Humans are condemned with just enough intelligence to be able to invent but insufficient intelligence to discover.
We are able to invent ideas about new things, and of course the new things themselves, to keep ourselves entertained, more comfortable, use less of our nature-given, what we call "mortal," bodies for matters pertaining to survival and more for pleasure.
We are unable to discover the roots of creation, "meaning of Life, Universe, and Everything else," neither are we able to determine whether such things as "creation" and "meaning" exist.
The rational part of our mind needs consistent axioms to work with. This is what we know we should use in times of crisis, and not the emotional part of the mind, though whether we do or not is a matter for self-retrospection. We have an urge, probably an instinct towards survival, to predict how things will change around us, to be prepared to face it. We try to use the purported rationality towards this end.
This tendency probably overflows and instinctively, we try to find trends around us not only in matters that pertain to survival, but other things as well. It is probably more economic to make something and let it work always rather than switch it off for certain matters. The latter probably needs more "hardware."
There are two fields which readily offer data that could be subjected to this pattern-seeking gluttony—sports and science.
Sports is more enigmatic in this regard than science, since determinism is almost non-existent in the former, while the latter knows what it is doing. The closest humanity ever reached determinism in sports is probably in Sir Donald Bradman in cricket.
There are many pretenders to the Don's throne—men who have racked up extraordinary numbers.
Which brings us to Sachin Tendulkar. And ironically, the cricket fan's rationality takes a back-seat. Probably the brain senses that it is thinking when it should enjoy. It probably decides to stop breaking down the game into winning and losing, sixes and wickets.
While the rules of sports, the statistics, and records all resemble laws and experimental results, allowing themselves to be analysed, the execution of the sport cannot be prostituted by the greedy hands of misconstrued mathematics. It is art, and each player has his own interpretation of it. And every fan has his own preference of that interpretation.
An interpretation truly becomes recognised as a work of art only if it finds appreciation among the knowledgeable, but such knowledge is not esoteric and every person carries already, seeds of that knowledge in his/her mind and connects with art reflexively.
Probably that is the reason that all centuries are not equal and those made by this man are more important than others.
Whether it was the exciting explosiveness in his game when his body allowed him to indulge in that baser passion or the efficiency of a finely lubricated machine that he displays nowadays in bringing oppositions down, it has always been felt that there is nothing better in the game, other than maybe the freedom, the Captain-Jack-Sparrow-kind-of-freedom, that a certain Brian Lara's game expounded on rare occasions.
And after the match is over when cricket fans devotedly congregate to discuss the exhilarating innings that just concluded, all kinds of things are put forth as reasons, from "talent" to "hunger." What is least appreciated is probably that Tendulkar loves playing cricket a thousand times more than how much enjoyable it is to watch him play.
Nothing else explains as economically the constant attempts of this man to explore the boundaries of shot-making, mastering each and every shot in the book against all possible variations of the delivery that most suits the shot.
To spend the coming days focusing on that single delivery that forced that loose shot out of him and become its master, whether or not that actual delivery got him out; to wean out every weakness present in his game; to be fit enough to be able to run faster for longer than players who were just born when he was hitting his first century.
Brilliance of this nature we have seen from others on the cricket pitch, on occasions. But none suggests a life dedicated as much to learning cricket as this man's does.
The other kinds of brilliance, the sporadic one-night stands, speak of pleasure. But the career of this man speaks of happiness.
Yes, he has been the biggest ambassador of the game. Indeed, he has been dedicated in all of his innings towards the cause of the team doing what he felt is the right thing for the team. Of course, he has stacked up numbers that are incomprehensible.
But no, this is not his biggest contribution to the sport or his team.
It is the example that he has set for others to follow, that which tells us what unadulterated love for what one does is; that which teaches us how to find happiness in it; that which tells us how to use that love to focus on the matter at hand and shut off the opinions of a billion people, at the same time meeting their impossible expectations; that which tells us how not to work on results or record, but work for work's sake.
When one looks at Tendulkar, one sees the humble student. Because he doesn't do and try as hard because he wants fame or money. He does what he does because he loves to do it.