Thoughts and Reflections

Document Sample
Thoughts and Reflections Powered By Docstoc
					Thoughts and Reflections
(A Treatise in Value Education)

MVR Vidyasagar MA, M.Ed.,PGDTE
Principal (Retd.)
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan

Edited by
Dr. Chitra Sharma MA,Ph.D
Lecturer in English
S.B. College of Arts and Commerce
                             SPECIAL        THANKS

                           The author is highly thankful to
                                   Shri R. Subbaram
                      for all his suggestions which have been
                   gratefully incorporated in the present edition.

First Edition 2009
Second Edition 2010

Printed and Marketed by :
S S Print Services
#42, 7th 'A' Main, CHBS Layout,
Vijayanagar, Bangalore - 560 040.
Tel :   +91 80 2310 4585
Mob: +91 94490 66611
Email :
                                                An Appreciation
Dr. T. S. Krishna Murthy, M.A.Ph.D
Prof. of Sanskrit (Retd.)
Formerly Member:
           Academic Council and Senate,
           Bangalore University

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.

Your 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. AÉiqÉlÉÉã qÉÉå¤ÉÉjÉïÇ eÉaÉ̬iÉÉrÉ cÉ - 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

1.    Preface                                         1
2.    The Power of Prayer                             3
3.    Dissemination of Culture                        6
4.    A Kannada Folk-Tale                             7
5.    Birthday                                        8
6.    Everything that happens is for our Good        10
7.    A Father’s Lesson to his Son                   12
8.    Polonius' Advice to His Son                    15
9.    Sibling Rivalry                                18
10.   A Touching Story                               20
11.   Pity, Sympathy, Courage                        22
12.   Living in the True Sense                       25
13.   Act, Act in the Living Present                 28
14.   Children                                       30
15.   Rising above Worldliness                       32
16.   The Roots and Fruits of Education              33
17.   Ennoble Yourself                               35
18.   A Rare Legal Battle                            37
19.   I have a Dream                                 39
20.   Body and Soul                                  41
21.   What to Teach ? What to Learn ?                42
22.   Sinful Thinking                                44
                                      Contents ....(contd.)

23.   Bhajan Nothing is Ours - Everything is the Lord’s   46
24.   Elia                                                47
25.   Two Great Self-effacing Poets                       52
26.   Influences of Ancient Indian Lore                   55
27.   The Gita - Exquisite Poetry                         59
28.   Success and Defeat                                  64
29.   Glimpses of Taittiriya Upanishad                     71
30.   A Few Thoughts on Adi Shankaracharya’s
      Bhaja Govindam                                      89
31.   Love is the only way to elevate oneself             100
32.   Humanism in the Stories of Leo Tolstoy              111
33.   The Devotee Dear to God                             127
      (Based on Bhakti Yoga in the ‘Gita’)
34.   Mother Teresa                                       133
35.   A Few Ideas About ‘Isavasya Upanishad’              140
36.   Behind the thoughts                                 149
37.   Bibliography                                        157
         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.

   T    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, getting 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.
                     AÉlÉÉå pÉSìÉÈ Mëû iÉuÉÉå rÉliÉÑ ÌuɵÉiÉÈ |
   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.
       eÉlÉlÉÏ eÉlqÉpÉÔÍqÉ¶É xuÉaÉÉïSÌmÉ aÉUÏrÉxÉÏ |
              qÉ×irÉÉåqÉÉï AqÉ×iÉÇ aÉqÉrÉ |
                    ĘɸiÉ eÉÉaÉëiÉ mÉëÉmrÉuÉUÉͳÉoÉÉåkÉiÉ |
                             xÉirÉqÉåuÉ eÉrÉiÉå lÉÉÅlÉ×iÉqÉç |
   And so on.
   Shall we try to get such pearls of wisdom so as to share our joy
with others?

  Mahatma Gandhi on the Efficacy of Prayer

   When every hope is gone, ‘when helpers fail and
comforts flee’, I find 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
else unreal.

     Such worship or prayer is no flight 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
                Á xÉWûlÉÉuÉuÉiÉÑ | xÉWûlÉÉæ pÉÑlÉ£Ñü |
                xÉWûuÉÏrÉïÇ MüUuÉÉuÉWæû |
                iÉåeÉÎxuÉlÉÉuÉkÉÏiÉqÉxiÉÑ qÉÉ ÌuÉ̲wÉÉuÉWæû
                Á zÉÉÎliÉÈ zÉÉÎliÉÈ zÉÉÎliÉÈ ||
   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 effort 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 effective 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 offered by two persons
(a teacher and his disciple) or two groups of persons (teachers and
their disciples).
   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 attitude’. 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 More things are wrought by prayer
                                            than this world can dream of ..
regard and respect for their teachers. In            ~ Tennyson ~

such a situation, may be under the threat and fear of examinations
and results, the teaching learning process tends to be little more than
a mechanical transfer of the teacher’s lecture notes to the student’s
study material.
   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 effective is
the learning. The nearness or affinity 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 selfish 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 benefited and becomes a better 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 difference 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
day-to-day life.

Flowers bloom and spread
  their fragrance around.    Dissemination of
   Trees do not eat their
  own fruit. Rivers do not   Culture
   drink their own water.

    O     nce a great saint was visiting different 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 flourish in prosperity”. The disciples were surprised at
 this, but refrained from asking their Guruji why he had blessed the
 villagers so.
    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 utter 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
 his benedictions.
    The sage smiled affectionately and said, “If the first village prospers
 and overflows 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 settle down, they
 will spread their great culture and endeavour to make the world a
 better place to live in."
    Think and decide for yourself, which village you would like to
 belong to.                                       What a great teacher
                                                             is Nature!
                                                        Mighty trees grow by
                                                         dispersal of seeds
                                                Perhaps God could not afford
                                                    to be everywhere......

A Kannada Folk –Tale                                   So he created

   T   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 cattle 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 fierce 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 better 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
Birthday                      acquired and become as ignorant as a child;
                               then you shall attain to the divine wisdom.
                                           ~ Ramakrishna ~

   A     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 figure 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 satisfied 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 offer 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 attractive 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 afford such
celebrations, but they cannot suppress their only son’s enthusiasm.
Only to pacify him, they set a day for the celebration.

    After a long impatient wait, at last, the day arrives. The poor
father stretches all his meagre means to fulfil 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 bitterly 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 officer
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 finds 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, affluent and lean periods. We, sometimes, in our
ignorance fear that it is fading out. No, it isn’t, it always flourishes
and regenerates itself in ever resplendent brilliance.
                                                      If winter comes, can
                                                      spring be far behind?
                                                         ~ P.B.Shelley ~

Everything that happens is for our Good
  Self-Pity is delicious        “Do not grieve that every rose has a
  ~ Norman Mailer ~          thorn, instead rejoice that every thorny
                             bush has roses in it”.
   Instead of brooding and crying over the bitter 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 finger accidentally. The
minister was quick enough to throw in his remark, “ Whatever
happens is for our good”. Blood was oozing from the king’s finger
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 better. 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 offered to their goddess as
sacrifice. Amidst confounding rites and rituals the king was prepared
for the sacrifice. As the sword rose in to the air to fall on the king’s
neck, the priest said, “This man is unfit to be offered as sacrifice to our

            Just are the ways of God and jusifiable to men
              Unless there be who think not God at all.
                           ~ John Milton ~

goddess, because he has a wound on one of his fingers.” As per their
custom, a man with any deformity was not fit to be a sacrificial offer
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?”

                     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.”

A Father’s Lesson to his Son
   B    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 utter 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 filled 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
attic 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 utter a good word about him? Why do you
always belittle 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 fills 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 plotting to kill him. Immediately, he
climbed down the attic 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 finally 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 suffered 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 written the verse

               xÉWûxÉÉ ÌuÉSkÉÏiÉ lÉ ÌMë rÉÉqÉç
               AÌuÉuÉåMüÈ mÉUqÉÉmÉSÉÇ mÉSqÉç |
               uÉ×hÉÑiÉå ÌWû ÌuÉqÉ×zrÉMüÉËUhÉqÉç
               aÉÑhÉsÉÒokÉÉÈ xuÉrÉqÉåuÉ xÉqmÉSÈ ||
   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

   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.
       xÉWûxÉÉ ÌuÉSkÉÏiÉ lÉ ÌMë rÉÉqÉç
   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 attributed 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
his father.

                      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 fire, as pure as possible.

Polonius’ Advice to His Son
  T    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, unfledged 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 thy 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.

    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be
          well–tried before you give them your confidence.
                       ~ George Washington ~

    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! Superficially,
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 offered 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 offer precepts
of morality, they are shallow and self-deceptive.
   Listening to others more than what you speak is, in deed, a noble
                                         quality. But when it goes with
       To feel good or to shine in
                                         the selfish motive that you take
   borrowed thoughts brings only
                                         advantage out of what others
   momentary glory as a passing
                                         speak but you don’t allow others
  cloud can bring but little drizzle,
                                         the benefit from your thinking
 indeed. Do painted feathers make        and knowledge, it is outright
             a peacock?                  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 fit 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

     If you are planning to revenge,      Polonius advises his son to
                                      avoid entering a quarrel. It is
  build two graves, one for yourself.
                                      true, we should not pick up
quarrels on petty matters. 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 inflicting 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.
   Effacing one’s own self, sacrificing 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 offer to others first. 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.

Sibling Rivalry
   C    hildren born of the same parents, instead of living amicably,
        often indulge in quarrels and fights. We see little brothers
playing happily and in a care free manner falling out and fighting with
each other over trivial things such as toy cars. It is true, the brothers,
in their child-like innocence no doubt fight but the displeasure or
animosity between them is extremely short-lived. They forget their
differences presently and turn affectionate 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 selfish 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 bitter enemies over trifles.
They soon reach the point of no return. Animosities and rivalries keep
growing. They can only sadly remember the affectionate bondage
that existed between them in their childhood days. There are scores
of instances of battles 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 difficult to find, 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 selfish interests
and struggled hard to uphold the rights of their fellow beings before
claiming theirs, how happy and peaceful the entire world would
be !

A Touching Story
                           Jim Corbett 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 Corbett is full of admiration for the majestic, dignified 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”. Corbett
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 Uttar Pradesh is named
after him.
                                         “It’s good to be kind when
    Besides his contribution to the
                                      you are as strong as I am.”
cause of animal conservation,
Jim Corbett 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 Corbett is on duty at a place called Mokama Ghat, he
comes across a man called Lalajee, affected by cholera. Corbett gives

him shelter and sees that he is provided with proper treatment.
Fortunately for Lalajee, he survives the almost fatal disease. Corbett
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 Corbett hands him over an amount of Rs.500/- (quite a
lot of money in the first 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 Corbett returns home
after work he finds a shadowy figure waiting for him. To his pleasant
surprise, he recognizes the person to be none other than Lalajee.
   Lalajee tells Corbett 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 Corbett had lent him. Lalajee insists on
repaying the loan with interest. But Jim Corbett 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 Corbett, 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 Corbett and Lalajee are blessed.
   How wonderful the whole world would be, if human relationships
are at such an ideal level!

     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 ~

          The Power of Prayer

Pity, Sympathy, Courage
    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.

   P    ity is a feeling of sadness caused by the suffering 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 Dutta 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 suffering 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 influence 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
    Ramakrishna Paramahmsa a living God. Do we ever think of
 narrated the following story:   showing pity to God? No, on the
    Once there was a fearful contrary, we feel blessed to be able
 snake which used to be a to serve and worship him. Therefore
 menace to the people around. ‘pity’ is not the right expression.
 A holy man possessing yogic
                                 The right kind of attitude should
 powers happened to visit
 the place. He used his great be to serve ‘Jiva’ as shiva, to serve,
 power to subdue the snake. humanity as the manifestation of
 He instructed it not to harass Divinity. None is to be hated, for
 people unnecessarily. From then even the sinner is essentially God. The
 on, the snake became meek and same Narayana(God) is present in the
 harmless. Finding it mellowed guise of the thief or the person lacking
 down, people started taking it
                                 in culture, as well as in the righteous
 for granted. They troubled the
 snake now by pelting stones and refined.”
at it. The snake suffered, but         He further said, “If in this hell of
did not retaliate. After some      a world one can bring a little joy and
time the Saint visited the place   peace even for a day into the heart
again and found the snake in
                                   of a single person, that much alone
a miserable condition. He said
to it, “I told you not to harm     is true; this I have learnt suffering all
people unnecessarily. I never      my life”.
told you not to open your hood                         ***
and hiss them away.”

   During his days of wandering as a monk, Swami Vivekananda was
passing through a thick forest. A group of wild monkeys attacked
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
difficulty; 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 flee 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 flee before us.”

        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 ~

Living in the True Sense
                               Dr. Christiaan Barnard is the
                            surgeon who performed the first heart
                            transplantation operation. Besides being
                            a rare expert in medicine and surgery,
                            Dr. Barnard was an inspiring writer and
                            eloquent speaker.
   Explaining how we should not merely stay alive, but celebrate
being alive, he says.“one does not become noble by suffering, but one
becomes noble by experiencing suffering”.
   The simple, but enigmatic words set us thinking. What is the
difference between ‘suffering’ and ‘experiencing suffering’? How
does ‘experiencing’ make one noble?
    It has bearing with the difference between merely staying alive
and celebrating being alive. When we are struck by an illness or a
difficulty 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 suffered. But if we pass through the suffering as an
experience, react to it, and may be, draw pertinent lessons from it, it
is then that we have experienced suffering.
   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 suffering. If no such
behavioural change takes place in some students after they ‘suffer’
the teaching, how are they better than the inanimate furniture in the
   A puny, shy young man was thrown out of a first class compartment
in a remote railway station in South Africa. You would have guessed
that it is Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi who suffered several
indignities as a ‘Coolie Lawyer’. Gandhi was evicted from the first
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 bitter cold. It was there that he experienced
suffering and became a transformed man. An unknown white man
threw Gandhi out of the first 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 suffering 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 little or no consequence it worries us and we
are unhappy.
   On the other hand, if we voluntarily part with (even a little of)
what we have for a cause which we heartily believe is a worthy
and noble one, a great feeling of contentment fills our heart and we
experience a feeling of joy. That is why our Rishis have said Enjoy
by renouncing.

              Create new ideas and prove them
                  in the laboratory of life.

   If somebody picks a paltry sum from my pocket, even though it
does not affect 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 difficulty I feel satisfied and happy. Let us try to derive joy out
of leaving and avoid the grief of losing.

          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 flowering 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 benefit the next occupant?
       My mother replied that it did not matter to her that she
       would not see the flowers 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 first lesson in success – It is not what you
       create for yourself, it is what you leave behind.
                                             ~ Source unknown ~

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 written 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 matter
with my colleagues, who offered 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 matter there. The next day, to
my utter 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 committed a great mistake in not reaching the help in
the right time.

            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
little 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 utter humility and
sheer love of God.

      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 ~

         Every child born
                                    T    here is no doubt that children
                                         are invaluable ornaments to
                                 any home. They are the incomparable
      into this world brings
    the message that God is      gifts of God to parents. An instinctive
   not yet despaired of man.     bond develops between children and
                                 parents. A fellow who had never been
     ~ Rabindranath Tagore ~     there a year or so ago, a tiny tumbling
                                 creature exercises so much power on
                                 his father and mother that they find
his influence irresistible. They have no other way but to carry out his
wishes and commands to the last letter. 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 different with our children. We have only to perform
our duties towards them at the different 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
different 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
them …………..                       Children are the world's most valuable
                                 resource and its best hope for the future.
                                           - John F. Kennedy ~

                 On Children
                 ~ 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 infinite,
    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 flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Sounds cynical, doesn’t it? Truth is always bitter.
Still, they are our children, we are certainly for them.

                                 Rising above Worldliness
a clog or a                         oÉÉsÉxiÉÉuÉiÉç MëÏQûÉxÉ£üÈ
painful chain
on us only
                                    iÉÂhÉxiÉÉuÉiÉç iÉÂhÉÏxÉ£üÈ |
when it is                               uÉ×®xiÉÉuÉiÉç ÍcÉliÉÉxÉ£üÈ
extremely                                mÉUqÉå oÉë¼ÍhÉ MüÉåÅÌmÉ lÉ xÉ£üÈ ||
ego – centric.
To the extent
                               “The world is too much with us”,
we work for larger schemes  William Wordsworth said. Temporal and
to bless a vaster section offleeting things take away most of our time,
humanity, to that extent    in pursuit of which we can hardly apply
the attachment loses its    ourselves to higher and nobler things.
poison and comes to bless
the age. Many poisons serve    In the famous Bhajagovindam song, Adi
                            Sankaracharya says:
as medicines in their diluted
form, while the same in a      In childhood, people are interested in
concentrated form can bring
                            play, when they are in youth, they are
instantaneous death. The
                            interested in women; when they grow old
ego and ego – centric desires
bind and destroy man, but   they are struck with worry. Nobody has
                            interest in the Supreme.
to the extent he can lift his
identifications to include and
                               Whether it is Wordsworth or Adi
accommodate in it larger
                            Shankaracharya or any other saint, he does
sections of the living world,
to that extent attachment   not preach total renunciation of the world.
gathers an ethical halo, a  In fact, in the Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna
divine glow and becomes a   has said that he (God) has voluntarily taken
cure for subjective pains and
                            up the task of creating and sustaining the
  ~ Swami Chinmayananda
                            whole universe. Being a fulfilled 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.

The Roots and Fruits of Education
                                                    Education is a progressive
            ÌuÉ±É SSÉÌiÉ ÌuÉlÉrÉÇ                discovery of our own ignorance.
            ÌuÉlÉrÉɱÉÌiÉ mÉɧÉiÉÉqÉç |
                                                        ~ Will Durant ~
            kÉlÉÉkSqÉïÈ iÉiÉÈ xÉÑZÉqÉç ||
   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 attain 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 little 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 little 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
effaces 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

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 fulfil
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 fulfil this sacred
responsibility of Dharma we get real mental peace or sukham.

       Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
                             ~ William Butler Yeats ~

Ennoble Yourself

   A man should never
                                 t is difficult to suppress our ego.
                                 When we achieve something great,
                           we gloat over the success and feel that
    be ashamed to own
                           it is we who have achieved it. We tend
    that he has been in
    the wrong, which is    to ignore or belittle the contribution of
    but saying in other    others who have had a share in the efforts
  words, that he is wiser to bring in the success or achievement.
  today than yesterday. It is so because, we are egoistic. Even in
                           times of loss or failure, ego is there but
         ~ Pope ~          shows up in a different 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 find 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.

               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.

                 E®UåSÉiqÉlÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ lÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉuÉxÉÉSrÉåiÉç |
                 AÉiqÉæuɽÉiqÉlÉÉå oÉlkÉÑUÉiqÉæuÉ ËUmÉÑUÉiqÉlÉÈ ||
   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

                 Man is good when he raises very high
                his divine and spiritual “I”, but frightful
               when he wishes to exalt above men his
               fleshy “I” vain, ambitious and exclusive.
                              ~ Tolstoy ~

A Rare Legal Battle
     Albert Einstein
    remarked about
    the greatness of
 Mahatma Gandhi that
 generations hence will
  wonder such a man
  as Mahatma Gandhi
   walked this earth.

   W      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 files 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
inflammatory articles against the British Government. The government
took the matter 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

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!

I have a Dream                                             Nothing great
                                                         was ever achieved
   ÌuɱÉÌuÉlÉrÉxÉÇmɳÉå oÉëɼhÉå aÉÌuÉ WûÎxiÉÌlÉ |      without enthusiasm.
   zÉÑÌlÉ cÉæuÉ µÉmÉÉMåü cÉ mÉÎhQûiÉÉÈ xÉqÉSÍzÉïlÉÈ||       ~ R.W. Emerson ~

   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,

                   DµÉUÈ xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉÉlÉÉÇ ¬åzÉåÅeÉÑïlÉ ÌiɸÌiÉ |
            (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 superficial and superfluous 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 sacrifice 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

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 flames 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 finds 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 little 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”.

Body and Soul                                 Happy is the man,

   A     di Shankaracharya, perhaps when     and happy he alone,
         still in his formative years was      He, who can call
one day proceeding to the Ganga along           today his own;
with his associates for the morning bath.      He who, secure
A chandala (one belonging to the lowest        within, can say,
caste) encountered him on the way.
                                              Tomorrow do your
With all the arrogance of his erudition,
                                               worst, for I have
                                                 lived today.
Shankara ordered him to move away
                                                   ~ Horace ~
and give way to him and his followers.
The Chandala replied, “Sir, please tell
me from what should I move away and           Home is the place,
give way to? Is it to your physical body       when you have to
which is as good or as bad as mine and        go there, they have
which is perishable? If I have to give way      to take you in.
to the soul or Brahman the same Soul or         ~ Robert Frost ~
Brahman which resides in you resides in
me all the same?
                                              If we have no peace,
   Shankara realized that Lord Shiva
                                             it is because we have
Himself had come to him in the guise of
                                                forgotten that we
chandala to teach him a lesson that God
                                             belong to each other.
is present in every being and so no one        ~ Mother Teresa~
should be looked down upon.

                                             If you would be loved,
                                               love and be lovable.
                                              ~ Benjamin Franklin ~

What to Teach? What to Learn?
     A teacher who can smile at each student, who can
      greet each student with love can work wonders.

   W       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,
peaceful world?

   What exactly should our teachers teach and what should our
learners learn? The following extract from a letter written 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 selfish 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 five 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 flowers 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 getting on the
band-wagon. Teach them to listen to all men, but teach them also to
filter all they hear on the screen of truth and take only the good that
comes through.

   Teach them, if you can, how to laugh when they are sad…… Teach
them there is no shame in tears. Teach them to scoff 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 fight if they are right”.

                      “Tell me and I'll forget;
                   show me and I may remember;
                  involve me and I'll understand.”
                           ~Chinese Proverb~

Sinful Thinking
         Happiness does not depend on what happens to
          us but on how we react to what happens to us.

   O     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 latter 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       Two things are
and he went on with his pestering questions. infinite; the universe
Finally the saint said, “I carried the woman and and human stupidity
that was the end. But you are going on thinking     and I’m not sure
about her. Thus you are carrying her more in about the universe.
your thoughts than I did her on my shoulders. ~ Albert Einstein ~
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 attend the party.
              He declined the invitation saying that as a Sanyasin,
              he would not attend such parties.

   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 mellifluous 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 affection and
addressed her as “Mother”.

            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?

Nothing is ours –
Everything is the Lord’s

   R    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)

  C     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.

                            ~ 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                     Almost throughout
 “You, Sir, you never buy a book,                  his life Charles Lamb
 Therefore, in one you shall not look”.            suffered difficulties and
 The boy passed slowly on, and with a sigh,
                                                   sorrows. He was born of
 He wished he never had been taught to read,
 Then of the old churl’s books he
                                                   a poor family and never
 should have had no need.                          grew rich. He worked
                                                   as a clerk in the East
 Of suffering the poor many,                       India company office,
 Which never can the poor annoy                    which he refers to in
 I soon perceived another boy,                     his essays as South Sea
 Who looked as if he had not any
                                                   House. He was attached
 Food for that day at least, enjoy
                                                   very affectionately to
 The sight of cold meat in a tavern larder.
                                                   his sister Mary Lamb.
 The boy’s case then thought I, as surely harder   The brother and sister
 Thus hungry, longing thus without a penny         abridged and simplified
 Beholding choice of dainty-dressed meat;          Shakespeare’s plays
 No wonder if he wished he                         and narrated them as
 never had learnt to eat.                          stories. Lambs’ Tales
                                                   from Shakespeare is a
                                                   popular book. It serves

as a good introduction to beginners for the study of the complex plays
of Shakespeare.
   Mary Lamb suffered from serious mental disorder. In a fit of
madness she killed one of her parents and wounded the other
seriously. She continued to suffer from bouts of madness throughout
her life. In order to take care of her, Charles Lamb remained a
confirmed bachelor. He did take care of his sister, who figures 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
confidence. 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 written as first 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 camouflages 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 fiction. 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 difficult words that the readers find it hard to comprehend. They
should find it difficult to guess what he is going to talk about. He starts
saying something first, 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 latter idea with
the former and ends up without saying anything conclusively about
either. Such a type of writing leads to an extremely complicated
style difficult 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 filled with sympathy and admiration for him.
   Numerous are the essays written 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 efforts 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 attention and sympathy. He used
to move them to streams of tears …….. As he goes on with his excited
narration, he finds his daughter looking at him in the same way as his
wife used to and ………. The children vanish. Poor Elia finds himself
sitting 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 affluent to afford 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 difficult 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 difficulty, 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 child is fed with milk and praise.
                                   ~ Mary Lamb ~
    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 office, 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.

          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
B   ammera Pothanamatya or Pothana for short, is an immortal name
    in the rich heritage of Telugu literature. He is the first ever poet
to attempt writing Sreemadbhagavatham in Telugu. The most striking
quality of Pothana was that he is an unflinching 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 fields 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 fields 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 written the
lines. Surprised at his question, his daughter replied that just a while

                              Foot Prints
     One night I had a dream
     I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God
     And across the sky flashed 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 flashed 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 prolifically 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 letters to a friend of his, Robert Bridges
who himself was a poet of great acclaim. Going through his letters
Bridges, felt strongly that Hopkins must be a great poet, to use such
fertile poetic expressions even in ordinary letters. After the death of
Hopkins, Robert Bridges traced out his poems. It was thirty years after
his death, that the first ever volume of poems written by Hopkins was
published, thanks to the efforts 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!.

Influences of Ancient Indian Lore
   I   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 influenced 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 letters who are profoundly influenced 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 offer 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, written 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 finds it difficult 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 film 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 definite 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
different implications to humans, gods and demons. To human beings
it means ‘Datta’-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 better 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 Datta (Give - in the right spirit-eschewing all selfish
motives) Dayadavam (develop fellow feeling, show care and concern
for others) and Damyata (use our powers in a controlled manner for
the benefit 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 difficult to pass over as the
                 edge of a razor.
         ¤ÉÑUxrÉ kÉÉUÉ ÌlÉÍzÉiÉÉ SÒUirÉrÉÉ SÒaÉïÇ mÉjÉxiÉÉiÉççè MüuÉrÉÉå uÉSÎliÉ |
    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 effect on
Larry. He loses all interest in mundane matters and sets out to find
something which he wants to know ultimately. He brushes aside
casually all the nice and attractive things that come to him. He starts
on an indefinite unknown journey. The novel describes his sojourns
at various places and his varied kinds of experiences. He is unable
to find 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
fulfilment. 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 influence 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
Indian philosophy.
   Thoreau was greatly influenced 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
finding 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
reflections 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 scientific 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
           A few memorable extracts from
                                                            know what we know, and that we do
             the writings of   Thoreau                      not know what we do not know, that
                                                            is true knowledge.”
     One farmer says to me, “You cannot live on
 vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make        Why has man rooted himself thus
 bones with,” and so he religiously devotes a part of his   firmly in the earth, but that he may rise
 duty to supplying his system with the raw material of      in the same proportion into the heavens
 bones; walking all the while behind his oxen, which,       above? – for the noble plants are valued
 with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering      for the fruit they bear at last in the air
 plough along in spite of every obstacle.                   and light, far from the ground,

     … I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly,       The mason who finishes the cornice
 to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched       of the palace returns at night perchance
 clothes, than to have a sound conscience.                  to a hut not so good as a wigwam.

The Gita - Exquisite Poetry
                            A    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
boast of.
    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 forgotten fact in:

               eÉÉiÉxrÉ ÌWû kÉëÑuÉÉå qÉ×irÉÑkÉëÑïuÉÇ eÉlqÉ qÉ×iÉxrÉ cÉ |
               iÉxqÉÉSmÉËUWûÉrÉåïjÉåï lÉ iuÉÇ zÉÉåÍcÉiÉÑqÉWïûÍxÉ ||
    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
the inevitable.
   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 attain 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.

             SåÌWûlÉÉåÅÎxqÉlÉç rÉjÉÉ SåWåû MüÉæqÉÉUÇ rÉÉæuÉlÉÇ eÉUÉ |
             iÉjÉÉ SåWûÉliÉUmÉëÉÎmiÉÈ kÉÏUxiÉ§É lÉ qÉѽÌiÉ ||
    The famous English poet John Donne in his celebrated poem,
“Death, be not proud” acknowledges the immense power of death and
finally 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 flow,
      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 find the sublimity of thought at its peak in the following
                DµÉUÈ xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉÉlÉÉÇ ¬åzÉåÅeÉÑïlÉ ÌiɸÌiÉ |
                pÉëÉqÉrÉlxÉuÉïpÉÔiÉÉÌlÉ rÉl§ÉÉÃRûÉÌlÉ qÉÉrÉrÉÉ ||
   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?
                     sÉÉåMÇü zÉÉåMüWûiÉÇ cÉ xÉqÉxiÉqÉç |
   as Adishankaracharya observes.

               kÉÔqÉålÉÉÌuÉërÉiÉå uÉÎlWû: rÉjÉÉSzÉÉåï qÉsÉålÉ cÉ |
               rÉjÉÉåsoÉålÉÉuÉ×iÉÉå aÉpÉï: iÉjÉÉiÉålÉåSqÉÉuÉ×iÉqÉç ||
   As fire 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 attachments
   In three extremely apt and unparalleled similes, Lord Krishna
enunciates the intensities of these attachments that keep one away
from the Divinity within. The ‘fire-smoke’, the ‘mirror-dust’ and
the ‘embryo-amnion’ similes are, by no means, casual or accidental
innovations. They are not superficial comparisons. They have deep
meaning implied in them. Godliness in some beings is enveloped by
Vaasanas as fire is kept latent and unseen by smoke. In course of a

short time, the smoke dispels itself and the fire is bound to emerge in
all its brightness and heat. A little effort of fanning the smoke away
will, of course, hasten the emergence of fire. In the same manner, in
the case of some blessed souls, Godliness lies hidden in a thin veil
of attachments. When he sheds them away, he comes out in his true
    In the case of some others, the attachments are like dust that has
settled on a mirror. Unlike smoke, the dust does not get itself removed.
A conscious external effort has to be made to rid the mirror of the
dust-cleaning it with a piece of cloth or a brush. The effort, 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 efforts to overcome their
ignorance and attachments.
    There are yet others whose attachments 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 difficult, 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 (ÌSurÉ S×ÎwOû)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 firmest

                rÉ§É rÉÉåaÉåµÉU: M×üwhÉÉå rÉ§É mÉÉjÉÉåï kÉlÉÑkÉïU: |
                iÉ§É ´ÉÏÌuÉïeÉrÉÉåpÉÔÌiÉkÉëÑïuÉÉlÉÏÌiÉqÉïÌiÉqÉïqÉ ||
   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?

 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

Success and Defeat

                           T     he Old man and the Sea written by
                                 Ernest Hemingway is a short novel
                         (novelette) 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 final work of Hemmingway, it is his
crowning glory. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for
   The old man in the novelette is Santiago, a fisherman. For eighty
four days consecutively he had no luck on the sea. Every day he
would go to the sea to catch fish, but he could not catch any. A boy
used to assist him in his work and Santiago used to help him learn
fishing. The boy always had deep love and concern for the old man.
But since the old man could not catch any fish 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 fish or not. It was his work and he had to carry
it on and there was no other way. On the eighty fifth day, in spite of
the reservations expressed by the boy, he set out on his adventure
early in the morning into the Gulf Stream off the Coast of Havana.
Santiago was always a man full of hope. He thought optimistically

  The Old 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.
  Old 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.
  It 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
  mighty nature.
  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
  powerful thought.

that the number eighty five 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 fish – a marlin. He tied it to his skiff
and started on his return journey.

   But on the way sharks started attacking his catch. Santiago put up
the bitterest fight against them and killed two or three of them losing
his weapons and getting severely bruised in the bargain. The sharks
proved too many and too mighty for the old man to fight against.
Rendering him completely helpless, they reduced his fish 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:
               MüqÉïhrÉåuÉÉÍkÉMüÉUxiÉå qÉÉ TüsÉåwÉÑ MüSÉcÉlÉ |
   “Your right is to work only and never to the fruit thereof. Be
not instrumental in making your actions bear fruit, nor let your
attachment be to inaction.”
    Hemingway’s unique portrayal of the old man brings out this
fact from the beginning to the end of the novelette. Everything about
him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the
sea and were cheerful and undefeated. Utter 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 final failure in the worldly sense did not
at all put him down.
   Santiago has nothing but sheer love for all creatures. It is pure
selfless love. His attachment 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 flying and looking almost never finding 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 fine 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 fly, 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 flying fish”, he says.
    The relationship that Santiago develops with the marlin, the
tremendously huge fish that he is able to catch is one of the finest
artistic creations ever made in all literature. From the very start, he
feels an affinity with the fish 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 fights against the fish 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, fish, 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:
        rÉ LlÉÇ uÉåÌ¨É WûliÉÉUÇ rÉzcÉælÉÇ qÉlrÉiÉå WûiÉqÉè |
        EpÉÉæ iÉÉæ lÉ ÌuÉeÉÉlÉÏiÉÉå lÉÉrÉÇ WûÎliÉ lÉ WûlrÉiÉå ||
   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 fish as his own brother, but as for his killing it,
he feels that it is part of the bigger
                                         You did not kill the fish only to
scheme of things of God’s creation keep alive and to sell for food,
– as he is born a fisherman, he has he thought. You killed him for
to catch and kill fish, as the marlin pride and because you are a
is born a fish, it has to be caught fisherman. You loved him when
and killed. The inevitability of the he was alive and you loved him
ways of Nature is expressed very after. If you love him, it is not a
                                       sin to kill him. Or is it more?
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 fish tied to his skiff he wonders whether the
fish is bringing him in or he is bringing it in. He identifies himself so
intimately with the fish he has caught. His identification of himself
with other creatures of God’s creation is proof of his magnanimity
and highly philosophical bent of mind, for,

        xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉxjÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉÉÌlÉ cÉÉiqÉÌlÉ |
        D¤ÉiÉå rÉÉåaÉrÉÑ£üÉiqÉÉ xÉuÉï§É xÉqÉSzÉïlÉÈ ||
   The yogi who is united in identity with the all-pervading, infinite
consciousness, whose vision everywhere is even, beholds the Self
existing in all beings and all beings existing in the Self, according to
the Gita.

   And further,
       rÉxiÉÑ xÉuÉÉïÌhÉ pÉÔiÉÉÌlÉ AÉiqÉlrÉåuÉÉlÉÑmÉzrÉÌiÉ |
       xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉåwÉÑ cÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ iÉiÉÉå lÉ ÌuÉeÉÑaÉÑmxÉiÉå ||
   “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 little. “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 fight 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 fight with the fish 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 fish 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 fight well irrespective of whether we
succeed or be defeated. It is very close to what Lord Krishna says
in the Gita:

   xÉÑZÉSÒÈZÉå xÉqÉå M×üiuÉÉ sÉÉpÉÉsÉÉpÉÉæ eÉrÉÉeÉrÉÉæ |
   iÉiÉÉå rÉÑ®ÉrÉ rÉÑerÉxuÉ lÉæuÉÇ mÉÉmÉqÉuÉÉmxrÉÍxÉ ||
   Treating alike victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and
pain, get ready for the fight; by such fighting you will not beget sin.
    A look at the character of Santiago provides us with another insight.
Is being a fisherman a mean and lowly job? He never entertains
any feelings of resentment about the work he has to do. We find
him expressing great love for and admiration of all creatures, but
at the same time indulging in killing and devouring fish 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:

        ´ÉårÉÉlÉè xuÉkÉqÉÉåï ÌuÉaÉÑhÉÈ mÉUkÉqÉÉïiÉè xuÉlÉÑ̸iÉÉiÉè |
        xuÉpÉÉuÉÌlÉrÉiÉÇ MüqÉï MÑüuÉï³ÉÉmlÉÉåÌiÉ ÌMüÎsoÉwÉqÉè ||
   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
        ÌuɱÉÌuÉlÉrÉxÉqmɳÉå oÉëɼhÉå aÉÌuÉ WûÎxiÉÌlÉ |
        zÉÑÌlÉ cÉæuÉ zuÉmÉÉMåü cÉ mÉÎhQûiÉÉÈ xÉqÉSÍzÉïlÉÈ ||
   “The wise look with equanimity on all whether it be a fulfilled
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 attitude to life.

Glimpses of Taittiriya Upanishad
            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 ~

   T   aittiriya 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, Taittriya Upanishad too starts with a Santi
Patha, which is a prayer offered 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.

            Á zÉÇ lÉÉå ÍqɧÉÈ zÉÇ uÉÂhÉÈ zÉÇ lÉÉå pÉuÉiuÉrÉïqÉÉ |
            zÉÇ lÉ ClSìÉå oÉ×WûxmÉÌiÉÈ | zÉÇ lÉÉå ÌuÉwhÉÑÂÂMëüqÉÈ ||
            lÉqÉÉå oÉë¼hÉå | lÉqÉxiÉå uÉÉrÉÉå |
            iuÉqÉåuÉ mÉëirɤÉÇ oÉë¼ÉÍxÉ
            iuÉÉqÉåuÉ mÉëirɤÉÇ oÉë¼uÉÌSwrÉÉÍqÉ |
            üiÉÇ uÉÌSwrÉÉÍqÉ | xÉirÉÇ uÉÌSwrÉÉÍqÉ |
            iÉlqÉÉqÉuÉiÉÑ | iɲ£üÉUqÉuÉiÉÑ |
            AuÉiÉÑ qÉÉqÉç | AuÉiÉÑ uÉ£üÉUqÉç |
            Á zÉÉÎliÉÈ zÉÉÎliÉÈ zÉÉÎliÉÈ ||
   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
thought-provoking prayers.
   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 filled with honey; may I listen abundantly with my ears;
preserve my learning.”
                                 rÉzNûlSxÉÉqÉ×wÉpÉÉå ÌuɵÉÃmÉÈ
“The soul not being
mistress of herself,” says
                                 NûlSÉåprÉÉåÅkrÉqÉ×iÉÉiÉè xÉqoÉpÉÔuÉ |
Thseng-tseu, “one looks,         xÉ qÉålSìåÉ qÉåkÉrÉÉ xmÉ×hÉÉåiÉÑ |
but one does not see;            AqÉ×iÉxrÉ SåuÉ kÉÉUhÉÉå pÉÔrÉÉxÉqÉè |
one listens, and one
does not hear; and one          The devotee is not satisfied with the
eats, and one does not       knowledge of earthly and commonplace
know the savor of food.”     order. He wants to be endowed with
He who distinguishes         the highest knowledge - the immortal
the true savor of his food
can never be a glutton;
he who does not cannot           zÉUÏUÇ qÉå ÌuÉcÉwÉïhÉqÉè |
be otherwise. A puritan          ÎeÉÀûÉ qÉå qÉkÉÑqɨÉqÉÉ |
may go to his brown-
bread crust with as gross        MühÉÉïprÉÉÇ pÉÔËU ÌuÉ´ÉÑuÉqÉè |
an appetite as ever an           oÉë¼hÉÈ MüÉåzÉÉåÍxÉ qÉåkÉrÉÉ ÌmÉÌWûiÉÈ |
alderman to his turtle.
Not that food which              ´ÉÑiÉÇ qÉå aÉÉåmÉÉrÉ |
entereth into the mouth         An incapable, weak body can hardly
defileth a man, but the
                             achieve anything. It is rightly said: “A
appetite with which it is
eaten.                       healthy mind in a healthy body”. Unless
                             the body is in fine fettle, the mind cannot
  ~ Henry David Thoreau
                             be wholesome.

    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
attached to sugar-coated words. It implies that such words have
sweetness only on the periphery, and below it, what one gets is only
bitterness and unpleasantness. This kind is not to be aspired for
ÎeÉÀûÉ qÉå qÉkÉÑqɨÉqÉÉ |- the prayer is for the boon of speaking sweetly
through and through-the tongue is full of honey, as it were.

                       MühÉÉïprÉÉÇ pÉÔËU ÌuÉ´ÉÑuÉqÉç |
    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 benefit 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 getting education has often been reduced to
obtaining certificates of educational qualifications. One’s merit is
assessed in terms of the marks one has scored in different 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
future careers.
   “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 superficial
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.

               ´ÉÑiÉÇ qÉå aÉÉåmÉÉrÉ |
   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 fulfil this obligation:

               xuÉÉkrÉÉrÉmÉëuÉcÉlÉÉprÉÉÇ lÉ mÉëqÉÌSiÉurÉqÉç |
  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 flows 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 fulfilling our social obligations and contributing our
share for the betterment of the society.

             uÉåSqÉlÉÔcrÉÉcÉÉrÉÉåïÅliÉåuÉÉÍxÉlÉqÉlÉÑzÉÉÎxiÉ |
    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.
            xÉirÉÇ uÉS | kÉqÉïÇ cÉU | xuÉÉkrÉÉrÉÉlqÉÉ mÉëqÉSÈ |
            AÉcÉÉrÉÉïrÉ ÌmÉërÉÇ kÉlÉqÉÉirÉ mÉëeÉÉiÉliÉÑ qÉÉ urÉuÉcNåûixÉÏÈ |
            xÉirÉÉ³É mÉëqÉÌSiÉurÉqÉç | kÉqÉÉï³ÉmÉëqÉÌSiÉurÉqÉç |
            MÑüzÉsÉÉ³É mÉëqÉÌSiÉurÉqÉç | pÉÔirÉælÉmÉëqÉÌSiÉurÉqÉç |
            xuÉÉkrÉÉrÉmÉëuÉcÉlÉÉprÉÉÇ lÉ mÉëqÉÌSiÉurÉqÉç |
   After teaching the Vedas, the Guru enjoins the pupils: speak
the truth; perform your duty; don’t ever neglect the study of
the Vedas!
   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
departed souls.
    The instructions of the teacher have a profound meaning. They
enjoin the students to live a purposeful, useful and rich life in this
world, fulfilling 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 betterment of the society i.e. general welfare. Their first
and foremost duty is to take up social responsibilities and fulfil 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 (AÉcÉÉrÉÉïrÉ ÌmÉërÉÇ kÉlÉqÉÉirÉ).
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-figure, 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 first 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 selfish 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?

            qÉÉiÉ×SåuÉÉå pÉuÉ |
            ÌmÉiÉ×SåuÉÉå pÉuÉ |
            AÉcÉÉrÉïSåuÉÉå pÉuÉ |
            AÌiÉÍjÉSåuÉÉå pÉuÉ |
   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 (pÉuÉ) used here has a unique significance.
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 stuff. 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
occurs here:
         rÉÉlrÉlÉuɱÉÌlÉ MüqÉÉïÍhÉ | iÉÉÌlÉ xÉåÌuÉiÉurÉÉÌlÉ | lÉÉå CiÉUÉÍhÉ |
         rÉÉlrÉxqÉÉMÇü xÉÑcÉËUiÉÉÌlÉ iÉÉÌlÉ iuÉrÉÉåmÉÉxrÉÉÌlÉ | lÉÉå CiÉUÉÍhÉ ||
   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, Taittiriya Upanishad defines precisely the spirit

in which one should give.

               ´ÉkSrÉÉ SårÉqÉç | A´ÉkSrÉÉÅSårÉqÉç |
               Í´ÉrÉÉ SårÉqÉç | ̾ûrÉÉ SårÉqÉç |
               ÍpÉrÉÉ SårÉqÉç | xÉÇÌuÉSÉ SårÉqÉç |
    Gifts should be offered in faith; they are not to be given without
faith; they should always be given in abundance, modesty, sympathy
and cordiality.
   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 sacrifice 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 affairs, 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 latter 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
identifies 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 sacrificing out of faith, with no holds
barred, in utter humility, sympathy and love.
    In Taittiriya 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 filling his disciple’s brain with
information about the subject, Varuna directs Bhrigu to find it for
himself through Tapas. At different stages (through the spiritual
guidance of his master) Bhrigu discovers for himself through Tapas
what Brahman is.
   At the first stage, he realizes that food is Brahman

               A³ÉÇ oÉë¼åÌiÉ urÉeÉÉlÉÉiÉç |
               A³ÉÉk±åûuÉ ZÉÎsuÉqÉÉÌlÉ pÉÔiÉÉÌlÉ eÉÉrÉliÉå |
               A³ÉålÉ eÉÉiÉÉÌlÉ eÉÏuÉÎliÉ |
               A³ÉÇ mÉërÉlirÉÍpÉxÉÇÌuÉzÉliÉÏÌiÉ |
   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

            iÉ̲¥ÉÉrÉ | mÉÑlÉUåuÉ uÉÂhÉÇ ÌmÉiÉUqÉÑmÉxÉxÉÉU |
            AkÉÏÌWû pÉaÉuÉÉå oÉë¼åÌiÉ |
   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.

             mÉëÉhÉÉå oÉë¼åÌiÉ urÉeÉÉlÉÉiÉç |
   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 efficient 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
dissatisfied with what he has learnt, he approaches Varuna again and
the process continues:

             qÉlÉÉå oÉë¼åÌiÉ urÉeÉÉlÉÉiÉç |
   He learns that mind is Brahman.
   At the next higher stage,

             ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉÇ oÉë¼åÌiÉ urÉeÉÉlÉÉiÉç |
   He realizes that knowledge (intellect) is Brahman.
   At the Final stage,

             AÉlÉlSÉå oÉë¼åÌiÉ urÉeÉÉlÉÉiÉç |
   He knew that Bliss is Brahman.

   Thus the Upanishad brings out the Pancha – Kosa Theory –
the theory of five 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
modern times.
    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 finding 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 indifferent, 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 effort 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 different stages – from the grossest to the subtlest.
Each successive learning does, by no means, efface 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 influence 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 film 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 (Taittri – hence the name Taittiriya 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 significance of food. Food is referred to as
A³ÉÇ (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 finally 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 flames in which case it becomes
food for fire or it is committed to the earth, in which case it is eaten
away by maggots.
    On a different dimension, the significance 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 flourishing 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:

            A³ÉÇ lÉ ÌlÉl±ÉiÉç |
            Do not slander food.

            A³ÉÇ lÉ mÉËUcɤÉÏiÉ |
            Do not reject food.

            A³ÉÇ oÉWÒû MÑüuÉÏïiÉ |
            Produce and accumulate plenty of food.

            lÉ MÇücÉlÉ uÉxÉiÉÉæ mÉëirÉÉcɤÉÏiÉ |
            iÉxqÉɱrÉÉ MürÉÉ cÉ ÌuÉkÉrÉÉ oÉÀ³ÉÇ mÉëÉmlÉÑrÉÉiÉç |
  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 satisfies 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 offer the kind of food that one relishes.
If a person is a good eater of delicious food, we have to satisfy his
hunger by offering 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 firmament, this majestical roof fretted with
         golden fire; 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 ~
                            William Shakespeare

    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?
    Taittiriya Upanishad throws light on how this Cosmos, the world
of manifestation arose from the unmanifested Brahman. It created
itself by itself.
   pÉÏwÉÉxqÉɲÉiÉÈ mÉuÉiÉå | pÉÏwÉÉåSåÌiÉ xÉÔrÉïÈ | pÉÏwÉÉÅxqÉÉSÎalɶÉålSì¶É |
   qÉ×irÉÑkÉÉïuÉÌiÉ mÉgcÉqÉ CÌiÉ |
   The wind blows through fear of Him (Brahman). The sun rises
through fear of Him. Through fear of Him again, fire, 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 pattern 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

              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 difficulties 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

   T    eaching English Grammar, especially formal traditional
        grammar is indeed a tedious and difficult job. It is not
uncommon that teachers who are to perform this task face subtle
indifference and resentment from the students. The reason is not
too difficult 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 overflow 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 utter futility of such a teaching activity,

Sankaracharya burst out into the famous song,

   pÉeÉ aÉÉåÌuÉlSÇ pÉeÉ aÉÉåÌuÉlSÇ                 "God does not care about
   aÉÉåÌuÉlSÇ pÉeÉ qÉÔRèqÉiÉå |                  our mathematical difficulties.
                                                  He integrates empirically."
   xÉqmÉëÉmiÉå xÉͳÉÌWûiÉå MüÉsÉå
                                                      ~ Albert Einstein ~
   lÉÌWû lÉÌWû U¤ÉÌiÉ QÒûM×ügÉç MüUhÉå ||
   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 befitting of the great Teacher and Prophet
Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya to offer 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 effective span of a mere 26 years, for he shuffled
off his mortal coil at the age of 32 years. He wrote a lot of books,

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 selfishness and erosion of age-old lofty values,
we fail to see the truth that all the sorrows and difficulties that we
face are on account of our limitless thirst for wealth and the unethical
means we adopt to realize our narrow, selfish, earthly goals. Making
a blistering attack on this attitude, Sankaracharya exhorts us to rise
above this greed for worldly possessions.
               qÉÔRû eÉWûÏÌWû kÉlÉÉaÉqÉiÉ×whÉÉÇ
               MÑü xɯÒ먂 qÉlÉÍxÉ ÌuÉiÉ×whÉÉÇ |
               rÉsspÉxÉå ÌlÉeÉMüqÉÉåïmÉɨÉÇ
               ÌuɨÉÇ iÉålÉ ÌuÉlÉÉåSrÉ ÍcɨÉqÉç ||

   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
earnest efforts.
   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 fleeting material aspects of
life, but never derides life itself. In a beautiful simile, he picturizes
the transitory nature of life and says,

               iɲ‹ÏÍuÉiÉqÉÌiÉzÉrÉcÉmÉsÉqÉè |
               ÌuÉÎkS urÉÉkrÉÍpÉqÉÉlÉaÉëxiÉÇ
               sÉÉåMÇü zÉÉåMüWûiÉÇ cÉ xÉqÉxiÉqÉè ||
   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 suffers from the bane
of sorrow.
    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 filled the tiny thing
with a whole world of beauty. The droplet rests on the petal, but
the petal is not wetted 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
                                                       To see a world in
internal reflection and are resolved into seven
                                                        a grain of sand
colours. A perceiving eye can see the mystery
                                                       And a Heaven in
of God’s creation and its infinite beauty in the
                                                         a wild flower,
droplet on the lotus petal. It is so with life and
it can by no means, be ignored. The message of
                                                      Hold infinity in the
this verse is to enjoy to the full the beauties of palm of thy hand
life but, never to be blind to its ills and evils and    And Eternity
short-lived nature.                                       in an hour.

   Respect and honour are rare things to get               ~ William Blake ~
even from our own kith and kin. When one
respects and honours us, it is mostly because
they expect something in return.
        rÉÉuÉÎuS¨ÉÉåmÉÉeÉïlÉxÉ£ü -
                 xiÉÉuÉͳÉeÉ - mÉËUuÉÉUÉã U£üÈ |
        mɶÉÉ‹ÏuÉÌiÉ eÉeÉïUSåWåû
                 uÉÉiÉÉïÇ MüÉåÅÌmÉ lÉ mÉ×cNûÌiÉ aÉåWåû |
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.
        rÉÉuÉimÉuÉlÉÉå ÌlÉuÉxÉÌiÉ SåWåû
                  iÉÉuÉiÉç mÉ×cNûÌiÉ MÑüzÉsÉÇ aÉåWåû |
        aÉiÉuÉÌiÉ uÉÉrÉÉæ SåWûÉmÉÉrÉå
                  pÉÉrÉÉï ÌoÉprÉÌiÉ iÉÎxqÉlÉç MüÉrÉå ||
  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 definitely haunted by
these questions.

               MüÉ iÉå MüÉliÉÉ MüxiÉå mÉÑ§É È
                        xÉÇxÉÉUÉåÅrÉqÉiÉÏuÉ ÌuÉÍcÉ§É È |
               MüxrÉ iuÉÇ M : MÑüiÉ AÉrÉÉiÉ:
                        iÉ ¨uÉÇ ÍcÉliÉrÉ iÉÌSWû pÉëÉiÉÈ||
  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 offers a difficult but sure solution in the following verse:
               xÉixÉÇaÉiuÉå ÌlÉxxÉÇaÉiuÉÇ
                           ÌlÉxxÉÇaÉiuÉå ÌlÉqÉÉåïWûiuÉqÉç |
               ÌlÉqÉÉåïWûiuÉå ÌlɶÉsÉiɨuÉqÉç
                           ÌlɶÉsÉiÉiuÉå eÉÏuÉlqÉÑÌ£üÈ ||
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 different time, in a different
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:
               uÉrÉÍxÉ aÉiÉå MüÈ MüÉqÉÌuÉMüÉUÈ
                         zÉÑwMåü lÉÏUå MüÈ MüÉxÉÉUÈ |
               ¤ÉÏhÉå ÌuɨÉå MüÈ mÉËUuÉÉUÈ
                         ¥ÉÉiÉå iɨuÉå MüÈ xÉÇxÉÉUÈ ||
    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 matter and
affairs 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:
               qÉÉ MÑü kÉlÉ - eÉlÉ -rÉÉæuÉlÉ - aÉuÉïÇ
                          WûUÌiÉ ÌlÉqÉåwÉÉiÉç MüÉsÉÈ xÉuÉïqÉç |
               qÉÉrÉÉqÉrÉÍqÉSqÉÎZÉsÉÇ ÌWûiuÉÉ
                          oÉë¼mÉSÇ iuÉÇ mÉëÌuÉzÉ ÌuÉÌSiuÉÉ ||
   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 different kinds of sannyasins
– those who put on a mendicant’s appearance and those who are
true saints. What follows is a description of the first category – the
frauds among sannyasins:
               eÉÌOûsÉÉå qÉÑhQûÏû sÉÑÎgNûiÉMåüzÉ È
                         MüÉwÉÉrÉÉqoÉUoÉWÒûM×üiÉuÉåwÉ È |
               mÉzrɳÉÌmÉ cÉ lÉ mÉzrÉÌiÉ qÉÔRûÉå
                         ½ÑÑSUÌlÉÍqɨÉÇ oÉWÒûM×üiÉuÉåwÉÈ ||
   There are those whose locks are matted; 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
belly’s sake.
   The true saints are described thus:
                         zÉrrÉÉ pÉÔiÉsÉqÉÎeÉlÉÇ uÉÉxÉÈ |
               xÉuÉïmÉËUaÉëWû pÉÉåaÉirÉÉaÉÈ
                         MüxrÉ xÉÑZÉÇ lÉ MüUÉåÌiÉ ÌuÉUÉaÉÈ ||
  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 letter giving a blind eye to the spirit -
       MÑüÂiÉå aÉÇaÉÉxÉÉaÉU-aÉqÉlÉÇ
                 uÉëiÉmÉËUmÉÉsÉlÉqÉjÉuÉÉ SÉlÉqÉç |
       ¥ÉÉlÉÌuÉWûÏlÉÈ xÉuÉïqÉiÉålÉ
                 qÉÑÌ£Ç lÉ pÉeÉÌiÉ eÉlqÉzÉiÉålÉ ||
   For attaining salvation, people undertake pilgrimage tours to
sacred places, observe vratas, indulge in acts of charity. Without
attaining 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
       pÉaÉuÉSèaÉÏiÉÉ ÌMüÎgcÉSkÉÏiÉÉ
                 aÉ…û.ÉeÉsÉsÉuÉMüÍhÉMüÉ mÉÏiÉÉ |
       xÉM×üSÌmÉ rÉålÉ qÉÑUÉËUxÉqÉcÉÉï
                 ÌMëürÉiÉå iÉxrÉ rÉqÉålÉ lÉ cÉcÉÉï ||
   The man who reads even a little 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 written to the lot of a man incessantly involved in nothing
but the affairs of the world?
       mÉÑlÉUÌmÉ eÉlÉlÉÇ mÉÑlÉUÌmÉ qÉUhÉÇ
                 mÉÑlÉUÌmÉ eÉlÉlÉÏ eÉPûUå zÉrÉlÉqÉç |
       CWû xÉÇxÉÉUå oÉWÒûSÒxiÉÉUå
                 M×ümÉrÉÉÅmÉÉUå mÉÉÌWû qÉÑUÉUå ||
   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 affairs. 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 difficult 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:
        MüxiuÉÇ MüÉåÅWÇû MÑüiÉ AÉrÉÉiÉÈ
                 MüÉ qÉå eÉlÉlÉÏ MüÉå qÉå iÉÉiÉÈ |
        CÌiÉ mÉËUpÉÉuÉrÉ xÉuÉïqÉxÉÉUÇ
                 ÍuÉzuÉÇ irÉMiuÉÉ xuÉmlÉÌuÉcÉÉUqÉè ||
   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 superficial. 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 fitting
rejoinder thus,

        iuÉÌrÉ qÉÌrÉ cÉÉlrɧÉæMüÉå ÌuÉwhÉÑÈ
                  urÉjÉïÇ MÑümrÉÍxÉ qÉrrÉxÉÌWûwhÉÑ È |
        xÉuÉïÎxqɳÉÌmÉ mÉzrÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ
                  xÉuÉïiÉëÉåixÉ×eÉ pÉåS¥ÉÉlÉqÉè ||
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
and equipoise.

        zɧÉÉæ ÍqɧÉå mÉѧÉå oÉlkÉÉæ
                  qÉÉ MÑü rÉilÉÇ ÌuÉaÉëWûxÉlkÉÉæ |
        pÉuÉ xÉqÉÍcɨÉÈ xÉuÉï§É iuÉÇ
                  uÉÉgNûûxrÉÍcÉUɱÌS ÌuÉwhÉÑiuÉqÉè ||
Whether it is friend or foe, son or your own folk, peace or war, shed
all differences. 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:

      aÉårÉÇ aÉÏiÉÉlÉÉqÉxÉWûxÉëÇ
                krÉårÉÇ ´ÉÏmÉÌiÉÃmÉqÉeÉxÉëqÉè |
      lÉårÉÇ xÉ‹lÉxÉ…åû. ÍcɨÉÇ
              SårÉÇ SÏlÉeÉlÉÉrÉ cÉ ÌuɨÉqÉè ||
      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
the needy.
      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.
        AjÉïqÉlÉjÉÇï pÉÉuÉrÉ ÌlÉirÉÇ
                lÉÉÎxiÉ iÉiÉÈ xÉÑZÉsÉåzÉÈ xÉirÉqÉè |
        mÉѧÉÉSÌmÉ kÉlÉpÉÉeÉÉÇ pÉÏÌiÉ È
                xÉuÉï§ÉæwÉÉ ÌuÉÌWûiÉÉ UÏÌiÉÈ ||
      Remember always that riches bring in grief; undoubtedly they
can afford no joy. It is an established fact all over the world that a
wealthy man faces threat even from his own sons.

      mÉëÉhÉÉrÉÉqÉÇ mÉëirÉÉWûÉUÇ                       We brought nothing into
              ÌlÉirÉÉÌlÉirÉÌuÉuÉåMüÍuÉcÉÉUqÉè |       this world and it is certain
      eÉÉmrÉxÉqÉåiÉ xÉqÉÉÍkÉÌuÉkÉÉlÉÇ                  we can carry nothing out
              MÑüuÉïuÉkÉÉlÉÇ qÉWûSuÉkÉÉlÉqÉè ||         – and having food and
                                                     raiment let us be therewith
      The universal rule is that you have             content. But they that will
to apply the following precepts with                 be rich fall into temptation
heart and soul: Control the self (ego);                  and a snare and into
separate the transient from the Eternal                many foolish and hurtful
Truth; ever be reciting the holy name of              lusts which drown men in
God; and keep the restless mind still                 destruction and perdition,
                                                       for the love of money is
      And in conclusion,                               the root cause of all evil.
        aÉÑÂcÉUhÉÉqoÉÑeÉÌlÉpÉïUpÉ£ü È
                                                            ~ Timothy ~
                 xÉÇxÉÉUÉSÍcÉUÉ°uÉ qÉÑ£ü È |
                 Së¤rÉÍxÉ ÌlÉeÉSrÉxjÉÇ SåuÉqÉè ||
     Submit yourself to the lotus feet of your Guru; redeem yourself
without delay from the worldly bondages; suppress your mind and
senses and find 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.

Love is the only way to elevate oneself
       A bad teacher instructs, a mediocre teacher explains
           while a great teacher inspires and elevates.

   I t is impossible to imagine anyone who has not faced any
     difficulties at all in his life. Sorrows and sufferings are part
of everyone’s life. Very often we suffer 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 fill
us with resentment. They can plant in us motives of retaliation and
revenge and can even affect 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 written by E.R. Braithwaite is a novel that brings to
us this message.
   The Theme

                     The narrator, E. R. Braithwaite, a Negro, was a
                 technical officer 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 difficult 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 confirmed 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.

   The Events

   During his service as an officer 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-qualified, he looks
forward to getting 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 finds himself
being looked down upon, as a matter of course, by the white people
he comes across. Before his disillusionment and resentment turn into
destructive attitude 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 outwitted and depressed, but every such
instance leaves him with a firmer resolve to face the challenges
and fight the bitter battles. 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
Potter 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 effort Braithwaite proves
himself to be a committed 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 different, 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 finger 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
amazing generosity.

    Braithwaite brings us the message that prejudices and injustices
are there, but there are definite human tendencies that relentlessly
fight 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 indifference 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 specific,
but quite common situation, presents the aspects that are responsible
for it and offers 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 offer 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
ennobling task.
    “Teaching is like a bank account. You can happily draw on it while
it is supplied with new funds; otherwise you’re in difficulties.
   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 effective 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 mattered”
   Also, in the Headmaster’s words:
   “It may sometimes be rather deflating to discover that a well-
prepared lesson did not really excite Johnny Smith’s interest, but
after all, the lesson was intended to benefit Johnny Smith, not his
teacher; if it was uninteresting to him, then the teacher must think
   And the novel was written more than fifty 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 finds 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 sufficiently 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 identified
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 official 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
attempt an exercise in putting 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 better 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 affectionate 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 attain great heights of glory.

Racial Discrimination
                                          I had learnt to find out the
    Braithwaite, as we have seen,     better side of human nature
is a Negro. He is highly educated      and to enter men’s hearts.
and qualified. He is remarkable           ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
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 filled, naked or clothed, they were white, and as far as I
was concerned, that fact alone made the only difference 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 bitter experiences, through relentless effort
and patience he makes his students see that ‘basically all people were
the same; the trimmings might be different 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 little and short-lived. It shows itself up at the slightest
provocation in all its nauseating ugliness. His own credibility suffers
serious setbacks and he is prone to return to his moods of despair.
“Nothing had really mattered, 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.

   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 final analysis they had trotted 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 mattered,
providing he was a white; his outstanding gentleness, courtesy and
intelligence could not offset the greatest sin of all, the sin of being
   His bitterness reaches its worst when he says; “Crucify him
because he’s black; ostracise him because he’s black, a little change,
a little 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 effective way to combat the evil is always to try to be a little
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 first 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 attachment 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 first 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
flow spontaneously from the old man:
   “Big cities are dreadfully lonely places and London is no

  “A big city cannot afford to have its attention 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 effort which have made this a great city; they
also occasionally serve as springboards to eternity for misfits 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 battlefield. You need to be a fighter in it, not exist, mind you,
live. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul around behind him like
a worn-out coat; but living is different. 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 first
  and requested him to permit him to have the privilege of visiting the
                xuÉSåzÉå mÉÔerÉiÉå UÉeÉÉ ÌuɲÉlÉç xÉuÉï§É mÉÔerÉiÉå |
  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 flash 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

                                      L 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 figures 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 sacrifices 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 sacrifice?

   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 filling 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 confine
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 setting 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 ~

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
influence on Mahatma Gandhi. He named one of his Ashrams
Tolstoy Farm.

               ArÉÇ ÌlÉeÉÈ mÉUÉåuÉåÌiÉ aÉhÉlÉÉ sÉbÉÑcÉåiÉxÉÉqÉç |
                ESÉUcÉËUiÉÉlÉÉÇ iÉÑ uÉxÉÑkÉæuÉ MÑüOÒûqoÉMüqÉç ||
               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.

   Little 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. Forgetting their earlier cordial relations they
go to the low level of abusing one another in offensive 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 fighting on account of those very girls who
having forgotten their quarrel are playing happily together. She tells
them that the little girls are certainly wiser than them.
    The story concludes with ‘Except ye turn and become as little
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 putting an end to it there and then, join in
and add fuel to the fire. The two families indulge in violence and
soon become bitter 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 settle 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 conflicts and legal battles, they are unable
to attend their work and hence both the families are impoverished.
They suffer untold misery.
    Finally, when Gabriel is floggeded 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
uttering all abuses against him. He changes his decision.
   One night Ivan finds Gabriel setting fire to his cowshed. Instead
of stamping out the fire 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 fire has spread and almost half of the village

has been burnt. Ivan’s and Gabriel’s houses are also gutted. The old
man is saved from the fire with great difficulty. He is badly burnt.
Before dying he advises Ivan not to reveal to anybody who started
the fire. 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
they prosper.
   The title A Spark Neglected Burns the House is itself metaphorical.
If we neglect small insignificant 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 matter?
    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 better one! If there has been a fight – 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.’
   And again,
   ‘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 different. . . . . 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 better off, 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 fine 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 fiend carries you off
to the judge, or some pettifogger 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 field and at home, and if some one offends 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
  Heaven. “

                          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 influence the other servants and bets that he
would offend the master. True to his word, he does offend the good
man in a very bad way. At this offence, after remaining silent for a
while, the master shakes himself as if to throw off some burden. He
makes an effort 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 affairs of his family. In money matters, he is highly
calculative. He finds it extremely difficult 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 off.

                       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 magnificent church was built. The king’s name was engraved on a tablet
 in letters of gold fixed at the entrance of the church. The king elated on the
 fulfillment 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 find the
 culprit. They did find 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,
 not his.
                                    ~ 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
snuff, which he is unable to get over. He avoids carrying any snuff
with him lest he annoys his friend. But he cannot restrain himself
when someone offers 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 finds a whole
family literally starving to death due to famine and disease. He

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 finds 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 fill our hearts with human
compassion and make us feel that we should also emulate the
examples therein.
   When Elisha offers bread to the dying man in the hut, “The man
would not take it, but pointed to the little boy and to a little girl
crouching behind the oven as if to say, ‘Give it to them’.

   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 utter 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
sacrifice for the love of God. He utters these unforgettable 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 off 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 suffers drastic diminution. The
horses are affected 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 utter 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 affluence takes pity on them. He offers 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
dissatisfied. 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 submitting himself to the Lord evolves into a godly

     MAHATMA GANDHI’S                   Martin is a cobbler in a certain
      SUMMING UP OF                 town. He has plenty of work to
       JOHN RUSKIN’S                do, for he works well, uses good
      UNTO THIS LAST                material, charges moderately
                                    and is highly reliable. But he
•	 That the good of the             has a sad and lonely personal
   individual is contained in the   life with loss of several children
   good of all.                     in their infancy; his wife dies
•	 That a lawyer’s work has the     leaving a son. He loves his son
   same value as the barber’s,      and takes great care of him, but
   inasmuch as all have the         he too passes away leaving him
   same right of earning their      in utter desolation and grief. A
   livelihood from their work.      holy man induces faith in him
                                    and teaches him to submit to the
•	 That a life of labour i.e. the
                                    will of God. He tells him that
   life of the tiller of the soil
                                    he is in great despair because
   and the handicraftsman, is
                                    he wants to live for his own
   the life worth living.
                                    happiness. When a man learns

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 fixes 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 fixes 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 offers him hot tea and
keeps him warm. After the old man departs satisfied, Martin has a
woman in tatters. 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 offers her the food he has. As she eats the food, he takes care
of the baby. He offers 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 finds an old woman selling apples.
She is being tricked by a poor boy and the old lady is hard on him.
Martin pacifies 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 offering to help her. They bid farewell to Martin
  Martin realizes that the Lord has visited him in the form of these
poor suffering 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 first ,” he said, “let him be the servant of all
because,” he said, “blessed are the poor, the humble, the meek, and
the merciful.”
      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 figures 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 getting 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!
    Nature has enough                How Much Land does a Man Need
    for man's need, not       is a fascinating story that describes the
      for man's greed         evils of greed and excess of wealth. In
    ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~        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 afford, the
extent of land that he can cover from the sunrise to the sunset on a
single day. Greed makes the man utterly 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 settling in business and getting married. On
one of his business trips he is falsely implicated in a crime of murder
committed 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 committed the murder.
He is flogged and sent to Siberia. Experience of suffering 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 finds Makar as a convict along with him. Aksionov recognizes

Makar as the man responsible for all his suffering 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 unforgettable:
“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 find 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
In these days of spiritual           that worshipping God is a sure
illiteracy and poverty of the        way of overcoming their sorrows
spirit, when people find that        and difficulties. The logic behind
wealth can only multiply itself      their assumption is easy enough
and attain nothing, when people      to see. If we praise and worship
have to deceive their souls
                                     God He will be pleased with
with counterfeits after having
killed the poetry of life, it is     us and send us all prosperity
necessary to remind ourselves        and glory and lead us out of all
that civilization is an act of       our misery and grief. But it is
the spirit. Material progress is     not Prayer that goes with the
not to be mistaken for inner         desire to fulfil our earthly wants
progress. When technology            and ambitions. It is transacting
outstrips development, the           business with God. Such spurious
prospect is not of a millennium      devotees are no devotees at all.
but of extinction. Our ancient
                                     They cannot be dear to God.
heritage is a potent antidote
to the current tendency to           Very often, devotion goes with
standardize souls and seek           superstition. Many people think
salvation in herds.                  that performing Poojas to God
                                     ostentatiously brings them all
        ~ Nani A Palkhivala ~
                                     the favours from God. They
                                     believe that the more the pomp

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 sufferings of their fellow beings submitting themselves
completely to God, He would be more pleased with them. That is
why the famous Gujarati song

         uÉæwhÉuÉ eÉlÉ iÉÉå iÉålÉå MüÌWûrÉå eÉå mÉÏQû mÉUÉD eÉÉhÉÏUå ||
The real Godman is he who knows the sufferings 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
defines the attributes 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 fulfilled. Unfulfilled 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 better 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 personifies
the message of a picture of a majestic, fierce 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 inefficiency 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 efficient and hard-working though unattached.
   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,

      xuÉkÉqÉïMüqÉïÌuÉqÉÑZÉÉÈ M×üwhÉ M×üwhÉåÌiÉ uÉÉÌSlÉÈ |
      iÉå WûËU²åÌwÉhÉÉå qÉÔRûÉÈ kÉqÉÉïjÉïÇ eÉlqÉ rɬUåÈ ||
       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 fix 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 sufferings 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 defines the qualities of a man dear to God.
               A²åwOûÉ xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉÉlÉÉÇ qÉæ§ÉÈ MüÂhÉ LuÉ cÉ |
               ÌlÉqÉïqÉÉå ÌlÉUWÇMüÉUÈ xÉqÉ SÒÈZÉÈxÉÑZÉÈ ¤ÉqÉÏ ||

               xÉliÉÑwOûÈ xÉiÉiÉÇû rÉÉåaÉÏ rÉiÉÉiqÉÉ SØRûÌlÉzcÉrÉÈ
               qÉrrÉÌmÉïiÉqÉlÉÉåoÉÑήrÉÉåï qÉSèpÉ£üÈ xÉ qÉå ÌmÉërÉÈ ||

               rÉxqÉɳÉÉå̲eÉiÉå sÉÉåMüÉå sÉÉåMüɳÉÉå̲eÉiÉå cÉ rÉÈ |
               WûwÉÉïqÉwÉïpÉrÉÉå²åaÉæqÉÑï£üÉå rÉÈ xÉ cÉ qÉå ÌmÉërÉÈ ||

               AlÉmÉå¤ÉÈ zÉÑÍcÉSï¤ÉÈESÉxÉÏlÉÉå aÉiÉurÉjÉÈ |
               xÉuÉÉïUqpÉmÉËUirÉÉaÉÏ rÉÉå qÉSèpÉ£üÈ xÉ qÉå ÌmÉërÉÈ ||

               rÉÉå lÉ ½wrÉÌiÉ lÉ ²å̹ lÉ zÉÉåcÉÌiÉ lÉ MüÉǤÉÌiÉ |
               zÉÑpÉÉzÉÑpÉmÉËUirÉÉaÉÏ pÉÌ£üqÉÉlÉç rÉÈ xÉ qÉå ÌmÉërÉÈ ||

               xÉqÉÈ zɧÉÉæ cÉ ÍqɧÉå cÉ iÉjÉÉ qÉÉlÉÉmÉqÉÉlÉrÉÉåÈ |
               zÉÏiÉÉåwhÉxÉÑZÉ SÒÈZÉåwÉÑ xÉqÉÈ xÉQç¡aÉÌuÉuÉÎeÉïiÉ: ||

               iÉÑsrÉÌlÉlSÉxiÉÑÌiÉqÉÉæïlÉÏ xÉliÉѹÉå rÉålÉ MåülÉÍcÉiÉç |
               AÌlÉMåüiÉÈ ÎxjÉUqÉÌiÉpÉïΣüqÉÉlqÉå ÌmÉërÉÉå lÉUÈ ||

               rÉå iÉÑ kÉqrÉÉïqÉ×iÉÍqÉSÇ rÉjÉÉå£Çü mÉrÉÑïmÉÉxÉiÉå |
               ´ÉkSkÉÉlÉÉ qÉimÉUqÉÉ pÉ£üÉxiÉåÅiÉÏuÉ qÉå ÌmÉërÉÉÈ ||
    A devotee dear to God is free from malice towards all beings. He is
friendly, compassionate and selfless. 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 fixed 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.

He is without any desires. He is pure both internally and externally,
highly efficient, 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 differentiate 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 unattached seek salvation. This
is the essence of Dhamryamritam that Lord Krishna speaks of in the
final stanza.
We can seek to please God by putting 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 attain
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

    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 ~

Mother Teresa – The Feeblest
but, the Most Powerful Woman in the World

   M       other Teresa and her Missionaries
           of Charity epitomize utterly
selfless 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 letter (may be with a little 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
suffered for only one night whereas the poor are always the sufferers
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 suffering

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 little 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.”
Unflinching 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 matter 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 offered 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 offer 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 offers of assured regular income.
     In this world of human affairs we commonly see that a donor
who offers a large contribution to a charitable institution is accorded
greater prominence than the one who can afford but little. In such
situations, it is the material quantity of the offer that acquires greater
importance than the spirit with which it is made. Mother Teresa’s
attitude to acceptance of contributions was in sharp contrast to this
worldly practice. Once a billionaire from a foreign country met her and
offered 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 first salary he had earned on taking up
a modest job. In all humility he mentioned that it was his mother’s
desire that his first salary (of Rs. 600/-) should be offered 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 offering 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 cutting 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,           tha
but the spirit with which they are offered is of greater significance.       Mot
Their work does not run on mere considerations of money, but on

Love and selfless 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 sacrifice 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 Sacrifice 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 personification 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 letters 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
afflicted. She was asked how she and her Missionaries of Charity
could attend 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 suffering 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 find 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 first person not a born Indian to receive the civilian award
Padma Sri. Later, she was again the first 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 Committee said is unforgettable:
   “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 affords little 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 confirmation of the
inviolability of human dignity.”
   She appealed to the Nobel Prize committee 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 better 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 better Muslim, a Christian into a better 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 selfless noble work. Just
a little 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 first 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 fire 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
   Isavasya Upanishad
   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 attempt 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 offering any
learned exposition, I venture to place before you in all humility only
a few ideas from what little I have been able to grasp of it.
   It is one of the shortest Upanishads comprising just eighteen
mantras. An attempt is made below to explain the concepts contained
in some of them.
   It starts with the Santi Patha:

       Á mÉÔhÉïqÉSÈ mÉÔhÉïÍqÉSÇ mÉÔhÉÉïiÉç mÉÔhÉïqÉÑScrÉiÉå |
       mÉÔhÉïxrÉ mÉÔhÉïqÉÉSÉrÉ mÉÔhÉïqÉåuÉÉuÉÍzÉwrÉiÉå ||
   That is full, this is full. This full emanates from that full. When
this full is taken off 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 undefined, 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
Upanishad starts.
   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 little 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 first verse of
Isavasya Upanishad draws us to this fact and gives the message of
how we have to conduct ourselves.

       DzÉÉ uÉÉxrÉÍqÉSaÉçÇ xÉuÉïÇ rÉiÉç ÌMügcÉ eÉaÉirÉÉÇ eÉaÉiÉç |
       iÉålÉ irÉYiÉålÉ pÉÑgeÉÏjÉÉÈ qÉÉ aÉ×kÉÈ MüxrÉÎxuÉkSlÉqÉç ||
   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
getting attached 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 selfish way. It

               eÉoÉ qÉæÇ jÉÉ iÉoÉ WûËU lÉÌWû AoÉ WûËU Wæû qÉæÇ lÉÉÌWû
                 eÉoÉ AlkÉåUÉ ÍqÉOû aÉrÉÉ SÏmÉMü jÉåUåMüqÉÉÌWû
                                                              ~ MüoÉÏU
               When ‘I’ was there, God was not there. When
              ‘I’ is effaced 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 attitude 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
attachments without any high aims, it is just staying alive. Then how
should we aspire to live a life of a hundred years?

       MÑüuÉï³ÉåuÉåW MüqÉÉïÍhÉ ÎeÉeÉÏÌuÉwÉåcNûiÉaÉçÇ xÉqÉÉ È |
       LuÉÇ iuÉÌrÉ lÉÉlrÉjÉåiÉÉåÅÎxiÉ lÉ MüqÉï ÍsÉmrÉiÉå lÉUå ||
   By performing actions alone one should aspire to live here for a
hundred years. There is no other way whereby the effects of actions
do not cling to him.
   What is the use of living a long life entangled in the cobwebs
of worldly affairs we, on our own build around ourselves?
Accumulation of material wealth and developing attachments 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 fine 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 better 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

       AxÉÔrÉÉï lÉÉqÉ iÉå sÉÉåMüÉ AlkÉålÉ iÉqÉxÉÉÅÅuÉ×iÉÉÈ |
       iÉÉ aÉçÇ xiÉå mÉëåirÉÉÍpÉaÉcNûÎliÉ rÉå Måü cÉÉiqÉWûlÉÉå eÉlÉÉÈ ||
 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:

       AlÉåeÉSåMÇü qÉlÉxÉÉå eÉuÉÏrÉÉå lÉælɬåuÉÉ AÉmlÉÑuÉlmÉÔuÉïqÉwÉïiÉç |
       iÉkSÉuÉiÉÉåÅlrÉÉlÉirÉåÌiÉ ÌiÉwP¨ÉÎxqÉllÉmÉÉå qÉÉiÉËUµÉÉ SkÉÉÌiÉ ||

   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,

       iÉSåeÉÌiÉ iɳÉæeÉÌiÉ iÉSè SÕUå iɲÎliÉMåü |
       iÉSliÉUxrÉ xÉuÉïxrÉ iÉSÒ xÉuÉïxrÉÉxrÉ oÉɽiÉÈ ||
   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 defined 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 finds no occasion to despise anybody. One of the most
fundamental tenets of Indian philosophy is enunciated in these two


         rÉxiÉÑ xÉuÉÉïÍhÉ pÉÔiÉÉlrÉÉiqÉlrÉåuÉÉlÉÑmÉzrÉÌiÉ |
         xÉuÉïpÉÔiÉåwÉÑ cÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ iÉiÉÉå lÉ ÌuÉeÉÑaÉÑmxÉiÉå ||
   He who sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings
thereafter feels no hatred at all.

         rÉÎxqÉlxÉuÉÉïÍhÉ pÉÔiÉÉlrÉÉiqÉæuÉÉpÉÔ̲eÉÉlÉiÉÈ |
         iÉ§É MüÉå qÉÉåWûÈ MüÈ zÉÉåMüÈ LMüiuÉqÉlÉÑmÉzrÉiÉÈ ||
    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 differentiate
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.
         xÉ mÉrÉïaÉÉcNÒûMëüqÉMüÉrÉqÉuÉëhÉ-
                   qÉxlÉÉÌuÉUaÉçÇ zÉÑkSqÉmÉÉmÉÌuÉkSqÉç |
         MüÌuÉqÉïlÉÏwÉÏ mÉËUpÉÔÈ xuÉrÉqpÉÔ-
                   rÉÉïjÉÉiÉjrÉiÉÉåÅjÉÉïlÉç urÉSkÉÉcNûɵÉiÉÏprÉÈ xÉqÉÉprÉÈ ||
   The Self pervades all; It is radiant and formless, without any
blemishes; It is indivisible, pure and unaffected 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 attractive 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 find the truth.

       ÌWûUhqÉrÉålÉ mÉɧÉåhÉ xÉirÉxrÉÉÌmÉÌWûiÉÇ qÉÑZÉqÉç |
       iɨuÉÇ mÉÔwɳÉmÉÉuÉ×hÉÑ xÉirÉkÉqÉÉïrÉ SعrÉå ||
   A golden vessel covers the face of Truth. O Nourisher! Remove
that cover so that the seeker of Truth may find It.
   This Mantra is highly remarkable for its depth of thought and
beautiful poetic expression. It is a prayer to the Sun God (Pushan)
offered 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 offered to him.
   Any thing really valuable is not available just for the asking. It
seems to be remote from the one who desires to attain it. It requires
tremendous effort to overcome the obstacles and achieve it. Very often
the obstacles and diversions appear to be very attractive; 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

    The most precious line
                                      Ultimate Truth remains hidden in a
                                      golden vessel. The prayer to the Sun
 “Tattvam Pooshan Apaavrinu”
                                      who sustains all in this world is that
 is the guiding principle of
                                      He should remove the outer cover
 Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan,
                                      for the seeker to get it. Here, golden
 one of the forerunning premier
                                      vessel is not to be taken to mean a
 educational institutions in our      precious costly object, in a worldly
 country. It exhorts the students     way. We have plenty of instances in
 to seek ultimate knowledge           all cultures to illustrate that gold for
 undeterred by hindrances and         its own sake is a great temptation and
 tempting deversions.                 greed for it leads one finally to ruin
                                      and degradation. The message is that
    I had the privilege of
                                      we have to shun such temptations
 working in Kendriya Vidyalaya
                                      however fascinating they are to attain
 sangathan for 25 years. I have
                                      the high level of realization of Truth.
 always been extremely inspired
 by this brilliant Prayer. It is my
 ardent prayer to Lord Almighty          Towards the end of the Upanishad
 that the institution always lives    there is another exquisite Prayer. It is
 up to this lofty ideal.              to God Agni (God of fire).

        AalÉå lÉrÉ xÉÑmÉjÉÉ UÉrÉå AÉxqÉÉlÉç
                  ÌuɵÉÉÌlÉ SåuÉ uÉrÉÑlÉÉÌlÉ ÌuɲÉlÉç |
                  pÉÔÌrÉwPÉÇ iÉå lÉqÉ EÌ£Çü ÌuÉkÉåqÉ ||
 Agni! Lead me by the right and virtuous path to the results of my
actions. Wean me away from the fault of deceit. I offer myriads of
ardent Prayers to You.

   Thus, Isavaasya Upanishad offers 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
       selfish possession.
   •   Nothing ultimately belongs to us. Things are given to us for
       our use. We should use them without developing any lasting
       attachment 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
Isavaasya Upanishad.

   Behind the Thoughts
  Thoughts keep springing up and reflections go on flowing. ……….
But the process has to culminate somewhere and here it is – the
       AÉMüÉzÉÉiÉç mÉÌiÉiÉÇ iÉÉårÉÇ rÉjÉÉ aÉcNûÌiÉ xÉÉaÉUqÉç |
    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 little of the goodness that I
have received from them, for the general benefit. 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 fine 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 fill 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 influence 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 first 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 affection, 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 putting in sincere hard efforts that you work for the
betterment 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
flawless 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’ (mÉ©mɧÉÍqÉuÉÉqpÉxÉÉ). I used to think, how nice it would be, if only
I could be like him, to a little extent at least!
   Prof. V.Sasikumar of CIEFL was a romantic figure 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 first 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 confidence 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 officiating 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 efficient Principal to K. V. Hospet!” Being amidst flowers in a
garland is enough for the thread to acquire their fragrance. Sri Amarnath
Singh made me see the filled part of a partly filled glass ignoring the
unfilled one. I saw that in order to be a successful Principal one has
to be first 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 unforgettable learning experience. From basic
manners to administrative matters 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 affection 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 unforgettable chapter in my life. Though my higher officer,
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 attitude
to life. He impressed me immensely with his knack of synchronizing
official dealings with personal affinities.
   I have always received unlimited affection 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 different plane, my maternal uncle Dr. G.N. Sarma who was
Professor of Political Science at the Maratwada University at Aurangabad
exerted great influence on me. His affability and sense of humour have
always had an important place in my heart. The affectionate 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

influence on my character. Even since my boyhood I used to get very
enlightening and elevating letters 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 suffering and utterly distressing
mental state I felt as though an angel put in my mind the idea of
attempting a work as this book. Such immortal intimations can come
to me from no better 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. Utter humility and unassuming nature were her
distinguishing qualities that endeared her to all those who knew her.
    Poor lady, she suffered 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 flowering and non-flowering plants too, yet
each has its own place of pride in the universe. Her hearty concern for
                                     others earned for our humble home the
  A lily of a day                    name Lakshminarayan Dharamshala.
  Is fairer far in May               Sometimes as we sat for food all alone
  Although it fall and               she would touchingly remark, “How
             die that night          nice it would be if someone knocks at our
  It was the plant and               door and comes in to share our food!” As
             flower of light.        if God-sent, sometimes people would
  In small proportions               drop in. At Kathmandu, one day when
             we just beauties see I returned home from work she told
  And in short measures              me that she had gone to Pasupatinath
             life may perfect be     temple where she came across a very
                                     old Kannada-speaking couple who were
                      ~ Ben Jonson ~ 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, difficult to get the kind of
vegetarian food that tradition-bound people are used to in Kathmandu.

She brought them home, prepared the very kind of food they could
eat, saw them satisfied 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 find
many more people whom she could help.
    At difficult times she would offer 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 upsetting 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 different 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 affection 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 different

      "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. Affluence kept her humble, but brought out her hitherto latent
aesthetic sensibilities. Within the limits, she would provide herself with
the best and the finest of things. She knew no compromise on quality.
She was a great adviser to her friends on matters 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 off.
   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 uttered 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 affectionate 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 off
shattering difficulties 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 written
form. I could not have brought them into an attractive 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,
happier world.
                            xÉuÉåï pÉuÉliÉÑ xÉÑÎZÉlÉÈ
                           xÉuÉåï xÉliÉÑ ÌlÉUÉqÉrÉÉÈ |
                           xÉuÉåï pÉSìÉÍhÉ mÉzrÉliÉÑ
                       qÉÉ MüͶÉiÉç SÒÈZÉpÉÉapÉuÉåiÉç ||
                       Á zÉÉÎliÉÈ zÉÉÎliÉÈ zÉÉÎliÉÈ

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
                                G.M.Hopkins’ Poems
                              The Waste Land : T.S.Eliot
                       The Razor’s Edge : Somerset Maugham
                           Walden : Henry David Thoreau
                   The Old Man and the Sea : Ernest Hemingway
       Taittiriya Upanishad : with Swamy Chinmayananda’s Commentary
              Taittiriya 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


Shared By:
Description: A Treatise in Value Education, contains short stories, anecdotes, examples and illustrations... Contents What to teach