We waited, anticipating and excited  to hear Vinobha Bhave, the Gandhian,  the founder and the nurturer of the Bhoodan movement; persuading wealthy landowners to voluntarily give a percentage of their land to the landless people. He was in Bangalore and as eager beavers in our teens, we wanted to meet him and talk to him. Our school teacher guided him to our location in the midst of a large congregation . He looked at us and after a few whispers addressed to our teacher, he left. His message was for us to meet him next morning at 5 am and accompany him during his regular walk. More appropriately he had felt uncomfortable to see us in our suited and booted dress. Next morning we in our games dress did try to keep pace with him as he walked in his well trodden and long firm strides. He smiled and chatted as he strode and we saw, heard and felt a unique and humble man inspiring us young impressionists and to this day the memory of this remarkable encounter remains embedded. An honest, simple and pious man helping the poor and destitute of the Nation with utmost humility and sincerity. No fanfare, no trumpets, no breast beating and certainly no bragging. Fast forward six and half decades and today we have braggarts, blusterers  on the national scene, who outperform in their naivety and guilelessness with impunity and brazenness even though the sum and substance of their contribution and performance is microscopic approaching negligible.

How many understand that the best way to brag about yourself to others is probably not to brag at all. Let other people do the bragging for you.  However, because our feelings of self-esteem and self-confidence rest on being able to take pride in our achievements, it’s not only okay, but healthy, to brag about yourself to yourself. The issue does turnover when you encourage, organize, hire and pay people to propagate and spread through the print and electronic  media, in meetings and discourses, by word of mouth and clandestine undercurrents your manufactured and mainly imaginary achievements to the gullible and suffering masses. Coupled with this bravado are the promises and freebies sumptuously elaborated with pomp and elan. This is exactly that came to pass in our last general elections. Ridicule and denigrate the incumbent to purgatory and show the glittering path to heaven!  Let us examine the issue further.

The datum considered for the march ahead was a narcissist leader, excessively full of pride in himself and his ‘achievements’ The epistemology of bragging refers to the question of whether something you say about yourself can be verified or not. How do we know you’re telling the truth when you claim to have achieved some great outcome? If you tell us but don’t give us hard evidence, we have to rely on your word and your word alone. When bragging is based on your self-report only, you run the risk of not being believed; fortunately for the leader and the party this did not happen, we believed him for no better reason than that we had no other alternatives! We believed in spite of the fact that our culture expects people to be modest as people who are not modest violate those expectations. We believed in spite of the fact that throughout the campaign attention to personal qualities was rubbed in time and again, the least desirable way to brag, the least likely form of self-praise to be believable and the most likely to violate social norms as without confirming evidence, when he said that he possess positive qualities such as being smart, well-liked, or talented.

The constant harping and showcasing of accomplishments did seem immodestly to say   fantastic  great feat. Apparently a gold medal at the Olympics was won. By most people’s standards, it would seem that it’s okay to be happy about this and even mention it loudly. It would not seem okay to wear the gold medal while campaigning around town or introducing yourself as “Gold medalist so-and-so.” It may be cute for a toddler but certainly not for a contestant; Our grandparents were and now we are notorious braggers, and many of us do so with sincere pride and happiness. No one will ever complain about a grandmother who shares her grandchild’s adorable baby pictures with her friends and co-workers. The fine line gets crossed into personal bragging when people engage in thinly-disguised attempts to make themselves look good by aligning themselves with others who have achieved good things. The  glaring example has been swearing vociferously by and the birth of statues of leaders of the past  who if resurrected  would certainly object associating with those whom they had despised.

Does it make sense that we should never tell anyone about anything good that we have done? Must we always take the self-deprecating stance when describing ourselves to others? Should that gold medalist hide the medals in a dresser drawer forever?

Apparently the odds are definitely stacked against any type of bragging at all. However we have stalwarts who have succinctly paved the path to glory through bragging and bluster!

“Who knows himself a braggart, let him fear this, for it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.”  ? William Shakespeare,