Clad in a humble black cotton pant and a Nehru coat, Mr. Pullela Gopichand walked down the Art of Living Ashram corridors with the aura of a philosopher dipping his toes into the world of spirituality. With a saint Kabir- like aura, he walked in and gently took a chair. He lifted the burden of glamour that probably sportsmen have to wear.
The statements of “I was meant for this or this is my purpose of life”, that leave many youngsters eternally waiting for that moment of finding their reason to being on this planet, were tossed aside the moment he decided to address the gathering. “I didn’t get admission in Cricket academies. Badminton happened by chance and I never thought that I will win a national tournament (forget international),” he began with a knowing smile. Gently slipping in the theory of Karma, Pullela said, “Dreams are finite and the potential is infinite.” Pursual of dreams could have limited this Badmintion champion from becoming the face of Badminton in India but pursuit of his potential brought success not only as a player but also as a guru to champions like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. His statements brought in smiles of relief and a burst of motivation at the same time. “Be the best you can be and in the process if you win medals-fantastic,” he said putting the debate of effort versus result, destiny and dos and don’ts to rest.
Sportsmen play to win. That is their challenge and motivation. However, that can also bring the burden of constant emotional turmoil in the bargain. Pressure to constantly be in the form, perform and excel can deter a person from leading a satisfying personal life. The philosopher in him knocked doors and questioned the very basis on which sports works across the world. He shared that the competitions were merely designed for countries to showcase their talent; ranks, numbers and winning came much later. P V Sindhu’s win, he says, confused him even more. It again brought attention to the fact that excelling is important as well. Urging for the gathering to ponder on these questions and look for answers, he concluded, “Be the best you can be today. Story is here and not on the other side.” Captain’s energy spoke of the honesty that he lives with.
In a world that speaks the language of merit and medals, how does he keep it so simple? He says that his association with Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar ji has been an important influence in his life. With gratitude and quintessential Pullela Gopichand smile, he said that he is grateful to finding his faith in Gurudeva very early in life. Dedicating his success to Sri Sri, he said that he has been coming to the ashram for over 20 years now. A quick moment of recap and one can feel Gurudeva Sri Sri’s presence in captain’s life for he had been reinforcing Art of Living foundation’s mantra of, “Live in the present moment and be the best you can be.”
When the audience urged him for at least two gold medals, he laughed and said, “Why two? It can be more, “hinting on his belief that dreams are finite but the potential is infinite. The audience couldn’t stop cheering for Pullela Gopichand. He had his fans who adore him seated in the audience. Unlike celebrities who soak in the attention, wave and say ‘I love you’ in a celebrity –like demeanour, Pullela’s stance was of gratitude. He signed off leaving the gathering in awe of his success, his thought process and the person he is.