Full text of musician Benny Prasad’s talk titled ‘Against All Odds’ at TEDxIISUniversity conference.
Notable quote from this talk:
“There is so much to life than just a sheet of marks card. There’s so much to life than just money.”
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Benny Prasad – Gospel musician and instrumental guitarist
Now you can start the clock please, and is there a clock anywhere, so we have to go by faith, not by sight here. Okay. Normally we get to see the clock, and it’s going to be interesting to keep.
Morning everyone. Come on, I got up at 4:00 in the morning to come here. Good morning everyone. It’s a joy to be here this morning, and I want to thank all the organizers for giving me this amazing privilege to finally come to Jaipur.
It took me after traveling to 257 countries to come and step here for the first time in my life. And it’s a short visit, but I hope to come back with my wife.
And I’m amazed every time I get an opportunity to speak at events like this is… what has gone wrong in our country? You know, this is the irony of our Indian educational system. My wife and myself… my wife is from Nagaland, and I’m from Bangalore; we both are educationally compatible, because my wife is nine-standard appeared, and I am 10-standard failed.
And could not really do well, even though my father was an amazing… he was an amazing scientist, who was an aerospace scientist actually, and being the first-born in the family, I was expected to become like him.
Now how can you medically prove that every firstborn son in the family will have the same brains like the father, with the same ideas like the father, with the same attractions to subjects like the father?
But this is the saddest part in our culture: Our dreams are not valuable, but what the society thinks is the most valuable thing. Society will always give you ideas, but they will never pay for your bills.
And it was hard for me when I grew up. My father was a brilliant man, but he just followed what his father told. And I struggled, and I struggled, I’m saying… just journeyed along; I have a brother and three sisters… smart, good-looking talented, good character people.
And I was the odd guy in the family. I was born with asthma. From the age of two till the age of 16, I was on wrong medication. And as a result of that, 60% of my lungs got damaged; my immune system broke down, and had developed rheumatoid arthritis.
And by 16, the doctors had given me six months to live.
Now I’m a failure in my system. I was considered worthless, useless. First thing… my first challenge to fight against all odds was my entire voice. See, my voice sounds like a girl. Even till today when I answer the phone, they’ll automatically say, ‘Ma’am, how are you doing?’ Now I’m married; at least they think that it’s my wife speaking. But when I was single, it was a challenge.
And I would stand on the stage, and I would fret with fear, because all I have to say is good morning everyone, and people would start laughing, people would start making fun of me. Some would come and say, “Are you a boy, or a girl?”
It was: just my voice was my weakest part of my life, and I struggled. And today my voice has been my strongest weapon in a positive way to make an impact.
I want to tell you friends, regardless of who you are and how you have been created, if you can accept the way you are, that’s the first step to fight against all odds. Don’t have to become like someone else, or something else in order to achieve something.
But I struggled. And here I was put in this school: Kendriya Vidyalaya NAL. Brilliant school; it was a Hindi medium school, and it was hard for me. My Hindi teacher and myself… we never got along well. As a result, even the subject got affected: I hated the subject.
I struggled. Everything was in Hindi: history was in Hindi; geography was in Hindi; civics was in Hindi. Thankfully, English was in English. Everything else was in Hindi. And I struggled every year. I was just pushed. The only reason I moved to the next class is, because the teachers did not like to look at my face.
Finally, in my 10th standard, they threw me out of school; they said “We have never had a single failure in the school. You are going to be the first-ever failure.” So they called my parents and diplomatically kicked me out of the school. Even till today I am a high school dropout, and I have no plans of finishing my high school in the future, too.
But I tell the world today that… no, the reason I failed in my 10th standard, is because the Indian educational system was not up to my standard. And they threw me out of school.
Friends, I want to tell you: every failure is not a failure, because of your potential; it can be because of the system. And I struggled…
All over I had to start again. But at 16, it was the lowest point of my life, and doctors gave me 6 months to live. Now I am thrown out of school; my father looks at me and he says, ‘Benny, you are good for nothing. I go to school… you’re good for nothing. Everywhere I go, people say that ‘you are useless’.
And you see these words become reality in your life, if you start believing. That’s what happened. I journeyed with great difficulties, being compared… comparison will steal the joy of your life.
And at 16, at the lowest point, I thought the best thing I could do was to kill myself. I was very depressed, and depression is real. And so I thought the best gift I can give to my parents is my dead body. So I decided to kill myself.
And at the lowest point of my life is when I went to a church youth camp, which my parents told me to go. And I was completely against religion. For me it was just a concept that was put forth. The only reason I went to church is, because my father said, ‘If you don’t go to church, you’ll not get your lunch.’
So food was the only reason why I even thought of spirituality. But here I was completely an atheist. The lowest point of my life at 16, I heard the audible voice of Jesus Christ. He said, ‘Benny, even though you are called useless, I want you. I can transform your life and make you a new person.”