Our sense of identity may stem from our vocation or occupation in life since, it is the realization of our potential, but our strength of character stems from our family. In common parlance, our family reflects our background. Most people confuse affluence to be synonymous with ‘a good family background’, and we do all that we can to prop up our inanimate pieces of furniture in silk and satin. But just as clothes don’t make a man; our fancy fittings don’t make our family background.
So what is it about our family that speaks for who we are, that defines us in a society?
It is solely and primarily the kind of inter- personal relationships that we share with the members of our family that define our background. When we allude to someone as a person from a cultured family, what we mean is someone who comes from a family where the rules of co operation are observed. In the Hindu way of life, moral ideals such as- non-violence, truthfulness, compassion, fortitude, friendliness, self-control and generosity are seen as rules of co operation, the practice of which begins at home, within the four walls.
It is by balancing our desires with duty that we establish culture. And this culture which is practiced at home reflects in the behavior of an individual in the way in which they conduct themselves in the society. When this is lacking in one’s environment, the individual too would display a hostile behavior. Also, no matter how upscale our place of residence is, if the environment is volatile, then sooner or later it is bound to crumble. According to Roman Historian, Sallust: “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes even great things crumble”.
So whether it’s at home or society, when the rules of co-operation are not followed, it is bound to collapse. Culture turns a home into a house, a bunch of nomads into a society, a cluster of buildings into a civilization. With culture comes order, with order comes peace. Interestingly, the aim of all rituals is peace. Every ritual is concluded with the chant of –‘Peace, peace, peace’ (shanti, shanti, shanti). Peace ushers prosperity and with prosperity comes power, with power and prosperity one seeks contentment in transcendental knowledge, through music, arts and literature.
As Jean Paul Sartre (Words) writes: “Stained glass windows, flying buttresses, sculpted portals…Meditations in verse…such Humanities led us straight to the Divine…one and the same breath shaped God’s works and great human works…The spirit spoke to God about men and it bore witness of God to men.”
Let us then as individuals of a cultured society domesticate our mind and allow peace to abide. ‘Shanti, shanti, shanti’.