‘The Alchemist’, a novel by a Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho became one of the bestselling books in history, setting a record for the most translated book by a living author. ‘The Alchemist’, follows the journey of a shepherd boy believing in a recurring dream, in search of a fortune.

The theme of the books is that ‘when a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream’. The book teaches you to follow your heart, ‘Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure’. The treasure here is abundance in wealth, relationships, happiness or whatever your heart really craves for.

It is good that Coelho wasn’t born in India. If at all if he was born here and if he had written ‘The Alchemist’, the theme of the book could have got slightly changed; ‘when a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to see that the person’s dreams are put down! He would have taught us ‘Never to follow your heart, but to follow your society’!

Now, don’t raise your eyebrows, let’s look at the society we have built around us. May be ‘India’ is the only word that is the symbol of our unity. Oh! Sorry, we fought on that too, we have a registered dual name for our country, India, that is Bharat. May be this itself is a symbol for how badly we are divided as a society. Divided by caste, creed, language, religion, region, culture, beliefs and what not?

We are not very much in love with the word ‘progress’. Our pride is not in joining hands and moving forward, rather in putting the other down & rising above him. Even if one has succeeded though his sheer hard work, we have reasons not to like his growth. The reason can be anything, that he is a muslim(a different religion) or a Tamilian(a different language and a region), in the absence of the two, he may be a dalit(a different caste). If it is neither of the above, he may be a junior, or he had been a classmate or a friend & in cases a brother.

This culture that we have inculcated in ourselves is may be the reason for most of the problem we are facing as a country. May be this is why we don’t find any breathtaking innovations happening here or may be this is why we can’t even rub shoulders with China in the medals tally at the Olympics. We don’t cheer each other’s success impartially without finding a caste, language, region, or religion in someone’s success.

In India, it is easy to follow the society rather follow your heart. It is easy to follow the passion of the society like being an engineer or a doctor rather than your own, like being a sportsman, an artist, a theatre person. It is easy to follow the society even in getting married. In India, we get married to a caste and not to a girl. In most of the cases, these ‘exact’ matches may be the greatest mis-matches which makes each other ‘adjust’ and drag a life rather than ‘live’ a life together.

As Indians we have lots to change. We are not able to find solution to issues dragging for decades together, may it be the water sharing issues or the Kashmir issue etc. We need to have a more opened up or liberal mindset to issues and solutions from the highest decision making levels to the lowest level and not to just flare up issues.  No individual, Chief Minister, or a Prime Minister has a solution to these problems, it is only though consensus we should come to an amicable solution. If we stop arguing, bickering and fighting and start discussing, any such issue is not very far from resolution.

We need to start forgetting or neglecting our divisions. In a mixed group of population, it is very easy to see people getting grouped themselves based on language, region, religion, caste etc. Never think about which caste the other belongs, learn the language if the other has a different tongue, get to know about their beautiful culture, festivals if he belongs to a different region, ask what the Bible, Geetha or the Quran teaches if he belongs to a different religion. Only India can provide you with such wonderful world of differences. It is only that we should develop a heart to celebrate our differences. We should make our circles on our interests and our thought processes rather than our great grandfather set divisions. Even in 21st century we can’t keep acting like we are in Vedic times.

We are all the same human beings caste into different divisions. No person is lower or higher by his caste, tongue, region or religion and no religion teaches bad things. If it does, it is not sacred at all. If God himself has created divisions, then he is not God at all.

At the end, we are all are missing out on a beautiful life, just by timidly following a society without even questioning the rights & wrongs of it. No society is perfect and it will never move towards becoming one if we stop correcting the wrongs or the teachings or practises which seemed correct then but not to this century.  We all have a responsibility being born into this world to live our life and gift a world to our children which is far better than what we lived in.

Let’s open our minds. Let’s start listening to our hearts. Let what ‘The Alchemist’ has taught to the world; let it apply to My Country too.