When a Father Became Enemy of the Son
Recently during a marriage function, a relative of mine introduced me to Radhakrishnan (name changed), who was a well-known businessman in the past but now in an extremely reduced circumstances. He is now in his mid-70s.
I do not want to reveal his real name or company name as the company had gone public and listed in various stock exchanges a couple of decades ago.
“Sir, I have met you while I was working as a financial journalist…” I said. Usually I don’t remember people. But this man had spent almost a day with me explaining his amusing business concepts and killer marketing instincts.
“Yes, I do remember you – you were special correspondent of Dalal Street Investment Journal then, right?” he replied. I was amused at his memory!
Suddenly I remembered he had only one son, who was doing his MBA in a reputed university in USA (again, mentioning names and location will lead to the real identity) then.
“How is your son? Is he heading the company now?”
“What son? What company?” suddenly his faced changed into red. Then he used few words which would make gutter language feel shameful. I was really shocked and never expected such a language from a well-known senior guy who looked so decent.
Then he said: “I am sorry Uday. But I am not able to control my anger and hypertension. I take lot of medications, you know. Life became further miserable when my wife has passed away three years ago…”
“Sir, I am sorry to hear all that. But I have not been following up with any business news since I left financial journalism. I am totally out of sync. As I was travelling a lot since then, I was not seeing any local news too.”
He told me his story. “I have provided everything for my only son after my daughter eloped with a rascal, our car driver. I don’t know what happened to her, but I would be happy to hear good news she died in some gutters…”he stopped for a while, took a deep breath and continued: “Nobody might have loved their children the way I did. We have provided with them every comfort, luxuries and facilities. I had struggled a lot in my childhood. So I wanted my children to have the best of everything. We enrolled them in the best schools. When my daughter left us, all my focus was on my only son. I brought in special expensive tutors for him. I bought him car during his college. I sent him to USA spending millions. I dreamt he would be the next MD in my company after me and expand our business empire….”
“What happened?” I asked him.
“His priorities were different. He turned to be a womanizer and alcoholic. He became a demon and had ruined a larger portion of my wealth…”
“Where is he now?”
“In Jail, of course – there are few cheating cases against him. I heard he also had a heart attack in the jail. He is a role model for how a son shouldn’t be. He married twice and ended up divorcing them paying huge alimony. After he ruined my wealth, he started borrowing money using the reputation of the company and even in my name. He had spent it all on drugs and whores. He didn’t pay back to the lenders and now in Jail…”
“It really is shocking. I am sorry to hear that…”
“Yes, that’s all you people can do. Sympathize with me,” he said curtly.
I didn’t say anything. I could feel his emotions. “Sir, I don’t feel happy about your downfall. This shouldn’t happen to anybody, that’s my prayer.”
“Uday, sorry about my reaction. This shouldn’t have happened to me, especially. I have led a Dharmic life. I had built my empire in a righteous way. I have been told that Dharma will win. It’s all bullshit. Adharma will win. Gods are blind and unfair to me. I have done lot of poojas and rituals to set right my son.”
“I beg to disagree with you in this point sir…”
“What do you mean?”
“If you had led a Dharmic life, your son and you wouldn’t have faced this situation.”
“Uday, I know the purpose of life is Purushartha and I earnestly followed that. Still I am facing miserable life at the fag-end of life means what?”
(For those who come in late: – Purushartha is very simple. It starts with doing your Karma earnestly footed upon Dharma (which means right, responsibility, duty and privilege). A point to note is that each one’s Dharma is different – it is based upon his/her profession (Varna) and age (Ashrama). So, working earnestly based on Varna-Asharma Dharma, you may make money or wealth (Artha). Using this Artha, you may fulfill your desires (Kama), again based upon Dharma only. When you fulfill your Kama, you are ready for Moksha (liberation). However, the happening of Moksha is not entirely in your hand. All you can declare is “I am ready for Moksha” and wait for divine grace to make it happen. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are the four proper goals or aims of a human life and known as Purusharthas.)
“You might have followed it earnestly. But I don’t think you followed Dharma of a father.”
“What do you mean? I was the best father who met all needs of his son. And my s-o-a-b son…”
“Sir, please stop cursing him. Did you allow him to follow Purusharthas on his own? Did you let him experience the struggles and hardships in life? Did you allow him to earn money through Dharmic Karma?”
“Isn’t it parent’s duty to provide children with comforts, facilities and education?”
“No Dharma Shastras say like that. As per Shastras, you have to send you boy to Gurukul and the student has to work hard to learn something from the Guru. Gurus were making sure that students follow Dharma. Since we do not have Gurukul tradition now, parents taking care of children till basic schooling may be acceptable.”
“But what about after schooling?”
“Even during schooling, parents or grandparents must imbibe the values of Dharma in him or her. Since there is no Gurukul, somebody has to do it, right? The children will be grown and will have health to work after basic school education. In case of disabled children or children who need special care, parental support even at later stage is understandable. But as far as healthy children are concerned, nothing should come free. They should earn it by hard work, only then it will have a value. If your children are interested in studies, they should get scholarships or work to earn money to pay their fees and meet their education. If parents unduly provide them money, it becomes Adharmic – that is what happened in your case.”
“But whom we are making money for? Our children, right?”
“Wrong. When a honeybee stores nectar in its hive, it is not just for its family. It is for the whole community and humanity. You are making money to take care of yourself and your wife, who sacrificed her life for you. Whatever remains after your death may be shared with others, including your children. When you make money, you are exploiting resources in the earth, which actually belong to all. You are also using many people. You cannot just make money by yourself. So you will have to share your wealth with those who helped you in your life!”
“So, you mean to say, I shouldn’t have given my wealth to my son as inheritance?”
“If your son is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting your money. Once he works hard and make “Artha” in a Dharmic way, then you may present him a part of your wealth as bonus. That too, only if he follows the path of Dharma. Otherwise, you will also become a part of Papa or Adharma!”
“Hmm. Uday, I have never thought of that way. It is NOT a normal thought. But, yes, my logical mind says you are right.”
“Sir, instead of teaching him Dharma, you let him grew up wealthy as a “member of the lucky sperm club”. He didn’t know value of money, so became an arrogant, spoilsport and pleasure seeker. In short, you have ruined him. Instead of loving him, you pampered him with your wealth. The existence will not allow “dynastic wealth” (wealth that is so vast it creates generational dynasties) for long term. At the best wealth will remain with a family for 2 – 3 generations. If they don’t follow Purushartha, the existence will punish them for spending selfishly the resources which were meant for all. Look around you; you can see lot of examples.”
“Yes, sir, you may be able to show few exceptions – but I am sure it would be one among billions. The wealth will stay only at the feet of Dharma – that’s why it is meaningfully shown that Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) is sitting at the feet of Maha Vishnu (Personification of Dharma)”
“No, that was not I intended to say. When you said I ruined my son, it caused severe pain in me and hurt my heart very much. Uday, I have never thought in that way. Instead I wanted to provide him best of everything so that he won’t struggle like me…”
“Struggle made you up Sir. You didn’t allow him to do the same…”
He closed his eyes for some time and went into complete silence. Then he opened his eyes, waved his hands to somebody who was distributing fruits juice in the marriage hall. He drank a glass of juice.
He looked at me for a minute and said: “Yes, Uday, now I understand my folly. I have never ever thought this way. It took years and a person like you who is much younger than me to teach me this truth. But tell me, why didn’t God support me, despite doing so many things for God? Why didn’t he teach a lesson to my son then itself?”
“I do not know if any God runs such support services for fees. Did God ask you for money? You might have spent money in temples or given to priests. It would be beneficial to the temple authorities and priests – it is good for our religious institutions. You can do it as part of your generosity, good gesture and ‘dhana’ (religious donation), which are also important in our life. But that’s not everything. You will have to face the results of your own Karma. Nobody, not even Gods, can prevent it. Beliefs may help you to face it better, that’s all. When you enjoy pleasure will you share it with anybody? No. So how can you expect anybody else to share your pain?”
“Hmmm. So, at this age, what do you expect me to do? Especially, given I am an old and weak man?”
“My intuition says that you are long due for one of your Rina (Debt). You might have paid all other debts in your life except this one. So, now focus on paying your Rishi Rina,” I said.
“Rishi Rina? What’s that?”
“According to our Dharma, we are indebted to our Sages for providing us vast knowledge to live as a human being different from other animals. So we are indebted to our Rishis (Sages) – this is known as Rishi Rina. Rishi Rina (Debt to the Rishis) can be paid by studying the scriptures and creating awareness of Sanatan Dharma which is the only way to regain humanity and values in the world,” I said.
He didn’t say anything but asked for my phone number. After a couple of days he called me and asked which are the best books to start with. I told him to read “Yoga Vasishtha!” and “Jnanappana”
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