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Where the mind is without fear
Rabindranath Tagore had compiled an anthology of poems called Gitanjali. Little did he know that his poems would go on to inspire us even after a century. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high” - is one such gem.
IT HAS been more than sixty years since we became independent but yet we are enslaved by fear. A fear that refuses to let go, a fear that has become habitual to us and a fear that dominates our minds.
We have the fear of getting lost. So we don’t take the risk of venturing out too far. We are afraid of taking the road less travelled. That is why most of the parents want their children to become doctors, engineers or lawyers but not painters, scientists or writers. We sometimes refuse to forsake our comfort zones even though we have an opportunity to make it big. We have the fear of being ridiculed or laughed at. Remember, every new idea is at first ridiculed, then criticised and finally accepted. We never want to try something new. We are free to take risks. What if we fail? What if we don’t make it? Professionals had built the Titanic, whereas it was amateurs who built the Noah’s ark. Decide for yourself, which fared better.
We Indians are afraid of our own culture and traditions. We would all touch our parents’ feet at home, but when abroad, in front of foreigners, we would think twice before doing so. We all want to race towards modernity, but how will a person who has forgotten his own traditions get accustomed to a foreign culture? The Yoga buzz took over the world and that is when we began appreciating the science of it, otherwise it would have been buried just as many other ancient traditions before it. The Gurukul system of education in India was one of the finest and was dedicated to the highest ideal of physical, spiritual and mental development. But today education is our biggest worry, as most of our population remains illiterate.
We are afraid to question things and accept them as it is. Sitting under the tree, if Newton hadn’t questioned as to why the apple fell on his head, we would not have been able to invent the plane. In school, where most of us received our education, we learnt to cram things without delving deep into them. All of us were taught in school that it was Nathuram Godse who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, but how many of us questioned as to why he did it? And how many of our school teachers knew the answer.
A fool wonders, a wise man asks.
Next, we have the fear of taking responsibility. We would rather hide behind other people when the time to accept responsibility comes up. We blame the system, the politicians, the bureaucracy and the corrupt babus. But we overlook the fact as to who made them corrupt. It is we who chose the politicians and it is we who are the system. When returning from office, you blame the infrastructure for the jam-packed roads. But as the Lead India campaign says, “You are really never part of a traffic jam, you are the traffic jam.”
Lastly, we are ashamed of being called Indians though we all are. When some of us go to chat online as anonymous users, we would choose to say we are from Canada or California but not from Kolkata. We would pass out of IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and receive huge pay packages abroad. We would know the line-ups of English and Spanish premier league players by heart, but we wouldn’t know any Indian Hockey player apart from maybe Dhanraj Pillay.
Fear is a temporary state of the mind and can be overcome by positive thinking. We Indians would have to let go off all these fears and take off. Only those who risk going far can find out how far one can go. Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. And once that fear is conquered, our mind could be led into ever widening thought and action, into that heaven of freedom.
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