Uddharet Atmana Atmanam - Editorial from Dainik Pratyaksha
Editorial of Dr. Aniruddha D. Joshi (Aniruddha Bapu), Executive Editor of Pratyaksha published on 15-Dec-2005
Right from childhood, everyone wants to do something and to become someone, in other words, everyone wants to bring in a certain change. Moreover, this change that he longs for, is for each one, his respective path to the progress he looks forward to. ‘In his given circumstances, he could have done better things or done them in a better way; he could have achieved better things or in a better way’ is what everybody keeps feeling – be he a child of ten or an old man of seventy.
It is this very desire of man to improve his circumstances that becomes the cause of his progress. However, quite often, what happens is, ‘the path of his effort or strife leads not to the aim but down the drain’. Sometimes effort meets with failure and at other times the effort is directed towards inappropriate goals. That life be full of peace, fulfillment and prosperous, is what all feel. But then that is not how things shape up and that is exactly why life becomes flooded with moments of unrest, discontentment and helplessness.
People have so many dreams, they make so many resolves. But do we ever see them putting in the commensurate and appropriate effort and feeling gratified and happy about it?
In order that life progress on all fronts what everyone requires is to understand well the meaning of the following great maxim and to imbibe and practice it as a norm:
Uddharet Atmana Atmanam
which in simple words means, ‘I alone can bring about my upliftment and progress on all fronts’. Irrespective of whether I walk the path of progress as an ordinary family person or I walk the path to liberation where the ‘I’, i.e. my identity as separate from the parmeshvar dissolves completely and becomes one with Him. It is I and I alone who must do the effort.
This is the precise point where we slip. As long as we depend upon the circumstances around us, on help from others, or even on miracles and destiny for our progress, we never end up achieving our goal. Effort and strife on any righteous and appropriate path demand that we acquire strength for ourselves. A dependent life and bookish theoretical knowledge can never lead to actualization which necessitates self-reliance –the kind that is equipped and willing to assimilate by way of experience. He who is not self-reliant is for sure, disabled and so incapable. Helen Keller, a woman with multiple physical disabilities proves a source of inspiration for the entire world, all because of her efforts to become independent, to become self-reliant. What in the world should then be impossible for us, we who are physically able and strong? You might say, ‘But then Helen did need her teacher after all, to help her rise above her circumstances, did she not?’ Yes, true. The love of the Almighty was in any case going to extend a helping hand in some form or the other to this little girl who wished so much to work hard despite her physical disabilities. It was indeed the love of the Almighty that manifested in the form of the teacher for the sake of this physically disabled yet strong-willed and determined young girl. As a matter of fact, the love of the Almighty just had to come, and be there for her.
What exactly do we mean by ‘Uddhaar or upliftment and progress on all fronts? Deliverance from sin, adding to the collection of merit, going from rags to riches, going from immorality to morality or is it going from feebleness to strength? It could be each one of the above but it could also be none of them. ‘Upliftment and progress on all fronts’ is being entitled to joy, having walked the path of the Parmeshvar, in other words the path of Truth and Love.
However, on this journey, we need to be very clearly acquainted with what ‘Truth’ and ‘Love’ mean. Truth and reality are totally distinct from each other. Suppose I have made up my mind to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. A helpless young woman happens to run up to me and pleads, “A pack of hooligans is chasing me. I want to hide in your house.” After a while, the hooligans arrive and ask, “Did you by any chance notice this woman?” What must I say? Would the reply “Yes, the woman is hiding in my house” make me a stringent observer of the Truth? My reply will no doubt be based on reality but it will not have any truth in it. No not at all – because my words would lead to rape – a disdainful, despicable and resentful occurrence and so obviously not chaste. So we very obviously conclude that that which gives rise to or safeguards purity and sanctity is alone the Truth. What is most needed is to speak the truth to our own self and that is precisely what we do never do. We lie to our own self and that is where we lie the most. We hold everybody and everything around responsible for our situation, we allow lame excuses to convince our own thinking and intellect and this is precisely the point where we lose our capacity to salvage ourselves. The ‘excuse’ is indeed a hugely destructive weapon that can cause complete destruction of our life.
He, who identifies his blunders and without blowing them up to intimidating proportions, strives to mend them, emerges successful in the real sense – and that holds true irrespective of whether the goal is the acquisition of wealth, fame and power or even that of attaining the Highest purpose – the Almighty.
Moreover, the journey of life void of ‘love’ leaves the truth crippled. Love here means ‘selfless, unconditional love – pure and sheer love – love not loaded with any motive whatsoever’. This kind of love is the greatest strength in the world. Pitched against the strength of love, any destructive, devastating and vicious power always has to beat the retreat. Our worldly life, our family life is the simplest and yet the greatest workshop that teaches this kind of love. However, even here a slight offence or a little something against our wish is enough to wipe out our affinity for the person in question. So then, as for our tolerance of people outside of the family – well the less said the better. Our resentment and our hostility keep piling up and then they seep into the atmosphere around us. With every breath that we take in, we take in the hate – allowing it entry into our life and consequently suffer its venomous effects.
Try to love, with all your heart and do not ever stray from the path of purity and sanctity. The whole world will then be all yours. Because in the kingdom of God, reigns total and perfect democracy. Just like in a democracy every voter actually rules; it is he who chooses the ruler, every human being shapes his own destiny. The Almighty has granted the free will to every human. The freedom of the individual, of opinion and that of expression that the Almighty has granted to the human is several times more liberal than all of these as seen and safeguarded in the democracy of the human world. Moreover, in the human democratic setup, the rule is ‘the kind of people they are and the way they exercise their freedom of opinion decides and fetches them the government that rules them’. Similarly ‘the kind of person you are and the kind of commitment and faith that binds you to truth and love decides and fetches the destiny they have to live.’
In the first place, in a democratic setup, we hardly ever cast our vote. Even if we do, we do it mindlessly and without a thought to any ethical norm. The resultant fruit could mean handing over power to the wrong hands. The same applies to life. Wrong notions and confused thinking could mean life giving in to troublesome or problematic circumstances.
The purushartha is always and at all times more powerful than destiny. Only shunning Truth and Love the attributes and excellences of the Almighty and the sources of strength that the purushartha draws from, is what will make it impossible.
When in a democracy the people say, “We have cast our vote and that is it, the end of our responsibility. Now it is for the government to take care of everything that concerns us”, the democracy in that nation is to be termed as the circus of clowns. Also the stand ‘if my hari indeed exists, He will see to it that everything falls in my lap, right where I am sitting.” or ‘what chance do I stand in comparison to the powers of destiny?’ is enough to make a laughing stock of the entire life.
If dropping all crutches, real self-reliance is what we wish to achieve, holding on tight to the principles of Truth and Love we must imbibe in ourselves, the unshakable faith that the Almighty and the Almighty alone is my one and the only genuine and true support. However, what is the picture we see in society? We look to make the Almighty into our crutches. We must understand that the Almighty is not a go-cart. No He is not. On the contrary, He is the One who actually does away with insufficiency and disability. All rituals, all rites that do not arise from Truth and Purity as also all dramatics that are a pretense of bhakti are fragile go-carts. These only serve to make us increasingly insufficient and crippled whereas bhakti on the path of truth and love is what fetches us total self-reliance and so success as well.
Mukam karoti vachalam pangum langhayate girim | Yatkripa tam aham vande paramananda madhavam ||
(The dumb become effusive and talkative and the lame can traverse mountains, all owing to the grace of Madhav, who is the ultimate joy)