DID YOU KNOW | Evolution of Algebra & Geometry

DID YOU KNOW that Greek and Romans were idol worshippers and Geometry developed to a great extent in their country. Arabs were not idol worshippers and Algebra developed in their country. India was a combination of both philosophies where some people follow idol worship and some didn’t. Could that be one of the reasons why both Algebra and Geometry developed in India?

The ancient texts of Mathematics, Sulba Sutras, contain geometrical constructions pertaining to religious sacrificial rituals. When there was a need, the branch of geometry developed. Temples & rituals can be seen in Greek & Roman history which might have forced them to develop geometry in their country.

Be it a coincidence or a fact, it is surely a good point to think upon. Do religious faiths factor the development of mathematics in a culture?


Immense Strength – Intellect | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

Intellect is Immense Strength

‘Strength is Life. Weakness is Death’ – Swami Vivekananda

The strong always has victory over the weak. This is the law of nature. We can see this rule in the jungle, in countries at war, corporate world, sports, and everywhere in the world. The weak always perish. We need to make ourselves very strong inorder to ensure that nobody can win over us.

Some people try to show off their strength by overpowering the weak. That is not real strength; in fact that is portraying one’s inferiority complex as a superiority complex. One should equip oneself with strength so that no one dares to attack him. This strength definitely does not mean physical strength because if it were so, then an elephant won’t have been tamed and ruled by man. Mental strength is required for withstanding a difficult situation or taking courageous decisions (Souraj and Dhiraj). Strength in this context means Intellectual Strength. Unless one is intellectually strong, he cannot excel. Had Rama possessed only Courage without the knowledge of using weapons or strategizing the war, could he have defeated the mighty Ravana? In our life, we should equip ourself with all the knowledge that we can gather. Knowledge is food for Intellect. One needs to keep himself updated of the current happenings around him. A businessman should know the market trends, market needs, tastes of the consumers, etc so that he can be a successful businessman. If we look at the CEOs of top companies, we can see that they will be very good in Sales, Finance, Taxation, Law, Administration and in every other field pertaining to their business. They might not have learnt all these in their college education but they would study those subjects so that nobody can cheat them.

One of the greatest intellectual economists India has ever produced is Chanakya. His work, ‘Arthashastra’, is being taught in Management schools even today. He clearly explain how intellectual and shrewd a ruler should be. Shrewdness is not cunningness. Lord Rama possessed all noble qualities like Compassion, Humility, Restpect & Love for others, yet even the Devas in Heaven would not dare to fight against him. Ravana was advised by his own people – Vibheeshana, Kumbhakarna (both brothers), Maarech (uncle), Mandodari (wife), etc to let Sita go and that getting into a battle with Rama would only lead to Self-destruction. Thus, Rama’s strength was shown in his personality even though he displayed soft characters outside.

Intellect is the faculty of man which has made him the crown of all creation. The way he uses this faculty determines his evolution into Divinity or fall into Animalism.

The Axe of Charity | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

Charity is the Axe

We cannot cut a tree with arrows or a sword. Only an axe can cut something as thick and mighty as a tree. The mightiest enemy to fight and win is our own ego. There’s no way to kill the ego by arrows or using the sword. Heavy blows with an axe are required to cut it.

Everyone knows what charity is. Today, even corporate have to (they might not want to, but still they have to) spend a percentage of their revenue as CSR (Corporate Social Resposibility) for some social cause. The world agrees that helping the needy is one’s social responsibility. But how can this kill the ego? And why should one kill his ego? To find answers to both these questions, let’s discuss on what is ‘ego’?

Every living organism has got its ego. Ego means ‘knowing who I am’. When an elephant knows that it is an elephant, that is its ego. A crow knows that it’s a crow and not an eagle, it’s the crow’s ego. This ‘ego’ is not bad. The ego that we are talking about here is a feeling of superiority (or even inferiority) complex – a misapprehension that we are greater than what we actually are.

Once when Swami Vivekananda was in the West, a wealthy man went to see him. He was a renowned personality and everybody greeted him with honour and respect. He was expecting a similar treatment from Vivekananda but Vivekananda didn’t even look at him. The next day, he went and gave Vivekananda a big donation. Vivekananda simply accepted the donation without speaking a word. The man lost his temper. Never ever in the past had anyone treated him in such a way. He said, “I’m giving you a big donation. At least, have the courtesy to say Thank You.” Vivekananda immediately replied, “You should be thanking me that I’m accepting your donation.”

When a person does charity, he is the one who gets the merit of his kind deed. But he should be thankful to the person who accepts it without whom he couldn’t have done the noble act. In Hindu weddings, the father of the bride does ‘Kanyadaanam’ (donating the daughter) to the groom and bows in front of him, signifying that ‘The father gives donates his daughter (prosperity) to the groom’s family. May he (the father) not have the ego that he is the giver’. In return, the groom bows down to the girl’s father in gratitude for what the father has donated. Thus, both, the receiver and the giver, bow down to each other without taking any pride in their action. Hence, Kanyadaanam is said to be a Mahadaanam (Great Donation) in Hindu scriptures.

Charity is not a physical act of donation to poor people. Rather, it is a mental attitude with which one gives. Without having this right mental attitude, the physical charity can lead to increase his pride and ego. How can a person develop qualities like humility, love, forgiveness, compassion, etc when his heart is full of pride? When there is pride in a person, the most important person to him becomes the person himself and there is no room for others’ concern.

With the right mental attitude, if one does charity (donating anything that he has in excess – be it time, money or knowledge); he can cut his ego thus taking quicker steps for his inner evolution.

The Sword of Contentment | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

Contentment is the sword

Arrows and missiles can kill enemies far away. But, for the enemies very close to us we need something like a sword. And what are those enemies that are so close to us and attack us anytime? Anger, jealously, frustration, greed, etc are the enemies not outside, but within us. The sword to kill these enemies is Contentment. How can contentment kill these negative emotions? Let’s try to analyse this.

What is the cause of anger? Something that we desired did not happen. Cause of jealousy – We don’t have something that the other person has. Cause of frustration – Unable to satisfy the desire. Cause of greed – A feeling that what we have is not enough. In all of them, we can see that we are expecting something more than what we already have. Hence, we can say, when there’s a discontentment with what we have, such negative emotions arise. So, if there’s no discontentment, there should not be any negative emotions. Let’s check if this is true with a common example in the lives of working people.

Suppose a fresh graduate is desperately looking out for a job. He’s willing to work for any salary because his family is going through a big financial crunch. He attends many interviews but does not get a job. He’s now frustrated and angry. Finally, he gets a job in a good company with a decent pay. He is now happy, contented. But after his first job appraisal, he comes to know that his salary is not raised. He thinks, “For all the slogging and hardwork I did for the company, this is what I get? The guy who joined with me an year ago, got a salary hike three months back.” He is now angry, frustrated and jealous. However, he continues to work for another year and luckily for him, in the next appraisal, he gets a good pay-raise even more than what he expected. He’s once again happy, contented. The next day he comes to know that some other colleague of his got more percentage salary-hike than him. He spares no time in losing his contentment. Once again, the negative emotions overpower him.

We might feel that this is natural and this is the way how everyone is nowadays. We feel we have to keep changing jobs when we see better offers in the market. If a job with a better pay-package should give us happiness, then it should be able to give us happiness throughout our life. But it does not happen that way. Every job that we change is able to give us contentment only for a short period after which we start grumbling once again. So, is it the fault of every other company in the market or is it something else?

If we have a look at people in the past, who used to work in a particular company throughout their life, we might feel that they were not career-oriented. They had no dynamism or drive in their life. Their life was so boring. They stuck themselves in a company throughout their life. But, we cannot ignore the fact that they were a lot happier in their career and life than we are. In short, they were very contented in their lives because of which they were happier in their lives.

What is the basic reason we look for a job change? It is nothing but discontentment in the present one. It’s not just our job, but in our lives too, we are not contented because of which there’s no end to our wants. Luxuries start becoming our necessities. In the earlier days, food, clothing and shelter were considered as basic needs of a man. But now, we have a list of other things that have come in. A colour TV is not enough; we need the best TV that we see in the newspapers Ad, even though we know that a better TV is going to come in the market within the next couple of months. If number of desires fulfilled or more sophisticated and luxurious life gives more happiness, then there should not be so many cases of suicides and divorces in countries like USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands, etc.

One may argue that there would be nobody without desires. True. Desires are there in each and every one of us. But what is the quality of the desires we entertain? Desire to get a good education for our children, desire to provide quality life for our family, desire to do something for the society, etc. are very good and important too. However, we need to keep a check on ourselves whether our desires are positive desires for the well-being of others or it is greed? Are we losing our level of happiness while chasing comforts and luxuries? Are we forgetting to count all the blessings God has showered upon us, and instead grieving over one particular thing that we are missing in our life? Ultimately, who is responsible for the happiness in our lives – We or the Rest of the world?

The Shield of Dispassion | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

(Vairagya) Dispassion is the shield

We can easily see our enemies outside. But it’s difficult to notice the ones inside. As we grow, we learn to shield the enemies outside but fail in tackling the enemies inside. And the first and foremost enemy inside us is Lust or Passion. Lust is generally considered as a desire for the opposite sex. Well, that desire is only one of the kinds of lust. Lust or Passion is a strong desire to obsess something. It can be for food, clothes, T.V. programme or any particular habit. The thirst becomes so strong that to satisfy the desire, a person will be ready to compromise on anything. He will compromise on his faculty of discrimination just to gratify the craving. And how many such desires do we entertain every day?

Passionate cravings drain away our energies and we land ourselves in miseries. Many a times, once the lust is fulfilled, we regret it later. Sometimes, we don’t even realize how passion makes us a weakling and we go on indulging in it. One runs behind passions for happiness. No doubt we experience happiness while the passion is fulfilled, but it’s only momentary happiness that we are able to eke out of it. In the long run, it harms us because we have already become a victim to the passion. A sensible businessman would consider this as a bad deal because here he’s earning quick profits but he’s sure that he’s heading for a big loss. One is unable to realize the problem with lust when he lacks farsightedness. He gets stuck up with momentary joys and mistakes that it will give him happiness forever.

The word ‘passion’ is often mistaken for ambition. Ambition is expressing our capabilities and potentialities. Desire is something which we may not even require in our life. Not being passionate does not mean one should not have any goal in life. Of course one should have an ideal in his life and work towards achieving it. However, it is not necessary that desires be entertained and fulfilled in the process.

But how can we escape desires? They come so unwarned. And we all are not Self-Realised Masters to break away from all such perils. Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda used to say just two words to escape desires – GROW UP! That’s the only way to get away from desires. As a child, we all must have cried for toys, balloons, etc. But as we grow up, we easily give up those desires as they no longer attract us. Passion for things will continue to haunt us as long as we are not ready to grow up. Nature takes care of our physical growth, but we need to take care of our spiritual growth. Some think spirituality is a colourless life. It is not. It has an altogether different colour scheme which cannot be perceived until that path is walked.

Vairagya (Dispassion) is the growth. When lust comes, the remedy is Dispassion. One of the best prescriptions of Dispassion is Adi Shankaracharya’s Bhaja Govindam. It’s a must study for all those who wish to master themselves.

Who am I? | Upadesa Sara

– Understandings from talks on Upadesa Sara

In Upadesa Sara, one of the wonderful philosophical compositions by Ramana Maharishi, he explains about the mind and ego. Bhagawan Ramana asks us to enquire – ‘Who am I?’ And the process is really interesting.

Q: What is mind?
A: Mind is nothing but a flow of thoughts.
Q: What is a ‘thought’?
A: Thought = the experiencer ‘i’ + the object of experience. In every thought we have will have these two components. E.g. I’m thinking about a temple. Here, the object of thought is the temple and the subject is ‘i’ who is thinking about it. If we take any thought, this ‘i’ is common in all the thoughts and the objects keep changing.

So, we can say, mind is nothing but the unchanging component ‘i’ that is present in every thought. When ‘i’ experience, the mind experiences. When ‘i’ is happy, mind is happy. When ‘i’ is sad, mind is sad. But that proves that, even ‘i’ is subject to change with a change in the object of thought. Anything that is subject to change is not permanent. So, then who is that entity in us who realizes that we were happy then, we are sad now; we were sleeping then, we are awake now; we were young then, we are old now?

Ramana Maharishi says – just look at the mind. Keep looking at it. See how every thought arises which leads to another thought. Don’t analyse, just keep observing your mind. When we do this for some time, there will come a moment when all the thoughts cease. This point might be just a moment, and immediately we might get another thought. Still, this single moment can be experienced. At that moment, when the thoughts & mind ceased who was present there who realized that the thoughts ceased? That entity does not experience anything, he is just ‘aware’ that he is! What remained as a witness was an awareness. It is this awareness, that is our true nature – the Real ‘I’ – and not the ‘i’ that is subject to change with every changing experience.

On enquiry, why did the mind end?
Because it’s an illusion.
Why is it an illusion?
Because it is not the reality.
Why it is not the reality?
Because it is not permanent.

Anyone, irrespective of the purity of their heart, can taste the absence of mind atleast for a second. To continue this awareness for a longer duration, one needs to purify himself. It’s like this – anyone can do one pushup. But only those who practice every day for a certain period can do 50 pushups. What Ramana Maharishi asks us to do is – Enquire our true nature. Nothing else can make us realize who we are, what are we made up of, what is our real nature. All the spiritual practices like Japa, Meditation, Satsang, etc are required. But that does not lead to experience. To experience, we need to enquire.

A couple fell in love. After some struggle, their families agreed for their marriage. The marriage day was fixed, the hall was booked, and all the arrangements were made. One day before the wedding, both the bride and the groom’s side, stayed in two hotels near to the hall. Suddenly, Mani mama came to the hotel where the girl’s family stayed. He was well dressed in silk robes and had a commanding personality. They girl’s family thought he must be from the groom’s side. He checked if all the arrangements are being made properly. He went through the final check-list and suggested some changes. The bride’s side agreed to it thinking that a denial might lead to a problem. Mani mama left the hotel and went to the groom’s side. He did the same thing over there and they too agreed. They also thought the he must be from the bride’s side. The wedding ceremony was done under the instructions of Mani mama. Mani mama became the centre of all activities. He even got a room for himself in the house where the bridegroom stayed after marriage. After two-three days, the girl started getting irritated over Mani mama’s behavior in their house and complained to her husband. He said, “He’s your uncle. Why are you complaining to me? Even I’m irritated with him.” She was shocked. She said, “What! He’s not my relative. I thought he must be your relative.” Both of them were shocked. They understood the truth. Both of them went to Mani mama’s room and gave him a look. They didn’t even have to say anything. He understood that the drama was over and immediately disappeared from the scene.

In the same way, when we enquire what is this mind it will disappear; for, illusion cannot stand enquiry. When we mistake the rope as a snake, and we keep looking at it carefully, the illusion of snake disappears and what remains is the truth – the rope.

When I say that I see the pen, it is actually the ‘eye’ that sees the pen. So we are claiming that ‘eye’ has become the ‘I’; and ‘eye’ is an object. We cannot say that ‘eye’ is pure consciousness because in seeing there is a transformation going on; and pure consciousness cannot change.

So, who’s this ‘I’ who is the witness? It is the Self, the Awareness that shines, not like the sun shining, but it shines in its own Awareness. It shines from Itself, for Itself, by Itself, in Itself.

When put in words, It cannot be expressed or explained. That is why the Masters like Ramana Maharishi ask us to Enquire and Realise ourselves by Our Self.

The Charioteer: Devotion to God | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

Devotion to God is the charioteer

A Ferrari without a good driver can be a curse more than a blessing.

When Arjuna & Duryodhana went to Lord Krishna before the war to seek his help, Krishna said that he can’t be partial to either side. So, one of them can have all the army and weapons of Krishna and the other one can have Krishna himself but Krishna will not fight in the war. Duryodhana chose Krishna’s army and Arjuna happily agreed to have Krishna by his side. As the war was about to begin, Arjuna, despite being the finest warrior of Pandavas, went into a dilemma and was psychologically broken down when he saw that he had to kill his kith and kin on the other side if he has to win the war. He even decided to run away from the battlefield. It was then Lord Krishna gave him the knowledge of Bhagavad Gita after which Arjuna realized his true nature and got up to fight the war.

Arjuna was the unsurpassed student of Drona. In fact, when the Pandavas were in exile, Arjuna had defeated the entire Kaurava army all alone. Even after doing so, even he possessed the ability to do it again and that too with an entire army on his side, if such a mighty warrior can breakdown at the time of war, what to say about ordinary individuals like us? But Arjuna had wisely chosen Krishna as his charioteer due to which he was saved from the situation. Arjuna knew that all the army of Krishna and his weapons couldn’t match Krishna. Here, we need to remember that Arjuna did not look at Krishna as God. He looked at Krishna only as his friend. At that time, he didn’t even know that Krishna was the Lord Himself. Still he had full faith on Krishna because as a friend Krishna was always there for him and his family to help in their state of distress.

On the other hand, Karna had Shalya as his charioteer. Shalya was a very good charioteer but his mouth was very bad. Throughout the war, he kept demotivating Karna. He wouldn’t shut his mouth even for a moment. And look at the fate of Karna. He was as equally skilled as Arjuna. He even had Brahmastra which he had kept to kill Arjuna. But still he failed.
When people start achieving success in their lives, pride slowly starts coming in. They start feeling that whatever they have achieved is due to their effort alone, and now they are superior to others. They forget that it is due to the Lord’s grace that they have achieved this. They fail to remember who gave them the strength, the intelligence, the opportunity to excel. The success of such people is short-lived. Whereas, if we make Lord the charioteer, allow Him to take charge of our life, then we don’t have to worry. We just have to keep doing our duties and He will take care of the rest. He will then direct the course our life like He did in the case of Arjuna.

Always keeping this thought in mind is ees bhajan. With an attitude of total surrender to the Lord, if a person starts living his life, then how the Lord will start working through him is beyond our imagination. When Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda came down from the Himalayas and started giving talks on the scriptures, he had only four listeners on the first day. But he was not sad when he saw that only four have come to attend his talk. He always believed it was the Lord’s work that he was doing and let Lord work as He wishes to. And in his working life of 41 years, Chinmaya Mission became a world-wide organization with millions of followers, over 250 centres, 70 schools, publications, hospitals, societies for helping the backward people from rural areas, etc. Even at adverse situations, Swamiji would say, “If this is Narayana’s will, let it happen that way.” It was his attitude which helped him head such a big organization without any stress or mental strain. In fact, his childlike behavior and cheerful nature cannot be seen even in CEO’s of today’s MNC’s. It was possible for Swamiji because he considered himself as an instrument in the Lord’s hands and never took any reward to his credit.

Let us be a flute in His hands and let Him sing His tune through us.

– a poem by Vanaja Ravi Nair, 2005

The pen in hand
With which I write,
Is helpless, bound,
To do its work.
For, I made it my tool
To scribble this down!

The words those flow
Through this pen, of course,
Not mine, at all,
And I can’t help
But, to pen this down,
For it is HE
Who Makes me write.

This pen might have
Been still, where it laid,
Until a writer’s hand
Came to its aid!
This pen is bound
To do its work,
The Writer’s Idea
Not its own!

We too, are tools,
In the Hands Divine;
HE makes us do,
All our work,
Whether day or night
With all our might!
Who helps us think?
Who give us health?
Who helps us work?
Who guides us right?
Or else, we lay
Unable to move today
Like any pen
Untouched by men!

The Third Rope: Equanimity of Mind | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Equanimity of mind is the third rope of the chariot

Only an equanimous mind is capable of taking good decisions, for, it is not prejudiced. When the mind is excited, we tend to make hasty decisions, which we later regret. There’s a saying, ‘Never make a promise when you are happy and never take a decision when you are sad’. A happy or sorrow mind cannot have a longer vision. One needs to calm down his mind to take good decisions.

Lord Rama is the best example of Samata. It is said that when Rama was told that he would be crowned as the king the next day, he had a smile on his face. The very next day, when Kaikeyi told him to go to the forest, he had the same smile on his face.

Sugreeva and Rama had a deal that Rama would kill Bali and Sugreeva would help him find Sita. But when Bali was killed and Sugreeva got back his kingdom, he was so happy that he forgot his promise to Rama to help find Sita. Yet, Rama did not lose his poise.

Even at this instance when Rama is giving the success formula to Vibheeshana, we can imagine how equanimous his mind must be to face Ravana. Even though he doesn’t have any armour, chariot or much weapons to fight, his mind is not disturbed at any point. His mind was always equanimous in all situations.

In the life of Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, we can see many instances where he displayed this quality. Once, a group of religious fanatics came to him. Their faces were red with anger when they heard Swamiji say that – Heaven & Hell are not geographical locations but exist only in our minds. One of them walked towards Swamiji and held him by his collar and asked, “So, you are saying there is no Heaven & Hell?” Before he could continue, Swamiji laughed and said, “There open are the gates of Hell for you”. The man realized his mistake and immediately released his hand. Swamiji said, “There open are the gates of Heaven for you.” The group returned back without saying anything. He was another perfect example of Samata.

Buddha also had this quality. One day a man came and started abusing Buddha because his brother had become Buddha’s follower. Buddha calmly sat looking at the man. After some time, the man stopped. So, Buddha asked, “Have you finished talking?” He said, “No” and continued abusing. Again after some time, the man stopped. Buddha asked, “Have you finished talking?” The man said angrily, “Yes. What do you have to say?” Buddha replied, “If I gift you something and you don’t take it, with whom does the gift stay?” The man said, “With you.” Buddha smilingly replied, “Dear Sir, I do not accept your gift.” That was his level of equanimity.

We need to tame our mind inorder to achieve our purpose of life. Hence, equanimity of mind is compared to the rope that controls. The means to tame our mind as prescribed in the scriptures are regular Satsang (Company of the good which helps us entertain positive thoughts), regular Japa (Chanting the name of the Lord thus maintaining one line of thought) and regular Meditation (Contemplating on the form of the Lord thus attaining single-pointed focus). This will help mind gain back its balance quickly even if it loses its poise at any instance.

A good leader should have these three qualities – Forgiveness, Compassion and Equanimity of Mind; the ropes with which he can manage himself as well as others.

The Second Rope: Compassion | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Compassion is the second rope of the chariot

When Vivekananda travelled all over India, he was saddened to see the plight of majority of the Indian population. He had seen so much sorrow that he couldn’t stop thinking how the people could be uplifted. He had no other thought in mind. It was his compassion towards his countrymen that made him work, the great work of Awakening Indians to India. He could have sat in some Himalayan cave and meditated over the knowledge what he gained from his Master and through his own contemplation. But his compassion for others, didn’t allow him to do so.

Once, when Swami Chinmayananda saw river Ganga flowing down to the plains, he thought – how cheerfully the Ganga flows down to the plains for serving the humanity! It is then he got a thought that he should come down from the Himalayas and share the knowledge he learnt from his master, Swami Tapovan Maharaj, with the common man who’s devoid of the knowledge of the scriptures and lives a mechanical and pathetic material life. For him, there was no need to come down from the lap of the majestic Himalayas and work tirelessly for 41 years. Yet, he did it, for the sake of the common man. That is compassion.

Compassion is the quality of a very strong person. Weak ones cannot think about others. They can only think about themselves or at the most their own family members. Only the brave ones can think and work for the welfare of others, expecting nothing, gaining nothing…working only for others’ good.

In Lakshmanopadesha (Upadesha – advice, to Lakshman) of Adhyatma Ramayana, Lord Rama patiently advises to the angry Lakshmana who’s fuming with hatred for their own father because of whom Rama had to leave to the forest. Rama is compassionate towards Lakshmana because Rama knows that Lakshmana is angry only because of his ignorance. And ignorance is not a crime. Most of us get annoyed when we see people performing wrong actions. It’s because we see them doing bad things but we do not realize ‘Why are they acting in such a way?’ Is it not due to their ignorance?

Great men are able to forgive because they are compassionate towards everyone. They are fully convinced that the Self that shines in them is the same as the Self that shines in others. In reality, every person is good. People behave in a wrong way only out of ignorance. The root cause of every incorrect action is ignorance.

Compassion comes out of understanding…understanding why a person acts so. Our minds get disturbed by someone else’s actions only because we are unable to understand them, or rather, find out a logical reason why they are doing this. At such instances, if we put across this question to ourselves that ‘What is the reason for his conduct’ and keep thinking over it, we will arrive at a conclusion where we find that the other person acted out of his ignorance. Had he possessed the right knowledge, he would definitely have behaved well. All the negative traits we come across – ego, rudeness, jealousy, greed, pride, etc; are born out of ignorance only.

Ignorance is the root cause of all misery. Understanding it, is first step of the cure. Once we understand, then compassion comes automatically. If we are able to be compassionate towards others, then we can accommodate more people in our life.