Abstract Thinking ► 27 ► [27.01] - Anupreksha of Honesty

Posted: 13.07.2007

One meaning of morality is - integrity. Integrity is of three kinds:

  1. integrity of speech,
  2. integrity in money matters, and
  3. integrity of conduct.

Integrity of word has been a distinctive feature of Indian culture. Whatever word escapes one's lips becomes inviolate, ineffaceable like a line drawn on stone. It is not necessary to document it nor is there required any witness. It is enough that a word has been given. Now, it must be kept at the cost of one' life. The whole of our history bears testimony to the inviolateness of the word. I should like to mention here the story of a distinguished wealthy man of Gujarat. He was a renowned businessman. His name was Bhainsa Shah. He belonged to Rajasthan but was living in Gujarat. Some exigency of business required him to immediately raise a sum of Rs. 1,00.000. How to get it? He was a stranger, in a new country, and he urgently needed one lakh of rupees. Today, one lakh of rupees is not considered to be a big sum. We can only visualize what tremendous value it commanded 500 years ago. Bhainsa Shah found himself in a queer situation. He went to a rich merchant and said, "I need a lakh of rupees.” The merchant asked for his name. He gave it - "Bhainsa Shah”. It was a name well known. The merchant said, "I'll lend it to you. Let us draw up a document." Bhainsa Shah said, "There is no need to draw up any document. Still, if you need some assurance, here is a hair from my moustache - a hair from the moustache of Bhainsa Shah! You may keep it as a security against the loan.” The merchant counted out Rs. 1,00,000/- at once. Bhainsa Shah was able to meet the emergency. Later, the loan was duly returned. Nowadays, what to speak of one hair from the moustache, even if the whole moustache is pledged, there is the possibility of the pledge not being redeemed.

The first and foremost mark of authenticity is - the integrity of one's word.

The second mark is - integrity in money matters. There had been a tremendous development in this respect in the modern times. The question arises as to who is pure. Only he is pure who is clean in money matters. There have been a good many instances of financial integrity in the past. A new instance is that of Acharya Narendra Dev. He was a great scholar and a great statesman. Once, while serving as a Vice-Chancellor, he was seen going about in a tonga. People said, "How is it, Sir, you are using a tonga? You have got a car!" He replied, "The car belongs to the University. Right now I am not going on any university business, but some private work of my own." This is an example of honesty in money matters.

There was a Chief Minister of Jodhpur State, who kept two lamps in his house. When he conducted State business, he lighted one lamp, and when he did his own private work, he lighted another, so as to avoid the State incurring any expenditure on his account.

The third mark of authenticity is - integrity of conduct. One kind of behaviour inspires trust; another kind creates distrust. There is a great need for good conduct in society. All people expect to be treated well by their parents. A father expects good treatment from his son. The neighbours expect good treatment from each other. Where there is honesty of conduct, society keeps in good health whereas dishonest behaviour creates a great many difficulties. Someone said to me, "My neighbour is a queer bird He collects all the rubbish from his house and deposits it in front of my house. I remonstrated with him, requesting him repeatedly not to do so, but all in vain. He would not listen. Ultimately, my servant, too, started laying the rubbish of our house at his door.

Such unwholesome conduct, the conflict in relationship, gives rise to an unsavoury situation.

A society in which honesty is cultivated, progresses ahead, whereas the future of a society devoid of honesty, is forever questionable. The first principle of stability in society is honesty. How can a society where integrity is destroyed, ever prosper? How can it subsist with any measure of confidence? It is just not possible. And yet who can tell why there is such lack of integrity in the present intellectual, scientific and progressive age. One cannot help wondering why this paradoxical state of affairs should continue. While on the one hand, man has made tremendous progress on the intellectual level, on the other hand, there has been retrogression in the emotional sphere. Let us understand it well that without integrity, without honesty, no society can advance along the path of progress.

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