Ideals and Values/Humility and Respect for Everyone

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia


Humility is strange - the moment you think you have it, you have lost it. - Swami Chinmayānanda.

32.1 Humility and Respect:

We should not show pride, conceit or arrogance towards anyone. Instead, we should treat everyone with request. We must not try to put others down and try to project ourselves to be superior to others. Whenever we get acclaim or recognition, we must always credit it to others who have helped us and also thank Bhagavān for his grace in enabling it. We should also respect others irrespective of who they are.

Humility and Respect are often the two sides of the same coin. Humility involves lowering ourselves in front of others, whereas respect means elevating the person in front of us. It is not possible to be humble and disrespectful at the same time. Humility exalts us - it does not make us small. Similarly, we do not become smaller when we give respect to another person.

Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu has said:

"Consider yourself as less important than a blade of grass. Be more forbearing than a tree. Do not crave for respect, but respect others. Always sing the praise of Hari's name.[1]

In the Hindu tradition, humility and being respectful are considered as marks of being an educated and a cultured person. The Sanskrit maxim for "Education bestows humility is vidyā dadāti vinayam. Another Sanskrit proverb reads

It is the fruit-laden tree whose branches bend. Similarly, it is a cultured person endowed with several qualities who bows out of humility. But fools and dried out trees never bend.[2]

32.2 Why should we be Humble and Respectful?

In addition to the fact that being humble and respectful are marks of a good education and possession of several good qualities, Hindu scriptures give many other reasons:

1. We should not be arrogant or disrespectful because in reality every living creature has an identical soul in them. So we are not superior to anyone in our essence. The wise see the same (Brahman) with an equal eye, in a learned and humble brāhmaña, in a cow, in an elephant, in a dog, and even in a dog eater (outcast).[3] We might think that someone is lowly or ugly, but the fact is that the entire universe is sacred because Bhagavān is present equally even inside what we consider ugliness etc. See the story of the Jagannatha Mandir below. 2. The second reason is that Bhagavān resides within everyone. When we love others, honor them and respect them, we are actually doing the same to Bhagavān. Conversely, if we hate and disrespect others, then we are abusing Bhagavān no matter how many ceremonies and prayers we may do. See the story from the life of Śankarāchārya below.

I abide in all beings as their innermost soul. Disregarding My Presence within them, men make a show of worshiping Me through images. [4] If one disregards Me present in all as their soil and Lord but ignorantly offers worship only to images, such worship is as ineffective as sacrificial offerings made in ashes.[5] A man who persecutes Me residing in others, who is proud and haughty, who looks upon God as the other such a person will never attain to peace of mind.[6] If a man disregards and persecutes fellow beings, but worships Me in images with numerous rituals and rich offerings, I am not at all pleased with him for proffering such worship.[7] A man should, however, worship Me in images, side by side with discharging his duties, which include the love of all beings, until he actually realizes My Presence in himself and in all beings.[8] As long as man is self-centered and makes an absolute distinction between him and others (without recognizing the unity of all in Me, the Inner Pervader), he will be subject to the great fear of Death (including every form of deprivation of self-interest).[9] So overcoming the separation of a self-centered life, one should serve all beings with gifts, honor and love, recognizing that such service is really being rendered to Me who reside in all beings as their inner-most soul.[10]

3. When we are humble and respectful, the other person feels happy. We make friends easily and gain their trust and affection in return. Therefore, it serves a useful and a practical purpose to be humble and respectful. See the story from the life of Swami Dayānand Saraswati below.

4. The fourth reason is that no one is perfect. Everyone, including we commit mistakes sometime in our life. Therefore, accepting our mistakes with humility is an acknowledgement of this simple truth of life. Likewise, being respectful to a person who confesses his mistake is also a way of acknowledging that we ourselves can commit the same mistake. See the story from the life of Swami Samarth Ramdas below.

5. The fifth reason, as we shall see below in the story of Śabari is that Bhagavān does not like people who are proud and arrogant.

6. Humility acknowledges the fact that Bhagavān is greater than us and we are mere fraction of His power, wisdom and beauty. See the story of Bhima and Hanumān below. And not Bhagavān alone, no matter how good we are, there will always be individuals who are superior to us, if not in the present, then in the future. All records get shattered eventually and a new record is set. Humility acknowledges this plain fact and a humble person always acknowledges and respects the greatness of others. See the story of Ishvarachandra Vidyāsāgara below.

7. Avatāras of Bhagavān, noble Queens and other great men have clearly demonstrated the virtue of humility and respect in their lives and we should emulate them. See the stories of Kṛṣṇa, Queen Ahilyabai Holkar and President George Washington below.

8. Humility does not degrade us. Instead, it makes us great and elevated. See the story of Guru Arjan Dev below.

9. No matter how low or insignificant a person is in the eyes of the society, he or she also has feelings, emotions and self-respect. And no matter how powerful or high we are in the eyes of others, it is our duty to respect the feelings and sentiments of the so called insignificant or unimportant people. In fact, being humble and respectful towards others who are not as powerful, rich, wise, knowledgeable or strong as we are is a true indicator of our own greatness. See in this regard the story of king Chandrāpīḍa of Kashmir below.

10. Sometimes, whom we consider as an ordinary or an inferior person turns out to be much superior to us in many qualities. Greatness is more often a state of mind, rather than of appearances. Therefore, a wise person respects everyone, acknowledging their good qualities whether they are visible to him or not. The story of Swami Ramakrishna Paramahaṅsa illustrates this aspect of humility and respect towards others.

Story: Ādi Śankarāchārya realizes that Bhagavān is in Everyone Ādi Śankarāchārya[11] is considered one of the greatest philosophers of Hindu Dharma. He taught us that the same Brāhman or Supreme Being is the basis of the entire creation. But sometimes, even saints forget to practice the message that they teach to others. One day, he was travelling on the outskirts of Varanasi[12] with his disciples, when a fierce looking Chandāla[13] accompanied by four mongrel dogs blocked his way. Śankarāchārya looked at the Chandāla in disgust and asked him to get out of his way.

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The Chandāla replied, "Should I remove my unclean body or should I remove out of your way the all-pervading Brahman, Who lives within my heart too?" Śankarāchārya was taken aback by the reply and he looked at the Chandāla in amazement. When he did so, Śankarāchārya had a vision of none other than Śiva in that Chandāla. He saw that the four dogs were none other than the four holy Vedas.[14]

Indeed, Bhagavān Śiva had appeared Himself to teach Śankarāchārya a lesson that no matter how humble the other person is, we ought to treat him with respect because he too has Bhagavān residing within him. Śankarāchārya bowed to the Chandāla and asked for forgiveness. He then composed a beautiful hymn called the "Maneeshapanchakam" in which he called the Chandāla his own Guru for making him realize the great spiritual truth about Brāhman being in the entire creation.

Story: Swami Dayānand Saraswati acknowledges the Respect of a Poor Man In the town of Anupshahar in Uttar Pradesh, India, a humble barber became a great admirer of Swami Dayānand Sarasvati. One day, the barber lovingly served a few rotis to the Swami, and said, in a trembling voice, "Swamiji, everyone considers me a low born, humble barber. I apologize for offering you this roti, even though I am an unclean person." There were about 20 Brahmanas sitting in the vicinity and they too remarked, "How can you eat a roti given by an unclean and low person like a barber?"

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Swamiji smiled and said, "There is nothing unclean about this roti. It is made of wheat, just as a roti from any other person. Only that food is unclean which is purchased with ill-gotten money, or which has contaminating stuff in it. I will definitely eat the roti offered by you."

This story shows how the humble and kind gesture of Swami Dayānand acknowledged that the Swami had respect for everyone in his heart, even for people who were regarded as lowly by the rest of the society.

Story: The Ugly image of Viśṇu at the Jagannātha Temple of Puri The King of Kalinga (today the state of Odisha in India) constructed a grand temple to Jagganātha[15] Viṣṇu but it had no Murti in it. The King made an announcement, "I want a sculptor to carve the most beautiful Murti of Viṣṇu to be carved. After the Murti is completed, I will inspect it. If I am pleased, the sculptor will be rewarded 10,000 gold coins. But if I am not happy with the work, the sculptor will be beheaded. I want all excellent sculptors to come forward to claim the reward."

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No sculptor wanted to risk his life and so one came forward to carve Viṣṇu's Murti. After several days, an old sculptor came forward but he put the condition, "I will need 30 days to carve the Murti. But during that period, I will work inside the Mandir with the doors closed. No one is allowed to open the doors till the work is completed, otherwise I will leave with my work unfinished." The King was glad, that at least someone had taken up the challenge and he agreed to the sculptor's condition.

The sculptor entered the Mandir and shut the doors behind him. Day after day passed and people outside could hear the sounds of chisel and hammer throughout the day. But some ministers grew suspicious and said, "We think that this sculptor is a fake. He must be a spy of the enemy King and is actually knocking at the pillar of the Mandir from inside so that it collapses." The King of Kalinga ignored them, but one day, before the 30th day had passed, he could not control his curiosity. He ordered the doors of the Mandir to be opened. When everyone entered the Mandir, they were aghast to see an ugly, unfinished Murti of Viṣṇu lying on the floor and the sculptor still working on it. The King was furious to see the ugly Murti and unsheathed his sword to behead the sculptor.

But the sculptor said, "King, you have broken your promise on the 21st day itself. I wanted you to go through this entire experience so that you understand that Viṣṇu resides inside the entire creation. Just as He is in beautiful Murtis, so also He is present in ugly ones too. Now, per my condition, I will leave this Murti unfinished and ugly and urge you that this Murti should be worshiped in the Mandir!The beautiful Murti can be made afresh and placed somewhere else."

The King was aghast at the impertinence of the sculptor and also at his own foolishness for breaking the promise that he had given to the sculptor. But when he looked at the sculptor again, a bigger surprise awaited him, the sculptor appeared to him in the beautiful four-armed form of Bhagavān Viṣṇu. The King learned his lesson that beauty and ugliness lie in the eye of the beholder, and Bhagavān is present everywhere, even in what we might consider as ugliness!

Story: Samarth Ramdas accepts the Mistakes of his Disciples Emperor Śivaji[16] considered Swami Samarth Ramdas as his Guru. Once, his Guru was touring the country with his disciples when they all felt hungry. His disciples went to a farmer's field and cut out a few cobs of the jowar[17] for their food. When the farmers of that village saw them, they gathered and started beating all of them.

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When Śivaji got the news, he became very angry and asked his Guru as to what punishment should be meted out to the farmers.

The Guru replied, "Do not give them any punishment. Instead gift them with a turban of honor because they rightly punished us for stealing food. They perhaps knew that I am your Guru, but that did not scare them from beating us. It was certainly the fault of my students that they went into a field uninvited and stole the cobs of jowar."

Story: The Humility of Śabari Śabari was a humble and a simple tribal lady who lived in a hut close to the banks of the sacred lake Pampā. Many Ṛṣis came every day to take a bath in that lake. Some of them looked at Śabari with contempt, thinking that she was a tribal woman and therefore inferior to them. But Śabari did not feel bad at their attitude towards her. On the contrary, she would sweep the path leading to the lake everyday so that no thorn or stones hurt the feet of the Ṛṣis when they went to take their bath in the lake.

One day, Śabari got a bit late and she was still sweeping the path when the Ṛṣis came by to go to the lake. The Ṛṣis who had contempt for Śabari started scolding her angrily for blocking their way. Śabari merely apologized to them with a lot of humility and respect and went back to her hut. Bhagavān did not like the fact that the Ṛṣis had humiliated Śabari, who was a great Bhakta and a very humble lady. So, He changed the water of the lake into blood.

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The Ṛṣis were shocked to see the transformation of the water to blood. Bhagavān Rāma then told the Ṛṣis to seek forgiveness of Śabari because only she could purify the lake again. They went to the hut of Śabari and apologized profusely. Then, they requested her to come to the lake and dip the big toe of her foot in the lake. Śabari accepted their apologies and said that she was not worthy of being apologized to by the revered Ṛṣis. Reluctantly, she went to the lake. As soon as she dipped the toe, the blood changed back to clear water! The Ṛṣis got their lesson "the humble Bhakti of the tribal woman was clearly superior to their arrogant spiritual austerities in the eyes of Bhagavān.

Story: The Humility of Kṛṣṇa After the ninth day of the 18 day long Mahābhārata war was over, Duryodhana stomped into Bheeshma's tent and alleged, "Grandsire, everyone is saying that you are not fighting my enemies, the Pāndavas with your whole strength because in your heart, you want them to win. I am just so disappointed with you!"

Bheeshma said, "Do not worry Duryodhana. What you have heard is not true. I promise that tomorrow, before the end of the day, I will get you the head of at least one Pāndava." Duryodhana knew that Bheeshma always kept his word. So he went back to his army and conveyed the good news to them to boost their morale. When the word reached the encampment of the Pāndavas, Draupadi, their wife, grew really worried for the safety of her husbands. She prayed to Kṛṣṇa, who immediately appeared in front of her and asked her to follow him in the dark to Bheeshma's tent. As they were walking towards the camp, Kṛṣṇa said to her, "Draupadi, your shoes, to which some anklets are stitched, are making a lot of sound and will wake up everyone. Why don't you take them off here and then enter that tent in front of us. That tent belongs to Bheeshma." Draupadi did as told and as soon as she entered the tent, she fell on the feet of Bheeshma. It was dark and Bheeshma did not realize who it was. He automatically blessed the woman, "May you live a happy and long life with your husband." Draupadi was elated, and she said, "It is I, the wife of your grandchildren, the Pāndavas. I am happy that you have given me this blessing because now I am sure that you will spare all the five Pāndavas!"

Bheeshma said, "I am sure it was Kṛṣṇa's idea that you should come and get my blessing, so that I spare your husbands. But where is He" Bheeshma lit up a lamp and saw that Kṛṣṇa was standing at the entrance of the tent. But something was dangling from his shoulders. Draupadi looked closely and was horrified, "Bhagavān, you should not have carried my shoes from the ground and slung them across your shoulders! We worship you and therefore, your act of picking my shoes with your hands and placing them on your shoulders will take me to hell."

Kṛṣṇa smiled and said, "Do not worry Draupadi, because I am always a servant of those Bhaktas like you who have surrendered themselves completely to me. I did not want any insect to get inside your sandals in the dark from the ground and therefore I picked them up with my hands and put them across my shoulders." Bheeshma was very moved when he noticed Kṛṣṇa's humility. He replied, "When the Pāndavas are protected by Bhagavān who will go to any extent to serve his Bhaktas, then there was no need for me to give a blessing to the Pāndavas. They were automatically protected by You." Bheeshma's words came true and on the 10th day of the war, he fell, while fighting against the Pāndavas.

Earlier, when he attended the Rājasūya ceremony in Indraprastha in honor of Emperor Yudhishthira, Duryodhana had been assigned the task of welcoming kings by washing their feet. But when the moment came, Duryodhana did not step forward thinking, "Why should I demean myself by washing the feet of our guests?" When Kṛṣṇa saw Duryodhana's hesitation, He immediately came forward and washed the feet of the guests. Again, this shows Kṛṣṇa to be a remarkably genuine and a humble person.

Story: The Humility of Queen Ahalyabai Holkar Ahalyabai Holkar, the Pious and Humble Queen of Indore in central India, ruled the kingdom justly for almost 30 years.[18] She had been widowed when her son was a minor and when her father in law was the King. At his deathbed, her father in law entrusted the kingdom in her hands, because he had full faith in her abilities.

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Ahalyabai ruled her kingdom with great skill. Peace prevailed during her benign rule. Trade flourished and merchants and farmer in her kingdom became very rich. The queen repaired numerous old and crumbing temples not only in her own kingdom but in many other kingdoms. A widow herself, she opened a department in her government to ensure that widows in her kingdom were not deprived of their inheritance and were able to take care of their own children. She spent the money from her treasury for opening schools for the poor, for constructing roads and for establishing rest-houses for travelers on the highways. Due to her charitable activities, people regarded her as a saint in her own lifetime.

And yet, Ahalyabai lived a very simple and humble life as long as she lived. She did not live in her palace in the city of Indore. Instead, she moved to a location on Maheshwar, a pilgrimage center on the Narmada river and carried out her administration from there. Once, two poor widows offered to give their entire wealth to her, saying that they had no use for it. But Ahalyabai declined to take it and asked them to use it for philanthropic activities instead. One day, a poet presented her with a book that had several poems in her praise. She just threw the book into the Narmada river.

On another occasion, a famous painter approached her with a request to paint her picture. But she declined, saying that she would prefer that he made paintings depicting the Hindu Deities. Although she was the queen, she never wore any jewels or colorful expensive clothing. Instead, she always attired herself in the simple white clothes of a Hindu widow and was frequently seen carrying a small Śivalinga, to which she offered worship with a lot of Bhakti. Ahalyabai did not differentiate between the rich and the poor when they brought their complaints to her. She met even the poorest of the farmers personally and patiently listened to them. The fame of this humble and pious ruler of the kingdom of Indore lasts even today.  To perpetuate her memory, the citizens of the city of Indore instituted an award in her name. Her descendants have started a trust to perpetuate her philanthropic works up to this day.

Story: Bhīma learns a lesson in Humility from Hanumān One day, Princess Draupadi asked her husband Bhīma to get an especially fragrant flower names Saugandhika. This was available only in a garden that was far away. Bhīma went into the forest with his thunderous steps. The animals were perturbed and ran in all directions.

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Hanumān, who was meditating on Rāma, opened his eyes. He realized who it was, but just to teach Bhīma a lesson he said, "Come and join me. Let us eat some fruits. You cannot go any further. This is my forest." Bhīma without realizing who it was, replied, "Who are you to prevent me from going? Move aside or you will face the consequences." Hanumān answered in a humble tone, "I am an old monkey. I can hardly move. Just move aside my tail and proceed."

Bhīma pushed the tail with his feet. It did not budge. Surprised, he tried lifting it with one hand. Still there was no result. Bhīma tried the move the tail with all his tail and failed. His pride was humbled. He now fell at the feet of the monkey.

Hanumān revealed his true identity as his older brother and embraced Bhīma. He then directed Bhīma to the garden and Bhīma was able to collect the fragrant flowers. But he had also learned the important lesson of humility on his route.

Story: Ishvarachandra Vidyāsāgara offers his job to a better scholar Ishwarchandra Vidyāsāgar was a great scholar of Hindu Dharma and a social reformer in the 19th century Bengal. Numerous anecdotes are narrated from his life illustrating his qualities of truth and honesty. Once, he was offered a job by the British rulers at the prestigious Sanskrit College in Calcutta. Vidyāsāgar knew that Taranath Vachaspati, a renowned Sanskrit scholar had also applied to the position.

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Therefore, he insisted that the position be offered to Vachaspati in lieu of him, even though Vidyāsāgar himself needed the money offered by the job. Vidyāsāgar argued that Vachaspati was a better scholar than he and therefore deserved the position more than he did. However, the British secretary, Mr. Marshall, responded that there was no time to contact Vachaspati. Undaunted, Vidyāsāgar offered to contact Vachaspati himself. He walked all day and night till he reached Vachaspati's village and notified the scholar of his new appointment at the Sanskrit college.

Story: The Humility of George Washington A group of soldiers was trying to lift a large piece of timber. The corporal stood by the side, commanding the men to heave harder to lift the timber. A stranger rode by on his horse and observed the scene. He said to the corporal, "Don't you think if you helped them, the strength of one more man might help them lift the timber? Why don't you help them?" The corporal replied, "That is not my job. I am the corporal. It is for them to do that work. That is not the work of a corporal!"

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With that, the stranger dismounted from his horse, joined the ranks of the soldiers and helped them to lift the timber. The added strength of one man was all it took to lift the wood. Having completed the task, the stranger mounted his horse. Before departing he turned to the corporal and said, "The next time you have a piece of timber you need help lifting, corporal, call for the commander-in-chief." It was then that the men realized that the stranger was none other than George Washington, the first President of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the army.

Story: Guru Arjan Dev constructs the Loftiest Mandir in Amritsar The fifth Sikh Guru Shri Arjan Dev decided to construct a beautiful Mandir at the center of a pond called Ramseur in Amritsar in northern India. His disciples came to him and said, "Guru-ji, this Mandir should be the tallest building in the area. This will signify its importance." The Guru smiled and said, "There is no need to have a tall building for the Mandir. It is only a fruit laden tree whose branches bow."

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And so, the Harimandir was constructed and its height was kept low. When the Mandir was completed, Guru Arjan Dev composed a hymn comparing the Mandir in the middle of lake to Hari (Viṣṇu) lying on the Sheshanāga in the ocean of milk.

Story: King Chandrāpīḍa begs a poor man for his land King Chandrāpīḍa of Kashmir was famous for his fairness, justice, philanthropy and wisdom. One day, he called his chief architect and said, "I wish to construct a fabulous temple. Please go around my kingdom and select the best spot for its location." After a few days, the architect returned and said, "We did locate a perfect spot for the temple. But a portion of that land is owned by a cobbler. He is refusing to part with his land. We offered him a lot of money but he says that he will not vacate his land and will not sell it either."

The King asked the cobbler to appear in his court. When the cobbler reached, the King said, "I am willing to pay you an enormous amount of money to buy your plot of land. Legally, I can confiscate your land as I am the King of Kashmir. But I want you to name your price." The cobbler folded his hands in reverence and said, "Your majesty, I have inherited this land from my forefathers. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather etc. all took birth on it and spent their lives on it. Therefore, this piece of land has great sentimental value for me. How can I sell it? Will you ever sell your ancestral possessions? However, I do not want to hinder the construction of the temple because the Devas will get displeased with me and my ancestors. Therefore, I can gift the land to you. Please come tomorrow and beg me for the land and I will gift it to you. By gifting it, the good Karma will benefit me and my forefathers."

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The courtiers were shocked when they heard the insolent cobbler. They started whispering, "Just see the arrogance of this petty cobbler. He wants our King to go and beg him for that land." The King said nothing and dismissed the court. The next morning, the King appeared humbly at the cottage of the cobbler and begged him to donate his land. The cobbler was pleased with the humility of the King and gladly gave the land in donation to the King. A grand temple was constructed by the King at that site.

Story: Swami Ramakrishna Paramahaṅsa does not mind being called a gardener by his admirer Dr. Mahendranath Sarkar, a renowned physician of Kolkata, once went to the Dakshineshwar temple to see Swami Ramakrishna Paramahaṅsa for the first time. On his way to the Swami's room located in the temple complex, the physician stopped in the temple gardens. He saw a man taking a stroll. Taking him to be a gardener, Sarkar asked him, "I am on my way to meet the great Swami Ramakrishna Paramahaṅsa. I wish to gift him a bouquet of flowers. Can you pluck some for me?" The man obliged and soon got him a few flowers. Later on, when the physician arrived to listen to the sermon of the Swami, he was shocked to find that the man he had thought of as a gardener was none other than the Swami!

32.3 The Meaning of "NAMASTE"

Bhagavān is present inside all of us. He is inside you, me, animals, plants, rocks, the sky, the oceans, the sun and even in the moon. Therefore, we should love and respect everyone. If we love others, we love the Bhagavān Who is inside them. When we are mean to others, we are being mean to the Bhagavān Who is inside them. When we meet someone, we should greet each other by bowing our head, folding our hands and saying "Namaste". See the picture to see how we say "Namaste".

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Namaste means, "I respect and love the God who is inside you." Whenever you meet your Uncles and Aunts, your grandparents and other elders, you should do Namaste to them like the child in this picture. When you wake up in the morning, go and say "Namaste" to your parents. And when you go to the Mandir, you should do a Namaste in front of every Form of Bhagavān. This means that Bhagavān is also present inside the Murti. Namaste is the Hindu way of greeting others.

32.4 Some practical expressions of self-humility and respect for others

There are many practical ways of show respect towards others, and being humble. We list few of them below:

  1. Courteousness: This means being cultured, polite and well-mannered while dealing with others. It also means being considerate of the needs and feelings of others, not being rude or harsh. Some examples are offering one's seat in the bus to an elderly person, a lady or to a disabled man.
  2. Hospitality: Having this quality means being warm, affectionate, friendly, cheerful and helpful towards our guests and friends by offering them food, shelter, good conversation. This is a way of showing our respect towards our guests and demonstrating our humility.
  3. Obedience: This is a special type of respect that we practice towards our parents, elders, teachers, superiors at work etc. We practice this value by listening to and following their wishes and directives cheerfully, accurately and thoroughly.
  4. Deference: Many a times, we interact with people who are older, wiser, more intelligent, more experience and more knowledgeable than us. An arrogant man does not listen to these people and just does whatever he wants to do. But one with the quality of deference pays good attention to what these people have to say and even give up one's own course of action or preference to follow their preferences and suggestions.

32.4 Persons deserving special respect

Although we ought to respect everyone, there are some special classes of individuals towards whom Hindu Dharma teaches us to be very respectful and humble. These are: Parents, Teachers, Rulers, Sadhus and Sannyāsis, Virtuous and all women. The following story illustrates the great respect that Hindu Dharma teaches us to practice towards women.

Story: Śivaji respects the woman of an enemy's household During the Muslim rule in India, the rulers and chiefs frequently kidnapped beautiful Hindu women for their use. Śivaji started liberating the western parts of India from the Moghul Empire and established a just Hindu rule.

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Some of his soldiers captured the beautiful daughter of the Amir of the town of Kalyan and presented her to Śivaji. They thought that Śivaji would get even with the Muslims and force her into become his bride. But Śivaji looked at the terrified lady and then commented, "If my mother were as beautiful as her, I too would have been a handsome man. I order that she be returned to her family with full honors."

32.5 Discussion: Is Humility the same as "Under-Selling"?

This world is a very competitive place. Whether you are applying for a job or for admission to a prestigious college, you compete with many other applicants. Suppose you fill out an application to a college program and you meet and exceed all their requirements for applicants. You want to maximize your chances of admission and therefore focus on all your achievements, experiences and skills that you think the college would like to see in their students. Does this mean that you are not being humble in your application? [Hint: "Under-selling" means not highlighting your true skills adequately. Humility means no exaggerating your abilities and not lying about having skills that you really do not have.]

  1. Page 25 in Purnavidya, vol 6 (Guidelines for teaching)
  2. Rajinder Singh, p. 65-66
  3. This story is found in Kalhana's Rājataranginī

Notes & References

  1. Sikśāṣtaka of Chaitanya, verse 3
  2. Sanskrit proverb
  3. Gitā 5.18
  4. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29.21
  5. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29. 22
  6. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29. 23
  7. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29.24
  8. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29. 25
  9. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29.26
  10. Śrimad Bhagavatam 3.29. 27
  11. He lived in 7th-8th century AD.
  12. It is a city holy to Bhagavān Śiva).
  13. He is an uncivilized and unclean person considered to be an untouchable in ancient India.
  14. Vedas are the divinely revealed scriptures of Hindus.
  15. He was the Lord of the Universe.
  16. He lived in 17th cent. CE.
  17. It is a grain called 'sorghum' in English.
  18. It is from 1767 - 1795.