In Praise of Heroism

A lot of people know this about me. The incident relating to this made the newspapers when it happened more than 20 years ago. I am a coward. I lack physical courage.

What happened was that I was kidnapped by some people whom I trusted and made to sign away my Infosys shares that were worth about INR 80 lacs at that time. This was a huge some of money at that time. While the shares were being transferred and sold and cash withdrawn by the thieves there was a period of about 20 days when I was held captive by some very intimidating underworld goons. This was in a residential locality in PCMC near Pune, Maharashtra.

I knew that I was being held in a residential area and could have tried to raise an alarm. But I displayed a complete lack of courage and did not do so. I was released in due course and the thieves made their escape with the money.

When I went to the police I was berated by them for not doing my duty and raising an alarm. The lawyers whom I met relating to the case also regarded me with some amount of derision.

I have always been something of a black sheep and this attitude did not trouble me too much. But that is not my message here.

My point is that there are many forms of courage. There is physical courage of course that we see on the battlefield or a bar room brawl. It is the simplest and most basic form of courage. When our ancestors were living in tribes in caves and hunting for food this was the only form of courage necessary. But today we are living in a complex society and more than that is required.

The Mahabharata recognized this fact some thousands of years ago. Quoting from Gurcharan Das’s excellent book on the epic:

Heroes are of many kinds … hear from me then their goals.

Rewards are assigned to the families of heroes and to the heroes themselves. Heroes of sacrifice, heroes of self control; other who are heroes of truth; heroes of battle are also proclaimed, and men who are heroes of giving. Others are heroes of intellect, and heroes of patience are others; and also heroes of honesty, and men who live in tranquillity.

But there are many other heroes of various disciplines. There are heroes of Vedic study and heroes who delight in teaching. There are heroes in obedience to teachers and others in obedience to fathers. There are heroes in obedience to mothers and others are heroes in alms. And many are heroes of Samkhya and others are heroes of yoga. There are forest dwelling heroes and householder heroes and heroes in the honouring of guests.

All go to heaven as fruit of their own acts.

Sourced  from –

It is nice to know that I may have a heroism of a certain sort and to whatever extent even if I lack physical courage.

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