Published in: The Pioneer
    Category: Hacked BY
    Dated: 8/30/2004
Meerabai was a devotee of Lord Krishna from her childhood. When she was quite young, she saw a procession passing by near her house. She inquired from her mother about it, who informed her that a young man with his family and friends was going to a girl's house to get married to her. "Do all girls get married ?" was her next question. "Yes", replied her mother. "Where is my bridegroom", the young Meera inquired further. Her mother finding no answer to her question, handed her a statue of Lord Krishna and told her that it was He who was her husband.

Meera accepted this and from then onwards regarded Lord Krishna as her husband. She grew up but her thought that the Lord was her husband never changed and she could not think of marrying anyone else. However, she was forcibly married to a Rajput prince. Still, Meera would not change her mind about who her real husband was. This was not acceptable to her new family and friction began to develop. None of the parties were prepared to back down and ultimately Meera was forced to drink poison as a punishment.

Can there be a better example of narrow-mindedness than this ? Meerabaiís only fault was her full devotion to her Lord. This incident took place a long time ago, but we still see similar religious intolerance even today. Groups of people wage war against other groups just because they have a different name for God or follow different religious rituals.

What is narrow-mindedness ? This is defined as an unwillingness to listen to or tolerate the views of others. A narrow-minded person presupposes the superiority of his views and rejects anything that is contrary to his views. Can a mere mortal be always right ? Can there be a more foolish idea than this ?

No wonder, narrow-mindedness hurts us in many ways. We restrict ourselves, that is, confine ourselves to our views only, whereas we could have benefited from the views of others. A person with a blinkered vision easily gets isolated since no one else would listen to his views either ; we evoke a like response from others. A person who cocoons himself thus is unlikely to be happy since we need to maintain good relations with others. Generally, large-hearted people are better accepted socially as compared to the bigoted ones.

Narrow-mindedness afflicts nations as well. There have been many instances when the invaders destroyed places of worship of the locals. Today, we see rich nations pursuing restrictive and protective policies which result in all-round disharmony. Persons in power hurt themselves as well as others by ignoring the views of others. This is easily seen in the case of parents who brush aside any new idea offered by their offsprings.

How can we get over this harmful tendency ? We learn from the scriptures that human-beings are a very large family, that is, the family of God - Vasudeva Kutumbakam. And, in a family everyone must cooperate. Lord Krishna instructs in Bhagavad-Geeta : "By cooperation, prosperity will reign for all" (3.11). We get confused between selfishness and self-interest. There is nothing wrong in following one's self-interest, but when we ignore or refuse to consider the welfare of others, we sow seeds of discord. In case of the families, we are tempted to consider the welfare of our immediate family members only while ignoring others who are not so close. But in the long run, this tendency becomes counter-productive.

An intelligent person listens to the views of others but decides for himself since the decision-making rests with us alone. How can listening to the views of others hurt us ? If anything. we gain by knowing anotherís perspective. Some of us are afraid that listening to the views of others may force us to abandon our favourite ideas since we feel they are much superior. We are attached to what our minds have come up with, rather than the results we may be deriving from better ideas.

Narrow-mindedness is a habit which is not restricted to how we interact with outsiders alone ; rather, it permeates to our dealings with our family-members and friends as well. Religious narrow-mindedness keeps dividing and sub-dividing people ; it does not stop with people of different religions, whereas broad-mindedness translates into friendly behaviour and enormous benefits can be derived from it. A large-hearted person is never a loser.
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