An ethical life is the very first fundamental virtue of leadership. A person lacking in it can neither create an impression nor any kind of impact on people as well as the entire society at large.
The Hitopdesha states:
Manspad, vachanspad, karmanyad, duratmanam, Mansyekam, vachsyekam, karmanyekam Mahatmaanam
The thoughts, words and speech of a mediocre person are totally disconnected from his deeds, but the thoughts, words and speech of a great person are totally harmonious with his deeds.
What people advocate and how they live their lives can sometimes be at diametrical opposites. This is kind of a strange dichotomy. A whole lot of times at critical moments, it has been observed that the person professing ethics has abandoned the very principles he has been championing all along.
Prof Peter de Scioli of Stony Brook, New York states in his dissertation, Equity or Equality? Moral judgements follows the money, "Individuals abandon their moral values once they see a monetary or any other benefit in doing so. The yardsticks of ethics change at the very prospect of a financial gain."
Sometime back, the CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) conducted a raid at the premises of a Kanpur based industrialist, who was in the business of manufacturing perfumes. They recovered Rupees 150 crores in raw cash. All this was unaccounted money. Even a host of officers were not enough to count that kind of an amount. Eventually, they had to employ 3 money counting machines to help them perform the task. Each and every single paise was providing the testimony, that morality had entirely been cast aside.
Ironically, the life of the industrialist, who was manufacturing perfumes exuded a stink, that came from practising unethical values. A morally sound person places values and ethics above everything else. Even a single unaccounted rupee would cause him to be extremely pensive. It is difficult to come across such individuals in this highly materialistic age.
Yes...there definitely will still be such individuals, but they may be only a handful.
In another incident, which took place in 2021, bomb threats were given to a world renowned multi-billionaire in order to intimidate him.
Investigations revealed that the people behind the bomb threats were none other than some senior police officers. This is like setting the cat amongst the pigeons and giving the tiger the responsibility to protect the lamb. The very people who were authorised to protect the citizens, were proving to be the perpetrators of crime and fear. Again, this comes from leading a life with absolutely no ethics and no morality.
The life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj bore the fragrance of infinite benevolent virtues and was replete with countless examples of ethics and morality. He was a boundless river from which the waters of character building flowed ceaselessly. In the year 2004, Swamishri was at the BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Neasden, London. Here, after lovingly offering his morning prayers to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, he then turned towards the devotees, who had assembled there under the central dome of the temple. On that day, there were a large number children amongst the devotees.
Lalitbhai's son Tilak got up to greet Swamishri. He then placed a gold ring in Swamishri's hand and said, "Swami, this is to be offered to Ghanshyam Maharaj". Swamishri didn't accept it. He immediately asked the boy, "where did you get it from?". "My mother gave it to me.", the boy replied. Swamishri again asked the boy, "Did you take your mother's permission?". The boy answered in the affirmative.
Swamishri further inquired, "but your father was not agreeing for this." The boy said, "he himself has told me to offer this." "Then it's fine " Swamishri said and placed the ring at the lotus feet of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's idol.
But, when the boy's father Lalitbhai met Swamishri downstairs, he immediately asked him, "The boy has offered a gold ring. Did you give him your permission to do so?." Lalitbhai said, "Yes, it was a family decision to offer the ring." Swamishri was satisfied on hearing these words. Such were Swamishri's values. It was ingrained in his character to never encourage any unethical behaviour in any person.
The sight of gold didn't tempt him. He simply wanted to ensure that the boy had taken his parents' permission to offer the gold ring. Swamishri wouldn't compromise with his principles even if people were making a handsome offering for God.
A healthy sum of money had been collected in a small center as a relief fund for the tsunami affected people. Keeping in consideration the small size of the satsang center, a whole lot of prominent people of the village started advising them to utilise that fund to build a temple there.
When this proposal was presented to Swamishri, he immediately said: "The tsunami relief fund can never be used for the organization. The money should be utilised for the very purpose for which it has been collected. Each and every penny should be accounted for. We have to place these accounts before the government. Even if we have collected a meagre amount, that money should be spent towards the very social cause for which it was collected." Swamishri was the spiritual leader of BAPS for more than 60 years.
These very ethics that Swamishri always observed while administering every minute detail of the organization have been instrumental in placing the BAPS organization at the very pinnacle of global respect and admiration. In all these years, he constructed more than 1200 temples globally. He also acquired acres of land for the organization. He was personally involved in all transactions, but never was there any sort of misappropriation regarding anything, nor any incident of land grabbing or forging of any illegal documents.
He never forced anybody to sign any document nor did he ever take advantage of anyone's plight or situation. He was always worked within the governing rules and never did he transgress any kind of regulation. He had clarity in all his workings. And it is for these very reasons, that he always won the admiration and good will of each and everyone who came in his contact. He was a living example of ethics and morality. He truly embodied the principles and values that he stood for.
All that he spoke.
All that he wrote.
All that he thought.
All that he worked for.
Everything came from a core of ethics and principles. A single word of his, nay, a single gesture of his has inspired millions of people to lead a life of ethics and principles.There is not an iota of doubt that God lives wherever reside such ethical and principled great souls like Pramukh Swami Maharaj. #pramukhswami
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This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Sadhu Amrutvadandas. We thank swamiji for his research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about life and peace being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.