On a day of celebration and enjoyment like Deepavali, when people pamper themselves with new clothes and sweets, I would like to emphasise an aspect of Indian culture called ‘denial’ (or self-denial).
Of course it has nothing to do with the denials that come from politicians and corrupt bureaucrats and (now alas) army generals about their culpability till they are caught red-handed.
I am talking about the denial which India has been famous for since time immemorial.
The denial that made the father of the nation trek in Noakhali when Nehru was on Red fort…the denial that made prosperous lawyers like Rajaji live in huts in nondescript villages. The denial that made the one and only Indian governor general of India wash his own clothes.
I am talking of the denial that made thousands of poorly paid teachers give off their best for their students.
This is the denial that is implied in the cliché plain living and high thinking.
There is a space within us that grows with denial.
There is a space inside us that cannot be filled with things.
The more this space expands the more we realize that worldly things cannot fill it.
It is this space in which the worlds swim…it is this space that fills all the worlds!
And there is only one way you can expand that space…by realizing that new cars and new gadgets and new women cannot fill it…they might end up shrivelling it!
One of the names of the earth is Vasumathi…she who is full of treasures. And especially in times of economic upswing, she releases great riches.
Brutish natures don’t know what to do with plenty…they gorge themselves to their own detriment. They sell their lives for lucre and wander like lost souls in the glistening garbage dumps of false values.
What does one do when one is amidst plenty? Realise at least the principle of diminishing returns that works in our lives. The more you switch on the AC, the less you come to feel it!
With denying oneself of things that don’t belong to us, comes the sense of responsibility.
Know that the city that nourishes you has to be nourished and protected not only for the present but for the future.
The wisdom of India talked of the responsibilities that rest on every man…his duty to his ancestors (read heritage), his duty to the gods (read environment), his duty to his brethren, and his duty to himself.
There is a great deal to be done other than sharing the spoils of ill-begotten wealth.
Self-denial is the pivotal Ashoka chakra that will take our lives forward. It is the secret talisman for the future India…because it was the secret mantra that made India realize the immortality of life…Mrityor ma armritam gamaya…
Those who thus enter the world of denial know that denial is in fact not denial, but the greatest affirmation of the infinite possibilities of man.
On the day of lights, let this realization dawn upon my countrymen that it is they who have to illuminate the lights…the lights outside are only of the symbol of the lights within.