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Yuva Spot: A Student’s True Wealth

In most movies and TV seri­als’ por­tray­al of life in col­lege, the stu­dents are shown to have a lot of free time, very lit­tle work and most of the time is spent par­ty­ing, hav­ing fun with friends, going to the movies, enjoy­ing dif­fer­ent vari­eties of food, all kinds of enter­tain­ment and plea­sures. But is this even remote­ly real­is­tic? Watch­ing these movies makes youth fan­ta­size about col­lege life, and cre­ates an impres­sion in their minds that an insti­tute for high­er edu­ca­tion is a place for fun and enter­tain­ment. With this expec­ta­tion in mind many stu­dents join col­lege and it is then that the real­i­ty crash­es imag­i­na­tion: ful­ly-packed timeta­bles with almost no free peri­ods, tons of assign­ments, projects, lab­o­ra­to­ry exper­i­ments, exam­i­na­tions, sem­i­nars, etc. Stu­dents get frus­trat­ed with life because this was not at all the way they had expect­ed it to be, and hence they seek fun and enter­tain­ment at every pos­si­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty. It is not wrong to want enter­tain­ment and fun, rather, let us see what the idea of fun is from the Indi­an per­spec­tive of a stu­den­t’s life.

Our great Vedas, the price­less trea­sures that have been hand­ed down to us by the great rishis, con­tain immense knowl­edge, and include vast branch­es of learn­ing. In the old­en times, a stu­dent who wished to gain Vedic knowl­edge had to take up brah­macharya dik­sha (vow of celiba­cy), study under a Guru and it was rig­or­ous study! Not every­body need­ed to under­go this mode of rig­or­ous diksha(initiation). Only the ones who want­ed to know the Vedas had to take up this dik­sha. They had to spend many years in the ashra­ma and live on very sim­ple means. There are many anec­dotes to show how very aus­tere it was. Every­day, food would be served by the Guru’s pat­ni, wife, to all the inmates of the ashra­ma. One day, a stu­dent, after putting the food in his mouth said, “Yech! What is this? This food tastes bit­ter!” And he was grad­u­at­ed! The Guru said, “ Son, your time in the ashra­ma is over. You can go on to the next ashra­ma. You are free to leave.” Why? Because, it is said in many of our shas­tras (Scrip­tures and ancient texts) that if one has a taste for any­thing oth­er than knowl­edge, knowl­edge sim­ply can­not hap­pen. This is the sim­ple def­i­n­i­tion that is stat­ed. Even Thiru­val­lu­var states it. This rasana, taste, was actu­al­ly cul­ti­vat­ed. The society’s role was in cul­ti­vat­ing each student’s taste towards knowl­edge. It is remark­able to see the impor­tance giv­en to this! It was not auto­mat­ic. It was cul­ti­vat­ed.

Even today, when you look at the lives of Nobel lau­re­ates, it is not just after 10 years of effort that they receive a Nobel Prize. They would have put in 40 to 50 years of effort, before they get the Nobel Prize. Some­times, it is award­ed posthu­mous­ly, after they are gone! It is seri­ous effort. This kind of seri­ous involve­ment is very impor­tant. And you don’t even know whether you will get a Nobel prize for your work or not. So you are ded­i­cat­ed to knowl­edge, and it is your sole pur­suit, regard­less of reward and recog­ni­tion, so much so that it becomes your Swad­har­ma (one’s own duty in accor­dance with one’s nature). As sim­ple as that. We have seen a Nobel lau­re­ate doing his research at a pres­ti­gious Physics insti­tute in Italy. He comes in at 8’0 clock in the morn­ing after his break­fast, and gets up from his desk only at 8’0 clock in the evening. He does not have lunch. He has his din­ner at night and he is back at work in the morn­ing. He fol­lows this rou­tine day in and day out, through­out the year. That’s an awe­some life actu­al­ly! For many youth it might seem bor­ing, but if you have a lit­tle bit of insight you will see that it’s a very enjoy­able life. You will real­ly have a great time with what you do.

Food and sleep is what we set. If we set our mind that we need to sleep for 8 hours and eat 4 times a day, then we can­not do any­thing of sig­nif­i­cance. Our whole life will be spent in that alone! That’s for chil­dren. What is your Dhar­ma? This is what you need to be focussed on. How­ev­er, you need to be obser­vant of what food you eat, and see what works for your body, and avoid what does not. Eat and rest the body so that you can focus on your Dhar­ma and per­form it well. What must be done, must be done. If your thought and atten­tion is always on food and sleep then what can else can you do? You will not gain trac­tion in any­thing. The mind will only be seek­ing enter­tain­ment : Which restau­rant shall I go and eat? Which movie shall I watch? Is my hair grown? Should I cut it? If you keep think­ing only about this, you can­not gain trac­tion. You may get a job and earn some mon­ey. That is fine. But if you wish to do some real work with real inten­si­ty, it just can­not be done in a piece­meal way. When doing your Swad­har­ma, you are real­ly on.

All this may sound too extreme! But no, basi­cal­ly it is about inten­si­ty and focus. It is called mano nigra­ha- con­scious chan­nel­iza­tion of the mind in the direc­tion that you set for it. The mind may run here and there but you per­se­vere and direct it again and again to focus on study­ing. Need­less to say! it requires great patience, con­sis­tent effort and cer­tain­ly takes time, and there is no short­cut to it. Such a mind, which has been reined in, does not wan­der about aim­less­ly. That sort of a mind works won­ders. That sort of an intel­lect works won­ders. And with such a mind and intel­lect, life becomes excit­ing and our expe­ri­ence becomes awe­some! Then you will see, to use Tamil slang, every­thing else such as plea­sure and enter­tain­ment becomes ‘mokkai’!


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