A teacher is someone who imparts knowledge, molds our thoughts, builds our character and shows us the path for living a fulfilling and enriching life. In the Mahabharata, Eklavya mastered the art of archery just by keenly observing his guru Dronacharya from far away. Dronacharya was oblivious to the knowledge and wisdom that he was unknowingly imparting to Eklavya. They often say that the history repeats itself. And indeed it does. Fast forward five millennia and the modern-day Dronacharya is unaware of the ways and means by which he has impacted the lives of millions of Eklavya’s all across the globe. In the modern world, his disciples call him the little master or the master blaster or the God of cricket. And for the rest, he is ‘Sachin Tendulkar.’
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have grown up in the ‘Tendulkar era’. As my growing up years coincided with the prime of his career, I can safely say that His game, His aura and His personality have had a deep impression on my young and impressionable mind. As I sit down today to recollect the ways in which the master has impacted my life, I could not ignore these three major qualities which I have imbued from him.
- Dedication: He started playing international cricket for India since the year I was born in and retired only recently last year. To play for so long at the top-level requires dedication of the highest order. There have been several players who started playing much after him but retired much before him. Towards the end of his career, he had played international cricket for more number of years than some of his team-mates had spent living on this planet. But still, he was always the first one to enter and the last one to leave the training ground. It requires pure love and joy for what you are doing to be able to continue doing so for such a long time. In spite of being the best cricketer in the world for almost his entire career, he never took his place in the team for granted. He wore the India cap with utmost pride and always ensured that he gave nothing less than 100% once he entered the field.
- Humility: Perhaps no Indian has been idolized the way he has been, barring Mahatma Gandhi. The amount of love and respect he gets from everyone is phenomenal. In India, cricketers are worshipped as demi-gods. To be thrust into the limelight at the tender age of 16 and having the world at your feet by 25 and still to be able to keep a sane head on those shoulders and focus on the game is nothing short of superhuman. In an era when playing hard is considered to be the norm and cricket has become just a namesake gentleman’s game, the way he conducts himself on and off the cricket field is something which speaks volumes about his values and upbringing. As Harsha Bhogle had once famously said that, ‘the crowd cheering at the fall of Indian wicket can only mean one thing. Everyone knows who the next batsman is”. I had an opportunity to experience this when I had once gone to see the India vs South Africa (SA) test at Chepauk, Chennai, India. When the second Indian wicket fell, I got goosebumps on hearing the crowd chant the great man’s name. For a moment, I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagined how I would have felt on being cheered in that manner. A mere mortal like me imagined himself as nothing less than the king of the world. How he manages to keep his feet on the ground in spite of so much of fame and adulation is beyond my comprehension. To me, he is the epitome of humility.
- Mental toughness and self-belief: In his 24 year long career, Tendulkar has been the most dissected cricketing personality. Every move of his is closely monitored and scrutinized. For a career so long, it is natural to have periods of highs and lows. It is not easy to have each and every failure of yours being discussed in the media. It is not easy to concentrate on the task at hand when people call for your retirement after a single failure. To handle that is not everyone’s cup of tea. There have been several instances in Tendulkar’s career when he was written off by everyone. Critics and public, most of whom had not even picked a cricket bat in their entire life, wanted to decide his fate. I particularly remember a TOI headlines sometime in mid-2007 which showed a him crouching after the furniture had been disturbed and the words ‘Endulkar’ written in bold at the top. Tendulkar is someone who has always believed in letting his performance do the talking for him. He always had the belief in his ability and coupled with his work ethic he was able to change the tides for himself when he had one of the most fruitful phase of his career lasting from 2008 to 2011. And not surprisingly, TOI had to eat its words and had to come up with the headline ‘Almighty’ soon after on the back of his sterling performances. To bounce back from such adversities requires nerves of steel.
I believe that no other person has had so much of an impact on my life as Tendulkar. I feel sorry for the coming generations for they will not be able to witness the deeds of this great man in real time. I hope that I am able to give my Dronacharya his guru dakshina by emulating these qualities and performing my duties with utmost integrity which will not only help me but also our nation to prosper.
Dear Sachin Tendulkar,
Happy Teacher’s Day !
Ankit Ojha has dedicated this article to Sachin Tendulkar. He is a mechanical engineer from VNIT Nagpur, currently pursuing MBA at S.P. Jain.