Freedom is a wonderful concept. But it is very difficult to be free in the real sense of the word. We are not free of our inner conflicts and our eternal fear of the unknown. Freedom is something that has to be earned by cultivating a mind capable of thinking freely, rationally and then acting according to our judgement with a clear conscience to do what we feel is right. It is much easier said than done. We are shackled by our mortal existence, our desires, yearning and in our greatest fear to differ from the conventions. Conventions are not always to entrap as they often help in holding the society together. But if we hold on to the conventions without analysing the rationale behind, we often tend to fall prey to dead habits.
A person who values his/her own freedom can value the freedom of others. It needs inordinate courage to be free in ones thoughts and actions as we have seen in the pioneers of any new movement. Freedom does not give one the right to do whatever one likes without any concern for its after effects. Freedom is the quality of the mind that empowers it to take decisions independently and justly without disrupting the flow of life. Freedom also gives the fearlessness to make sacrifices if need be in order to act according to one’s convictions. Freedom makes one bold to decide what is right irrespective one’s self interests.
This is aptly illustrated in the story of two young boys, one being the son of the master of the house and the other an underling. They were great friends. One day while playing in the garden they found two mangoes that had fallen from the tree. One fruit was nice and ripe while the other had started to rot. The mangoes were handed over by the poor boy to his friend who was the master’s son and the rightful owner of the fruits. The poor boy did the right thing but perhaps it was his dependence on the master for his own upkeep that had prompted him to the right act. The owner of the fruit thought that he had the choice to decide who would have the better of the two. He was free to take the better one while his friend had no choice but to accept whatever was given to him without a murmur. The master’s son exercised his freedom of choice to hand over the good mango to his friend and be satisfied with the rotten one. He chose the latter and it gave him inordinate pleasure in seeing the smile on his friend’s face. He enjoyed his freedom to the hilt. He could free his mind from greed! Was not that a great freedom?
Let us pray for this sense of freedom in us that empowers us to do the right thing without flinching. Let us imbue the courage to uphold our principles and be free in the true sense. A truly free person can honour the freedom in others. A coward or a bully snatches away other’s freedom in order to safeguard one’s own interests. We have seen such deliberate usurping of our rights under foreign powers. Today we are again held captive to such wanton disregard for freedom from various quarters – like polity, societal and peer pressures, dogmas and dead habits. This is the right time to aspire to truly break free from such bondage.
The United Interfaith Foundation India had organised an Interfaith meet on March 28, 2021, to celebrate the joint observance of the four festivals – Dol/Holi (Festival of Colours), Shab-e-Barat (Night of Forgiveness), Hola Mohalla (a Sikh festival) and Palm Sunday (beginning of the Easter week) that coincided this year in the city of Kolkata. This is an effort to spread the message of peace, harmony and inclusiveness. Dol also happens to be the birth anniversary of the Bhakti movement Saint Shri Chaitanya.