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GANESHA A True Role Model
There are many people we look up to, heroworship and i d o l i z e . Sometimes they are people from within our own families, our parents, uncles and aunts. At other times, it may be a teacher at school, a colleague or a senior at work. And then there are almost always some accomplished, renowned citizens we consider role models. It struck me, however, that we have in our rich mythology, a plethora of idols whose lives give us many wonderful and relevant lessons. So in a country that celebrates Lord Ganesha, why not draw inspiration from his story? There’s a lot to learn and immense wisdom to be drawn.
In a hate-mongering, war-torn world, we would be wise to instil a sense of forgiveness in children and students. Develop empathy rather than vengefulness. Ganesha’s life presents a wonderful example of this. Legend has it that on his return from a heavenly get-together, having eaten his usual copious amounts of food, Ganesha tripped because his belly had become too large and heavy. Seeing this, the Moon laughed at him and was consequently banished by Ganesha. However, upon some pleading, Ganesha forgave him and reduced his sentence by half ! This same kind of understanding and spirit of mercy would do wonders in the current generation. The ability to forgive and show kindness is greatly required, particularly in a cutthroat and competitive world, and young people would do well to adopt this quality.
Being dutiful too is a lesson that youngsters can draw from Ganesha’s own life. When asked to guard the house while his m o t h e r b a t h e d , G a n e s h a , albeit unknowingly, famously denied his father access to the home. That he lost his head and came to wear the head of an elephant, as a result, is another matter; to have gone beyond the call of duty is the lesson to be derived therefrom. Here too, is a very vital lesson for young people especially. Respecting elders, caring for them, and going that extra mile is an attributes that will make a new generation more empathetic, understanding and respectful.
Respect for family and parents seems to be dwindling. It has become cool to be a rebel, that too without a cause. Ganesha’s life presents yet another insight- ful instance of loving one’s parents. When asked to circle the planet, while his brother Kartik did so literally, Ganesha chose to circle his parents, proclaiming that THEY were, his world! This kind of devotion is becoming a rare commodity. But younger kids would do well to reassess their parents’ importance. It might be fashionable to be rebellious and needlessly outspoken – however, to realize that elders bring with them altogether deeper wisdom and life experience, and to learn from that rather than challenge it, would place youngsters on a better footing.
Children have a tendency of fashioning t h e i r self-image or selfconcept based on the opinions and perceptions of others, rather than basing this on what they know and think about themselves. Selfrespect then, is a vital quality for kids today, to develop. Being open to outside opinion is important; it is however just as crucial to know oneself. Ganesha once famously dug up a road that deities and lords were to traverse and when the person who lifted a fallen carriage was asked how he did it by the impacted Gods, he said it was because he had calledout Ganesha’s name for help & strength. This made the Gods realize Ganesha’s importance and power, more importantly, though, it was Ganesha standing up for himself, giving a clear signal of his selfrespect.
Finally, in this fiercely competitive age of start-ups and digitization, it is easy for young people to give up on pursuits without truly committing or trying. There is a pressing need to stress commitment to one’s work, relationships and most anything in life. Ganesha was asked to assist in writing the epic Mahabharata, and he did so on the condition that Ved Vyasa would narrate it to him, at one shot, continuously, without a break. One would think his suggestion proved counterproductive when Ganesha’s pen broke but undeterred, he pulled out one of his tusks, and continued writing, using the latter as a pen! This kind of duty to one’s work needs to be inculcated in the young generation. There is immense learning to be had in our rich mythology. Sure, it is great to get together and celebrate festivals with fun, food, and family. A slightly deeper delving into the significance and meaning of Gods and festivals though will enrich the festival and the lives of the people who are participating in it, more. The profound lessons one can derive from Ganesha’s life should not, therefore, be limited to those few days that he is celebrated but rather imbibed in one’s life, for a lifetime!