Do Your Best
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 30 Dec 2019
In a recent symposium on Gandhi’s 150th Anniversary, a scholar mentioned that like Gandhi, we must do our best; we must be good patriots and work for the welfare of the people of our countries.
This set me thinking–how can we do our best for our country or for society in general? I have completed seven decades of my life; have I been a good person, have I done anything for the welfare of our society?
What can people do towards this objective? In what way can people’s activities benefit other people or society in general? There are many people both men and women who work for their families and children. But how does one work for the good of other families, other people or society, in other words?
The best and enduring examples are the men and women who have sown the seeds of love, peace and harmony in the world and who later came to be called Prophets or Gods or Goddesses. Who can forget Moses, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, Mohammad, Guru Nanak (Sikh), Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth in Hinduism)? There are countless other Gods and Goddesses according to people of different countries, religions, and faiths. Confucius was a Chinese philosopher and politician whom many consider as a God incarnate in China.
Then there are noble souls such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Leo Tolstoy, and Martin Luther King who have shown ordinary people the path of truth, nonviolence, peace and harmony. Whose footsteps should one follow is not difficult to know since they all lead to the similar values of love, compassion.
One can be a good writer, poet, philosopher, musician, dancer, actor, etc. that people like and feel happy watching, or reading their books, and learning from them.
Homer was the legendary Greek author who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems of ancient Greek literature. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is a well known English poet, dramatist known for such brilliant works as Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, etc. The Indian legendary writer Ved Vyas, who wrote such epic treatises as Mahabharata, Vedas, Puranas, Bhagwad Gita and other outstanding works in Sanskrit, is admired for the vast scope of his ouvre, which covers many issues confronting humankind and our civilisation.
One can be a good scientist or inventor whose inventions have benefited people. Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was an American inventor who created the electric bulb, the phonograph and the movie camera among other inventions that have improved societies everywhere. Similarly, countless number of scientists and engineers have revolutionised society. The name of the Scottish inventor James Watt (1736-1819) comes to mind. He invented the first steam engine that led to the industrial revolution in the western world.
I have not mentioned famous scientists — Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Marie Curie, Einstein and several others not because their researches are not outstanding but probably because their impact on society and humanity has not enthralled ordinary mortals. Curie’s dedicated research has led to the discovery of new elements and the phenomenon of radioactivity. Einstein and his discovery of relativity theory and the simple relation E=mc2 relating energy and square of velocity of light are outstanding scientific achievements.
Painters such as Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, the home of Catholic Church, and Leonardo de Vinci, who painted the enchanting portrait of Mona Lisa are household names in the Western world. But not too much is known of the artists who created the UNESCO-Heritage Khajuraho temples in India. These temples display elaborate carvings that are dedicated to Hindu and Jain Gods especially Lord Shiva. Whoever carved those brilliant pieces has done an unforgettable service to human civilisation. Same goes for the exquisite carvings at Angkor Wat, the huge ancient Hindu temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Music composers and singers like Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig Beethoven, the Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankàr, The Beatles, all have brought happiness, tranquility, inspiration by their music and songs. Even a local singer in a remote village of Rajasthan brings joy and happiness by his flute and drums.
With this galaxy of outstanding personalities in all walks of life, what does an ordinary mortal do for the welfare of society? The doubt is enhanced because despite the good that has been done by our prophets, scientists, painters, musicians and others like Gandhi, the world today is saddled by evil, violence, terrorism, injustices, and social economic disparities and inequities. So what is an ordinary mortal supposed to do? The Bhagwad Gita says: ‘Do your duty, don’t worry about the rewards.’
So I shall carry on with my struggles in this complex world, in my own simple ways to do good for the society. Help me He Krishna! What about you?
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Dec 2019.
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