This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan
Dr. Chitra Sharma
Lecturer in English
S.B. College of Arts and Commerce
Thoughts and Refections
(A Treatise in Value Education)
Dr. T. S. Krishna Murthy, M.A.Ph.D
Prof. of Sanskrit (Retd.)
Academic Council and Senate,
Dear Shri Vidyasagar,
I went through your work - Thoughts and Reflections.
I have all appreciation to you for you have put excellent ideas so succinctly yet
with so much of detail.
There are many reasons for your success. First you are an interesting story teller.
There is an unequalled grace in the stories selected by you. Second your writings
are amply interspersed with a number of anecdotes, examples and illustrations.
They are truly potential in inculcating values like truth, non-violence, self-control,
tolerance, humility, patriotism, purity of mind and body etc. In every literature
you have chosen, especially in Sanskrit. There is limitless and unfathomable
material with reference to Value-based education. You have extracted precious
gems and nuggets of gold. This mirrors out your sense of judgement. Each
title-page begins with a story or anecdote which leads to moral reflections and
concludes with practical instructions. The result, every page is verily informative
and turns the mirror of mind within. This ideal should become the real source of
inspiration behind all Value-based educational activities. If the mind is intensely
eager everything can be accomplished.
You are, by long experience, a gifted exponent of perennial values. You have
managed to pack in such a lot of valuable knowledge into a little over 150
pages. I commend your earnestness as well as deep devotion. A Value-based
education fulfils two objectives. One's liberation and the welfare of the world,
this applied in particular, to a conscientious teacher.
With this background, I find your work a significant milestone in our long journey
of value-based education.
The articles in the work carry distinct style of a seasoned teacher - lucidity as
well as clarity.
I hope that the students as well as teachers derive benefit from going through
this monograph on Value-based education. My heart overflows with joy on
reading your work.
Paper, printing and front cover-page are captivating. I congratulate the printers.
~ T.S. KRISHNAMURTHY
Preface 1 1.
The Power of Prayer 3 2.
Dissemination of Culture 6 3.
A Kannada Folk-Tale 7 4.
Birthday 8 5.
Everything that happens is for our Good 10 6.
A Father’s Lesson to his Son 12 7.
Polonius' Advice to His Son 15 8.
Sibling Rivalry 18 9.
A Touching Story 20 10.
Pity, Sympathy, Courage 22 11.
Living in the True Sense 25 12.
Act, Act in the Living Present 28 13.
Children 30 14.
Rising above Worldliness 32 15.
The Roots and Fruits of Education 33 16.
Ennoble Yourself 35 17.
A Rare Legal Battle 37 18.
I have a Dream 39 19.
Body and Soul 41 20.
What to Teach ? What to Learn ? 42 21.
Sinful Thinking 44 22.
Bhajan Nothing is Ours - Everything is the Lord’s 46 23.
Elia 47 24.
Two Great Self-effacing Poets 52 25.
Infuences of Ancient Indian Lore 55 26.
The 27. Gita - Exquisite Poetry 59
Success and Defeat 64 28.
Glimpses of 29. Taittiriya Upanishad 71
A Few Thoughts on Adi Shankaracharya’s 30.
Bhaja Govindam 89
Love is the only way to elevate oneself 100 31.
Humanism in the Stories of Leo Tolstoy 111 32.
The Devotee Dear to God 127 33.
(Based on Bhakti Yoga in the ‘Gita’)
Mother Teresa 133 34.
A Few Ideas About ‘ 35. Isavasya Upanishad’ 140
Behind the thoughts 149 36.
Bibliography 157 37.
P R E F A C E
he ability to think limitlessly is the unique quality of human
beings. We get all kinds of thoughts, we receive many as we
interact with others and this leads to further thinking. Thus thinking
is an incessant process. While thinking is a natural and even inevitable
process, geting thoughts of higher and nobler order (than the low and
the commonplace ones) is a great quality. One has to strive to inculcate
and develop this trait. It is not enough to be contented assuming that
we always entertain lofty and great thoughts. We have to be receptive
to such thoughts.
¹|¯|| +|¯|· ¬¯|¯|| rÉliÉ l¯|%|¯|· ¦
May noble thoughts come to us from all directions.
This ardent prayer for one’s own elevation is from Rig-Veda. Our
Vedas and Upanishads and sacred texts are replete with such maxims
which ennoble our lives.
¯|¯|¯|| ¯|¯¹|+|¸l¹|%| -¯|¹||¯l¯| ¹|¯|¯|-|| ¦
¹|¯¯||¹|| ¹¹|¯| ¹|¹|¯| ¦
¯l¯|0¯| ¯||¹|¯| ¯||¯¯|¯|¯|l¯|¯||°|¯| ¦
-|¯¯|¹|¯| ¯|¯|¯| ¯||¯¯|¯|¹| ¦
And so on.
Shall we try to get such pearls of wisdom so as to share our joy
All truly wise thoughts have been thought already
thousands of times. But to make them truly ours
we have to think of them over again honestly
until they take root in our personal experience.
Mahatma Gandhi on the Effcacy of Prayer
When every hope is gone, ‘when helpers fail and
comforts fee’, I fnd that help arrives somehow,
from I know not where. Supplication, worship,
prayer are no superstition; they are more real than
the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is
no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all
Such worship or prayer is no fight of eloquence;
it is no lip-homage. It springs from the heart. If,
therefore, we achieve that purity of the heart when
it is ‘emptied of all but love’, if we keep all the chords
in tune, they ‘trembling pass in music out of sight.’
Prayer needs no speech. It is in itself independent of
any sensuous effort. I have not the slightest doubt
prayer is an unfailing means of cleansing the heart
of passions. But it must be combined with utmost
The Power of Prayer
³ -|¯¯||¯|¯|¯| ¦ -|¯¯|| +|¯|ñ¯ ¦
-|¯¯||¯| ¬¯¯¯||¯|¯ ¦
¯|¯|l-¯|¯||¯|°||¯|¹|-¯| ¹|| l¯|lä¯||¯|¯
³ 7||l¯¯|· 7||l¯¯|· 7||l¯¯|· ¦¦
May God Almighty protect both of us (Teacher and Student). Let
us enjoy (the gifts of God) together. May we both be powerful. May
the efort we put in (for our study) be brilliantly successful. May there
be no animosities between us.
This short, but very pertinent prayer recited by gurus and sishyas
together contains in it the very essence of true learning. It enunciates
the ideal relationship that should exist between teachers and students
for efective learning to take place.
One of the most distinctive features of the Sanskrit language is that
it has a separate dual number as against mere singular and plural in
almost all the languages we know. It is this dual number that is most
aptly used for the verbs in this prayer, as it is ofered by two persons
(a teacher and his disciple) or two groups of persons (teachers and
The teacher - pupil relationship has degenerated to extreme
low levels in modern times. What with almost business-like
institutionalization that has taken over the modern education
system, the pupils adopt a ‘don’t care atitude’. While the teachers
rest contented as they ‘don’t bother’ as long as they receive their pay
packets all right. Teachers have rarely any concern and love for their
students while students have hardly any
regard and respect for their teachers. In
More things are wrought by prayer
than this world can dream of ..
~ Tennyson ~
such a situation, may be under the threat and fear of examinations
and results, the teaching learning process tends to be litle more than
a mechanical transfer of the teacher’s lecture notes to the student’s
In the ancient Indian tradition seeking education was a sacred
pursuit. The word ‘Upanishad’ etymologically means: ‘closer to the
Guru’. The closer the disciple is to the Guru, the more efective is
the learning. The nearness or afnity implied here goes far beyond
physical distance. ‘Guru’ actually means remover of ignorance.
In this verse the teachers and the pupils pray to God Almighty to
bless them both with such ideal climate for learning.
What is to be noted in this prayer is that they pray for themselves
and for the others as well. It means that they evince care and concern
for each other. They pray for perfect unity between them. They seek
to rise above all selfsh considerations and share what is bestowed
upon them by God. There is no desire at all on the part of one to prove
superior to the other. On account of the teaching learning process, it
is not only the pupil that learns and is elevated but also the teacher
is benefted and becomes a beter person. It is in this sense that the
teachers and the pupils pray that both of them may become powerful,
and their endeavour (study) be successful. Most important of all, there
should not be any rivalry or resentment between them. It does not
mean that they should always be in total agreement with each other
and there should not be any scope for any diference of opinion. There
are bound to be divergent opinions but they should not lead to any
displeasure or ill-feelings between them.
Such an ideal teacher-pupil relationship certainly leads to peace
that transcends understanding.
Albert Einstein learns from a school girl .....
Once a school girl came to know that
Albert Einstein a famous scientist and
mathematician was their neighbour.
One day when she had a problem
with her homework in mathematics
she sneaked into his apartment
and sought his help to sort out her
problem. In all good humour Einstein
obliged her. Coming to know of her
daughter’s audacity the girl’s mother
met the professor and apologized to
him. Einstein replied that there was,
in fact, no need to apologize, for he
had learnt from the young girl more
than what he had taught her.
Many of our educational institutions have adopted this verse as
part of their daily prayer. What is more pertinent is that the teachers
and the students have to try to adopt the spirit of the verse in their
Flowers bloom and spread
their fragrance around.
Trees do not eat their
own fruit. Rivers do not
drink their own water.
What a great teacher
Mighty trees grow by
dispersal of seeds
nce a great saint was visiting diferent places, along with his
disciples. One day they were at a village where the residents
meted out a very unpleasant treatment to them. Scant respect was
shown to the saint. The disciples were humiliated. They were denied
food and basic amenities. The saint watched it all in silent composure
and poise. While leaving the village, he gave this benediction: “Let
the village fourish in prosperity”. The disciples were surprised at
this, but refrained from asking their Guruji why he had blessed the
They visited another village next. In sharp contrast to their previous
experience, they received amazing hospitality. The villagers were
full of devotion and adoration to the wise sage. They treated the
disciples with all the respect they were due. They did what all they
could to keep the saint and his disciples in great comfort. At the time
of departure, to the uter confusion of the disciples, the sage gave this
benediction: “Let this village wither away”. This time the disciples
could not hold themselves from expressing their misgiving. In all
humility, the disciples wondered if there was something wrong with
The sage smiled afectionately and said, “If the frst village prospers
and overfows with wealth, there will not be any need for the residents
to migrate to other places in the world. So, they keep their culture to
themselves. If the second village withers, the villagers will be forced
to migrate to other places. Wherever they go and setle down, they
will spread their great culture and endeavour to make the world a
beter place to live in."
Think and decide for yourself, which village you would like to
Perhaps God could not afford
to be everywhere......
So he created
A Kannada Folk –Tale
he story of a cow, her calf and a tiger in the tradition of Kannada
folklore moves anybody’s heart. It is sung by mothers to their
children. An extremely simple story, but as extremely touching a story
is showcased in the following passage:
It was evening. The catle were returning home. Arbuta had gone
without food for a week. He pounced on Punyakoti who had fallen
behind other cows. Thinking of the calf back in the fold, the cow
pleaded, “Give me some time. I will be back after feeding my calf.”
The hungry tiger did not agree to give up his prey. The cow assured
him, “Royal Tiger, I am speaking the truth. Don’t suspect my words.
I swear in the name of God and my ancestors that I will surely return.
I have only one tongue not two.” The cow’s earnest appeal had a
magic spell on the tiger and he was kind enough to let her go. The
other cows felt happy when Punyakoti returned to the fold safe, but
Punyakoti had no time to spare. She went to the calf straight and said,
“This is the last time, drink as much milk as you want.” She advised
her dear child about the ways of the world; how to behave at home,
in the forest and with the other cows. She requested the other cows to
look after her calf as if it was their own. “Remember my child; never
go near the hill over there. There is a ferce tiger”. Against the advice
of the other cows she went back to the cave in the forest and told the
tiger that she was ready and called upon him to satisfy his hunger by
feasting on her. The tiger was surprised by the honesty of the cow. He
thought it was beter to end his own life than to slay Punyakoti. Full
of remorse, he jumped from the hill and killed himself. Heavenly
hosts welcomed the tiger.
So long as one has not become a child, one
cannot expect divine illumination. Forget all
the knowledge of the world that you have
acquired and become as ignorant as a child;
then you shall attain to the divine wisdom.
~ Ramakrishna ~
true work of art is one the memory of which lingers in
our minds long after we have ceased to watch it. Quite a
lot of excellent works of art or creativity fail to become popular or
acquire the recognition they richly deserve. They fail to fgure on the
popularity biz. However much we want try to get them, at a later
time, they may not be available even for our perusal. We have only
to remain satisfed that we are lucky to come across and from time to
time revive our memories of the excellent pieces of art.
During the late eighties or early nineties of the last century,
Doordarshan beamed a televised version of a short story ‘Birthday’.
Details of those who created it cannot be given. I can only ofer my
lofty praises to those who brought it to the viewers.
A poor school teacher in pre-independence days, takes his son
to the birthday party of his headmaster’s son. The headmaster
being a European, celebrates the occasion in the Western style in
all grandeur and pomp. The boy is dressed up gaudily. People sing
and dance merrily. Colourful balloons are burst, candles are blown
out and a cake is cut. Gifts wrapped in atractive colour paper pour
out. Rare delicacies are served. In all his innocence, the teacher’s son
is enraptured by the event. He pesters his parents as to when his
birthday would be celebrated. They are not rich enough to aford such
celebrations, but they cannot suppress their only son’s enthusiasm.
Only to pacify him, they set a day for the celebration.
If winter comes, can
spring be far behind?
~ P.B.Shelley ~
After a long impatient wait, at last, the day arrives. The poor
father stretches all his meagre means to fulfl his son’s desire. On the
appointed day, the boy is dressed up in typical traditional Indian
style, with Tilak on his forehead and an Indian cap on his head. He
is taken to a temple and a special pooja is performed seeking God’s
blessings for the boy. Then the parents take him to a group of hapless
poor people and make him distribute grain among them.
On returning home, the boy asks his parents when the birthday
celebration is going to start and the parents tell him that the celebration
is already over. The boy cries biterly in terrible disappointment
for he has not had any of the ostentation of the headmaster’s son’s
Eventually the boy grows up to become a highly placed ofcer
with a fashionable wife, luxurious bungalow and assured comfortable
living. Reminiscing his boyhood days of poverty, he narrates his
birthday experience to his son.
On his son’s birthday, after the usual celebration he fnds his son
loading the car with a number of bags. He wonders what it is all
about. On the way, the boy orders the car to be stopped at a place. As
the father waits for him, while verifying his bank passbook, the boy
goes to the beggars under the banyan tree and distributes the grain
in the bags he has brought with him.
Our rich culture is like a perennial river. No doubt, it has its
ups and downs, afuent and lean periods. We, sometimes, in our
ignorance fear that it is fading out. No, it isn’t, it always fourishes
and regenerates itself in ever resplendent brilliance.
Self-Pity is delicious
~ Norman Mailer ~
Just are the ways of God and jusifiable to men
Unless there be who think not God at all.
~ John Milton ~
Everything that happens is for our Good
“Do not grieve that every rose has a
thorn, instead rejoice that every thorny
bush has roses in it”.
Instead of brooding and crying over the biter and sad things that
befall us, we have to try to seek what is good in them and learn to
derive the joy of living out of them.
Once upon a time there was a king who had a minister who always
used to say “Whatever happens is for our good”. He used to repeat
it so frequently that people would get annoyed with his mannerism,
but they put up with him because he was the king’s minister.
One day the king happened to cut his fnger accidentally. The
minister was quick enough to throw in his remark, “ Whatever
happens is for our good”. Blood was oozing from the king’s fnger
and he was writhing in pain. The minister’s remark angered him so
much that he ordered the minister to be thrown into prison. The king’s
command was carried out promptly and the minister languished in
In course of time the king got beter. As was the regular practice
with him, he went into the forest on a hunting expedition. Chasing a
wild animal, he moved far away from his retinue. The beast eluded
him but he became captive to a group of barbarians. They took him
to their leader who ordered that he be ofered to their goddess as
sacrifce. Amidst confounding rites and rituals the king was prepared
for the sacrifce. As the sword rose in to the air to fall on the king’s
neck, the priest said, “This man is unft to be ofered as sacrifce to our
Once in Persia reigned a king
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which if held before the eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance,
Solemn words, and these are they:
“Even this shall pass away.”
goddess, because he has a wound on one of his fngers.” As per their
custom, a man with any deformity was not ft to be a sacrifcial ofer
to the goddess. The king was set free and eventually he returned to his
kingdom. He realized the truth of his minister’s words. He relented
and set him free. The minister felt elated that his words had proved
true and the king was convinced about the veracity of his saying.
But the king had a doubt now. He said, “Well, the wound has saved
my life. But what good has your imprisonment done to you?” The
minister smiled and said in all humility “Your Majesty, you ordered
my imprisonment on account of the wound. If you had spared me, I
would certainly have accompanied you, since the barbarians would
have found me without any blemishes, I would have been slain. Has
not my imprisonment done me good?”
A Father’s Lesson to his Son
haravi is a great name in the galaxy of Sanskrit writers. He was
born the son of a great scholar. Even at a tender age, Bharavi
made a name for himself for his profound scholarship. He gained wide
acclaim for his amazing intellectual abilities. But to his disappointment
and indignation, his father would never uter a word of approval
for him. He always used to make light of his son’s achievements.
However hard he tried, Bharavi could not get a word of praise from
his father. This flled him with resentment and he started nurturing
feelings of grouse and grudge against his father. Finally, he decided
to do away with him.
One night Bharavi equipped with a huge stone hid himself in the
atic right above his father’s bed. He waited for an opportune moment
to let fall the stone on his father to ensure his death.
A conversation ensued between Bharavi’s mother and father which
was clearly audible to him. His mother who had perceived Bharavi’s
sulking, was cross with her husband. She said, “You are always unfair
to Bharavi. Every one is full of praise for him. But you’re always
unkind to him. Can’t you uter a good word about him? Why do you
always belitle my son?”. Bharavi’s father replied,” I’m not without
love for my son. I am really proud of all his accomplishments and
achievements. But it is not proper for a father to praise his own son
in public. It shows his own vainglorious nature and flls his son with
vanity. It does good neither to the father nor the son.”
These wise words of his father opened Bharavi’s eyes. He realized
how egoistic and stupid he had been. He felt ashamed of his nurturing
revenge against his father and ploting to kill him. Immediately, he
climbed down the atic and explained to his father all his feelings and
intentions and begged him to punish him suitably. Bharavi’s father,
full of compassion for his son, readily pardoned him. But Bharavi
insisted that suitable punishment should be awarded to him for his
criminal intentions. The sire pronounced the sentence fnally that
Bharavi should spend six months in his wife’s parent’s home.
Bharavi wondered what kind of punishment it was, still he
proceeded to carry out his father’s command. At his wife’s parents’
home, he was received as an honoured guest. For a few days, he was
shown all hospitality. Then the parents-in-law wondered why their
son-in-law was not going back. His prolonged stay puzzled them and
caused them discomfort. They started feeling that he was a liability
and a cause of nuisance. Since, as per his father’s instruction, he had
not brought anything with him, Bharavi had to depend entirely on
his wife’s parents. He sufered a lot of humiliation and indignities,
even though he did all kinds of menial and lowly jobs with utmost
One day, as Bharavi was working on a literary task he had
undertaken, his wife approached him for some money. He had no
money whatsoever to part with. He handed over to her the Thalapatra
on which he had just writen the verse
-|¯-|| l¯|¯°||¯| ¯| l¬ ¯||¹|
¹l¯|¯|¬¯· ¯|¯¹||¯|¯| ¯|¯¹| ¦
¯|'|¯| l¯ l¯|¹|7¯|¬¯|l¯'|¹|
¹|'|¯|¯°||· -¯|¯|¹|¯| -|¹¯|¯· ¦¦
Nothing should be done in haste, because the man of indiscretion
always lands in deep trouble. Prospertity (Goddess Lakshmi) waits on the
man who acts wisely after weighing pros and cons.
The lady, appreciative of her husband’s plight, left the scene. She
happened to show the verse to her neighbour. She admired the
beauty of the verse so much that she displayed it prominently in her
A sculptor chisels an idol by
strenuous and determined strokes,
so as to bring out a perfect,
enduring, enkindling piece of art.
It is just like gold which emerges
from fre, as pure as possible.
Actually she belonged to a business community. Her husband
had left home on some business purpose and had not been seen for
over twenty years. Having earned a lot of wealth, he returned. As he
entered the bedroom he saw a young man sleeping there. He became
furious as he assumed that his wife was living with another man in
his absence. He took out his sword to put an end to him. As he raised
the sword, he looked at the verse.
-|¯-|| l¯|¯°||¯| ¯| l¬ ¯||¹|
He held back his sword. Later he came to know that the young
man was none other than his own son who was a small child when he
had left home. Had he acted in haste, he would have killed his own
son. The family had a very enjoyable reunion.
They atributed their turn of fortune to Bharavi and rewarded
him profusely. The six month term ended. Bharavi returned home
along with his wife. He was a matured man now, full of respect for
Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be
well–tried before you give them your confdence.
~ George Washington ~
Polonius’ Advice to His Son
he following is a famous, oft-quoted passage from William
Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is one of the most popular passages
of Shakespeare, remarkable for its poetic excellence.
These few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoofs of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfedged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.
Costly thy habit as th y purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy, rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
For loan oft loses itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all, to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not be false to any man.
A school boy’s understanding of this passage
is something like: Take care of your character.
Don’t speak out your thoughts. Don’t act in
haste. Make friends only with those who are
suitable to you, after testing them. Hold fast
to your friends. Do not waste money on newly
made friends. Avoid entering a quarrel, but once you are forced to,
teach your opponent such a lesson that he never dares to set himself
against you. Listen to every man, take each man’s opinion, but you
don’t give out yours. You must wear dress suitable to yours status.
It must be rich but not showy. The dress one wears shows the nature
of the person who wears it. Neither borrow nor lend money, because
by lending you lose money as well as friend. The habit of borrowing
makes you a spendthrift. Most importantly, be true to yourself. Then
as surely as night comes after day, you cannot be false to others.
What a wonderful piece of advice, to a simple mind! Superfcially,
it seems to be a sound advice. But a deeper study and analysis can
reveal not only the shallowness but even the crookedness inherent
in it. Before we look at it in depth, we have to know that the advice
is ofered by a character called Polonius in Hamlet. He is too talkative
and indulgent. He considers himself to be the wisest and the most
intelligent. He is always a scheming and wicked politician. At best he
is a man of worldly wisdom and he can think no farther than material
prosperity and worldly success. Though he seems to ofer precepts
of morality, they are shallow and self-deceptive.
Listening to others more than what you speak is, in deed, a noble
To feel good or to shine in
borrowed thoughts brings only
momentary glory as a passing
cloud can bring but little drizzle,
indeed. Do painted feathers make
quality. But when it goes with
the selfsh motive that you take
advantage out of what others
speak but you don’t allow others
the beneft from your thinking
and knowledge, it is outright
cunning and wickedness. Broadly
speaking, being choosy about one’s friends is all right. But how far is
it ethically sound to ‘test’ someone whether he is ft to be your friend
or not? Suppose the other person subjects you to a similar process,
how do you feel then? True friendship cannot take place on these
Polonius advises his son to
avoid entering a quarrel. It is
true, we should not pick up
quarrels on pety maters. But the advice that follows it is in bad taste.
We should always be reasonable, just and fair. Even to our enemies, we
should be compassionate and forgiving. We should not be venomous
in inficting revenge, but we should try our best to adopt a conciliatory
approach to ensure peaceful coexistence.
His advice about dress is right, but is suitable only for wealthy
Earlier Polonius had advised his son to grapple his friends to
his soul with hoofs of steel. But now his advice to him is neither to
borrow nor lend - especially in respect of friends (for loan oft loses
itself and friend). My own closest friend is in dire need. I am totally
convinced of his truthfulness and sincerity. Still I avoid helping him,
because my father’s instruction is ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender
be’ because of obvious reasons.
Efacing one’s own self, sacrifcing oneself completely for the loved
ones is unknown to the likes of Polonius. It is that kind of friendship
that we have to cherish; learn to ofer to others frst. We have to realize
that any friendship made on conditions and considerations cannot
be true friendship.
Polonius gives a seemingly logical conclusion to his speech which
again is shallow and smacks of hypocrisy and cunning. As long as one
indulges in wicked tricks and tactics like the ones he has professed
one can be truthful neither to oneself nor to others.
If you are planning to revenge,
build two graves, one for yourself.
hildren born of the same parents, instead of living amicably,
often indulge in quarrels and fghts. We see litle brothers
playing happily and in a care free manner falling out and fghting with
each other over trivial things such as toy cars. It is true, the brothers,
in their child-like innocence no doubt fght but the displeasure or
animosity between them is extremely short-lived. They forget their
diferences presently and turn afectionate to each other again. When
together, they break into quarrels, but they cannot part from each other
even for a short while. Such is the beauty of childhood innocence.
As they grow up and enter the adult world, they learn many things.
They become crafty and adopt double standards. The sense of ‘mine’
and ‘thine’ overtakes them. They become increasingly selfsh and self-
centered. In addition, they go on weaving worldly cobwebs around
them. It is easy to build these cobwebs but it is often impossible to
free oneself from them.
During childhood, the siblings would have fought over toy cars.
But as they grew up they quarrel over material things such as cars
which are no more than adult toys. As children the brothers had
fought but in no time they forgot their bone of contention and became
friends again. It is the Godly quality of childhood innocence. But, all
that is gone now. The adult brothers become biter enemies over trifes.
They soon reach the point of no return. Animosities and rivalries keep
growing. They can only sadly remember the afectionate bondage
that existed between them in their childhood days. There are scores
of instances of batles and wars that brothers have fought on these
lines. Is there any single instance of a war fought by two brothers, the
other way round? It is difcult to fnd, but there is one – the Dharma
Yuddha that took place between Rama and Bharata in the Ramayana.
Such a war, had perhaps never been there nor never will there one
ever be -
Complying with his father’s instruction Rama, accompanied by
Sita and Lakshmana left for the forest to live for fourteen years.
Bharata who was not at home when these strange developments took
place came to know about them only after his return to the palace.
Any ordinary young man in his place would have felt elated at the
unexpected tilt of fortune in his favour. But Bharata felt it gross
injustice. When it was the right of his eldest brother Rama to occupy
the throne, how could he think of denying him his right and take his
place? He raised hell with his mother Kaikeyi for what all she had
done and left to the forest to meet Rama in a bid to restore him what
exactly belonged to him. In order to gain moral support and bring
pressure on Rama, he took along with him a large retinue of all the
members of his family, Gurus and ministers and advisers.
The scene of Bharata’s meeting Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in
the forest is one of the most heart warming literary creations ever
composed. It was here that a real Dharma Yuddha took place between
Rama and Bharatha. Bharatha’s plea was that being the eldest brother
Rama had to become the king of Ayodhya. Rama insisted that he was
bound by his father’s instruction and under no circumstances kingship
was acceptable to him until he completed his term of fourteen years
in the forest. Both Rama and Bharatha held fast to their arguments.
Thus there was a unique tussle between the brothers.
If only people and nations set aside their narrow selfsh interests
and struggled hard to uphold the rights of their fellow beings before
claiming theirs, how happy and peaceful the entire world would
A Touching Story
im Corbet is a great name associated
with the conservation of wild animals
especially tigers and leopards. He rendered
immense service to rural folk residing around
forests by ridding them of numerous man-
eating tigers and leopards. This provided him
with enough scope to study in detail about
the big cats.
Jim Corbet is full of admiration for the majestic, dignifed and
imposingly beautiful tiger. He says that writers who described the
species as ‘cruel’ and ‘blood - thirsty’ have done great injustice to the
animal. He lauds the tiger as “a large-hearted gentleman”. Corbet
makes an impassioned plea to protect and conserve the Indian tiger.
If the species of the Indian tiger is
extinguished, India will lose a lot
in terms of ecological balance. In
his honour, a famous zoological
park in Utar Pradesh is named
There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But a
real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.
~ G. K. Chesterton ~
him shelter and sees that he is provided with proper treatment.
Fortunately for Lalajee, he survives the almost fatal disease. Corbet
learns from him that he was a thriving merchant. Being swindled by
his partner he was ruined and became a bankrupt. Driven from place
to place, Lalajee had reached Mokama Ghat and it was on account of
‘Sahib’s’ kindness that he was saved. But now, Lalajee has no place
to go to. Jim Corbet hands him over an amount of Rs.500/- (quite a
lot of money in the frst half of the last century) and a railway ticket
to go to his place. He advises him to start life afresh.
After quite a long time, one day when Jim Corbet returns home
after work he fnds a shadowy fgure waiting for him. To his pleasant
surprise, he recognizes the person to be none other than Lalajee.
Lalajee tells Corbet that he started his business with the money
he had lent him; he has been doing quite well and now he has come
to return the money that Corbet had lent him. Lalajee insists on
repaying the loan with interest. But Jim Corbet declines it. Only to
satisfy Lalajee, he accepts the amount of Rs. 500/- he had given him.
“The quality of mercy is not strained, it blesseth him that gives and
him that takes” says William Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice.
Jim Corbet, out of sheer love for humanity, extended the quality of
mercy to Lalajee and Lalajee recompensed it with his genuine feeling
of gratitude. In this sense, both Jim Corbet and Lalajee are blessed.
How wonderful the whole world would be, if human relationships
are at such an ideal level!
“It’s good to be kind when
you are as strong as I am.”
Besides his contribution to the
cause of animal conservation,
Jim Corbet is known for his interesting writings comprising short
stories and anecdotes of his experiences with wild animals. He is one
of the few English writers who brought out the virtue of the innocent
Indian villagers. One such story is ‘Lalajee’.
While Jim Corbet is on duty at a place called Mokama Ghat, he
comes across a man called Lalajee, afected by cholera. Corbet gives
Treat everybody with politeness even those who may be rude to
you; for remember, you show courtesy to others, not because
they are gentlemen, but because you are a gentleman.
Pity, Sympathy, Courage
ity is a feeling of sadness caused by the sufering and troubles
of others. Sympathy is showing that you understand and care
about somebody’s problems. Sympathizing is considered to be a nobler
feeling than pitying, because when we pity something, we merely feel
sad about it whereas when we sympathize, we not only feel sad for it,
we are with the cause ready to alleviate it to the extent we can.
During his young age, when Swami Vivekananda was still
Narendranath, he was immensely impressed by his mother
Bhuvaneswari Devi, who told him a lot of stories from the rich Indian
tradition that created in him high values of life. Narendranath’s father
Viswanath Duta was known for his charity. “The impulse to help
the poor was almost like a disease with him.” He was locally called
Vishwanath the benevolent. He tried to reach beyond his capabilities
to help people in distress. His charity would not consider whether
the needy deserved help or not. He would rush to help even wrecks
like alcoholics and drug addicts. Young Narendranath questioned
his father about this wastage which he then considered gross misuse
of money. At this Viswanath said, “Life is full of sufering my son!
When you grow up you will realize all this yourself and will have
Use every man after his desert, and who shall scape
whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity.
The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
~ William Shakespeare ~
pity even on addicts or those who take to drink and other vices to get
temporary relief from the endless miseries of life”.
True to his father’s words, under the infuence of the life and
teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda transformed
natural compassion into love and reverence for everyone and
Sri Ramakrishna said, “Man is
a living God. Do we ever think of
showing pity to God? No, on the
contrary, we feel blessed to be able
to serve and worship him. Therefore
‘pity’ is not the right expression.
The right kind of attitude should
be to serve ‘Jiva’ as shiva, to serve,
humanity as the manifestation of
Divinity. None is to be hated, for
even the sinner is essentially God. The
same Narayana(God) is present in the
guise of the thief or the person lacking
in culture, as well as in the righteous
He further said, “If in this hell of
a world one can bring a litle joy and
peace even for a day into the heart
of a single person, that much alone
is true; this I have learnt sufering all
narrated the following story:
Once there was a fearful
snake whi ch used to be a
menace to the people around.
A holy man possessing yogic
powers happened to vi si t
the place. He used his great
power to subdue the snake.
He instructed it not to harass
people unnecessarily. From then
on, the snake became meek and
harmless. Finding it mellowed
down, people started taking it
for granted. They troubled the
snake now by pelting stones
at it. The snake suffered, but
did not retaliate. After some
time the Saint visited the place
again and found the snake in
a miserable condition. He said
to it, “I told you not to harm
people unnecessarily. I never
told you not to open your hood
and hiss them away.”
The chemist who can extract from his heart’s elements
compassion, respect, longing, patience, regret,
surprise, and forgiveness and compound them into
one can create that atom which is called love.
~ Kahlil Gibran ~
During his days of wandering as a monk, Swami Vivekananda was
passing through a thick forest. A group of wild monkeys atacked
him. He started running to avoid them. The faster he ran, the more
aggressive and menacing they grew. Suddenly a monk appeared
before him and asked him to stop running and to face the brutes
boldly. When he turned to face the brutes, the monkeys stopped
frightening and harassing him. Quoting this incident, Swamiji would
often say that one should not run away when faced with danger or
difculty; instead, one must face it boldly.
He said “Face the terrible. Face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the
hardships of life fall back when we cease to fee before them. If we
are ever to gain freedom, it must be by conquering nature, never by
running away. Cowards never win victories. We have to face fear and
trouble and ignorance if we expect them to fee before us.”
Living in the True Sense
Dr. Chri st i aan Barnard i s t he
surgeon who performed the frst heart
transplantation operation. Besides being
a rare expert in medicine and surgery,
Dr. Barnard was an inspiring writer and
Explaining how we should not merely stay alive, but celebrate
being alive, he says.“one does not become noble by sufering, but one
becomes noble by experiencing sufering”.
The simple, but enigmatic words set us thinking. What is the
diference between ‘sufering’ and ‘experiencing sufering’? How
does ‘experiencing’ make one noble?
It has bearing with the diference between merely staying alive
and celebrating being alive. When we are struck by an illness or a
difculty let us assume we just pass through all the discomforts,
sorrows and ordeals the situation causes for us. At the end of it all
we have remained what we were before that calamity befell us. Then
we have only sufered. But if we pass through the sufering as an
experience, react to it, and may be, draw pertinent lessons from it, it
is then that we have experienced sufering.
When a teacher teaches a class, the teaching goes equally to the
inanimate things in the classroom and to the students. While there is
no change whatsoever in the furniture, the students get some learning
outcome as a result of the experience. There has to be a behavioural
change in the students on account of experiencing sufering. If no such
behavioural change takes place in some students after they ‘sufer’
the teaching, how are they beter than the inanimate furniture in the
Create new ideas and prove them
in the laboratory of life.
A puny, shy young man was thrown out of a frst class compartment
in a remote railway station in South Africa. You would have guessed
that it is Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi who sufered several
indignities as a ‘Coolie Lawyer’. Gandhi was evicted from the frst
class compartment by an arrogant inconsiderate white man only
on account of the colour of his skin. With his bag and baggage, he
spent the whole night in biter cold. It was there that he experienced
sufering and became a transformed man. An unknown white man
threw Gandhi out of the frst class compartment. The same Gandhi
who became acclaimed all over the world as ‘the Mahatma’ hurled
the white man out of his country.
Thus, experiencing sufering ennobles man.
There is another similarly puzzling thought given by Dr. Barnard
in the simplest possible words: “What is important is not what you
have lost, what is important is what you have left”.
Out of what we have, sometimes we lose something and it makes
us sad. When we are cheated or by our own folly we happen to lose
something, we are haunted by a feeling of defeatism and even though
what we have lost is of litle or no consequence it worries us and we
On the other hand, if we voluntarily part with (even a litle of)
what we have for a cause which we heartily believe is a worthy
and noble one, a great feeling of contentment flls our heart and we
experience a feeling of joy. That is why our Rishis have said Enjoy
Government houses seldom came with fences. Mother
and I collected twigs and built a small fence. After lunch,
my mother would never sleep. She would wash her kitchen
utensils and she and I would dig the rocky, white ant –
infested surroundings. We planted fowering bushes. The
White ants at once destroyed them. My mother brought ash
from her chulha and mixed it in the earth and we planted
seedlings all over again. This time, they bloomed.
At that time, my father’s transfer order came. A few
neighbours asked my mother why she was exerting herself
so much to beautify a government house. Why was she
planting seeds that would only beneft the next occupant?
My mother replied that it did not matter to her that she
would not see the fowers in full bloom. She said, “ I have to
create a bloom in a desert and whenever I am given a new
place, I must leave it more beautiful than I had inherited.”
That was my frst lesson in success – It is not what you
create for yourself, it is what you leave behind.
~ Source unknown ~
If somebody picks a paltry sum from my pocket, even though it
does not afect me in any way, I feel unhappy because I have lost
something. In contrast, I help someone in need and see him well out
of his difculty I feel satisfed and happy. Let us try to derive joy out
of leaving and avoid the grief of losing.
Act, Act in the living Present
“If there is any good act to be performed, any help to be rendered,
let me do it here and now, for I may not pass this way again”. Very
often, the situations we come across in life are irreversible. We cannot
set the clock back. We cannot get back yesterday. So, opportunities
come to us but once. If we refrain ourselves from doing what is
necessary and miss the chance, at that moment, such an opportunity
to do such good may not come to us again. All the rest of our life, we
have to repent our failure.
In English there is a mischievous phrase “second thought”. (A
famous English essayist has extended the idea and writen a very
thought – provoking essay ‘Third Thoughts’.)
It so happened that I was approached by a poor girl student
seeking my help for clearing her fee dues, failing which she would
not be allowed to sit for the examination starting the next day. I
knew her well as very studious. I believed that she would score
high marks. I was also quite well aware of the poor conditions of
her family. Also, at that moment I had enough money, I could have
comfortably rendered her the needed help. But I pulled myself back
somehow and asked her to give me some time. I discussed the mater
with my colleagues, who ofered me divergent opinions. They told
me among other things that the misery of the family was on account
of her irresponsible father. They told me that at the last minute he
would raise money from somewhere to enable his daughter to sit for
the examination. They further added that if I helped her, her father
was most likely to drink away the money he would have raised, for
he was a notorious drunkard. This set me thinking and on second
thoughts, I felt it prudent to leave the mater there. The next day, to
my uter disappointment and disgust, I learnt that the poor girl had
never turned up at the examination. To this day I live with the feeling
of regret that I commited a great mistake in not reaching the help in
the right time.
We hear it said and taught over the whole surface of the
earth, “Be good, be good”. There is hardly anywhere a
child, wherever he is born, to whom one does not say, “Do
not steal, do not lie .............”. But we can only be really
helpful to him by teaching him to dominate his thoughts.
~ Swami Vivekananda ~
Nor love thy life nor hate, but what thou liv’st
Live well - how long or short permit heav’n.
~ John Milton ~
It is not to say that we have to act on the spur of the moment, and
should not entertain any second thoughts. We have always to think
well and act. Our thoughts should lead us to perform good and noble
acts not back out of them.
It is rightly said, there is a lot of talk about doing good, but very
litle good is actually done. A man who thinks of doing good feels that
he is so virtuous and great and that is why he is able to contemplate
such an act. He thinks that by rendering that service, he is obliging
God. Swami Vivekananda blows out the bubble of pride of such
people by saying emphatically “God is not lying miserably in any
ditch to seek your help. In fact, out of sheer grace he has extended to
you a unique opportunity to elevate yourself by extending a helping
The man who helps others or renders a service has to think that he
is helping (ennobling) himself more than he is helping others.
We have to perform all good and noble acts in uter humility and
sheer love of God.
Every child born
into this world brings
the message that God is
not yet despaired of man.
~ Rabindranath Tagore ~
here is no doubt that children
are invaluable ornaments to
any home. They are the incomparable
gifts of God to parents. An instinctive
bond develops between children and
parents. A fellow who had never been
there a year or so ago, a tiny tumbling
creature exercises so much power on
his father and mother that they fnd
his infuence irresistible. They have no other way but to carry out his
wishes and commands to the last leter. It is natural that parents feel
that their children are their whole and sole property - parts of their
very being. They are under the conviction that they are totally theirs;
they can mould them as they wish.
If we think a bit deeply, we easily see that nothing/no one, in reality
belongs to us for ever. We are born into this world with nothing and
leave it carrying nothing. Whatever we think is ours, comes to us and
leaves us in between. However hard it is to accept it, we have to realize
that it is not diferent with our children. We have only to perform
our duties towards them at the diferent stages of their growth and
development.They are not our credit cards. Kahlil Gibran in his poem
“Your Children” brings to us pertinent facts about our children. He
says that our children are not our children. They are the products
of life longing for life. They are, no doubt, born of us, but they do
not belong to us. They are for a world that is going to be, which is
diferent from ours. We can house their bodies, but not their souls.
We should not expect them to change themselves according to our
dreams and aspirations. We have to change ourselves to facilitate
achievement of their goals and aims. They are not for us, we are for
Children are the world's most valuable
resource and its best hope for the future.
- John F. Kennedy ~
~ Kahlil Gibran ~
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and
daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet
they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infnite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that fies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Sounds cynical, doesn’t it? Truth is always biter.
Still, they are our children, we are certainly for them.
Rising above Worldliness
The Roots and Fruits of Education
l¯|u| ¯¯|l¯| l¯|¯|¯|
l¯|¯|¯||u|l¯| ¯||¯|¯||¹| ¦
°|¯||°¯¹|· ¯|¯|· -|¹|¹| ¦¦
This famous oft-repeated Sanskrit verse plainly means: Education
gives humility, humility yields worthiness (deserving) which in turn
enables one to earn money; using money when one performs one’s
Dharma, one enjoys supreme joy. What is the logical sequence of the
things that we atain through education?
It is true, only fools and shallow people feel proud of their learning.
Once there was raised a question:
Which one is thinner than water? The answer given wisely was:
One’s learning or knowledge is thinner than water.
Newton always felt that he was like a
boy gathering pebbles on the sea-shore
of knowledge. “Many are the pebbles on
the shore, how many more in the sea?”
he wondered. Any person, who with
even a litle sense, but full of love for
knowledge, delves to any small depth of
any subject is certain to realize the stark
fact that what one can know in one’s lifetime is very litle compared
to the huge body of knowledge. Such realization does lead one to
the feeling of humbleness about the amount of knowledge one has
or one can acquire. It is in this sense that true education results in
A proud and arrogant man is prone to lose and fail because of
his own ego and folly, however capable he is. But a humble man
efaces his ego and sets aside his pride and applies himself solely
and wholly to the work on hand. Then he is sure to succeed. Thus a
man of humility is a man of capability and deserving. Being so, he
Education is a progressive
discovery of our own ignorance.
~ Will Durant ~
b e c o m e s
a clog or a
on us only
when it is
e x t r e me l y
ego – centric.
To the extent
we work for larger schemes
to bless a vaster section of
humanity, to that extent
the attachment loses its
poison and comes to bless
the age. Many poisons serve
as medicines in their diluted
form, while the same in a
concentrated form can bring
instantaneous death. The
ego and ego – centric desires
bind and destroy man, but
to the extent he can lift his
identifcations to include and
accommodate in it larger
sections of the living world,
to that extent attachment
gathers an ethical halo, a
divine glow and becomes a
cure for subjective pains and
~ Swami Chinmayananda
¯||¯|-¯||¯|¯| ¬ |¯|-|ñ¯·
¯|¹'|-¯||¯|¯| ¯|¹'||-|ñ¯· ¦
¯|¯¹| ¯|8l'| ¬¯|¯l¯| ¯| -|ñ¯· ¦¦
“The world is too much with us”,
William Wordsworth said. Temporal and
feeting things take away most of our time,
in pursuit of which we can hardly apply
ourselves to higher and nobler things.
In the famous Bhajagovindam song, Adi
In childhood, people are interested in
play, when they are in youth, they are
interested in women; when they grow old
they are struck with worry. Nobody has
interest in the Supreme.
Whether it is Wordsworth or Adi
Shankaracharya or any other saint, he does
not preach total renunciation of the world.
In fact, in the Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna
has said that he (God) has voluntarily taken
up the task of creating and sustaining the
whole universe. Being a fulflled soul he
would not have undertaken the mighty
task, still he is doing it. Further he has said that no one can be
absolutely free from actions. Even the most astute sanyasin, who has
renounced every thing has to perform some actions however few they
may be, for staying alive and for his spiritual pursuits.
Ramakrishna Paramhamsa says that it is true that we are and we
have to be in this world. But worldliness should not be in us. He gives
an excellent analogy to explain his point: the boat should be on water,
but water should not be in the boat.
gets umpteen opportunities of earning money. Thus capability and
deserving lead to earning a lot on money.
It has to be realized here that merely by possessing a lot of money
one cannot be happy. It is rightly said: “One can buy a book, not
knowledge; one can buy a bed, not sleep; one can buy food, not
appetite” and so on. Especially in modern times, when money is
treated as the ultimate thing, most people adopt the policy of “Take the
cash in hand and waive the rest”, we see scores of people, wallowing
in wealth, but terribly grief-stricken and leading horribly miserable
lives. So, mere wealth does not ensure perfect happiness.
What then is the remedy?
Using the money, the man has to perform his dharma. Very often
the word ‘Dharma’ is translated into English as “Duty”. The word
‘Duty’ has a very narrow implication. It can, by no means, imply
what all ‘Dharma’ means. According to traditional Indian thought,
the word includes all the duties, obligations and commitments which
every man has to perform at the levels of individual, family, society,
religion, and God.
One of the basic tenets of ancient Indian philosophy is that
everything belongs to God- (God is all-pervasive) Nothing, in fact,
belongs to us. The wealth we are supposed to have acquired is left
with us by God in good faith, only to be used to discharge or fulfl
our Dharma. We have to act only as trustees of God’s wealth that is
with us and use it for general welfare. Only when we fulfl this sacred
responsibility of Dharma we get real mental peace or sukham.
Education is not the flling of a pail, but the lighting of a fre.
~ William Butler Yeats ~
A man should never
be ashamed to own
that he has been in
the wrong, which is
but saying in other
words, that he is wiser
today than yesterday.
~ Pope ~
t is difcult to suppress our ego.
When we achieve something great,
we gloat over the success and feel that
it is we who have achieved it. We tend
to ignore or belitle the contribution of
others who have had a share in the eforts
to bring in the success or achievement.
It is so because, we are egoistic. Even in
times of loss or failure, ego is there but
shows up in a diferent manner. If we lose
or fail, we throw the blame on others and
make light of our own responsibility for the loss or failure. We search
for pretexts and scapegoats and we fnd any number of them.
When a small boy distinguishes himself in an event his parents
naturally feel elated about it. They think that there is no one like their
son. But when he errs or treads evil paths they tend to feel that he is
good, he is without blemishes; but he is spoiled by his friends. The
fact may be the other way round. It may be that he has spoiled his
We take all the credit on ourselves for our achievements and
throw the blame on others for our failures. That is natural human
tendency. What we fail to realize is that it is we who do good or
bad to ourselves. If we stick to the path of righteousness, we elevate
ourselves. If we stray from this path and adopt evil ways, it is we who
degrade ourselves. It is wrong to fault others for our commissions
or omissions. If we elevate and ennoble ourselves, we are our own
friends. If we degenerate we are our own enemies.
Man is good when he raises very high
his divine and spiritual “I”, but frightful
when he wishes to exalt above men his
feshy “I” vain, ambitious and exclusive.
~ Tolstoy ~
Never do anything which you would not
wish to do during the last hour of your life.
Lord Krishna has beautifully expressed this idea in the following
verse in the Bhagavad-Gita.
¯7¯¯|¯¹|¯||¯¹||¯| ¯||¯¹||¯|¹|¯|-||¯¯|¯| ¦
¹|¯¹|¯|¬|¯¹|¯|| ¯|¯°|¯|¯¹|¯| l¯¯|¯|¯¹|¯|· ¦¦
One should elevate oneself by one’s own efforts and by no means
degrade oneself; for one’s own self is one’s friend and one’s own self is one’s
A Rare Legal Battle
the greatness of
Mahatma Gandhi that
generations hence will
wonder such a man
as Mahatma Gandhi
walked this earth.
hat happens normally when a man is accused of a crime and
dragged to a court of law? He appoints a lawyer who uses
all his reasoning power to establish that his client is not guilty. The
accused himself pleads innocence. In spite of all this, if he is proved
guilty, he fles a mercy petition and uses all the channels available to
him to escape or at least minimize the punishment. Do you know of
any instance in which the accused pleaded guilty and literally cornered
the judge into awarding him the maximum possible punishment? Who
can the charged one be other than Mahatma Gandhi?
In his journals Young India and Navjivan Gandhiji wrote highly
infammatory articles against the British Government. The government
took the mater seriously and Gandhiji was dragged to court on
charges of sedition. Being a lawyer himself, Gandhi argued the case
on his own behalf. He squarely and plainly pleaded ‘guilty’. He told
the judge, “I admit I am guilty. In case, for any reason, you acquit
me and set me free, I am going to indulge in the ‘crime’ again, again
and again”. He further said, “Honourable Judge, there are only two
was ever achieved
~ R.W. Emerson ~
I have a Dream
l¯|u|l¯|¯|¯|-|¯|¯| ¯||8'| ¹|l¯| ¯l-¯|l¯| ¦
7|l¯| ¯|¯| %|¯||¬¯ ¯| ¯|l'¯¯||· -|¹|¯l7|¯|·¦¦
Our Vedas and Upanishads teach us that
Divinity exists not only in every human individual, but also every
creature. The Bhagavad-Gita echoes this great Truth time and again.
Because there is Godly quality in every creature, none is high, no
one is low.
The wise look with equanimity on all whether it be a Brahmana
endowed with learning and culture, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a
pariah too. Because,
$%|¯· -|¯|+|¸¯||¯|| *7|¯¯|¯| l¯|0l¯| ¦
(Arjuna!) God abides in the heart of all creatures.
But unfortunately, inequalities persist among human beings.
People are valued, judged and treated not according to their merit or
deserving, but on the basis of their caste, religion, creed, colour and
so on. On account of such superfcial and superfuous considerations
some people become highly respected, some others are treated as
lowly and denied even fundamental rights and basic amenities. In
one form or the other such discrimination is prevalent in almost all
societies and countries.
The black and white divide was rampant in
the U.S.A. One of the greatest presidents of the
country had to sacrifce his life for the abolition
of slavery of the Negroes. Another great leader
Martin Luther King Jr. who fought vehemently for
the emancipation of Negroes too became a martyr
for the noble cause. A speech delivered by him in
options before you : if you think that the administrative system on
behalf of which you are dispensing with justice is fair, you have to
award me the maximum possible punishment; otherwise, you have
to quit your position and go home”.
The English judge was full of admiration for Gandhiji’s moral
stance. While awarding him six years in prison, he said that he deemed
it his duty to pronounce, the sentence but appealed to Gandhiji to
remember that eventually if the sentence is withdrawn or the term of
imprisonment was reduced none would be happier than he!
That was Gandhiji and those were his times!
which he gives powerful expression to his dream is very famous and
oft-quoted. A part of it is reproduced below:
“Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic
shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation proclamation.
This momentous decree came as a beacon of light of hope to millions
of Negro slaves who had been scarred in the fames of sweltering
injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred
years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles
of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of
poverty in the midst of an ocean of material prosperity. One hundred
years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American
society, and fnds himself in exile, in his own land.
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American
dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of
former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down
together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day, even the state of Mississippi, a
state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat
of oppression; will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and
I have a dream, my four litle children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the
content of their characters. I have a dream today”.
Happy is the man,
and happy he alone,
He, who can call
today his own;
He who, secure
within, can say,
Tomorrow do your
worst, for I have
~ Horace ~
Home is the place,
when you have to
go there, they have
to take you in.
~ Robert Frost ~
If we have no peace,
it is because we have
forgotten that we
belong to each other.
~ Mother Teresa~
If you would be loved,
love and be lovable.
~ Benjamin Franklin ~
Body and Soul
di Shankaracharya, perhaps when
still in his formative years was
one day proceeding to the Ganga along
with his associates for the morning bath.
A chandala (one belonging to the lowest
caste) encountered him on the way.
With all the arrogance of his erudition,
Shankara ordered him to move away
and give way to him and his followers.
The Chandala replied, “Sir, please tell
me from what should I move away and
give way to? Is it to your physical body
which is as good or as bad as mine and
which is perishable? If I have to give way
to the soul or Brahman the same Soul or
Brahman which resides in you resides in
me all the same?
Shankara realized that Lord Shiva
Himself had come to him in the guise of
chandala to teach him a lesson that God
is present in every being and so no one
should be looked down upon.
A teacher who can smile at each student, who can
greet each student with love can work wonders.
What to Teach? What to Learn?
hat is true education? Is it cramming the brains of our young
ones with factual information? Or, make them acquire
skills to carry out tasks that enable them to earn a living? Very often
‘Education’ and “All round development” are synonymously used.
What exactly is “all round development”?
According to Swami Vivekananda “Education is the manifestation
of the perfection already in man”. How is this manifestation of the
perfection already present in man brought out? How far are our
modern day educational systems successful in developing our
children into wholesome personalities that contribute to a harmonious,
What exactly should our teachers teach and what should our
learners learn? The following extract from a leter writen by Abraham
Lincoln to the Head Master of the school in which his children were
studying throws ample light on these issues.
“They will have to learn. I know that all men are not true. But
teach them also that for every scoundrel there is
a hero; that for every selfsh politician, there is a
dedicated leader………. Teach them that for every
enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know.
But teach them, if you can, that a dollar earned is
of far more value than fve found….. Teach them to
learn to lose and also to enjoy winning. Steer them
away from envy if you can. Teach them the secret of quiet laughter. .
Let them learn that the bullies are the easiest to lick ……Teach them,
if you can the wonder of books….. And also give them quiet time to
ponder over the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun
and fowers on the green hill-side.
In school, teach them it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat
………. Teach them to have faith in their own ideas even if everyone
tells them they are wrong ………. Teach them to be gentle with
gentle people and tough with the tough. Try to give my children the
strength not to follow the crowd when every one is geting on the
band-wagon. Teach them to listen to all men, but teach them also to
flter all they hear on the screen of truth and take only the good that
Teach them, if you can, how to laugh when they are sad…… Teach
them there is no shame in tears. Teach them to scof at cynics and
beware of too much sweetness. Teach them to sell their brawn and
brain to the highest bidder, but never to put a price-tag on their heart
and soul. Teach them to close their ears to the howling mob…….. And
to stand and fght if they are right”.
“Tell me and I'll forget;
show me and I may remember;
involve me and I'll understand.”
Happiness does not depend on what happens to
us but on how we react to what happens to us.
Two things are
infnite; the universe
and human stupidity
and I’m not sure
about the universe.
~ Albert Einstein ~
nce a saint with great yogic powers was on the bank of a river.
His follower was with him. There was a terrible storm and the
river was in full spate. A woman, for some reason, desperately wanted
to reach the other bank of the river. She appealed to the saint to see
that she reached the other side of the river. The saint felt sympathy
for her plight and decided to help her in spite of his being a sanyasin
and as such had to keep away from women. He made her sit on his
shoulders and with his yogic powers crossed the violently rising river.
Leaving her safely on the other bank he returned to his follower who
was astonished at his act. The later was deeply upset by the saint’s
coming into contact with a woman and even physically carrying her
on his shoulders. The saint kept silent and maintained his poise at
the inquisitive queries of his follower. The follower’s curiosity grew
more intense with the silence of his companion
and he went on with his pestering questions.
Finally the saint said, “I carried the woman and
that was the end. But you are going on thinking
about her. Thus you are carrying her more in
your thoughts than I did her on my shoulders.
You are sinning more than I did.”
Once Swami Vivekananda was staying as the guest
of the Raja of Khetri. The king arranged a grand party
in which a famous professional singer would sing.
Swami Vivekananda was invited to atend the party.
He declined the invitation saying that as a Sanyasin,
he would not atend such parties.
Once a young man who had renounced all worldly
possessions and bondages was performing Tapas on
the bank of a river. Right opposite his cottage on the
other side of the river, there lived a damsel. They always
looked at each other. The young man always entertained
thoughts about the beautiful woman in his mind. Being
enamoured by the woman, he set aside his spiritual
practices, but performed the rituals rigorously. In her
turn, the damsel always thought that the young man
was blessed for she assumed that he led a saintly life.
After death, the damsel went to Heaven, while the
young man landed in hell – can you guess why?
When a stone is hurled into a pond, it creates ripples.
The question is: How long do the ripples last?
Somehow, the dancing girl came to know about the Swamiji’s
refusal to listen to her music. At the party, she sang dolefully, but
in a mellifuous voice, a song composed by the blind bard Surdas
which meant: “O Lord, look not upon my evil qualities. Your name
O Lord, is the same-sighted. One piece of iron is in the image in the
temple, and another in the butcher’s hand, but when they touch the
philosopher’s stone, both alike turn into gold. So Lord, look not upon
my evil qualities.”
The plaintive but soulful song reached Swami Vivekananda’s ears.
He was deeply touched by the music as well as the message of the
song. He realized that God dwells in everyone and in everything; no
one should be looked down upon or rejected, for the same Self dwells
in all beings. Swamiji talked to her in all reverence and afection and
addressed her as “Mother”.
Nothing is ours –
Everything is the Lord’s
ahim is a great name in Hindi Literature. He is well-known as
a devotee of Lord Krishna. It is said that he was very liberal
in giving. Every day he used to sit at the door step of his house and
give away his material possessions to whosoever received them. While
giving, he always kept his eyes turned downwards. It became a topic
of discussion and reached Saint Tulsi Das’s ears. On this, he wrote a
couple of lines and sent to Rahim. The lines meant,
While performing noble acts of charity, one’s head should be held
high not bent low. Then how is it that your head is bent low while
you give away things in charity?
Rahim smiled to himself as he was sure it was not that Tulsi Das
did not know the answer for his own question. Still, he wrote down
a couplet that meant;
The Giver is He Who sends us day and night and it is He who is The
Receiver. But the credit comes to me and that makes me humble.
(On being inspired by a Bhajan sung melodiously
by Anup Jalota)
THE BOY AT THE BOOKSTALL
~ MARY LAMB ~
I saw a boy with eager eye
Open a book upon a stall
And read as he’d devour it all;
Which when the stall-man did espy,
Soon to the boy I heard him call
“You, Sir, you never buy a book,
Therefore, in one you shall not look”.
The boy passed slowly on, and with a sigh,
He wished he never had been taught to read,
Then of the old churl’s books he
should have had no need.
Of suffering the poor many,
Which never can the poor annoy
I soon perceived another boy,
Who looked as if he had not any
Food for that day at least, enjoy
The sight of cold meat in a tavern larder.
The boy’s case then thought I, as surely harder
Thus hungry, longing thus without a penny
Beholding choice of dainty-dressed meat;
No wonder if he wished he
never had learnt to eat.
harles Lamb is the sweetest and the most charming personality
in English literature. He wrote under the pen name Elia. His
Essays of Elia are very popular. Though hard to read and understand,
they are full of the milk of human kindness.
his life Charles Lamb
sufered difculties and
sorrows. He was born of
a poor family and never
grew rich. He worked
as a clerk in the East
India company ofce,
which he refers to in
his essays as South Sea
House. He was atached
very affectionately to
his sister Mary Lamb.
The brother and sister
abridged and simplifed
and narrated them as
stories. Lambs’ Tales
from Shakespeare is a
popular book. It serves
as a good introduction to beginners for the study of the complex plays
Mary Lamb sufered from serious mental disorder. In a ft of
madness she killed one of her parents and wounded the other
seriously. She continued to sufer from bouts of madness throughout
her life. In order to take care of her, Charles Lamb remained a
confrmed bachelor. He did take care of his sister, who fgures in his
essays as Cousin Bridget.
Very often, it so happens that a writer feels superior to his readers
and adopts a ‘wiser if not holier than thou’ posture, as he has got
something to convey, which the readers obviously do not know.
Charles Lamb is a glaring exception to this general rule. He is never
above or distant from his readers. As we read his essays, we feel as
though someone close to us is talking to us intimately, taking us into
confdence. He is never a ‘Guru’ preaching to his inferior disciples
from an elevated pulpit.
Charles Lamb’s essays are autobiographical in the sense that
the ideas he expresses emanate from his life, experiences and his
own responses to the various situations he confronts in his life. His
writings acquire an added charm as they are writen as frst hand
That his writings are autobiographical does not mean that he gives
authentic and truthful accounts of the events of his life. No doubt,
he talks about himself but camoufages and even distorts facts. The
narrations are, by no means, factual descriptions. He deliberately tries
to mislead the readers by telling lies about himself, but the charm
of his personality lies in the fact that the truth is obviously lurking
behind the lie. His writings are an extremely curious admixture of
fact and fction. Under the pile of illusions that Lamb tries to create
about himself, his sweet and noble personality is as transparent as a
‘beehive under glass.’
One who wants to hide things and always tries his best to say
things which are not at all true (but all the same, explains himself
most evidently and truthfully) can never be plain, brief and straight
forward. He cannot adopt an easy simplistic style. He has always to
follow a zigzag and long winding path, playing hide and seek with
his readers. He has to try to bamboozle his readers’ minds, harping
on seemingly irrelevant and trivial things. He has to use obsolete
and difcult words that the readers fnd it hard to comprehend. They
should fnd it difcult to guess what he is going to talk about. He starts
saying something frst, and before he has completed it, he shifts to
another totally disconnected idea that seems to be more pertinent –
in the meanwhile he tries desperately to connect the later idea with
the former and ends up without saying anything conclusively about
either. Such a type of writing leads to an extremely complicated
style difcult to understand. These descriptions suit best, Charles
Lamb’s writings. A coconut has a highly enjoyable kernel and quite
an amount of extremely delicious and vitalizing water. How much
has one to struggle to get to them? So, is the case of Charles Lamb’s
Essays of Elia.
Is Charles Lamb a hypocritical and boastful person? A person of
such mean and low character tries to hide his weaknesses and magnify
his admirable qualities and concocts those virtues which he does not
possess. Lamb is far from such cunning. Curiously enough, he always
tries to portray himself as a man of great imperfections of character.
In fact, he is kind and giving but he describes himself as unfeeling
and demanding. But the truth is more evident than his falsehood. We
are flled with sympathy and admiration for him.
Numerous are the essays writen by Lamb that are worth reading.
Perhaps the most touching and lovable among them is Dream Children.
In it, Lamb describes a reverie wherein he courted a beautiful lady
who, after long mighty eforts condescended to marry him: they had
a happy married life and had lovely children. His wife passed away;
he loved narrating stories of courting his lady love to his children
who, in turn, heard him with rapt atention and sympathy. He used
to move them to streams of tears …….. As he goes on with his excited
narration, he fnds his daughter looking at him in the same way as his
wife used to and ………. The children vanish. Poor Elia fnds himself
siting beside his cousin Bridget.
One of the most striking aspects of Charles Lamb’s style is that
he puts in a lot of unforeseeable twists and unexpected turns in his
writing. He seems to be talking about an apparently commonplace
subject but gradually turns his discussion to something highly
pertinent and relevant to life. In the essay Old China, Lamb indulges
in lofty praise of the antique things of China in a somewhat lengthy
discourse. As we read through straining our intellectual abilities to
comprehend fully what he is sharing with us, he points out that one
has to be afuent to aford such artistic and beautiful things. It is
then that he goes on contrasting his own earlier days of poverty with
the present phase of riches and luxury. (In fact, Charles Lamb, as we
know was never rich - it is only his fertile imagination). In the days
of poverty, it was extremely difcult to have even the simple things
he and his sister needed or aspired to have. Be it possessing a book
which they wanted to read or watching a play they admired madly,
they had to pass through excruciating difculty, cut down heavily on
their other needs and requirements and then only they were able to
satisfy such humble desires. At last, when they happened to acquire
them, they derived the fullest enjoyment out of them. But now when
they can get things for the asking, they awfully miss the enjoyment.
Thus, Lamb brings out the truth of Shakespeare’s maxim ‘Sweet are
the uses of adversity’.
A man toiling for his livelihood is not a free man. He is restricted
and controlled by the rules and regulations of the organization he
works for. As he has always to stick to the routine and schedule of
his ofce, he cannot avail himself of leisure or pleasure as and when
he pleases. He has to keep his ego suppressed if he has to keep his
bosses in good humour. But a man who has retired from service is an
absolutely free man. He can spend any amount of time to his heart –
felt satisfaction and visit any place of his choice. For him, there is no
assigned work to do. If he wants to read a book, he can do so at his
sweet will and pace. No one and nothing can stop him from doing
what he likes. But a superannuated man is devoid of his income in
terms of salary. He may have to live on his meagre pension. Now
that he has retired, he is treated as an old and out - dated person.
He grows old and his talents decline. He sadly lags behind, as the
world around him moves fast, too fast far him to catch up. Charles
Lamb’s essay The superannuated Man gives a touching expression to
the pleasures and travails of a retired person.
Describing how a poor relation in a household is a terrible nuisance,
Charles Lamb in his pathetic essay “Poor Relation” conveys to us the
age-old Indian tradition of treating guests as God.
Many are such essays - one has only to strive hard to study and
enjoy the sheer joy of human goodness that lies hidden in Lamb’s
Essays of Elia.
A child is fed with milk and praise.
~ Mary Lamb ~
Children are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of
courage. They venture out into a world that is immense and
dangerous. A child initially trusts life and the processes of life.
~ John Bradshaw ~
Two Great Self-effacing Poets
ammera Pothanamatya or Pothana for short, is an immortal name
in the rich heritage of Telugu literature. He is the frst ever poet
to atempt writing Sreemadbhagavatham in Telugu. The most striking
quality of Pothana was that he is an unfinching devotee of God. He
surrendered himself completely to God Almighty in the form of Sree
Rama. Pothana always believed that it was not he who was composing
the great epic. Lord Rama was making him compose it. Even though
he was engaged in the spiritual and intellectual task of writing a great
Kavya (Epic Poem), he insisted on remaining a poor peasant working
on his felds to meet the worldly needs of his family.
In those times, it was the practice to dedicate literary compositions
to the aristocratic rulers who were drunk with pride of wealth and
power. They would stoop to any low level to boost their temporal
power and wealth. A poet who dedicated his literary work to one of
such rulers would be honoured with great gifts and then he would
be assured of a luxurious life. Pressure was exerted on Pothana to
dedicate his Sreemadbhagavatham to a rich ruler. The Goddess of muse,
Saraswati is said to have cried in front of him asking him if he was
going to barter away his ‘literary daughter’. He replied that under no
circumstances he would give her away to low people in exchange of
material wealth. He preferred to be poor.
There is a popular story about his extreme devotion to God.
While composing Gajendramoksham Pothana is said to have got
struck at a particular line. However hard he tried, he could not
proceed further. In order to divert himself, he visited his felds and
engaged himself in manual work there. While at work, he got the idea
to complete the rest of the verse. Elated, he returned home to put his
lines on the Talapathra. Lo! He found the exact lines already there.
He called his daughter to him and asked her if she had writen the
lines. Surprised at his question, his daughter replied that just a while
One night I had a dream
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God
And across the sky fashed scenes from my life.
From each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand.
One belonged to me, the other to God.
When the last scene of my life fashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of life
There was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very
Lowest and saddest times in my life.
This reality bothered me and I questioned God about it.
“God, You said that once I decided to follow You, You
Would walk with me all the way, but I noticed that
During the most troublesome time in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why in
Times I needed You most, You would leave me.”
God replied, “ My precious, precious child, I love you
And I would never, never leave you
During your times of trials and suffering
When you see only one set of footprints,
It was then I carried you.”
~ Anonymous ~
ago he himself had come, sat at his writing desk for some time and
gone out. Then Pothana realized that Lord Rama Himself had come
in his guise and helped him while he was in distress.
Gerard Manley Hopkins or G.M Hopkins is a
unique name in the entire gamut of the poets of
English literature. Being an astute Roman Catholic
priest, he considered it a sin to seek earthly fame by
having his literary compositions published. He could
not resist the urge to record the poetic thoughts that occurred to him.
Thereby, he wrote quite prolifcally and produced exquisite poetry
all in praise of the Lord in the Roman Catholic tradition. No one else
knew at that time that he was a poet!.
Hopkins used to write leters to a friend of his, Robert Bridges
who himself was a poet of great acclaim. Going through his leters
Bridges, felt strongly that Hopkins must be a great poet, to use such
fertile poetic expressions even in ordinary leters. After the death of
Hopkins, Robert Bridges traced out his poems. It was thirty years after
his death, that the frst ever volume of poems writen by Hopkins was
published, thanks to the eforts of Robert Bridges, his friend.
G.M. Hopkins soon became a widely appreciated poet.
Posthumously he started a new genre of English Poetry.
He is known for his coinage of new words such as ‘leaf meal’(like
piecemeal) and creating striking poetic images through them.
His poems are of a very complex nature because they contain a
highly complicated thought process and highly innovative ways of
In Spring and Fall he describes a girl Margaret watching a mango
grove shedding its leaves. - 'Margaret thou art grieving over the
goldengrove unleaving'. Finally he concludes that she is grieving
the loss of her own energies which is but a natural and inevitable
In the most celebrated poem The Wreck of the Deutschland, he
describes a Titanic kind of situation in which a Fransiscan nun while
drowning thinks of Jesus Christ and prays to him. Hopkins portrays
the situation as the Christ being conceived by a maid a second time.
What an exquisite poetic imagery!.
Infuences of Ancient Indian Lore
n modern times we Indians are criticized for aping the west. We
have adopted the western systems of education. Our ways of
living are immensely infuenced by foreign culture. Sometimes we
wonder if our own culture and traditions are gradually disappearing
from our own land. Whereas we are hardly aware of our own rich
treasure of knowledge, there are scores of western thinkers and men
of leters who are profoundly infuenced by ancient Indian knowledge
and wisdom. They have delved deep into the invaluable treasure
of learning and proclaimed that ancient Indian philosophy and the
way of life professed in India of bygone years do ofer a remedy to
the ills plaguing the modern world. Let us consider a few glaring
Perhaps the most celebrated poem of the
twentieth century is The Waste Land, writen by
T.S Eliot. In all respects, it is a modern English
poem depicting all the complexity and the
elusiveness of meaning and purpose of the
modern world. The technique adopted, the
stream of consciousness is a complicated one.
An ordinary reader fnds it difcult to understand the poem
as the references are too many and of a range as wide as the
world itself. No three consecutive lines of the poem present
a continuous coherent thought. It is rightly described as ‘a
crossword’ puzzle of verbal algebra’. Commenting on its
extremely puzzling briefness someone has described it as the
trailer of a flm which is awfully missing.
A poem of four hundred and odd lines, The Wasteland depicts
the modern world which, in fact, is a wasteland. Adopting a
very complicated poetic technique Eliot presents the horrors of our
world. The question then arises, “What is the remedy?” How can the
ills of the modern world be washed away? Eliot has no defnite answer.
‘A silver line in the cloud’ appears in an anecdote in Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad – Bhagirath is bringing Ganga from Lord Shiva’s head to
his dried up, parched land. He is directed not to look back under any
circumstances. He faces many testing situations that tempt him to
look back. But he resists all temptations. In order to wean him away
from his determined path, the cloud roars ‘Da, Da, Da’. The roar has
diferent implications to humans, gods and demons. To human beings
it means ‘Data’-give. To Gods it means’ Dayadhvam’ – sympathise
and demons interpret it to mean Damyata-control. Eliot seems to
point out that this world will be a much beter place to live in if only
all of us imbibe these qualities. The poem, like any typical Sanskrit
poem ends with Om Shanthih, Shanthih, Shanthih, indicating that
peace of a very high order will prevail in this world if we develop
the qualities of Data (Give - in the right spirit-eschewing all selfsh
motives) Dayadavam (develop fellow feeling, show care and concern
for others) and Damyata (use our powers in a controlled manner for
the beneft of mankind).
This is one of the greatest tributes to the Indian culture and lore
paid by one of the most celebrated poets of our times.
The Razor’s Edge a novel written by Somerset
Maugham describes the philosophical pursuits of
its protagonist, Larry. The title itself is based on a
line in Katha Upanishad which contains the essential
message of the novel, the way to salvation and
supreme knowledge is as difcult to pass over as the
edge of a razor.
+|¯-¯| °||¯| l¯|l7|¯|| ¯¯¯¯|¯|| ¯¹| ¯|°|-¯||¯| ¬¯¯|¯|| ¯|¯l¯¯| ¦
Larry, an air force pilot in the U.S. is saved by his friend, but the
friend himself dies in the act. This incident has a profound efect on
Larry. He loses all interest in mundane maters and sets out to fnd
something which he wants to know ultimately. He brushes aside
casually all the nice and atractive things that come to him. He starts
on an indefnite unknown journey. The novel describes his sojourns
at various places and his varied kinds of experiences. He is unable
to fnd solutions to his strange problems in any of the wide range
of experiences he gets in his journey around the world. Finally he
reaches India and stays in the Ashram of a saint. It is there that he gets
fulflment. He feels that he has got something of what he has been in
quest of. The last part of the novel deals at length with ancient Indian
philosophy and how it is an ideal way of life.
Henry David Thoreau, an American thinker and
writer was a great infuence on Mahatma Gandhi. The
non-violent movements Thoreau led against an unjust
tyrannical government impressed Gandhiji very much.
Gandhiji’s ideas of ‘non-violent disobedience of unfair
and unjust laws’ are derived from Thoreau’s struggle. Inspired by
Thoreau Gandhiji coined the expression ‘Civil Disobedience’ which
later assumed the Indianized version ‘Satyagraha’.
Thus no less a person than Mahatma Gandhi was inspired and
influenced by Henry David Thoreau. What made him such an
elevated and enlightened personality? It is undoubtedly ancient
Thoreau was greatly infuenced by the way of life adopted by
the Rishis in ancient India. He did not blindly accept the Rishis and
their revelations as he learnt them. He would accept them only on
fnding them to be true personally. He lived the life of a typical Rishi
for over a year by the Walden Pond spending no money virtually. He
lived entirely on the things provided by nature. During this period
he shunned the mechanized sophisticated world totally. He proved
that it is possible to live the life of a saint even in modern times. The
refections he made during this period of his life are recorded in his
celebrated book Walden. It is a clarion call to avoid being too much
dependent on modern scientifc and technological developments.
Man invented machines to be his slaves but quite sadly and ironically
man himself has become a slave of machines. In pursuit of gross
materialism, he has shunned the grassroot realities and caused high
values and virtues to erode. He exhorts people to minimize the evils
of modernization and sophistication and move closer to Nature.
His aesthetic and unworldly experiences and his noble thoughts are
closely akin to ancient Indian philosophy and ways of life professed
and practised in India of ancient times.
Confucius said, “To know that we
know what we know, and that we do
not know what we do not know, that
is true knowledge.”
Why has man rooted himself thus
frmly in the earth, but that he may rise
in the same proportion into the heavens
above? – for the noble plants are valued
for the fruit they bear at last in the air
and light, far from the ground,
A few memorable extracts from
the writings of Thoreau
One farmer says to me, “You cannot live on
vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make
bones with,” and so he religiously devotes a part of his
duty to supplying his system with the raw material of
bones; walking all the while behind his oxen, which,
with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering
plough along in spite of every obstacle.
… I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly,
to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched
clothes, than to have a sound conscience.
The mason who fnishes the cornice
of the palace returns at night perchance
to a hut not so good as a wigwam.
The Gita - Exquisite Poetry
ll sacred books are primarily excellent
literary creations. The proponents of
religions are highly inspired souls. Out of the
ecstasy of their singing in a state of blessed
enlightenment, have emerged the great
scriptures of the world.
The Bhagavad-Gita the Song Celestial is a
song sung by none other than God Himself.
It abounds in amazing expressions and
possesses all the qualities that any acclaimed poetic composition can
A good poem seems to talk about simple, commonplace, well-
known themes, but it is so fertile with implied meanings that it leads
us to the realization of profound truths of life. We are fully aware
of the fact that as we are born, we are sure to die. We hardly ever
realize and appreciate this stark truth. We are prone to live in this
world with the assumption that we have entered this world not to
leave it abruptly one day. We see death and destruction taking place
all around us, but we live forgetful of the fact that they are going to
devour us one day or the other, Lord Krishna brings to us this obvious,
but ever forgoten fact in:
¯||¯|-¯| l¯ °|¯|| ¹|¯¯|°|¯| ¯|¯¹| ¹|¯|-¯| ¯| ¦
¯|-¹||¯¯|l¯¯|¯|°| ¯| ¯¯| 7||l¯|¯|¹|¯l-| ¦¦
Death is certain for all those who have taken birth and being reborn
is inevitable for those who die. You, should not, therefore, grieve over
Death is a mystery. It causes dread in us all. But how often do we
realize that it is a natural and inevitable phenomenon? Propounding
the theory of rebirth, Lord Krishna beautifully says that just as
childhood, youth and old age are natural changes that occur to human
body, death (rebirth) is also a natural and inevitable change. It has
not to be grieved upon.
A human being is born into this world, he lives through his
childhood, becomes a young man and grows old. Is he aware of these
changes? Does he know when exactly he has entered the adult phase
from childhood? And when exactly has he become an old man? He
does not bemoan these changes. In fact, if these changes do not occur in
their expected turns, the individual gets worried. If a girl, at the right
age, does not atain puberty, her parents get frantic. A boy who does
not get hair on his upper lip and cheeks and chin in his adolescence
virtually dies of shame. So inevitable is entering another body.
¯l¯¯||¯l-¹|¯| ¯|°|| ¯¯ ¬¯|¹||¯ ¯||¯|¯| ¯|¯| ¦
¯|°|| ¯¯|¯¯|¯¯||l¯¯|· °||¯-¯|¯| ¯| ¹|¬l¯| ¦¦
The famous English poet John Donne in his celebrated poem,
“Death, be not proud” acknowledges the immense power of death and
fnally strikes the nail on its head saying that it need not be boastful
of its sway as, after death rebirth is as inevitable.
Death bee not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet thou canst kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which thy picture bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must fow,
And soonest our best men with thee do goe,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, Kings and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
We fnd the sublimity of thought at its peak in the following
$%|¯· -|¯|+|¸¯||¯|| *7|¯¯|¯| l¯|0l¯| ¦
+||¹|¯|¯-|¯|+|¸¯||l¯| ¯|¯¯||«7|l¯| ¹||¯|¯|| ¦¦
God(Eswara) abides in the heart of all creatures. As though mounted on
a machine they revolve around by his illusive power (Maaya).
The poetic excellence and the aptness of the highly imaginative
metaphor can, by no means, be overlooked.
God is present in all the created beings. But then, why is there so
much evil? Why are there so many trials and tribulations? How is it
that the entire world abounds in sorrow?
¯||¬¯ 7||¬¯¯¯| ¯| -|¹|-¯|¹| ¦
as Adishankaracharya observes.
°|¸¹|¯||l¯|¯|¯| ¯|l¯¯: ¯|°||¯7|| ¹|¯|¯| ¯| ¦
¯|°||¯¯|¯||¯|¯|| ¹|+|: ¯|°||¯|¯|¯¹||¯|¯|¹| ¦¦
As fre is obscured by smoke, as mirror is blurred by dust and as
foetus is enveloped by amnion, ‘this’ is covered by ‘that’.
‘This’, here, can be taken to refer to Divinity existent in all beings;
‘That’ is Maaya or illusion which takes the form of atachments
In three extremely apt and unparalleled similes, Lord Krishna
enunciates the intensities of these atachments that keep one away
from the Divinity within. The ‘fre-smoke’, the ‘mirror-dust’ and
the ‘embryo-amnion’ similes are, by no means, casual or accidental
innovations. They are not superfcial comparisons. They have deep
meaning implied in them. Godliness in some beings is enveloped by
Vaasanas as fre is kept latent and unseen by smoke. In course of a
Towards the end of my second year in England I came across two Theosophists,
brothers, both unmarried. They talked to me about the Gita. They were
reading Sir Edwin Arnold’s translation – The Song Celestial – and they invited
me to read the original poem with them. I felt ashamed as I had read the
poem neither in Samskrit nor in Gujarati. I was constrained to tell them that
I had not read the Gita, but that I would gladly read it with them, and that
though my knowledge of Samskrit was meagre, still I hoped to be able to
understand the original to the extent of telling where the translation failed
to bring out the meaning. I began reading the Gita with them. The verses in
the second chapter
If one ponders on objects of the sense, there springs
Attraction; from attraction grows desire,
Desire flames to fierce passion, passion breeds
Recklessness; then the memory - all betrayed –
Lets noble purpose go, and saps the mind,
Till purpose, mind, and man are all undone
made a deep impression on my mind, and they still ring in my ears. The
book struck me as one of priceless worth. The impression has ever since
been growing on me with the result that I regard it today as the book par
excellence for the knowledge of Truth.
~ From Gandhiji’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth
short time, the smoke dispels itself and the fre is bound to emerge in
all its brightness and heat. A litle efort of fanning the smoke away
will, of course, hasten the emergence of fre. In the same manner, in
the case of some blessed souls, Godliness lies hidden in a thin veil
of atachments. When he sheds them away, he comes out in his true
In the case of some others, the atachments are like dust that has
setled on a mirror. Unlike smoke, the dust does not get itself removed.
A conscious external efort has to be made to rid the mirror of the
dust-cleaning it with a piece of cloth or a brush. The efort, however
small, has to be made. Otherwise it will persist even against terrible
storms and violent winds. Such people awaken to Godliness only
if they put in conscious and conscientious eforts to overcome their
ignorance and atachments.
There are yet others whose atachments are comparable to the
amniotic cover that surrounds the embryo in its womb. Breaking
it open and emerging from it is the great act of taking a new birth -
much more difcult, complicated and painful than the emergence in
the earlier situations.
In the entire concept of the ‘Bhagavad-Gita’, there is an imposing
dramatic irony. From page to page, we see that it is not only an
instruction from Lord Krishna to Arjuna but it is indirect instruction
in toto to Dhritarashtra as well. It is Dhritarashtra who bestows upon
Sanjaya the facility of Divya Drishti (l¯¯¯| ¯l¯¯)which enables him
to see any phase of the war. He is required to act as an observer
and obviously on Kauravas’ side. Naturally the tilt of his reporting
should have been in favour of Kauravas. But, at the end of the ‘Gita’,
Sanjaya submits to Dhritarashtra in all humility but with the frmest
¯|¯| ¯||¹|%|¯: ¬¯¯'|| ¯|¯| ¯||°|| °|¯|°|¯: ¦
¯|¯| >||l¯|¯|¯||+|¸l¯|°|¯||¯||l¯|¹|l¯|¹|¹| ¦¦
Wherever there are Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the Lord of Yoga and Arjuna
equipped with Gandiva, victory, glory and unfailing righteousness will
surely be there - this is my conviction.
Thus, even before the start of the war, Sanjaya predicts in no
uncertain terms the victory of the Pandavas, to none other than
Dhritarashtra himself. Can there be any more striking instance of
dramatic irony anywhere in all world literature?
Success and Defeat
he Old man and the Sea writen by
Ernest Hemingway is a short novel
(novelete) or long story. It is a modern
classic. In the traditional sense, there is
not much of a story in it, but the way the
writer has presented it leads to any number of meanings and layers
of meanings. It sets the readers to think deeply about the purposes
and meanings of life. Being the fnal work of Hemmingway, it is his
crowning glory. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for
The old man in the novelete is Santiago, a fsherman. For eighty
four days consecutively he had no luck on the sea. Every day he
would go to the sea to catch fsh, but he could not catch any. A boy
used to assist him in his work and Santiago used to help him learn
fshing. The boy always had deep love and concern for the old man.
But since the old man could not catch any fsh for such a long time,
the boy’s father thought that it was useless sending the boy with
him and put him to work somewhere else. Still the boy remained
devoted to him. He kept company with the old man as long as he
could, bringing him help, comfort and solace.
Santiago believed that he had to go to the sea, whether he was
successful in catching fsh or not. It was his work and he had to carry
it on and there was no other way. On the eighty ffth day, in spite of
the reservations expressed by the boy, he set out on his adventure
early in the morning into the Gulf Stream of the Coast of Havana.
Santiago was always a man full of hope. He thought optimistically
The Ol d Man and the Sea portrays the much desired transformation in
every man who has to realize from importunate state of living to the
intrinsic core of human existence.
Ol d does not represent expiry of physical efficiency. But it should
denote the matured valour as God-given assurance of peace and co-
existence in the sea of a vast variety. The sea is the milieu of symbiosis.
I t is the sustenance of harmony hosting countless species of animate
beings holding innumerable strata of inanimate things.
The marlin is the link between virtue and vice. The feeble boat is the ray
of hope and the sharks are the constant reminders of the futile, egoistic
and unworthy expeditions.
The old man is not greedy. He is not ambitious. He is not crazy. He is
not removed from the lap of nature. He is sane, serene, selfless and
The meagre old man who is the least conspicuous with his scanty
equipment sets out on the vast sea. He survives the predicament
amidst the unfathomed movement and the unconquered currents of
the sea. He struggles against the unpredictable hazards facing the
How is he able to live up to this stupendous task? Here lies the clue:
life does not comprise straight, calculated columns of accounts, but it
is a mysterious, undeterred and unconditional amalgam of unflinching
faith and tolerance. Struggle is compulsory and survival is the process.
The marlin is the desire and the skiff is the ray of hope.
What keeps going is only the strength to uphold the currents of
power ful thought.
that the number eighty fve was auspicious and would bring him
good luck. He felt that the boy would have been of immense help to
him but his absence did not dampen his spirits. In all humility, but
but with unwavering determination he proceeded on his work.
The main body of the book that follows is a detailed description of
Santiago’s adventure on the sea – what happened in the outer world
and what went on in the inner world of the old man. Finally, he
caught an unbelievably large fsh – a marlin. He tied it to his skif
and started on his return journey.
But on the way sharks started atacking his catch. Santiago put up
the biterest fght against them and killed two or three of them losing
his weapons and geting severely bruised in the bargain. The sharks
proved too many and too mighty for the old man to fght against.
Rendering him completely helpless, they reduced his fsh to its
skeleton – eighteen feet long! Santiago reached the shore after over
a two and a half day’s adventure on the sea, collected the remains
of his gear and moved to his dwelling pulling the mast behind him.
He lay down on his cot dispassionately stretching out his severely
bruised and bleeding arms.
The greatest message of the story of Santiago is what is stressed
in the Bhagavad Gita:
¬¯¹|'¯|¯||l°|¬¯|¯-¯| ¹|| +¯¯|¯| ¬¯¯|¯|¯| ¦
“Your right is to work only and never to the fruit thereof. Be
not instrumental in making your actions bear fruit, nor let your
atachment be to inaction.”
Hemingway’s unique portrayal of the old man brings out this
fact from the beginning to the end of the novelete. Everything about
him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the
sea and were cheerful and undefeated. Uter humility is his most
appealing trait and he believed that it was, by no means disgraceful
and carried no loss of true pride. It is with this spirit that he did his
work throughout and so his fnal failure in the worldly sense did not
at all put him down.
Santiago has nothing but sheer love for all creatures. It is pure
selfess love. His atachment for the boy needs no elaboration. Even
when his parents withdraw him to put him on work somewhere
else, Santiago nurtures no trace of discontent over them. He feels
that it is but natural.
The following passage bears out his genuine love for birds:
“He was sorry for the birds, especially the dark terns that were
always fying and looking almost never fnding and he thought,
the birds have a harder life than we do except for the robber birds
and the heavy strong ones. Why did they make birds so delicate
and fne as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel?
She is so kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel and
it comes to suddenly and such birds that fy, dipping and hunting,
with their small sad voices are made too delicately for the sea.”
Even his love for different kinds of turtles and his friendly
contempt for particular varieties among them steal our hearts. He
feels happy with the porpoises for they play and make jokes with
one another. “They are our brothers like the fying fsh”, he says.
The relationship that Santiago develops with the marlin, the
tremendously huge fsh that he is able to catch is one of the fnest
artistic creations ever made in all literature. From the very start, he
feels an afnity with the fsh he is catching at so great a risk. He
says, “Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And
no one to help either one of us.” He is out to do anything to catch
it, but he loves and respects it very much. What compassion and
sympathy he expresses when he says, “But thank God, they are not
as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and
able”! Even though he fghts against the fsh using all his strength,
energy, intelligence and tact, he is for giving it its chance and treating
it as a worthy adversary.
“You are killing me, fsh, the old man thought. But you have a
right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, calmer or
more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not
care who kills who.”
This idea is very close to what is said in the Gita:
¯| (¯| ¯|l¯| ¯¯¯||¯ ¯|7¯|¯| ¹|¯¯|¯| ¯¯|¹| ¦
¯+|| ¯|| ¯| l¯|¯||¯||¯|| ¯||¯| ¯l¯¯| ¯| ¯¯¯|¯| ¦¦
Both of them are ignorant, he who considers the soul is capable
of killing and he who thinks that he is killed for the truth is the soul
neither kills, nor is killed.
Thus he treats the fsh as his own brother, but as for his killing it,
he feels that it is part of the bigger
scheme of things of God’s creation
– as he is born a fsherman, he has
to catch and kill fsh, as the marlin
is born a fsh, it has to be caught
and killed. The inevitability of the
ways of Nature is expressed very
beautifully by Santiago.
“Besides, he thought, everything kills everything else in some
“Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive.”
As Santiago brings the fsh tied to his skif he wonders whether the
fsh is bringing him in or he is bringing it in. He identifes himself so
intimately with the fsh he has caught. His identifcation of himself
with other creatures of God’s creation is proof of his magnanimity
and highly philosophical bent of mind, for,
-|¯|+|¸¯|-°|¹||¯¹||¯| -|¯|+|¸¯||l¯| ¯||¯¹|l¯| ¦
$+|¯| ¯||¹|¯|ñ¯|¯¹|| -|¯|¯| -|¹|¯7|¯|· ¦¦
The yogi who is united in identity with the all-pervading, infnite
consciousness, whose vision everywhere is even, beholds the Self
existing in all beings and all beings existing in the Self, according to
You did not kill the fsh only to
keep alive and to sell for food,
he thought. You killed him for
pride and because you are a
fsherman. You loved him when
he was alive and you loved him
after. If you love him, it is not a
sin to kill him. Or is it more?
¯|-¯| -|¯||l'| +|¸¯||l¯| ¹|¯¹|¯¯|¯||¯|¯|7¯|l¯| ¦
-|¯|+|¸¯|¯| ¯||¯¹||¯| ¯|¯|| ¯| l¯|¯|¹|¯-|¯| ¦¦
“He who constantly sees everywhere all existence in Almighty
God and Almighty God in all beings and forms, thereafter feels no
hatred for anything”, as set out in Isavasya Upanishad.
The title The Old Man
and the Sea itself is highly
symbolic and suggestive.
In old age people are rarely
taken seriously as they are
treated as spent force. They
are often associated with
the assumption that they
can do but litle. “Old age is
unnecessary”, Shakespeare remarks, in King Lear. Santiago, a man
who is considered to be hardly of any worth takes on the mighty
sea and proves that “Man is not made for defeat …… A man can be
destroyed, but not defeated.” Santiago’s fght with the marlin and
later with the sharks is a “unique and timeless vision of the beauty
and grief of man’s challenge to the elements in which he lives.”
He regards his fght with the fsh and with the sharks as his duty
ordained by God. He carries it out so dispassionately that he is not
upset by his failure to bring to the shore the fsh in tact. His lot is
merely to do his duty and the result of his actions is not in his hands.
Thus, he shows that even in defeat there is moral victory.
He brings us the message that success and failure, victory and
defeat are but parts of life. We should not be overwhelmed by
success or victory; defeat and failure should not downcast us. The
most important thing is to fght well irrespective of whether we
succeed or be defeated. It is very close to what Lord Krishna says
in the Gita:
-|¹|¯·¹| -|¹| ¬¯¯¯|| ¯||+||¯||+|| ¯|¯||¯|¯|| ¦
¯|¯|| ¯|7|¯| ¯|¯¯|-¯| ¯|¯| ¯||¯|¹|¯||¯-¯|l-| ¦¦
Treating alike victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and
pain, get ready for the fght; by such fghting you will not beget sin.
A look at the character of Santiago provides us with another insight.
Is being a fsherman a mean and lowly job? He never entertains
any feelings of resentment about the work he has to do. We fnd
him expressing great love for and admiration of all creatures, but
at the same time indulging in killing and devouring fsh of various
kinds. He feels earnestly that the work he is required to do is the best
thereby echoing Lord Krishna’s teaching in the Gita:
>|¯||¯| -¯|°|¹|| l¯|¹|'|· ¯|¯°|¹||¯| -¯|¯|l0¯||¯| ¦
-¯|+||¯|l¯|¯|¯| ¬¯¹| ¬¯¯|¯||¯¯||l¯| l¬¯l¯¯|¯|¹| ¦¦
One’s own duty, though without merit, is preferable to the duty
of another however well performed. For no sin is incurred by one
doing works ordained in accordance with one’s own nature.
He looks into the depths of things and brings us the greatest
truths of life. With his equanimity and poise he stands before us as
the greatest philosopher for whom everything and everyone is the
l¯|u|l¯|¯|¯|-|¹¯|¯| ¯||8'| ¹|l¯| ¯l-¯|l¯| ¦
7|l¯| ¯|¯| 7¯|¯||¬¯ ¯| ¯|l'¯¯||· -|¹|¯l7|¯|· ¦¦
“The wise look with equanimity on all whether it be a fulflled
man endowed with learning and culture, a cow, an elephant, a dog
or a lowly person.”
Thus The Old Man and the Sea is a modern classic that teaches us
the most wholesome atitude to life.
Teach this triple truth to all: a generous heart,
kind speech, and a life of service and compassion
are the things that renew humanity.
~ Gautama Buddha ~
Glimpses of Taittiriya Upanishad
aitiriya Upanishad is one of the most sacred texts of the ancient
Indian tradition. Besides explaining many things about the
Supreme God Brahman, the Upanishad propounds the Pancha Kosha
Theory. It gives us maxims for an ideal life to be lived in this world as
a householder. This part of the Upanishad can be called the ancient
Indian manifesto of life to be lived in this world as enunciated by our
learned sages of yore, popularly called Santhana Dharma.
As any Upanishad, Taitriya Upanishad too starts with a Santi
Patha, which is a prayer ofered by Gurus and disciples together. This
Upanishad originated long before Rama, Krishna, Ganesha etc. came
to be recognized and worshipped as Gods. So the prayer is addressed
to the supreme God Brahman and the powers of Nature which were
treated as God during those times. The devotees seek their blessings
before they start the study.
³ 7| ¯|| l¹|¯|· 7| ¯|¹'|· 7| ¯|| +|¯|¯¯|¯|¹|| ¦
7| ¯| s¯¯| ¯|¯-¯|l¯|· ¦ 7| ¯|| l¯|¯'|¹¹¬¯¹|· ¦¦
¯|¹|| ¯|8'| ¦ ¯|¹|-¯| ¯||¯|| ¦
¯¯|¹|¯| ¯|¯¯|+| ¯|8|l-|
¯¯||¹|¯| ¯|¯¯|+| ¯|8¯|l¯¯¯||l¹| ¦
¯¯| ¯|l¯¯¯||l¹| ¦ -|¯¯| ¯|l¯¯¯||l¹| ¦
¯|¯¹||¹|¯|¯| ¦ ¯|äñ¯|¯¹|¯|¯| ¦
¹¯|¯| ¹||¹| ¦ ¹¯|¯| ¯|ñ¯|¯¹| ¦
³ 7||l¯¯|· 7||l¯¯|· 7||l¯¯|· ¦¦
May the blessings of Mitra, Varuna, Aryama, Brihaspati and Vishnu
the all-pervading God (all representations of cosmic power) be with
us! Salutations to Brahman! Salutations to Vayu, who alone is the
visible Brahman. I declare ‘Thou art the RIGHT’, ‘Thou art the Good’!
May it protect me. Please protect me, the speaker of this prayer.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace!
In this Upanishad, we come across several highly enlightening and
In the following prayer, the devotee prays to the Supreme God,
“Make me the possessor of immortal revelations; fill me with
intellectual vigour; may my body become able and active; may my
tongue be flled with honey; may I listen abundantly with my ears;
preserve my learning.”
7¯¯|+¯||¯°¯|¹|¯||¯| -|¹¯|+|¸¯| ¦
-| ¹|¯¯| ¹|°|¯|| -¯|'||¯| ¦
¹¹|¯|-¯| ¯¯| °||¯'|| +|¸¯||-|¹| ¦
The devotee is not satisfed with the
knowledge of earthly and commonplace
order. He wants to be endowed with
the highest knowledge - the immortal
7|¯|¯ ¹| l¯|¯|¯|'|¹| ¦
l¯|5| ¹| ¹|°|¹|¯|¹|| ¦
¬¯'||+¯|| +|¸l¯ l¯|>|¯|¹| ¦
¯|8'|· ¬¯|7||l-| ¹|°|¯|| l¯|l¯¯|· ¦
>|¯| ¹| ¹||¯||¯| ¦
An incapable, weak body can hardly
achieve anything. It is rightly said: “A
healthy mind in a healthy body”. Unless
the body is in fne fetle, the mind cannot
“The soul not being
mistress of herself,” says
Thseng-tseu, “one looks,
but one does not see;
one listens, and one
does not hear; and one
eats, and one does not
know the savor of food.”
He who distinguishes
the true savor of his food
can never be a glutton;
he who does not cannot
be otherwise. A puritan
may go to his brown-
bread crust with as gross
an appetite as ever an
alderman to his turtle.
Not that food which
entereth into the mouth
defleth a man, but the
appetite with which it is
~ Henry David Thoreau
The physical body is the basis for the performance of all Dharma.
If the body is diseased, the person will be a liability to himself and
a burden to others. It requires basically a healthy and able body to
undertake noble acts. Hence the Prayer for a body full of health and
We have to speak the truth; we have, all the same, to speak
sweetly and appealingly. Very often, a lot of importance is
atached to sugar-coated words. It implies that such words have
sweetness only on the periphery, and below it, what one gets is only
biterness and unpleasantness. This kind is not to be aspired for
l¯|5| ¹| ¹|°|¹|¯|¹|| ¦- the prayer is for the boon of speaking sweetly
through and through-the tongue is full of honey, as it were.
¬¯'||+¯|| +|¸l¯ l¯|>|¯|¹| ¦
God has given us one mouth and two ears. The underlying message
of this is that we have to listen doubly more with our ears than we
speak with our mouth. But quite ironically we tend to speak more
than we listen to others. We shall have to get over this vice and learn
to listen to others. If we imbibe this quality, we regard and respect the
opinions of others. That is how, we show that we care for them. We
become open-minded. We beneft from the knowledge and experience
they possess. We become sympathetic, receptive and accommodative.
It is in this sense that our prayer to the Supreme God should be (we
must) listen abundantly with our ears.
In modern times geting education has often been reduced to
obtaining certifcates of educational qualifcations. One’s merit is
assessed in terms of the marks one has scored in diferent examinations.
As a result, students tend to study only in the examination point of
view. But, true education as Swami Vivekananda has pointed out,
“is the manifestation of the perfection already present in man”.
Education, unfortunately, is not pursued with such lofty aims in
view. It is being done only for assured comfortable living and brilliant
“We begin to know really when we succeed in forgetting
completely what we have learned,” Thoreau says. It means that what
we learn has to become an integral part of our very being. On the
contrary, if something is learnt with a worldly goal in view, it is most
likely to fade away after the purpose is served. It is only superfcial
education. It hardly tends to develop personality and character. Such
an educational system makes students “intellectual giants, but moral
dwarfs”. We don’t need that kind of education. We have to seek
education that abides with us for ever. It is in this sense that God
must preserve our learning.
>|¯| ¹| ¹||¯||¯| ¦
The ideal world visualized by Rabindranath Tagore in his famous
poem Where the mind is without fear seems to be a reality in the good
old days of the Upanishad. Tagore says “where the knowledge is
free” – From the prayer offered by Gurus of those days, it is clear
that knowledge was imparted without any preconditions. It was
absolutely free. Not only that, teachers invited students from all
directions from all places; they would feed and clothe them; take all
care of them as if they were their own children and bless them with
knowledge. It was considered the sacred and inalienable duty of a
man of learning to fulfl this obligation:
-¯||°¯||¯|¯|¯|¯|¯||+¯|| ¯| ¯|¹|l¯¯|¯¯|¹| ¦
Self-study and instruction (passing on his learning to his disciples)
have not to be neglected.
In order to be able to meet the needs of the students who come to
him for learning, the Guru prays to God to bless him with abundant
food and hairy cattle so that his home is always kept warm with food,
shelter and clothing for those desirous of learning. He prays to God
to make him the best among the richest of men.
Mere possession of material wealth is not enough. One who
possesses wealth has to utilize it judiciously for his own comfortable
and happy living and also to facilitate the progress and development
of the society. Only such a rich man is the noblest and the best who
uses his wealth for common good. So, the Guru prays to God to send
him all riches, but at the same time the bent of mind to distribute them
among those it is meant for. Wealth is coveted not out of greed;
it is for enabling him to serve the society.
From this prayer it becomes clear that the gurus of yore did
not select their disciples on the considerations of birth, caste
and creed because it expresses the ardent wish of the Guru that
celebate children should come to him from different directions,
as naturally as water fows downwards and months roll into
One of the foremost tenets of the Upanishad is that an
individual should incessantly work for the betterment of the
society. Performance of duties takes priority over claiming of
rights. One’s welfare has to be sought by striving for the welfare
of all. So, it enjoins people to observe the path of righteousness
and truth as prescribed by the sacred texts. The householders
have always to engage themselves in self-study and preaching
to others; tranquillity; serving guests and propagation of the
Taittiriya Upanishad does not preach a philosophy of pessimism
and escapism. It encourages us to live a life full of vigour and
vitality fulflling our social obligations and contributing our
share for the betterment of the society.
The most famous and oft-quoted passage from the Upanishad
is a kind of convocation address the teacher gives to his students
at the end of his teaching the Vedas.
-|¯¯| ¯|¯ ¦ °|¹| ¯|¯ ¦ -¯||°¯||¯||¯¹|| ¯|¹|¯· ¦
¹|¯||¯||¯| l¯|¯| °|¯|¹||¯¯| ¯|¯||¯|¯¯| ¹|| ¯¯|¯|¯7¯-||· ¦
-|¯¯||¯| ¯|¹|l¯¯|¯¯|¹| ¦ °|¹||¯|¯|¹|l¯¯|¯¯|¹| ¦
¬¯7|¯||¯| ¯|¹|l¯¯|¯¯|¹| ¦ +|¸¯¯|¯|¯|¹|l¯¯|¯¯|¹| ¦
-¯||°¯||¯|¯|¯|¯|¯||+¯|| ¯| ¯|¹|l¯¯|¯¯|¹| ¦
After teaching the Vedas, the Guru enjoins the pupils: speak
the truth; perform your duty; don’t ever neglect the study of
After giving the Guru the fee that pleases him, continue the
progeny. Never swerve from truth; never neglect duty; never ignore
your own welfare and prosperity; never swerve from the study and
the preaching of the Veda; do perform your duties to Gods and the
The instructions of the teacher have a profound meaning. They
enjoin the students to live a purposeful, useful and rich life in this
world, fulflling various obligations to themselves and to society.
Having received from the society sustenance and education to
become able and worthy youth, they are obliged to contribute their
best to the beterment of the society i.e. general welfare. Their frst
and foremost duty is to take up social responsibilities and fulfl them
religiously – not to renounce the world and lead the life of a recluse,
at this stage.
It may look odd that among other lofty things the teacher asks the
students to pay him the money he desires (¹|¯||¯||¯| l¯|¯| °|¯|¹||¯¯|).
Unlike in our days, collecting fee for imparting instruction in advance
was not in vogue. Education was imparted by Gurus as a pious and
religious obligation. Only after the completion of the course, when a
student becomes a useful member of the society, starts earning on his
own, he is required to contribute part of his earnings as gurudakshina.
Here, it is not the amount of money that is given that is important.
Being father-fgure, the Guru expects a voluntary contribution from
his student from out of his own earnings, however meagre or high it is.
Imagine the joy and pride of a father, when his son having completed
his education, placed in a suitable position, works honestly and puts
his frst salary in the hands of his father telling him with a beaming
face, “Father! This is what I have earned on my own”. It is in this
spirit that the Acharya demands fee from his disciples, not out of
greed for money for selfsh ends. After all, how is he going to spend
it? Obviously, on maintaining his Gurukula, to sustain and educate
more students. Can we think of a more ideal social system?
¹||¯|¯¯|| +|¯| ¦
l¯|¯|¯¯|| +|¯| ¦
¹|¯||¯|¯¯|| +|¯| ¦
¹l¯|l°|¯¯|| +|¯| ¦
It is wrong to translate these famous lines as: ‘Treat your mother
as God, treat your father as God, treat your teacher as God, treat your
guest as God’. The verb (
used here has a unique signifcance.
Whether one treats mother, father, teacher and guest as Gods or
not, Gods, undoubtedly, they are. One has only to acquire the noble
quality of treating them as Gods. So, the precept is: ‘May you be one
to whom mother, father, teacher and guest are Gods’.
Implicit in these lines, there lies a sacred commitment to build a
respectable and harmonious society. The earlier generation of elders
need not be treated as unquestionable authority endowed with an
infallible vision of the future. But at the same time they are not to be
rejected as no longer-useful out-dated stuf. They are, by no means,
to be discarded and humiliated. The sacred path to be adopted by
the youth is that they have to try the hither to untrodden paths, all
the same, treating the previous generation with all the respect they
One of the most brilliant ideas ever expressed in any literature
¯||¯¯|¯|¯|u|l¯| ¬¯¹||l'| ¦ ¯||l¯| -|l¯|¯|¯¯||l¯| ¦ ¯|| s¯|¯|l'| ¦
¯||¯¯|-¹||¬¯ -|¯|l¯¯||l¯| ¯||l¯| ¯¯|¯||¯||-¯||l¯| ¦ ¯|| s¯|¯|l'| ¦¦
These lines unequivocally instruct people to keep to the path of
righteousness – The touchstone of our actions should be whether
what we do is right – not this authority or that.
The maxim is: Let only the actions free from blemishes be done
– not others. Only those virtuous actions which are irreproachable
should be performed – not others.
The Guru does not declare himself to be the highest despotic
authority – a role model to be imitated blindly and unquestioningly.
He leads a pure, ideal life, no doubt, but he is humble enough to be
aware that he is, after all, a human being prone to err. It is possible
that there may be qualities in him that are to be shunned. The disciples
should do well to abjure them and emulate only those qualities that
are unblemished and irreproachable.
GIVING, not receiving forms the basis of pious life as envisaged in
the Upanishad. Here, Taitiriya Upanishad defnes precisely the spirit
in which one should give.
>|°¯¯|| ¯¯|¹| ¦ ¹>|°¯¯||¯¯¯|¹| ¦
l>|¯|| ¯¯|¹| ¦ l¶¯|| ¯¯|¹| ¦
l+|¯|| ¯¯|¹| ¦ -|l¯|¯| ¯¯|¹| ¦
Gifts should be ofered in faith; they are not to be given without
faith; they should always be given in abundance, modesty, sympathy
The householder, in those days, was to put in the hardest and
most sincere work, earn, stock, breed and build to ensure that there
is prosperity. But such prosperity was to be achieved not for self-
aggrandizement, for expanding one’s own material wealth in a system
of merciless exploitation. Prosperity was meant for extending love,
kindness, service and charity to others. Ultimately, an individual
was valued only on the spirit of sacrifce that he could show. People
give, but not always in the true spirit of giving. Very often, things are
given away when they are no longer needed with the gloated feeling
that he has shown great charity. Some times gifts are given expecting
something in return for short-term or long-term dividends. They are
also given for the sake of name, fame and for publicity. Also, in the
modern world of human afairs, it so happens that we are obliged to
contribute in a big or a small way to a cause which we, ourselves, do
not believe to be a genuine one. We are quite aware that a great part of
the contributions goes down the drain. Still, we contribute reluctantly
on such considerations as being treated as the odd man out. Any,
giving out of considerations of any kind is no ‘giving’ at all.
The preaching of the Guru is to indulge in the act of giving only
on being fully convinced of the worthiness and nobility of the cause.
Without such conviction, if charity is practised, it harms both the
giver and the receiver, because the former gloats over his vanity and
the later having received a bounty without deserving it ends up as
a moral wreck.
Charity should be practised with utmost modesty. Not an iota of
egoism should go with it. Once we are convinced of the genuineness
of the cause, we should give in plenty – there should not be any
vacillation or withholding.
Such a giving goes with sympathy which generates love as the giver
identifes himself with the cause. Without such cause giving becomes
a mere worldly act of narrow minded self - serving and egoism.
So, true giving consists in sacrifcing out of faith, with no holds
barred, in uter humility, sympathy and love.
In Taitiriya Upaninishad there occurs a highly interesting, teaching
– learning situation. A disciple Bhrigu, desirous of knowing Brahman,
approaches his father (Guru) Varuna and humbly entreats him to
explain to him what Brahman is.
Unlike in modern times, instead of flling his disciple’s brain with
information about the subject, Varuna directs Bhrigu to fnd it for
himself through Tapas. At diferent stages (through the spiritual
guidance of his master) Bhrigu discovers for himself through Tapas
what Brahman is.
At the frst stage, he realizes that food is Brahman
¹¯| ¯|8l¯| ¯¯|¯||¯||¯| ¦
¹¯||°u¯| ¹|l¯¯|¹||l¯| +|¸¯||l¯| ¯||¯|¯¯| ¦
¹¯|¯| ¯||¯||l¯| ¯||¯|l¯¯| ¦
¹¯| ¯|¯|¯¯¯|l+|-|l¯|7|¯¯||l¯| ¦
Food is Brahman because it is from food that all beings are born,
by food they live and at the end they merge into food.
Not satisfied with this knowledge Bhrigu again approaches
¯|lä7||¯| ¦ ¯|¯|¯¯| ¯|¹'| l¯|¯|¯¹|¯|-|-||¯ ¦
¹°||l¯ +|¹|¯|| ¯|8l¯| ¦
He again requests him to enlighten him about Brahman. Varuna
instructs him to learn about Brahman through Tapas. Accordingly,
Bhrigu performs Tapas and goes a step further.
¯||'|| ¯|8l¯| ¯¯|¯||¯||¯| ¦
Brahma is Prana – because all beings are alive as long as there
is Prana and when Prana departs the being ceases to live. Bhrigu
contemplates on the subject. It is obvious to him that Prana is, no
doubt, the efcient cause of birth and death of the body, but he is
not convinced that Prana is the be–all and end–all of Brahman. He
looks at it as inert (Jada), and an end – it could not be Brahman. Thus
dissatisfed with what he has learnt, he approaches Varuna again and
the process continues:
¹|¯|| ¯|8l¯| ¯¯|¯||¯||¯| ¦
He learns that mind is Brahman.
At the next higher stage,
l¯|7||¯| ¯|8l¯| ¯¯|¯||¯||¯| ¦
He realizes that knowledge (intellect) is Brahman.
At the Final stage,
¹|¯|¯¯| ¯|8l¯| ¯¯|¯||¯||¯| ¦
He knew that Bliss is Brahman.
Thus the Upanishad brings out the Pancha – Kosa Theory –
the theory of fve sheaths – Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya,
Vijnanamaya and the Supreme Anandamaya Kosa.
Besides enunciating this unique theory, the episode brings out
several principles of Education which are pertinently stressed in
Anyone who glances at Varuna - Bhrigu’s teaching learning process
perceives immediately the truth of Albert Einstein’s words: “Education
is not so much the feeding of facts into mind as awakening curiosity
in the soul.”
Education is not fnding out what is outside the learner’s being.
In Swami Vivekananda’s words: “Education is the manifestation of
the perfection already present in man.” Varuna, the Guru did not
teach Bhrigu anything that he could not discover for himself. It was
already there in him. Through contemplation and meditation (Tapas)
he arrived gradually at the Supreme Knowledge on his own.
An indiferent, casual and uninterested student cannot reach up
to the depths of knowledge. He may manage to complete a course of
study, but true profound knowledge eludes him. Bhrigu brings to us
the essential qualities of an ideal student – an unquenchable thirst for
knowledge and single – pointed efort to acquire it (Tapas).
Concentric learning, one of the most popularly professed
educational practices is also implicit in this episode. Bhrigu learns
what Brahman is at diferent stages – from the grossest to the subtlest.
Each successive learning does, by no means, eface the previous
learning, but it is a logical extension of what was learnt earlier. Thus,
through Concentric Learning, the knowledge one acquires becomes
stronger and deeper. The learner’s vision broadens. This is amply
illustrated by the Bhrigu – Varuna episode.
Many teachers of modern days are prone to think that once they are
appointed teachers, as their jobs are secure, they have, no longer, any
need to learn. This is a very sad and unfortunate situation as, especially
in these days of knowledge explosion, if one does not keep oneself
abreast of the latest developments one is prone to become out – dated
and stale. Students often take such teachers for a ride. That is why, it is
impressed upon teachers that once they cease to be learners, they cease
to be teachers. This fact is repeatedly emphasized in the Upanishad: it
enjoins teachers never to neglect self – study and preaching. They are
to put them into constant practice with a missionary zeal. It implies
that a teacher has always to be a learner.
Students teaching Teachers ....
A newspaper article I read some time ago featured a student David Sabastian
a boy of Class IX, who got a mere 30% in a class examination in mathematics
was thrashed by his father for his dismal performance. His friend Rajaram had
fared much worse having got only 18%. His father had been very severe with
him. David and Rajaram came to an agreement. Since David’s 30% was better
than Rajaram’s 18%, the former would teach the latter mathematics!. The
two friends took it as a challenge and struggled hard. David put in real hard
work to teach his pupil. Things started opening out gradually to both David
and Rajaram. Within a short time they astounded their parents and teachers
by scoring amazingly high marks. Eventually, David did extremely well in all
the subjects especially in mathematics and earned a scholarship to study in
England. He came under the profound infuence of Prof. Colin Adamson who
always thanked a student who posed him a problem, because that would lead
him to learn new things. David Sabastian became an illustrious Professor of
mathematics in India. When he retired from service his students composed a
poem in praise of him. It included the following lines from an old flm song;
It’s very ancient saying.
But a very true and honest thought.
That if you become a teacher.
By your pupils
You’ll be taught.
At the end the students prayed to their teacher to bless them with the same
humility in their lives.
The origin of the title of the Upanishad itself symbolically illustrates
the modern concept of Peer Learning. In brief the story goes that the
Guru taught this Upanishad to a group of students. Only one among
them was able to grasp it. The Guru turned the less intelligent disciples
into sparrows (Taitri – hence the name Taitiriya Upanishad) and the
brilliant disciple was made to vomit what all he had grasped. The
sparrows consumed the vomit and the Guru turned them into disciples
again. Eventually they showed greater level of understanding. It
means that what the students cannot understand when their teacher
teaches them will be learnt by them more comfortably in the company
of their peers. Peer - Learning is one of the techniques that is frequently
advocated in modern educational practice.
One of the most salient features of this Upanishad is the fund of
thought it gives to the signifcance of food. Food is referred to as
¹¯| (Annam). The word can be divided into roots in two ways, one
of which leads to the meaning ‘that which is eaten’ and the other
leads to the meaning ‘that which eats’. Food is the grossest aspect of
Brahman. The physical body is born out of food, derives sustenance
from food and fnally becomes food i.e. the physical body of a person
is the outcome of the food his parents have consumed; as long as he
is alive, he sustains himself by eating food and when the physical
body dies, it is either consigned to fames in which case it becomes
food for fre or it is commited to the earth, in which case it is eaten
away by maggots.
On a diferent dimension, the signifcance of food is that if it is
consumed in the required, limited proportions and in wholesome
ways it becomes a source of vitality and energy. If food is overeaten,
it becomes poison and eats up the body itself.
For the fourishing of not only the individual but also the entire
society, proper food management is an absolute necessity. At a deeper
level, food stands for the outer world of physical objects. It is but a
manifestation of the inner world of subjective realization. A man of
knowledge and realization has not to look down upon the outer world
of physical objects. Hence the Upanishadic precept:
¹¯| ¯| l¯|¯u|¯| ¦
Do not slander food.
¹¯| ¯| ¯|l¯¯|+||¯| ¦
Do not reject food.
¹¯| ¯|¯ ¬¯¯||¯| ¦
Produce and accumulate plenty of food.
¯| ¬¯¯|¯| ¯|-|¯|| ¯|¯¯||¯|+||¯| ¦
¯|-¹||u¯|| ¬¯¯|| ¯| l¯|°|¯|| ¯|5¯| ¯||¯¯|¯||¯| ¦
Do not turn away anybody who seeks food and shelter. This is the
vow. Let one, therefore, acquire food in abundance, by any means
Annam need not necessarily mean the food that we eat in the usual
sense (of course, that eats us too!). Whatever that satisfes the appetite
of our sense organs and mind is food. Natural scenery or a beautifully
painted picture is a feast to the eye; a melodious musical composition
is a treat to the ears; a thought – provoking piece of literature is food
for the mind. Such food should not be looked down upon; it should
not be rejected and it has to be produced and accumulated in plenty.
It has also to be given away liberally to those who relish it. The
Upanishadic prescription is to ofer the kind of food that one relishes.
If a person is a good eater of delicious food, we have to satisfy his
hunger by ofering the kind of delicacies he likes. If another person
is an admirer of music he has to be provided with the kind of music
that he enjoys. In this broad sense, if people produce, conserve and
distribute food judiciously, the world will be an extremely happy
place to live in.
The instruction to acquire food in abundance, by any means
whatsoever, should not lead us to misinterpret it to say that the
ancient rishis were in favour of employing even fraudulent and
dubious methods to produce and hoard food. It has to be read with
the earlier instruction: only those actions that are unblemished and
irreproachable are to be performed, not others. Upanishads never
instigate people to resort to sinful ways. They insist that only righteous
and honest methods have to be adopted to produce and accumulate
food. The idea is only to urge all to put in the hardest and the most
sincere work and maximize production.
...................... this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile
promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you,
this o’erhanging frmament, this majestical roof fretted with
golden fre; why it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and
pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a
man, how noble in reason, in form and moving, how express
and admirable , in action how like an angel, in apprehension
how like a god; the beauty of the world, the paragon of
animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
~ Hamlet ~
Questions regarding the power that governs the entire universe
have always puzzled children, lay men and intellectuals alike. Where
do the stars, so many at a time, come from? Why do they appear only
during the night? What makes the earth, the moon and the planets
move around the sun in the solar system? Enormous amount of
energy bind the protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of the
atom and electrons revolve round the nucleus. But where has the
energy come from into the atom? Why are there only seven colours
in the rainbow? Who made it so? Though it is my own body, why can
I not stop my heart from beating and blood from circulating at my
will? We say, we dream. What exactly in us dreams? In which part
of our body is it located? In order to see things we have to keep our
eyes open. How is it that we see dreams with our eyes closed? Who
created the force of gravity? How is it that every animal gives birth
to siblings of its own kind?
Can there be an end to such a list of questions?
Taitiriya Upanishad throws light on how this Cosmos, the world
of manifestation arose from the unmanifested Brahman. It created
itself by itself.
+||¯||-¹||ä|¯|· ¯|¯|¯| ¦ +||¯||¯l¯| -|¸¯|· ¦ +||¯||¯-¹||¯l¹¯|%|¯¯%| ¦
¹|¯¯|°||¯|l¯| ¯|¯¯|¹| sl¯| ¦
The wind blows through fear of Him (Brahman). The sun rises
through fear of Him. Through fear of Him again, fre, the moon and
death proceed to their respective functions.
This world of phenomena seems to be a web of confusions. There
are varied kinds of things and their variety goes on multiplying. The
whole world with all its multiplicity and complexity appears to be
a jig-saw puzzle, but a crystal clear patern of uniformity does exist
that keeps the phenomenal world going. There is a mysteriously
amazing harmony in variety – an eternal concord runs through the
ever existent apparent discord in the universe. Galaxies follow their
own movement, planets revolve in their orbits, the sun rises and
sets everyday as though put on strict duty. Two atoms of Hydrogen
combine with one atom of oxygen to form a molecule of water – it
can never be otherwise. The laws of Nature are always scrupulously
obeyed. Behind the phenomenon of Nature, there exists a Law – Giver
who strictly executes the law and the whole world of manifestation
runs according to His dictates. And, this Supreme Reality is
SATYAM, JNANAM, ANANTAM BRAHMAN
Salutations to Brahman, the Supreme Lord.
Om Shanthih, Shanthih, Shanthih.
There are nine requisites for contented living: Health enough to make
work a pleasure; Wealth enough to support your needs; Strength
enough to battle with diffculties and forsake them; Grace enough
to confess your sins and overcome them; Patience enough to toil
until some good is accomplished; Charity enough to see some
good in your neighbour; Love enough to move you to be useful
and helpful to others; Faith enough to make real the things of God;
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
~ Goethe ~
A Few Thoughts on
Adi Shankaracharya’s Bhaja Govindam
eaching English Grammar, especially formal traditional
grammar is indeed a tedious and difcult job. It is not
uncommon that teachers who are to perform this task face subtle
indiference and resentment from the students. The reason is not
too difcult to see. Learning the rules of grammar by rote memory
and applying them mechanically rarely produces any meaningful
language learning. A desperate teacher in such a situation is prone
to remember the popular story The Grammarian and the Boatman:
Once a renowned grammarian hired a boat to cross a river. Gloating
over the pride of his erudition, he asked the boatman, “Do you know
grammar?” The boatman humbly replied, “How can I know such
great things, Sir, I am an illiterate.” The grammarian sneered at him
and said egotistically, “Then, half your life is wasted.” Presently
there arose a storm. The river started swelling. It was so terrible that
the boatman was hardly able to hold the boat as the waves tossed
it violently. The boatman said to the grammarian, “Do you know
swimming?” The bewildered grammarian replied that he could not
swim at all. The boatman said, “Sir, your whole life is wasted”.
It is very interesting to know that a similar incident prompted
the spontaneous overfow of the celebrated song Bhaja Govindam. It
is said that as Adi sankaracharya was walking through the streets
of Varanasi along with his disciples, may be for a bath in the
sacred Ganga, a teacher was making his students repeat after him,
the grammatical rule DuKrinjKarana Sutra, outside his residence.
Sharply reacting to the uter futility of such a teaching activity,
Sankaracharya burst out into the famous song,
+|¯| ¹||l¯|¯¯ +|¯| ¹||l¯|¯¯
¹||l¯|¯¯ +|¯| ¹|¸7¹|¯| ¦
-|¹¯||¯¯| -|l¯|l¯¯| ¬¯|¯|
¯|l¯ ¯|l¯ ¯+|l¯| ¯¬¯¯| ¬¯¯'| ¦¦
Oh, fool, recite the Name of Govinda. Recite His Name. When the
inevitable moment arrives, DuKrinjKarana Sutra will not save you.
It is said that Sankaracharya and his
disciples sang out the hymns there and
then. Those that are born into the tradition
of Sanathana Dharma were taught to
recite these verses regularly with the
refrain Bhaja Govindam at the end of each
verse. The rhythmic and musical quality of the verses gradually
worked into the minds of those who recited them regularly and the
philosophy of the Vedas implicit in them through simple, straight
and strikingly powerful expressions formed the very essence of their
psyche. What strikes us strongly is the pungent vitriolic tone of the
lines. It is characteristic and befting of the great Teacher and Prophet
Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya to ofer the ever relevant teachings
to the world. Even when the verses are not understood in all their
implications at the initial readings, they leave a lasting impression
on the minds of those who recite or listen to them recited. As we
grow familiar with them through constant sustained repetition, we
cannot but feel their irresistible power. They are a sure set of maxims
and precepts for a pious and noble life.
Adi Sankaracharya is aptly called Jagadguru. He churned the
Vedas and the Upanishads and Vedanta in an unbelievably short
time. One cannot but wonder at the immense magnitude of his
achievement in an efective span of a mere 26 years, for he shufed
of his mortal coil at the age of 32 years. He wrote a lot of books,
"God does not care about
our mathematical diffculties.
He integrates empirically."
~ Albert Einstein ~
travelled through the length and breadth of the country (in those
days, when the means of transportation known to us were not
there), established monasteries, and above all, revived Sanatana
Dharma throughout the country. Even a perfunctory look at the
huge amount of work he has done makes one feel convinced that he
was no ordinary individual. He was a Karana Janma.
The Acharya, besides his high scholarship and philosophical
outlook, was endowed with an exquisite poetic quality rarely
equalled in all world literature. One of the most precious outcomes of
these extraordinary qualities of head and heart that can be acquired
through nothing but the grace of God Almighty, is the famous Bhaja
Govindam song. It brings us the stark realities about the ways of the
world and enunciates a few commandments for unblemished pious
and noble life.
The root cause of all the ills plaguing this world is the greed for
earthly possessions. There is an all pervading tendency to grab as
much money and to amass as much material wealth as possible. As
far as money is concerned people are prone to set aside all ethics,
norms and even decencies. The modern philosophy of utilitarianism
teaches us to make one’s own whatever one can, without regard to
the means, for it is the ends that count, not the means.
Born and brought up in this decadent social system which is
characterized by gross selfshness and erosion of age-old lofty values,
we fail to see the truth that all the sorrows and difculties that we
face are on account of our limitless thirst for wealth and the unethical
means we adopt to realize our narrow, selfsh, earthly goals. Making
a blistering atack on this atitude, Sankaracharya exhorts us to rise
above this greed for worldly possessions.
¹|¸7 ¯|¯|l¯ °|¯||¹|¹|¯|¯'||
¬¯¹ -|äl7 ¹|¯|l-| l¯|¯|¯'|| ¦
l¯|¯| ¯|¯| l¯|¯||¯¯| l¯|¯|¹| ¦¦
Oh, fool! Shed the unending desire that money should come
anyhow. Cultivate good qualities of mind and heart. Learn to rejoice
and entertain your mind with the money you earn out of your own
Bhaja Govindam does not preach a philosophy of escapism and
total renunciation. It is not against productivity and multiplying of
wealth, because, after all, for the world to carry on material wealth is
necessary. But it has to be earned through honest hard work. Dhana
– wealth as it is, is not to be rejected, but what is to be shunned is
Dhanaagamathrishna – the greed that wealth should come anyhow.
Later in the Song we are asked to give away wealth as charity – only
when we have it, we can give it away. For earning money we should
adopt only righteous ways.
Adi Sankaracharya denounces the feeting material aspects of
life, but never derides life itself. In a beautiful simile, he picturizes
the transitory nature of life and says,
¯||¬¯ 7||¬¯¯¯| ¯| -|¹|-¯|¹| ¦¦
Life is as short-lived as a droplet on a lotus petal. Know that it is
subject to disease and ego and the entire world sufers from the bane
Life is, no doubt, transient and is replete with a lot of ills. Still,
it has its own unique beauty. This is evident from the imagery that
Sankara uses to describe it. If we picture before our mind’s eye, a
droplet of water resting precariously on a lotus petal for however
short time it may be, we wonder how God has flled the tiny thing
with a whole world of beauty. The droplet rests on the petal, but
the petal is not weted by it. It is on the petal, but it is outside it.
Surface tension makes it a perfect sphere. Light rays from the sun
pass through it, undergo dispersion and total
internal refection and are resolved into seven
colours. A perceiving eye can see the mystery
of God’s creation and its infnite beauty in the
droplet on the lotus petal. It is so with life and
it can by no means, be ignored. The message of
this verse is to enjoy to the full the beauties of
life but, never to be blind to its ills and evils and
Respect and honour are rare things to get
even from our own kith and kin. When one
respects and honours us, it is mostly because
they expect something in return.
-¯||¯|l¯|¯| - ¯|l¯¯||¯| ¯ñ¯· ¦
¯||¯|| ¬¯|¯l¯| ¯| ¯|¯7l¯| ¹|¯ ¦
As long as you are able to earn money your people keep good relation
with you. When once your body is debilitated by old age, nobody
enquires after your welfare even at your own home.
¯||¯|¯¯|¯|¯|| l¯|¯|-|l¯| ¯¯
¯||¯|¯| ¯|¯7l¯| ¬¯7|¯| ¹|¯ ¦
¹|¯|¯|l¯| ¯||¯|| ¯¯|¯||¯|
+||¯|| l¯|+¯|l¯| ¯|l-¹|¯| ¬¯|¯| ¦¦
As long as your body is alive, you are cared for at home. When
once the body dies, even your own wife is frightened of the dead
Then who are our relations? Where have they come from? Have
they been always with us and will they be for ever with us? However
worldly a man is, sometime or the other he is defnitely haunted by
To see a world in
a grain of sand
And a Heaven in
a wild fower,
Hold infnity in the
palm of thy hand
in an hour.
~ William Blake ~
¬¯| ¯| ¬¯|¯¯|| ¬¯-¯| ¯|¯| ·
-|-||¯|¯¯|¹|¯||¯| l¯|l¯|¯| · ¦
¬¯-¯| ¯¯| ¬ : ¬¯¯| ¹|¯||¯|:
¯| ¯¯| l¯|¯¯|¯| ¯|l¯¯ +||¯|·¦¦
Who is your wife? Who are your children? This world is highly
mysterious and wonderful. To whom do you belong and how have
you originated? Brother, think deeply about these issues.
How should we ennoble our lives and seek salvation then?
Sankara ofers a difcult but sure solution in the following verse:
l¯|--|¹|¯¯| l¯|¹||¯¯¯|¹| ¦
l¯|%|¯|¯|¯¯| ¯||¯|¯¹|lñ¯· ¦¦
Keep company with the virtuous by which you get detachment;
through detachment you become free from delusion; freed from
delusion you get into changeless Reality; Realization of Reality leads
to Liberation – being – alive.
Everything in this material world is a slave of time and place.
Anything has relevance only in a particular situation, at a particular
time. Once the situation changes, at a diferent time, in a diferent
place it loses its importance and becomes irrelevant. Even a cheque
issued for crores of rupees is but a piece of waste paper when once
it is encashed. This stark truth is brought out in the following verse
through an extremely apt simile:
¯|¯|l-| ¹|¯| ¬¯· ¬¯|¹|l¯|¬¯|¯·
7|¯¬¯ ¯||¯ ¬¯· ¬¯|-||¯· ¦
+||'| l¯|¯| ¬¯· ¯|l¯¯||¯·
7||¯| ¯|¯¯| ¬¯· -|-||¯· ¦¦
When the youthful age is passed where is the vice of lust? Where
is the lake when the water dries up? Where are your kith and kin
when your money dwindles? Where is the world of mater and
afairs when true wisdom about Reality dawns?
So, what we feel proud of, what we gloat over as our great
possessions are as transient as bubbles on water. They are present
now, they will disappear into thin air the next moment, as it were.
So, Sankara gives us the maxim:
¹|| ¬¯¹ °|¯| - ¯|¯| -¯||¯|¯| - ¹|¯|
¯¯l¯| l¯|¹|¯||¯| ¬¯|¯|· -|¯|¹| ¦
¯|8¯|¯ ¯¯| ¯|l¯|7| l¯|l¯¯¯|| ¦¦
Do not boast of wealth or youth or retinue for, within the wink
of an eye these are stolen away by Time. Abjure the illusion of the
world and identify yourself with timeless Truth.
The Bhajagovindam song describes diferent kinds of sannyasins
– those who put on a mendicant’s appearance and those who are
true saints. What follows is a description of the frst category – the
frauds among sannyasins:
¯|l¯¯|| ¹|'¯| ¯|l¯7¯|¬¯7| ·
¬¯|¯||¯||¹¯|¯¯|¯¬¯¯|¯|¯| · ¦
¯|7¯|¯|l¯| ¯| ¯| ¯|7¯|l¯| ¹|¸7|
¬¯¯l¯|l¹|¯| ¯|¯¬¯¯|¯|¯|· ¦¦
There are those whose locks are mated; there are others whose
heads are closely shaven; many among them don the ochre robes;
The Truth is revealed before them, but they are blind to it because
they are deluded; they put on varied appearances merely for their
The true saints are described thus:
7|¯¯|| +|¸¯|¯|¹|l¯|¯| ¯||-|· ¦
¬¯-¯| -|¹| ¯| ¬¯¯|l¯| l¯|¯|¹|· ¦¦
The one who has really renounced makes temple or a tree his
home; clothes himself with deerskin; he makes the bare earth his
bed; he avoids all gifts and sense objects and delights; he is to be
content blessed with such a dispensation as this.
The song takes a dig at those who observe religious practices and
rituals in leter giving a blind eye to the spirit -
¯|¯|¯|l¯¯||¯|¯|¹|°|¯|| ¯|¯|¹| ¦
¹|lñ ¯| +|¯|l¯| ¯|¯¹|7|¯|¯| ¦¦
For ataining salvation, people undertake pilgrimage tours to
sacred places, observe vratas, indulge in acts of charity. Without
ataining the knowledge of the Highest, nothing of these assure them
salvation even in a span of a hundred lives.
The power of the Gita is explained in the following famous
¹|… . |¯|¯|¯|¯|¬¯l'|¬¯| ¯||¯|| ¦
-|¬¯¯l¯| ¯|¯| ¹|¯|l¯-|¹|¯||
l¬¯¯|¯| ¯|-¯| ¯|¹|¯| ¯| ¯|¯|| ¦¦
The man who reads even a litle of the Gita, the one who drinks
even a drop of water of the Ganges, worships with pure devotion
even once the Lord Almighty will set at rest all his fear of death for
What is writen to the lot of a man incessantly involved in nothing
but the afairs of the world?
¯|¯|¯l¯| ¯|¯|¯| ¯|¯|¯l¯| ¹|¯'|
¯|¯|¯l¯| ¯|¯|¯|| ¯|õ¯ 7|¯|¯|¹| ¦
s¯ -|-||¯ ¯|¯¯-¯||¯
¬¯¯|¯||¯¯||¯ ¯||l¯ ¹|¯|¯ ¦¦
Unceasing birth and never ending death! He has to be for ever
passing through the mother’s womb. It is extremely hard for him
to cross the ocean of the world of things and afairs. Lord Almighty
only should set him free from this vicious circle through His mercy.
If we ponder over our relationships, where we have come from
and how, it is not difcult for us to see the futility of all these earthly
bonds. Biologically, a human being is born out of the food that his
parents have eaten, his body is sustained by food and then, in a sense,
merges into food when the Prana leaves the body. All earthly bonds
are terminated there. We are drawn to this deeply philosophical
thinking by the following Verse:
¬¯-¯¯| ¬¯|¯¯ ¬¯¯| ¹|¯||¯|·
¬¯| ¹| ¯|¯|¯|| ¬¯| ¹| ¯||¯|· ¦
sl¯| ¯|l¯+||¯|¯| -|¯|¹|-||¯
l¯|7¯| ¯¯|¬¯¯|| -¯|¯¯|l¯|¯||¯¹| ¦¦
Who am I? Who are you? What is that place which I have come
from? Who is my mother? Who is my father? Thinking deeply about
them, perceive that they are all but superfcial. They are devoid of
substance. Realizing this, renounce this world as an empty dream.
Stark realities are always hard to digest. The grammarian was
annoyed and looked at Sankara and his disciples who revealed the
truths so tersely, with impatience and anger. Presently he got a fting
¯¯|l¯| ¹|l¯| ¯||¯¯|¯|¬¯| l¯|¯'|·
¯¯|°| ¬¯¯¯|l-| ¹|¯¯|-|l¯¯'| · ¦
-|¯|¯||¯-|¯| +|¯7||¯|¹| ¦¦
God Almighty (Vishnu) alone resides in you and me and in
everything. The impatience and wrath that you express are empty of
meaning; seeing yourself in everything and everyone, dispense with
the illusion of all diversity.
The way to realize this oneness is to cultivate a mind of equanimity
7|¯|| l¹|¯| ¯|¯| ¯|¯°||
¹|| ¬¯¹ ¯|¯¯| l¯|¹|¯-|¯°|| ¦
+|¯| -|¹|l¯|¯|· -|¯|¯| ¯¯|
¯||¯7-¯|l¯|¯|ul¯ l¯|¯'|¯¯|¹| ¦¦
Whether it is friend or foe, son or your own folk, peace or war, shed
all diferences. Look upon all things equally if you aspire to reach
the Lord’s abode.
The essential message of Bhaja Govindam is Prayerfulness,
association with the virtuous people and indulging in welfare
activities are the traits that one should cultivate in order to make
one’s life fruitful. It is conveyed through the following verse:
°¯|¯| >||¯|l¯|«¯|¹|¯|-|¹| ¦
¯|¯| -|‹¯|-|…. l¯|¯|
¯¯| ¯|¯|¯|¯||¯| ¯| l¯|¯|¹| ¦¦
Recite regularly the Gita and contemplate the innumerable
forms of the Lord cherishing Him in your heart; Derive joy in the
company of holy men and give away your wealth to the poor and
Wealth for its own sake is dangerous and harmful. The desire
for amassing wealth by hook or by crook is one of the worst of vices
and has to be dispensed with at any rate.
¹°|¹|¯|°| +||¯|¯| l¯|¯¯|
¯||l-¯| ¯|¯|· -|¹|¯|7|· -|¯¯|¹| ¦
¯|¯||¯l¯| °|¯|+||¯|| +||l¯| ·
-|¯|¯|¯|| l¯|l¯¯|| ¯|l¯|· ¦¦
Remember always that riches bring in grief; undoubtedly they
can aford no joy. It is an established fact all over the world that a
wealthy man faces threat even from his own sons.
¬¯¯|¯|°||¯| ¹|¯¯¯|°||¯|¹| ¦¦
The universal rule is that you have
to apply the following precepts with
heart and soul: Control the self (ego);
separate the transient from the Eternal
Truth; ever be reciting the holy name of
God; and keep the restless mind still
And in conclusion,
-|-||¯|¯l¯|¯|7¯| ¹|ñ¯ · ¦
¯+¯|l-| l¯|¯|¯¯|-°| ¯¯|¹| ¦¦
Submit yourself to the lotus feet of your Guru; redeem yourself
without delay from the worldly bondages; suppress your mind and
senses and fnd the Lord within your heart.
Thus Adi Sankaracharya exhorts us to lead a pious life of
Prayerfulness integrity, righteousness, charity and detachment.
Only such living takes us closer to God.
We brought nothing into
this world and it is certain
we can carry nothing out
– and having food and
raiment let us be therewith
content. But they that will
be rich fall into temptation
and a snare and into
many foolish and hurtful
lusts which drown men in
destruction and perdition,
for the love of money is
the root cause of all evil.
~ Timothy ~
Love is the only way to elevate oneself
A bad teacher instructs, a mediocre teacher explains
while a great teacher inspires and elevates.
t is impossible to imagine anyone who has not faced any
difculties at all in his life. Sorrows and suferings are part
of everyone’s life. Very often we sufer them thinking that they are
unjustly and unfairly thrown to our lot. It can even be true that we
do not deserve them in any way. Such feelings depress us and fll
us with resentment. They can plant in us motives of retaliation and
revenge and can even afect our character.
We should have the will power to face such situations bravely
and by our exemplary conduct should set an example to others. To
Sir, with Love writen by E.R. Braithwaite is a novel that brings to
us this message.
The narrator, E. R. Braithwaite, a Negro, was a
technical ofcer in the R.A. F. After demobilization,
he tries to get a decent job, but he is rejected
everywhere on account of the colour of his skin.
Finally he lands up as a teacher in a school in a
tough area. It is a difcult and challenging job for
him for two reasons. The students are unruly and
problematic, as they are from poor and backward families. Almost all
of them are white and they live with the confrmed opinion that their
teacher is inferior to them as he is black. Braithwaite passes through
a lot of exasperating and excruciating experiences that make him an
ennobled human being and an accomplished teacher.
During his service as an ofcer in the R.A.F, on account of the
camaraderie in the armed forces, Braithwaite did not feel the sting of
racial discrimination. Being well-educated, well-qualifed, he looks
forward to geting a suitable job, but he is callously and unfeelingly
turned out from wherever he applies for a position big or small,
merely because of the colour of his skin. Moreover, he fnds himself
being looked down upon, as a mater of course, by the white people
he comes across. Before his disillusionment and resentment turn into
destructive atitude against the whites he is fortunate enough to get
a piece of sound and pertinent advice from an unexpected quarter
following which he becomes a teacher in Greenslade Secondary
School, East End, London.
Braithwaite receives a very encouraging treatment from the
Headmaster Mr Florian and most of the teachers, but he faces a
terribly disconcerting task with the students given to his care. They
create a lot of discipline problems and also put him to insult and
humiliation at every step on account of his black colour. There are
occasions when he feels outwited and depressed, but every such
instance leaves him with a frmer resolve to face the challenges
and fght the biter batles. As a well-meaning person, he adopts a
humanitarian approach. He is extremely patient with his students.
He shows that he means business, at the same time he impresses
upon them that he is fully interested in them. When the situation
demands, he uses his quick wit and tact – the way he deals with
Pamela Dare when she enters the classroom insolently or when
Poter challenges him asking why the boys should address the girls
‘Miss’. He is not the person to lie low and take it meekly when he is
pushed to the corner. He makes Denham the bully lick the ground
when he exceeds all tolerable limits.
Through perseverance and sustained efort Braithwaite proves
himself to be a commited teacher. He spares no pains to equip
himself to tackle successfully the teaching situations through
constant relentless study and exposure to the world. He does not
hesitate to discuss problems with his colleagues, if he feels that it
helps. He adopts diferent, hitherto untried methods to reach out
to his students – taking a great risk he takes his students on an
excursion, for instance. Thus, through relentless striving he earns
the thrilling accolade ‘To Sir, with Love’ at the end from the very
students that sneered and jeered at him.
The challenges that Braithwaite faces on the front of racial
discrimination are no less heart-breaking. The novel starts with a
description of how he is slighted by a group of rustic women and
how a sophisticated lady resents having to sit by him on a bus.
His travails on account of the colour of his skin are numerous.
The white people reject him everywhere most pitilessly. When he
becomes a teacher, his students look down upon him and overtly
and covertly insult him. They use such abusive terms against him
as ‘blackie’, ‘cheeky black bastard’ and so on. They exclaim that his
blood is red when he cuts his fnger accidentally while trying to help
them. He is refused accommodation just because he is black. He
is badly ill-treated at a restaurant when he is there along with his
white girl friend. When the mother of the only black student dies,
the students willingly contribute to buy a bouquet to be presented
at her funeral. But none of them is ready to take it to the blacks’
home. From time to time, Braithwaite encounters such disgusting
incidents, but fortunately for him, in some way or the other, there
is always a conspicuous silver line in the cloud – a ray of hope and
reassurance brilliant enough not to be missed. Again and again, he
is made to feel that for every narrow-minded act there is an act of
Braithwaite brings us the message that prejudices and injustices
are there, but there are defnite human tendencies that relentlessly
fght against and rise above them. Thus, the novel, To Sir, with Love
is resplendent with robust optimism.
The Abyss of Teacher – Student Divide
The growing indiference between teachers and students is one of
the major themes of the novel. It seems to be a malady that plagues
educational systems all over the world. Braithwaite treats a specifc,
but quite common situation, presents the aspects that are responsible
for it and ofers practical suggestions to deal with it.
To Sir, with Love is undoubtedly a guiding handbook to anyone
who aspires to excel as a teacher. Braithwaite may not ofer any
new system of pedagogy, but he demonstrates how even one who
lacks formal training as a teacher can impress his students. What
is required is commitment to learn and be of use to the learners.
Teaching imposes a great deal more strain than one can imagine.
Applying himself earnestly to his students, he feels, “I was learning
from them as well as teaching them. I learned to see them in relation
to their surroundings and in that way to understand them.” Teaching
is not merely a way of earning one’s livelihood. It is, in deed, a highly
“Teaching is like a bank account. You can happily draw on it while
it is supplied with new funds; otherwise you’re in difculties.
Every teacher should have ready information on which to draw;
he should keep that fund supplied regularly by new experiences,
new thoughts and discoveries, by reading and moving around
among people from whom he can acquire such things.” In other
words, a teacher in order to be efective and successful, has always
to be a learner.
The teaching-learning paradigm has shifted rightly nowadays
from teaching to learning. The centre stage of the teaching-learning
process is occupied by the student, not the teacher. Braithwaite
expresses this idea thus:
“It was the children, not the teachers that matered”
Also, in the Headmaster’s words:
“It may sometimes be rather defating to discover that a well-
prepared lesson did not really excite Johnny Smith’s interest, but
after all, the lesson was intended to beneft Johnny Smith, not his
teacher; if it was uninteresting to him, then the teacher must think
And the novel was writen more than ffty years ago!
Braithwaite shows that in order to be successful, a teacher has
always to adopt an analytical approach. He has to analyse the
behaviour of his students constantly and introspect on how useful
he can be for them.
Mr. Florian, the Ideal Headmaster
The portrayal of the character of Mr. Florian, the Headmaster
of the school is one of the most appealing aspects of To Sir, with
Love. It is from Mr. Florian that Braithwaite gets a sure gesture of
encouragement as he joins the school as a teacher. With characteristic
ease, he rises generously above all the prejudices that Braithwaite
has been victim of. In him, Braithwaite fnds a sympathetic friend,
mature philosopher and a pragmatic guide. About him, Braithwaite
says in the very beginning,
“I liked this man; his fervour and integrity gave him a stature
which more than compensated for his lack of inches; his voice went
on, deep, intense, spell-binding ……. ……. ….. ‘As teachers we can
help greatly if we become sufciently important to them.’ So keen is
the old man’s interest in his students, for ‘this man was in no way
remote from his school; his remarks all showed that he identifed
himself with it and everyone in it.’
Mr. Florian is never an autocratic administrator. He does not
seem to believe that he would be able to bring about any sweeping
reforms in the given situation of the school, but he does nothing less
than his best to improve the tone and tenor of the institution. “He
considered himself merely one of a team engaged in important and
necessary work; he was spokesman and ofcial representative of the
team, but sought no personal aggrandizement because of that.”
We get two striking instances of his democratic and student-
friendly style of functioning in the novel. He insists on his students
to give weekly reviews of the work done during each week and they
are acted upon with all sincerity, to the extent possible. He defends
this practice on two very practical and realistic grounds: the students
atempt an exercise in puting their experiences and feelings in
writing and the school administration and the teachers get enough
feedback to introspect and improve upon their earlier performance –
to be of beter use to their students. He makes surprise entry into any
class and indulges in very useful discussions with the students in a
very friendly and afectionate manner. Braithwaite himself admires
this practice and says that the students seem to admire him so much
for it that he is sure, ‘they liked to hug him’.
As we read the novel, we get convinced that if we have such
Headmasters and Principals as Mr. Florian our educational
institutions are sure to atain great heights of glory.
Braithwaite, as we have seen,
is a Negro. He is highly educated
and qualifed. He is remarkable
for his impressive appearance and excellent manners. Moreover,
he is extremely sincere and sensitive. It is ironical that he towers
high above those very people who look down upon him merely
on account of the colour of his skin. The novel abounds in highly
touching episodes in which he is subjected to most unreasonable ill-
treatment. He says, “My own experiences during the past two years
invaded my thoughts, reminding me that these children were white,
hungry or flled, naked or clothed, they were white, and as far as I
was concerned, that fact alone made the only diference between the
haves and the have-nots.” He becomes distrustful of every glance or
gesture seeking to probe behind them to expose the antipathy and
intolerance which, according to him, is certainly always there.”
Notwithstanding his biter experiences, through relentless efort
and patience he makes his students see that ‘basically all people were
the same; the trimmings might be diferent but the foundations were
laid out according to the same blue-print’.
But in proportion to the enormity of the disease, what he has
achieved is but litle and short-lived. It shows itself up at the slightest
provocation in all its nauseating ugliness. His own credibility sufers
serious setbacks and he is prone to return to his moods of despair.
“Nothing had really matered, the talking, the example, the patience,
the worry. It was all as nothing. They (his students), like the strangers
on the buses and trains, saw only the skins, never the people in those
skins”, he says.
I had learnt to fnd out the
better side of human nature
and to enter men’s hearts.
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
In one of his most despondent states of mind, he ruminates: “I
sat on the top deck in the rearmost seat, disdained to see, or be seen,
to speak or be spoken to; withdrawn and wishing only to be as far
removed from white people as possibly I could be. I had given all
I could to those children, even part of myself, but it had been of
no use. In the fnal analysis they had troted out the same excuse
so familiar to their fathers and grandfathers: ‘We have nothing
against him personally, but ……. How well I knew it now!’ If he’d
been a pimp, pansy, moron or murderer, it would not have matered,
providing he was a white; his outstanding gentleness, courtesy and
intelligence could not ofset the greatest sin of all, the sin of being
His biterness reaches its worst when he says; “Crucify him
because he’s black; ostracise him because he’s black, a litle change,
a litle shift in geographical position and they’d be using the very
words they’d now so vociferously condemned.”
But every time he passes through such depressing experiences,
a brilliantly thoughtful occurrence reassures him that all is not that
bad. From such repeated contrasting experiences, he learns that the
most efective way to combat the evil is always to try to be a litle
bigger than the people who hurt him. He realizes that it is easy to
reach for a knife or gun, but then you become merely a tool and the
knife or gun takes over, thereby creating new and bigger problems
without solving anything.
“Fifty years on, To Sir, with Love can be read as a narrative of
triumph over adversity concerning one highly unusual man’s eight-
month long experience of an inner city school that enables him to
grow and occasions some of the people he comes into contact with to
put their prejudices on hold…… ……. …… the Ricky Braithwaites
of this world cannot, by themselves, uproot prejudice, but they can
point to its existence. And this is after all the beginning of change;
one must frst identify the location of the problem before one can set
about addressing it.”
The essential message of To Sir, with Love is to spread the cult of
Love and Respect to all. The bondage of love between Braithwaite
and the white couple whom he addresses as ‘Mom and Dad’ warms
our hearts. The atachment that develops between Braithwaite and
his white colleague that eventually concludes in their marriage leaves
an abiding impression. The subtly delicate feeling that Pamela Dare
develops towards her teacher and the aura of sanctity that he gives
it as mutual interest between a student and her teacher are highly
remarkable. When Mrs. Dare approaches Braithwaite to resolve
the rift between her and her daughter, Braithwaite’s conduct as a
sympathetic gentleman frst and a teacher next is simply marvellous.
There are plenty of such moving episodes in the novel.
Perhaps the best of all is Braithwaite’s meeting with an
unknown elderly gentleman at a park. It takes place at a time when
disillusionment in Braithwaite is gradually giving place to disdain
and hatred for the whites. Initially Braithwaite is full of contempt for
the old man’s casual comments especially because he is a white man,
but he is perceptive of the kindly heart throb that goes with them.
Against himself, Braithwaite is presently with him listening to him
keenly with appreciation and admiration. Several pearls of wisdom
fow spontaneously from the old man:
“Big cities are dreadfully lonely places and London is no
“A big city cannot aford to have its atention distracted from the
important job of being a big city by such a tiny, unimportant item as
your happiness or mine.”
“Those tall buildings there are more than monuments to the
industry, thought and efort which have made this a great city; they
also occasionally serve as springboards to eternity for misfts who
cannot cope with the city and their own loneliness in it.”
The old man’s bubbling enthusiasm for life expressed in the
following words can, by no means, be overlooked: “A great city
is a batlefeld. You need to be a fghter in it, not exist, mind you,
live. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul around behind him like
a worn-out coat; but living is diferent. It can be hard, but it can be
fun; there’s so much going on all the time that’s new and exciting.”
It is from this old man that Braithwaite receives the advice to
become a teacher. Thus, the meeting forms the basis of Braithwaite’s
ennobling experience as a teacher. The writer is at his artistic
excellence when he pays glorious tribute to the unknown gentleman
The famous Victorian poet, Matthew Arnold’s father Thomas
Arnold was the Headmaster of the famous Rugby School. Under his
stewardship the school scaled such heights of glory that the King
of England wanted to visit the institution. In his reply to the king’s
letter, Thomas Arnold declined permission to him as he would have
to salute the King as the protocol demanded it and it would lower
the dignity of the headmaster in the minds of his children. The king
wrote to him back saying that he (the King) would salute him frst
and requested him to permit him to have the privilege of visiting the
-¯|¯7| ¯|¸¯¯|¯| ¯|¯|| l¯|ä|¯| -|¯|¯| ¯|¸¯¯|¯| ¦
A King is honoured in his kingdom, a scholar is honoured
in the following words: “It was only after we had parted that I realised
we had spent over two hours in rewarding discussion without being
introduced; we had not even exchanged names. I hope that he may
one day read these papers and know how deeply grateful I am for
that timely and fateful meeting.”
As we read the novel, we are left with the inescapable feeling
of disappointment that the right hand side of the book becomes
thinner, as one incident after the other is conceived and presented
with highly imaginative artistic vision. As we come to the end of the
novel we feel extremely happy that we have read an excellent book
which will never fade from our memory.
Any teacher can take a child to the classroom,
but not every teacher can make him learn.
He will not work joyously unless he feels that
liberty is his, whether he is busy or at rest;
he must feel the fash of victory and the heart-sinking
of disappointment before he takes with a will the tasks
distasteful to him and resolves to dance his way bravely
through a dull routine of textbooks.
~ Helen Keller ~
Humanism in the Stories of Leo Tolstoy
eo Tolstoy has a unique place in
the galaxy of world’s greatest
short story writers. His stories have
a religious fervour in the sense that
they show how we should live. His
characters are down-to-earth people
who strive and persevere to deserve
God’s grace. Through his stories
Tolstoy illustrates that for being dear to God one need not be high-
born. Even the lowest of the low can reach God by evolving into a
noble being through rising above vices and imbibing virtues. The
Kingdom of God does not lie somewhere for us to struggle hard and
reach. The essential message of Tolstoy’s stories is “The Kingdom of
God is within you”. Each one has to strive to discover it on his own
by ennobling oneself and living a pious life.
Tolstoy’s short stories illustrate Lord Krishna’s maxim in the Gita:
“Elevate yourself but by no means degrade yourself; if you elevate
yourself your own self is your friend. If you degrade yourself your
own self is your enemy.”
About the religions of the world and about people’s pursuit of
their own Gods, Tolstoy says:
All human temples are built on the model of this temple, which is God’s
own world. Every temple has its own fonts, its vaulted roof, its lamps, its
pictures or sculptures, its books of the law, its altars and its priests. But
in what temple is there such a font as the ocean; such a vault as that of
the heavens; such lamps as the sun, moon and stars; or any fgures to be
compared with living, loving mutually – helpful men? Where are there
any records of God’s goodness so easy to understand as the blessings
God has strewn abroad for man’s happiness? Where is there any book of
the law so clear to each man as written in his heart? What sacrifces equal
the self-denials which loving men and women make for one another?
And what altar can be compared with the heart of a good man, on which
God Himself accepts the sacrifce?
The higher a man’s conception of God is, the better will he know Him.
And the better he knows God, the nearer will he draw to him, imitating
His goodness, His mercy, and His love of man.
Therefore, let him who sees the sun’s whole light flling the world,
refrain from blaming or despising the superstitious man, who in his
own idol sees one ray of that same light. Let him despise not even the
unbeliever who is blind and cannot see the sun at all.
On matters of faith, it is pride that causes error and discord among
men. As with the sun, so it is with God. Each man wants to have a special
God of his own, at least for his native land. Each nation wishes to confne
in its own temples Him, whom the world cannot contain.
Can any temple compare with that which God himself has built to
unite all men in one faith and one religion?
~ From The Coffee-House of Surat
The short stories of Tolstoy range from the simplest to the most
profoundly philosophical. They are all parables that teach us some
aspect or the other of pious life. In most cases each of the stories is
preceded by an extract from the Bible. It gives the main idea of the
story. Most of the stories are set in the typical rural Russian seting of
Tolstoy’s time. They bring us alive the living conditions of the lower
To love one's neighbors, to love one's enemies, to love
everything "to love God in all His manifestations"
human love serves to love those dear to us but
to love one's enemies we need divine love.
~ Leo Tolstoy ~
¹¯| l¯|¯|· ¯|¯|¯|l¯| ¹|'|¯|| ¯|¯|¯|¯|-||¹| ¦
¯¯|¯¯|l¯¯||¯|| ¯| ¯|-|°|¯| ¬¯¯¹¯|¬¯¹| ¦¦
This is mine, that is not - This kind of thinking is
for the narrow-minded. For the broad-minded,
the entire universe is their home.
strata of contemporary Russian society. All the same, the situations
that are depicted are not exclusive to Russia, they rise above the
limitations of place and time and such incidents can and do happen
at any place, at all times.
But the most impressive note of the stories is the message of
universal brotherhood. The stories preach us the moral that all men
are equal. The message of universal religion contained in Tolstoy’s
writings, especially The Kingdom of God is within you had a profound
infuence on Mahatma Gandhi. He named one of his Ashrams
Litle girls wiser than men is a child-like simple story in which two
girls quarrel while playing in rain water. Their mothers and presently
their fathers too join in. Forgeting their earlier cordial relations they
go to the low level of abusing one another in ofensive language.
The grandmother of one of the girls tries to make them see reason,
but in vain. As the grown-ups go on with this dirty business, the
two girls forget their quarrel and resume their play. The old woman
points to the two girls and asks the elders if they are not ashamed
of themselves to go on fghting on account of those very girls who
having forgoten their quarrel are playing happily together. She tells
them that the litle girls are certainly wiser than them.
The story concludes with ‘Except ye turn and become as litle
children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.’
* * * *
A similar neighbourhood strife forms the starting point of the
popular story A spark neglected burns the house. Ivan and Gabriel
are neighbours and have lived in cordial harmony for ages. Two
women of the houses fall out over an egg and the other members
of the families instead of puting an end to it there and then, join in
and add fuel to the fre. The two families indulge in violence and
soon become biter enemies. Ivan’s old ailing father advises him to
stop the feud but the adamant son’s pride makes him pay no heed
to his words of wisdom. Ivan and Gabriel keep going to the law
against each other. With punishments and penalties awarded to one
or the other, the hatred between the two families grows beyond the
limits of reason and decency. The youngsters indulge in immoral
behaviour to setle scores with the enemy family and the elders
connive with them knowing full well that it is their child who is
in the wrong. Ivan and Gabriel in their turn vie with each other in
nefarious activities prompted by vengeance. As the families are
always involved in violent conficts and legal batles, they are unable
to atend their work and hence both the families are impoverished.
They sufer untold misery.
Finally, when Gabriel is foggeded in public, he swears in Ivan’s
hearing that as Ivan has made his back burn, something of his is
going to burn more seriously. This leaves Ivan in great worry and
fear that Gabriel is up to something very dangerous. Ivan’s father
again insists on him to make it up with Gabriel and put an end to the
quarrel. But as a remorseful Ivan approaches him, he hears Gabriel
utering all abuses against him. He changes his decision.
One night Ivan fnds Gabriel seting fre to his cowshed. Instead
of stamping out the fre Ivan tries to catch him red-handed so that he
can get him condemned. But Gabriel proves too strong for him and
hits him hard and escapes. Ivan falls unconscious. When he comes
back to his senses the fre has spread and almost half of the village
has been burnt. Ivan’s and Gabriel’s houses are also guted. The old
man is saved from the fre with great difculty. He is badly burnt.
Before dying he advises Ivan not to reveal to anybody who started
the fre. He tells Ivan to make it up with Gabriel for the good of
all. Ivan follows his advice. For sometime Gabriel is surprised why
nothing fresh has happened. Then they get used to it. Gradually they
forget their old rivalry; they cooperate with each other in rebuilding
their houses and start living in peace and amity. In course of time
The title A Spark Neglected Burns the House is itself metaphorical.
If we neglect small insignifcant things, they grow in course of time
and lead to serious and lasting consequences. All quarrels and even
great wars start on account of small and seemingly trivial happenings.
The old man’s words ring in our ears long after we have read the
‘Just think! The whole thing began about an egg.
The children may have taken it – well, what mater?
What’s the value of an egg? God sends enough for all! And suppose
your neighbour did say an unkind word – put it right; show her how
to say a beter one! If there has been a fght – well, such things do
happen; we’re all sinners, but make it up,and let there be an end of it!
If you nurse your anger it will be worse for you yourselves.’
‘Think of your soul. Is this all as it should be? You throw a word
at me, and I give you two in return; you give me a blow, and I give
you two. No lad! Christ, when he walked this earth, taught us
something very diferent. . . . . If you get a hard word from anyone,
keep silent, and his own conscience will accuse him. That is what
our Lord taught. If you get a slap, turn the other cheek. “Here, beat
me, if that’s what I deserve!” And his own conscience will rebuke
him. He will soften, and will listen to you. That’s the way He taught
us, not to be proud!
* * * *
You think Christ taught us wrong? Why it’s all for our own good.
Just think of your earthly life; are you beter of, or worse, since this
Plevna began among you? Just reckon up what you’ve spent on all
this law business – what the driving backwards and forwards have
cost you! What fne fellows your sons have grown; you might live
and get on well but your means are lessening. And why? All because
of this folly; because of your pride. You ought to be ploughing with
your lads, and do the sowing yourself; but the fend carries you of
to the judge, or some petifogger or other. The ploughing is not done
in time, nor sowing and mother earth can’t bear properly. Why did
the oats fail this year? When did you sow them? When you came
back from town! And what did you gain? A burden for your own
shoulders…… Eh, lad, think of your own business! Work with your
own boys in the feld and at home, and if some one ofends you,
forgive him, as God wished you to. Then life will be easy and your
heart will always be light.
Bishop Brooks to Helen Keller
“There is one universal religion. Helen – the religion of love. Love your
Heavenly Father with your whole heart and soul, love every child of
God as much as ever you can, and remember that the possibilities of
good are greater than the possibilities of evil; and you have the key to
He (Bishop Brooks) saw
God in all that liberates and lifts,
In all that humbles, sweetens and consoles.
Quoted from The Story of My Life
~ Helen Keller ~
If all of us live in this spirit of give and take with our neighbours,
how happy and peaceful the entire world would be!
* * * *
Evil Allures, but Good Endures shows how evil tempts while
forgiveness ennobles us. In this story a good and kindly man is
endowed with earthly wealth in abundance. He keeps a lot of servants
whom he takes great care of. He treats them as his own people. The
servants too remain grateful to him. But the devil enters the head of
one of them. He tries to infuence the other servants and bets that he
would ofend the master. True to his word, he does ofend the good
man in a very bad way. At this ofence, after remaining silent for a
while, the master shakes himself as if to throw of some burden. He
makes an efort to control himself and pardons him. He says, “Your
master bade you anger me; but my master is stronger than yours. I
am not angry with you, but I will make your master angry. You are
afraid that I shall punish you, and you have been wishing for your
freedom. Know then, that I shall not punish you; but as you wish to
be free, here, before my guests, I set you free. Go where you like.”
The Devil watching all this from a nearby treetop, grinding his teeth
falls down from the tree and sinks through the ground.
This allegory teaches us to be good, kind and forgiving.
* * * *
Two Old men touches our hearts and teaches us what true piety
is. Efm and Elisha, two old men decide to undertake a pilgrimage
to Jerusalem. Efm is well-to-do, but he is too much involved in and
worried about the afairs of his family. In money maters, he is highly
calculative. He fnds it extremely difcult to free himself from the
worldly bondages. But Elisha who is not at all rich gets ready to pull
himself out for the pilgrimage. They equip themselves, hand over
their responsibilities to their sons and start of.
cannot but help them bring immediate succour. He wants to proceed
on his journey, but he is held back by the tragic condition of the
family. Giving away almost all of what he has provided himself with
he brings the family to stability. He realizes that it is too late to try
to join his friend as he would have gone too far. Moreover, he is
left with hardly any money to continue his pilgrimage. Reconciling
himself with God’s will that he is not making it to Jerusalem in this
life, he returns home.
Efm, on his part, is puzzled at missing his friend. He does not
know what to do – whether to wait for him or proceed. If he waits for
him, and he has already overtaken him by some accident, he would
never meet him. Hoping that Elishsa would come by, he proceeds.
After a long and eventful journey, he reaches the holy place. There is
a large crowd at the sanctum sanctorum and very near the holy spot
he feels he sees someone unmistakably resembling Elisha. With great
eagerness and anxiety he waits to meet his friend at the entrance of
the holy place, but the jostling crowd confuses him so much that he
feels that his friend has eluded him a second time.
On his return journey Efm fnds the hut where Elisha deviated
to have a drink. He meets the people there who treat him with all
hospitality. They recount how a godly man saved them from dying
of starvation and helped them to stand on their own feet and taught
them to be kind to others. Efm realizes that the best way to keep
one’s vow to God and do His will for each man while he lives is to
show love and do good to others.
The story has several passages that fll our hearts with human
compassion and make us feel that we should also emulate the
When Elisha ofers bread to the dying man in the hut, “The man
would not take it, but pointed to the litle boy and to a litle girl
crouching behind the oven as if to say, ‘Give it to them’.
THE TWO CHURCH BUILDERS
Once a great king wanted to build a mighty Church. While building the
grand structure he issued strict orders that nobody should aid the work in any
way. He did so because he wanted that all the credit of such a stupendous
task should go to him alone and he did not want to share it with anyone else.
The magnifcent church was built. The king’s name was engraved on a tablet
in letters of gold fxed at the entrance of the church. The king elated on the
fulfllment of his great wish, went to bed. In his dream he saw an angel erasing
his name on the tablet and writing another name on it. The dream repeated
three times and convinced the king that some one had disobeyed his order
by helping in the construction of the church. He ordered his men to fnd the
culprit. They did fnd her out, somehow. It was a feeble old woman. They
brought her before the king. Trembling with anger the king bade her to tell him
the truth. The poor old lady said that she had prayed to the Lord Almighty to
bless the king who was building so grand a church. She also confessed that she
had offered a wisp of hay to one of the horses carrying stones for the building
of the church.
Wisdom dawned on the proud king. He realized that he had done the good
deed for his personal earthly glory while the poor old woman had done for
love of God. He decreed that the tablet should bear the old woman’s name,
~ Based on a poem by an ananymous poet
Efm is a strict man and has no bad habits whatsoever. Elisha too
does not have any bad habits either, but he has a weakness for
snuf, which he is unable to get over. He avoids carrying any snuf
with him lest he annoys his friend. But he cannot restrain himself
when someone ofers it to him.
After covering quite some distance, Elisha feels thirsty and wants
to drink water in a nearby hut. He asks Efm to be moving on and
he would catch up with him presently. In the hut he fnds a whole
family literally starving to death due to famine and disease. He
Elisha is not a born holy man. He is but an ordinary human
being. Through perseverance and constant striving he evolves into
one. After doing his bit for the starving family, he faces the greatest
dilemma of his life – whether to leave them as they are and seek his
own salvation or stay back and ensure that the family is fully helped.
He decides to stay back for he feels ‘or else while I go to seek the
Lord beyond the sea, I may lose Him in myself.’
Coming to know of Elisha’s kindness two women refer to it in
his hearing and say, ‘ There are not many such men in the world
- it is worth while going to have a look at him.’ Any ordinary man
would have felt elated and gloated over the unsought-after praise.
But Elisha feels embarrassed by it. It shows his uter humility.
Efm, in sharp contrast, struggles in his own worldly way. When
the monk travelling with him says that he has lost money, Efm
strongly feels that he has not lost any money and he is creating a
scene deliberately to gain sympathy. His conscience tells him that he
is assailed by temptation. He tries to shun his bad thoughts about
a brother pilgrim, but however hard he tries, he cannot control his
Finally, true wisdom dawns on Efm when he learns about Elisha’s
sacrifce for the love of God. He uters these unforgetable words,
“God may or may not have accepted my pilgrimage but he has
certainly accepted his.”
The prologue to the story, put in modern English is as follows:
The woman says to him: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. You say in Jerusalem there
is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus says to her, “Woman,
believe me the hour comes when neither in this mountain, nor in
Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father ……… But the hour comes,
and now is, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit
and truth; for such the Father seeks to be his worshippers.”
* * * *
It is indeed an illusion that material wealth alone brings real
happiness. In fact, riches are a cause of immense worry and sorrow.
Even though people know this well, they hanker after amassing
wealth. It is rightly said, “We have always to be aware that wealth
is woe. There is not even an iota of joy in it. On account of it there is
danger even from one’s own sons and that is the way of the world.”
This is elucidated by the simple story Ilyas.
A certain man who has not inherited much property from his
father works hard incessantly, multiplies his possessions and grows
to be an exceedingly rich man. But his children do not come up to be
able enough to sustain his immense property. His eldest son takes
to drink, lives a reckless life and gets killed in a drunken brawl.
His second son becomes a hen-pecked husband and parts from his
parents claiming a large part of the property. He severs all relations
with his parents. The daughter is married of and she gets entangled
in her own family and is hardly able to devote any time to her parents.
She passes away by the time her parents need her loving care.
As the man and his wife grow old, their wealth already reduced
on account of the children further sufers drastic diminution. The
horses are afected by a strange disease and die in quick succession.
Harvests fail year after year due to continued dry spell and famine.
The man and his wife are reduced to uter poverty in an amazingly
short time. They are left virtually with nothing.
A kindly neighbour who had tasted their goodness and generosity
in the days of their afuence takes pity on them. He ofers food and
shelter to them with the condition that they do whatever work they
are able to do. They happily agree to this arrangement.
One day a large group of distinguished guests arrives at the rich
neighbour’s house. They are looked after and entertained very well.
The host refers to the old man’s name and asks the guests if they
remember him. They ask who can forget such a renowned man but
say that they do not know where he is at present. The host then tells
them that the old servant whom they see in front of them is the man.
His old wife also enters the scene. The astonished guests ask them
how they feel to have lost all their wealth and to live a poor life.
They say that when they were rich they were always worried and
dissatisfed. They were never contented within themselves. But now
their wants are few, and they get what they want, they are extremely
care-free and happy.
* * * *
Who is that blessed soul that sees God? Is it he who worships
God ostentatiously or the one who performs a simple good act for
sheer love of God?
Where Love is, God is is a touching story that teaches us what
real worship of God is. It shows how a lowly man through constant
striving and submiting himself to the Lord evolves into a godly
Martin is a cobbler in a certain
town. He has plenty of work to
do, for he works well, uses good
material, charges moderately
and is highly reliable. But he
has a sad and lonely personal
life with loss of several children
in their infancy; his wife dies
leaving a son. He loves his son
and takes great care of him, but
he too passes away leaving him
in uter desolation and grief. A
holy man induces faith in him
and teaches him to submit to the
will of God. He tells him that
he is in great despair because
he wants to live for his own
happiness. When a man learns
SUMMING UP OF
UNTO THIS LAST
That the good of the •
individual is contained in the
good of all.
That a lawyer’s work has the •
same value as the barber’s,
inasmuch as all have the
same right of earning their
livelihood from their work.
That a life of labour i.e. the •
life of the tiller of the soil
and the handicraftsman, is
the life worth living.
to live for Him, he will grieve no more, and all will seem easy, he
says. In accordance with his advice, Martin buys a copy of the Book
of Gospels and keeps reading it. The more he reads it, the more he
gets absorbed in it. Gradually, he fxes his mind in God, even while
he is engaged in the inevitable work of earning his livelihood.
One day, he has a reverie in which he feels as though the Lord
promises him to visit him the next day. Martin feels blessed at the
prospect of God’s visit to him. He fxes his gaze on the window and
waits impatiently for the Lord.
The story describes how he admits into his house a poor old man.
He takes pity on him and invites him in. He ofers him hot tea and
keeps him warm. After the old man departs satisfed, Martin has a
woman in taters. She has a baby at her breast. She cannot give her
baby any milk as she herself has had nothing to eat for a long time.
Martin ofers her the food he has. As she eats the food, he takes care
of the baby. He ofers her a blanket. Though old and torn, it can
still keep her and her baby warm. The woman leaves with tears of
gratitude in her eyes. Then he fnds an old woman selling apples.
She is being tricked by a poor boy and the old lady is hard on him.
Martin pacifes the woman and through a good gesture brings
about a change in the heart of the errant boy. The boy atones for his
bad behaviour by ofering to help her. They bid farewell to Martin
Martin realizes that the Lord has visited him in the form of these
poor sufering people. He feels as though God tells him:
“I was hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave
me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in.”
Tulsi Dasji, keep meeting all the people in this world, we don’t know in
what form we meet God.
“Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren even these
least ye did it unto me.”
We get the following famous passages in this story:
To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other;
and from him that taketh away thy cloke withhold not thy coat also.
Give to everyman that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy
goods ask them not again. As you would that men should do to you,
do ye also to them likewise.
“He who raises himself,” he (The Lord) said, “shall be humbled
and he who humbles himself shall be raised.”
“ You call me Lord,” he said, “and I will wash your feet.”
“He who would be frst ,” he said, “let him be the servant of all
because,” he said, “blessed are the poor, the humble, the meek, and
The Imp and the Crust is a highly thought – provoking short
story that brings home to us the fact that we are happy as long as
we are contented with what we get to satisfy our needs. Real trouble
starts when we amass and hoard more than what we need. The
human in us fades and the beast takes over. The words of the wicked
imp that fgures in the story are worth quoting:
All I did was to see that the peasant had more corn than he
needed. The blood of the beasts is always in man; but as long as he
has only enough corn he needs, it is kept in bounds. While that was
the case, the peasant did not grudge his lost crust. But when he had
corn left over, he looked to ways of geting pleasure out of it. And
I showed him a pleasure – drinking! And when he began to turn
God’s gifts into spirits for his own pleasure – the fox’s, wolf’s and
swine’s blood in him all came out. If only he goes on drinking, he
will always be a beast!
How Much Land does a Man Need
is a fascinating story that describes the
evils of greed and excess of wealth. In
this story, a simple landless peasant
comes to acquire a small piece of land.
In gradual stages he grows rich and prosperous. His greed knows
no limits and he wants to own as much land as possible. He is placed
in a situation in which he can buy for the money he can aford, the
extent of land that he can cover from the sunrise to the sunset on a
single day. Greed makes the man uterly senseless and unreasonable.
He starts on the task of covering more and more land. Every piece of
land he sees lures him one way or the other. By the time he realizes
that it is time he returned, it is quite late. The condition is that if
he fails to reach the point from where he started by the sunset, he
stands to lose the entire stake. One should only read the story to see
how Tolstoy builds up the hair-raising climax. Just at the moment
of sunset he does reach the destination, but falls dead. Thereby he
shows that what a man ultimately needs is just that much land that
is required to bury him when he is dead.
* * * *
The agitation that desire for revenge causes and the solace that
forgiveness brings are perhaps nowhere else so touchingly depicted
as in the popular story, God Sees the Truth, but waits. In this story,
Aksionov a happy-go-lucky man in his younger days turns quite a
responsible person on setling in business and geting married. On
one of his business trips he is falsely implicated in a crime of murder
commited by one, Makar Semyonitch. His pleas of innocence carry
conviction with no one. He resigns his fate to the will of God when
even his wife asks him whether he has really commited the murder.
He is fogged and sent to Siberia. Experience of sufering makes
him a changed man. He leads a saintly life, reading scriptures and
praying to God. Thus he spends twenty six years in prison when
he fnds Makar as a convict along with him. Aksionov recognizes
Nature has enough
for man's need, not
for man's greed
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
Makar as the man responsible for all his sufering and he is terribly
agitated. It so happens that Makar is detected by Aksionov in his
bid to escape. Makar threatens him that he would kill him if he
discloses the secret to anybody. Aksionov’s reply is unforgetable:
“you have no need to kill me; you killed me long ago! As to telling of
you – I may do so or not, as God shall direct.” Eventually the guards
discover the plot to escape, but they are unable to fnd out who the
culprit is. The jail authorities pressurize Aksionov to tell the truth,
but he bluntly refuses to divulge anything, whatever they may do
with him. This brings about a change in the heart of Makar and he
confesses everything. When the order of Aksionov’s release comes
about, he is found dead.
Tolstoy’s short stories are a treasure-house of high religious,
moral and ethical values. If we study them in depth and strive to
adopt the teachings in our life at least to the extent possible, we shall
certainly ennoble our lives.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science
crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime,
more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.
Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names.
Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get
new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your
clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society.
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
The Devotee Dear to God
Kabir Das has rightly said in a famous Doha that in times of grief
people think of God. If people think of God in times of happiness
too where will grief be?
Ordinarily, people tend to think
that worshipping God is a sure
way of overcoming their sorrows
and difculties. The logic behind
their assumption is easy enough
to see. If we praise and worship
God He will be pleased with
us and send us all prosperity
and glory and lead us out of all
our misery and grief. But it is
not Prayer that goes with the
desire to fulfl our earthly wants
and ambitions. It is transacting
business with God. Such spurious
devotees are no devotees at all.
They cannot be dear to God.
Very often, devotion goes with
superstition. Many people think
that performing Poojas to God
ostentatiously brings them all
the favours from God. They
believe that the more the pomp
In these days of spiritual
illiteracy and poverty of the
spirit, when people fnd that
wealth can only multiply itself
and attain nothing, when people
have to deceive their souls
with counterfeits after having
killed the poetry of life, it is
necessary to remind ourselves
that civilization is an act of
the spirit. Material progress is
not to be mistaken for inner
progress. When technology
outstrips development, the
prospect is not of a millennium
but of extinction. Our ancient
heritage is a potent antidote
to the current tendency to
standardize souls and seek
salvation in herds.
~ Nani A Palkhivala ~
and show, the more will God be pleased. In the process they exhaust
a lot of resources God has blessed them with. In their misplaced
enthusiasm they sometimes go to the extent of disrupting normal
life and cause a lot of inconvenience and trouble to others because
they are performing celebrations in the name of this or that God.
There are yet others who spend all their time, energy and wealth
in performing poojas to God, stoop to unrighteous means to make
money in the name of God, neglect their duties and obligations and
feel convinced that they are doing all this to propitiate God. They
do not realize that if they had used their resources to alleviate the
sorrows and suferings of their fellow beings submiting themselves
completely to God, He would be more pleased with them. That is
why the famous Gujarati song
¯|¯'|¯| ¯|¯| ¯|| ¯|¯| ¬¯l¯¯| ¯| ¯||¯ ¯|¯|$ ¯||'||¯ ¦¦
The real Godman is he who knows the suferings of others -
was so dear to Mahatma Gandhi who regarded it as his beacon light
throughout his life.
In the 12th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna clearly
defnes the atributes of a true Godman from verse 13 to verse 20. The
verses are remarkable for their profundity of meaning and also their
poetic and musical quality. Even a bit of introduction is enough to be
fascinated by them. We have to learn them by heart, understand them
more and more deeply by pondering over and making them part of
our very being by reciting them regularly and trying to put them
into practice as far as possible. Thus we can ennoble our character.
There are people who are totally pre-occupied with the world
of objects and sensory experiences. Their desires go on multiplying
and obviously very few of them are fulflled. Unfulflled desires lead
to discontent and sorrow. When there is sorrow, there is resentment.
Such people tend to seek God only to satisfy their desires and achieve
their ambitions. It is not true devotion. A Godly person is full of love,
compassion, humility, cordiality and equanimity. He is contented
and unwavering. He submits completely to God.
If we are worldly, we will have cause to dislike and hate people.
We are forced to do so many things that prick our conscience. If we
realize that we are in the world, but we are not of the world – the
world is not in us, we tend to become beter and progress towards
A weakling can, by no means, be a favourite of God. A man dear to
God is a harmonious blend of gentleness and strength. He personifes
the message of a picture of a majestic, ferce tiger, “It is good to be
kind when you are as strong as I am”.
Some people are extremely soft. They do not exert themselves
and do not mind if others do not act in the way they are expected to.
It goes perfectly well with them if things are not even mediocre. They
are the people who compromise with inefciency and insincerity
with an eye on cheap popularity. Anything is all right for them as
long as their immediate purposes are served and they do not come
to any trouble or sorrow. It is easy to see that such people sabotage
the entire system in the long run. Such people do not come to any
lasting good themselves and the society too will be badly impaired by
them. A true devotee of God is never a goody-goody fellow. He/She
is tremendously efcient and hard-working though unatached.
We should be ready to do any work, any amount of work, only
we do not carry any burden at all.
A man who shirks his social responsibilities and who slights
general welfare cannot be a person liked by God. A beautiful verse
traced to Vishnu Purana says,
-¯|°|¹|¬¯¹|l¯|¹|¹||· ¬¯¯'| ¬¯¯'|l¯| ¯||l¯¯|· ¦
¯| ¯l¯äl¯|'|| ¹|¸7|· °|¹||°| ¯|¯¹| ¯|*¯· ¦¦
Those who neglect their bounden duties and actions and go
on chanting the name of Krishna are the enemies of the Lord, because
the Lord Himself undertakes such duties and responsibilities when
he incarnates in this world.
A man of equipoise and equanimity can rise above the
considerations of worldliness. He can fx his mind in God Almighty.
Such a man, being in the world is without it. It is he who leads a
pious life in its real sense.
Describing the ideal life of the village preacher Oliver
Goldsmith in his famous poem The Deserted Village gives a very
beautiful analogy: the village preacher was like a tall mountain
whose middle parts were always full of clouds and storms while the
peak shone brilliantly in the radiance of the sun. The preacher’s heart
was with the sorrows and suferings of the villagers; he always tried
to help, comfort and console them, but his loftier thoughts always
rested in God Almighty.
His ready smile a parent’s warmth expressed
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heaven.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on his head.
In the following verses from the 12th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita,
Lord Krishna defnes the qualities of a man dear to God.
¹ä¯¯| -|¯|+|¸¯||¯|| ¹|¯|· ¬¯¹'| (¯| ¯| ¦
l¯|¹|¹|| l¯|¯¯¬¯|¯· -|¹| ¯·¹|·-|¹|· +|¹|| ¦¦
-|¯¯|¯¯· -|¯|¯| ¯||¹|| ¯|¯||¯¹|| ¯7l¯|7¯|¯|·
¹|¯¯|l¯|¯|¹|¯||¯|l7¯|| ¹|¯+|ñ¯· -| ¹| l¯|¯|· ¦¦
¯|-¹||¯||lä¯|¯| ¯||¬¯| ¯||¬¯|¯||lä¯|¯| ¯| ¯|· ¦
¯¯||¹|¯|+|¯||ä¹|¹|ñ¯| ¯|· -| ¯| ¹| l¯|¯|· ¦¦
¹¯|¯|+|· 7|l¯|¯+|·¯¯|-||¯|| ¹|¯|¯¯|°|· ¦
-|¯||¯¹+|¯|l¯¯¯||¹|| ¯|| ¹|¯+|ñ¯· -| ¹| l¯|¯|· ¦¦
¯|| ¯| ¬¯¯|l¯| ¯| äl2 ¯| 7||¯|l¯| ¯| ¬¯|+|l¯| ¦
7|+||7|+|¯|l¯¯¯||¹|| +|lñ¯¹||¯| ¯|· -| ¹| l¯|¯|· ¦¦
-|¹|· 7|¯|| ¯| l¹|¯| ¯| ¯|°|| ¹||¯||¯|¹||¯|¯||· ¦
7||¯||¯'|-|¹| ¯·¹|¯| -|¹|· -|¯¹|l¯|¯|l¯|¯|: ¦¦
¯|¯¯|l¯|¯¯|-¯|l¯|¹||¯|| -|¯¯|2| ¯|¯| ¬¯¯|l¯|¯| ¦
¹l¯|¬¯¯|· l-°|¯¹|l¯|+|lñ¯¹||¯¹| l¯|¯|| ¯|¯· ¦¦
¯| ¯| °|¹¯||¹|¯|l¹|¯ ¯|°||ñ¯ ¯|¯|¯||-|¯| ¦
>|°¯°||¯|| ¹|¯¯|¯¹|| +|ñ¯|-¯|¯¯||¯| ¹| l¯|¯||· ¦¦
A devotee dear to God is free from malice towards all beings. He is
friendly, compassionate and selfess. Equanimity is his characteristic
trait. Pleasure and pain, heat and cold, honour and ignominy, praise
and reproach are treated by him in the same dispassionate manner.
His mind is always fxed in God.
He has no resentment with the world, the world does not resent
him either, because he has so spotless a character. He is free from
delight, envy, perturbation and fear.
The reciter of the Gita should be what the author expects
him to be – a yogi in its broad sense. It demands from its
votaries balance in every thought, word and deed and a
perfect correspondence between the three. He whose
speech and action do not accord with his thoughts is a
humbug or a hypocrite.
~Mahatma Gandhi ~
He is without any desires. He is pure both internally and externally,
highly efcient, unbiased and absolutely free from distractions.
So much work is going on, because of him, but he is free from any
worry and tension because he is convinced that it is God who is the
doer and he is only instrumental. He eschews the lowly feelings of
rejoicing, hatred, grief and ambition. As he submits himself totally
to God, he looks upon both good and evil with equanimity. He does
not diferentiate between friend and foe. He is perfectly detached
and spends his time in contemplation. He remains contented with
what is available to him. He has renounced all his belongings –
nothing is his, in a worldly sense.
To move close to God, one need not run away from the physical world
to live the life of a sanyasin. We have to live in this world, work for
its good and welfare and by being unatached seek salvation. This
is the essence of Dhamryamritam that Lord Krishna speaks of in the
We can seek to please God by puting in the hardest and the most
sincere work for general welfare and at the same time, by being a mere
instrument of God. By being totally devoted to Him, we can atain
true divinity. It is this message that Swami Vivekananda conveyed
through the inspiring dictum, Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya
cha – for one’s own spiritual liberation and for the welfare of the
Mother Teresa – The Feeblest
but, the Most Powerful Woman in the World
other Teresa and her Missionaries
of Charity epitomize uterly
selfess service to the poorest of the poor.
Their work is quite well-known and needs
no recounting. A few thoughts about
Mother Teresa and instances of the noble
and holy nature of her work are presented
Once, some one at Kolkata wanted to know Mother Teresa’s
address. The answer to his query was, “Ask any poor man, he will tell
you.” Some one else sent a leter (may be with a litle contribution)
to her and wrote just ‘Mother Teresa, Kolkata’ and the dispatch
promptly reached her. She is humorously but aptly called the Saint of
the Slums. Once a volunteer of Mother Teresa’s order working with
some poor people of questionable credentials was arrested by the
Police and was kept under lock up until his identity was established.
On hearing of the incident, Mother Teresa remarked that the Brother
sufered for only one night whereas the poor are always the suferers
deservingly or undeservingly. She insisted that her workers have to
identify themselves with the poor people they serve so intimately
that they can understand and appreciate their pathetic conditions.
That is why the Missionaries of Charity take the vow of poverty
according to which they live a life of the poorest of the poor.
Mother Teresa always concentrated on her work without
considering how big or small it was. Once she was asked, “Do you
think with your work you will wipe out all the poverty and sufering
in the world?” Mother Teresa replied that her work might be a tiny
drop in the ocean but without it, the ocean would be less by that
She carried out her work in complete and unquestioning surrender
to God. She considered herself to be an instrument, a litle pencil in
the hands of God. She said, “Even today, God shows His Humility
by making use of instruments as weak and imperfect as we are.”
Unfinching faith in God and utmost humility were the greatest
characteristic qualities of Mother Teresa. When confronted with
the direst calamities, she would go about her work unfazed. When
failure gaped at her in her face she would reconcile herself saying
that it was God’s will that it should happen so. In her endeavours,
she came across happenings which were not any short of miracles,
thereby convincing her that when help from all known sources fail,
it arrives from unforeseen and unexpected quarters if God wills so.
Once it so happened that the last speck of food was used up and
there was nothing left to feed the inmates of the Mother House.
The Sisters reported the mater to Mother Teresa who sat in calm
composure. Just then a large vehicle stopped in front of the house.
It was from the owner of a big biscuit factory. He explained that on
account of some technical fault, a whole vehicle load of biscuits were
broken and so they were not acceptable for sale. Except that they
were broken they were perfectly suitable for consumption. Thus
the inmates were provided with something to satiate their hunger
Mother Teresa insisted on the virtue of sharing with the poor and
the needy in the right spirit. The act of Giving should be beyond
all worldly considerations. She carried on her work in sheer love
of God, without expecting anything whatsoever in return. She was
very particular that her work did not become business in any way.
Once a highly wealthy man ofered her a huge amount of money
with the condition that she could use the interest that accrued on
it without touching the principle amount. Mother Teresa declined
the ofer for the reason that she did not see any use in keeping the
money that she could not use if and when such a need arose. She
declined many such ofers of assured regular income.
In this world of human afairs we commonly see that a donor
who ofers a large contribution to a charitable institution is accorded
greater prominence than the one who can aford but litle. In such
situations, it is the material quantity of the ofer that acquires greater
importance than the spirit with which it is made. Mother Teresa’s
atitude to acceptance of contributions was in sharp contrast to this
worldly practice. Once a billionaire from a foreign country met her and
ofered an amazingly huge contribution. While accepting it without
much ado, she gave instructions coolly to the volunteers concerned
as to how the money had to be dispensed with. As the visitors were
still present, she called in the next visitor. It was an awfully shy young
man who had brought the frst salary he had earned on taking up
a modest job. In all humility he mentioned that it was his mother’s
desire that his frst salary (of Rs. 600/-) should be ofered to Mother
Teresa. She was moved to tears and accepted the contribution with
all reverence and blessed the young man. There is another instance
of a beggar ofering his day’s earnings which amounted to but a few
rupees. He put Mother Teresa in a dilemma as she knew that if she
accepted his contribution he would be left with absolutely nothing.
If she refused it she would be hurting his feelings and cuting at the
very root of his desire to be of use to his unfortunate brethren. Finally
she decided to please him by accepting his contribution. For the sheer
magnitude of the work of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of
Charity the amount of moneys they receive is, no doubt, important,
but the spirit with which they are ofered is of greater signifcance.
Their work does not run on mere considerations of money, but on
Love and selfess Service. She says that loving trust, total surrender
and cheerfulness form part of their spirit. They strongly believe that
the best way to show gratitude to God is to accept everything with
joy. It is with this strength, determination and unlimited internal joy
that the Missionaries of Charity get along with the work of “absurd
hardship” always smiling.
Mother Teresa gave an account of the sacrifce of a young couple
who were inspired by her work. They got married in the simplest
possible manner spending virtually nothing and gave away the
money they saved thereby. Mother Teresa treated all contributions
as Sacrifce Money and used it with utmost care and economy. It
is the reason why she did not equip her dwelling place even with
minimum comforts such as a bright light, fan etc.
Mother Teresa was a personifcation of simplicity. She was a
woman of slender stature dressed in a white sari with a blue border,
the way a poor Bengali woman would do. But she was the most
inspiring symbol of cleanliness, purity and dignity. Kings and all
kinds of rulers bowed before her in all reverence and obliged her with
whatever she wanted. She had ready access to the Prime Minister of
India, the Chief Minister of Bengal and those of many other states.
During the war between the U.S. and Iraq, she addressed leters to
President Bush and President Saddam Hussain urging them to end
the war and stop the genocide. Thus, though physically feeble, she
was the most powerful woman in the world.
The most admirable trait of Mother Teresa’s work is that she
raised the stature of human dignity. According to her the poorest
and the most wretched human individual deserved to be treated
with all love and care. She declared emphatically that the greatest
disease that has befallen this earth is the disease of being unwanted.
There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.
~ Leo Tolstoy ~
She saw the wounds of Jesus Christ in those of the diseased and the
aficted. She was asked how she and her Missionaries of Charity
could atend on such people whom ordinary people cannot think
of serving for love of any amount of money. She quipped saying
they too would not serve for love of money, but they served for the
love of God. It is not necessary that sufering people approach the
Missionaries of Charity for help. On the contrary the Missionaries
themselves go in search of people dying miserably in the streets and
abandoned children. People wondered whether it was not waste of
resources, time and energy serving those who were however going
to die. Mother Teresa’s reply was that they could not live in dignity
and comfort, at least they should be allowed to fnd dignity and
comfort in death.
Mother Teresa was never the kind of person who would go in
pursuit of honours, titles and prizes. Unasked and unsought they
poured in. Though she was not interested in any of them she accepted
them in the name of the poorest of the poor and for their service. She
was the frst person not a born Indian to receive the civilian award
Padma Sri. Later, she was again the frst person not born an Indian
to receive the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna. When she was
awarded the Nobel Prize, what Prof. John Sannes, the chairman of
Norwegian Nobel Commitee said is unforgetable:
“The hallmark of her work has been respect for the individual
and the individual’s worth and dignity. The loneliest and the most
wretched, the dying destitute, the abandoned lepers, have been
received by her and her Sisters with warm compassion devoid of
condescension, based on this reverence for Christ in Man. ….. In her
eyes the person who, in the accepted sense, is the recipient is also the
giver and the one who gives the most. Giving – giving something of
one-self – is what confers real joy, and the person who is allowed to
give is the one who receives the most precious gift. Where others see
clients or customers, she sees fellow-workers, a relationship based
not on the expectation on the one part, but mutual understanding
and respect, and a warm human and enriching contact …. This is
the life of Mother Teresa and her sisters – a life of strict poverty and
long days and nights of toil, a life that afords litle room for other
joys but the most precious.” The then President of the world Bank,
Robert S. McNamara said:
“Mother Teresa deserves Nobel Peace Prize because she promotes
peace in the most fundamental manner by her confrmation of the
inviolability of human dignity.”
She appealed to the Nobel Prize commitee to do away with the
conventional banquet that would be given in her honour and instead
allow her to use the money saved thereby to serve the poor. Thus
she got an amount of $3000. This gesture inspired a lot of people
including small children who added $36000 to the fund through their
contributions. On another occasion she was to receive a prestigious
award and in the award giving function a lot of speeches were being
made. In the middle of the function she abruptly excused herself
saying that she had important work to do. She hurried away leaving
the award there itself. It was brought to her and she was asked what
she would do with it. She replied that she would sell it. She had
already plans to spend it.
Mother Teresa was herself a staunch Christian of the Catholic
order, but her service rose above all considerations of religion and
served only the cause of humanity. She declared that through her
service she converted a Hindu into a beter Hindu, a Muslim into
Kindness trumps greed: it asks for sharing. Kindness trumps
fear: it calls forth gratefulness and love. Kindness trumps
even stupidity, for with sharing and love, one learns.
~ Marc Estrin ~
a beter Muslim, a Christian into a beter Christian – through her
service she made people see God and it was left to them as to what
they do with Him.
There are very few blessed souls of whom it is rightly said that
generations hence will wonder whether such persons walked this
earth. Mother Teresa undoubtedly belongs to the tribe of such rare
souls who elevated humanity through their selfess noble work. Just
a litle inspiration from her life is enough to involve ourselves in
rendering help to our less fortunate brethren.
“Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
~ H.W. Longfellow
It is perhaps not out of place to bring here an unforgettable
experience I had the rare fortune of being informed by a close friend
of mine. Once he did some good work for which he would get a small
remuneration. As it was the frst of its kind he was getting, he decided
to send a humble contribution of 25% of it to Mother Teresa. When
he got the remuneration, he sent Rs. 2000/-. Whereas he expected a
mere formal receipt, he was deeply touched to receive a small letter
admiring his gesture and urging him to keep the fre of the quality
of sharing ever burning in his heart. It was typed on a small piece of
paper and signed by Mother Teresa herself! Years later, on the demise
of someone dear to his heart, he again sent a little contribution in
her memory. By that time Mother Teresa had passed away. But in
the same way, he got an acknowledging letter consoling him that
he should not grieve for her loss, because God needed her for His
service more than he did. The letter as simple as the earlier one was
signed this time by Sister Nirmala.
A Few Ideas About
I remember I have read somewhere that Mahatma Gandhi
remarked that if the whole body of Indian philosophy were lost
beyond trace and only Isavasya Upanishad were to remain, the entire
philosophy can be reconstructed on the basis of this Upanishad. An
American biographer of the Mahatma was advised by him to study
the Upanishad in detail if he wanted to familiarize himself with the
ancient Indian Philosophy. I remember it distinctly because it was
this advice which I came across while reading the biography that
prompted me to atempt a study of this great Upanishad. I am aware
I am nothing before the great immortal work. My understanding
of the Upanishad is so meagre that I cannot think of ofering any
learned exposition, I venture to place before you in all humility only
a few ideas from what litle I have been able to grasp of it.
It is one of the shortest Upanishads comprising just eighteen
mantras. An atempt is made below to explain the concepts contained
in some of them.
It starts with the Santi Patha:
³ ¯|¸'|¹|¯· ¯|¸'|l¹|¯ ¯|¸'||¯| ¯|¸'|¹|¯¯¯|¯| ¦
¯|¸'|-¯| ¯|¸'|¹||¯|¯| ¯|¸'|¹|¯||¯|l7|¯¯|¯| ¦¦
That is full, this is full. This full emanates from that full. When
this full is taken of that full what remains is full.
This immortal verse has a deep meaning. At the most basic level it
can be said that it talks of the Universal Self and the Individual Self.
The Atman or the Self that is there in each and every being is from
Brahman or the Universal self. Brahman is undefned, changeless
and unlimited. All the manifested things and beings come from the
supreme Brahman, but the Brahman Himself remains unchanged.
It is with Salutations to this Universal Self or Brahman that the
We are prone to think that the world consists of what we can
perceive with our senses and our mind. We fail to realize that what
we so perceive is but very litle and that there is a lot beyond it. We
live with the delusion of ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and are blind to the fact
that nothing belongs to any one person for ever. The frst verse of
Isavasya Upanishad draws us to this fact and gives the message of
how we have to conduct ourselves.
$7|| ¯||-¯|l¹|¯¹| -|¯| ¯|¯| l¬¯¯¯| ¯|¹|¯¯|| ¯|¹|¯| ¦
¯|¯| ¯¯|4¯|¯| +|¯¯||°||· ¹|| ¹|°|· ¬¯-¯|l-¯|°¯¯|¹| ¦¦
Whatsoever moves in this world is enveloped by God. Enjoy it
with renunciation and do not covet any man’s wealth.
God pervades everything and in that sense everything is His. What
comes to our lot is assigned by God Almighty for our use without
geting atached to it. We should shed the feeling of belongingness
for the things and persons of the world as they are but transitory.
Real joy does not occur when one owns things in a selfsh way. It
¯|¯| ¹| °|| ¯|¯| ¯l¯ ¯|l¯ ¹¯| ¯l¯ ¯ ¹| ¯||l¯
¯|¯| ¹¯°|¯| l¹|¯ ¹|¯|| ¯|¯|¬¯ °|¯¬¯¹||l¯
When ‘I’ was there, God was not there. When
‘I’ is efaced God is there. When darkness is
dispelled, there is no need of a lamp.
comes when they are given away in a spirit of renunciation. If we
develop this atitude it automatically follows that we do not covet
others’ wealth. As everything is pervaded by God, we should not
covet the property that belongs to others.
It is normal tendency that every living being wants to live. Though
the stark fact of death stares at us in the face it is hard for us to be
convinced of the fact that one day or the other we are sure to die.
There is nothing wrong in nurturing the desire that one should live
a full life of a hundred years. But if one lives a life full of worldly
atachments without any high aims, it is just staying alive. Then how
should we aspire to live a life of a hundred years?
¬¯¯|¯|¯|¯ ¬¯¹||l'| l¯|¯||l¯|¯|¯7¯|¹| -|¹|| · ¦
(¯| ¯¯|l¯| ¯||¯¯|°|¯||¯l-¯| ¯| ¬¯¹| l¯|¯¯|¯| ¯|¯ ¦¦
By performing actions alone one should aspire to live here for a
hundred years. There is no other way whereby the efects of actions
do not cling to him.
What is the use of living a long life entangled in the cobwebs
of worldly afairs we, on our own build around ourselves?
Accumulation of material wealth and developing atachments to
I see advertisements for active young men, as if activity were the
whole of a young man’s capital.
Merely to come into the world the heir of a fortune is not to be
born, to be still born, rather. To be supported by the charity of friends,
or a government pension – provided you continue to breathe – by
whatever fne synonyms you describe these relations, is to go into the
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
people and temporal objects bring only worry and sorrow ultimately.
Living such a life is nothing more than existing dragging the burden
of cares and burdens like a worn out coat behind. So, as long as a
person is alive he should actively continue to perform noble actions
without longing for any personal aggrandizement. He should live a
full life deriving bliss (Ananda) for himself by being useful to others
and by relentlessly striving to build a beter society.
We see some people among us striving to lead ideal lives,
constantly trying to ennoble themselves, cultivating virtues, never
swerving from the path of righteousness and practising charity
with compassion. They abide by their conscience. They are friends
of their own selves. But there are some others who waste away the
precious lives they are blessed with. They deviate from the path of
righteousness and give in to vices of various kinds. They silence their
conscience and degrade themselves. Those who kill their Self are
their own enemies. These great ideas are expressed in the following
¹-|¸¯|| ¯||¹| ¯| ¯||¬¯| ¹¯°|¯| ¯|¹|-||¯¯¯|¯||· ¦
¯|| ¹| -¯| ¯|¯¯||l+|¹|¯7l¯¯| ¯| ¬¯ ¯||¯¹|¯¯|| ¯|¯||· ¦¦
Those people who kill the Self go after laying down their mortal
body, to worlds that are covered by blinding darkness.
So we have always to live righteous and virtuous lives to get
peace and bliss here in this world as well as hereafter.
What is the nature of the Self nurturing which blessed souls get
liberated and those who kill It are thrown into worlds of darkness?
We get an idea of this great Self in the mantras that follow:
¹¯|¯|¯¬¯ ¹|¯|-|| ¯|¯||¯|| ¯|¯|*¯|| ¹|¯¯|¯|¯¯|¸¯|¹|¯|¯| ¦
¯|°¯|¯|¯||¯¯¯||¯|¯¯|l¯| l¯|¯õ¯|l-¹|¯¯|¯|| ¹||¯|l¯%|| ¯°||l¯| ¦¦
The Self is unmoving one and moves faster than the mind. Senses
are incapable of overtaking It. Remaining stationary It overtakes all
the things that move. It supports and runs all the activities.
Although it is encased in the body, mind can conceive anything
situated far away. In other words, mind can travel very fast.
Brahman or Self or pure Consciousness travels faster than the mind.
All the activities of the manifested world are started and monitored
by the Self (whom we may call God the Almighty, Omnipresent,
¯|¯¯|l¯| ¯|¯|¯|l¯| ¯|¯ ¯¯ ¯|äl¯¯|¬¯ ¦
¯|¯¯¯|¯-¯| -|¯|-¯| ¯|¯ -|¯|-¯||-¯| ¯||¬¯|· ¦¦
The Self moves, It does not move. It is far away, It is near. It is
inside all this, It is also outside all this.
God, the Creator of all this universe cannot be defned or
described on the criteria we adopt for accounting manifested things
– movement, nearness or distance, size and so on are the criteria
using which we give an account of the things that we want to
describe. These criteria are not enough – they are not applicable to
describe Brahman or The Supreme Self. As Brahman is supreme It is
stationary and at the same time It moves. It is near and It is far away.
It is inside everything, at the same time It is outside everything.
(Another interpretation is that, If you elevate yourself as enunciated
in the forgoing verses, God or Self in you or near you. If you slay
your Self God is outside and away from you.)
The really blessed man is he who sees God or Brahman or his
own Self in everything and in everybody. He who perceives God as
pervading all fnds no occasion to despise anybody. One of the most
fundamental tenets of Indian philosophy is enunciated in these two
¯|-¯| -|¯||l'| +|¸¯||¯¯||¯¹|¯¯|¯||¯|¯|7¯|l¯| ¦
-|¯|+|¸¯|¯| ¯||¯¹||¯| ¯|¯|| ¯| l¯|¯|¹|¯-|¯| ¦¦
He who sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings
thereafter feels no hatred at all.
¯|l-¹|¯-|¯||l'| +|¸¯||¯¯||¯¹|¯||+|¸lä¯||¯|¯|· ¦
¯|¯| ¬¯| ¹||¯· ¬¯· 7||¬¯· (¬¯¯¯|¹|¯|¯|7¯|¯|· ¦¦
To such a man who sees all beings in himself and his own self in
all beings, there will neither be delusion nor sorrow. He sees the One
Self in all.
Delusion, grief and hatred are the outcomes of ignorance that
makes one see plurality in God’s creation. If we are blind to the basic
principle of the all-pervading nature of the Self we diferentiate
between things and persons, look at them as belonging to us or as
not ours. Such ignorance leads to illusion which results in revulsion
and sorrow. The enlightened man who sees all things in himself and
himself in all things comes to be endowed with the great quality of
The next Mantra gives a description of the traits of Brahman or
the supreme Self.
¹|-¯||l¯|¯¹| 7|°¯¹|¯||¯|l¯|°¯¹| ¦
¬¯l¯|¹|¯||¯|| ¯|l¯+|¸· -¯|¯|¹+|¸-
¯||°||¯|°¯|¯||¯°||¯| ¯¯|¯°||¯7|%|¯||+¯|· -|¹||+¯|· ¦¦
The Self pervades all; It is radiant and formless, without any
blemishes; It is indivisible, pure and unafected by evil, all-seeing,
all-knowing, transcendent and self-existent. It oversees the actions
of all beings for ever.
What we see with our outer eye is illusion; what we see with our
inner eye is the Reality. Those that are illusory are atractive and
tempting. We often see that a blatant lie is more impressive than
a stark truth. As John Keats has pointed out, “Truth lies behind a
pile of illusions.” A very enamouring and captivating shield (that
can be called Maaya) covers the face of Truth. The devout seeker of
truth can reach it only when the misguiding and misleading cover is
removed. In this Mantra the seeker of Truth prays to the God of Sun
to remove that cover to enable him to fnd the truth.
l¯¯'¹|¯|¯| ¯||¯|'| -|¯¯|-¯||l¯|l¯¯| ¹|¹|¹| ¦
¯|¯¯| ¯|¸¯|¯|¯||¯|'| -|¯¯|°|¹||¯| ¯2¯| ¦¦
A golden vessel covers the face of Truth. O Nourisher! Remove
that cover so that the seeker of Truth may fnd It.
This Mantra is highly remarkable for its depth of thought and
beautiful poetic expression. It is a prayer to the Sun God (Pushan)
ofered by a seeker of knowledge (Truth). The Sun dispels darkness
and brings in the brightness of dawn with his radiant rays. And by
supplying energy it is He who keeps the world going. Hence the
Prayer is ofered to him.
Any thing really valuable is not available just for the asking. It
seems to be remote from the one who desires to atain it. It requires
tremendous efort to overcome the obstacles and achieve it. Very often
the obstacles and diversions appear to be very atractive; they tempt
us and try to drive us away from the path of realization of Truth.
Using excellent poetic imagery this Mantra depicts the fact that the
Ultimate Truth remains hidden in a
golden vessel. The prayer to the Sun
who sustains all in this world is that
He should remove the outer cover
for the seeker to get it. Here, golden
vessel is not to be taken to mean a
precious costly object, in a worldly
way. We have plenty of instances in
all cultures to illustrate that gold for
its own sake is a great temptation and
greed for it leads one fnally to ruin
and degradation. The message is that
we have to shun such temptations
however fascinating they are to atain
the high level of realization of Truth.
Towards the end of the Upanishad
there is another exquisite Prayer. It is
to God Agni (God of fre).
The most precious line
“Tattvam Pooshan Apaavrinu”
is the guiding principle of
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan,
one of the forerunning premier
educational institutions in our
country. It exhorts the students
to seek ultimate knowledge
undeterred by hindrances and
I had the privilege of
working in Kendriya Vidyalaya
sangathan for 25 years. I have
always been extremely inspired
by this brilliant Prayer. It is my
ardent prayer to Lord Almighty
that the institution always lives
up to this lofty ideal.
¹¹¯| ¯|¯| -|¯|°|| ¯|¯| ¹|-¹||¯|
l¯|%||l¯| ¯¯| ¯|¯|¯||l¯| l¯|ä|¯| ¦
+|¸l¯|¯õ| ¯| ¯|¹| ¯lñ¯ l¯|°|¹| ¦¦
Agni! Lead me by the right and virtuous path to the results of my
actions. Wean me away from the fault of deceit. I ofer myriads of
ardent Prayers to You.
Thus, Isavaasya Upanishad ofers us the most fundamental tenets
of Indian philosophy. They are:
This whole universe is pervaded by God. •
Real enjoyment consists in voluntary giving away - not in •
Nothing ultimately belongs to us. Things are given to us for •
our use. We should use them without developing any lasting
atachment for them.
One should aspire to live a hundred years performing actions •
in an uninvolved manner.
One who perceives the Oneness of God in all things and •
beings is free from delusion, hatred and sorrow.
We have always to keep away from the path of folly and vice •
and stick to the path of virtue and righteousness.
All the sacred texts of our traditional lore preach us the maxims of
ideal life on the basis of these fundamental principles. For instance,
most of the teachings of The Bhagavadgita are directly based on
Behind the Thoughts
Thoughts keep springing up and refections go on fowing. ……….
But the process has to culminate somewhere and here it is – the
¹|¬¯|7||¯| ¯|l¯|¯| ¯||¯| ¯|°|| ¹|¯7l¯| -||¹|¯¹| ¦
Having arrived at the conclusion of the task I have undertaken, I
look back with a feeling of satisfaction. A feeling of pride passes over
my mind that I have been able to do this much. My conscience poses
me a question whether it is all my own achievement. The answer is
obvious and reverberating: “No, not at all!” What I am today is the sum
total of what I have been in the past to the present moment. Scores of
good people have taken to me kindly and helped me in various ways.
But for their kindness and generosity I would not have been anywhere.
Their names run into a long list and I can mention only a few who make
me excited about the grateful feeling I nurture for them. They create
in me an urge to try to pass on at least a litle of the goodness that I
have received from them, for the general beneft. The names that are not
mentioned are no less important and they make my life a completely
lived one too.
Those are red-letter days in our lives when we meet people who thrill
us like a fne poem, people whose handshake is brimful of unspoken
sympathy, and whose sweet rich natures impart to our eager, impatient
spirits a wonderful restfulness which, in its essence, is divine. The
perplexities, irritations and worries that have absorbed us pass like
unpleasant dreams, and we make to see with new eyes and hear such
with new ears the beauty and harmony of God’s real world. The solemn
nothings that fll our everyday life blossom suddenly into bright
possibilities. In a word, while such friends are near us we feel that all
is well. Perhaps we never saw them before, and they may never cross
our life’s path again; but the infuence of their calm, mellow natures is
a libation poured upon our discontent, and we feel its healing touch, as
the ocean feels the mountain stream freshening its brine.
~ Helen Keller ~
As I entered adulthood, I was still an easy-going, though not lazy or
irresponsible youth. Sri P. Sanjeevappa, was my Headmaster at the two
Municipal High Schools in Hindupur (A.P.) where I started my career
as a teacher. It was he who taught me the frst pertinent lesson in life
that as for school work no task is low; any honest work has to be taken
up with an honest will and carried out with all sincerity of purpose.
With his cool and composed fatherly afection, he used to impress upon
me that any assignment has to be taken up as if ‘you are going to learn
from it. It is by puting in sincere hard eforts that you work for the
beterment of the institution and seek your own uplift’. He gave me the
much required push at the right time to continue further studies and
come up in life.
When I joined Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Sri K.V. Natarajan was
my Principal. As he revealed to me later, he had kept me on probation
for six months. When once I completed the probation successfully, he
never wavered in his trust of me. He taught me to try untiringly to be
fawless in speaking and writing. That he was a voracious reader is
an under-statement – reading was his weakness as it were, he would
be seen reading a book even while waiting for the bus in biting cold!
With his scholarship and eloquence he would leave any audience spell-
bound. He practically illustrated through his conduct the right way of
life – ‘be in it, but be always out of it like the droplet of water on the
lotus leaf’ (¯|¯¯|¯|l¹|¯||¹+|-||). I used to think, how nice it would be, if only
I could be like him, to a litle extent at least!
Prof. V.Sasikumar of CIEFL was a romantic fgure for me as I found
him among the writers of almost every English Reader I came across
during the late 70’s and 80’s. When I heard him on one of the teachers’ in-
service courses, it seemed as though my idea of an ideal teacher of English
had come alive right in front of me. He had an excellent command over
the English language; he excelled in the teaching of English and had a
unique sense of humour. The frst meeting and personal exchange with
him enhanced my regard for him. I could never imagine that I would be
working with him on several writing assignments. He taught me how
industrious, sensitive, truthful and meticulous one should be for being
a writer of any worth. He instilled confdence in me that I can write to
some consequence while my association with Sri G. Radhakrishna Pillai
and Prof. G. S. Srirama Murti chiselled my meagre writing abilities.
Prof. Murti encouraged me to keep on writing whether it is published
or not – writing should be a weakness, as it were, he used to tell me.
On being deputed as ofciating principal at Kendriya Vidyalaya,
Hospet which was newly started, I happened to be travelling with the
then Joint Commissioner (Academics) and the Assistant Commissioner
(Bangalore region). In their conversation I overheard the J. C. speaking
highly of Sri Amarnath Singh. I told them that he was my Principal at K.V.
Kathmandu. Pat came the remark from the J. C. “Then we are sending
a very efcient Principal to K. V. Hospet!” Being amidst fowers in a
garland is enough for the thread to acquire their fragrance. Sri Amarnath
Singh made me see the flled part of a partly flled glass ignoring the
unflled one. I saw that in order to be a successful Principal one has
to be frst an understanding, compassionate human being and then a
stern taskmaster, a strict disciplinarian. Even for producing an ordinary
piece of writing, he would insist on the correctness and appropriateness
of every word used. As I worked with him the dictionary became an
indispensable part of my working table. While carrying out any task,
he would insist on each and every minute detail to be personally
looked into. We used to be awe-struck at his mastery of Hindi, Urdu
and English and a wide range of other subjects. He would quote and
elucidate spontaneously passages from the Ram Charit Manas. He
would speak so inspiringly at the Prayer Assembly of the school that his
speeches would draw rapt listeners on housetops around! Being with
him would always be an unforgetable learning experience. From basic
manners to administrative maters to deeply philosophical subjects he
would leave indelible impressions on us. There is no exaggeration in
saying that I grew in stature on being associated with him.
Sri C. Veerappa, a good friend and colleague of mine became my
Principal later. Though for a short time, we worked in perfect unison.
The afection he always used to shower on me is deeply touching. My
colleagues who became my students for pursuing their higher studies,
Mr. C. P. Kumaran, Mr. D. S. N. Murthi and several others elevated me
for, surely I learnt more from them than what they, perhaps learnt from
My association with Sri D. K. Saini, the then Assistant Commissioner
of K. V. S. Guwahati Region while I was Principal at K.V. Laitkor Peak,
Shillong is an unforgetable chapter in my life. Though my higher ofcer,
he used to treat me as his personal friend. We grew so close to each
other that I used to just walk into his residence any time and he would
drop in at mine (he had nicknamed it Praacharyashram) as freely. The
long walks on which I accompanied him were extremely refreshing and
ennobling on account of his sheer optimism and wholesome atitude
to life. He impressed me immensely with his knack of synchronizing
ofcial dealings with personal afnities.
I have always received unlimited afection and enthusiasm from the
students I have taught through the entire span of my career. I often get
the feeling that though I have grown old in years, I have not come out
of the mindset of teenagers as most of my life has been spent in their
invigorating company. Even at 60 +, when I go to Class VI and share
the students’ zeal and joy a feeling of exhilaration overwhelms me. My
students have always been my teachers.
On a diferent plane, my maternal uncle Dr. G.N. Sarma who was
Professor of Political Science at the Maratwada University at Aurangabad
exerted great infuence on me. His afability and sense of humour have
always had an important place in my heart. The afectionate hug he
used to give me on his unannounced visits with the emotional yell
‘Chandramohannn!!!’ (he used to call me by that name) is still fresh in
my memory. He would be so overjoyed and eager to visit us that one
day he dropped into my neighbour’s house by mistake and caused a
great deal of embarrassment to him with his usual emotional outburst.
Though my contacts with him were occasional, they had a profound
infuence on my character. Even since my boyhood I used to get very
enlightening and elevating leters from him. I would write to him as a
boy and he would correct my mistakes in his replies. In my own way
I used to observe and follow him and tried to be like him, however
poorly I was successful because he was such a gloriously towering
personality. He passed away ripe in years. But with moist eyes, I wish
Maama should have been with us for a few more years to guide and
raise us to greater heights.
In a moment of extreme physical sufering and uterly distressing
mental state I felt as though an angel put in my mind the idea of
atempting a work as this book. Such immortal intimations can come
to me from no beter source than my deceased wife Shanta. All through
my life with her, she led me on the right path and was with me in all the
worthy acts I took up. Uter humility and unassuming nature were her
distinguishing qualities that endeared her to all those who knew her.
Poor lady, she sufered ill-health most of her life. That she was
childless oppressed her deeply. Gradually, she reconciled herself
to God’s will and learnt to treat anyone who approached her as her
child. God has created both fowering and non-fowering plants too, yet
each has its own place of pride in the universe. Her hearty concern for
others earned for our humble home the
name Lakshminarayan Dharamshala.
Sometimes as we sat for food all alone
she would touchingly remark, “How
nice it would be if someone knocks at our
door and comes in to share our food!” As
if God-sent, sometimes people would
drop in. At Kathmandu, one day when
I returned home from work she told
me that she had gone to Pasupatinath
temple where she came across a very
old Kannada-speaking couple who were
there on a pilgrimage. She talked to
them and was literally moved to tears
to hear their plight for they had not had
proper food for several days. It was, indeed, difcult to get the kind of
vegetarian food that tradition-bound people are used to in Kathmandu.
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May
Although it fall and
die that night
It was the plant and
fower of light.
In small proportions
we just beauties see
And in short measures
life may perfect be
~ Ben Jonson ~
She brought them home, prepared the very kind of food they could
eat, saw them satisfed and left them at their place of lodging. She
apologized to me for doing this without my permission. I advised her
to be visiting the temple every now and then to see if she could fnd
many more people whom she could help.
At difcult times she would ofer very pertinent thoughtful advice.
Once I faced a very intriguing problem. In the Prayer Assembly I would
stand with my students of Class XII. A senior colleague of mine would
join me later and say audaciously, “Vidyasagar, do you want to show
that you are more sincere than all of us! Come and stand with us here.”
It was a very awkward and upseting scene and this used to happen
every day. I shared my problem with Shanta and she innocently asked
me if it was compulsory for me to stand with Class XII and not in any
other place. It was not so. ‘Then shift to a diferent place’, she said. I
started standing with the students of Class VIII and the problem got
itself sorted out.
As we started our life we were rather scarce of
resources and had a lot of family responsibilities.
She gave me her whole-hearted cooperation without
demanding anything for herself. My several brothers
keep mentioning even now, it was easier to get what
they needed from their sister-in-law than from me.
Along with my brothers some students also stayed
with us. My purview was to teach them and their
homely needs were all taken care of by her. Some of
them reminisce her afection and concern for them
and treat her as their mother. Many of my students are still in contact
with me more for the care and concern they received from her rather
than the teaching they got from me.
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and the well-wishers raised me
greatly from the state of want. KVS gifted me the prestigious foreign
posting to Kathmandu. By that time my brothers had come up and were
independent. There Shanta showed herself to be an amazingly diferent
"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead
of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in
physics, know that the distinction between past, present,
and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."
~ Albert Einstein ~
person. Afuence kept her humble, but brought out her hitherto latent
aesthetic sensibilities. Within the limits, she would provide herself with
the best and the fnest of things. She knew no compromise on quality.
She was a great adviser to her friends on maters of selection of things. I
used to wonder wherefrom this plain shy woman got all this expertise.
All the same, to her, things were after all things and no more. She would
never show them of.
As her days neared conclusion she turned exceedingly pious and
amazingly philosophical. She used to hear very frequently a Telugu
song which meant: We have to shed famlial bondages as they are neither
real nor lasting. She would often echo the idea in her conversations with
others. One day I got annoyed and asked her why she utered such
things and if she would leave me too. In a cool dispassionate tone she
replied, “Yes, if time comes, I have to”. Not long after she breathed her
last. It was as if something that was very much there was in a moment
taken away forever. The last time I saw her alive, she waved a bye with
her simple afectionate smile as if to say, “Now I am leaving, take care.”
One may go to the sea itself, but he will get that much water only that
the vessel he has carried to it can contain.
The void that her physical absence has left is irremediable and I have
to live with it. But her unseen presence and benevolence have always
been with me. Numerous are the situations when I felt I was shoved of
shatering difculties as if by a mysterious hand.
In my most desolate moment I felt as if she prompted me to take
up this work. Since then I have felt a strange feeling of liveliness and
enthusiasm bubbling within me. I started it with the words: May the
noble Soul of Shantha be with me and bless me to make this endeavour
a success, and now it is complete. It is all her inspiration, her work. The
merits are all hers, the faults mine.
I received encouragement in this endeavour from a large number
of my elders, friends, students and well-wishers in making this book.
I heartily acknowledge their contribution to the success of this task.
My mother Kamakshamma’s, constant goading and taunting about the
progress of the book and her eager interest in seeing the book in print
are no small factors that pushed me harder and faster.
All I could do in my capacity was to bring the thoughts into a writen
form. I could not have brought them into an atractive printed book
without the involvement and suggestions of my brothers Krishna,
Shankar and Bhushan. They deserve a large share of the appreciation
received by the book.
As innumerable as the thoughts are, unending is the list of people
who inspired them. My reverence is due to all the inspiration that I
received from them.
In conclusion, this humble work is placed at the feet of my revered
mother on behalf of her eldest daughter-in-law Shantha whom she
always looked after as her own daughter.
It is my ardent hope that this book stimulates the thinking of the
readers to higher thoughts that ennoble their life to usher in a nobler,
-|¯| +|¯|¯¯| -|l¹|¯|·
-|¯| -|¯¯| l¯|¯|¹|¯||· ¦
-|¯| +|¯|l'| ¯|7¯|¯¯|
¹|| ¬¯l%|¯| ¯·¹|+||¹+|¯|¯| ¦¦
³ 7||l¯¯|· 7||l¯¯|· 7||l¯¯|·
Books consulted and recommended for further reading ....
The Message of the Upanishads : Swami Ranganathananda
The Story of My Experiments with Truth : Mahatma Gandhi
The Bhagavad Gita : with Swami Chinmayananda's commentary
The Bhagavad Gita : Publication by Ramakrishna Mission
The Bhagavad Gita : Commentary by Swami Ranganathananda
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
The Essays of Elia : Charles Lamb
The Waste Land : T.S.Eliot
The Razor’s Edge : Somerset Maugham
Walden : Henry David Thoreau
The Old Man and the Sea : Ernest Hemingway
Taitiriya Upanishad : with Swamy Chinmayananda’s Commentary
Taitiriya Upanishad : Ramakrishna Mission Publication
Bhaja Govindam : Ramakrishna Mission Publication
Bhaja Govindam : with Swamy Chinmayananda’s Commentary
Bhaja Govindam : with C. Rajagopalachari's Commentary
To Sir with Love : E.R. Braithwaite
Collected Short Stories by Leo Tolstoy
Mother Teresa : a Biography - Navin Chawla
Isavasya Upanishad : Swami Rama’s Commentary
Isavasya Upanishad : Swami Chinmayananda's Commentary
Isavasya Upanishad : Ramakrishna Mission’s Publication
The Story of My Life : Helen Keller
Katha Upanishad : Swami Chinmayananda's Commentary
Pictures and Quotes mainly from Internet
This book was distributed courtesy of:
For your own Unlimited Reading and FREE eBooks today, visit:
Share this eBook with anyone and everyone automatically by selecting any of
To show your appreciation to the author and help others have
wonderful reading experiences and find helpful information too,
we'd be very grateful if you'd kindly
post your comments for this book here.
Free-eBooks.net respects the intellectual property of others. When a book's copyright owner submits their work to Free-eBooks.net, they are granting us permission to distribute such material. Unless
otherwise stated in this book, this permission is not passed onto others. As such, redistributing this book without the copyright owner's permission can constitute copyright infringement. If you
believe that your work has been used in a manner that constitutes copyright infringement, please follow our Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement as seen in our Terms
of Service here:
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.