Our Conduct Towards All (March 2023)
One of the biggest factors that determines the happiness, joy and satisfaction in one’s life is largely determined by how a person is treated. Irrespective of how much one has (in terms of money, beauty, or position), they will not enjoy any of their successes until they gain respect of others. It is not a surprise that everyone wishes to be treated nicely.
If being treated fairly by others is of such a high importance to you, have you thought of how you treat others? Are you fair in your behavior? If you are not, how can you expect others to behave fairly with you. In the seventh principle of the Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati provided a framework of one conduct. And, that is the topic of this month’s assignment.
Principle in Hindi: सबसे प्रीतिपूर्वक, धर्मानुसार, यथायोग्य वर्तना चाहिये
Principle in English: Our conduct towards all should be guided by love, by injunctions of Dharma and according to their respective positions.
This principle talks about how to behave with everyone. Here “everyone” means your family members, your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, the people you know and those you do not know, and finally, yourself. Before going in details, let’s first understand what this principle literally means. It states that one must behave and conduct (वर्तना) with everyone (सबसे) with
– Love, respect and empathy (प्रीतिपूर्वक)
– Righteousness/the injunctions of Dharma (धर्मानुसार)
– Appropriateness (यथायोग्य)
In other words, one must incorporate the elements of love, righteousness, and appropriateness when dealing with everyone.
To understand the first point, let’s do a quick exercise. Think! When you express your love, is it coming from your heart? When you express respect, is your mind (your inner dialog) also respecting the other person? When you see someone in pain, do you feel their pain?
If the answer to anyone of the above is false, you need to work on this point. If you cannot have a feeling of love, respect, and empathy towards the people around you (your parents, your friends, and your relative/society), you are neither growing nor helping others grow.
Lack of the above attributes in your behavior means there is a sense of unhealthy competition, jealousy, and manipulation. These feelings hurt you more than others. You may be able to fool others for a while, but the reality of your true nature will catch up. Everyone is smart. Sooner or later, your true behavior and its intents will be known. And, if they are not pure, you will lose your respect.
The Vedas also emphasize the importance of love and respect in relations. It says that your minds and hearts ought to be aligned for the fulfilment of your goals. It further says that you be kindhearted and devoid of hatred.
In another Vedic prayer, the worshipper asks for a personality that brings joy when he meets others and leaves fragrance after he departs. Our conduct be such that others have a wave of delight in their mind when they think of us. And, it is possible only by harboring the feelings of genuine love, concern, respect, and empathy.
The second point is that our behavior must be righteous (i.e., in accordance with the dharma). How do you know if our behavior is as per dharma? We dug quite deep and focused on the topic of dharma as a part of the fifth principle (https://hawan.net/?p=1001). In summary, an act of dharma is the one whose answers to the following questions are all yes’s: Is my action going to be beneficial to me – in the present and future state? Will I be ok (i.e., feel no embarrassment) if my parents, my family members, my friends and society come to know about my actions? Will I be fine if others do the same to me that I am about to do to them? If any answer is no, know that you your act is not per the dharma.
The third point is to ensure that our behavior is appropriate to the person(s) we are dealing with. For simplicity, say the people are placed in two categories. In the first category are those who are nice, humble, gentle, understanding, and helping. And in the second category are those who are rude, vulgar, shrewd and cunning. You must learn to read and understand people, and then behave according to their true nature. The Vedic literature teaches to behave according to the nature of the person(s). While it is fine to be fooled once, but not again. There is a saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
When you meet people whose association makes you a better person, you must pay your respect and treasure their company. Their association will bring the best out of you. On the other hand, you must either avoid or act sternly towards the people whose association brings the worst out of you or cause you harm.
As a part of this month’s assignment, we will learn the importance of treating others with love, respect, and empathy, as outlined in the seventh principle of the Arya Samaj. We will also learn the need to align our behavior with the principles of righteousness and appropriate conduct towards others. It also highlights the importance of understanding people’s true nature and behaving accordingly. The Vedas emphasize the need for love, respect, and kindness in relationships and suggest that our behavior should be aligned with dharma.
While the younger kids can cover the love, respect and empathy aspects in their article, the elder kids should cover multiple, if not all, the aspects – as well as abstract meanings. As a bonus point, the elder kids can also talk about how one must behave towards oneself.
As always, I am looking forward to the insightful writeups and interpretation by our Hawan Kids.