August 2010

He who believes that change is antecedent to rise will never give way to despair. – Chinmaya

One who has determined to rise will not be discouraged by the occasional falls en route. They are unavoidable in every path. How many times the child has to fall and injure itself before it learns to stand up and walk!

Whether it is an invention in the field of science and technology, a discovery of some unknown laws of Mother Nature, or a breakthrough in the field of medicine – countless are the losses and tragedies encountered before the final flag of triumph flutters over those unsuccessful attempts and renewed efforts. One always has to pass through the steps of failures before reaching the terrace of success.

Though falls and failures are most unwelcome everywhere, the fact is that the failures teach us some of the greatest lessons in life which any other means cannot. The failures make us more alert, contemplative and inspire us to further intensify our efforts. It also cultivates humility, compassion and the ability to forgive others. Failures expose us to our inborn imperfections, thus forcing us to seek the All Perfect Lord wholeheartedly.

But it is also true that many times, failures discourage us in moving further. At such times let us also remind ourselves that an expert is the one who has made all possible mistakes in one’s chosen profession. According to George Bernard Shaw, a life spent in making mistakes is not only honourable but also useful than a life spent in doing nothing!

There is not even a single instance in the history where a sincere and consistent effort for success has not been rewarded.

After getting defeated twice at the hands of Brahmarishi Vasishta, King Vishwamitra did intense tapas for one thousand years to attain the status of Brahmarishi. Pleased with the penance, Lord Brahma appeared and blessed him with the status of Rajarishi. With total discontentment, Vishwamitra intensified his tapas. But very soon, he cursed the son of Vasishta. Caught up in an ego clash with sage Vasishta, he bodily lifted a king named Trishanku to swarga. When Trishanku was thrown out from heaven, Vishwamitra went on to create another swarga in the mid-space. The end result of all these happenings was that he lost a major part of his tapas shakti.

To regain his lost power, Vishwamitra resumed his tapas for another one thousand years. This time, the distraction came in the form of a celestial beauty called Menaka. Greatly repenting on the fall, the rishi went on to perform tapas with greater intensity for another one thousand years. Lord Brahma again appeared before him but rejected his plea for the Brahmarishi post due to his lack of perfect self-control.

Undeterred, Vishwamitra intensified his tapas for another one thousand years, this time with arms raised, sustaining merely on air, and exposing himself to all extreme weather conditions. Once again, the devatas sent another apsara called Rambha to distract him but of no avail. Vishwamitra cursed her to become a rock for 10,000 years. Repenting deeply for his outburst of unchecked anger, he took a vow not to get angry or even to speak with anyone,  that he would not eat or even breathe!

Despite Indra’s unceasing attempts to tease Vishwamitra, the great rishi remained undisturbed and continued his tapas for yet another 2,000 years. In that unbearable heat of tapas, the three worlds started trembling. Immensely pleased with Vishwamitra, Lord Brahma had no other choice but to bless him with the highest status of Brahmarishi.

No effort of anyone has gone as a waste ever. Abraham Lincoln was once quoted saying,

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure!”

There is no failure except no longer trying. Real success is not all about winning trophies, but it is our attitude of mind to move on from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

In this sense, may we ever remain successful in all our undertakings.

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Posted in: Chintana

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