Friday, November 27, 2009

Talent Needs A Nourishing Environment

असाह्ययः समर्थोऽपि तेजस्वी किं करिष्यति l

निर्वाते ज्वलिते वह्निः स्वयमेवोपशाम्यति ll

What (किं) can even a capable (समर्थोऽपि) and brilliant (तेजस्वी) (person) do (करिष्यति) without assistance (असाह्ययः) ?

If a burning fire (ज्वलिते वह्निः) is placed in a vacuum (निर्वाते), it automatically dies out ( स्वयमेवोपशाम्यति).

However brilliant a person may be, he will not be able to reach his potential without a conducive atmosphere. This year India-born Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was one of the three scientists who won the nobel prize in Chemistry. He is a senior scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge.

While we naturally feel pride that a person of Indian origin has received this honour, we should also reflect on the reality that there may be many researchers with potential for such research here in India. Perhaps they do not get encouragement or adequate funding, such as is available in western countries.

Many times seniors do not want the next generation to replace them. We see this in Indian politics, where elderly politicians stick to their posts even when there are younger ones who have the potential to replace them. If not given a chance while their enthusiasm is still intact, they may not be able to work capably when they later do get a chance.

If a seed falls on barren ground, of however superior quality it may be- it will not sprout. It needs fertile soil to grow.

It is the same with talent. Talent will not flourish in a vacuum, it needs a nourishing environment to realize its potential.

Whether in the field of scientific research or in politics, in the arts or in sports, we would do well to remember that talent needs nurturing. If an atmosphere where young talent has a chance to flourish is created, we will surely see more and more Indians excelling in their chosen fields.

Friday, November 13, 2009

जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी l

This following verse is not strictly considered a Subhaashit, but since it is included in one of the books of Subhaashits that I refer to, I am posting it here.

अपि स्वर्णमयी लङ्का न मे लक्ष्मण रोचते ।
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी ।।

After defeating Ravana, and freeing Sita, Lord Rama established Vibhishana as the ruler of Lanka. Rama's younger brother, Lakshmana, requested him to stay for some more time in Lanka, as it was such a beautiful city.

Rama replied that he was not tempted to tarry there. He did not like (न मे रोचते) Lanka (लङ्का) , even though it was filled with gold (अपि स्वर्णमयी), and very wonderful.

In Rama's view, ones's mother and one's motherland (जननी जन्मभूमिश्च), were both superior to even heaven (स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी).

So how could a mere earthly city like Lanka keep him from returning to Ayodhya ?

The coat of arms of Nepal was changed in December, 2006, to include the flag of Nepal, Mount Everest, green hills, etc., plus a white silhouette in the shape of Nepal. The national motto of Nepal, though, written on the earlier coat of arms, was retained in the new one too.

It is-" जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी l "!

[Picture of coat of arms of Nepal- courtesy- Wikipedia]

Saturday, November 07, 2009

मनुष्यरूपेण मृगाश्र्चरन्ति l

In his Niti Shatakam, Bhartrihari has composed several Subhaashits on the subject of 'अज्ञ पद्धती' - about ignorant people.

He says-

येषां न विद्या न तपो न दानं l
ज्ञानं न शीलं न गुणो न धर्मः ll
ते मृत्युलोके भुवि भारभूतः l
मनुष्यरूपेण मृगाश्र्चरन्ति ll

Those (people) who do not have even a single virtue (न गुणो)- not learning (न विद्या), nor concentration (न तपो), nor charity (न दानं). Not knowledge, nor moral character (ज्ञानं न शीलं). Those who do not act according to their Dharma (न धर्मः )-

They are merely a burden on the earth (मृत्युलोके भुवि भारभूतः) - animals moving around (मृगाश्र्चरन्ति) in human form (मनुष्यरूपेण).

Things have changed since the time of Bhartrihari, and so have our ideas of morality and virtues. I wonder if the essential virtues that Bhartrihari has listed would be considered desirable in today's world?

By his yardstick, how many of us would be merely 'animals in human form'?

[ Though the more common meaning of मृग is 'deer', here it means animal (in general).]