before exam…”

“Before competition…”

I gathered all responses. And then came one.

“When I want to be with myself…”

The children will never let you down, if you believe in them. Had I hurriedly gone ahead, I would have missed this golden response. Look, just look at it…

I pray when I want to be with myself.

I have narrated this entire incident because in my opinion, there are messages galore for us in this… when we at times talk of the young generation with disdain and frustration, we adults, teachers and parents forget that we have not practiced the art and science of guiding, navigating the young ones through an experience.

Singing a prayer is an everyday experience. If we can guide and navigate them through the intricacies of this experience, we are creating learning’s from it… That is the essence of a ‘mentoring communication’. It helps the student discover, unobstructively, wonderful meanings behind an experience… It does not rob from the student the joy and thrill of exploring an experience but adds to it… As a communicator, I can share with you that those 30 minutes were as much an experience of joy and excitement for me as it was for them.

I may have the ability to give a ‘full’ discourse on the meaning of the prayer. But as a mentor my abilities are not for ‘flaunting’. My abilities need to be dormant enough to let the students explore and visible enough to give them the direction that I want … this is a secret of mentoring communication.

In fact, throughout the communication I am practicing ‘empathy’. I am putting myself in their shoes (This shoe has a sole-soul of thinking and laces of emotions) and coming out, then again going out, to come out… This journey gives my communication the sense of ‘Timing’. It starts and ends on exact notes. In a way, I am carefully constructing the communication so it reaches a climax as I expected and still it has that lovely element of creative uncertainly… The whole experience at the end of it divinely refreshing… for them and for me.

Dr Anand Nadkarni

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