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Happy Family Ensures A Happy World

Updated: December 19, 2009 1:20 pm

In the evolution of our society and the civilization, family has played a crucial role. If the nuclear family starts disintegrating, the future of mankind is uncertain.

Celebrated Jain thinker and scholar Acharya Mahapragya in his book “The Happy and Harmonious Family” (HarperCollins Publishers India) has not only visualized the dangers of disintegrating family life, particularly in traditional societies exposed to a new value system but also has given simple but valuable tips to protect the families and reverse the trend.

Acharya’s original title in Hindi “Parivar Ke Saath Kaise Rahein” How to live with familygives a very simple and direct message. There was no need to change the title in English translation. In any case, a happy family is unthinkable without harmony in the family.

Looking at the chapter headings, it may appear that the contents are too didactic and idealistic. A serious reader, however, would discover that the principles propounded in various chapters would not only fortify an individual to enjoy a happy pand purposeful family life but also would make him/her a leader in every sphere of life.

The brief foreword in fact conveys the entire message. “There are two important values for leading a successful and satisfying family life. These are assurance and trust. Relationships cannot be sustained without these… . The system of joint family has always been based on these values. Family life should be organized in such a manner that no member feels left out or isolated. Tolerance is the protective armour for any joint family. Mutual understanding is the vital force behind it.”

In 16 small chapters the book deals with a host of issues which have a bearing on the personality development of an individual as also giving him/her a position of pride as a responsible human being. Acharya’s concern, however, is apparent both at the level of microcosm and macrocosm.

He strongly believes that happy and harmonious families are prerequisite to a coherent social order which, in turn, ensures a happier and peaceful pworld.

Acharya’s teachings focus overall enrichment of the individual’s life. He simultaneously addresses issues relating to behavioural, material and spiritual wellbeing of an individual.

In the opening chapter itself, “how to live in a family,” he sets the tone. The development of spiritual consciousness is the stepping stone for peaceful co-existence within any family or society.

In the chapter two, Acharya elaborates on peaceful co-existence and peace of mind. Then he proceeds to talk about how to maintain harmony. It is refreshing to note that Acharya’s teachings are based on pragmatism rather than on set ideas of conventional saints. He says that with changing times, it is necessary to revise the old tradition. Rigidity of beliefs, which actually creates chasm between generations, is the main reason for our conservatism and an obstacle to achieving harmony and peace.

Individual differences in approach, attitude and understanding of human beings are inevitable. Acharya says, that despite such differences, we must learn to live together and develop tolerance. The mantra for forming a healthy society is: “You and I, both have to live together.”

According to Acharya, like any organization, family also needs managing techniques. Self-control, self-confidence and discipline are the stepping stones to success for any organization, says the author.

In subsequent chapters, the author explains in detail various aspects of co-existence. He talks about effective and courteous communication; modesty, sensitivity, equality, affection and humility in our behaviour. Acharya is confident that with these virtues, a joyful co-existence is possible.

To achieve these qualities and to bring about a moderation in the conflicting human thoughts and behaviour, Acharya recommends contemplative meditation as a regular practice. At the end of the book, there is a brief description on contemplative meditation, which makes it a complete guide.

In course of his teachings, Acharya, quite naturally, falls back on spiritualism, again and again. In fact, a closer analysis of the text reveals that, according to Acharya, only a spiritual mind is capable of adopting and nurturing the values that can resolve conflicts, reject bad practices and promote harmony and co-existence. No wonder, there are chapters which talk of building a spiritual family, developing a spiritual home and instilling values in children.

The spiritual master is equally concerned about cruel practices like dowry, which goes in the name of tradition in some society. He says the social scourge like female foeticide and bride-burning are directly linked to the dowry system in our society. Acharya calls for a revolution against the vice of dowry. In his inimitable style he describes this menace: “The sun of violence is eclipsed by the vice of greed. Its lethal radiations are poisoning the conscience of the society. It is necessary to protest against it for the well-being of every individual, every family, and the society.”

He has also expressed a strong disapproval of the bad wealth and greed. He says, the wealth earned without perseverance can never be fruitful. The wealth earned in this manner often leads to bad habits.

On dowry and greed, he writes: “Man hardly takes a broad view of the future. When a girl child is born, the only thing that strikes his mind is that he will have to arrange millions for her dowry apart from the expenses of her upbringing. The birth of a girl is considered a curse. Man thinks of profit and loss even on an issue of humanity. Money and materialistic comforts have so gripped people’s mind that their perception has changed and they look at everything on a monetary basis.”

Normally saints and religious leaders are not known to be adopting a proactive role while addressing social issues. In the present work, Acharya Mahapragya does not mince words in his attack against the ills of our society. He says, with these evils, ours is not a healthy society. At some point, he appears to be taking up the role of a social reformer.

Despite repetitive nature of the text the book is still readable. With the description of real life situations and anecdotes it provides an easy and interesting reading.

The book is indeed a valuable addition to the contemporary publications. The book deals with the issues which may appear commonplace to a superficial reader but have serious bearing on the future of our society and nation. The issues have been presented in a straightforward manner and in simple language.

By BK Dash

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