The boy wanted to become a fighter pilot. He appeared in the interview at Dehradun, but he could finish ninth in the batch of 25 aspirants to select eight officers for commissioning in the Air Force. The opportunity to join the Air Force had just slipped through his fingers. He was deeply disappointed and started feeling suicidal.
He reached Rishikesh on his way back, and took bath in the holy river of Ganges. In the evening he started strolling along the banks of Ganges in front of the Sivananda Ashram, a religious yoga and meditation centre.
After evening worship and Aarti, Swami Sadananda (who had studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician), came out of his Ashram to offer prayers to Mother Ganges.
He saw the boy and observed his pensive mood. The boy used to stop and stand on the edge of a cliff after every few steps. Swami had a very rich experience. He sensed some trouble.
He called the boy and asked him,
“Where have you come from, my son, and what are you doing here?”
“Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu”, he meekly replied.
Swami smiled and said,
“Oh, you are from my place, near the village of Adi Shankaracharya. Come inside.”
The boy told Swami about his unsuccessful attempt to join the Air Force and his long-cherished desire to fly. Swami’s smile washed away his anxiety. Swamy consoled him and advised him to go back and continue his efforts.
But before leaving, the boy asked Swami,
“You are a wise man, sir. Can you tell me please why I was not selected. Am I so bad and useless in the eyes of God?”
“No, not at all. You have not failed, my son. God has not given this job, because He has reserved you for a bigger job. Defeat the defeatist tendencies. Forget this failure, as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Accept the destiny and go ahead with your life. Try again and do something else.”
This interaction was the turning point, one of his most defining moments, and thus began the journey of the Missile Man of India, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (APJ) Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India….and the rest became the history.
Dr Kalam, fondly remembered as the ‘People’s President, was born today in 1931 in a poverty-stricken family. He had to sell newspapers as a young boy to add to the family’s meagre income.
But nothing stopped him from pursuing his career. Dr Kalam took a keen interest in space and science, and worked for development of ballistic missiles and launch vehicle technology. He played a pivotal role in India’s Pokharan nuclear tests in 1998.
He was also very passionate about education and teaching, and this passion continued till his last day. While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology, Shillong, Dr Kalam collapsed and died.
In India, Students’ Day is observed every year on October 15 to mark the birth anniverssary of late APJ Abdul Kalam, and to acknowledge his contribution in the field of education. He used to say that teachers are builders of society and the society can be built only when the students are made proficient in their subjects.
Dr Kalam’s love for students finds in this exhortation,
“Dream, Dream, Dream.
Dreams transform into thoughts.
And thoughts result in action.”
He also used to remind them,
“A dream is not what you see while sleeping, it is something that does not let you sleep.”
My heartfelt tributes to this great visionary and pious soul on his birth anniversary 🙏🌹🙏