Charioteer Needed



By Acharya Chandanaji

When a skilled sculptor becomes immersed in his own imagination, a timeless work of art is produced. When a learned thinker plumbs the depths of his own thoughts, beautiful literary works are created. When a talented specialist in any field applies himself to his research he can astound the world with his discoveries. Similarly the skilful karyakartta, the capable worker, who is utterly dedicated to serving society, can rejuvenate it.

I believe this sort of karyakartta is an asset to any organisation. He can help enlighten society and move it in the right direction. He can undertake the responsibility for building it up. In the language of Hindu mythology, the true karyakartta embodies the strengths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Through his force of character and strength of soul, he can be instrumental in creating a healthy society. He can help the helpless and take care of the sick and needy. He is a fearless protector of the weak. His independent and revolutionary thinking can demolish anti-social and anti-national elements. He can root out reactionary ideas and beliefs. The karyakartta is society's 'Tridev (triple deity).

There is a lack of properly educated and motivated karyakarttas in every part of society today. When trying to make any work programme, organisation or movement successful, the role of the leader is relatively less significant than that of his karyakarttas. The leader is like the flag on top of the temple; the karyakarttas are its bricks and mortar. To my mind the humblest labourer is more worthy of respect than the most senior karyakartta, if the latter is motivated only by self-interest. The true karyakartta is never motivated by self-interest; he remains detached from trying to attain personal glory. He is an idealist and inspired to do good works for others. He lives a life of self­sacrifice. Karyakarttas should be pure in thought, worshipful, self-disciplined, self­controlled and eager for selfless service.

They should not follow any particular principle or belief slavishly, but use instead their own powers of judgement and discrimination. In addition, they should have a stainless character. They should never embrace expediency for the sake of success. They should prefer failure along the ethical path, to success down the path of expediency. We need this type of fearless, determined, sensitive, selfless and sympathetic karyakartta today. We must produce the type of karyakartta who will aim for spiritual purification through service.

At eye camps in Veerayatan I see many people who do a lot of hard work without being asked. They give themselves over completely to their voluntary work. Some put ointment in the eyes of patients, some spread out the bedding whilst others arrange for food and drink. The family-like atmosphere brings comfort to the patients and in turn their gratitude brings joy to the volunteers. We should do this selfless service wholeheartedly and extend it to the other parts of Bihar, and from Bihar to the rest of India, and from India to the whole of humanity.

Along with this humanitarian service we should work collaboratively to our full capacity and with all our talents on projects for education, combating addiction, providing employment and other worthwhile goals. We should use our energy for the implementation of these projects. We should train proper karyakarttas who will guide people on their way and keep the 'chariot' of service going in the right direction and at a good speed.

Chariots are the symbol of movement in Indian culture. They represent ideals and symbolise our progressive thoughts. Service is our ideal. It is what our movement is about. It is our chariot. The karyakarttas are the charioteers. We need a charioteer who knows the art of controlling the horses, knows the road well and also knows where he is going. Even more important, the charioteer should be able to give guidance to the other person mounted on the chariot with him. The charioteer is greatly esteemed in Indian culture.

Looking at the distant past, my gaze fixes itself on the events of 5,000 years ago. The Mahabharat war is about to start. Lord Krishna has become Arjun's charioteer. The Pandav and Kaurav armies are facing each other on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjun wants to quit the battlefield. He debates whether to fight or leave. He can't make up his mind about what to do. What is the correct action to take? At this juncture, Aljun's charioteer, Lord Krishna, shows him the way. Arjun's indecision comes to an end. He decides to fight. Here Lord Krishna is Arjun's charioteer and guide at one and the same time. He gives guidance, not only on Arjun's immediate dilemma, but also on all other matters of religion, politics and sociology. Arjun was victorious at Kurukshetra because of the guidance he received from his excellent charioteer.

In that same Mahabharat era, a charioteer provided him with such valuable guidance, that the course and destination of Yadukulbhushan Arishtanemi's life changed completely. N emi Kumar was a bridegroom being driven to the marriage hall in a chariot. In the midst of listening happily to the strains of the exquisite wedding music, he could hear the piteous cries of birds and beasts. His heart was very moved at the sound. He asked his charioteer what the matter was, and why these terrible cries of distress were coming up through the music. Arishtanemi's charioteer explained to him that these animals and birds were being butchered for the wedding feast. From that very moment the course of Arishtanemi's life changed irrevocably. He took off his wedding finery, renounced the world, and devoted himself to the religion of universal compassion. In this case, a charioteer changed not only the direction that his passenger's life was taking, but also guided him on a path of religious awareness.

In the age of the Ramayan, King Dasharath was being bested in combat, when his wife Kaikayi came forward to take the place of his charioteer. The king had been losing the battle, but his new charioteer's dauntlessness put him on his mettle. She managed the horses and also wielded the bow to such good effect that her intervention snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. A king was about to be defeated - a charioteer brought him victory. Prince Siddharth had a charioteer called Nand. On seeing an old man, a sick man and a dead man successively in his path, he asked his charioteer what had happened to them. He had never seen a sick, an old or a dead person before. His inquisitiveness was astutely answered by his charioteer Nand. Suddenly Siddharth was 'awakened'. He renounced the world and became the Buddha. One charioteer's guidance caused millions to find the right path.

We need such charioteers, karyakarttas and guides who can use their wisdom, far­sightedness and other good qualities to plan and implement programmes for people's welfare. From their experience, extraordinary capacities, wisdom and learning, they should establish centres for the service of humanity all over the world. They should guide the organisations as well as work wholeheartedly for them with all their strength, dedication and wealth.

I believe that programmes motivated by high ideals and feelings for people's welfare will be successful and effective because they embody a move forward. The river never tires; it wears down rocks and breaks through other barriers, and is then joined on the way by its other tributaries until it finally reaches the sea. We should be similarly tireless in pursuing the common good.

If the cause is worthy, you will never lack funds. If the goals are clear, you will never lack good karyakarttas. Along with the power of money, let's have 'people power' and inner strength too; only then will we be able to impact on the spirit of the age and get things moving.

Buddhism was awarded by the munificence of Emperor Ashoka who opened up his imperial coffers to fund Buddhist missionary activity both within India and abroad. Shankaracharya was generously assisted by Raja Mandhata, who offered up all his treasure as well as his entire army to him. The wealthy Bhamashah sacrificed his all to supply Rana Pratap with the funds necessary to keep the Moghals at bay, and thus preserve the sovereignty of Mewar.

When Gandhiji needed resources for the independence of our country, he was supported by people like the Birla and Bajaj families. Netaji Sub hash Chandra Bose was unstintingly supported by many of the Indian families resident in Burma. They organised a collection for 'Azad Hind Fauz' by presenting to him his own weight in gold. It is rightly said that when you move forward purposefully, you will always find a path.

Good ideas and worthwhile programmes possess an intrinsic power that attracts support. Christianity, assisted by only a handful of apostles, has now converted a third of humanity. Karl Marx was much persecuted and rejected in his own time, yet his ideas came to hold sway over one half of the human race. A good deed is like a drop of oil that imperceptibly spreads out across the surface of an entire tub of water. In the same way, great ideas slowly make an impact throughout creation.

Today we need karyakarttas with focus. We need trained charioteers, capable people who are willing to accept the role of a guide. Working together they will put the 'chariot' of progress on the road to the divine light once again. I wish that:

Only when great souls rise,
will there be a golden dawn,
The rays will spread everywhere,
And there will be a fragrance' if bliss
in every direction.



Source : "The Jains Through Time"
Veerayatan's  Silver Jubilee A Commemoration-An English Translation of' Samay Ki Parto Mein' published to celebrate the Twenty-sixth Centenary of the birth of Tirthankara Mahavira, English Translation by Sadhvi Shilapiji

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