A look at diverse literature in the Gujarati script. Image credit: Chetan Hingu
Just a few days ago, we observed Gujarat Day. 1 st May is the anniversary of the day when the state of Gujarat was carved out of erstwhile Bombay State. Gujarat Day brought out many memories in my mind about the culturally and linguistically rich atmosphere in which I grew up.
Every language is rich in its own way and teaches us lot of things, teaches us to be grounded.
Language is a medium to communicate with each other. Languages also tell us about the culture of the place it belongs to. Words are very powerful and enable us to communicate anything in one’s mind. But at times, proverbs, sayings, phrases come to our rescue when we want to communicate and share our feelings, situations, observation verbatim. The knowledge of proverbs and phrases keep us connected with our culture and heritage, but above all, keeps us grounded.
English is the universal language now, widely accepted and spoken. But it said, when we are in pain, we speak in the language in which we think. This is the language of our mother, who taught us how to speak.
Being Gujarati, many times Gujarati proverbs and phrases have come to my rescue, otherwise it would have been difficult for me to express exact situation. Gujaratis are also considered business minded, so some of these proverbs also express business mindednesses. I am putting down a few of such sayings below -
1. Hisab kodino ne bakshis lakh ni: One should not mix business and personal expenses. While keeping accounts, we should keep account of every penny, but while giving someone a gift, even if we spend millions, it is fine. How beautifully this proverb clears our doubt of not mixing personal and professional equations.
2. Lobhiya hoi tya dhutara bhukhe na mare: Where there is greed, a conman will always get his way. Frauds which happen across the world, the scams, chit funds, etc., what is there in the centre of it – greed. With the desire to earn more monies overnight, and we become easy target to these conmen, who exactly speak what we want to hear. So, in order to stay protected from getting fooled, we will have to keep greed away.
3. Na bolvama nav gun: Silence is golden. We heard this many time that rather than knowing what to speak, it is important to learn what not to speak. I recently came across a cartoon where one person tells another, should I kill your knowledge with my confidence. In today’s times, sadly, confidence is everything - a bluff said with confidence is believed more than fact put up humbly.
4. Jhajha haath ralyamna: Helping hands are beautiful. In many situations, we mechanically ask, do you need any help? But do we really mean it? But imagine, hundreds of tasks which keep happening around us - the housing society work, our maids having genuine issues in their lives, environment concerns, broken roads, women safety, literacy, cleanliness, unemployment, etc. And if every individual genuinely helps; will the issues remain of such quantum?
5. Lage toh tir nahi toh tukko: It is great if things happen the way we assumed; else it was just loose attempt. Fear of Performance can create pressure in our mind. We need to be on our toes all the time in our day to day lives. We need to take so many decisions, we need to express our assessments in so many situations. In such conditions, this proverb can really puncture our pressure point. If things happen exactly how we said, we have assessed it excellently, else we can always justify it as our attempt at a guess.
6. Utavle amba na pake: Fruits don’t ripe in hurry, one must wait. This proverb may appear to have made for Gen Z and Gen Y, but it is true for all generations. We make investments of monies and we want returns overnight. We book an under-construction flat and we want handover in no time. We need to exhibit patience in lot of matters, and by relating it to nature (fruits in this case), we can realise that it is not so difficult to attain.
7. Manas matra bhul ne patra: Human beings are bound to make mistakes. It is such a profound truth but is always ignored while interacting with other people. It is difficult to pardon mistakes when it has costed dearly. But are we robots? Are our brains programmed to do tasks as it is for hundred percent of the times? But by forgiving the person who committed a mistake and giving him one more chance, we win that person for life. This proverb gives us guidance of how to navigate the imperfect world of emotions with acceptance and understanding.
There are many more such proverbs across different languages round the world. They teach us life principles in an easy to understand manner. When we relate our action to one of these timeless proverbs, we get the reassurance that we are on the correct path.
But besides the regional Indian proverbs that we use widely in our day to day life, there are many others that have become a part of our collective language. Proverbs in ‘foreign’ languages like English (Do not judge book by the cover, too many cooks spoil the broth), Chinese (The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step), Japanese (He who runs after two hares will catch neither), African (A king’s child is slave everywhere), Dutch (Do not wake sleeping dogs) are used in popular communication. These are full of wisdom gained by the collective experiences of generations of human beings who travelled across the world.
So, let’s make take some learning out of these proverbs and try and incorporate their meaning in our lives. Let us attempt to make the journey of life more fulfilling, full of wisdom, full of wit, full of practicality, full of proven records, full of awesomeness.
About the Author: Chetan Hingu is an engineer and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. He works in the corporate sector and has more than 20 years of work experience. An amateur tabla player, he believes in being true to one's roots and values.
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