The day you stop learning, you stop growing. This thought of wise men in mind, Doob decides to actively participate in a management development module (MDM) being organized in his academy. Not just him, all probationers in his academy are excited about a reprieve from taxing subjects. All but Netty Pal, who is threatened by the fact that the module may make all one-fifty-three of them MBAs.
Day one. Doob is puzzled by the discourses of an IIM prof. What is reality? Nothing is reality. No one is real. All are perceptions. But if nothing is reality, then something is reality. If No One is real, then someone is real. This does not make sense. But there are more pressing issues to handle. He gets an immense urge to answer nature’s call. Already his neighbours at the auditorium are frustrated by his farts and urge him to answer the call. So he goes up to the Head, anti-bunking squad and asks his permission.
“Sir, can I go to my room to freshen up?”
“What about the lecture?”
“Sir it’s urgent”
“So what? It’s not real. It’s just your perception. Why is it that I cannot perceive your call? Because it’s not real”
“Sir, please. If you don’t let me, I will relieve myself here”
“So do it here”
“But sir... ”
“Don’t worry. I will clean it up. After all, trust me the outcome of your relieving yourself won’t be real”
The excitement with which Doob starts MDM is gone by the end of the day. In the next few days it seems like just another class. The good thing is that Doob was getting lots of sleep. The moment he came to class he put himself in a seat, a leg in another, and dozed off. A crisis seemed to emerge in day three. Doob was snoring off, his head freely resting on the back of the seat and his mouth wide open, as if in expectation of something delicious about to fall from the ceiling. Chacha Choudhary, of the anti-bunking team, wakes him up and does not let him sleep while the lecture continues. At the end of it, Head calls him up on the dias to answer for the misbehaviour. Thank God, he was not alone. In fact, so many were found sleeping with their mouth-wide-open-in-anticipation-of-something-from-the-sky that the audience fails to mark Doob on stage, and he is saved from the embarrassment. But the real turning point of the story happens on day four. It is also the day which the numerous followers of his religion world over will rejoice in festival and prayer for years to come.
Day four starts with a guest lecture by a neurosurgeon. The anti-bunking squad had been renamed by the board as Anti-Bunking, Anti-Sleeping, Anti-Roamingaroundincampus squad. From available rumours it seemed that a board member was continuously monitoring the movements of probationers from a control room in Delhi. Doob could have neither his way nor the highway. Trapped, he has no option but to listen to the prabachan. The neurosurgeon, however, makes sense to him. He asks thought provoking questions: who are you? What are you? What’s your identity? He further quotes a Sanskrit sloka:
I am not my body. Then who? The soul? I am not my body. My body is not me. Is that why many devout religious believers inflict so much pain on their body? Is that the secret of suicide bombers? And look, everyone here is so obsessed with his (her?) body that almost all morning activity sessions see hundred percent attendances.
The beauty of this guest speaker is that unlike all the teachers who have directed Doob to do what is right and defined what is right, he is not directional. Let the question be, who am I? The guest speaker warns the audience –don’t believe in atman, the soul, without finding the truth for yourself.
After his speech, the guest speaker takes all probationers to the badminton court. Why the badminton court? Doob gets suspicious. The morning activity had to be cancelled in the morning owing to heavy rains. This may be a conspiracy by the course team to make probationers do morning activity. He tries to slip away. Even though his life has been a life of running away from classes, he is a lousy one at that and finds himself face to face with the CD…
Morning activity is not as taxing as it always was. In fact, it seems fun when done in the afternoon. Further, some major changes have been happening in Doob during the yoga and pranayam practice done by the guest faculty at the badminton court. The program culminates with a suryanamaskaram (at two in the afternoon, in formals). Doob suddenly feels something very intense. There is light, blinding light. His body burns, momentarily. Then he sees the whole wide universe.
Am I Him? That cannot be… He is formless, and too wide to be restricted to a human body.
Then how is it that I can see everything. The Milky Way, white dwarfs, red giants, the Earth, people all around here. Is it an illusion? But then, there is no reality! Or wait… is there?
By the time the instructor says that all can rise, Doob realizes his vision. He is the Prophet. The mortal chosen to spread His word in this world of illusions. Buddha had received his enlightenment under a tree. Doob received it in a badminton court. Buddha had changed the way people saw things in his time. This age… belongs to Doob.
Anger. Greed. Sorrow. Happiness. All are Mithya. Income. Taxes on income. Posting. Deputation. Retirement. Everything is Maya.
Tea breaks in the academy are a time to crib. No other activity in the academy provides such a channel for cathartic release, and thereby mental stability as tea breaks. This is one such tea break, after the neurosurgeon’s session. A big circle has formed, and the topic today is time.
Sandhu: Yaar what is this? I hardly get any time these days. In four months I will be out of here, and I don’t still know half of my batchmates that well. Think what a shame it was when a friend called me up and asked me if I knew this guy who is studying with me here. I drew a blank.
Bunnu: Very true. And given the kind of information overload I don’t even gain anything from the classes.
Thokia: The problem is that I keep sitting on a chair for the major part of the day. After posting we are going to do the same all day. Ours is not a field job... just swimming over files. So why do it now? We should be doing some personality development.
There is a sensational feeling in all the people in the circle. A cool breeze blows, before Doob enters the circle. It is said that people can feel such pleasant sensations when an enlightened person is close by.
“What is the use of all this cribbing, my friends? This academy is full of people who cannot think beyond what there is. You should not be same. You should look beyond, at things that there are but cannot be seen. At things that matter. All this you talk about is Mithya. Its all Maya”
Sandhu: Tell me Doob, how much do I know about you. Just your name and nothing else. There is no group activity in this campus, no interaction. No life! I think the campus can be more vibrant than this.
“Don’t you know me?” Doob speaks, his words calm and confident “Look into yourself and you will find me. I, as you and as everyone here, is a part of Him. And why should you worry about not knowing anyone. No one is real. If you want to understand reality, try to know him. All these people, this service, this academy. All are illusions, Maya. All are farce. They have been placed here to hinder your search for Him”
“And what about the time we waste in classes. What about the information overload we can make no sense of?” Bunnu reasons.
“What about it? Why do you bother about the information at all. Classes are imparted to pollute your mind. The purest your mind is, the easiest it is to find God. Teachers and lecturers are agents of...” Doob stops, takes a deep breath, and whispers “Satan”
“They try to penetrate your minds and fill them with information of this world... unreal data that hinder your thought process. They manipulate your perceptions to such an extent that you don’t see the obvious. You don’t see the omnipresent God. So my dear friends, when in class utilize your time in meditation. Focus your concentration on Om... to such an extent that no tax law, no management module can pollute your thought process”
Doob goes on: about teachers and terrorists, and all other agents of Satan. By the time he ends he finds that the circle has vanished. Only a lone mess worker remained. He had actually just come by in curiosity when he saw the enlightened spirit’s discourses to an empty audience.
“Ah Pankaj. I know these kids will take time to understand. But you are smarter than them. You, who serves this whole community by feeding them, who toils in this heat to provide tea for their tea break, are a noble soul. And it is you I anoint my First Disciple. You will have the fortune of being the first to learn the truth from me”
Pankaj makes an excuse runs off to the mess.
It is not that Doob has not sinned. He could not make it to a few morning activities and a few classes on time. Nor could he attend the compensatory classes allotted in the weekend for offenders. So now he is in his CD’s office. Usually he gets very frightened when in her room, but today he is calm. Calm and composed. He understands that for every action a man is answerable in this life, and in afterlife. Brave that he is, he is ready to face the consequences of his actions.
His calmness does not go down well with the CD. She gives him an earful of scolding, still Doob is unperturbed. Indeed, there is a divine smile on his face. She mistakes his serenity for arrogance and a challenge to her authority, and scolds him further.
“Ma’am, I understand. Let me tell you, your anger is misplaced. This world, all the people and you will be better off without anger. Anger is an illusion that brings negative thoughts to a person. I am sure you can do better. Let me reveal something to you, for you are the teacher I respect the most. I am His messenger on this planet. I am here to save this age, kali yug, from hatred and anger. I am here to wage a Jehad against teachers and terrorists; lecturers and lords of war. And I seek to enlist your help to spread the Almighty’s words on the planet. Even though you are a soldier in Satan’s army of teachers, I am ready to take you in as my Second Disciple, and disclose to you the great truth. For ages, people will take your name in the same breath as Mother Teresa”
“What?” CD shouts “How dare you talk nonsense with me. You think you are very smart, don’t you? You know what I can do with you? I can destroy...”
CD does not seem to be influenced by the idea of being immortalized as Mother T*****a. He raises his hands towards the ceiling, and looking up pleads “Oh God. Forgive her for she knows not what she is saying”
It is the last day of management development program, and Doob is more confused than ever. Is he supposed to be confused? After all he is the Prophet. God’s only messenger on Earth. An enlightened spirit is supposed to have clarity. Not just confused, he is afraid. He is afraid that he cannot spread His message. Till now he has made just one disciple, Pankaj. And even he seems to give more attention to his mess work than the search for truth. Pankaj gives a greater salute to the president of mess committee (that lost materialist traveller of life) than to Doob. Doob feels that he should get out of this artificial environment and retreat to the Himalayas for some time to get the clarity he needs. After all, did not all the great sages of India travel all the way there to experience the harmony of nature and Narayana?
Actually Doob had pleaded with Chacha Choudhary for a few days leave so that he can travel all the way to the Himalayas. Chachaji threw away his application. Have you gone mad? He had asked. Everyone seems to be asking him the same thing of late. What has happened to people? Doob decides that he cannot be thinking about small, petty things like the job, and his responsibility of assessing and collecting revenues for the government. Money is the greatest evil, and it is the pursuit of this illusion which misleads people. I cannot be this weak. Doob decides to retreat to the Himalayas, whatever be the consequences.
But before implementing his plans he decides to consult Netty Pal. Arguably the most learned of his batchmates, Netty Pal is after all an MBA. Even prophets have Gurus, Doob decides. He anoints Netty Pal as his Nutty Professor and asks him the biggest marketing secret: how can a prophet influence people and make followers? Unlike others Netty Pal does not call him crazy. He listens to Doob’s ideas and gives sincere nods now and then.
At last a sane man, Doob reasons to himself, I guess only wise men can appreciate me.
“I will give you a funda man” Netty tells after a long talk between the two “Geniuses don’t rule this world. Only people who can market themselves rule this world. You know what; I was not really threatened when the MDM was introduced here. You can do week long management course, you can spend two years in IIMs, yet you are not an MBA if you don’t know the secret. And that is something you can’t learn in a classroom”
“Yes, what is the secret?”
“Have you heard that quip –if you can’t baffle them with brilliance, dazzle them with bullshit. You must have seen some teachers in your life who teach quant to arts students, material physics to commerce students, and sociology to engineering students. Students always think that this guy is an expert. Reality is he is just an expert in marketing himself. He is a jack of all trades” Netty Pal reasons “Let me tell you what... I have got a good business plan. We will project you as a Prophet. You will go places and give discourses. And our trust will get millions in donation. You don’t worry about the marketing part... I will build your brand”
Doob gives a vacant, puzzled look.
“How is this for a punchline –Doob Baba, more than a Godman: a Prophet. Come, solve all your problems”
It is a tense atmosphere in the board room. Whole course team and architect of MDM have been flown in from the academy.
“What do you think this will do to the image of our service?” shouts a board member “Now the IAS lobby will make fun of us. Our restructuring plans will be thawed for at least two years now. This is for the first time in the history of Indian bureaucracy that a probationer has gone mad”
“Sir actually it was not us. I think the MDM went into his head” one CD reasons.
“Yes sir. That was when he started talking all sorts of rubbish. That was when it all began” the other CD adds.
The MDM Architect is not ready to lie down and take all blame. “Sir may I point out that there are too many extraneous variables in here. We cannot draw a cause-effect relationship. And if you care to calculate the probability of the MDM being the one of many variables leading to his retardation, you will find a value not more than 0.00492471. May I present to you a risk assessment model that clearly states that the seeds of madness were planted much before?” Architect says and immediately brings up on screen a flashy presentation full of puzzling flow charts.