Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Accepting One's Errors


One of the greatest human virtues is to accept one's errors and mistakes wholeheartedly,' stated M K Gandhi. To accept one's errors is to accept one's limitations and that makes an individual truly great in the estimation of others. Accepting errors is showing humility and humility is one trait that leads an individual vey far. There's a very poignant episode in Bengali Kritivas Ramayan. When Ravan was lying on the ground waiting to die, Ram and Laxman approached him for his blessings because Ravan was a great scholar and half Brahmin (he was son of Pulstya rishi and his mother was from Asur kul). Ravan told the brothers, 'I admit to having made many errors despite knowing that they could lead to my downfall.'

 Ram consoled him and said, 'By accepting your errors, you've wiped out all your misdeeds and I bow before you because of the munificence of your heart.' We all make mistakes. Human life is a series of errors: 'Au timb begz enmotic erron,' wrote Greek poet Pindar in his 'Ode to friends and foes.' Errors become sins if we don't accept them in time. By accepting an error, a potential trouble is nipped in the bud. To err is human is an adage that applies to every individual that existed, existing and will exist because life without errors is next to impossible. Even the most sublime human beings made errors but they learnt from their errors and accepted them in public. In one of the Jatak Katha in Dhammapitak's third volume (Thervaad Buddhism, prevalent in Sri Lanka), the enlightened Buddha goes to Yashodhara (his wife) and says, 'I've come to you with no selfish motive. I've come just to accept my error that on the night when I left home slyly, I should have told you because in retrospect, I realise that you'd never have stopped me. I've just come to you to say that I regret for not asking for your permission. Forgive me.'

Legend has it that the ever stoic Buddha had tears in his eyes. Acceptance of errors and mistakes adds to one's greatness and lets him/her live life sans any prick of conscience or compunction. When freedom fighters were imprisoned at Ahmednagar jail following Quit India Movement in 1942, Abul Kalam Azad was denied a pillow by an Indian jailor Nekchand Khaari. Azad said nothing and slept without a pillow, which was his fundamental right being a political prisoner. One day when Azad was writing something in his diary, he saw that Nekchand was standing there with a pillow. The jailor broke down and said that when he told his senior police officer Superintendent Reymond Quinn, who was an English officer, he (the Superintendent) rebuked him and said, 'Go to Mr Azad and say sorry on behalf of the jail authority and accept the mistake that you've made. I'll apologise when I visit Ahmednagar.' Azad mentioned this episode in his autobiography 'Ghubaar-e-Khaatri' (Outpourings of heart). Saint Tukaram says in one of his abhangs, ' Everyday I make errors and everyday I accept them and seek god's blessings that my errors must not keep piling on.' Greats have been greats because they accepted their mistakes and tried not to repeat them.

Every day is a new day and every moment is a new moment. We can make it a tabula rasa (Latin for 'a clean slate') by accepting our errors, mistakes and misdeeds. In Ba'ahaism, there's a day called 'Day of error rectification.' Great, but why should there be a particular day for error rectification? Isn't every day a suitable day to accept one's errors and decide to rectify them? Only by cleansing our hearts of all errors, can we aspire to reach the level that's expected of us. And mind you, we're all capable of that. Try today by shelving your false ego and see the edifying results of it. 

                                       -----Sumit Paul

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