Sunday, 4 August 2013

Being Significant vs Being Successful

||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Swami Ramakrishnananda

||Aum Namo Narayanaya||


At times, a day can be so jaded and uneventful that the only activity befitting such a mood is an afternoon siesta. However, the day must not be written off in totality... but must be given recognition and appreciation for the significant and life-altering events it has hosted in the past. I am a fond and avid reader of a website called "This Day in History" that highlights all the major historical events that took place on a particular day as far as man has recorded in history. I thought it will be unusual and spontaneous to maybe view the 4th of August in history and analyse what spiritual lesson and inspiration we can draw from it.


The lengthy listing of events allows the day to justify the tepidity it has assumed... but also provides some interesting and intriguing fodder for discussion. The impressive array of 162 events starts with the sighting of the Supernova in 1181, and continues with some wars and battles, signing of peace treaties, collection of the first income tax in America and various success stories of personal achievements. In the midst of these are also some very significant events which are noteworthy to mention - like the establishment of the British Red Cross Society and the capture of Nelson Mandela by security forces. Whilst consuming these, it occurred to me that today in its current context maybe not that barren after all, as today is the birth thithi of Swami Ramakrishnananda - a monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.


The ensemble of past and present events served on this day is a wonderful treat to my discussion on the theme of being significant as compared to successful. There are innumerable successful people in the world today, who have amassed loads of wealth and assets. They are tucked away in their villas pampered and feasting lavishly on the fruits of their success. Last week, Swami Vimokshanandaji eloquently expanded the idea of marriage during the Tirrukurral class where He said that marriage takes the focus from the individual of being self-centered (not be confused with selfishness) to outer-consciousness. In my opinion, the path to success places the individual within the category of self-centeredness. The focus is indrawn with resources and intention placed solely on achieving the goal with large emphasis on glorifying and propitiating the ego.


On the other hand, there are a different class of a person whose chosen path reflect nothing but outward compassion and is focused on the welfare of humanity. On this day, my heart weeps on account of the arrest of Nelson Mandela and his imprisonment for 27 years... not because he stole money for his enrichment, not because he hurt anyone, but because he stood for the liberty and freedom of all South Africans - an ideal which he was prepared to die for. These are a class of great souls who have come not to live in the world but to live for the world. Their lives take on a significant character. They achieve greatness not through wealth, name and fame but through sheer selflessness and compassion for others.


On this day in 1863, a boy named Shasi Bhusan Chakrabathy was born in Calcutta. A highly intelligent and brilliant mathematician, who gazed the potential of a great academic or corporate career in the face... decided upon the path of becoming a monk. Reading the life of this great disciple of Sri Ramakrishna is in itself a wonderful sadhana that refreshes and rejuvenates the tired bodies that fruitlessly chase the tail of worldly success. A leader in his own right, yet Shasi Maharaj devoted his entire life to becoming the humble servant of his Master Sri Ramakrishna, his brother disciple Swami Vivekananda and the people of his country. The early days of his life enveloped with severe hardships did not deter him from his steadfast devotion and service.


Sister Devamata wrote as follows about Shasi Maharaj:  "If Swami Ramakrishnananda was a conservative in His mode of worship, He was essentially a liberal in His religious conviction. Tolerance, universality of outlook and freedom from all prejudice – these formed the keystones of His thought structure."


In his own words He said: "Selfishness is sin, unselfishness is the first milestone on the path of spirituality. A selfish person may perhaps enjoy comfort and health, but a sannyasin can never afford to be selfish. So long as we are selfish, our work is fruitless. All anxieties and worries come from egotism and selfishness. Let go of your little self and they will disappear. When you live constantly in the presence of divinity, the ego loses power, but so long as ego rules a man he is a bonded slave. The moment the idea of the little self disappears, we live and obscure life and go nowhere, but we can accomplish wonders."


It may be difficult to fathom and comprehend the thoughts and truly believe that such people like Nelson Mandela, Swami Vivekananda, Mother Theresa, Shasi Maharaj etc. can operate within this modern world. But they are real and lived and live amongst us... inspiring us all to adopt the higher path for the attainment of inner peace and peace in the world. It is a sad matter though even after the great and tremendous sacrifices by these great souls, we still show such disregard and disrespect by neglecting to practice even one ounce of their noble and selfless lives.


May we all strive to become significant rather than successful; live for the world rather than just live in the world... is my sincere prayer.


With love and prayers always


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