Selflessness is Healthy Selfishness

The Golani commandos have their idealogy:
“A combat soldier must never let his weapon out of his sight. You can leave your wife and your mother but you must never leave your weapon.”

When Sita Devi asked Sri Rama what is most dear to him, she hoped to hear that she is the dearest and most important. Certainly, it is true, but at the same time, Sri Rama responded as a king and protector, saying, “When I hear the cry of the afflicted, my bow rises up, and for such a task, I am willing to forgo everything, including my family.”

In many parts of Bharata, when the warrior classes get married they get up in the middle of marriage ceremony and offer pranam to their village deity. They proclaim that while the marriage ceremony is sacred to them, they are willing to forgo everything, including the marriage itself, for the sake of svarajya.

The great warrior and childhood associate of Shivaji Maharaja, Tanaji Malusure, once told his king, “आधी लगीन कोंढाण्याचं मग रायबाचं (adhi lagin kondhanyacha mag raibacha).” This means, “First, let the marriage of Kondhana fort, then Raiba’s (my son’s).” His sacrifice was paramount; he captured the fort for Shivaji Maharaja but lost his life in the process.

When the great Yudhishthira was asked by the Yaksha, “what constitutes adharma for a Kshatriya”, he replied that forsaking those who seek protection is adharma.

The heroism of a warrior is twofold: protection and nourishment. A warrior must protect those in distress and provide stability and resources for others to grow.

It’s not something glorified as a special quality but it’s reality of a Kshatriya’s life. Unfortunately, in modern times, the so-called warrior class often engages in cruelty, subjecting the afflicted to abuse and torment. This represents a clear misuse and exploitation of their power.

Therefore, in Bharatiya ideology, charity is emphasized for all on a daily basis. It could be as small as throwing some rice flour to the ants or grains to the birds.

There were different kinds of Dana: Abhaya Dana by Kshatriyas, Vidya Dana by educated, Anna and Bhu Dana by wealthy and Shrama Dana (labour) by young and able.

Such social sensitivity maintained balance in the society instead producing blind and cruel wealthy people or envious and angry poor individuals.

Therefore, Dana was intended more to create balance in society rather than to showcase one’s compassion and kindness to exploit differently.

The missionaries used compassion as a tool for large-scale conversion. The compassion took the form of deception instead of actual transformation. South America and Africa have been fully converted, yet poverty remains strong and growing. Some one had visited South America, one socialist in that country explained, “ There is Jesus all over and poverty every where.”

The crazy cricket fans in Mumbai are fervent, yet the team, selection committee, and other members grow rich, which is unimaginable to many fans. The so-called victories have created greater disparities between those who watch and those who play.

Will Durant mentions in the essay, Goverment and History about Greeks during 366 BC, “ The rich have become so unsocial, that those who own property would rather throw their possessions into the sea than lend aid to the needy, while those who are in poorer circumstances would less gladly find a treasure than seize possessions of the rich.”

Sure enough, “Selflessness” blossoms within “Healthy Selfishness”. Sharing and caring selfishly not only fosters balance in society but also nurtures generous hearts in those who give and grateful hearts in those who receive.

– Govinda Das (ISKCON Member)

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