Spirit Of Cooperation Generates Wellness

June 8, 2018, 2:00 AM IST Speaking Tree in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India, Spirituality | TOI
By Janki Santoke

Human life would be impossible without the spirit of cooperation. Neither society nor individual could exist without it. The Bhagwad Gita declares it as Kamadhenu, the mythical, wish-fulfilling cow.

The Vedic ritual of yajna represents this spirit of cooperative endeavour. The sacred fire is lit in a kund, trough. Into the kund, participants offer grains and other items. The fire then rises and is said to bless the one who offers. Grains are burnt and the vibhuti, ashes, are applied in three stripes on the forehead. This is followed by visit to a temple.

The kund represents a field of activity. It could be a sports team, organisation or home. Members of that group apply their capabilities, abilities and resources into that field. The field thrives and blesses one with prosperity as it were. Further, the grains, symbolising desires, are burnt and as vibhuti, represent glory, that is applied on the forehead in three lines signifying the burning of physical, mental, intellectual desires.

In every aspect of life, we see the significance of this ritual:

Work: No great work is ever accomplished on one’s own. It is due to the cooperation of many. Noah Yuval Harari talks of money itself being a sign of cooperation. That we all accept a piece of paper as having value of say, Rs 2,000, is a sign of cooperation. If all of us refused to accept this, then the paper would be practically worthless. Even individual greatness such as that of a musician, author or inventor is the result of cooperation. This cooperation has to now be converted into the ‘spirit of cooperation’. People may cooperate to further their personal ends. But the ‘spirit of cooperation’ refers to working for the welfare of all. The spirit of competition should be replaced by spirit of cooperation for work to become a Kamadhenu!

Relationships: These, too, work only when there is a sense of cooperation, when the accent is on duties, not rights. The moment the focus turns to rights, there is disharmony in the relationship. Duty does not imply passive giving in. It is doing what is in the best interest of the relationship. Hence it may also include the refusal to do something, if it is not doing any good to the other person. Parents who don’t follow this end up with spoilt children!

Knowledge: We have so much knowledge today like in the fields of medicine, engineering and information technology. How do we benefit from all of this? Is it not via cooperation? We can’t know everything on our own. How can one know everything about health? Which investments work? How to build a house? We depend on others’ knowledge. Even to learn, we have to cooperate with the teacher. Hence the Gita and the Talmud both assert that the one who cannot learn is the one who is constantly in doubt. We haven’t traversed the path, so we will have to depend on the teachings of those who are wiser.

Spiritual outlook: The attitude of cooperation burns desires, which are impediments to spiritual growth. As one grows up, one learns to tone down one’s personal demands in order to achieve universal well-being.

In this manner, the spirit of cooperation brings both material and spiritual well-being. It is our wish-fulfilling Kamadhenu. Let us nurture it.

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