Friday, September 4, 2015

India's Progress through Discipline and Moral Conduct

by Sri Ajit Halder

The most important word in the title of this article is ‘Discipline’. The word ‘Discipline’ is frequently used in conversation, in the media, and by Indian politicians who are concerned about the lack of discipline witnessed in the social behaviour of many of our fellow countrymen. Before we discuss how the progress of our nation may be ensured, we ought to take a stock of the erosion of discipline in community life in India.

For several years in the recent past, India has been a victim of growing indiscipline in all walks of life. We have been witnessing the very disturbing phenomena of strikes, demonstrations, agitations, bandhs (forceful closure of shops and public transport not allowed to operate), vociferous processions impeding traffic flow in city streets and even rampages. Often the strikes are called by political parties having no consideration for the safety and security of public life. These activities bring civic life to a dead stop, causing extreme chaos to people’s normal life and extensive damage to commercial and business activities.  

Indiscipline in educational institutes, campus violence, class boycott, gherao of teachers, malpractices in examinations and even in gaining admission to courses by unfair means are common occurrences in our temples of learning.   An unacceptable evil act is ‘ganadholai’ – an occurrence when members of the public take law in their hands and punish a person who they think has committed a crime and that person is beaten to death.   A group of MPs often engage in ‘dharna’ at the entrance gate of the Lok Sabha Bhavan. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable as it disrupts normal function of the Lok Sabha and is not the role for which the MPs are elected.    We often hear persons in positions of authority making inaccurate, irresponsible statements of provocative nature which indicate their ignorance of facts. When asked to withdraw their comments, they often refuse to do what should be an honourable act.  The list of misdemeanours is endless.

A Greek philosopher once said: ‘If you want to destroy a nation, let it behave like a bunch of lunatics’.  The Indian Nation has become increasingly disorderly and restless. I do not wish our nation to suffer a catastrophe because of its misbehaviour.  It is high time we all put in our sincere efforts to make India a disciplined and thereby progressive nation.

The relevance of Discipline to the theme of this piece is immense and hence, the word deserves a careful interpretation and elaboration.  A couple of paragraphs devoted to explaining different strands of Discipline is neccessary to help readers appreciate the purpose of this article and its link to Moral Conduct that has a great role as a contributor to the nation’s spiritual and material prosperity.

Discipline means a range of things to different people and one single definition may not cover what this word is supposed to convey.  For our purposes, we will focus on the aspect of Discipline that is synonymous with self-control. The Bengali equivalent word closest to its core meaning is ’Samyam’   i.e. ‘self-restraint’ which asserts that any person, before taking any action, should pause a little while to contemplate on the merit of the task to be undertaken and think whether the intended action will result in a beneficial outcome or something worse is going to happen to cause harm or hardship to someone. If a person jumps straight into executing the act, without bothering to think of the eventual consequences, sometimes that action can lead to grief and disaster affecting that person and also precipitate disorder within the community.

Furthermore, Discipline also means the practice of abiding by and adhering to a set of rules that uphold the norms of social life and therefore encourages peace in the wider national community.  Discipline is what a person imposes on himself or herself taking it as a duty to God, to society or an institution which the person is attached to. It imposes a restraining influence in the exercise of one’s individual rights and privileges in the service of something greater than oneself.  The importance of the practice of discipline and restraint in individual as well as in community life cannot be over stressed.

We have discussed important aspects of Discipline. Many people are aware of these principles but do not act accordingly. The decline of discipline in national life is a cause of concern to all citizens.  The gravity of the situation makes us realize that simply knowing the principles of Discipline is not enough. In essence, Discipline demonstrates a person’s behaviour controlled by his or her judicious mental deliberation before he or she engages in an action and therefore requires us to think about moral choices and conduct.

It is clear that to behave in a disciplined way, the demand on a person’s attitude and eventual behaviour is huge, and that it cannot attained through physical endeavour only. Naturally it raises the query - ‘Do we need something more than just a set of narratives on Discipline or some higher and nobler doctrine to serve as an inspiration to help a person practise discipline?’ That person will need some inner force and moral instinct to guide him/her into taking correct action, also prevent any evil thoughts to corrupt his/her mind.  Clearly the performer has to empower and fortify himself/herself with morality to be able to act in a decent, civilized manner.  In this context, the word ‘morality’ means guidance to improve behaviour by being   (i) Ethical, i.e. adopting idealistic standards of right and wrong when taking a decision; (ii) Virtuous, i.e.  implying moral excellence and (iii) Righteous, i.e. emphasizing moral uprightness being applied to actions.

We now discuss how moral conduct boosts the self-confidence of a person and helps him/her act in a civilized manner  A vast literature on moral conduct is available and we should look for the one that is easy to understand and implement in practice.  The divine message of Sri Sri Babathakur serves such a purpose, well.

The message of Sri Sri Babathakur, as quoted below, will illumine the mind and empower us spiritually  It should always be borne in mind, for it will guide us to perform our actions in a disciplined manner.  To gain the necessary moral strength, he/she will do best to listen to the ‘Innerscient Message’ of Sri Sri Babathakur elaborating on self-reliance and self-confidence.  The doctrine of the Divine Master goes like this:

’It is the presence of the Divine – the embodiment of all-Existing Truth or Goodness, all-Power, all-Knowledge, Bliss, Love and Peace – which gives integral value to life.  It is the presence of Him in all beings and becoming and it is He who determines, shapes all beings, all actions, and their results sitting in the heart of all the Existence Absolute.  He is the Witness and Seer and as the indwelling He is the experiencer, enjoyer, knower and ruler of all the becoming of His Being, inwardly and outwardly, simultaneously.’

‘It is the Divine Consciousness that appears to be life consciousness in all.  As the unity of Oneness is the eternal character nature of the Divine Consciousness, the dearest law of It is the magnetic attraction, which is designated as the Love Divine.  Divine Love manifests Itself as Bhakti or devotion and Bhakti or devotion truly grows by nature into Divine Love.’ 

More such messages can be found in ‘Knowledge of Knowledge’ and other religious texts authored by the Master and published by the Saccidananda Society of Kolkata.

We feel that the message of Sri Sri Babathakur will offer spiritual guidance, motivate people to act sensibly, and usher in discipline into public life.  It will pave the way for India to move forward, promoting Peace and Harmony among communities and put our nation on a path of prosperity and continued progress.

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