See Your Progress in Society’s Progress (May, 2023)
In the intricate fabric of society, each individual is like a thread woven together, creating a beautiful and rugged tapestry. While the pursuit of our own welfare is essential, it remains incomplete without considering the welfare of the society as a whole. Just as a fabric finds strength in the unity of its threads, our collective well-being is deeply intertwined with the happiness and prosperity of all. In the ninth principle of the Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati emphasized on this very point.
प्रत्येक को अपनी ही उन्नति से संतुष्ट न रहना चाहिये, किंतु सब की उन्नति में अपनी उन्नति समझनी चाहिये
One must not be content with their own progress alone; instead, one must see their own progress in the progress of others.
In this month’s article, we will explore the essence of this principle, relate it to the teachings of the Vedas, and delve into the significance of treating the world as one family, empathy, and celebrating differences as pillars upon which human existence has nurtured.
Let’s first focus on why we must rejoice in others’ progress. Within our own families, helping and supporting each other comes naturally. We know that our happiness is closely tied to the happiness of the entire family. We also believe that God is like the father and mother of all. So, why should we not have the same sense of interconnectedness for everyone in society, considering that we all are God’s children? Aren’t we all a part of a big family? Once we view society as an extended family, the idea that each person’s welfare contributes to the overall harmony and progress of the collective becomes natural.
The Vedas, ancient scriptures of wisdom, also convey the same message as part of its profound teachings. Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्), a text from Upanishads, translates to “the world is one family.” It encourages us to transcend the boundaries of separation and recognize that every individual is a part of one family. Embracing this concept fosters a sense of shared responsibility and compassion for all, creating a harmonious and interconnected world.
Another aspect of this principle is empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Building empathy plays a pivotal role in embracing our interconnectedness. By putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we develop a deep sense of empathy that transcends differences and unifies us. Kids can nurture empathy through simple acts of kindness, such as helping a classmate in need or comforting a friend who is upset.
The Gita further reinforces the importance of empathy, stating that feeling the happiness and distress of others as their own is a way to enlightenment and spiritual growth. Atmavat Sarva Bhuteshu Ya Pashyati Sa Pandita (आत्मवत् सर्वभूतेषु य: पश्यति स पंडित:). It literally means “one who treats all other living beings as he/she would oneself is considered to be learned”.
The beauty of our society lies in the diversity of its individuals. Wherever we see, we see differences; even two kids in a single family are not the same. And these differences make life beautiful. Differences in physical appearance, intellectual capabilities, emotional leanings, and life goals add richness and depth to our collective experience. Just think how the world would look if everyone looked, thought, and acted alike. It is crucial to respect and celebrate the differences.
Below are a few examples for kids to introspect and improve:
1. Friend’s Achievement: Imagine your best friend scoring exceptionally well on a test or receiving an award. Do you feel jealous or envious? Try practicing a genuine feeling of happiness and celebration for their success. Recognize that their accomplishment contributes to the overall growth and positive environment of your friendship circle.
2. Helping a Classmate: If you notice a classmate struggling with a particular subject or assignment, put yourself in their shoes. Consider how you would feel if you were facing the same challenges. Offer your support, whether it’s explaining a concept, providing study materials, or simply offering encouragement.
3. Acts of Kindness: Engage in small acts of kindness towards others, such as holding the door for someone, sharing your lunch with a peer who forgot theirs, or offering a helping hand to a classmate carrying a heavy load.
4. Standing Up Against Bullying: If you witness someone being bullied or mistreated, imagine how you would feel if you were in their position. Practice empathy by speaking up and supporting the person who is being targeted.
5. Volunteering and Community Service: Engage in community service activities that support individuals or causes in need. For example, volunteering at a local food bank, participating in environmental cleanup projects, or assisting at a shelter.
6. Friendship Mosaic: Imagine a group of friends with different hobbies and interests. One friend loves art, another enjoys sports, and yet another is passionate about science. Instead of expecting everyone to have the same interests, appreciate and celebrate each friend’s unique talents. Each friend brings their own color to the friendship mosaic, making it more vibrant and exciting.
7. Class Project Collaboration: You can see diverse interests benefiting your class projects. Any group project requires collaboration among students. Each student contributes their own strengths and perspectives to the project. For example, one student may excel in researching, another in organizing, and another in creativity. You can also look at it this way that a project with all members having the same set of strengths and weaknesses will likely not succeed.
8. Personal Goals: Siblings also often have different aspirations and dreams. One sibling may have a passion for science and aspire to become a scientist, while the other may be interested in writing and dream of becoming an author. Rather than seeing it as negative, let’s try to support and encourage each other’s personal goals.
The key point of this month’s article is to develop the ability to genuinely connect with others and understand their experiences, joys, and struggles. By putting ourselves in others’ shoes and extending kindness and support, we can embody the teaching of feeling the happiness and distress of others as our own. Only then will we be able to truly live the ninth principle of the Arya Samaj.
In this month’s assignment, kids are expected to…
– Read the ninth principle in Hindi and English
– Explain the meaning of the principle in details
– Describe why we must have the sense of progress in others’ progress
– Cover one or more of the following points: the world is a family, empathy, and beauty in diversity.
– Share examples of how they see this teaching in their day-to-day life
As always, I am looking forward to hearing the insightful descriptions and interpretations by our Hawan kids. Make us proud!
Harsh Mendiratta 🙏🏼