Thus Spoke Mahapragya - Vol.1 ► 02. Developing The Competency

Posted: 26.03.2011

Developing The Competency

Today there was a welcome program. As part of the cultural event eleven girls have placed eleven vessels in front of me. In a Sanskrit shloka, there is very beautiful description of the vessel. It says there is enmity between water and fire. It is a natural phenomenon that when you put water on the fire it will extinguish. Nobody knows since when is this enmity existing between fire and water. If you keep a vessel between water and fire, then this enmity doesn't exist anymore and the fire enables the heating of the water. If there is a Supatra (capable medium) between the fire and water, then the fire will not get extinguished and at the same time, the water is also not wasted.

Sutra of Life

Do not wish. Become capable and competent. Everything else will follow.

Ocean never says that the river should come to give water to it. At the same time, it is so vast that it can accomodate all the waters from all the rivers. Ocean always welcomes the rivers with open arms and keeps them safely. Imagine if these rivers had to go to a pond. One can imagine the calamity it can cause. Everybody wishes for wealth, money, success and fame. Man desires every form of wealth. Acharya Tulsi with his foresightedness has given us a sutraKamana mat karo, Patra Bano, Yogya Bano” - 'Do not wish. Become capable and competent.' If you are capable and competent, then wealth will automatically flow in. However, if you are not capable or competent, then no matter what you wish or aspire, you will not accomplish. Hence one must become competent and capable.

In Nandisutra, there is a very beautiful description. The commentator Tikakar has written “It rained and the river flowed down the mountains, water flowed down and the potholes got filled. Potholes kept what was required; reservoirs kept the water till they became full, dams kept water till they became full and allowed the rest of the water to flow.” Everybody kept what was required and discarded the rest. It was the ocean which welcomed the river and accepted the rest of the water. People who are ours will always accept us and who are outsiders will always remain strangers for us.

One has to work towards the development of his atma (soul). This sutra is for everybody. For a Sadhu and Sadhvi, this is a very important sutra. “Atma ko patra banao, yogyata ka arjan karo” -'Work for the development of your soul. Work towards becoming capable and competent.' If you are competent and capable, whatever you have desired will follow automatically. If you just desire and don't work towards developing competency and capability then you will get tired and frustrated. How does one develop this capability or competency? According to the Sanskrit book Kavyanushashan there are two forms of talents:

  • Naisargik (Natural)
  • Adhigamiki (Acquired)

People with natural talent do not need to work hard to acquire anything they want. They do not need to learn or practice anything vigorously. They are born gifted with talents. There are some people who work hard and acquire the talent. There are some habits which are acquired naturally. There are also those people who work hard and acquire those habits. One can even develop behavior.

There are very few people with natural gifted talents. Acharya Tulsi was one such a gifted person. At a very young age of sixteen he became a teacher. When I was ten years old, he was of sixteen and was my teacher and also a teacher for many other Sadhus. It is very surprising to see a teacher who was just sixteen years old. It is more surprising to know that at the age of twenty two he was entrusted with the responsibility of heading and guiding the Jain Dharmasangha. It is unimaginable but true. Such persons are rare but our Acharya Shri was one of them.

The other type of talent is something that can be acquired with dedication and hard work. This requires a lot of patience. One can face difficulties and problems which life can challenge him with. One should not get frightened and withdraw. He should strive and become capable and competent.

One Thakur Sahib (powerful and wealthy person) was riding a horse. After traveling some distance, the horse felt thirsty. Just a few meters ahead there was a well with a water-bucket. The water-bucket was tied to a circular wheel which moved in a circular motion. This circular motion caused the water to get filled, move up and then emptied into a tank. There was a lever attached to the circular wheel which acted as a brake and prevented the wheel from moving in the opposite direction. When this lever touched the wheel it produced a sound. When the Thakur reached the well, the horse would get frightened with the sound produced by the lever and it refused to drink the water. Thakur was annoyed and ordered the wheel to be stopped so that his horse could drink water. When the wheel stopped, the water also stopped flowing. Thakur got annoyed and told the farmer “I asked you to stop that annoying sound and not the water”. The farmer replied “Thakur Sahib. Water will come only when this annoying sound is produced. If the wheel does not move the water will not flow.” The horse was afraid of this annoying sound and, hence it could not drink water. Even during our journey, we have seen that to make arrangements for electricity, the generators were used. Its sound sometimes causes lot of disturbances. However, if one want's electricity, then he has to bear the sound. Hence, if you observe carefully, wherever there was sound and disturbance one got light or water. If it was not there you would neither get water nor electricity. The world is full of such annoying sound. One must not get frightened or disturbed in his life.

Sutra of Competency

The sutra to become capable or competent is patience.

The sutra to become capable or competent is to have patience. The biggest problem today is that even a child doesn’t have patience and cannot tolerate anything. Every other day, we read in the newspaper “Mother scolds the child and the child leaves home and boards the next train”. Where there is so much of intolerance, developing capability or competency is not possible. If you want to develop the capability or competency then one must learn to be patient and show tolerance. One must develop sahishnuta (tolerance).

The sutra Anushashan (self-discipline) given by Acharya Bhikshu was fundamentally based on the principle of sahishnuta (tolerance). Samani Malli Pragya and Samani Chaitanya Pragya [1] had visited Udaipur. Kanaknandiji is the Acharya of Digamber sect in Udaipur. He is a very learned scholar. He had deep interest in Vigyan and Adhyatma and had worked in this area. He had organized a conference and sent an invitation, requesting us to participate. It was the chaturmas (four month period where sadhus don't travel) and our program post chaturmas was also fixed and hence we sent two samanis to the conference. The result of the conference were very encouraging. Kanaknandiji asked “How is Terapanth developing? How are you gearing up yourselves? What are the different new programs which Terapanth is doing?” The samanis replied “We have one Acharya and a strict discipline. The fundamental base of our development is the trust in this discipline and single leadership.”

A big question arises “When does discipline work?” The answer is when somebody has the capability and has the patience. If one does not have the patience and tolerance, one cannot be disciplined. Hence foremost requirement is that you need to develop this patience to become disciplined. If you do not have this patience then nobody on this earth can help you and not even the Acharyas. The police and the armed forces also find it difficult to control violence and brutality even though they have revolvers and pistols. The Acharya do not even carry a stick. Today the problem that a nation is facing is that an individual is being educated and made intelligent but there is no focus on developing his ability and usefulness to the society.

In olden literature, the following three words have a significant discussion in the educational, personal and religious field:

  • Patra (eligible)
  • Apatra (ineligible)
  • Kupatra (unfit)

People used to say that their son was Supatra (well mannered, cultured and obedient). Their daughter was supatra. One who was less or not well-mannered and cultured was termed Kupatra. These three words have generated tremendous discussion in the Indian literature. Whether it is the context of donation or marriage or any other context, these words are always discussed. Earlier the people used to ask if they knew any well-mannered and well behaved boy for their daughter. However today the guidelines of a marriage are the color of the skin and beauty. One gives lot of importance to color and beauty than the character. One girl who had recently got married used to often leave home on small arguments and just go somewhere. I asked her in-laws “I heard that you daughter-in-law often leaves home. Is it true?” They said it was true. They had seen her beauty and got her married to their son. They did not realize that behind this beauty, anger was hidden. Whenever she got angry, she just used to leave home and go somewhere.

Raja Bhoja once told his minister “You have lot of specialties but no beauty”. The minister was very intelligent. Only intelligent people used to become ministers. I am not talking in today's context, as this was applicable only in the olden days. The minister remained silent and did not reply back at that point of time. It was summer and the King was feeling thirsty. The minister asked the servant to get water for the king in two vessels - one made of gold and the other, an earthen pot. The servant followed the instructions and got water for the king in two different vessels. The minister offered water to the King in a golden bowl and said “It does not befit a King like you to drink water from an earthen pot”. The king drank a sip of water and spit that out. He said “The water is very hot. Are you insane to offer me water in a golden vessel?” The minister then offered the king water from the earthen pot. The water in the earthen pot was cool and the King drank the water and quenched his thirst. The minister asked the King why he had preferred to drink the water from the earthen pot over the water in the golden vessel. The king was taken aback and he remembered what he had told his minister once. The minister then explained “O King! Don't look at just the exterior but look at what is within it. The golden vessel is beautiful and expensive, but it lacks the cooling that an earthen pot can give”. The king realized his mistake. Thus, one should not just look at the exterior but also assess its ability and usefulness that lies within.

We should also ponder on this. We should develop our capabilities and competencies with patience. One who develops patience, would develop the ability. Even I have gone through the experience and have shown patience. Acharya Tulsi was my teacher and often he would also punish me and ask me to stand outside the class. As a punishment, I was not allowed to talk to anyone and sometimes he used twist my ears. As a result my ears would turn red. Whenever the other Muni's used to see my ears red, they would ask me “Has Acharya Tulsi punished you today?” Development of patience is very important. One might encounter lot of difficulties but without first developing patience one cannot develop his capability and competency. Hence one should be determined to have patience first and then develop his abilities.

On a 7th January

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Mahapragya ne Kaha - Vol.1

Translated by:
Rakesh Kumar Jain

Online Edition: 2011