The people of the Punjab have a song which goes like this:
The bulbul does not always sing in the
And the garden is not always in bloom;
Happiness does not always reign,
And friends are not always together.
The conclusion to be drawn from this song
is that we cannot expect to be always happy, and that to know how to be patient
is most useful. For there are few days in our lives which do not give us the
opportunity to learn greater patience.
want to see a very busy man to ask him something. You go to his house. Already
many visitors are there and he keeps you waiting a very long time before seeing
you. You stay there quietly, perhaps for several hours. You are patient.
Another time, the person you wish to see is
not at home when you arrive. You return again the next day, but his door is
still closed. You go back a third time, but he is sick and cannot see you. You
let a few days go by and then return once more. And if something new again
prevents you from meeting him, nevertheless you are not discouraged, but renew
the attempt until at last you see him. This kind of patience is called
Perseverance is an active patience, a patience
that marches on.
famous Genoese sailor Columbus set sail from Spain to cross the unknown seas of
days and weeks on end, in spite of the murmurs of his companions, he persisted
in his will to reach a new land; in spite
Page - 193
of delays and difficulties, he would not give up until he had
reached the first American islands. Thus he discovered the New World.
What did he ask of his companions? He asked
them only to have patience, for they had simply to rely on him and quietly allow
him to lead them. But what did he himself need to reach his goal? He needed the
sustained energy and the unremitting will that we call perseverance.
celebrated potter, Bernard Palissy, wanted to recover the lost secret of
beautiful old glazed china enamelled in rich colours.
months and years on end, he untiringly pursued his experiments. His attempts to
find the glaze remained fruitless for a long time. He devoted all he had to his
search; and for days and nights together he watched over the kiln he had built,
endlessly trying out new processes for preparing and firing his pottery. And
not only did no one give him any help or encouragement, but his friends and his
neighbours called him a madman, and even his wife reproached him for what he
Several times he had to suspend his
experiments for lack of resources, but as soon as he could, he would take them
up again with renewed courage. Finally one day he did not even have the wood he
needed to stoke his kiln; so, disregarding the cries and threats of his
household, he threw his own furniture, to the very last stick, into the fire.
And when everything was burnt, he opened the kiln and found it full of the
brightly glazed pottery which made him famous and which he had sacrificed so
many years to discover.
What was it that his wife and friends lacked
that they could not wait for his hour of success to come, without harassing him
and making his task more difficult? Simply patience. And what was the only
thing he himself never lacked, the only thing that
Page - 194
never failed him and which enabled him in the end to triumph over
all difficulty and scorn? It was precisely perseverance, that is to say, the
mightiest force of all.
nothing in the world can prevail against perseverance. And even the greatest
things are always an accumulation of small and untiring efforts.
Enormous boulders have been completely
destroyed, worn by raindrops falling one after another on the same spot.
grain of sand is nothing very powerful, but when many come together, they form
a dune and check the ocean.
when you learn about natural history, you will hear how mountains have been
formed under the sea by little animalcules piled one upon another, who by their
persistent efforts have made magnificent islands and archipelagos rise above
Don't you think that your small, repeated
efforts could also achieve great things?
famous sage Shankara whose name brought glory to the land of Malabar, and who
lived about 1200 years ago, had resolved from childhood to become a Sannyasi.
a long time his mother, although she appreciated the nobility of his wish, did
not allow him to devote himself to that way of life.
day mother and child went to bathe in a river. Shankara dived in and felt his
foot suddenly seized by a crocodile. Death seemed close at hand. But even at
that dreadful moment the brave child thought only of his great project and
cried out to his mother, “I am lost! A crocodile is dragging me down. But let
me at least die a Sannyasi!”
“Yes, yes, my son,” his mother sobbed in
Shankara felt such joy that he found the
strength to free his foot and throw himself ashore.
Page - 195
From that moment he grew in learning as in years.
He became a guru, and remained true to his great work of teaching philosophy to
the very end of his wonderful life.
who love India know the beautiful poem of the Mahabharata.
was written in Sanskrit many hundreds of years ago. Until recent times, no
European could read it unless he knew Sanskrit, and that was rare. A
translation into one of the European languages was needed.
Babu Pratap Chandra Rai decided to devote himself to this
work. In his own land he was able to find a learned friend, Kishori
Mohan Ganguly, who could translate the Sanskrit book
into English, and its hundred parts were published one by one.
twelve years Pratap Chandra Rai went on with the task he had set himself. He
devoted all his resources to the publication of the book. And when he had
nothing left he travelled all over India to ask help
from all who were willing to give. He received help from princes and peasants,
from scholars and simple folk, from friends in Europe and America.
the course of one of his journeys he caught the pernicious fever from which he
died. During his sickness all his thoughts were turned towards the completion
of his work. And even when it became painful for him to speak, he would still
say to his wife:
“The book must be finished. Don't spend money
on my funeral rites if it is needed for the printing. Live as simply as you can
so as to save money for the Mahabharata.”
died full of love for India and her great poem.
widow, Sundari Bala Rai,
faithfully carried out his great wish. One year later the translator completed
his work, and the eleven volumes of the Mahabharata were presented to the
European public who could now know and admire the
Page - 196
eighteen Parvas of the splendid epic
poem. And reading it, they would learn to respect the great skill and wisdom of
the profound thinkers who were the poets of ancient India.
Such are the fruits borne by the efforts of
all those who, like Pratap Chandra Rai and so many other useful men, know how
you, brave children, will you not join the great army of men and women who
never tire of doing good and never abandon their task until they have completed
this wide world, there is no lack of noble work to be accomplished, nor is
there any lack of good people to undertake it; but what is very often lacking
is the perseverance which alone can carry it through to the end.
Page - 197