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  • Ashok Kumar Burra

Compassion


We can understand Compassion as an active sympathy or willingness to bear the pain of others. It is not simply a virtue to practice, but a pious attitude that binds all of us to lead a peaceful life in society. It is defined as a feeling of sympathy for others who are afflicted by difficulties, troubles, sorrow and caught in mishaps.


Compassion is the humane response i.e., showing kindness, caring and helping in others’ difficulties and the activity that relieves suffering.  It is a force that binds us together as humans and is the foundation by which the pillars of human life rest. Compassion gives meaning to living and enhances our well-being. It is an essential component in society and is absolutely necessary for the survival of humans and other living beings. It is a way of life and is something we all need to receive and give.

In the  Indian Epic Ramayana, there is a story relating to Compassion, which is briefly narrated below:

After Ravana was killed by Lord Rama, and when the war was concluded, Sri Hanuman went to Sitadevi who was at Ashoka Vana(Garden) to inform her of the good news of Sri Rama’s victory over Ravana, who abducted Sitadevi, wife of Lord Sri Rama, prince of Ayodhya.  Matha Sitadevi felt very glad on hearing the news and required  Hanuman to ask for any boon he desired. Sri Hanuman became irate on seeing the demonesses who were guarding,  causing trouble and frightening Sitadevi.  So he sought permission of Sitadevi to kill them.

Sitadevi who was very compassionate told Hanuman that the said Asura ladies were helplessly working under the instructions of the Asura King Ravana as his servants and it is not right to punish them and told the following story of a Hunter.

Once upon a time, a lion was chasing a hunter who was unarmed. The hunter ran and climbed upon a tree where there was a bear which he could not notice while climbing the tree. He frightened very much and after getting his courage up,  requested the bear to spare his life. Meanwhile, the lion came underneath the tree and asked the bear to push him down so that they can both eat the man. The bear refused to say that the man has taken shelter from him and hence he cannot help the lion.

After some time the bear started sleeping. Then the lion told the hunter, I am feeling very hungry and if you push the bear down from the tree,  I can kill and eat the bear and I will let you go unharmed. The hunter who was very selfish about his own life pushed the sleeping bear from the tree without any gratitude. The bear while falling down woke up and caught hold of a branch of the tree and was saved from falling down. The lion told the bear that  “even though you tried to save the hunter, he was so ungrateful and pushed you down.   Hence it is proper for you to push the hunter down from the tree so that I can eat him and satisfy my hunger”.

The bear replied that he cannot oblige the Lion as the pious souls never have an inimical attitude towards others.   To be compassionate is his nature, even if others do harm to him.  Thus the bear stick on to his words and did not harm the hunter by throwing him down. The hunter felt ashamed on seeing the behavior of the bear.

After hearing the said story Hanuman admired  Sitadevi very much for her compassion and dropped the idea of killing the demonesses.

Compassionate people whose heart is filled with kindness are givers,  who never expect anything in return and encourages, praises and embraces the humanity of others. They move beyond their comfort zone and help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of the needy or engage in service work by helping the other co-living beings also such as animals, birds, etc., feeling compassion as a virtue that is governed and framed by Sanathana Dharma.  They create a meaningful difference in the world by adopting compassion as an act of kindness performing simply because it is the right thing to do.

It is an absolute fact that our society cannot function without compassion. It is that teaches human beings to care about each other and to help each other.   To feel sympathy for others is not enough,  we must also be willing to take action to wipe off their tears.  Compassion is the bond that unites all of humanity. It is compassion that gives meaning to living and enhances our well-being. Without it, we are only lifeless beings no matter how our status stands in Society.

It is never too late for us to make a positive difference in the world by thinking of others first. We consider their needs instead of focusing exclusively on what we want. We try to realize that our problems may be insignificant compared to what poor people face. That is why compassion requires courage. We can begin, right now, to enjoy a joyful life based on compassion by sincerely making the effort to bring hope and opportunity to those facing challenges and struggles waged daily by our fellow human beings.

One who keeps his mind pure, adores compassion as his crown and lives a pious life,  is very dear to God. 

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