14th Annual Convocation Address, 1995
BE GOAL DIRECTED : ATHAVALE
Shri Pandurang Shastri Athavale (Swadhayaya Movement)
14th Annual Convocation Address, 1995
To me, this opportunity is a moment of joy. I am among a galaxy of luminaries. Your love brought me here. Today you have received a post-graduate degree – an educational qualification. You have become “Vidya Snataks” (graduates in knowledge). You will now be starting a career, experiencing life.
My appeal to you is to develop yourselves into ‘Vrata Snataks’ (goal directed). Decide a goal and then try to achieve it in your life time. Education alone is not enough. You need to take a vow to do something enlightening. Something that emancipates others.
Once, I was in Bombay, a few of my farmer friends came to see me there. I took them around the city. I showed them the High Court, the Secretariat, the Gate Way of India, and Bombay Museum among other places in Bombay. I also took them to the famous Bombay University. I overheard a farmer’s spontaneous remark. “Oh! So this is the place from where people come to cheat and loot villages”.
Of what use are the graduates of today to our society? for the underprivileged? for those who are downtrodden?
Life has more significance than engaging in making money and bringing up a family. Such a life will be dull and listless. I am reminded of Tennyson’s poem – “Home they brought her warrior dead”. Imagine this scene: A soldier is brought dead. His wife is watching shocked, unable to speak and unable to weep. For her, life has come to a standstill. Her husband’s dead body lies in front of her. She has no expression. All of a sudden, to this scene, a fellow soldier brings her child. The child is barely three months old. The mother sees that child. Her emotions come to the fore. She says “little one, I shall live for thee – “ What made her life worth living? Her ambition to see her child blossom. She lived because she had a goal. Develop an ideal (goal), then life will have meaning for you.
Today we are living in a world of “Cannots”. The cannot disease is spreading. When you meet an officer who can help you, try asking him for a favour. You get a reply “I want to help you, but I am helpless”. We have to eliminate this disease. We have to cultivate an attitude of “Yes, I can do”. We need faith that we are the masters of our lives. We need to say to ourselves, “I will be responsible for my life”.
Nobody wants to take responsibility. We are responsible neither for our progress; nor for our decline. For instance, when one who has committed a crime is asked to explain his actions, the reply is, “I am helpless. I never wanted to commit this crime, circumstances compelled me to do this. I am faultless. I have done this because of my circumstances.”
We have also developed a tendency to blame others for our failures. We never admit we are at fault. We keep harping on the failures of the government for the ills of our society. The ills that plague us. When something goes wrong, our tendency is to blame the government. The government in turn blames the people. In this process all work suffers. This practice has to be discouraged. We have to learn to take responsibility for our actions.
We have to change this thought process. We have to give up our mental block to independence. Our government is static. Our society is static. We want to maintain status quo. I don’t see new ideas. Everybody is confined to his own interests. Indifferent towards fellow human beings. Is this human life? Is it integration?
The survival of the fittest principle is not useful for our society. What is the use of our life if we cannot help the unfit to survive? This theory, “Survival of the fittest” should be replaced with “making the fit to survive” theory.
You will be helping others to earn money. They will employ your intellect to earn their livelihood. What is more important? Is it to have self-respect? You will have self-respect but help others to gain self-respect. If a man has no self-respect his life will be worthless.
In this present world, consumerism is rampant. A handful of people, say ten percent have all facilities, resources and power. A great majority have no power, no position, no possession, no education. This is a picture of the common mass. People without self-respect. If one has no self-respect how can he be self-confident? If one is not self-confident how can he be self-reliant? The lot of the common man is this: no self-respect, no self-confidence, no self-reliance.
How do we help those who are weak, downtrodden and neglected? People who have neither self-respect, self-confidence nor self-reliance. How do we motivate them? Stimulate them? Who will do it? Is it not the responsibility of the educated class?
I urge you to nurture self-respect among the poor. Do not think that the poor will be happy with a petty sum. A handful of coins do not make him happy. What makes one happy is his importance. Give due respect to the poor, they deserve it. Cultivate the feeling of ‘I must do’, ‘I can do’. People should realise that the world consists of farmers, labourers, poor men and women. As a representative of these people I appeal to you, pay attention to what I say. I am a common man. I am not a preacher. I can tell you that in today’s world nearly 80% have no hope; they just live their life. There is no ambition in them. They are crest-fallen.
Who will bring light to them? Who will make a nation out of these? Earlier, the middle class could perform miracles. Today the middle class has become indifferent. They are inactive. Earlier, this class of people brought about radical changes in this world. They were the backbone of our society, the prime source of ideas. Now, this class is dead. We represent this class. Today, this class works with a sense of indifference. They have lost their zeal, enthusiasm, vigour and vitality. All these were in abundance in not so distant past. This class of thinkers, educationalists, reformers, scientists and architects must be awakened from their slumber. This is a major task before us. Our task is to create a play-field – not only a playfield, but also a source of friendship and inspiration. This is what a school should teach us. Do you know the origin of the word ‘school’? It derives its origin from “scholar” – which means a raised platform, a rostrum. When the day’s work was done all the citizens good assemble together to discuss their problems. The assembly provided them a platform for thinking. The need of the hour is to develop such a scholar – a modern day scholar. To develop friendship. Friendship for devotion. Friendship for devotion is not outdated, it is divine. Create a friendly environment. Before going from this auditorium, take a pledge, a “Vrata” to make people happy, cherish a noble goal, a great ideal. This is what people want from you. This is the demand of the masses from you. You have graduated in knowledge. Now I urge you to be a “Vrata Snatak”.