Monday, September 27, 2010

A Visit

It was put on the 'NSS Employment Opportunities' mailgroup - a visit to a nearby High School to interact with higher class students on career opportunities. This group of 16 NSS IIT Kharagpur student volunteers are preparing a digest of opportunities at various levels - if someone clears Class VIII, then Class X, Class XII etc., scholarships, jobs, self-employment opportunities. The ones available in mass market are targeted towards those who are more educated and have buying power. Here the target is to reach out all the sections.

This was the fiirst dedicated field trip of the group and we looked for people. A few had a sudden opportunity to visit B.D.O. office and interact with S.D.O., B.D.O., Deputy Magistrates few weeks back. A reader-friendly :-) report from a volunteer as she found it is available here

We asked for options. The vehicle can accomodate up to 4 students. The no. of students interested were more than 4. The requirement was to have working knowledge of Bengali, the volunteer can speak in simple English or Hindi. Finally, 4 of us set off at 1:30 p.m. on Sat, the 25th Sept. The Arya Vidyapith school is another 2 KM or so on the Big Bazaar Road further away. When we reached there Swami Sunishthananda, Principal, Ramakrishna Mission School, Midnapur was addressing students. I have listened to him before. The audience listened to him with apt attention. The NSS IITkgp student volunteers were spell-bound, they never had an opportunity to participate in such discussion. Being naturally gifted they as IITians usually do not face problem with concentration, control over mind. Here Swamiji was addressing to so called 'ordinary' students who can rise above 'mediocrity' by using mind as a tool. Later it was found that it is equally applicable to IITians too and lots of 'psychological' issues heard in IIT campus may benefit from such discussions. Received the following in mail of one student volunteer .... "I called up my Mom and told her about this. She was glad and wished if she could be there too! " Another volunteer recorded it in his cell phone. I shall share the link later.

If the reader at this point is curious to know what excited the our students so much, a summary is pasted at the end of this post. But that definitely is a poor copy of what actually was experienced. Still it may be useful to many.

Our turn came next. First we had a semi-formal Q & A session. Aftert that we informally met in groups. Even at 4:30 p.m. (SAT is half-day and we were supposed to end at 3 pm) the students did not leave the school and they were hungry for more. The teachers persuaded them to leave as guardians might be anxious. They left only after extracting assurance from us that we would come back. We interacted with the teachers in staff-room, had snacks and when we came out and were about to leave, found some students were still waiting.

Yesterday evening we had a short group meeting. Yes, we'll return to this school and visit other places too. But this first interaction exposed us to some of our short-comings in the preparation. Accordingly, responsibilities were fixed and each student volunteer now will prepare two posters on specific themes related to various opportunities. We'll have approx. 30 such posters in different class rooms and shall interact with the students.

Before I end this section I would like to point to an inspiring article I read in today's The Telegraph, how a school teacher in a non-descript village is making a difference. The link is available here
Now the student reports on this visit - minus the names.
On Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 8:31 PM, xxxx wrote:
Hi Sir,
These are the few points I recalled till now. A lot of things are storming in mind, might click at a later time. But if you remember some other point apart from these, do mail me. I would love to compile them in a notebook.
- When a man wanted to understand the difference between hell and heaven, he was taken to Hell first. He saw a large table with plenty of delicious and tasty food and a large no. of people on the either side of it. But interestingly, nobody could eat even a bit, as their hands were stretched out, freezed! He was moved by their pathetic condition and wished to go to heaven then. Amazingly, he saw the same situation there too, but the only difference being, the oppositely seated people fed each other! A perfect example of selflessness. This brings out the difference clearly.

- Happiness is like pouring oil from a container to the other - Clear, pure and uninterrupted.
- Theorists say that there's no Absolute Truth. But if you take a bite of a green chilly, you'll certainly end up itching your tongue - Sri Ramakrishna (My Hero!)
- Things which we do out of necessity once, slowly become our habits. Thus go for proper necessities only.
- When you climb a mango tree and place the ladder in the wrong place, the effort you put in to climb up, goes wasted totally. You need to climb down again, find a proper place and again repeat the process. This tells us that when efforts are put in the right place, the same effort leads us to the sweet fruit positively. But on the other hand that effort when put wrongly, goes wasted and yields nothing.
- Our mind can be considered as a "Band Party". Sometimes we need to be spectators. Especially while meditating. We must watch our mind rush past. All thoughts will storm our brains. Then finally, like the procession is out of sight, our mind is totally empty. This is the time we start innovating ideas.

On Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 10:21 PM, Goutam Saha wrote:
Thanks xxxx.
The other points? Meditate, u will get :-)
A few that comes to my mind -

- non-local consciousness, conclusion from ... birds - fish movement in a flock ... research on that for traffic control
- Man-Hnush ... Shreya and Preya ... Happiness as a culmination of Saadhan
- Aneroxia example ... obsession ... initially for good, diet control, I was controlling mind ... then phobia ... mind takes over me
- Two wood-cutters ... one always works ... one works, then takes rest, when resting sharpens the axe ... the latter gets more wood ... time needed for oneself to sharpen mind, intellect, the tools which helps us to assimilate, analyze ... meditation, the exercise
- Happiness coming from satisfaction of desire are not real ... all of us are a kind of child and fooled by mother nature ... as mother stops a crying baby by giving a toy ... satifaction of one desire is like getting a toy and feeling happy, only to see another desire cropping up for another toy ... and the real happiness always eludes
- Why sannyasins are called Maharaj, King of Kings when they have no material wealth with them? ... because, even a king begs for more wealth and thus is a begger, no fundamental difference with a roadside beggar
- We don't study Ramayan, Mahabharat, treasure house of wisdom as it has element of fiction ... Hanuman crossing ocean by a jump ... but everyday we consume fiction in TV, Cinema ... spiderman, batman, hollywood movie of aliens ... that has always been the case ... man had always a desire to outgrow himself ... used imagination ... desire to grow big takes us to sea-side or mountain side on vacation and we feel overhelmed ... we taste the infinite through that
- All animals except man are guided by emotion ... Man control emotion as he has control over mind ... exercise that control, have command over mind ... meditation is the key
- If u do not get good result after practising meditation for some time, let me know, I'll conclude whatever Swami Vivekanada has taught is all wrong. Let me see if u can prove that.
- Practise is the key ... it may be difficult initially as mind tricks us and wants to follow the same known path ... Vigyan Maharaj told, "As Guru I asked u to practise, u do that" ... once new track of mind is laid by practise u will start liking it ... now we all take Pnaskura bypass on way to Kolkata and don't go through the crowded town road.

There may be few more.

How was the experience of interaction with students? What preparation is needed on our part when we meet them again on their Annual Day? Can we not complete the compilation? We have to look at opportunities for player, singer ... there are sports quota in Govt. job ... probably one has to represent state.

On Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 11:26 PM, Goutam Saha wrote:

Another point

- lack of patience ... we get whatever we want in a nuclear family when young .. didn't learn to accept 'no', defeat, humiliation ... when we grow up, face challenges ... we give up easily or feel highly agitated, becomes agressive

On Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 9:35 AM, xxxx wrote:

Thanks a lot Sir! I got a few points (there in your mail) when I was just recalling the whole thing before sleeping, last night. If I get a few more, I'll make sure to mail them too. I called up my Mom and told her about this. She was glad and wished if she could be there too!
I was glad to interact with students, who seemed to have a lot of desire to learn. About the queries of the students, they are much into knowing what must they do clear JEE. Also, they wanted to know whether CBSE is better than WB Board. The girls laid most of their questions on confidence building and concentration development. And some of them wanted an alternative to Engg and Medical (like field of sports, music and other cultural activities).
If you could tell me when their Annual Day is, we could have a more precise deadline for our compilation. And as far as I am concerned, I made a promise to them that I would be visiting their school very soon! :-)
I would convey to the group that we must start the compilation ASAP.
Thanks again Sir.

From: xxxx
September 26, 2010 8:01:11 PMSubject: NSS Report

Respected Sir,
I am sorry to be late in submitting my report. I have attached the recordings which I did on that day, which can be played using Quick Time. I have attached my report as well. I have mentioned some of the points, and will will send any new if I am able to write a better one. ........ Please send your suggestions and pardon the misakes which I might have committed. Thanking You,

My first NSS visit was really a very encouraging and memorable one. Sir took me, xxxx and xxxx to Aryya Vidyapeeth, where we had been invited for a function and were supposed to interact with the stdudents. We reached there at about 2.00 p.m. When we reached there, Maharaj Ji from Ramkrishna Mission was speaking to the (students). This was the first event of its kind organized there. We also joined them. Teachers and students of the school were already sitting there. Maharaj Ji spoke on various topics like meditation, increasing concentration and how to develop into a complete human being who can be really useful not only to himself, but to the society and country as a whole. He is a really good orator and all of us were just mesmerized listening to him. Everything he explained so clearly and with such logical examples that all of us, even the smallest ones, could easily understand him. He spoke in Bengali, and here I have tried to translate a few of the points on which he spoke, and present the meaning in my own words :

“Today, we talk of freedom and consider ourselves to be free, but the reality is totally else wise. We are enslaved by desires. The modern man is not hesitating in doing something wrong in order to gain some profit. ..... Like a honey bee which gets stuck in the same honey which it comes to enjoy, we are similarly imprisoned by our worldly desires and pleasures. We have forgotten that real joy comes from inside, it is not a commodity to be found outside. No one is satisfied. We want more and more.”

“Meditation is the way to have a proper control on our own mind. It is to be in command of our own senses. Like a road is etched in the mud by vehicles moving constantly over it, similarly we can be in charge of our mind through constantly practicing meditation.”

“Human being can’t consider himself small. He thinks of the infinite. All the movies, like spider-man, batman, etc where you see people doing things which are extraordinary are all a reflection of this desire of man. Use this spirit to your benefit. Make someone great your idol, love him more than your love and you will yourself see how you raise in love ( instead of falling in love as is usually the case ).”

“Heaven is here, hell is here! It just depends on your mentality. Let me explain it by a story. Once a man, after his death, was asked by Yamraaj to express his last wish. The man wanted to see heaven and hell. So he was first taken to hell, where he saw that a large feast had been organized, with all kinds of delicious food items. People were sitting at tables beside the food, but were unable to eat it as both their hands were plastered in full. The man was sad to see this pitiable condition. Next, he was taken to heaven, were also the same thing was there. There was a feast, and the hands were plastered. But here, a person took the food and fed his neighbor, and his neighbor did the same, so everyone was able to enjoy the food. What is the moral? Wherever people forget themselves and think about others, they create a heaven. And whenever we are selfish and worry only for our own benefit, we create a hell. “NOT ME, BUT YOU” and we create a paradise!”

Well, Maharaj Ji spoke a lot more, and I can’t express the complete feeling in words.

After that, we had a question-answer session, where students put up various questions, and this was the place which showed me both the usefulness of the work which we as a group are doing, as well as the amount of work which still remains for us to do in order to come up to the full expectations of the people. This section provided me an insight into the variety of topics like career in music, sports, etc which we need to cover.

Later, we interacted directly with the students and talked with them and clarified some of their doubts. One boy of class X came up to me and asked about the future in Hotel Management. I accept I was not at all prepared for this, and I had to tell him that a basic qualification of class XII pass is required, which I happen to know since one of my relative was in this profession. After that, I need to find out what the possibilities are.

In general, most of the students there wanted to be just well off with a peaceful life. They were not too eager to be an engineer or a doctor in particular. But most of them lacked self confidence. They were pressurized by the upcoming board exams, and it is definitely a thing which I had also encountered. So, many were just asking tips about how to fare well in the exams.

I also saw the brand value of IIT which I had heard. We were literally pampered by the students and the faculty (of the school) alike.

We returned at around 5.00 p.m. I will definitely cherish the memories of this visit for a long time to come. It really inspired me to work harder in NSS and I hope to toil in with some more efforts. I hope we as a group will bring this work to a great finish, as per the expectation of not only sir, but of our own conscience and the society.

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