My father never knew – he had eleven children – he never knew which child was studying in which school, in which class, and whether he had passed or failed this year. He never inquired. Even for our progressive reports, we had to tell him, “You have to sign it.” And he would say, “You could have signed it yourself My signature is so simple. But I will sign.” And he would sign without reading whether I have passed or failed. Any recommendations from the teacher, from the principal, he would not read. When I topped the university, that was the first time I told him, “You will be happy to know…you know me, that I am good for nothing, but by some coincidence I have topped the whole university and received the gold medal.” He became very serious. I said, “This is not some crime that I have committed. You need not be so serious.”
He said, “No, I am serious. Because that simply means in your whole university… If you can top the university then the people who are studying there must be far worse than you! That makes me serious. I was thinking you only are good for nothing. This proves that your whole university is just good for nothing. And you topped – that means you are at least better.” I said, “That is true. I never thought about it, otherwise I would not have told you. I thought you would be happy.”
To get such a father is very difficult. He never imposed any ambition on me. If some of my brothers failed in a class and they came home crying and weeping, he would say, “Don’t cry and weep. What is the matter? It simply means that in two years you will become far stronger and far wiser than you can become in one year. And what is the loss? And what is the hurry? If you cannot come out of the school one year earlier, there is no problem. You can take your time, you can fail as many times as you want. One thing is certain, the longer you remain in one class, the wiser and stronger you will become. Nothing is lost. Don’t cry and weep unnecessarily.”
The principal would come just to console my father. “It is not our fault that your son has failed, but he never pays any attention to the studies. He is continuously interested in games, and he is almost always absent. So you just tell him to be present. He is intelligent, there is no problem about it.” But my father would say, “But what is the problem? Let him play, let him not be attentive. Let him not be present, what is the hurry? I am still alive. He can take his time; one year, two years, three years, as much as he wants. He will become far more mature, and failure is also a great experience in life. In life, you cannot succeed in everything. So this is good; he will know some taste of failure and will be able to absorb it in his life. There is no need to be worried and no need to console me. Nothing has gone wrong.”
But to find this kind of parent is very difficult. Ordinarily they are all ambitious people, and, because they cannot fulfill their own ambitions, they project their ambitions on their children. They wanted to become something special, but they could not; at least their sons will become.
I used to know a very famous politician, Seth Govinddas. He had a very ambitious mind and wanted to become not less than prime minister of India. He and the man who became the first prime minister of India were both friends, and very intimate friends. Both had been together in jails, both had come from very rich families. In one of his speeches the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal, said, “I have two sons. One is Jawaharlal, the other is Govinddas.”