Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta on the joy of a selfless smile
Kaustuv Dasgupta stands true to the title ‘Sai’ that has been bestowed upon him. In an engaging and a freewheeling conversation, we discuss how humanity has forgotten what it means to smile.
He was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta at a tender age of 4, following a series of fractures. The rare ‘Brittle Bone Disease’ is crippling in nature, and results in fractures at the slightest of injuries. Currently 90% differently abled, he is fully dependent on his parents. Kaustuv has mastered the use of a computer using two fingers of his left hand, and his being exudes only joy.
“What has been your story, Kaustuv?” I had enquired, despite being in possession of a complete brief on his background and on his many achievements as a child prodigy. Much has been written on the awards he has won, his skills in graphic design and how he has inspired millions across the world. However, instead of an interview, it was an intellectual adventure that I was hoping for. The freedom to navigate through his thoughts would help me outline and perhaps translate the unimaginable strength that he continued to lived by into words.
He took me through his journey, and the loving way with which his family has cared for him. He mentioned his gratitude for all the support and love he continues to receive from everyone around him. Since being diagnosed, his conditioned had gradually worsened over a period of six years. “I had reached a point where I could not move, and had to stay put in bed all day and all night. I saw neither the sun nor the moon. I saw neither the trees nor felt the wind. After 18 long months, I had almost lost hope, and was succumbing to depression. Around that time, I made up my mind to put a stop to this negative spiral of thoughts and emerge with self belief.”
Life is full of perceived suffering, and a human fails to grasp how the grass isn’t really as green as it lets on. It took deep insight, immense maturity and introspection for Kaustuv to decide on a conclusion and take action. He refused to see his disability as a limitation, he chose to treat this as a life’s surprise, something to be adapted to. He accepted his unique condition and decided to be a beacon of hope for the differently abled. With a comforting and a reassuring tone, he shared with the world how he conquered all odds to win the battle of perception. He chose gratitude over self defeating gloom, and believed how special he was. His purpose in life was clear to him then.
“All motivation comes from within.” Kaustuv shares how suffering and hardship is self inflicted by unhealthy thought processes. By comparing ‘us’ with ‘them’, we attempt to compete with ‘others’ all our lives. Hooked onto the habit of competing, we are constantly on the lookout of new competition. This leads to a vicious circle of disappointment. Our greed drives a self critical approach, that attaches our happiness with material comforts. We keep postponing our happiness till the time we have it all, only that it is an unending pursuit. “Compete with yourself. Makes yourself better every day. The world is as compassionate as you are. It is as competent as you are.” Kaustuv shares how we need to look ‘within’ and love ourselves for what we are.
As Deep Thought put it - the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42 i.e. “what we want it to be”. Our happiness and our destiny depends on our choices and how we direct our thought processes. Kaustuv explains, quite simply, how powerful our mind is. Narrating the age old principle of what goes around, comes around - Kaustuv stresses how a smile one gives out travels across the world and reaches us in no time, adding happiness to our lives. He explains that the world is only a reflection of what we are within.
In the opinion of power, according to Boul Vaishnav, the one who has acquired the world is called ‘Sai’. It is the final step towards enlightenment. Men wander all their lives for the wisdom Kaustuv has attained at the age of 26. I am not sure whether I truly grasp what his physical self continues to go through every day. Kaustuv retains control of only two fingers, and offers a warm smile to us all. He is selfless, as he looks beyond and asks us to do the same. He could have easily let us stumble around in vain, but he courageously chose to help us along the way. He meets people across India, talks to people across the world. “We have forgotten how to smile selflessly,” he notes. “My mission is to bring back the purity of heart.”
Finding myself shaken and inspired as the conversation concludes, I confess how I have often fallen into self defeating traps of self criticism. Sai Kaustuv chuckles, asking me to be happy, reminding me how we are all connected souls. “Life is too short to not celebrate, my dear friend. Keep smiling.”