MISCELLANEOUS

Practice of moral values

CHENNAI OCT.27 . Of what use is wealth if a rich man does not have a charitable disposition? If an indigent person instead has this trait society cannot benefit as much as it would if a wealthy person shared his largesse. Charity is a noble trait that all individuals must possess but it is not absolute and has to be practised according to one's means. The Mahabharata relates the instance of a mongoose, which went in search of an altruistic person because the hair on half of its body had turned into gold when it rolled on the ground where a Rajasuya sacrifice was conducted. It went from place to place in vain until it reached the dwelling of a poor family where the members were just sitting down to have the day's only meal of a single dish made from pounded rice. And, when they had the generosity to share even that frugal meal the other half of the animal's body became golden. Hence, it is not possible to draw comparisons and judge by the amount of charity given. What matters is how magnanimous a person will be to share what he has.

Another incident relates to Arjuna who once felt jealous of Karna because everyone praised him for his benevolent nature. He complained to Lord Krishna that he was also a generous man and so He decided to teach a lesson to Arjuna. The Lord created a mountain of gold and asked him to donate it by sunset that day. Arjuna sent for people and started doling out the gold little by little to each person. By the end of the day he had only given a part of the mountain and gave up dismayed. Krishna then called Karna and told him about the condition He had laid down. Without any hesitation Karna called a man passing by and donated the entire mountain of gold to him, thereby proving his liberal nature, said Swami Asutoshananda in his discourse.

The Viduraniti, which is one of the important treatises in the Mahabharata besides the Bhagavad Gita and the Vishnu Sahasranama, gives insight into moral behaviour and shows how ethical values have to be applied according to the situation and person. It says that for a poor person austerity is important just as charity is to the wealthy. Swami Vivekananda used to advise his followers to follow whatever is suitable to them because the circumstances of life differ from person to person. There must be total acceptance of one's lot in life without giving room for comparisons. Practice of any virtue is a step in spiritual evolution towards the goal of Self-realisation.

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