Web Content Display Web Content Display

Character Protects Life

A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
on 7th January, 2004 at the Youth Meeting in Babuji Memorial Ashram, Manapakkam INDIA

Master: So what do you want to hear from me?

Abhyasi: What you expect the youth to do…

Master: I don't expect the youth to do anything. I can only say what youth should be doing. Youth should not be doing what they think they should be doing (laughter)-Number One. You know people think that youth is a time for enjoyment.

(A few abhyasis request Master to speak in Tamil.)

Master: Most people understand English. I have to speak for the majority.

That is, in our youth, we should not be doing what we want to do. "No sir, I am still young. It's time for me to enjoy..."-that is incorrect. Suppose you plant brinjals or plantains in your garden, and they stay unripened, what would you do? Or if they rot before ripening? It would be of no use. So only when it ripens into a vegetable can we eat it, isn't it? Therefore, youth is a time for preparation.

Preparation-in what way? First is, education in the family, which is natural. Listen to your parents, honour them, respect them, most of all, love them. Of course, I hope your parents are all good parents, who will give you the proper guidance, because sadly, in modern life, parental guidance is lacking. And when they do guide you, they guide you in the wrong direction of ambition rather than aspiration.

You know the difference between ambition and aspiration? Ambition is perasai [greed], aspiration means munnetratukku oru abhilasai, oru asai [a desire for progress, a wish]-progress, not in your profession, but in education, in spirituality. Ranking first does not imply growth in education, because in any class, there can be only one top ranker. To say that he is the only one to have progressed is not correct. Success is about maximizing my learning in one field and mastering it to the extent possible-that is my goal. Not to come first-to educate myself is the goal. There are lots of people who were top rankers but are now nowhere to be found.

Successful people are people who never went to the top of the ladder, but learnt enough to manage. If you fall in water, you should know how to swim. You needn't be an Olympic swimmer.

"No, no sir, I want to get the Olympic gold medal."


"So that if I fall in water, I should be able to get out."

You don't need an Olympic gold for that; it's enough to know how to swim.

So, one must pay attention to academics; one must also pay attention to physical exercise. Both are essential. If one has a developed mind but an under-developed body, and is bed-ridden, what is the use? We are not philosophers, are we? We have many duties to fulfill-earn a living, get married, have children, take care of the family etc. So development of the body and mind are basic essentials.

The third aspect is spiritual development. There's training for this too, right from childhood. How? The Mission prayer has to be said in the morning and at night. It should be offered only once in the morning. Only once. One should not shout it out. (Gestures remembering the prayer with eyes closed.) Over. Before going to bed -last activity, after the movie, after the tiff with the parents, (laughter), after drinking milk, sit and recite the prayer once and go to sleep with that thought, in that remembrance. So this is the main thing.

Development of body, mind and character-if we lose any of these three, we are incomplete. So we should give enough time for sports…not for watching them on television. Playing cricket is far better than watching it on television. What is the use of him (the cricketer) scoring a century? Whenever I wield the bat, I sprain my back, I sprain my wrist, and then I need to visit the doctor. Therefore my participation is essential, not by looking but by doing. Understand? So, half an hour daily-going out in the open, and playing football or hockey or catch for ten to fifteen minutes refreshes the mind too. And one also goes back to study with a rejuvenated interest. If you remain seated at the desk all the time, what would you be called? A bookworm. Even that is of no use. Neither should we neglect the former, nor the latter.

Two wings of a bird-that is what Sahaj Marg philosophy says. Body, mind-both benefit the soul, isn't it? There is a proverb which says, only a healthy mind can sustain a healthy body. If one's mind is riddled with worries and tension, health is gradually lost-depression, as they say these days; promptly, medicine and a five hundred rupee bill. A person who is preoccupied can never be depressed. Only an idle man can get depressed, isn't it? When you are always busy, how can you be depressed?

So, growth of body, mind and soul must occur simultaneously. And there is an opportunity and a method for spiritual training, right in childhood. What is that? Reading the Puranas for half an hour, studying the life history of great personalities like Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Vivekananda, Babuji Maharaj, Lalaji, always speaking the truth.

"Did you study today?"

"No, Dad, I did not."

"Why not?"

"I didn't feel like it."

"So will you study from tomorrow?"

"Yes I will."

So what should you do the next day? You must study, because you have promised to study. I am the beneficiary in a promise. There is no point in making a promise to please your father. I can bring peace, happiness and bliss to my parents only if my behaviour, my character, my activities at school and college, lead to my individual growth.

"Look at my son, sir. He goes to Mahabalipuram under the pretext of going to school. He gets phone calls from strange places. Teachers at school ask why he hasn't come for seven days. But he says he goes to school." Because lots of students have told me this, especially girls, which is something really sad. They go to college, keep their books, and go off to Mahabalipuram with their boyfriends. And they return at five in the evening, pick up their books and get back home with such an innocent look, as if nothing has happened.


"I am very tired, Mom."

Of course she would be tired. Who knows what she would have done at Mahabalipuram? All this has to be given up. It feels good to have boyfriends now. A girl once told me, "I like lovers' quarrels." I said, "As a girl, you get involved in lovers' quarrels, and what is the end result?" Unwanted pregnancy, isn't it? Don't feel bad that I am talking very frankly. I am here only because you called me here to talk.

"Pen kettaa kulame kettu pochu" [If the girl goes astray, the repute of the family is lost.] The Bhagavad Gita says, the character of a nation lies in the hands of its women. "Sthrishu dushtashu varshneya jayate varnasankaraha," [If women get corrupted, society gets corrupted] said Lord Krishna. Women are the protectors of our culture, of our morality, of our tradition. If they go astray, there is no hope for society. So especially for girls, all this is addressed. You will have all the boyfriends you want when you marry a good man. He will be your boyfriend, he will be your lover, he will be your romance, he will be your protector, he will be your provider, he will be the father of your children-legitimate, legal, religious.

Nowadays you see advertisements on buses-it is extremely embarrassing. The fact that all this is required in a country must make us realize how degraded this nation has become. Because unless it is necessary, why would they display it? I am not very proficient in Tamil…there were a couple of Tamil speaking girls with me. When I asked them about an advertisement on the bus, they turned red with embarrassment. How would they say it openly? Only when I saw them blushing, I understood what it was.

This is the state of affairs in our society today. We should not get lured by all this, because all these are temptations. You see the movies, you see half naked dances, songs have double meaning lyrics. Isn't it? Why do we need to see them? I was really glad when an eighteen-year-old girl informed me, when I asked her, that she hadn't watched any movies for the past ten years. I asked her the reason. She replied, "They are not worth watching. You would only get corrupted if you watch them."

Stop going to the movies. Stop watching serials on televisions. Utilize that time in studies, or playing carom, or even fighting with your father-even that is fine, but don't indulge in unwarranted activities.

In India, the ancient culture, the ancient tradition, says that the character of a nation is in the hands of its women. Where the women go astray, that society goes astray. It is degraded; it falls. And in no time at all, there is no society left. I don't say it; Lord Krishna said it in the Bhagavad Gita. So women must be protectors, cherishers, guardians of the real values of life. That is why in the Veda it says, "Matru devo bhava"-first. Not pita [father], not acharya [teacher], not guru, nobody. "Matru devo bhava"-think of your mother as a goddess. Because she protected herself, she saved her character, she saved her chastity, her morality, until she found the right man to whom to give herself. Therefore you are a legitimate child. Don't you owe it to your mother to preserve that culture and tradition, and go pure, unsullied, uncorrupted in body and mind to your husband? Shouldn't you do it? If your father gives you a Ganesh vigraham [idol] of mud, worth eight annas [half a rupee], don't you protect it, and take it to your married home and say, "My mother gave it to me when I was five years old." We are able to protect a mud toy and carry it from age six to age seventy-two, until you die, because your mother gave it. But all the lessons your mother gave, the teachings that your mother gave, about the need to preserve your character, not to go flirting with boys, not to watch lewd television programs or cinemas, go to school and come back...are we doing it? "No, no sir, my mother is old-fashioned."

So what does old-fashioned mean? That she only had one man in her life, but you must have three? So you are modern. And this modern danger you know, which is a craze-of the Internet. Girls chatting with boys they have never met, going to meet boys they don't know anything about, probably getting raped. It has happened two or three times. A girl who knows nothing about life, too innocent to know what a boy can do to her, starts chatting on the Internet, becomes friends. One day he says, "Honey, why don't we meet?" Hne, y u & I meet…? (spells it out). "Where?" she replies. And an address is given, she goes. Probably she comes back safe, chances are she will not come back as she went. So you see, all these things, boys must avoid, girls also must avoid-girls must avoid like poison.

There is no use coming to Youth Meetings to talk about, you know, Schwarzenegger, and how wonderful Sripriya acted, or how wonderful Srilaksmi looks, or how beautiful Sridevi is. You must come prepared to listen to bitter truths, necessary truths, truths which you must practice in your life, under penalty of losing your character, and your life. Remember, character lost, is not easily regained. Reputation lost is never regained. Once you have got a name attached… "That girl…?" If someone points you out like that, your character is sealed. "Oh, you can see her at all sorts of places." It's very tempting when you are young. "You are beyond compare. Your eyes are like Sridevi's, your nose is like Srilakshmi's…" "Really? Uh-huh?"

So what else do you want to hear? I think I have said enough, isn't it? Have I not said enough or you want to listen to some more?

Abhyasis: Some more…

Master: You know, I find one very funny thing-our girls who go abroad to study, are more careful than our girls who remain in India. Because when they go abroad, they know that in foreign countries, there is going to be temptation, there's going to be this that and the other; they are very self- protective. Here they think because it's our own land…A Telugu girl, approached by a Telugu boy, says,

"Mana vaallu. yemi baadhaka ledandi" [our people only, so no problem.]

"Yemi baadha ledante yenti?" [How can it be okay?]

Just because he belongs to your own culture and your own language, you know…it makes it easier. So always behave as if you are in a foreign land. We are in a foreign land, this world is not our original home; it is somewhere else. This is a foreign country. We are all foreigners. We must behave with respect and, much more, with self- respect. I am what I am. I shall remain what I am, under any circumstance. This promise, you must make to yourself. There is no use making this promise to your father, or your teacher, or to me. You are the person who is most concerned with keeping your promise to yourself. If you don't do it, you will regret it. Father and mother may weep for three days, four days.

I remember seeing a movie, Arangetram, long ago, where there is probably a purohit [priest] family, father and mother with six or seven daughters, one son. Purohits don't earn enough. This girl went to Hyderabad, tempted by an offer of job, and she became a prostitute. She didn't know what it was. She was trapped into becoming one. Once she got into it, there was no escape. But she started sending money home. Cycle for the eldest sister, saree for Deepavali, until one day, the mother began to suspect, "How can my daughter earn so much?" She then goes to Hyderabad, and finds this is what her daughter is doing. And you know what they did? They were not grateful to that girl who sold herself to keep her family alive. They cut her off. "Damn you..." They sent her out.

So you see how and why girls have to be absolutely on the straight and narrow path all the time. There is no question of holiday for one day.

There was this boy in my office whom I sent abroad to Korea for a month and a half. He was an abhyasi. On returning he said, "Can I have six months of leave from Sahaj Marg?" I asked, "Why?" "Sir, these South Korean girls are extremely beautiful." Why would you need leave from Sahaj Marg? Because you cannot indulge in all this when we are in Sahaj Marg.

So Sahaj Marg is a protection. It is like building a compound wall around your house. Character is a protection around your life. Lose the character, life is lost. It is open to anybody to shoot at you, to destroy you. Understood?

I have told you very specifically, very exactly, without pulling any punches, what youth has to face in today's world.

Temptation for money, for position, for wealth-this is how it all starts. Avoid all temptations, and you will be good, you will grow, you will be respectable and you will be happy. Thank you.