Wisdom of the Gita Humility is the real Opulence
Srila Sanatana Goswami humbly receives instructions from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir is aiming to institute a centre of learning that will inculcate the glorious Vedic values like humility in today’s youth and thereby develop the exalted character of a true Indian with examples and life philosophy drawn from the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
Humility is understood to be the quality of modest opinion of ones own importance, rank or possession.But, the people of the present are often engrossed in acquiring fame, honour and prestige at any cost in their respective domains and life situations. Consequently, we find that the society, especially the younger generation imitate their ‘idols’ who may be rich and famous but not of an ideal character. Such public figures are advertised in all possible communication media, thus occupying the thoughts of impressionable minds. Today’s youth accept these relentlessly publicised personalities as their role models and mimic them unquestioningly in every manner.
This in turn gives rise to a situation where the fine values of self-belief, self-respect, and a drive for excellence in one’s pursuits are often confused with a self-centric personality that is full of narcissism, false pride, overconfidence and an obsession with outward appearance. This misunderstanding is widely prevalent among the youth today because of an identity crisis and a craving to succeed somehow – be it either by hook or by crook. Sadly, this misconception is leading the society at large to disregard basic values, beginning with humility. In the absence of ideal leaders who teach by their personal example, there is a general neglect of our own rich culture and heritage that has been the guiding light for humanity since time immemorial.
In this unfortunate situation, it is very important that we wisely choose the source from which we aspire to acquire life lessons.
There is an urgent need to reflect on the teachings of our sublime heritage and perfect scriptures, like the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. These sources enlighten us on the qualities that one should imbibe and retain in order to lead a life of real self-belief and commitment that is free from the previously described misconceptions.
Lord Krishna, while teaching the constituents of true knowledge in the Bhagavad Gita, lists humility (amanitvam) as the very first item. Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement explained humility as follows – “Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honoured by others. The material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honour from others, but from the point of view of a man in perfect knowledge – who knows that he is not this body – anything, honour or dishonour, pertaining to this body is useless. One should not be hankering after this material deception.”
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the devotee incarnation of Lord Krishna in this age, practically taught us how to become humble by His own example. Lord Chaitanya has described the ideal state of humility in the following manner – “One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”
Following in the footsteps of Lord Chaitanya, Srila Prabhupada exemplified the value of humility by his personal conduct. Dr. J. Stillson Judah, a learned scholar and a distinguished faculty of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, U.S.A, recalled his first meeting with Srila Prabhupada and said, “I was struck by his humility. His humility was very apparent by the way he treated me with brotherly respect and affection. I was also very much impressed to see that he lived his life in the same way that he expected his disciples to. Although he certainly was exalted by his disciples, he did not put himself on a plane above them. He ate what they ate, lived in the same kind of building. He didn’t want a palace to live in. He followed the same life as his disciples, strictly.” This also shows how genuine respect and admiration for a humble personality pours out effortlessly in comparison to those who just wear the robe of humility.
Humility is a fundamental trait that has been neglected amidst the honour-seeking pursuits of the current generation. It is important to understand that there is certainly no conflict between self-belief and humility. In fact, a humble, simple minded person is internally satisfied and is not superfluously anxious to seek honour. Thus, humility opens the doors of knowledge and virtue.
Therefore, it is absolutely essential that today’s youth should learn from Lord Krishna’s teachings and take inspiration from the personal examples set by ideal teachers like Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada.