Source : Google photo
Synopsis : We often face many difficulties in our life and feel alone when no one comes to help. At such times we tend to dig in our heels and go alone and find the resolve to do so. The blog looks at the inner strength we all have or can develop to help us through our difficulties.
There is a famous song of Rabindra Nath Thakur whom the British called Tegore that became the National song of India. Its lyrics start with the line “ If no one hears your call, go alone” . I always felt a deep sense of empathy with his words that tell people that life is hard and you do not always get the help and succor you need so just go ahead alone and try to overcome all your difficulties in life.
The video of the song by Rabindra Nath sung by SriKanta Acharya in Bengali is presented here with the lyrics in English and the U tube video link
If no one responds to your call, move alone.
O dear, move alone.
If no one speaks, O the ill-fated,
If everyone looks the other way, afraid —
You speak out alone, loud enough, open-hearted.
If everyone shows his back, O the ill-fated,
If no one looks back while traversing deep woods.
You deal alone the roughness of roads under your blood-soaked feet.
If nowhere is light seen, O the ill-fated,
If every door is closed in the dark and stormy night.
You burn alone; ignite your ribs from the flash of lightning.
The second video of the song sung by Shreya Ghoshal with lyrics in Bengali and English is also presented here . Just click on the link below to hear the song.
It holds true of a great nation like India that often found itself alone with few friends so she decided to go it alone and develop the country using its own resources. It is truly amazing what resources one can come up with when facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties so India found its human resources that propels it to become a nation of unlimited possibilities.
It developed its own GPS system when the United States refused its satellite coverage during the Pakistan conflict and it developed its own powerful rockets to send missions to Mars and Moon when such technologies were denied to her. It developed its thorium based nuclear technology to generate power when the Western countries put sanctions on India to get uranium fuels for its reactors and it developed its own satellite systems to cover the entire country when access to foreign satellites were denied by the Americans.
It is amazing what anyone can achieve alone. A call from the nation for help generates great response from its citizens who come forward with generous heart and offer all they have to offer. Netaji Bose appealed to all Indians to come forward and support his army to fight the British so people donated money and gold jewelries and some 50000 men and women joined the Indian National Army . When a blind young man wanted to join the army of Netaji Bose, he said that he can offer his body to reduce the enemy bullet by one.
When Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri appealed to all Indians to donate what they could to the national defense fund during the war with Pakistan, one unlikely candidate called him and said that he had something to donate so please come to Hyderabad . Mr. Shastri was surprised and went to see the last Nizam of Hyderabad who said that he wanted to help the nation so brought with him crates filled with gold bars weighing 5 tons. Can you imagine the price of 5 tons of gold?
What Rabindra Nath meant was that we all need to look into ourselves and find the strength we need when no one comes forward to help. India has taken his words seriously and has found her inner strength to go forward and develop the country when she faced sanctions and non-cooperation abroad.
It also holds true of any individual facing difficulties. After all what is a country if not the collective will of all its citizens? During the second world war, the American government facing shortage of metals and plastic for the manufacture of war materials asked its citizens to collect metal and plastic or anything that could be used for the war effort so the citizens responded by collecting such things nationwide. It made a big difference in the war effort.
When Mr. Shastri faced food import restrictions from abroad, he appealed all citizens to switch to corn and other staples for food and observe nationwide fast once a week so people responded to overcome the temporary difficulties. Later India depending on herself became self-sufficient in food and now has built up huge buffer stocks of millions of tons of food grain all over the country and makes subsidized food available to all its citizens.
Cuba also faced sanctions and trade embargo after her successful revolution by Castro but has made progress in agriculture to feed the nation just the same and continues to grow as a country giving everyone land for cultivation and free education and health care that is the envy of the world.
The inner strength of a person is often hidden and only comes to be known when in dire needs. It is based on the human desire to sacrifice everything if need be to safeguard our freedom and independence. It is the same desire that makes young men and women come forward when the nation calls for them. That is the collective will of a nation but it is also true of individuals.
When needed we find our own strength to stand up with our bootstraps. We often find ourselves in situations when no one comes to our help when we call for them. It is especially true if you are poor. They say that poor have no friends but the rich have many although the rich will tell you that they really do not have real friends but only those who pretend to be so. They disappear when the rich lose everything suddenly and find themselves alone.
I knew a fellow who used to sell fruits and vegetables pushing his cart everyday under the hot sun. He toiled hard to make a living and slowly saved enough money to buy a rickshaw which is a three wheel pedicab. He rented it out every day and collected a share of the income daily while he still pushed his cart to sell fruits. Later his number of rickshaws grew to over 30 so he did not have to sell fruits any longer. From his income of 30 pedicabs , he was able to buy a piece of land and built 10 shops that he rented out and built his own apartment with the income. This is an example of a self-made man who used sheer hard work to stand up and make a living.
There are numerous examples of such people but the best example is that of the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi who used to sell tea to make a meager living and study hard at night to pass his university exams. Now he is the leader of the largest democracy in the world who is doing an extraordinary job of running the country. There are many such examples of people who had the inner strength to stand up on their feet when no one would help.
The question to ask here is what drives such people who can overcome any obstacle life throws at them and come out a winner? Pundit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar grew up so poor that he could not afford to get an oil lamp so he studied under the street lamps to pass his exams. He later became the principal of a famous college in Kolkata and a great bridge on the river there is named after him. Such people had phenomenal inner strength that made them successful. Neither poverty, nor hunger could stop them because they had the determination of steel in them to succeed against all odds.
Those of us who grew up comfortably in the middle class families have never really struggled hard like Pundit Ishwar Chandra or Mr. Modi to make something out of our lives. Our parents always supported us and provided us with whatever we needed to get a good education even if they had to sacrifice a great deal to do so. We are often unaware of their personal sacrifices to give us a better chance in life. We often fail to say thank you to them for all they have done for us and take them for granted. As if it is our birth right to be pampered so we develop this sense of entitlement. The parents are clearly at fault if they make their children feel the sense of entitlement at an early age that does more harm than good in a person. I have written about it in a blog called The curse of sheltering that may be worth a look here.
In the old aristocracy in England, the parents kept their children especially the sons on tight leash and gave them a small allowance per month so that they could learn to manage their small amount of money well and pay for their expenses and other sundry things. They were taught that though their parents may be rich, they have to learn the value of money and education on their own.
In America, children are encouraged to be self-reliant at an early age so they deliver newspapers or milk door to door to get some money to pay for what they want. It may be a new bicycle or something else. This early training develops their inner strength and determination to be self-reliant in the face of adversities in the future. It teaches them that you can achieve your goal of good education through hard work. There are thousands of students who take up menial jobs to pay for their college education as I did myself at one time. I have written about a Chinese girl named Susanna who washed dishes in the cafeteria to pay for her education.
When people go out of their comfort zone of secure home and supporting parents for the first time, many find themselves unable to cope. Who will prepare food for them, who will wash their clothes and who will take care of them when they are sick? It frightens those who are thus pampered and find it hard to adjust in a new country or in a new situation. They learn for the first time that they have no one but themselves to rely upon so they try to do the best they can.
But the kids who grow up poor and who struggle hard to get education often come out best suited to overcome such challenges because they develop the inner strength that propels them to success. There is absolutely nothing wrong to sell tea to earn some money or wash dishes to pay for your education because you become self-reliant. Not everybody has rich parents or scholarships.
My father carried sacks of rice on his tender shoulders when he was a small boy because he was raised in a foster home of a priest who demanded such work from him in exchange for room and board and school fees. The priest did my father a favor by asking him to do such strenuous labor when so young because it made him very determined to pass his high school exam at the top of his class with a gold medal. Later working under the British officers, he studied late at night and passed the tough accountancy exams and became an accountant. It was his sheer will to succeed that he developed toiling when so young.
When I see college students walking with their cell phones while their maids carry their school bags, I feel sorry for them. This sort of pampering done by the parents sends all the wrong signals to the kids because it reinforces their sense of entitlement. You can often see children throwing tantrums in public when their parents do not provide them with what they want so it starts early.
The parents do have a responsibility to take care of their kids, feed them, clothe them and take care of them when they are sick. It is their birth right but it is not their birth right to be pampered. When the parents or grandparents say that they pamper because of love, they do not understand that it does more harm than good to the kid.
So how does one develop his inner strength? I think it all depends on how a kid is raised and under what circumstances. I have a friend who told us how he had to wake up at 4 am to milk the cows shivering in the cold every morning because his father asked him to do so. His knuckles got red and blistered doing all the hard work at the young age but he persevered and grew tough. Later he went to Montana to raise beef cattle and incurred great loss when the beef price fell so he and his loving wife worked extra hard for several years to pay off the debt.
It takes extraordinary effort and inner strength to overcome such difficulties but overcome they did and now live comfortably somewhere else. I know many such hard working people who never asked for favors from anyone and became successful because they had this character of steel they got from their hard working parents when they were so young.
The child imitates the adults. If the adults talk in salty language most of the time, the kid learns it too as you will find in some rural communities where education is low and crude behavior is normal. If the parents or others talk in denigrating terms about people of other races, he too becomes a racist and joins KKK or some such groups. If they parents are the avid Bible thumpers then it also rubs off on the kids although it is not unheard of that a pastor’s daughter elopes with a scoundrel just to be away from her parents who stifle her aspirations.
But it is also true that the kids learn honesty from their parents. They learn the value of hard work from their parents and they learn compassion if the parents are compassionate towards the needy and unfortunate. But of all good traits, I find honesty the best of them all. An honest person who works hard and never lets anyone down earns respect of everybody because people come to rely on such a person. An honest person is a person of integrity that is highly valued in any society. It does not matter if the honest person is poor.
People understand that honesty is a great character building step so they offer help to such a person. The honesty is the steel a person needs to develop his inner strength. An honest person may face many temptations in life to become dishonest as we see now a days but he can overcome such temptations and remain honest because he has the inner strength to resist.
So if you have taught your children the value of honesty, you have done your job well because such kids can never go wrong in their life. Go alone if you have to but find the strength in you to do so. You will be surprised at your own strength when push comes to shove.
The words of wisdom of Rabindra Nath Thakur
The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence
The one who plants trees knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.
A teacher can never truly teach unless he is still learning himself. A lamp can never light another lamp unless it continues to burn its own flame. A teacher who has come to the end of his subject, who has no living traffic with his knowledge, but merely repeats his lessons to his students can only load their minds but not quicken them.
You cannot cross the sea by merely staring at the water.
Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves.
Discipline divorced from wisdom is not true discipline but merely the meaningless following of customs, which is only a disguise for stupidity.
Art awakens a sense of real by establishment of intimate relationship between our inner being and the universe at large bringing us a consciousness of deep joy.
If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.
Clouds come floating into my life no longer to carry rain or usher storm but to add color to my sunset sky.
I have traveled around the world to see the see the rivers and the mountains and I have spent a lot of money. I have gone to great lengths, I have seen everything, but I forgot to see just outside my house a dewdrop on a little blade of grass, a dew drop which reflects in its convexity the whole universe around you.
The traveler has to knock on every alien door to come to his own and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.
One has never known the turbulence of life, in whom the petals of mysterious flower within have never opened. Such a one may seem happy, may seem a saint, his single track mind may impress the multitude with its power, but he is ill equipped for life’s adventure into the infinite.
Where roads are made, I lose my way. In the wide water, in the blues skie there is no line of a track. The pathway is hidden by bird’s wings, by the star fires , by the flowers of the wayfaring seasons. And I ask my heart if it’s blood carries the wisdom of the unseen way.
Let us unite not in spite of our differences but through them. For differences can never be wiped away, and life would be so much the poorer without them. Let all human races keep their own personalities, yet come together not in a uniformity that is dead but in a unity that is living.
Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.
Life is perpetually creative because it contains in itself that surplus which ever overflows the boundaries of the immediate time and space, restlessly pursuing its adventure of expressions in the varied forms of self-realization
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