Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
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Upasana Pattanayak

Abstract Inspirational Children


4.9  

Upasana Pattanayak

Abstract Inspirational Children


Duty

Duty

5 mins 239 5 mins 239

The English Book of Common Prayer asks every man “to do his duty in that state of life to which God has called him.” This is an ideal that should always remain uppermost in the human mind. A day is not properly ended until the duties it brought are discharged. There is no situation in life that has not its duties, its obligations. The great Roman statesman Cicero once said, “No phase of life, whether public or private, can be free from duty.” We are, in fact, always pursued by a sense of duty to be done, and it seems to be omnipresent like God Himself. To do our duty brings us the greatest happiness; not to do it leaves us with a sense of discomfort, if nothing else. 

Often when duty is not done, a man explains that there were so many other things to be done that it was not possible for him to do it. The excuse is poor and inadmissible. No man can be so busy as not to have time for doing work that has to be done. What is needed is the will to do it. A good rule is to do what is immediately before us. Many people strive for the distant and neglect the immediate. But that is the wrong way. The right way is to do the thing nearest to us before we run after distant ones. As Carlyle said, “Do that which lies nearest thee, which thou knowest to be a duty. The second duty will always become clearer.” Hence one should do one’s duty first to one’s family; then to the community; then to the rest of the world. 

Many shirk duty because the path of duty is a thorny path. But it is only cowards who seek ease and comfort and relaxation. The call of duty is to the heroic in our nature. In responding to that call we become heroes ourselves. Some again seek praise or reward for the performance of a duty. This, however, is not to be thought of. “In doing what we ought,” said Saint Augustine, “we deserve no praise because it is our duty that we do.” The only reward we need is the approbation of our own conscience. It is an ignoble mind that needs to be bribed and coaxed into the path of duty. The story of the poor railwayman, who saved a passenger train from disaster but refused any reward, should be inscribed in letters of gold. He said that he had done his duty and needed no other reward. This sense of satisfaction, what the poet calls ‘inward happiness’ is within reach of each of us. We need not seek for it elsewhere, it is a treasure locked in our bosom. An expectation of reward that is frustrated makes us feel depressed. It robs us of a pleasure that might have been ours, had we realized that duty is always its own reward. If any reward comes unexpectedly and unsought, the joy of it is all the sweeter.


Another thing to remember is that in doing our duty we may not always give pleasure to others. There are unpleasant duties: when, for example, we have to stand up against social wrongs. “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what other people think”. In other words, duty has to be done without either seeking rewards from, or the goodwill of others. “To thy own self be true.”

“The path of duty is the way to glory,” said the poet Tennyson. The sense of duty determines human destiny. If we do our duty each day, we will continually climb upward on the steep ladder of life. Sooner or later, we will find ourselves at the top and then will come to us the approval of our friends and fellowmen. But of course, the mere desire for fame has been rightly called ‘the last infirmity of noble minds, and never should be the incentive to duty; true glory is only the reward of duty loyally done.

There is a loftier consideration. The world has to progress forward on “the ringing grooves of change”. The performance of duty by each one of us is the power that moves the world in its forward march. If by doing our duties at home we bring to it peace and happiness, by discharging our duties to our country or community we ensure the same blessings over a larger area. 

So let us do our duty with all our heart and soul, not in the expectation of reward, but because it is the fulfillment of our destiny. Sense of duty may make us restless; may deny us peace; may fill our days with thankless labor. But if we are not deterred by these and steadily keep to our appointed course, indifferent to praise or blame, unafraid of consequences, we will surely have the supreme satisfaction in the approval of our conscience, which is the sweetest of all rewards, the greatest of all glories. Duty is stern, but the poet calls it “the Godhead’s most benignant grace,”-

“Nor know we anything so fair

As is the smile upon thy face :

Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,

And fragrance on thy footing treads;

Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong,

And the most ancient heavens, through thee,

Are fresh and strong. – Wordsworth.


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