We are always afraid of criticism – what others will think or say. Being afraid of criticism, we are unable to take proper and correct decisions. The result is, we end up full of tension. In this context, the famous couplet of Kabir is significant – “While the elephants go, the dogs bark at them. But unmindful, the elephants proceed without even giving a glance at the barking dogs.” In the same manner, you should also mentally say – “Let the others bark; I am not going to bother as I am doing the right thing or taking the correct decision”. Criticism by others can also be taken in a positive light for improving yourself in the future. IshwarchandraVidyasagar always used to help others irrespective of criticism. He used to say that criticism is the
Nature of people and you should not pay attention to that and carry on with
your work; if you pay attention to criticism, you will not be able to do good
work. Here the episode of the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital in Haridwar is
worth narrating. The Ramakrishna Mission was started in 1897 and in 1898 a
hospital was set up in Hardwar. It was run from a small hut for the first couple of years. Swami Vivekananda had sent his disciples to run the hospital saying, “This is real service, not worship of god in temples, but worship of god in human beings.” In the course of treatment of the patients, the monks many a
time had to touch them, wash their wounds and apply dressing. This infuriated
the local Sadhu Samaj, who did not allow the RK Mission people to come to
the ‘Bhandara’ organised by them. Their contention was that the monks
instead of meditating, were doing the work of sweepers and would not be allowed to partake in their ‘Bhandara’. After many years of this boycott, one of the great
Mandaleshwars fell ill. By then, the RK Mission Hospital had become a big
well established one and the sick Mandaleshwar was admitted and treated
there. There he saw with his own eyes how the monks and the disciples of
the mission did selfless service of the patients. This transformed him and he
declared that the mission was doing real service to the people of Haridwar.
The whole attitude of Sadhu Samaj was so transformed that today the
Bhandara in Haridwar is always started with the RK Mission monk as the first.
This incident goes to prove that we should never be afraid of criticism. Do not
get perturbed, be bold and god will be with you. If god is with you, who can
be against you? And conversely, if god is not with you, who can be with you? If you remember this maxim, you will never be disheartened.
Loss of job or wealth or similar calamities or crises can be a great shock to anyone, shattering one’s tranquility and equilibrium. On such occasions, one has to remember the advice given by Sri Krishna to Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita, “Don’t be a coward, this unmanliness doesn’t suit you; pick up your arms and fight bravely.” Swami Vivekananda said, “Life is a struggle. Do you want to be great or extra ordinary? Then you have to
overcome great or extra ordinary problems. If you have extra ordinary problem, solve it, come out of it and you become extra ordinary yourself. Awaken the lion or giant within you to achieve this.” In any calamity or crisis,
the important thing is not to quit, not to lose patience, but fight bravely. Greater the struggle, greater the person who comes out of it. There are many examples of people overcoming crises by struggling bravely.
While I was in UK, one woman came to me and started weeping. She said that her husband working for an organisation was
accused of wrong doing, he would be tried in a court and would even be imprisoned. She asked, “Where is justice?”. I advised her that her weeping was not going to solve the problem, she had to be courageous in facing the situation. If injustice had been done to her
innocent husband, she should get the best available lawyer and fight the case bravely in the court. I gave her the message of Bhagavad
Gita, and somewhat comforted, she went away. Later when I was in Switzerland, she gave me the message that her husband had been let off with some adverse remarks in his records, but was saved from being jailed.
Then there is the story of a very old Nepalese king, who was well known for his miserliness. Once there was a dance session in his royal court with a pretty dancer, accompanied by a man on the musical instrument. The prince, princess, rich merchant and many others were present. A passing monk also stopped by. The dance session went on for one hour, two hours and so on till late in the night and now morning was approaching. But the king would not present the gift. The custom was that the king should be the first to present the gift to the dancer and the others would follow for the dance session to end. The dancing girl became so exhausted after hours of continuous dancing and in desperation, she added a sentence of her own while singing – “I am too tired now, no gift is forthcoming, I am
going to stop.” Immediately, the accompanist also added a sentence of his – “Very little of the night is left now, don’t break the rhythm, all efforts will go in vain, continue the dance as morning is not too far away.” Then the miracle happened. The merchant threw his costly necklace to the dancer, followed by the prince and the princess also throwing their necklaces. The monk did not have any costly gift to offer, so he threw his blanket to the dancer. Seeing the traditional custom broken, the king asked all of them for their explanations. The merchant replied that the previous day he received the news of one
merchant ship of his sinking with its goods and was contemplating suicide in the night, but hearing the words of the accompanist, he
remembered that there were four more ships on their way whose safe arrival news he was yet to receive. If they reached safely, he would
not be a total loser, though a little poorer, and this realisation prompted him to give the gift. The prince said that since the king, though very old and infirm, was not abdicating his throne in his favour and hence he was planning to murder the king in the night. The words of the accompanist saved him from committing regicide as the king was in any case not likely to live long and he would inherit the throne. The princess explained that since the king was not getting her married, she was planning to flee the palace that night to marry someone, but the words of the accompanist saved her from this stigma. It was the turn of the monk to explain now. He said that despite many many years of practising austerity, he did not realise god and hence was planning to get married and enjoy
some worldly pleasure, but the words of the accompanist saved him from this stigma as he was sure to realise the fruits of practicing
austerities all his life very soon. The story underlines the need to have patience and never give up or quit.
Another famous story is that of the gifted French opera singer Madam Kalway who was in USA giving a concert. Halfway through the
concert, she felt very uneasy and said in the green room that she could not continue. Despite the pleadings by others that the whole
show would be spoiled, she refused to continue as she felt something terrible had happened and she could not perform now. Within half hour, she received the news that her only daughter had died in an accident of burning. She was shattered and contemplated suicide. Three consecutive attempts by her to drown herself in a pond failed. Then her friends advised her to visit Swami Vivekananda who was camping nearby to get peace of mind. On entering Swamiji’s room,
she was comforted by the words – “My dear daughter, why are you suffering so much? This is not the end, this is not a defeat. Become cheerful and be your old self again.” Sitting beside Swamiji, she felt immense tranquility, became composed and felt a new life in her. Later on, as a devotee of Vivekananda, she went on a pilgrimage to Egypt and other places. Many years later in 1911, after the passing away of Vivekananda in 1902, she visited Belur Math in Kolkata. She
went to the room where Vivekananda used to stay and reminisced how she was saved from committing suicide by Swamiji. The incident
illustrates the importance of seeking counseling when one is in great distress or crisis. You unburden yourself with the counselor and it will save the situation.
(The writer is a Head, Ramakrishna Ashram based in Rajkot)
Friday, 15 November 2019 | Swami Nikhileshwarananda
| in Devbhoomi Spiritual
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