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My Thousand Sons is a 2015 book by Rajesh Bhola, an Indian author, social worker, psychotherapist, journalist, columnist and writer on spiritual subjects. While working as President of Spastic Society of Gurgaon he has positively impacted the lives of thousands of disabled persons for the last thirty years. The title of the Book has been inspired by the one thousand Cerebral Palsy-afflicted children that he worked with and grew deeply attached to during the process of their rehabilitation. In a way he has adopted them and become their guardian. My Thousand Sons is a collection of the choicest autobiographical anecdotes, advocating spiritual handling of life's daily conflicts and hassles with the aim of living a more meaningful and fruitful life. We live in an age of uncertainty, constantly trying to find our way out of the labyrinth of life and death, heaven and hell, and bringing to an end our successive cycles of incarnations. But perhaps, in doing so, we are losing sight of the real purpose of life. Our only real and true concern in life should be to fill each day with as much happiness, magnanimity and humanity as we can. Our karma will then take us wherever we belong. With their diverse themes, the one hundred and nine motivational anecdotes seek to empower and embolden, and propel one towards discovery and appreciation of one's true self. Displaying rare sensitivity, the Author has brought to the fore several of the ambiguities and dilemmas that are dogging contemporary Indian society. He presents an endearing and soul-stirring memoir of the places he has visited and introduces the readers to a variety of individuals suffering from the rarest of afflictions. It is clear that they have left a lasting impression on him.
This is a an inspirational book. It recounts the actual life stories of children battling mental retardation and Cerebral Palsy. While handling such children, the parents experience intense doubt and helplessness, and themselves undergo a radical change – in how they live their lives and see the world. Bhola says that this can remarkably lead to a form of ‘enlightenment’ - it enables these parents to become socially helpful to others who are in pain. It is also observed that other persons connected with such children develop better emotional control and understanding of human problems. The experience helps unfold the more sensitive dimensions of their hearts and minds. Many of us, on the other hand, tend to put on a ‘front’ for the world and try to cover up our infirmities – because we are ashamed. We need to realise that imperfection, suffering, pain, hardship and grief are real and can happen to anyone. The Book takes the reader to a higher plane of existence, to see life from various viewpoints, and guides him to discover ‘heaven’ on this planet - once he starts ‘responding’ to the affliction and pain that is spread all around. It seems clear that the aim of the Book is to provide relief to stressed humanity. It encourages people to volunteer to help others, in their own interest, because those closely associated with spastic, severely disabled or needy persons become more spiritually inclined. Their level of consciousness gets heightened, and prayer and meditation comes more naturally to them - they get closer to the inner core of their being. The Book reinforces the ‘lesson’ that spiritualism does not offer an escape into a metaphysical paradise, but rather provides one the opportunity to become the master of the fire of enlightenment and the doer of chosen acts and deeds. When we see that a person has accepted trouble or affliction, but still goes on living in a positive way, we are surely inspired.
Rajesh Bhola has been associated with the issue of disability since 1984, and has heard from thousands of children about the trauma that they undergo, their difficulties and their feelings of (social) discrimination. Apart from being there for them, this experience has motivated him to write many short stories, which centre on the theme of disability leading to spiritual awareness. My Thousand Sons is a collection of his autobiographical experiences spanning a period of thirty years - from 1984 to 2014. Each of the one hundred and nine motivational stories, with its unique theme and flavour, tries to paint a realistic portrait of life and describes Bhola’s first hand conversations with the disabled, the infirm and those who are in need of psychopathic help. The narrative flows well and is very engrossing; Rajesh Bhola is a skilled storyteller. Deepti Umashankar, Joint Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi writes in her Foreword that ‘My Thousand Sons’ provides delight to the readers. The Book can be a guidebook for the young generation on how to live life meaningfully. It will have a cathartic effect on the reader; it will help in the cleansing of one’s inner self.
Reviewed by Dr. Ramesh Goyal
Immediate Previous President, Indian Medical Association.
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