Most of us would agree that honesty is a virtue which we try to search in every person with whom we want any relation, personal or professional. Yet, there are times when we ourselves twist things around just to get some petty gains from certain situations. We ourselves don’t stick to those virtues but still expect it from others to maintain all the time. I would call it double standards. I thought of sharing an incidence along the same lines.
A few years back when I was studying in Germany, I took up an internship for a semester. So, I had to move to a place which was close to the countryside. Sometimes on weekends when the weather was good, my German colleagues and I used to plan for cycling trips to the mountains. To start the hike we had to pass through a village. I often used to notice there some open garages with a shelves facing the road. It used to have few selected vegetables and fruits on it but no one actually was present there. I used to find it funny that why someone would decorate his garage with vegetables and fruits. Then this one time, I also noticed a small weight balance with a small box kept there and no other soul in sight except us who were just passing by. Out of curiosity I asked one of my colleagues that what is all this. He explained me that it is a small shop to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables. I was a bit surprised and asked back that where the shopkeeper is then. He further explained that it is not supposed to work like that. Here a person can pick himself what he wants to buy, then weigh it on the balance himself, then calculate the price according with the price tags kept there and finally put the money in that box all by himself. I laughed at him and said Yeah Right!
My colleague said in a serious tone that he was not joking. I was a bit stunned and shocked that he was really serious and that shop really worked that way. Instantly I bombarded him with my questions that how is this possible, why is anyone not stealing the vegetables since no one is looking, why is that money box still there and why is that weight balance also there? It was tough for me to accept the fact that such a kind of system can actually exist. Can I imagine this working in India? Of course it’s a small village where this is working but still my brain was rejecting any argument I was throwing at it. It was hard to believe that honesty at such levels still exist in today’s times.
Fast forward a few years and this colleague with his wife came to visit India for the first time. Amongst other touristic places in Delhi, I also went with them to Jama Masjid, Birla Temple etc. But, it was at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib while sitting outside on the marble floor my colleague seemed a bit puzzled. I asked him what was troubling him. He politely asked me all these are holy places? I said, yes. He asked me that all the people who come here, come with pure heart and mind and to pray? I said, yes. He asked that all the money collected here is for the poor? I had to finally ask him what his point was. He confusedly asked that why do all these places have locks on their donation boxes? It hit me quite hard since I did not had a convincing reply for him and immediately the incidence of that German village came to my mind. Of course, I could have said that there are all kind of people in this world but I was not convinced myself whether any person in his sane mind steal from the house of God. I used to brag about, feeling proud about India rich with all its cultures, religions and spirituality but at that moment I was dumbfounded. Because a straight answer would be that if there were no locks there, those big boxes of money would be empty at the end of each day not because people would not donate but because people would not mind sneaking out a few currency notes from there. But how could I have told him the straight answer since then all my bragging about India being a land of spirituality and all would have hit the wall, and pretty hard.
So, my point is that if we cannot have enough honesty at places of worship then how we can expect honesty in our everyday life. Something, somewhere in all this is not going right and maybe over these years in India we have lost the essence and the main virtue by which we stood apart from others. I feel we have rooted ourselves out and are drifting away in the wrong direction. And all this India shining would not last long if things continue to happen in the way they are happening.