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Learn English with Sudha Murty. Join us as Sudha Murty, a distinguished author and philanthropist, shares her invaluable insights on education, discipline, and the pursuit of knowledge at the Jamnabai Narsee Campus in 2017. Through personal anecdotes and stories, Mrs. Murty emphasizes the significance of hard work, the beauty of innocent curiosity, and the critical role of discipline in shaping one’s future. Her speech is a treasure trove of wisdom for students, educators, and parents alike, encouraging a deep appreciation for lifelong learning and ethical living.

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Sudha Murty: Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.

Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.

Sudha Murty


Trustees, teachers, parents, and my dear students, it gives me enormous joy to come to school than any other place, for various reasons. A – I’m a granddaughter of a school teacher, B – I’m a daughter of a professor, C – I’m the daughter-in-law of a school teacher, D – I myself am a teacher. I used to teach computer science in Christ University and later became so irregular than my own students, then I said I will come on a management than a teacher because of my hectic schedules. Children give me enormous joy because they are innocent. And this is the first time I’m addressing any school in Bombay.

I have not addressed any school in Bombay. I’ve come only for the meetings, never to a school. So when there was an urgent meeting came down today evening, I have a seven o’clock meeting, then I thought, “Why can’t I come a little early?” Anyway, I waste half a day in Bangalore traffic reaching the airport, I’d rather leave at five in the morning, reach Bombay at eight-thirty so that I can have a session with the students and then I opted for this.

I’ll tell you one small story. I am a grandmother of two grandkids. Like today’s how grandkids are, they are like that, normal, okay? That means more talking and less listening. And my granddaughter’s name is Krishna and she told me… they live in London. One day I told her to eat banana fruit. You know, we in India consider it’s a good fruit. And then she said, “Me Ajji, give me a list of reasons why one should eat a banana.” A five-year-old kid, okay? I said, “Okay, I will tell you a story and then you feel like eating, you eat.” I said, “There was a rishi by the name Durvasa. I’m sure most of you know. Whenever he used to go to anybody’s place, they used to get scared of him. ‘Why this fellow has come? Let him go as early as possible.’ I’m sure when you are not a nice person, nobody welcomes you.” One day his wife told him, “Look, people, when you go, people run away. Whereas I stayed with you for such a long time. Don’t you think I deserve a boon or a special gift?” First he was very upset. Then he said, “Okay, fine, I’ll give you a special gift. What do you want?” She said, “I want a fruit which is not grown in Devaloka or up above heaven, which is grown on the earth. It should be used to worship God. B.

It should flower once a year and it should not have any seeds. C. All parts of that tree should be used in cooking. D. It should give fruits only once in the year and the fruits should not be messy kind, not like a mango or apple. And such fruit, without giving that to God, the puja will be incomplete.” He said, “Okay.” He made a tree and gave the fruit to the God and then he called that… Her name was Kadali, so he called that fruit the Kadali phala. Kadali in Sanskrit became banana in English later. So whatever banana tree you see, that is the intelligence of a woman who told her husband the kind of fruit which is easy to eat, whose leaves are used for eating, whose bark is… the stem is used in cooking, whose flower is used in cooking, which flowers once a year and there are no seeds. So I told, “It’s such a great fruit on the earth. If you don’t want to eat Krishna, you don’t have to eat. But only learned people eat this one.”

What I’m telling you is, though every generation… It’s really wrong to tell that our generation has a lot more stress. That is totally wrong. Parents, please remove it from your head in case you have such things. I was in Egypt about 15 years back. Then I took on Egyptology, that is a very… a person who knows how to read hierography, who knows more about Egyptian history, and went to one place which is 7000 years old and there I saw the pyramid. Inside the pyramid there was hierography, so I asked that fellow, “What it is written here? You tell me.” This fellow told me, “The builder of Egypt pyramid has written about next generation. Next generation doesn’t respect time, doesn’t respect money, doesn’t respect elders. They have less common sense, they are less hardworking. I really do not know how they will survive.” Suddenly I felt like my parents talking to me like that. Every generation feels next generation is less than ours. We are very hardworking, we talk. No, that is really not true. Every generation has their own plus and minus. Some totally same.

Any mathematics teacher or any students who love mathematics will appreciate this. What is 1/2? 1/2 is 2/4. It is also equal to 3/6. It is also equal to 4/8. It is also equal to 16/32. The moment I say 1/2 and 16/32, 16 is a huge number, 1 is small. But the ratio remains the same. And that is the way every generation has their own plus minus, their own strength. I have seen my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and me, and my daughter, seven generations I have seen. They were always worried about disease. Because there was no antibiotic in those days. If the child gets fever, the mother would have been panicked. Today you go to a pediatrician. In those days it was not there.

Next generation I have seen there was no connectivity. Coming to Bombay is once in lifetime, particularly from people from Karnataka. Every generation undergoes a different stress. But they do undergo stress. Now coming to this topic, they told me that you have to address parents. I said I wanted to address students actually. But if parents are interested, I can. But students may get bored. I want to tell something to students and then I will address parents.

Students, you should understand one thing. When you are in school, somebody looks after you. Your teacher, your parents look after you. They will tell you some good words and you really get bored. When they start sermon, your mind goes away somewhere. Because I was also a student once upon a time. Too many things someone tells you, then you won’t like it actually. You won’t like it. And too many things we should not tell also. If we want to tell parents, we should always tell in the form of a story. Never tell directly. You should be hardworking. As a child you may not like it. But please remember, people who care for you only will tell. Third person will not tell. Please don’t underestimate your parents and your teachers. It’s your duty to understand what they are telling, for what reason they are telling. And you have to actually accept it. And later it will pay its price later part of your life. What you don’t learn now will never be learnt later. It is always false idea, “When I grow big, I will do.”

I don’t know how many of you have read my book, “The Story of Portado.” Portado is a real life story. Portado was my classmate. He was reasonably bright. Maybe very bright, I suppose. Never came to school. Never came to college. I was in engineering college. He used to stay. He was from Goa. He used to come. He was in the hostel and he never used to come to college. Our college was 7 to 11. He will come around 10 o’clock or 9 o’clock. Earliest mean 9 o’clock. And he will sit here, sit there, attend two classes. After that, afternoon he will come for the lab, etc. End of the year, one month he will get up early and he will study. And you know, there is a method in college. You take question papers. April and October. Whatever comes in October will never come in April. I am sure in the school also you have. Midterm will never come to final. So, eliminate these question answers and then make an approximate question paper and study that and he used to get a first class. He did all four years like this.

Once I asked Portado, ‘Portado, why you are such a bright person? You don’t come to class. If you come regularly, you can get distinction. You can get a rank.’ He said, ‘Sudha, you do not know. In life, it is not the education. It is the connection that really works. And we have to build lot of connections. You know, when you are young, it helps you.’ I came from a middle class family. My father was a doctor, a gynecologist. I never understood this connection, all those things. Then he said, ‘My father was in military. We were in Kolkata. There was a club.’ Which we have never seen in our real life. So, we thought maybe he is a big man. Years passed. In 1972, I finished my engineering. So was Portado and I didn’t meet him for long time. After 30-35 years, I think 2008 or 2009, I had been to Dubai to deliver a lecture. And when the lecture was over, I saw somebody waiting for me. And then he said, ‘Ma’am, I was waiting for you. I was surprised, in a place like Dubai, who will wait for me?’ Then he said, ‘I am Portado. I could not recognize because in 30-40 years, people put on weight, your hair will be grey. You know, all those physical changes will happen.’ I said, ‘Portado, I would not have recognized. I was very happy.’ I told him, ‘Oh, let us sit down and talk.’ He said, ‘No, I just wanted to tell you one word. One word to you. So, I was waiting.’ I said, ‘What happened?’ He said, ‘You know, do you remember in college, I used to bunk class?’ I said, ‘Of course, I remember you, Portado. Means, bunking class.’ He said, ‘I used to bunk class and I joined a job and because in those days, the moment you have BE, you used to get job in my time. And my bosses came to know that, my subordinates came to know that I don’t have knowledge. Getting a first class marks are different than knowledge. Please remember, parents, your children should be in pursuit of knowledge than the marks.’

Though it’s a competitive examination. I agree, it is a competitive world. It is a competitive world. Competition is thousand times or ten thousand times more than what time I had. But with all those things, the knowledge which always helps you than your marks in real life. So, he said, ‘I got marks but I did not have knowledge.’ Once the subordinates know that you don’t have knowledge, they don’t respect you. Once the boss knows you don’t have knowledge, then he wants a reason to kick you out. I was kicked out from one job, then I took a second job. And I was so much used to getting up at 9 in the morning, I’ll go late to office. I was kicked out there also. Over a period of time, I couldn’t get job anywhere. And now I have a job as a manager job or a smaller job in Dubai. And I have two… I said, ‘What about your family?’ He said, ‘I have two daughters. I left them in Chennai to study.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yes, I want they should study well. They should not become like me.’

I just waited for you to tell, Sudha, one thing. When we were young, I used to make fun of you. He used to tell me, ‘You are like a running race horse because the horse will see neither left nor right it runs.’ So, in a way, you always were academic and we used to make fun of you. Today, when we called you nerd and I thought I was very smart, today I feel you are successful and I wasted my life. I just wanted to tell you, if you don’t discipline… if you don’t discipline when you are in school or in college, you pay a heavy price in later part of your life. Discipline, like coming up in a proper way, writing properly, talking properly, communicating properly, respecting people properly, this really helps a long way in your life. So, I don’t want you should be like a Portado regretting your old age. You should remember that to be successful in life, there is no shortcut. The only method is hard work and straight way. And that you have to do. Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to address both of you. And in case you have any questions in my limited knowledge, My answers are highly subjective. It is not from any group theory I have taken. I will try to answer. Thank you once again.