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Gratefulness

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

26 October 2021

When you look at gratefulness as a quality, you will understand that it has deep and comprehensive bearing on all aspects of our life, on the environments and over the countless generations that existed before us. We should be worthy of what we have inherited.

Gratefulness is one of the indispensable qualities or virtues in human life. The first factor that anyone in this world should be blessed with, is a birth in a good family. We inherit from our lineage a number of features and traits. Also, getting reared in a good family is indeed a rare fortune. Our parents bring us up and mould our character. Just as we can walk only with the legs that we have, we can live in this world, think, speak and act only with the faculties we are bestowed with. We are indebted to whoever has done this for us. I think gratefulness starts from there.

Where are we living? We are living on the earth, breathing air, drinking water and making use of all the different aspects of vegetation for our food and nourishment. Can you imagine the extent of gratefulness we should have to all these resources? You may say that parents are living beings, who are able to acknowledge our expressions of gratefulness. But the panca-bhutas being insentient, is there any need of expressing gratefulness to them?

The answer is that gratefulness is what you feel; it is your expression, whether the source towards which your gratefulness is expressed, understands it or not.

So you feel thankful to the Mother Earth, you feel grateful to her. You should also preserve the earth intact. Never damage it, deplete it or exhaust it. Understand that the natural resources are not merely for you to live and use; they should be available to countless generations to come. We have to deal with the natural resources like minerals, fuel, water and air in a very tender and sensitive manner. Our Hindu culture is very emphatic about this. That is why we look upon the earth as our mother, oceans as our father, rivers also as our mother. Everything has parented us.

Think of our civilization. We have languages to speak, to articulate and to communicate. These languages are evolved by our ancestors. They have formed alphabets and then words. They had written extensively using these languages, and their efforts became our literature. The literature we inherited is a substantial, valuable treasure of knowledge. How can our literature have all these things unless our ancestors had thought and striven hard to evolve it? They had contemplated on and contributed to various branches of knowledge! What would have been the status of our life, had we not inherited all these!

How rich is the knowledge we are bestowed with! It is as valuable as the resources the earth or water holds before us. Thus, resources are both internal and external. Knowledge, values, goals, disciplines, standards, refinement etc. constitute a very important part of the treasure of knowledge that we have. The invaluable treasure of ours can be traced to to pre-historic times.

Our Vedas were preserved and bequeathed orally. They were recited, and hearing the recitation in an orderly manner, others learnt them. That is why they are called Shrutis. What about the wisdom contained in our Upanishads? The entire world adores them! We also have two epics – Ramayana and Mahabharatam – where human character, behavior and interaction are discussed in detail. They show us the path towards characteral elegance, behavioral majesty and interactional excellence. They also propound a four-fold objective of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

Dharma means being righteous and disciplined in whatever we do. When through dharmic means, one endeavours in the society, he earns required resources for his living; it is called pursuit of Artha. This way, man should earn sufficient financial prosperity to live comfortably. When one has gained prosperity, he must make use of it judiciously so that his desires are fulfilled. That looks after his K¡ma. The system gives rise to natural orderliness in the society. One leads thus a harmonious and satisfactory life, until at last he feels an urge to be inwardly free. Then it becomes a pursuit of Moksha.

Coming to Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:

सहयज्ञा: प्रजा: सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापति: ।
अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक् ।।
देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु व: ।
परस्परं भावयन्त: श्रेय: परमवाप्स्यथ ।। (3.10,11)

Creating mankind with the scope and power of yajna, Prajapati, the Creator, pronounced: “By this grow and multiply yourselves. May the yajna-awareness act as a wish-yielding cow for you. With this may you honour the gods, and may the gods regard you well; thus nourishing one another, you shall attain the highest good”.

Krishna gives a formula for right living. He says that recognizing the super-human powers of Nature, and overcoming delusional clinging i.e., sanga, let Yajna be performed.

What is this Yajna? Are we to perform rituals prescribed in the Vedas in the form of sacrifices or yagas using fire and havana-kundaas offering various oblations? Krishna rises to a higher level. He wants yajna to be more comprehensive, covering all aspects of our life. He summarizes: Any action undertaken without sa ́ga, delusional clinging becomes yajna.

It implies actions without any selfish motive. Let there be no considerations like ‘mine’ or ‘my family’. When one outlives self-centred constrictions, all his actions become sublime. Then the entire range of gratefulness that is due from the human stands fulfilled. Without this Yajna spirit, human society cannot thrive in amity, mutuality, collectivity and overall welfare.

So, when you look at gratefulness as a quality, you will understand that it has deep and comprehensive bearing on all aspects of our life, on the environments and over the countless generations that existed before us. We should be worthy of what we have inherited. It is also a compulsion to elevate ourselves as models to be emulated by the coming generation. When we look at the human civilization in this comprehensive way, we understand how gratefulness as a quality will enrich human life in ample measure.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

– From Vicharasethu–May 2015

“ Gratefulness is what you feel; it is your expression, whether the source towards which your gratefulness is expressed, understands it or not.”

“Gratefulness is one of the indispensable qualities or virtues in human life.”

“We are living on the earth, breathing air, drinking water and making use of all the different aspects of vegetation for our food and nourishment. Can you imagine the extent of gratefulness we should have to all these resources? ”

“When we look at the human civilization in this comprehensive way, we understand how gratefulness as a quality will enrich human life in ample measure. ”

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