Sunday, 2 February 2014


||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

 ||Aum Namo Narayanaya||

Aum- google images
Authenticity. Many dictionaries share the same sentiments with regards to the meaning of the word. They refer to it as: the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. Authenticity seems to play out quite evidently in the commercial world where everything requires verification for authenticity. Contracts, applications, etc. require many identification checks and proof of various aspects before being approved. Of recent it has also become a schlep to cross borders with the mountain of paper work that one has to process from visas to proof of employment right down to proof of residency.

Last week I was amused whilst was browsing through the vegetable isle of a large supermarket chain-store. Having grown up in a farming community, we were accustomed to purchasing fresh, succulent vegetables at the market. We would notice how people would test the vegetables for freshness and value before purchasing. The most glaring one would be the scars left on the calabash by fingernails. I erupted into an internal burst of laughter to note that even in this day in large chain stores this practice continues, as I noticed the calabash being victim to the uncertainty of the customer. All these measures -some of which extreme- ensure that we are not cheated or hoodwinked into accepting inferior quality or anything less than that which we have opted for.

We have taken such precaution to ensure that we are not cheated from society… but what precautions have we taken to prevent us from being cheated by ourselves? This relevant enquiry arose from reading the glorious accounts from the Katha Upanishad. The pragmatic arguments delivered by protagonist Nachiketa comes as a panacea to his father who was afflicted with insincerity, anger, and remorse.

There was, in ancient times, a very rich man Vajashravas - who made a certain sacrifice which required that he should give away everything that he had. Now, this man was not sincere. He wanted to get the fame and glory of having made the sacrifice, but he was only giving things which were of no further use to him — old cows that were barren, blind, and lame. He had a boy called Nachiketa. This boy saw that his father was not doing what was right, that he was breaking his vow. In order to save his father’s honour, he beseeched his father to offer him as a sacrifice as well. This inauthenticity displayed by Nachiketa’s father is not unknown to us. Take a little time to think of how sincere or authentic you are towards every activity that you do. Are you sincere to your family, your work, your service to humanity and most importantly to yourself?

If there is single phrase that would be the essence of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings, it would be “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. Those who have read Swamiji would realise the extent to which He drove this idea in all his works. His inspiration for this teaching comes from the Katha Upanishad, where Yama (Lord of Death) said  to  Nachiketa in the 1.3.14 chapter of Katha Upanishad: "Uttisthata Jagrata Prapya Barannibodhata" ("Arise! Awake! Approach the great and learn).

Many people, especially youth, unaware of their inner nature… live an aimless, mediocre life. In order to sustain this life, they resort to be inauthentic and they together with others like this, become the basis for the degradation of society.

Swamiji’s inspirational and personal accounts in America that relate to this from the Katha Upanishad can help humanity live a life of authenticity . Swamiji relates:


Travelling through many cities of Europe and observing in them the comforts and education of even the poor people, there was brought to my mind the state of our own poor people, and I used to shed tears. What made the difference? Education was the answer I got. Through education comes faith in one's own Self, and through faith in one's own Self the inherent Brahman is waking up in them, while the Brahman in us is gradually becoming dormant. In New York I used to observe the Irish colonists come — downtrodden, haggard-looking, destitute of all possessions at home, penniless, and wooden-headed — with their only belongings, a stick and a bundle of rags hanging at the end of it, fright in their steps, alarm in their eyes. A different spectacle in six months — the man walks upright, his attire is changed! In his eyes and steps there is no more sign of fright. What is the cause? Our Vedanta says that that Irishman was kept surrounded by contempt in his own country — the whole of nature was telling him with one voice, "Pat, you have no more hope, you are born a slave and will remain so." Having been thus told from his birth, Pat believed in it and hypnotised himself that he was very low, and the Brahman in him shrank away. While no sooner had he landed in America than he heard the shout going up on all sides, "Pat, you are a man as we are. It is man who has done all, a man like you and me can do everything: have courage!" Pat raised his head and saw that it was so, the Brahman within woke up. Nature herself spoke, as it were… Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.

Progress, prosperity and strength cannot come to those who hide behind religious practices ordained in the scriptures alone. This book knowledge is only worth the paper it is written on. It is until one develops firm faith in oneself with the understanding of the nature of the self and bases and lives their life in accordance to that nature (authenticity) then and only then can one say with authority that he has knowledge.

Nachiketa comes to us in this age as an inspiration and a catalyst for blissful living and peaceful co-existence. Swamiji Himself said: ”If I get ten or twelve boys with the faith of Nachiketa, I can turn the thoughts and pursuits of this country in a new channel.”

May Nachiketa be the pole star that inspires and guides us to lead an authentic life, is my sincere prayer.

 Ever yours with all love and blessings


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