4. Be Bold

‘Eat your food properly. If you don’t eat, the bearded man will take you away’ is the fear imbibed in us.
‘Study properly. If you don’t succeed in life, your relatives will look down upon you’ is the fear inculcated in us.

‘I am investing a huge amount on this. Suppose it closes down what do I do?’ is the fear nourished in us.
Some of us may be bold enough, we may plan our things meticulously, we may be prepared to do something for one whole month or a year, but when we reach the actual time to do it, we become shaky. For instance we are thoroughly prepared for our exam, but just before entering the examination hall, our mind becomes a blank. We make all the arrangements to go abroad, but just before entering the airport we face many fears. We feel like tearing off the air ticket and running back to our people.
Arjuna experienced the same feeling in Dharma Kshetra . He had been preparing himself for a war against Kauravas, he had the full support of Krishna, he pretty well knew his Guru, his uncle, his kith and kin were supporting Duryodhana. He wanted Krishna to take him to the front line to have a look at the enemy’s strength. When he saw all his kith and kin on the forefront, he wanted to give up fighting.

Krishna’s very first lines were these -
klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
naitat tvayy upapadyate
kshudram hrudaya-daurbalyam
tyaktvottistha parantapa Bhagavadgita 2-3

klaibyam—unmanliness; ma sma—do not; gamah—take to; partha—O son of Prtha; na—never; etat—this; tvayi—unto you; upadyate—is befitting; ksudram—petty;
hrdaya-of the heart; daurbalyam—weakness; tyaktva—giving up; uttistha—get up
param-tapa—O chastiser of the enemies.

O son of Prtha, do not yield to this degrading unmanliness. It is not befitting you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.

Krishna made the correct diagnosis and prescribed apt medicine for him. Swamy Vivekananda prescribed this sloka as quintessence of Gita. A careful selection of a word conveys the meaning more clearly than any other word. Take the first and last words - Klaibyam - Paranthapa. A person who can frighten his enemies is frightened. A person who can live in the hearts of others is losing heart. A person who can drive the enemies away from the battlefield wants to run away from the battlefield. It doesn’t befit him !

We should laminate this sloka and keep it for our guidance, for our motivation. This is Vivekananda’s pet sloka. He himself experienced such a fear during his wandering days.

Swami Vivekananda spent a few days in Varanasi. One morning, on his way back from temple he was surrounded by a troop of large monkeys. They howled, shrieked and clutched at his feet as he walked. As they came closer, he tried to run but they ran faster and began to bite him. When he was totally at a loss to escape from them, an old Sanyasi called out to him ‘Face the brutes’. Inspired by the suggestion he picked up courage, turned back and boldly faced them. As soon as he did that, they fell back and fled. He thanked the Sanyasi and walked away. Years later, Vivekananda referred to this incident in a New York lecture and said , ‘That is a lesson for all life - face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee from them. If we are ever to gain freedom, it must be by conquering nature, never by running away. Cowards never win victories. We have to fight fear and troubles and ignorance if we expect them to flee before us.’

We have some inborn fears in us, we sow some more seeds, we nourish them and make them grow with us. There is a Telugu cinema in which the hero goes to a psychiatrist. The doctor asks him what’s your problem ?’ ‘Fear is my problem !’
‘What are you scared of ?’ He lists out a wide range of topics like - ‘I am scared if the door is open. I am scared if the door is closed. I am scared of a moving bus, I am scared if it stops etc’.

It is true to some extent. Once Ramu slept in his uncle’s house. He read a book for some time before going to bed. In the middle of the night he woke up suddenly to a small sound. Somebody was sitting beside him, turning the pages of the book, one after the other, licking his finger every now and then. ‘My God! I never knew there’s a ghost in my uncle’s house. What do I do now ?’ He was scared to open his eyes. He tried to call out his uncle’s name, but his throat went dry. He read out Hanuman Chalisa to himself, picked up a little courage and peeped through the bedsheet over his face. The next minute he burst out laughing. The book he read a few hours ago, was lying on the stool beside his bed. The pages were being turned over, not by a ghost, but by the ghastly fan !

On another occasion, he saw a thief standing in a corner with a black blanket covered round his shoulders. He shrieked and his uncle came running to him. When he expressed his fears, the uncle switched on the light. The black blanket was covered over a heap of clothes. There sat a cat in the darkness. It jumped away the minute there was light. Our fear in the darkness of things can be driven away by the light of knowledge.

Life is not a bed of roses. It is not a smooth sail on a calm river in a fine weather. It is a difficult voyage across the ocean in a rough weather. We have to fight all through - fight against our enemies, fight against our vices, fight against our inner voice that pulls us back. There is always an internal Mahabharat Sangram within our body. If we wish to put three steps forward, our inner voice makes us put six steps backwards. We should not yield to this. If we yield we will develop many phobias in our life. We will be scared of water, heights, depths, darkness, our own people and under estimate ourselves.

‘Utsaham, Sahasam, Dhairyam, Buddi, Shakti, Parakrama Shadete yatra tistanti tatra devopi tistati.’
Enthusiasm, adventurous spirit, courage, intelligence, energy and boldness wherever these qualities are prevalent, God is sure to be present there.

Vivekananda highlighted the essence of courage thus -
‘Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvellous work. The moment, you fear, you are nobody. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world.

Arise, Awake!!
Stop not till the goal is reached.’