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Bhaag Milkha Bhaag; Drama of Human Life. Guest Author Sulekh Jain, Ph.D.

Milkha Singh (1929 –2021) also known as The Flying Sikh (also popularly known as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) was an Indian track and field sprinter.  He is the only athlete to win gold at 400 metres at the Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. Even at 91 years of age he was always running.

For many, human life too from birth to death is also like constant running. If you have already lived 40/50 years of life then start preparing to return now before it is too late, before everything you have done becomes useless.

Why & Where to Return & How to Return?

Let me share Tolstoy’s famous story “TIME TO RETURN” to learn, understand & decide to return:

A man went to the king. Said he was poor, he has nothing, he needs help. The kingwas kind. He asked: What help is needed? The man said: a little plot. The king said: Come here tomorrow morning at sunrise. Run as far as you can run, that whole plot is yours. But remember, from where you start running, you have to come back by sunset, otherwise you will get nothing! The man was happy & excited. He started running at sunrise.. kept running & running; the sun had climbed overhead.. but the man did not stop running.. a little more hard work, then rest for whole life.

Evening was about to come and the man remembered, he has to return, otherwise he will not get anything! He saw he had come far away.. now he had to return.. but how would he return..? The sun had turned towards the west.. the man had full breath.. he could have returned.. but time was passing fast.. a little more strength to be put.. he started running at full speed.. but now he felt tired.. and he dropped dead.

The king was watching it all. He went with his colleagues where the man fell on the ground and looked at him carefully and said: “He only needed few yards of land”. He was running so much without any reason.

Tolstoy’s this famous story helps us to learn, understand & decide to return….

Now put ourselves in place of that man. Are we running too far, too much ?  Can we return in time? We don’t know the limit of our desires. Our needs are limited, but our desires are infinite! We do not prepare to return in the fascination of acquiring more. And when we do, it is too late! Then we have nothing left.

The man wanted to return.. but could not return.. he returned there, from where no one comes back.

One Jain prayer beautifully says; 

“Bahu punya punj prasang se yeh shubh deh maanav kaa milaa 

To bhee arey bhav-chakra kaa pheraa naa yek kabhee talaa

Sukh praptee hetu prayaatan kartey sukh jaataa door hai

Too kyon bhayankar bhaava maran pravaah main chukchoor hai” 

It is because of lots of good karmas, how fortunate I am that I got this good human body

Even then I have not been able to reduce even one cycle of birth and death

We all toil for unlimited comfort but that is an illusion

Why are we all so engrossed in the endless cycle of birth and death?

Most of us get lost in this worldly maya (mirage) or optical illusion of our being here. We think, we are made of steel, are immortal and are here forever. Exit is for others and not for me.  But my fellow brothers and sisters, this is pure illusion.  During this short stay in this world, we all create our own music and play our own drums or orchestra. As we exit from here, all that music stops and soon will be completely forgotten 

Bhagwan Mahavir to his chief Disciple Gautama Swami said “Human life is like a dew drop on a blade of grass and with wind and sun it disappears any moment, so O Gautama be aware and careful all the time”. 

“As the nights depart, the pale leaves of a tree also fall. In the same way the day of man’s life also departs.  O Gautama have no remission even for a moment”.  

We all know this eternal truth but still are mired in accumulating more and more wealth / another madhu bindu ( drop of  honey) way way beyond our needs for food, clothing and shelter, fulfilling sky-high wish and wants (for power, prestige and ego) and all kinds of desires and wants without any brakes. Many a times nothing is enough and we want more and more. In this unstoppable race (some call it rat race or mad race), 

“Main sapne sajaa rahaa thaa, yuv-van nikal gayaa

 Aankh khulee dekhaa to Jeevan nikal gayaa” 

I lost my youth engrossed in dreaming and woke up to find that life had passed me by.  

While awake, we hardly realize that wealth, power and glory after which we run and spend all of our lives give rise to kashayas (passions) of greed, deceit, ego, anger and love or hatred. I call them real enemies or in reality cancers of the soul (aatmaa). The funny thing is that as this cancer; particularly of EGO spreads, we provide more fuel for it to grow and grow and feel happier rather than working on its cures. Majority of us are caught in this web and very few are free from it. Money does not run after the man. Man runs after the money. So, money appears to be wiser than man.

All religions teach us that we are just travelers on this earth and that too for a very short span of time. When born we came empty handed and when die we will go empty handed. All the wealth was always here (may be in some different form) before we came and will remain here after we are gone. Nothing is mine (except my soul or Aatmaa and my karmic baggage). Many religious teachings say that “human life on earth is a blessing, not to be wasted away, and its purpose and meaning is much higher than just making money, creating wealth and being successful”, llusion or maayaa. 

Just sit down quietly close your eyes and contemplate on the following truth. I was involved in the race of life, where did I reach till today? Where do I have to go & how long do I have to reach? If I keep running like this, where & how long will I reach? We are all running without realizing that the sun returns in time. Even Abhimanyu did not know about returning. We are all Abhimanyus. We also do not know how to return.

The truth is that.. Those who know how to return they know how to live, but.. it is not that easy to return. I wish that character of Tolstoy’s story could have returned in time.  I pray to God that we all return! May we all get the conscience, strength and decision to return.

I pray that we all return in time!

Dr. Sulekh C.  Jain who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada is the Past Secretary and President of the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA). Dr. Jain also authored a book An Ahimsa Crisis: You Decide, which can be accessed as an e Book free of charge at  Email;

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