It is an old story. The editor of a famous Kolkata based magazine went to Prayagaraj to take a holy dip in the Sangam. While bathing, he slipped accidentally and was carried away by the swift river current. A brave young man standing at the shore saw him drowning, and immediately jumped into the river. Showing exemplary courage, he rescued the drowning editor.
The editor expressed his gratitude & appreciation and offered him a reward which was politely declined by the young man. The editor gave him his visiting card and requested him to visit his place whenever he came to Kolkata.
A few months later, the young man happened to visit Kolkata and went to the editor’s office where he was greeted with a hearty welcome. After exchanging pleasantries, the young man showed the editor an article written by him, and requested him to publish it in his magazine.
The editor went through the article but did not find it up to the mark. He was in a dilemma. He wanted to favour the young man, but the article was not good enough to be published in his reputed magazine.
“It appears you have a flair for writing. You need to polish your skill. With some hard work you can definitely be a great writer, but I am afraid presently your article is not above the minimum level required for publishing.”
However the young man was adamant. He pressed the editor to publish the article as it was. The editor tried his best to convince the young man. He told him that writing and publishing were not like any other profession and since they had the ability to transform the destinies of nations, they needed to be treated with reverence and discipline. But the young man would have none of it. He got angry and said, “I saved your life, yet you cannot even publish my small article?”
“If you want me to publish this article in lieu of saving my life”, replied the editor in a serious but firm tone, “Then let us go back to Sangam. You can push me back into the river. I would prefer to drown, rather than allowing this article to be published.”
Ultimately the disappointed young man had to take his article back, perhaps still unmindful of the fact that his insistence was for a wrong cause.
This incident is frequently repeated in our daily lives, may be at different places and in different contexts. The tendency to insist on getting the wrong things done in return for some favours, has pervaded all layers and all sections of the society.
If we have done some favour to a teacher, we would expect him/her to give good marks to our child however undeserving he may be.
If we have lent money to a powerful person close to the administration, we would expect him to help us in carrying out some illegal activity or deed.
If we have helped some editor or publisher, we would expect him to publish our article, however sub-standard it may be.
If we have helped a poor person, we would like to have the right to exploit him.
If some one needs our help in some venture, however noble it may be, we would expect him to do something for us in return, which may even be some thing wrong or illegal. If such a person does not give in to our inappropriate demand, we immediately brand him as an ‘ungrateful’ fellow.
On the other hand, if we do not extract favours from some one whom we have helped, we are branded as ‘fools’ This is the background that provides a conducive space for the growth of the serpent of corruption that feeds itself with the moral fabric of the society.
Matters get worse when the Pandas at the Ganga ghat become the cause of slippage at the ghats, making the pilgrims fall into the river. If now the Pandas help such drowning pilgrims and then exploit them for favours in return, it will be the limit of corruption.
This will the state of affairs when a ruler turns a tormentor; when the teacher imparts venomous education that breeds corruption, unemployment lust and other vices in the society; when the justice seekers dread the temples of justice; when the physicians treat patients as money minting machines; when political leaders create problems deliberately only to solve them and project themselves as saviors of people; when the sages and mahatmas start seeking a life of luxury and indulgence, instead of preaching the ideals of renunciation and seva .
The root cause of all this turbulence is the fear that pervades our being. The cause of fear is moha- ignorance about of our own self and our inherent eternal power. The aim of our life is to awaken this latent power. To achieve this lofty aim, we will have to be alive to our own dharma- righteousness; We will have to shun the tendency of seeking props; we will have to develop our own capabilities.