Sunday 7 August 2011

Narayana, Narayana

Neepa and I have decided to run the Hyderabad Marathon on the 28th of August.  We made our decision on the 1st of July after speaking to my dear friend Rajesh Vetcha who is one of the organizers. 
After running Comrades at the end of May, I had not run much for a month and now the decision to run a marathon on the 28th of August meant that I have to go from 0 to 42.2 in just about 2 months.
Before Comrades, I had great endurance and decent speed.  I could run distances of 42 k without too much fatigue.  I could run a 5k in 26 minutes. I could run 10k in about 56/57 minutes. I could run a 21k in about 2:05.  On a long run, I would not even break a sweat until I had reached 16km.
The extensive purging of my stomach from a bug the day before the Comrades changed all that.  And the death blow to speed and endurance came in the month after Comrades when I drastically reduced training to recover from Comrades.
Now as I try to run again, a 5k takes me 32 to 35 minutes, a 10k takes me about 1:14 and a 21k takes me about 2:40.  I start getting tired around 16km and I am done by the time I reach 26km.  And I want to start crying!  Where did all the strength, speed and endurance go? I am lost.
I want to run faster, stronger and further Now! I want to run a strong marathon Now! I don’t have any time!
When will my speed increase? When will my endurance increase? How will I ever reach the finish line of the marathon? 
My Garmin has made me incredibly conscious of every second which passes.  I have become very conscious of Time.  I envy my dog Lance who seems to sit lazily all day long, waiting for nothing. He is so not time conscious.   But as far as I am concerned, becoming conscious of time has made me a bit tense.  It has created a tension, an anxiety and some amount of anguish.
I think that I have lost patience with everything. 
I am told that everything can come to one who is ready to wait for it.  Everything can come when one is ready to wait for an eternity.  I have read that when one is ready to wait forever one becomes very relaxed, then all tension drops, all anxiety drops, all anguish drops and in-fact at such a moment everything can come to you instantly, even enlightenment.
I on the other hand have become incredibly impatient. 
Sometimes in the morning, when I switch on my Ipad, I get impatient when the Apple logo shows up first and I cannot endure even that split second as the Ipad searches for internet connectivity.  
Where are the days when as a student, living in the United States, I used to write letters to my girlfriends and wait for 20 days for the letters to reach India and then wait again for another 20 days for an answer to arrive?  And it was ok to wait even more because most girlfriends never even wrote back. I was always happy to wait for the postman.
In Indian mythology, the equivalent of the modern postman was Narad Muni, a divine sage. He was almost like a postman.  He would travel the earth and the heavens and keep taking messages back and forth and spreading news. He was also a little mischievous and was often the cause of fights amongst various Gods.  He was the e mail between this world and that world.   He carried with him a musical instrument called the Tampura and kept chanting the Lords name again and again, “Narayana Narayana”.
One day, while travelling through earth, Narada came across an old sage who was sitting in meditation, trying to attain enlightenment.  The sage had been sitting in a meditative pose and chanting sacred verses.
The old sage had been in search of enlightenment for many lifetimes and was now losing his patience.  Narada went up to him and asked, “I am about to go meet the Lord, do you want to send Him a message? Do you want to ask Him anything?”
The old sage opened his eyes and said, “Yes, you inquire from Him how much longer I have to wait for enlightenment, I have been chanting these same verses for many lifetimes, I am now getting tired. How much longer, I am out of patience. I am getting bored.”
Just next to the sage was a young man, who under another tree, was dancing and playing an ektara (a single-stringed instrument).  He was singing the Lords prayers and dancing and laughing.
Narada asked him also, “Do you have something to tell the Lord, anything to ask?”
But the young man did not even answer.  He continued dancing and singing. 
Narada asked him again, “Do you want to ask anything of the Lord?” But the young man just laughed and continued to dance.
Narada went to the heavens and asked God about both. 
He then came back and told the old sage, “I have asked on your behalf and the Lord said that you will need to wait for 3 more lives before you become enlightened.”
“3 more lives! I cannot believe this!” The old man screamed.  He got so angry that he threw down his prayer beads and was almost ready to hit Narada. “This is nonsense, I have been waiting and waiting and doing all sorts of penances and undertaking all sorts of austerity measures to become enlightened! This is too much, 3 more lifetimes is just too unjust!”
The young man under the next tree was still there. He was still singing and dancing and chanting the Lords name.  Narada went up to him and said, “Although you did not ask me anything, I enquired about you with Him.  I asked the Lord when that young man, chanting your name and dancing under the tree will get enlightened and the Lord has said that it will take him as many lifetimes as there are leaves on the tree under which he dances.”
The young man started laughing and dancing even more.  He became ecstatic.  He said, “Then it is not very far, just as many leaves as are on this tree? Then it is not very far.  I have almost arrived. Just imagine how many trees are there in this world and the number on leaves on all of them.  Compare that to just to this one tree.  This is so very close.  Thank you for asking the Lord.  I can easily wait.” He started dancing again. 
It is said that the young man became instantly enlightened.
The race against Time creates stress.  If I can simply run without demanding and desiring, then perhaps I will be at ease. 
I need to drop this demand for instant gratification. Because if there is no demand, then there is no demander.  And if there is no demander, then there can be silence.  And if there is silence then perhaps...........................I can arrive. 


  1. hmmm.. How about the Kenyan who is trying his best to come first and also does?

  2. Dear Amitbhai,
    We are sailing in similar boats, you in a 7star luxury liner, me in a paddle boat, last time after reading your blog I resumed my morning exercises at the beach, in fact I also registered for the MUMBAI MARATHON ofcourse my coach Mr. Briston was a bit apprehensive and three days after resuming I bruised my thigh and got a painful swelling in my knee, my wife got worried and although I had not told her about the run she asked me to stop going to the beach, anyway I was limping so there was no question of resuming, of course I felt lousy at ending even before starting, than I philosophized it and relate it to a book I have read a long time ago by PEARL BUCK called the MANDALA wherein at one stage the author talks of the KNOWER and the seeker it's a long time, was something like this = the seeker asked 'why am I sad ?' the KNOWER replies ' because you desire ' the seeker ' but I desire only peace ' the KNOWER ' give up even that ' the seeker ' than what do I DO ? ' the KNOWER 'just love ' the seeker 'love whom ' the KMOWER ' does the candle ask for whom do I burn ? ' the seeker ' than is peace in burning ? 'the KNOWER ' no my dear friend it's somewhere in the periphery of the flame which enlightens everyone in it's vicinity ....'reading you gives me that knowledge .... harrek noo alag start harrek nee alag speed someday may be in this life or in some other life one reaches and after all what is life as said in the GITA 'AJO NITYAM SHASWATOYAN '
    I NEVER DIE CAUSE I WAS NEVER BORN HOON NITYAJ CHOO ... in such case how does it matter ? it's just a matter of time ... today ... tomoorrow ... in some other lifetime ... in some other dimension ... where's the hurry incidently happy friendship day ..deepak

  3. This reminds me of the time when I started learning Tabla. I was hoping that in a couple of years I would be able to play so well that listeners would go "waah waah!", but that did not happen.

    I realized that it takes many many years of dedicated effort. Haste only delays the process and adds to frustration.

  4. Missing Hyd Marathon this year :( HRC has done a fabulous job and this will be a fun marathon!

    Dont beat yourself up too much. You are already on a road to recovery and will regain strength eventually - enjoy the process until then :)

  5. A girlfriend who does not write back to you is not a girlfriend at all Amit .... :) Dave Bree

  6. sunita tummalapalli8 August 2011 at 04:49

    very true. it makes sense. sometime I too lose patience and get frustrated for not able to run better. I should remember this. thank you for the post.

  7. Amitji,
    Have not had the oppurtunity of reading your book yet. After reading this blog I'm more eager.
    Very citing Narada only indicates that you are not tensed and you are at peace yourselves. A dispassionate mind only can bring in such comparisons and I am sure you know mentally that 'this will also pass'. You are a torch bearer and the intensity of light can only vary but never extinguish itself.
    Good luck to your preparation and look forward to many enlightning blogs like these.

  8. Amit, amit!

    Always great to read your essays. get a 4 weeks marathon training programme and please take it easy and exercise your patience, I promise you will reach your goal. Please stick to Neepa because with her running style it would be very easy to finish marathon without any panic.

    Good luck with your training.


  9. hey! amit that was a very interesting parabale yes you are right if you stress too much on the time factor you will loose the fun on the journey ... it does not matter what your timings are or should be i think you need to be like that young dancing & singing person under the tree .. enjoy you runs & stop taking stress ... cheers & godbless

  10. Good to read this

  11. Yes. Yes. When i first started running, i ended up with a pretty bad ITB took *months* to heal. V v frustating, but heal it did. Sometimes s*it happens :)
    As you put it so well, :) & relax & it will all come back; am sure you'll recover to be even stronger!

  12. always great reading your posts amit...