Nobody knew who had floated the idea of calling the yoga Guru to the office for a de-stressing, spiritually enhancing course, but it was certain that no one admitted to being the father of the idea.
The Guru, when he arrived, did not inspire confidence, or spiritual or peaceful thoughts.
When the overweight, shrewd-looking, shifty-eyed Guru arrived with half dozen disciples, including one pretty young thing in tow, the top management glanced at each other furtively and bowed.
Since the decision for the course on spiritual upliftment of the branch managers was ultimately taken by Superboss, it had to be right. Since the Guru was finally approved by Superboss, he had to be perfect, and deserved reverence.
All work for the day was suspended, all meetings cancelled. The environment had to peaceful and non-materialistic. The Guru was costly, and it was in the interest of the company to utilize the benefits of his wisdom to the maximum possible extent.
“X will sit near that girl,” murmured Mr A sotto-voice, “he is hardly going to have too many spiritual thoughts today.”
I glanced at Mr X, and knew Mr A was right. Though Mr X was the arch-rival of my boss Mr A, and in the past there have been skirmishes in which the two have charged each other with crimes they did not commit, in this instance, the facial expression of Mr X gave him away. He was positively smitten by the pretty disciple, and seemed to want a private discourse from her.
The conference hall was converted into the meditation centre, and for once, the huge chair at the head of the table was occupied by the Guru and not Superboss. The later seemed to be miffed with this, and it was evident he had not foreseen his demotion. He glared at Mr A, who was heading admin for the time being, for not thinking ahead and arranging for two huge chairs at the head of the table. Superboss sullenly sat at one of the smaller chairs, and had his first brush with spirituality – how to soothe a wounded ego without throwing a tantrum.
When everyone had settled down in strict accordance of seniority, the Guru surveyed the scene haughtily and began his discourse with an Aum.
That was the only Sanskrit word to be used that day. After the Aum, the Guru began in clipped English, trained no doubt during his earlier avatar as a corporate hunk. Though I have not researched the background of the Guru, it is my belief that he must have been a marketing guy, and would have realized that Guru-dom can be a lucrative consultancy service for corporate clients. And he was right in his assessment. We were paying him handsomely for the day.
From that point onwards, it was all downhill. The Guru harangued us for hankering after material gains and not devoting sufficient time for really important things in life. Like, laughter. Not that the Guru practiced what he preached – he sat all annoyed and bitter and gave a long discourse on laughter. Mr X tried to implement the instruction in right spirit. He first smiled at the pretty disciple, and then, to make it more authentic, laughed out loud.
That disturbed the Guru, who changed the subject and for the next hour spoke on the need for controlling our basic nature. Discipline, he said, was key to a balanced life. All the while he kept looking at Mr X with barely concealed hostility. Not that it had much of an effect on Mr X, who kept smiling at the disciple, oblivious of the consternation he was causing to the Superboss, who seemed to have divined the cause of irritability in the Guru.
And as if that was not enough, Mr X decided to get a clarification.
“Um, sir, I mean Guruji,” he began, “is it not necessary to let oneself go, at least once in a while, to let our nature take its own decisions, so that we are free of bondages of the mind. I read Osha said so.” With that he looked at the disciple for approval.
It is not clear what irritated the Guru more – name of Osho, the question or that glance towards his gorgeous disciple.
With barely concealed hostility, Guru answered: “That is the sort of muddle headed thinking one expects in a place driven by greed and base instincts. I find the aura of this company reeking with self-serving and petty souls, who must meditate hard to overcome their limitations of soul and spirit.”
I do not know whether that answered the question or not, but that was what Mr X got by way of elucidation. I cannot say I understood it, but it seems Superboss did, and he nodded his head vigorously and glared at Mr X. Mr X looked expectantly towards the disciple for further clarification, but was met with a cold stare. It was then that he realized that he had blundered and scored a spiritual self goal.
Keen observer that he is, my boss, Mr A decided it was time he intervened.
“Swamiji, you have opened our eyes. How divinely right you are in your grasp of the situation. If we can but implement but a fraction of what you say, much of our miseries will vanish. May I take the liberty to propose that we conclude our morning session and proceed for lunch, swamiji?”
Superboss looked at Mr A approvingly. Swamiji looked at Mr A approvingly. The pretty disciple looked at Mr A approvingly. In fact all of us, with the notable exception of Mr X, looked at Mr A approvingly. Personally I was happy to escape the difficult path of spiritual upliftment.
At lunch I excused myself from attending the later session, on a pretext of urgent work, and Mr X was sent on an errand that Superboss suddenly remembered.
The next day, a happy Mr A remarked that the Guru was good and meaningful, and Superboss had the right idea of calling him. Some of us, he added, need to look within ourselves more and cleanse themselves.
When I asked him what the second session was all about, he said he had unfortunately dozed off due to heavy lunch and did not get to listen much of it. One thing I must point out about my boss – he knows when he does not need to lie. And to that extent, keeps his conscience sparkling clean.