Both these books by J.P. Vaswani are a collection of inspiring stories which touch the heart and encourage us to become the catalyst in bringing about a change ? a change within us and change within others. The author of these books is a celebrated guru on spirituality and gives regular discourses to uplift mankind and whose books will make the readers accept the Truth that he/she alone can be his/her own best friend, no matter how many friends surround him/her throughout life.
There are some very pertinent questions which have been bothering the human kind for centuries: Why do problems arise in life? What are the solutions to life'sproblems? Why does the world seem so cruel and unfair? Why is there so much suffering and misery? Who can provide answers to such perplexing questions? Who and what will help to put things right?
It is to all such questions and many more that Dada Vaswani'sreply is: ?You alone can make a difference and it'sall a matter of attitude.? And how is it so? Read the stories in these books and you shall find the answer to most of the problems plaguing your mind.
A very interesting story is told about Vaswani himself when he was a child. He invariably slapped himself whenever any undesirable thought entered his mind. Once he slapped so forcefully on his hand, that his friend walking with him asked if it was a mosquito that had bit him. Vaswani promptly replied, ?Yes, the deadliest,? and what could be as deadly as an undesirable thought!
Another fetching story is about a youth who tried his level best to give up smoking but failed repeatedly like Mark Twain, the famous English writer who had once remarked, ?Smoking is the easiest habit in the world to give up. I ought to know?I have given it up a thousand times!?
Then there is the story of Annie Besant who, when young, gave birth to a baby girl who fell ill soon after birth. The baby developed high fever and went into convulsions. Annie virtually lost faith in God as she could not understand why a child who had not even hurt a fly, was undergoing such suffering. It was while reading H.P. Blavatsky'sbook, Isis Unveiled that it dawned upon her that her child was paying for the karma of her previous births.
A very educative parable told by the author is about a shoal of fish, some of whom got caught in the net of the fisherman. Some among the caught fish managed to escape, some continued to struggle, while a few rested passively, ignorant of the fate that awaited them. Through this parable Ramakrishna Paramhansa compared the situation to the condition of human beings ? ?the nityamukta, those who are not touched by the bonds of karma; the mukta, those who, through their own efforts and the grace of God, liberate themselves from the bonds of karma; third, those who seek liberation and struggle for it constantly; fourth, those who are so entrapped in their worldly life that they are unaware of their own bondage and seek nothing.?
The second collection of stories entitled It'sAll a Matter of Attitude is meant to inspire faith and courage in mankind and learn to fight fear, worry, anxiety, depression and all such negative emotions through the right attitude and correct approach to life.
A real-life story is about former President S. Radhakrishnan who alighted at the airport in Washington on a dark bleary day. The American President John F. Kennedy greeted him by saying, ?I?m so sorry we have such bad weather during your visit.?
President Radhakrishnan smiled and replied, ?We can'tchange bad things, Mr President, but we can change our attitude towards them.?
Another story that Dada Vaswani narrates is about the Tamil saint-poet Avaiyar who took to looking like an old woman even in the bloom of her youth. Once on a dark night she was forced to seek shelter in a Vanvasi chieftain'scottage. Seeing the aged saint at his doorstep, the chief offered her goat'smilk and tubers?all that he could afford. So moved was Avaiyar that she blessed the Vanvasi chief Aivel and immortalised him in her verses called The Compassion of Aivel.
Once the well-known social reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was walking on the streets of Calcutta when he heard a man crying. He approached the old man who was sobbing inconsolably as he had borrowed money by mortgaging his house and his debts had mounted. He was soon to be rendered homeless. Vidyasagar left him, promising to do his best for him.
Soon at the court'shearing, the old man found that all his debts had been settled fully by none other than the great philanthropist Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
One day a seriously ill king of Ratnagiri, on having no heir to succeed him, called two of his trusted lieutenants and asked them one by one as to what they would do if they were chosen as a successor to him. One replied, ?I shall uphold the power and glory of the sovereign. I shall rule the people with an iron hand??; the other said with bowed head, ?I shall be a servant of all??
The king was so pleased with the second answer that he appointed him as his successor for ?he is truly great who greatly serves.?
Through such stories and parables, the author conveys profound thoughts and complex ideas which boil down to one Truth?tat tawamsi (that art thou) and if we set our hearts on it and keep the right attitude, we can indeed make a difference to our life and to that of others!
(Sterling Paperbacks, A-59 Okhla Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi-110 020.)