Home Forum Don’t bring ‘I’ in the RUN: A Lesson in Humility & Harmony

Don’t bring ‘I’ in the RUN: A Lesson in Humility & Harmony


By Praveen Chandhok

The year was 1993, a time of new beginnings and boundless possibilities. Newly married, my better half Suman and I embarked on a spiritual sojourn to Haridwar, drawn by the presence of Guru Sharnanand Ji Maharaj at his ashram. Accompanied by a close associate and his wife, we reached Haridwar in the afternoon, eager to pay our obeisance to Maharaj Ji and partake in the sanctified langar. It was a day imbued with spirituality and serendipity.

After the communal meal, we were granted precious one-on-one moments with Guru Ji. During our conversation, Guru Ji turned to my associate and enquired, “How is business running?” My associate, with a sense of pride, responded that it was running well. Guru Ji, in his profound simplicity, imparted a timeless wisdom, “Never bring ‘I’ in the RUN, or else the RUN will become RUIN.”

Those words, as succinct as they were significant, struck me like a thunderbolt. They encapsulated the essence of humility, a virtue so vital yet often overlooked. In that moment, I received the most profound lesson of my life: never let ego erode the fabric of relationships, businesses, or enterprises.

As I reflect on that pivotal encounter, it feels as though Goddess Saraswati herself had bestowed her wisdom upon Guru Ji. His words were not mere advice; they were a premonition. My associate, unfortunately, did not heed this counsel. The insidious “I” crept into his consciousness, bringing with it a destructive sense of doer-ship and isolation. The harmony he once enjoyed with his trusted friends and associates disintegrated, leading to a series of tragic events. The RUN did indeed become RUIN, culminating in the unimaginable horror of his suicide.

This harrowing end serves as a stark reminder of the corrosive power of ego. It is a lesson that transcends time, applicable to all facets of life. Ego, like a cancer, silently spreads, poisoning relationships and undermining achievements. It blinds us to the contributions of others, fostering a false sense of self-sufficiency that ultimately leads to downfall.

Guru Ji’s wisdom is a clarion call to embrace humility. Just as a river, in its humility, finds the ocean, we too must flow with grace, acknowledging the contributions of others. The journey of life, much like a river, is fraught with obstacles and challenges. Yet, it is through collective effort and mutual respect that we can navigate these waters successfully.

In the realm of business, the principle holds particularly true. A thriving enterprise is seldom the result of a single individual’s effort. It is the collective synergy of diverse talents and perspectives. When leaders acknowledge this, fostering an environment of collaboration and inclusivity, businesses flourish. Conversely, when ego takes the helm, the ship is destined for disaster.

The metaphor of the RUN transforming into RUIN serves as a powerful analogy. Just as a single letter can alter the meaning of a word, a single ego can alter the course of an entire enterprise. The key to sustained success lies in recognising and valuing the contributions of every individual. It is in the spirit of teamwork and shared vision that true progress is made.

In our personal lives, the lesson is equally pertinent. Relationships are delicate tapestries woven with threads of love, trust, and mutual respect. Ego, when introduced, acts as a corrosive agent, weakening these bonds. By prioritising “we” over “I,” we can nurture relationships that are resilient and enduring.

Guru Ji’s sage advice, “Never bring ‘I’ in the RUN, or else the RUN will become RUIN,” is more than a mantra; it is a way of life. It is a reminder that humility is not a sign of weakness but a mark of true strength. It is an invitation to transcend the ego, to embrace a higher purpose, and to recognise the interconnectedness of all beings.

As I continue to ponder those fateful words, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude. The lesson learned in Haridwar has been a guiding light, illuminating my path and shaping my journey. It is a lesson I carry in my heart, a testament to the enduring power of humility and the timeless wisdom of Guru Ji.

(Praveen Chandhok is former President 2021-2023, 2015-2017 of the SJA Alumni Association, Dehradun)