“Neither money pays, nor name, nor fame, nor learning; it is CHARACTER that can cleave through the adamantine walls of difficulties”
— Swami Vivekananda
There is a popular saying, “If wealth is lost nothing is lost, if health is lost something is lost, but if character is lost everything is lost”. But today what we see in society is quite the contrary. Money is playing a dominant role in the present society. People are prepared to do anything for money, they can go to any extent, and they are least bothered about the means. They are busy amassing wealth even at the cost of others. Their hearts are dead. They are living corpses. They have no compassion, love or sympathy for other human beings. Adulteration, cheating, bribery, theft, scams, scandals, dowry harassment, robbery, exploitation are rampant everywhere. Surprisingly they are being perpetuated by the so-called educated people. In the modern educational system, only intellect is being developed but there is no scope for the development of the heart. It is making people more and more selfish and greedy. Swami Vivekanand observed this and said, “Bring light to the ignorant, and more light to the educated, for the vanities of the education of our time are tremendous.”
In the midst of chaos and confusion, here and there we come across a few great characters who have left their marks through their wonderful contribution. Among such we have a most celebrated personality, Sir Mokshagundam Visweswarayya, a great engineer produced by India in the last century. He is a bright example to our youth. He lived for 102 years and was full of enthusiasm, zeal and energy, almost till the end of his life. His dedication, sincerity, hard work, skills, integration, honesty, spirit of service, patriotism, and above all his undaunted courage and disciplined life made him a unique personality. He was awarded the highest civilian award, `Bharat Ratna’, for his great contribution to our motherland. His biographer writes, “His was an unblemished pure life. No blemish could be traced in his long career. When on duty he would use Government vehicle, otherwise his own car. He never used Government paper and stationary for personal and non official correspondence. When in doubt, whether it was Government paper or not, he would examine in bright light to detect the embossed mark, `government stationary’. When he was asked about the eradication of poverty, he said, `poverty is not natural. It is unnatural. It is curable like any other disease. Ignorance, dependence, inefficiency, laziness, want of the spirit of enterprise are the real causes of poverty.
Gandhiji’s slogan was `Industrialise and perish’, where as Sir Visweswarayya’s slogan was `Industrialise or perish. Both were right: one was emphasizing human values, other material prosperity. Swami Vivekananda came to harmonise these two apparent contradictory views. He encouraged Sir Jamshedji Tata to establish heavy industries in India, and asked Mysore Maharaja to help Jamshedji by way of providing land and infrastructure for the same. Swamiji wanted India to be great in every field, but not at the cost of long cherished values and culture. He was sure unless we combine both these there cannot be real progress. The education which provides us both these aspects was real education, according to him. He said, “What we want are Western science coupled with Vedanta as the guiding motto and also shraddha and faith in one’s own self.”
Unfortunately, after independence, we are mostly concentrating on only one aspect, which is western science; the other one is completely neglected. In the name of secularism, we have carefully avoided long-cherished values which our ancestors lived for and practised. Due to lack of character energy, we have converted human beings into machines. Every year we are manufacturing thousands of Doctors, engineers, Lawyers, Managers, Administrators but not real human beings. Human values such as love, compassion, peace, happiness, truthfulness, honesty, sincerity, contentment, non-violence, patriotism, fearlessness, confidence, courage, self-restraint are replaced by hatred, cruelty, deceit, greed, dishonesty, lust, anger, fear, cowardice, selfishness, violence etc, which has created a vacuum in the hearts of people. We have never seen in the history such a degradation of human values.