The Salt of the Earth

Sw. Vivekananda, Meditation Pose, Sw. Tadatmananda

The peasant, the shoemaker, the sweeper, and such other lower classes of India have much greater capacity for work and self-reliance than you. They have been silently working through long ages and producing the entire wealth of the land, without a word of complaint. (8) Never mind if they have not read a few books like you—if they have not acquired your tailor-made civilisation. What do these matter? But they are the backbone of the nation in all countries. If these lower classes stop work, from where will you get your food and clothing? If the sweepers of Calcutta stop work for a day, it creates a panic, and if they strike for three days, the whole town will be depopulated by the outbreak of epidemics. If the labourers stop work, your supply of food and clothes also stops. And you regard them as low-class people and vaunt your own culture! (9) These common people have suffered oppression for thousands of years—suffered it without murmur, and as a result have got wonderful fortitude. They have suffered eternal misery, which has given them unflinching vitality. Living on a handful of grain, they can convulse the world; give them only half a piece of bread, and the whole world will not be big enough to contain their energy; they are endowed with the inexhaustible vitality of a Raktabija. And, besides, they have got the wonderful strength that comes of a pure and moral life, which is not to be found anywhere else in the world. Such peacefulness, such contentment, such love, such power of silent and incessant work, and such manifestation of lion’s strength in times of action—where else will you find these! (10) Many turn out to be heroes when they have some great task to perform. Even a coward easily gives up his life, and the most selfish man behaves disinterestedly, when there is a multitude to cheer them on; but blessed indeed is he who manifests the same unselfishness and devotion to duty in the smallest of acts, unnoticed by all—and it is you who are actually doing this ye ever-trampled labouring classes of India! I bow to you.

–Sw. Vivekananda, Rebuild India

When God Laughs

GOD laughs on two occasions. He laughs when the physician says to the patient’s mother, “Don’t be afraid, mother, I shall certainly cure your boy.” God laughs saying to Himself, “I am going to take his life, and this man says he will save it!” The physician thinks he is the master, forgetting that God is the Master.

God laughs again when two brothers divide their land with a string, saying to each other, “This side is mine, that side is yours.” He laughs and says to Himself, “The universe belongs to Me, but they say they own this portion or that portion,”

—Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna