Embracing Death with Equal Élan – Indu Jain

Swapna Narayanan

We lost Indu Jain earlier this month due to the pandemic that is taking many of our near and dear ones away from us.

She needs no introduction and is one of the earliest woman business heads in our country. She was the Chairperson of The Times Group. Well known for her strong spiritual personality and key roles in imbibing spirituality in our day to day lives through supplements such as The Speaking Tree and Times Foundation, Indu Jain worked hard to blend spirituality into our lives. She was also a strong women’s rights advocate and founded the Women’s Wing of FICCI, way back in 1983, which has now grown into one of the most prestigious women business associations of the nation and is now popularly known as FLO.

How will you teach spirituality, while distinctly separating it from religion, to the young ones? Stories – of course. The class used to talk about fables, folk lores, tales, anecdotes etc. and used to be interactive with the kids asking a lot of questions.

I met Indu Jain for the first time when I was about 15 years old. We used to live in a Railway Colony in New Delhi and were part of a Kids/Family Spiritual Classes that was conducted on every Sunday by a spiritual group that she was an active member of. She believed that the youth should be oriented to spirituality early on.

I had heard many death news and attended a few zoom funerals in the last few weeks and all these deaths had led me to state of despair when I heard about her death. But along with the news of her death, I also got to read her letter on death that she had written a few years ago – The Other Side Beckons.

And in an instant, I could see myself moving into a state of bliss from a state of despair.

And my mind went back to all those years ago when she used to regale us with stories while inspiring us to dare, dream and live life to the hilt – something that you would not hear from a typical spiritual leader!

Indu Mata was atypical. You cannot cast her into a mould or fit her into a slot. She was someone who could be compassionate and kind, at the same time being strong and forceful. A woman who had many aspects coexisting within her, and more importantly she knew it and used it very effectively.

Her conversations used to be multi-dimensional and her enthralling spirit used to simplify things for us young teenagers in a much more comprehensible and understandable format. The sessions used to be fun and we all looked forward to it.

I distinctly remember a Sunday evening when she told us that one need not be an older person to get into spirituality studies, instead the younger you start the better it is for you! You can easily handle the challenges that life throws at you with ease if you know this well – This Too Shall Pass!

While being deeply spiritual, she was also very fun loving and used to embrace life and all its aspects – food, fashion and fun! She showed to us young children that one need not deprive oneself of the fun aspects of life just because they have adopted the path of spirituality.

I clearly remember telling her in one of these classes that – by that parlance a sanyasi is an escapist who seems to have chosen an easy way out by not living his life and doing his duties. How will he attain moksha? Since living his life and doing his duty while being deeply spiritual is the ideal way. Is it not? The laughter that broke in the room after my naïve question still rings in my ears!  But none of them disagreed with me!

A few years back during one of my official visits to Delhi, I tried getting an appointment with her. Unfortunately, I could not meet her. I had planned to see her in one of my next visits. But never got down to it.

But that is okay.

It would be much better if I lived my life by the spiritual values that she taught me on duty, fairness, feeding people with an open heart, being strong and undeterred in every challenge, and enjoying life that has been given to us by the Grace of God.

She taught me that you can be kind, compassionate, and help others while being strong, daring and powerful.

And as she moves on to her next adventure, she reminded me of the deep seeds that she had sown within me in those interactions we had.

Enjoy the other world, Indu Mata!

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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