By H.V. Seshadri
This incident refers to a severe earthquake that rocked the areas around Uttarkashi a few years ago: Thousands of homes and shops were destroyed; innumerable lives were lost. Promptly the Swayamsevaks got down to providing relief to the earthquake-affected victims. Work on construction of new dwellings began slowly and gradually. All the Swayamsevaks in the country were summoned to provide assistance in relief work.
Karyakartas (workers) and Swayamsevaks (volunteers) drawn from all over the country got engrossed in the task of collecting funds. A head teacher in the shakha from Karnataka asked the children, youth and Swayamsevaks from his shakha to bring five rupees each as donation. The next day a child-Swayamsevak brought twenty rupees with him. When the head teacher asked him the reason for doing so, the child repeated the following conversation that passed between him and his parents:
?When I asked my father for five rupees after relating the reason for it, Father replied, ?Oh, where is Uttarkashi? What has happened there; are you aware of it? Why should we worry about people staying so far away from us??
?Then I told my father, ?I don'tknow all this. All I know is that people from that area belong to my country. They are in quite serious trouble; hence it is our duty to do something to help them out.?
?On hearing my reply, Father went inside and returned to give me twenty rupees.?
Two to three days after this discussion, the father of this boy came to meet the head teacher and said, ?I had read in my geography class where Uttarkashi is located. An earthquake has occurred there. Due to the quake, the inhabitants have been quite devastated. All this I have read in the newspaper, but I did not have the feeling that the people of the area are after all our brothers and sisters. I learnt this lesson from my son. I am happy at the proper sanskars you are planting in the hearts of the children in your shakha. When this thought came to my mind, I became very happy and hence decided to give twenty rupees instead of five.?
Another incident refers to the earthquake in Gujarat: Students of the Vidya Bharati School in Delhi were asked to collect funds. Groups of three to four students went and stood at traffic lights in the roundabouts on Delhi roads. When cars came to a halt on red lights, these students would approach the car and after explaining the reason for doing so, ask for a donation from the car-owners. On receiving the amount, they would promptly prepare a receipt and give them. However, a car-owner blandly refused to give any donation. On hearing this, the students broke into a song: The nation gives us everything; we too should learn to give something to it. (This song is taught in all Vidya Bharati schools). On hearing the song, the car-owner took out a five-hundred rupee note and gave it to them.
An interesting experience of another group of students from Vidya Bharati: Students of Vidya Bharati School received five hundred rupees when they asked for a donation from an auto-rickshaw driver. (What a great act it was!) The owner of the car standing next to the auto-rickshaw, also gave five hundred rupees as donation. On seeing this, the auto-rickshaw driver remarked jokingly, ?I too have become equal to the car-owner.? Probably on hearing these words, the car-owner took out and gave another five hundred rupees. It was as though the driver of the auto-rickshaw had incited the car-owner to follow suit.
Madhav Rao (during his schooldays, Shri Guruji Golwalkar was known by this name) used to study in an institution run by a Christian. The professor, Mr Gardner taught the Bible to the students. One day in the middle of the lesson, Madhav Rao stood up to interrupt the professor to remark, ?Sir, the reference you are giving about this sentence is not correct. The correct reference is as follows?.? So saying, he gave the correct reference. All the students were taken aback at Madhav Rao'sremarks. Among the students, some must have certainly wondered what sort of a student Madhav was that he was trying to teach a lesson to a learned scholar of Bible like Prof. Gardner. But, Prof. Gardner checked in the relevant books and found that what Madhav Rao had said was correct. After the class, Gardner called Madhav Rao to praise him for his knowledge.
An incident about which I had once read in a journal comes to my mind: There was a learned professor of mathematics. His wife would unfailingly sit down to worship in front of God'sstatue with full faith and devotion. The professor had no faith in idol-worship. As times he even used to ridicule his wife over this. ?How futile it is to describe this statue as the greatest creator of this universe.?
One day, while teaching mathematics to his son, the professor told his son to use the symbol a to denote infinity. The son asked, ?How can infinity be expressed with such a tiny symbol??
The professor replied, ?Use of some symbol or the other in this manner helps in solving many difficult problems in mathematics.?
The son queried, ?Then what is the need to object to accepting the statue as a symbol of the highest creator of the universe??
On hearing this reply, the professor was dumbfounded. Since that day, he stopped making fun of idol worship.
Many such instances give us the opportunity to teach both the young and the old; that is why it is often said by us?-?Baladapi subhashitam grahyam? (If I find qualities that I can inculcate from young children, then I will willingly adopt them).