The twin ideals of India are Renunciation and service- In the eyes of Swami Vivekananda
Friends, you all have big big dreams in your lives and many of you may be striving sincerely to make your dreams a reality. Others too may be feeble in their endeavors but still all of you nurture your dreams .To achieve your aspirations you study according to your capacities and abilities. But the truth is that all of you want to succeed in life. And I am sure by success you mean lot of money to give you enough security and along with it a good house, car, position and prestige and of course a good wife or husband. If along with it comes some power, still better.
Many also think here in India all is bad, rotten; so go to a distant land of your dreams and lead a life of your choice. This is average Indian youth’s dream. Many have achieved all this and many feel unlucky in not getting what his other friends have got. Many of you and mostly your parents and relatives may think them to be more successful than you.
See, success is a relative term. All have different definition of success. It varies from individual to individual.
All of you read newspapers, see TV and many have access to internet and you find so many success stories going around. Men/women from very humble background achieve impossible landmarks. See a HINA DAS, A SWAPNA BURMUN, A PV SINDHU OR SANIA NEHWAL , A DEEPA KARMAKAR OR A ARUNIMA SINHA, these examples I gave from field of sports which comes very often in newspapers similarly many more success stories such as a RICKSHAW PULLER’s Daughter or A COOLIE at the station becoming an IAS. There are hundreds of such inspiring examples before us who had almost nothing, no background, financially extremely backward yet they succeeded. WHY? What is common in all of them? A GREAT WILL TO SUCCED. They had fire in them, they had a goal to achieve and they all worked very hard almost tested to their limits.
In gita there is a verse for how to successfully complete any actionXV111/14 ‘adhishthanam tatha karta… the main purport of this verse is to achieve your goal, you have to focus your body,mind,will power and all your energies to achieve success and the luck or grace factor comes last. First you have to persevere. Swami Vivekananda says “TO SUCCEED YOU MUST HAVE TREMENDOUS WILL POWER, TREMENDOUS PERSEVERENCE.I WILL DRINK THE OCEAN,I WILL CRUSH THE MOUNTAIN…That type of will power, that type of perseverance is needed. This will- power can make ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I wish every young man or women achieve their destined goal. But remember that success comes with great toil and hard work. It is a well-accepted rule. Especially in India where there is stiff competition in every field starting from childhood even getting admission in a good school entails tough competition barring for a few who have connections or power. Otherwise you can say for rest of people, it is sheer struggle:
i) To succeed first you must have a clear cut well defined achievable goal
ii) Then you must have an action plan
iii) And finally the execution
This is a general outline of success in common parlance. And I hope you are well aware of this path to success. But this is one side of the story.
Have you ever thought that suppose you get all these then will you think that you have achieved whatever had to be achieved and feel that your journey has ended? Do you think that by achieving your goal for which you striven so hard and with this your journey ends and can remain satisfied rest of your lives? Many may answer, NO, we will try to excel in our professional fields! Our journey continues. Yes, to an extent that is correct but what after you have retired? Then what?. But whatever may be your achievements, mind you; they are all external success, is it not? And it signifies what you possess. Do you think it will give you the fulfillment and happiness what you ultimately were aspiring for?
This is a question I put before all who are present here to ponder. If getting your dream job etc. is end of your journey then for what you will live for the rest of your life. If life’s struggle stops after getting what you aspired for all these years, then does the life after getting to your goal is interesting? Sadly our education system too has no answer for this question and that is the biggest problem faced by all of us.
I am reminded of a story in which some school friends who have become successful in their later professional lives met after many years in the same old city and by the way they decided to meet their professor who had huge effect on them………..
Are we not behaving the same way? Are we not engrossed in choosing the cup? Knowing fully well that all cups contain the same coffee. We are passing our lives thinking so and so has a big house, car etc. etc. and the race goes on as long as we are able to run. Then finally R.I.P.
I am again reminded of a story: A king on his birthday thought he will make the person whom he sees first in the morning fully happy and satisfied. While on a chariot , he first encountered a beggar. He threw a copper coin to him……are we not behaving like that beggar pursuing the search for the elusive copper coin…….?
If success only signifies external success and gave you a sense of satisfaction then there is another dimension of life which can give you PROFOUND INTERNAL SATISFACTION. If the measure of your external success is ‘what you possess’, then your inner success will be measured by ‘what you gave’ because this aspect is generally ignored which makes the life sweeter and meaningful. Don’t think that it is only your efforts and hard work which contributed to your success. There may be many contributions from different quarters which you are unaware off which too helped in your success. First and foremost is your parents, teachers, well-wishers. Have you ever thought the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we take, the clothes we wear and so many other things is the contribution of Mother Nature and hundreds of people .Though it is impossible to repay or give back their contribution but is it not our duty to repay a miniscule part of it?
Once Swami Vivekananda was called in a local middle school in Belur when the main Math came in its new land in Belur.He touched many a points during his talk as firstly the students must be good in physique,secondly he told they must along with learning subjects must be practical so that they can be self reliant. Here again I am reminded of a story------- A boy was always chastised in his home for being careless if he forgot to put the switch off in the room while nobody was there or if the tap is trickling or such small tit-bits………
Swamiji during his talk told that
“Thirdly, our character has disappeared. Our English education has destroyed everything and left nothing in its place. Our children have lost their politeness. To talk nicely is degrading. To be reverential to one's elders is degrading. Irreverence has been the sign of liberty. It is high time that we go back to our old politeness. The reformers have nothing to give in place of what they have taken away. Yet in spite of the most adverse surrounding of climate, etc., we have been able to do much, we have to do much more. I am proud of my race, I do not despair, I am seeing daily a glorious and wonderful future in my mental visions. Take greatest care of these young ones on whom our future depends.”
…….Mind you, he is telling all this in 1898 almost 120 years ago. Now it has degraded to abysmal depths
During my monastic life, I have come across youths in almost all parts of India and I have seen that our youths are wonderful. Only thing they lack is direction and purpose. If their energies could be channelized properly then I am sure we will see Swami Vivekananda’s dream of resurgent India in no distant future
The topic has four significant words. We can understand each of them one by one.
Life - What is life? This question was asked once by Raja of Khetri to Swami Vivekananda. He replied that life was a struggle against forces that try to put the organism down. This gives us a deep insight. Life is a struggle. We live as long as we struggle. If we stop struggling, we will stop living. Every moment the body is fighting against germs and disorders that are trying to destroy it. Same is true with the mind also. Every life struggles to Exist, Express and Enjoy. There are forces from within and from without that are constantly trying to suppress these. Every moment every life form tries to establish its individuality. Without these problems, there is no life. We should face problems in life. If we succumb to them, that will be death. The body might continue to live, but we may be dead in other aspects of life like cultural, intellectual, moral and spiritual. We need to keep struggling against forces external and internal. This is life.
Lead - What is leading a life? How is it different from merely living? The direction of our life is governed by two factors – Preyas (likes and dislikes or pleasurable) and Shreyas (right and wrong or preferable). Animals don’t have a concept of right and wrong. They live as per their likes and dislikes. Human beings can and should lead a life based on right and wrong. There may be things that are right but not very pleasant. Nevertheless we should follow them and continue to stick to them. There may be things that are wrong but pleasant. But we should abstain from them. If we don’t, then we are not living life as human beings but as animals. To live as human beings, we should lead our lives based on right and wrong, irrespective of likes and dislikes.
Purposeful - What is the purpose of life? Is there a purpose of life that can lead us till our last breath. Some children may think “to become a doctor” or “to become a engineer or administrative services” is their aim in life. But after that, what? Does life become aimless? These are all means. The purpose of life is to “Be Good and Do Good“. This is a purpose that is applicable today, tomorrow and till our last day. “To be a doctor”, “to be a engineer etc” are all means to “do good”. That is the real purpose. We should not lose the purpose in pursuit of the means. The purpose is to “Be Good and Do Good”.
Why should we “Be Good and Do Good”? What will happen if we are not so? Being good and doing good will give us peace of mind. Without peace of mind, we will not enjoy what we achieve in life.
I am reminded of another story:
Once there was a king and his minister. The king said, “Peace of mind is more important than material comforts.” The minister disagreed. The king became angry and said, “Tomorrow morning you will be hanged. You can go home now.” The minister went home sadly. Soon a messenger came from the king with a letter from the king. It said, “I am very sorry that I gave an order to hang you tomorrow. But I cannot change that now. As a compensation, you are welcome to the palace to live a life of royal comforts today.” A request from the king is as good as a command. So reluctantly the minister went to the palace. He was taken on a big elephant. He was given a royal welcome at the palace. A royal lunch with several dishes was waiting for him. After lunch, he was given the royal bed to take rest. In the evening, there was a great music and dance program arranged specially for the minister. There was a great dinner too and in the night also, a great bedroom was given for the minister in the palace. In the morning the king came to meet the minister in the room. The king asked, “I hope you enjoyed the royal treatment given to you yesterday.” The minister replied, “When I am going to be hanged the next day, how can I enjoy? The welcome was uninteresting. The food was tasteless. I could not sleep. I did not have the mind to hear or see the music and dance. With great difficulty I sat through the performance.” The king replied, “Now tell me. Isn’t peace of mind more important than material comforts? Without peace of mind, you cannot enjoy anything even if you are in their midst. I created this drama only to make you understand this. You will not be hanged. You can go home now, freshen up and come to the palace for your regular duties.”
This peace of mind can come only by being good and doing good. Also, we live a normal life based on the assumption that the people around us are good. Without that faith, we cannot live. When we go in a bus, we sit peacefully only because we believe that the vehicle is in good condition, the driver is not drunk, he is not sleeping and the other vehicles and drivers on the road are also in good condition. Without this faith, we cannot travel by a bus. Similarly, when we buy something from a shop, we believe in its quality and quantity. The entire world runs on faith. If people do not follow “Be Good and Do Good”, the entire world will be a chaos. To maintain the order in the world, it is the duty of each one of us to “Be Good and Do Good”.
How – We should apply our “Head, Heart and Hand”, respectively. These three should come together to do any work. We saw that the purpose of life is to “Be Good and Do Good”. That answers the “What”. We also discussed “Why” we should “Be Good and Do Good”. Next comes the question “How”.
The statement “Be Good, Do Good” has been more elaborately presented by Swami Vivekananda as the motto of the Ramakrishna Mission – “aatmano mokshaartam, jagat hitaaya cha” – “For the freedom of the self and for the good of the world”. The first part means in simple terms – “Be Good”. The second part means “Do Good”. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna calls the first part as “Tapas”.
“Tapas” means austerity or discipline. Being conscious and in voluntary control of what we think and do is called Tapas. Krishna talks about several kinds of Tapas. To start with, we can consider one of them now and try to make it a part of our life. Krishna describes five disciplines as “Vaak tapas” – “discipline of speech”. They are:
anudvegakaram – Non-violent – We should talk softly without using harsh words.
satyam – Truthful – This is the greatest discipline. We should avoid telling lies under all conditions.
priyam – Pleasant – We should tell only that is pleasant. We should avoid telling unpleasant truths.
hitam – Useful – We should avoid all useless and harmful talk.
swaadhyaayam – Study – We should read good books. We should be selective in TV programs and movies so that we watch only things that will help us to grow.
He deals with the second part as two aspects – “Yagna” and “Daana”. There are several verses in the Gita that talk about these three “Yagna”, “Daana” and “Tapas” in great detail.
Everyone of us takes so much from the world and society. We need air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, clothes to wear, place to live, etc. All these are provided by various objects and people in the world. This debt is called “Runa”. Paying them back with gratitude is called “Yagna”. There are five kinds of “runa”s described in the scriptures. Our debt to the natural world of air, water, earth, etc is called Deva runa. We should not waste resources. We should plant more trees and take care of the environment. We should not create pollution. These are the ways to pay back Deva runa. We take so much from other plants and animals for food, clothing, etc. This is called Bhuta runa. We should take care of the plants and animals in the world with respect and treat them with kindness. This the way to pay this back. We take services from different people in the society like farmers, masons, tailors, etc. This is called Manushya runa. We should pay them their dues and treat them with gratitude and kindness. We should do social service to uplift the under privileged. This is
the way to repay this. Our parents and ancestors have given us this human body. We are indebted to them for that. This is called Pitru runa. We should take care of our parents, grand parents and all elders in the society. Similarly, we should take care of children. We should care for orphans and old people who have no one to take care of them. These are the ways to pay back Pitru runa. We have got our human culture in the forms of science, arts, technology, religion, philosophy, etc. Without this rich cultural heritage, we are no different from animals. We are indebted to our teachers and the great people who lived before us. This debt is called Rishi runa. We should learn well and donate to people and institutions who are developing and spreading knowledge. We should respect our teachers. We should also develop knowledge and pass on to others. These are the ways to pay back the Rishi runa. This five kinds of paying back is called Yagna. It should be done with gratitude as a duty without expecting any further returns. For children, studying well and being obedient to the parents and teachers is itself a great Yagna.
We should give more than what we take. We should consume less and contribute more. We should help people who need help and will not be able to help us back. We should do this with humility with due respect to the other person. This is called Daana. For children, not to demand too much from parents and to help them in their work is a good way to start. Help your friends and support them in their weak moments. This is a good beginning to do Daana.
If we follow these two – Yagna and Daana – we will be able to follow the purpose “Do Good”.
Following these five disciplines, we will be able to follow the purpose “Be Good”.
To summarize, life is a struggle. We should lead our lives based on “good and bad” and not based on “likes and dislikes”. The purpose of life is to “Be Good and Do Good” as elaborated as “Yagna, Daana and Tapas”.
HOW YOU CAN CHANGE INDIA
1. Stop spitting on the road.
2. Quit treating public places as the world’s greatest dustbin.
3. Give one rupee at least to charity for every 100 Rs you spend.
4. Run the tap in your house as well as elsewhere as if every drop is precious.
5. Same with electricity.
6. Please pay your Taxes faithfully (This is not a joke)
7. When the traffic signal is RED, don’t drive on because no one is looking.
8. Ask yourself: when was the last time I read/bought a book.
9. Stop to help someone(he may be unknown to you) if someone takes to ill.
10. Try to drive a car which is fuel efficient
11. Don’t light a cigarette in a room without asking others if they mind.
12. Don’t say politicians are corrupt,because we make them corrupt.
13.Don’t treat queues as if they are an atheletic contest
14.Stop believing that being a good Indian just means supporting the cricket team.
15.It also means donating to the PM’s relief fund when there is a national calamity.
16.Refuse plastic bags when you bye something.
17.Stop treating laws as if they were made to be broken.