By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM

Are you giggling at the word Gay? Don't do it. It won't improve your health. By the way, GAY means one who is mirthful, laughs a lot and sees the comic side in a bad bargain too. Gay in our parlance does not mean man having sex with man or a woman crossing the line of infatuation for another woman. In their domain gay changes places with Lesbian, a word that brings smiles to the faces of those who live and love this strange sexual phenomenon.

I recall that in good old days, the Indian Army officers got additional assessment points in the Annual Confidential Reports from the commanding officer for being Gay, which is for being lively and jovial. It should not be interpreted in the present day context that the commanding officer and the officer reported upon had same sex relationship and their being gay brought some additional points in favour of the youngsters.


Reader's Digest carries a column "Laughter the best medicine" suggesting that laughter cures one of many ailments. I ventured to suggest to the Editor of the Reader's Digest that it would be appropriate to give the caption as Laughter the Best Preventive Medicine. Laughter prevents an attack of a disease rather than cure it at a later stage. I wrote my suggestion nicely, had it typed and posted in a nice envelope with a special stamp but was never favoured with an acknowledgement, leave aside a line from the Editor. Perhaps the Editor had better things to do rather than waste time on a piece of suggestion sent by a young Army officer. He knew that the Commanding officers themselves never encouraged young officers or other ranks to write. The common refrain was "Damn your writing and mind your fighting. "No wonder, the rank and file of a million men strong Indian army did not throw up even a single writer worth the name. Neither serious nor non-serious writers came of the army rank and file because they all spend their time and attention gainfully learning the art of warfare. Creative literature and art of warfare have little in common, I suppose. Sun Tzu, the famous writer of the Art of War is read by master tacticians all over the world but he too perhaps had limited interest in creating Chinese literature that could go to the Classics shelf.

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The sense of humour was there, it is there and it will be there but it will never be put to use in a work of art; in a masterpiece of writing and creating Literature relating to warfare. The domain of war and the domain of literature perhaps do not share something of lasting interests.


Man is short of happiness. A large number of men and women do not enjoy a sound state of health. They have something or the other to complain about. Of course, at the root of these causes is the same man himself. The primary reason is : we have forgotten a great quality of ours – laughter. What is the way out? What should be done by the mortal man that would ultimately make him to rank among CHEERFUL men and women. It is the same old cheerfulness that promotes your desire to be a Centenarian. Many men have gone that way for a reward or for an award. Some reached the goal but some did not. Those men and women who laughed were in the category of cheerful officers and men and they found it easy to achieve the target. There is a prize for the successful men and women who make a mark by shooting correctly and hitting the bull’s eye. Pray! Who are these successful men and women. Well, they are the ones who laugh a lot come rain come shine. To remain cheerful under all circumstances is an art. It is the Art of Living. Indeed this Art of Living is what the individual has evolved himself or his group of men and women have evolved. We will try not to get mixed up with the Art of Living conceptualised, experimented in day-to-day life by Shri Shri Ravi Shankar Ji Maharaj. The Art of Living I am talking about is a simple one without any complications. Nevertheless, it keeps an individual happy and gay, far from the madding crowd.

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Solitude and Silence have been put on a premium in the theory and practice of the Art of Living. This is to improve upon the reserve of will power that an individual has. Sometimes this will power gets rusted and needs to be cleansed by the individual himself, sometimes aided and assisted by his group of like-minded persons. This may be his loved ones, members of his family, friends, class mates or colleagues and so on. But he should not face the adversity alone lest he gets tired or disheartened. Fine, the help of fellow human beings is there. What next?

Well, the final act of dusting the dirt, cleansing the mist or wiping the moist eye has to be done by the individual himself. It is meant to shake off Depression, Stress, Physical and mental fatigue and above all, boost self confidence that has a tendency to sag. The panacea of all these ills is just one: LAUGHTER. Once your spirits are down in the dump, it is your own capability to laugh aloud that will lift your spirits. Can one laugh suddenly when one is depressed? Well, yes and No. An individual, who is used to laugh aloud in difficult circumstances, will be able to do so again and again even under adverse circumstances. He has done so in the past and is quite used to it. He is no stranger to laughter. He has to switch on the button and the process will go on. Those who are greenhorns may be surprised but will eventually be converted to this way of life. Laughter of one man will encourage other members of the outfit to laugh. Laughter is contagious. Once it catches up, there will be no end to it. Laugh, laugh and laugh – half of the battle is thus won. The other half will be won by your training as a member of the military unit. What is it that laughter does to one’s mind and body? Everything, just about everything is done to your mind and body to recharge the battery from where you derive energy.

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Laughter eases blood pressure and thus relaxes you. When the blood circulation is normal and all parts of the body get their appropriate diet, mood of man is boosted and the overall state of health of mind and body is enriched. A good laughter improves the immune system of the body and alerts the mind to face an adversary with confidence to defeat him. If an individual is under the weather, he should laugh it out and improve the effect of the weather on himself. A hearty laughter reduces Depression by taking care of stress.

The Yoga clubs in parks of metropolitan cities train old and young alike to laugh and laugh. One who has practised laughter thus will never be tongue tied and express himself boldly by word of mouth and laughter. A word of advice to the greenhorn in our society; let your LAUGHTER be Natural and Spontaneous to produce maximum effect on your body and mind and not an artificial one like titters of a medieval King’s court. A full throated bold belly laugh will drive away depression and restore our soldier to perfect health so that he beats the enemy hollow in a battlefield.