Sri Thyagaraja Swami emphasizes, again and again, the need for high values and consistency in living up to those values. One is reminded of the saying that if men are measured in miles, there will be no difference between man and man. Only because we apply small and truly inconsequential criteria such as caste, religion, education, wealth, and color, we find men differ from each other. Education, for example, reduces itself often to just academic education and not an improvement in the quality of the person. A highly educated person is often unaffected or rather uninfluenced by what he has learned. He remains ignorant though well-read and one savant called this kind of person an ass that arrives with a load of books. There is hardly anyone among us who would like the whole truth to be known about him. We tend to think, speak and act, in private, in a manner that would make us ashamed to admit these thoughts and words and actions in public.

We talk about God is always present in us and yet will not want God to see us when we are doing unacceptable things. We want God to see us only when we are doing acceptable things. We want God to see us only when we are praying or doing something that we feel society will approve or applaud. How many of us pray for the suffering people of the world, the millions who have no food, no security, and no peace? Floods in the Godavari render homeless and starving thousands of people, thousands of fertile land, hundreds of homes lost, and millions worth of personal belongings washed away. How many of us wept for the victims, leave alone doing something special to make their life worth living? We read such harrowing headlines and express a word of sympathy and go on to the next items in the newspaper. It makes no impact on us only because it does not personally affect us. If, however, they are our people in the affected area, we are moved and feel pretty bad.

Selfishness dominates our lives. Thousands killed in Bhopal is just bad news, but just one cat of ours killed in an accident is tragedy and subject matter of lugubrious discussions for days on end. The near-human qualities of the cat are discussed with feelings. All because the tragedy of Bhopal is beyond conception, and the cat story is nearer you and yours. We tend to see the weaknesses of others and only the virtue of themselves and our off-springs and those we like. We do not pray that we should become better persons, free of the weaknesses which taint our lives. We do not pray and ask for the strength to speak the truth only and for the strength to think, speak, and act in unison, what we call trikarna suddhi. We pray to partition God for favors, justifiable and otherwise. We pray that our mistakes and crimes should be unnoticed or, if noticed, unpunished. We ask for things we are not entitled to.

We contract with God that if such and such favor is conferred, we shall fulfill such and such offerings. We learn from early childhood that prayaschithas can absolve us of wrongdoings, however often repeated. Mental control, patience, tolerance, compassion, or equanimity, we do not feel like praying for, as we feel they are just academic qualities of no practical value. We forget that our enemies are not from outside but from within. “Kama Kridhamoha lobhamcha Dehe thishtathi thaskarah, gnana ratna apaharena.” It is essential that one gets rid of these six weaknesses, i.e., kama, kroda, moha, mada, and mathsarya and replace them with Sama, Dhama, Uparathi, Thithiksha, Sradha, and Samadhana (Tranquility, forbearance, looking away from evil, ability to bear suffering willingly, understanding and dedication). Man, who is in a temper, a man who is deeply in love, one who is jealous, one who is in fear – each f they lose common sense and act unwisely. Therefore, man is his own enemy or friend. “Eduru thane inkithamberigi,” realizing that you are your friend or your enemy is very important. The worst of these kayajathi or body-born enemies is Ego and then, possessiveness, acquisitiveness, and desire. These cause endless sorrow. The weak man who succumbs to temptations harms himself, but the man who wears his virtue next to his skin and goes about with an air of superiority inflicts himself on others, showing off his virtues and thus lets his ego do him much harm.

By Dr. R. Krishnaswamy and P. Sreenivasan
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