22 Jun 2024  |   04:20am IST

Become a man of values, not only success

IBONIO D’SOUZA

Emperor Ashoka successfully waged the Kalinga war and annexed the kingdom of Kalinga to his empire. 

Alexander the Great is considered to be one of the greatest general of all times. And, Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity was the formula for making the atom bomb. However, despite the success achieved, neither Emperor Ashoka at the victory of the Kalinga war nor Albert Einstein on the success of seeing World War II end after the bombing of Nagasaki were happy.

Whether the scientists behind the making of the atom bomb had any sense of triumph at their achievement is hard to tell. Standing on the battle field, Ashoka pledged that he would never wage another war in his life time and converted to Buddhism, and Albert Einstein on his deathbed bemoaned that he had committed the biggest blunder of his life, to allow the finishing touches to the atom bomb. 

Emperor Alexander though designated as one of the greatest generals the world has seen, may have had similar pangs of conscience and remorse in spite of his valour and glorious conquests.

The question is then, what is success? For despite success, why did Emperor Ashoka, and Albert Einstein feel only despair and grief, and why is Alexander the Great and the scientists behind conceptualising the atom bomb really not considered great? 

The reason for Emperor Ashoka’s and Einstein’s grief and remorse was the fallout of the actions undertaken by them.

At the end of the war when Emperor Ashoka stood surveying the battle field, what did he see? He saw a battle field strewn with corpses of soldiers, children and women, and their kinsfolk grieving and wailing over the dead bodies of their loved ones. The gruesome sight filled Ashoka with such horror and remorse that he pledged standing there never to fight another war. 

While Alexander the Great despite his victories, lost ten thousand of his elite and loyal soldiers in battle and left behind a blazing trail of devastation.

And the fallout of dropping the atom bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki was stupendous, as it not only killed thousands of civilians, but also left thousands maimed and injured. 

The rain that followed immediately after the bombing was laden with radioactive particles and many of the survivors of the bombing succumbed to radiation exposure. There was also the fear that it would affect the future generations and those who had survived the bombing could be affected with diseases like leukaemia.

Einstein himself said, “Try not to become a man of success but a man of value”. The despair and grief experienced by Emperor Ashoka and Albert Einstein at the time when they experienced personal success helps to sublimate them. The action they undertook was really their personal failure because their success contributed towards destruction of mankind instead of doing good for humanity.

Therefore, whether it is Jesus Christ preaching to his disciples or Krishna discoursing with Arjun in the Bhagwan Gita, the message is the same. We are here by God’s will. It is our duty only to act. Whatever work we do should be for the good and benefit of others. It should never be for our own personal success or gain. We should never bother about the result as that should be left to the Creator who has created us to decide. We must totally negate ourselves from our ego.

As Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and philosopher, said, “Do not act as if thou will live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good. All things fade away, become the stuff of legend, and are soon buried in oblivion.” 

Jesus Christ too cautioned his disciples thus: “Remember those who are first in this world will be the last in my kingdom of God, and those who are the last will be the first. This is the eternal law. So stop trying to be the first”.


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