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Attitude Adjustment: The Best Reflection of Tolerance in the Sanatana Dharma -Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar
Since ancient times India has been a country of rich philosophical traditions. Spiritual discoveries, one after the other, remained the foremost objective of life of the great Rishis, sage, saints and scholars of India. On the basis of its unique philosophical traditions and spiritual discoveries India has been for thousands of years a land of attraction, mystery and curiosity for people around the globe, and it has also been respected by the world as the Vishwa Guru.
Despite a significant contribution of various other schools of thoughts, indigenous in particular, in the development of Indian philosophical traditions and spiritual thinking, the Santana Dharma, which is indeed directed by the Vedic [Hindu] way of life, remained the leading guiding force of it.
The Sanatana Dharma calls for maintaining forbearance and tolerance, the two basic elements of Ahimsa, in day-to-day practices; in other words, adopting these two in thought and action.
The first, forbearance, is a quality highly developed in a human being incorporating patience, love and benevolence. Further, it is the restraint in the face of provocation reflecting contentment and prudence. Being an expression of Ahimsa, it is not a sign of cowardice or an indication of bowing before injustice. Rather, it is a sign of inner strength and rock solid spirits, a developed stage of one’s personality.
Tolerance, synonymous to forbearance to a large extent as expressing patience, liberality and quietness, is such a willingness to embrace others by thought, utterance and action. It approves opinion and practices of others without prejudices. Thus, a tolerant, despite having difference of opinion and method of working, honours others’ views and the pathway. He gets himself ready for sacrifice to ascertain others’ freedom as he wishes for self, and, therefore, prepares a ground for co-operation and harmony.
Hence, these two expressions, i.e., forbearance and tolerance, which are supplementary and synonymous to each other, emerge as the nitty-gritty in the Sanatana Hindu Dharma and occupy indeed an important place in the Vedic way of life. Further, as tolerance, which strengthens one’s willpower to such a degree at which he gets himself ready to accept others’ outlook and recognizes others’ pathway, and steps forward firmly to ascertain others’ freedom that dwells in the core of Hinduism, the scope of the Sanatana Dharma becomes all-inclusive, comprehensive and acceptable to one and all. It opens door for everyone within its ambit and this remained the reason that Mahatma Gandhi, a great humanist and an ardent advocate of Sarva Dharma Sambhav wrote in the columns of Young India on October 20, 1927, “I have found Hinduism to be the most tolerant of all religions known to me. Its freedom from dogma makes a forcible appeal to me in as much as it gives the votary the largest scope for self expression.”
Not only this, it is also because of predominant place of tolerance in Hinduism and also its being the best expression of non-violence, the Mahatma went to the extent of saying, “Non-violence found the highest expression and application in Hinduism [I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism].”
Now what the Sanatana Dharma suggests as the best way to develop tolerance effectively and appropriately in one’s persona is the attitude adjustment.
Attitude [Abhivritti in Indian term] signifies in fact the manner of thinking, or disposition, feeling or position with regard to a person or a thing. It is, can be said, an impression or a notion, orientation or tendency of mind in this regard. Therefore, it is not necessary that the mind-created state or imagination is certainly based on reality. It may be true, or may not be. Even during the course of choosing the right, mind faces duality, remains in the state of uncertainty. That is why; Lord Krishna explains Mana Sthiti at length in the Shrimadbhagavad-Gita. The Lord particularly discusses the matter of duality and deformation in mind, and selfishness persisting therein. Moreover, if there is a wish to arrive at the state of welfare of one and all, the Lord elucidates, one necessarily needs to control his mind to overcome the situation of duality by the way of Abhivritti Saamanjasya, attitude adjustment. The forty-fifth Shloka of the chapter two quoted from the Gita at the commencement of discussion in hand, which says, “One has to learn tolerance in the face of dualities such as happiness and distress, or cold and warmth, and by tolerating such dualities become free from anxieties regarding gain and loss”, could also be viewed in this very context.
The Santana Dharma is committed to tolerance. Tolerance is one of its basics. Attitude adjustment may have come into limelight, or it may have defined in the West in cotemporary-modern periods, but it remained the best expression along with its being the acid test of tolerance persisted in the Sanatana Dharma for thousands of years.
The Sanatana Dharma expects a Vaisnava [a Hindu or a follower of the Sanatana Dharma] personally to be tolerant for the welfare of others. When a follower of the Sanatana Dharma, a true Hindu, does not show his prowess, this does not mean that he is lacking in strength. Rather, it is an indication that he is tolerant for the welfare of the entire human society having the spirit of attitude adjustment as the nucleus.