Boba Ji My Father

*KanyaLal Raina

Boba Ji My Father

Every year Shri Ram Mandir celebrates seniors day in a big way with musical gala and dinner. This year over 300 seniors from GTA area temples participated in this grand function. Pandit Roopnauth Sharma the spiritual leader and President of Hindu Federation honoured Kanayalal and Bindu Raina who had worked tirelessly for the benefit of the community during the last three years.

This exclusive event was full of live performances from our musicians and singers, who wowed the audience with their amazing songs and the solo tabla play. The function was appreciated by one and all. Everyone had a praise, the way the whole function was organised which was supported by a team of over 80 MRM dedicated volunteers from Shri Ram Mandir.

While the function was going on I remembered my father, whom we fondly called Boba Ji and because of his imprints in me that I have been able to do some social service to the Hindu Community here in Canada. My father taught me what it meant to be a man of integrity. He always put himself last and his children first. While I was growing up, he sacrificed so much, that too without hesitation, and provided me the right education. The father-child relationship I believe becomes stronger, if both of them spend time engaging in physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual activities. Boba Ji wanted me to become a good human. This advice of his has had a lasting impression on my mind and helped me in shaping my character.

Boba Ji was not an ordinary person. He was a special father. I had never thought of addressing him in ‘historical terms of having had been!’ Not that he was immortal, but that he was mortally alive and succumbing to all my needs, all my life, made me look up to him being more than a father. And having brought me in this world, who else could have done this to me except him! Boba Ji. My father.

As a boy, I saw in Boba Ji all that I could have dreamed to be. As an adolescent, I found him affording me all support I needed. As an adult, I discovered in him an indulgent counsellor. As a man, I had him as my spiritual guru. But the more he grew old and infirm; he became a child, dependent and emotional. Needing to be repaid for what I owed him without asking for it.

He was my role model. His upbringing made me follow only him. If he liked Pt. Nehru Ji or Churchill, I too liked them. If he adored Dilip Kumar’s style of acting and Talat Mehmood’s velvety voice, I too rooted for them the same way. If he preferred to dress immaculately, I too would not let a crease on my clothes get crumpled. I followed Boba Ji even in his initiation into a faith of his choice at the hands of his spiritual master Swami Haldar Ji Maharaj. I heard him repeating the verses composed by Swami Ji and sing them to small congregations in our community or on various festivals especially Shivratri Puja day. He was a good harmonium player too. For him, the Supreme Power stood in the form of a dot - like Omkara. As kids, God, religion and spirituality are imbibed in us by our parents. Visiting temples, praying regularly is what we learn from them.

My father has always believed that performing rituals was not mandatory so long as you are doing your worldly duties and karmas with utmost sincerity. While you have done your bit and if success plays the perennial hide-and-seek game with you, he advised me,” just be patient.” Some of us presume that a daily visit to a temple is enough for satisfying God. So next, you expect extravagant luxuries being showered on you with the push of a button.

He believed that religion and spirituality are two different things. You just need to be true to yourself, to your family and your society. If you can’t help, at least make sure that you don’t harm anyone. We must try to maintain harmony around us. He was not only God-loving but he also loved society. He often used to say that "do you do good deeds because you are afraid of God? I am god-loving, not god-fearing".

My belief in God comes from my parents. Yes, our belief does get shaken temporarily when we lose a loved one, for instance. My father's love for Urdu and good English was duly imbibed and emulated by me. He was a good man and everybody respected him. We had plenty of our own agricultural land and fruit gardens. All these fields were surrounded by huge hills and snowy mountains.

Boba Ji used to go to his fields and fruit gardens quite often. Whenever he noticed a water channel overflow, he would stop the horse, come down, roll up his sleeves, pick up the spade from a nearby place and divert the water or ask one of his workmen/ labourers to do so. I used to watch his fragile health.

He used to make me sit on the river side and explain that human life can be likened to a flowing river. What is a river? He would ask. Then slowly explain, a river is a unique phenomenon of nature. The fresh water comes down from those snowy mountains. He used to point it towards the snow clad hills surrounding our ancestral home. In the river fresh water is being added to the existing water at every moment. Then he would explain that this everyday phenomenon is responsible for the freshness of the river water. In the absence of this continuous flow of newly added water, the river will lose its freshness: it will not be able to maintain its health-giving, even life-giving, properties.

The same method is adopted by nature with regard to human beings. As we know, human beings continue to be born, generation after generation. Within a period of a hundred years, the previous generation is replaced by a fresh set of people. If the old water is replaced with fresh water, in human beings this same occurrence takes place in the form of previous generations yielding place to new generations.

(Kanayalal and Bindu Ji being honoured)

A great wisdom lies behind this system set up in human life by nature. Its aim is that the coming generation should learn its lesson from the experiences of the previous generation. By benefiting in this way, we may continue our life journey in a far better way. This is the precious gift of the previous generation to the new generation. This is why the phrase ‘old is gold’ is often used with reference to the older generation.

For instance, a father sees that his son is intelligent but finds that there is one thing wrong with his temperament, and that is his overconfidence. Due to this he suffers losses in life. On seeing this, the father, in the light of his own experiences advises him thus:

My son, confidence is good, but overconfidence is bad.”

This advice is very useful to him. Similarly, another parent, a mother, sees that her son is impatient.

He cannot wait for anything to take place in the ordinary course of events, so she gives him advice, with reference to her own experiences:

My son, life is 1 per cent action, and 99 per cent restraint.”

This advice proves very useful to the son. Similarly, another parent finds that his daughter does not have the quality of perseverance. She is not able to work un-flaggingly with others, therefore, in the light of his experiences he advises his daughter:
My child, maturity is the ability to live with things you cannot change.”

This advice of the father gives the daughter the right guidance. She reviews her actions, and re-plans her life and then achieves great success in life.

These examples show how important the previous generation is for the new generation. The previous generation bequeaths its wisdom to the new generation. It passes on such formulae as have proved right in the light of practical experiences. In this way the older generation enables the coming generation to refrain from committing the mistakes which people made earlier that led to great losses. The truth is the previous generation is a valuable gift of nature to the present generation.

If our life is like flowing water, in which fresh water continues to be added at every moment, then it will always remain fresh and will never become stale. On the contrary, water that is confined to a closed space, stagnating in the absence of replenishment, will eventually lose its freshness. It will become stale, even harmful. The flowing river is a healthy message given by nature and the experience of many generations of people across continents and cultures would support this analogy.

You were very special to me, Father! Like all fathers, I believe. A dad they say is a friend, philosopher and guide. He is the guiding force that remains with us forever. Boba Ji’s last parting words were “Be Happy.” “Perhaps the biggest gift from my father was when he had told me, “Life’s like a tree. As it grows bigger and bears fruits that’s how much it bows down towards the Earth. As you grow in life, that’s how humble you should become.”

*Kanayalal Raina is a Brampton based writer who contributes regularly to various Canadian publications. He is working as Executive Director at Canada Hindu Heritage Centre in Canada. An automobile Engineer and MBA (Mktg) by profession he is providing consultancy on Project Management, Financing and Marketing.

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