Shah Rukh Khan: As kids, we all heard stories from our grandmothers of flying fairies, talking parrots, and wish-granting magic lamps. As grown ups we may have forgotten the plots and characters in those stories, but what we always remember is the wonderful feeling we experienced while listening ... that happy space.
Our performer today is of the opinion that stories, tales and fables have a close bond with happiness. With a rib-tickling performance, TED Talks India Nayi Soch welcomes actor, theatre director, storyteller, Danish Hussain.
Danish Husain: Thank you. Now this is a rare occasion in a performer’s life, when the audience gives a standing ovation even before the performance begins.
Thank you so much for this respect and honour. To all those present here, my greetings. My name is Danish Hussain, and a major part of my life goes in telling stories, anecdotes and fables. My only hope is that those listening to it have a great time, and when they leave they take along the story and happiness with them.
So when these people came to me, though TED has made it easier for me today, by already casting a spell of happiness in which all of you are now trapped. Definitely.
These bubbles of happiness are already bursting inside you, now my only job is to turn them into cracking laughter. So these people came to me saying the topic for the episode is: What is happiness? I told them if one understood that, wouldn’t he attain nirvana?
(Laughter and applause)
You know happiness is like a lover’s mood, you can never really understand it.
(Laughter and applause)
But in case you do, then all the fools in the world, no actually, all the wise people in the world, would attain happiness because the foolish are happy anyway.
(Laughter and applause)
They are so happy that if something small triggers unhappiness, they get furious. But well, this issue of laughter is complicated. Because whenever someone laughs, there is someone who is turning green with envy.
Now let me share an incident with you. So there was a priest and a priestess. The priest was highly revered in the village. Wherever he went, four people would prostate there, five would prostate here. Everywhere people sang his praises, but the minute he would walk into his home, the priestess would say, “So you’re back?”
The priest was very distressed. He wondered, “The entire village is honouring me, people are falling at my feet but my wife, the priestess, doesn’t consider me anything at all, she has absolutely no regard for me.
Now the priest was an honorable man who knew nothing except religious hymns and verses. So he decided to meditate. Fierce meditation. Intense meditation. He meditated so much that he found a magical spell. He started flying like a kite.
Now that the priest started flying, the villagers who were already following him ardently, became even more ardent fans. This news spread like wildfire — not just in one or two villages but the entire neighborhood. Millions of people camped there and sang devotional songs while the priest flew about like a glider in the air. When he landed, the entire crowd fell at his feet. People hailed and sang his praises, loaded him with garlands to such an extent that the priest could not get a glimpse of his own face. Gifts started pouring in, 40 bullock carts were loaded with them. Now with these 40 bullock carts and garlands, the priest perched on the shoulders of the crowd who kept hailing him, reached home with this procession.
As he stepped into the house, the priestess asked,
“So, you’re back?"
"You should have done at least something in life. Today a man was gliding in the air. At least you should have done that much.”.
Now that the priest realized that she was talking about the man gliding in the air, he was ecstatic. He thought, "As soon as she realizes it was me, she too will fall at my feet."
So he stood sideways, erect and proud, rolling his moustache, “Priestess, the man gliding in the air was none other than me.” She exclaimed “No wonder… you were slanted even while gliding!”
This relationship between the priest and the priestess is that of love. A very complicated relationship, that is love, it’s certainly not easy to grasp. Amir Khusro rightly said: “Says Khusro, the river of love runs in strange directions. One who jumps into it drowns. And one who drowns, gets across.”
No, no, it’s not that easy my friend. It shocks the wits out of you, your eyes turn pale … This love is not easy, just understand this much: it is a river of fire, and you must go drowning
Now the priest’s spell failed. So being an honorable man, he got back to his hymns and verses and then started meditating. Fierce meditation. Intense meditation. This time, God himself descended. He said, "Ask whatever you want." The priest folded his hands, fell at the God’s feet and prayed: "God, please grant me courage, intelligence, cleverness and a vocabulary so I can match up to the priestess’s smartness." As he asked for this, God changed his demeanor and said, “He is intoxicated. Put him aside."
"When he is sober, he can ask for some other wish."
Now don’t think that the priestess was harsh. No, please don’t think that. Just imagine how difficult it must be for her to put up with a man who is so self-obsessed that he wants everyone to be charmed by his persona. Men have this tendency, as they go up the ladder of success in life, they become more and more self-obsessed.
Thank God for women who have taken care of civilization for over 10,00 years with their wisdom and intelligence. “As he kept testing me, he increased his own hardships.” You can all remember your husbands while listening to this couplet. “As he kept testing me, he increased his own hardships.”
Now all of the priest’s formulas failed. The spells failed. When God appeared, he too reprimanded the priest. Now he was extremely distressed. Although he was the one who would mistreat, but in his head he was the one being mistreated by the priestess.
So when he reached home, he walked up to her and said, “I am sick and tired of you mistreating me. So I have decided to commit suicide by jumping of the Saryu River today." The priestess was busy chopping vegetables, she just said, "Don’t forget it like every other day, pick up 2 kilograms of flour on your way home."
So here ends the tale of the priest and priestess. Stay where you are, as you are. The priest could not get the formula, but a great master is coming here so maybe you can get your hands on the formula of happiness.
So laugh endlessly, share laughter and anecdotes endlessly.
(Applause) SRK: Thank you, Danish, for coming here and making us laugh so much. I think it’s a gift, a blessing from the Almighty to be able to make people laugh with your stories, anecdotes and your personality.
Thank you so much Danish for making us happy. God bless you.