Our Duty towards the Society – 1

Note: The following are excerpts from Sri M. S. Golwalkar‘s book, “Bunch of Thoughts“. This book by this great national thinker, is literally a treasure-house of wisdom on the proper conduct of life, our dharma, remembering the unrivaled glory of the Hindu culture, building a strong India, and organizing and uplifting the entire society. Sri Golwalkar’s remarkable courage, love of truth, power of conviction and the spirit of selfless sacrifice is reflected well in his thoughts as presented in the book.

Our forefathers therefore said, “Our People are our God”. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, one of the greatest teachers of mankind, said, ‘Serve man’. His great disciple Swami Vivekananda also stated the same emphatically. But ‘man’, in the sense of the whole of humanity, is a very wide concept and as such, cannot be grasped easily as a single solid entity for us to see and feel. Therefore it is that so many who took up the idea of serving humanity ended in inanity and inaction. Hence our forefathers, understanding the limitations of the human mind and intellect, said, “Humanity and all that is all right, but before one can rise to that stage, one should take a view of the Almighty with certain limitations as it were, which one can understand, feel and serve”. The Hindu People, they said, is the Virat Purusha, the Almighty manifesting Himself.

True Spirit of Service

This supreme vision of Godhead in society is the very core of our concept of ‘nation’ and has permeated our thinking and given rise to various unique concepts of our cultural heritage.

That vision inspires us to look upon every individual of our society as a part of that Divine Whole. All individuals are therefore equally sacred and worthy of our service. Therefore any sense of discrimination amongst them is reprehensible. Thus, in our culture, the spirit of social service has been sublimated into worship of God.

There are millions of human beings all around us who live in hunger and destitution, deprived of even the barest necessities of life, and whose stories of misery will move the stoniest of hearts. It is verily God who has taken those forms of the poor, the destitute and the suffering. What for? Does He want anything? He is the very embodiment of all power, all knowledge, and is the Master of all. Then what is it that He wants? He comes in those forms to give us an opportunity to serve Him. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa called them Daridra Narayana (destitute God)

Once our life becomes soaked with this true spirit of service, we will feel that all our individual and family possessions, however abundant they may be, do not really belong to us. These are only the means to worship God in the form of society. Our whole life will then be an offering in the service of society. The Upanishads say :

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किंच जगत्यां जगत् ।
तेन त्यक्तेनभुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद् धनम् ।।

(God permeates all Creation. Whatever is left over by Him, after offering Him, enjoy only that much. Do not rob what belongs to others)

Let us therefore acquire maximum of material wealth so that we can serve God in the form of society in the best possible manner. And out of all that wealth, only that minimum should be used for our sake the denial of which will hamper our capacity for service. To claim or to make a personal use of more than that, is verily an act of theft against society.

In Bhagavata Narada says :

यावद् भ्रीयेत् जठरं तावत् स्वत्वं हि देहिनाम् ।
अधिकं योभिमन्येत स स्तेनो दंडमर्हति ।।

(Take whatever is essential for bodily sustenance. To take more is an act of theft and deserves to be punished)

Thus we are only the trustees of society. It is only when we become trustees in the true sense that we can serve society best. Such a pure attitude of service will leave no scope for ego or self-adulation.

Duty in Place of Right

Today we hear everywhere the clamour for ‘rights’. All our political parties too are rousing the ego in our people by constantly speaking of their ‘rights’. Nowhere is there any stress on ‘duties’ and the spirit of selfless service. The spirit of co-operation which is the soul of society can hardly survive in a climate of assertion of egocentric rights. That is why we are finding conflicts among the various component parts in our national life today, between the teacher and the taught, the labourer and the industrialist, and so on. It is only by an assimilation of our cultural vision that the true spirit of co-operation and consciousness of duty can be revived in our national life.


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