A hardworking and intelligent young girl made some useful and practical suggestions for cost-cuts in her employer-company. She was rewarded by her employer with an award for her suggestions which saved a lot of money for the organization. She wanted to share this happy news personally with her friends. She called her closest friend, a friend since childhood, and told her first. The friend was also very happy and congratulated her profusely. After telling her friend, the girl sat for her lunch thinking that she would call other friends one by one after lunch. Before she reached for her dessert, calls started coming from her other friends congratulating her. Though surprised, she acknowledged their greetings and asked one of them how they came to know of the award. She was told that it was placed on one of the social web sites by her closest friend. The social web site, responsible for bringing millions of friends together, broke this one long friendship for ever. This girl may never talk to her childhood friend again, in her life.
This was no big secret. After all it was going to become public knowledge in a short time. Many people in her Organization already knew it. She was herself going to tell her friends one by one. It was indeed a good news and worth celebrating with champagne. There was never a mystery cover on the news. There was no bad intention on the part of the girl who put it on the social site. Only that she denied the true owner of the pleasure and privilege of communicating the happy news herself. What if the same thing happens in case of something that should really be kept a secret? A secret, as they say, should go to the grave with him or her?
Bhartruhari defines six qualities of a true friend:
पापान्निवारयति योजयते हिताय, गुह्यं निगूहयति गुणान् प्रकटीकरोति |
आपद्गतञ्च न जहाति ददाति काले सन्मित्र लक्षणमिदं प्रवदन्ति सन्तः ||
Paapaannivarayi yojayate hitaaya, guhyam niguhayati gunaan prakatikaroti
aapdgatancha najahati dadati kaale sanmitralakshanamidam pravadanti santaha
"A true friend is one who prevents you from committing sins (bad actions). He plans for your welfare (and executes those action plans). He keeps your secrets as secrets. He spreads your virtues. He does not desert you in times of trouble. He also gives (money and resources) in times of need. The wise say these are the six qualities of a good friend"
There are innumerable stories about keeping secrets and betraying by leaking a secret. It is very easy to break news. Very difficult to hold them back and allowing the concerned person to announce at the proper place and time. It is always better to find out from the true owner of the news whether it is in order to tell others before going on a announcement spree ourselves. If it is a secret, to be kept as a secret, it should be kept that way even if we get stomach ache. Some say holding any secret makes their stomach ache and hence they have to perforce deliver it. Deliver it even if it is some one's baby, to get out of that stomach ache!
There was a film by name "Samayada Gombe" in Kannada, meaning "A puppet (in the hands of) Time". Same movie may have been produced in other languages as well. The film made in 1984 is regarded as one of the finest movies made with Dr Raj Kumar in the lead role. The story revolves around a brother and sister. A young boy injures his kid sister involuntarily while playing with her. When the sister becomes unconscious and blood oozes out from the wound on her forehead, the brother runs away from her fearing she is dead. He becomes a driver and several years later is employed by his own sister and brother-in-law. He identifies his sister through a childhood song (as it happens in many movies) and the wound mark on her forehead. The couple treat him as a family member and their daughter loves him dearly. When the child is lost, the driver brother brings her back at the risk of his own life. The sister leaves with her husband and daughter for a far away place. Even when they leave him for ever, he never tells her he is her brother. When his girl friend asks him why he is not telling the sister even now, he says philosophically, "What she was destined she got it, what I was destined I got. I never gave her a brother's love when she was young. Why should I tell her now? Let her be happy. That is all I want". The secret remains with him and his girl friend. The film could have become a fine comedy(?) if the secret was revealed. But the film would have been something different.
"Samayada Gombe" was an example of a secret that was kept as a secret. But there is an excellent example of the opposite. The secret of Karna's birth in Mahabharata. The tone and tenor of its disclosure is well explained in many versions of the epic. But the one that stands for ever in memory is what "Kumara Vyasa" portrays in his "Bharata Kathamanjari" or Kannada Bharata. After Duryodhana refuses to settle the dispute amicably and insists on war, Krishna meets Karna and invites him to join on a ride in his chariot. Karna respected Krishna as a person and was also afraid of him as a master strategist. He reluctantly joins in the ride but tells Krishna that he is too inferior to join Krishna for a ride. Krishna tells him that for him Karna is just like his elder brother Balarama, for he is actually the eldest son of Kunti and, therefore, entitled to become the King and rule the entire Kingdom. Krishna even offers to ensure that he will be flanked by the 100 Kourava brothers on one side and the five Pandavas on the other. Karna refuses the offer and decides to stay with Duryodhana, but promises not kill his four brothers excluding Arjuna. Karna laments: "ಜನನವನರುಹಿ ಕೊಂದನು" (Jananavanaruhi Kondanu), he killed me by revealing my birth secret. The secret was disclosed at the wrong place and at the wrong time for Karna, but at the right time and right place for the Pandavas.
The General who never fought the war had killed one of the most trusted warrior of the highest order in the opposition camp, even before the war had started. And not by use of any weapon, but by just disclosing a secret at the crucial moment!