At the age of 96, Karthyayani Amma of Alappuzha district has become a celebrity by scoring 98 mark out of hundred in her first formal examination under the Kerala Literacy Mission’s Aksharalaksham (million literates) programme. Karthyayani Amma was writing the fourth standard equivalency course under the Kerala Literacy Mission’s Aksharalaksham scheme. She scored 38 out of 40 in writing, and cent per cent in reading and maths. Her accomplishment was highlighted by almost all newspapers and media houses all over the country.
Karthyayani Amma could not go to school as a young girl due to the financial constraints in the family. Family situation forced her to work as a domestic help and sweeper to bring up six children, following the death of her husband. Karthyayani Amma was inspired to take up learning by her daughter, Ammini Amma, who at the age of 60 cleared her Class X examination a couple of years ago. Karthyayani Amma wants to appear for the 10th Board examination and later learn computer. She has demonstrated that age is not an obstacle to learning.
The success story of Karthyayani Amma has proved that nothing is impossible for a person with determination and hard work. Miracles can take place in the life of a person who has a dream and puts heart and soul to realize the dream. The indomitable spirit of a human person can achieve the seemingly impossible tasks. We can see many shining examples of indomitable spirit in the annals of history. Dashrath Manjhi of Gehlaur village near Gaya of Bihar is one among them. He constructed a 360 ft long and 30ft wide road by cutting a mountain of 25 ft high, working continuously for 22 years. Dashrath Manjhi belonged to the poorest Musahar Scheduled Caste community and people ridiculed him, calling him a mad person when he started his work. He defied all negative comments and achieved his goal.
Arunima Sinha, the woman who conquered Mount Everest with a prosthetic leg, is a living example of indomitable spirit. She had lost her one leg in a tragedy. Arunima Sinha, a volley ball champion, was thrown out of a train by robbers while travelling in 2011. She underwent a painful surgery in which her left leg was amputated. That day she decided not to remain an object of pity by the people. She took a pledge to conquer Mount Everest with her prosthetic leg and could realize her dream with hard work and determination.
Arunima’s statement reflects how she converted a tragedy into an opportunity. “My courage, determination and dedication played important role in achieving my goal. Leg is obviously required to climb Mt. Everest, but what is needed most is a brave heart. I conquered Mt. Everest on 21st May, 2013 by dint of my firm determination and strong will power. That accident was a turning point of my life, but I didn't want to be dependent on others; so I made up my mind and decided to do something that would set an example for others and especially who are going through the same phase. I chased my goal of conquering Mt. Everest with passion”. Arunima defied all the odds and has become an inspiration for millions of such people who are physically disabled or handicapped by achieving her goal, which is unthinkable to many.
All those who converted tragedies into opportunities have a dream of inspiring and supporting other persons who undergo similar tragic experiences. Arunima wants to open a free sports academy for the poor and the differently-abled persons. She is donating the finances she receives through wards and seminars for the same cause. The academy would be named Pandit Chandra Shekhar Vikalang Khel Academy. In her website arunimasinha.com, it is written, “I have achieved my goal but now I want to help physically challenged people to achieve their goal so that they can also become self-dependent and nobody looks at them with pity.”
Karthyayani Amma, Dashrath Manjhi and Arunima Sinha are sterling examples of maximizing the Divine power within every human person. They are persons who believe in possibility thinking and ask “why not”. Karthyayani Amma asked herself, “why not I pass the literacy exam at the age of 96?” Dashrath Manjhi asked himself, “why not I make a road by cutting a twenty five ft high mountain and thereby reduce the distance to go to the nearest hospital from 50 km to 15 km so that many people’s lives will be saved?” Arunima Sinha asked herself, “why not I climb Mount Everest with my artificial leg?” This question contained a firm resolve to achieve their goal at any cost. They declare to the world that there is immense power in every human being and nothing is impossible for a person if he/she maximizes the divine power within him/her.
About ten years ago a group of nuns visited late Baba Amte at Anandwan, Warora. While talking to the nuns Baba Amte told them, “Sisters, don’t delegate your job to God.” According to the Bible, God has created human beings in his image and likeness. It means human beings participate in the freedom and creativity of God. The scientific inventions and the technological revolution that the world is witnessing today are nothing but the unfolding of the creative power God has instilled in the human beings. In fact, God has delegated the task of developing this world and solving the problems to human beings. God has given the intelligence and creative power to human beings to solve the problems they encounter in their journey of life. But often human beings, instead of using their creative power through hard work, approach God to solve their problems. This leads to the creation of huge religious markets with lot of rituals, prayers and devotions.
Large majority of people who visit the pilgrim centres and other worship centres want God to solve their problems. They go to these places with a long list of wishes. They offer money, gold, silver etc. to gods and goddesses with the request to fulfil their wishes or solve their problems. Middle men often encourage these practices by inventing new rituals and new forms of prayers. Mira Nanda in her book, ‘The God Market’, has described the various kinds of rituals developed by Hindu temples in India to cater to the growing religious market in India. Many people who go to Lord Venkateshwara Temple Tirupati offer their hair to the deity with the expectation that God will fulfil their desires. Every year, Tirupati temple gets more than Rs. 200 crores by exporting hair. This is the story of many pilgrim centres irrespective of the religion to which they belong.
Recently I participated in a seminar on religion and spirituality. One of the speakers vociferously declared that the best form of evangelization is to sit in room and pray most of the day and do some charitable work or visit families in the evening. If majority of the people do this kind of evangelization there will be no food to eat, no cloth to wear and no water to drink. This is nothing but a prescription to make people lazy. According to the Gospels, Jesus was busy with various kinds of activities during day. He went to the mountains or lonely places to pray in the night. God will not help a person who does not help himself or herself. Religion should not encourage people to become lazy under the guise of spirituality. Lazy people are the parasites in the society.
A tendency noticed in the Indian Society today is the craze for miracles. People run to the places when they hear about some extraordinary phenomenon like, the statue of Ganapati drinking milk, blood oozing from the eyes of mother Mary, oil spilling from the statues of saints etc. Many of these miracles are mere stories or tricks to hoodwink the gullible people and make money. At the same time people are not able to see the genuine miracles happening in the lives of the people. Human beings achieving seemingly impossible feats through determination, perseverance and hard work are the real miracles in life.
Some spiritual guides and preachers recommend prayer as the single point solution to all the problems. They wrongly interpret the scriptures and misguide people and make them lazy. God has given human beings immense power to solve their problems and the problems of the society. What God expects from them is to make use of the creative power through determination, perseverance and hard work. Prayer is needed for human beings to get insight or inspiration for making correct choices in life, for making right decisions and for getting the strength and courage to do the will of God. In other words, prayer is needed for maximizing the divine power within every human being through hard work. “There is no way other than hard work” was the slogan exhibited on the roadsides during the “emergency” in India. The preachers and spiritual guides ought to share inspiring stories with the people and motivate them to perform seemingly impossible tasks by maximizing the divine power within.
(Jacobpt48@mail.com)(Published on 12th November 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 46)