Monday, October 18, 2021

12.1 Honesty

 12.1 Honesty

 

Question:

What to do with ill-gotten gains?

Answer:

             However useful, ill-gotten wealth should be discarded at once.                   (Couplet – 113)

நன்றே தரினும் நடுவிகந்தாம் ஆக்கத்தை

அன்றே யொழிய விடல்.                                                                        (குறள் – 113)

 

Explanation:

In the state of Tamil Nadu, during the period 1947 to 1949, there was a Chief Minister by the name Omandur Ramasamy Reddiyar. He was a very honest man. There was an incident in his life that bears testimony to his impeccable honesty. Once, he went on a tour and stayed in a government guesthouse and returned to his residence. Upon his return, his driver was unloading the luggage from the trunk of his car. Mr. Reddiyar found that the driver was bringing in a jack fruit. He asked the driver where he got the jack fruit. The driver replied, “Sir, while we stayed at the government guest house, the watchman gave this fruit.” Mr. Reddiyar said, “The fruit belongs to the government guesthouse, and I am not supposed to get it.” He told the driver to take the jack fruit back to the guesthouse. The jack fruit was not worth much. Probably it was worth less than a dollar. To him, it was a matter of principle that he should not take anything that did not legitimately belong to him.

 

          A similar incident happened in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr. C.N. Annudurai’s life also. Mr. C. N. Annadurai was affectionately called as Anna. Immediately after becoming the Chief Minister, Anna moved to Chennai while his wife was still staying in his home in Kanchipuram, which is about 45 miles from Chennai. Anna’s house in Kanchipuram was not well furnished. The furniture in his house was old and damaged. While Anna was in Chennai, a businessman filled his house with new furniture. His wife thought it was government-supplied furniture because her husband had become the Chief Minister. When Anna came to Kanchipuram to visit his wife, he was surprised to see all the new and elegant furniture. He asked his wife about the furniture. She said, “Somebody brought all this furniture. I thought the government has furnished our house because you have become the Chief Minister.” Upon further inquiry, Anna found that it was a gift from a local businessman. He immediately called the businessman and asked him to remove all the furniture supplied by him.

 

These are just two examples of incidents in the lives of two extremely honest men. These examples are worthy of emulation by others when they end up with ill-gotten gains.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

11.4 Gratitude

 11.4 Gratitude

 

Question: 

Should we always remember a good deed done to us by others?

 

Answer

It is improper to forget the good deeds done to us. But it is good to

forget the bad deeds at once.                                                                     (Couplet - 108)

நன்றி மறப்பது நன்றன்று; நன்றல்லது

அன்றே மறப்பது நன்று.                                                             (குறள் – 108)

 

Explanation:

If we do a good deed to someone, and if they forget, we would not like that. On the other hand, if those to whom we did good deeds remember them and respond to us with kindness, it will encourage us to do more good deeds. So, we should never forget a good act done to us.

 

I remember to have read a story about a boy who remembered a good deed. That story is about a young boy who had a paper route. He was distributing local newspapers to the residents in his town. He was walking and distributing the paper. He felt that he could distribute papers to more people and increase his income if he had a bike. But he did not have the money to buy a bike. He approached several local banks for a loan of hundred dollars so that he could buy a bike. All the bank managers refused to grant him the loan because he had no collateral. Finally, the manager of a very small bank called Thrifty Bank was kind enough to give the boy a hundred dollars loan. The boys used that money to buy a bike, and from the additional income, he repaid the loan in a short time. Years passed by. The bank manager who lent the money forgot all about the incident.


After almost thirty years later, one day, a middle-aged man walked into the Thrifty Bank’s manager’s office and told him he wanted to deposit a check in the bank. When the manager saw the check, he was shocked and surprised. The check was for ten million dollars. The bank manager asked the visitor, “This is a very small bank, and I am surprised that you want to deposit this large sum of money in this bank. May I ask you why?” The visitor replied, “Sir, you may not remember me. When I was a little boy, I wanted a hundred dollars loan to buy a bike. All the other banks in town refused to give me the loan. But you gave me the loan. I never forgot that. Now, I am the Chief Financial Officer in a large corporation. I have all the confidence in you that you will make good use of this money to help many people. By remembering the good deed done by the bank manager, the visitor made the manager happy, and he was also delighted. 

 

    If a bad deed is done to us, it is better to forget that as soon as possible. By remembering the bad deed, we get annoyed and angry. We are also tempted to get even with the one who did the bad deed. Remembering a bad deed results in more bad deeds. 


    So, Valluvar’s advice is not to forget the good deeds and forget the bad deeds as soon as possible. Like Valluvar, the Chinese philosopher Confucius also says, “Forget injuries; never forget kindness.”

Monday, October 11, 2021

11.3 Gratitude

 11.3 Gratitude

 

Question:

How do we measure the excellence of help rendered without expecting anything in return?

 

Answer:

It is larger than the ocean if we weigh the excellence of a benefit conferred without expecting anything return.                                                                              (Couplet – 103)

          பயன்தூக்கார் செய்த உதவி நயன்தூக்கின்

நன்மை கடலின் பெரிது.                                                             (குறள் – 103)

Explanation:

The ocean does a benefit to the clouds by giving its water. But the clouds return the favor by rain, and the rainwater eventually goes back to the ocean. So, in a way, the ocean gets something in return for the benefit it does to the clouds. Therefore, when a benefit is conferred without any expectation of a return, it is in some sense, better than the benefit done by the ocean to the clouds. The excellence of a benefit is not really quantifiable. But, if it can somehow be quantified, the benefit done without expecting a return is greater than the benefit done by the ocean to the clouds.

         

Many years ago, when I was a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, I went to India to meet my parents. While I was there, I got married. After the wedding, I wanted my wife to come with me to the USA. But the US Consulate in Chennai refused to issue her a visa. After my return to the USA, through the Immigration and Naturalization Services, I was able to get a visa for my wife so that she could come to the USA. My wife was supposed to arrive at the JFK Airport, New York, on a Friday evening in October. Since it was the first time she had traveled to the USA, I went to JFK Airport to meet her and accompany her to Cincinnati. On the day of her arrival, I was at the JFK airport, ready to receive her. As expected, her plane arrived on time. But she did not come on that plane. I got a call from the Airline ticket counter asking me to come there. When I reached the counter, they told me that my wife could not come as scheduled. But she would come on Monday, provided I could meet her at the JFK Airport. The Airline personnel told me they were supposed to send a Telex message to my people about my meeting her at the JFK Airport on Monday.

 

I went to New York thinking that she would come, and we both would come to Cincinnati the same day. I was not planning to stay in New York. At that time, I had two options. One option was to stay in New York till Monday, receive my wife, and return to Cincinnati with her. The other option was that I go to Cincinnati and come back to New York on Monday. As a student, I had limited income and could not afford either option. It suddenly occurred that I had a distant relative, and I could stay with him till Monday. I tried to call him. But I could not reach him. In the meantime, the Airline people kept asking me whether I would be at JFK Airport on Monday. I was confused, and I was almost at my wit’s end.

 

At that moment, somebody patted me on my shoulder and said, “I heard your conversation with the Airline personnel. You look worried. Can I help you?” I told him my predicament. Immediately, he said to me that I could stay with him till Monday and meet my wife at the JFK Airport on Monday. I was hesitant to accept his hospitality and said, “Thank you. But I don’t want to trouble you.” He mentioned that it was not a problem and he really wanted to help me at the time like that. I accepted the Good Samaritan’s offer. 

 

          The man who helped me was an Indian gentleman named David from Tamil Nadu, and he was a Baptist Minister in New York. David was married to an American lady. The husband and wife were very kind and hospitable. I enjoyed my stay with them. On Monday, David’s wife drove me to JFK airport and was with me till my wife’s arrival. I was truly touched by the kindness and hospitality of David and his wife. Although I had never helped David in any way, he volunteered to help me. The help he offered me was timely. When I thanked him, he kept saying that what he did was a very small favor to a fellow countryman. It might have been a small thing for him. It was a tremendous help to me. Also, he helped me without expecting anything in return.  I was in touch with him for a few years. Even after many years, I keep admiring and being enormously grateful for his tremendous help at a time when I was utterly at a loss as to what to do. This incidence illustrates all three types of help discussed in this and the two preceding blogs on Gratitude.

11.2 Gratitude

 11.2 Gratitude

 

Question:

What is the value of timely help?

 

Answer:

            Timely help, though small, is of greater value than the earth.                       (Couplet – 102)

காலத்தி னாற்செய்த நன்றி சிறிதெனினும்

ஞாலத்தின் மாணப் பெரிது.                                                                   (குறள் – 102)

 

Explanation:

         Feeding a man when he is really starving, performing a Heimlich maneuver on a choking man, changing the tire of a car of an older woman stranded on a highway are some examples of timely help. This type of timely help is of immeasurable value to those who receive them. That is why Valluvar says that though the help rendered may be small, it is of greater value than the earth itself. 

11.1 Gratitude

 11.1 Gratitude

 

Question:

How can we compensate someone who helped us without receiving any help from us?

 

Answer:

 

             The gift of heaven and earth is not equivalent to a conferred benefit

where none had been received.                                                                         (Couplet – 101)

செய்யாமல் செய்த உதவிக்கு வையகமும்

வானகமும் ஆற்றல் அரிது.                                                                    (குறள் – 101)

Explanation:

Receiving help from someone in return for the help we have rendered to him is natural and perhaps even to be expected. When we receive help from someone we have never helped, there is no way to assess the value of such help. In other words, even the earth and heaven cannot measure up to the value of a spontaneous help given by someone out of sheer generosity. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Should we always use pleasant words?

                                                                 10.0. Pleasant words

 

Question:

Should we always use pleasant words?

Answer: Yes.

When a man knows that kind words bring joy and happiness, why should he resort to harsh words?                                                                                                                   (Couplet - 99)

Using harsh words instead of kind and pleasant words is like preferring raw fruits when ripe ones are available.                                                                                    (Couplet 100)

இன்சொல் இனிதீன்றல் காண்பான் எவன்கொலோ

வன்சொல் வழங்கு வது?                                                                        (குறள் – 99)

இனிய உளவாக இன்னாத கூறல்

கனிஇருப்பக் காய்கவர்ந் தற்று.                                                             (குறள் – 100)

 

Explanation: 

While the kind and pleasant words always bring joy and happiness, harsh words bring unhappiness and anger to others.  When there are kind and pleasant words, using harsh and unkind words is like eating unripe fruits when ripe and sweet fruits are available. Therefore, we should always use kind and pleasant words in our speech. Also, whenever possible, it is a good practice to appreciate others and avoid finding their faults. 

 

How should we treat our guests?

                                                                        9.0. Hospitality

Question:

How should we treat our guests?

Answer:

Even the elixir of immortality should not be consumed without sharing with the guests waiting outside.                                                                                                       (Couplet – 82)

 

The guest withers at the unwelcome look of the host like the anicham flower, which withers when smelt.                                                                                                (Couplet – 90)

 

விருந்து புறத்ததாத் தானுண்டல் சாவா

மருந்தெனினும் வேண் டற்பாற் றன்று.                                                    (குறள் – 82)

 

மோப்பக் குழையும் அனிச்சம் முகந்திரிந்து

நோக்கக் குழையும் விருந்து.                                                                     (குறள் – 90)

 

Explanation:

We should treat our guests with respect and kindness. We should share our food with our guests. Even if what we eat is the elixir of immortality, we should share it with our guests. Also, we must treat our guests in such a way that they feel welcome and feel that we are happy to entertain them. If our facial expressions or body language indicate that we think that they or unwelcome, they will wither like the delicate anicham flower that wilts as soon as it smelt.

 

12.1 Honesty

  12.1 Honesty   Question: What to do with ill-gotten gains? Answer:              However useful, ill-gotten wealth should be discar...