I have personally been to places where some members of society are treated as lower caste untouchables even in today’s times. They are not allowed to walk in a few streets. They are not allowed to enter temples in the village. They are not allowed to seek employment of their choice. Their children have to maintain a distance from others in the class and have to find unwelcome corners in the school to have lunch during their break hours.
I have personally been to places where some are not allowed to fetch water from the village well. They are treated as outcaste, lower caste, untouchables. While the rest take water anytime during the day, they can take only during midnight hours.
These visits and personal encounters tore me apart within. I felt miserable at the sight of such outright, inhuman discrimination. I felt miserable. I am sure you too would. It would arouse disgust and anger in us. Anger against those who perpetrate such discrimination. Anger against those who cause such divides. Anger against those who don’t uphold equality and anger against those who don’t punish such atrocities.
All along, I looked outside and was aghast at these instances. But now, I have started to look within to honestly examine if I myself have been practising these, perpetrating these expressions of inequality.
At home, the maid has free entry to all places in my home, except the pooja room. How different is this compared to those unfortunate who can’t enter the temples?
At home, the maid and her family had a different tap to collect water for drinking. How different is this compared to those treated as outcaste and hence didn’t have access to the village well?
At home, the maid and her children sit on the floor and eat while I eat at the dining table. How different is this compared to the children of those treated as lower caste who were pushed to dirty corners of the school for their lunch breaks?
I worship exalted souls like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, but little do I pay attention to His life and teachings.
Swami Vivekananda speaks of His Master as follows:
Source: Extract from a talk by Swami Vivekananda on ‘My Master’ (Page 349 and 350 from Selection from the complete works of Swami Vivekananda.)
(Please don’t proceed reading further without reading the above words of Swami Vivekananda)
A honest look at myself, revealed to me my own shortcomings.
We are trapped in our misconceptions, habitual patterns and incorrect beliefs. We say God is in all, but we choose to see Him in few out of our conveniences.
We have to constantly enquire within to find the reasons for such gaps between our belief and practice and root it out one at a time.
Let’s ask ourselves, truly and honestly and let’s have the courage and conviction to practice the dictum of Brotherhood of Man and Fatherhood of God !!!
Let me talk of My Master.
He welcomed me into His abode as if I was His equal. He gave me more comforts to stay than what He had for himself. He made me eat with Him on His dining table. I was served as He was served with all respect and reverence. Every instance He kept saying, we are same, we are equal. Infact His prime teaching was as below:
“Do not walk behind me (follow me), for I may not lead you. Do not walk in front of me, for I may not follow you. Walk beside me. We are equal. Walk beside me and I shall be with you for ever. Atma tatwa is equal. Same Atma in all.”
I know my worth, status, caliber, purity, caste, cleanliness, dress sense, etc and yet my Master treated me as His Equal !!!! I enjoyed it all along. But I now realise that it was more than just mere privilege or grace. I was blessed so that I may bless. I was given so that I may give. I was treated as equal, so that I may treat all as equal. I was loved so that I may love. I was cared for so that I may care. I was served well, so that I may serve well.
Why can’t I treat my maid and her family, as my Master treated me?
I wonder why such changes are difficult to be made.
Why can’t I?