Among the many sins that man should avoid, thanklessness is one that is cruelly double-edged (some others too are) giving more pain to the benefactor. Yes, to forget the good deed done on you by someone, breaks the heart of the do-gooder. The goodly soul experiences pain inflicted by ungratefulness in his heart that he sometimes begins to doubt his own self. Consequently, many others with good intentions curb their natural inclination for helping others when examples of ungratefulness are put forth to them. The world gets poorer when people start questioning the very moral of doing good to others and become indifferent to the problems of others. This is most damaging to the health of a society. The sinner who commits the act of thanklessness, in fact, causes grievous injury to the society, much to it’s detriment.
To substantiate at the above, I forthwith give you an example that shall remove the disguise thanklessness portrays in its true form. Once a highly successful medical doctor observed to me that if a man from his fraternity was dutifully discharging his obligations towards his wife and children, giving all comforts and providing good education to the youngsters, doing his utmost in serving the patients than would it be wrong on his part if he couldn’t find time for remembering God? I replied – this sort of an attitude is no different if a successful person is unable to find time for his parents who, like all good parents, had sacrificed in bringing him up, tenderly molding him to path of success, and one day their child turns away his face betraying amnesia to all the good done to him. This type of ungratefulness pierces the heart and shakes the foundation of a society.
At the spiritual level too, it will be noticed, man falls prey to acts of thanklessness, sometimes due to his arrogance. God, our ultimate Father, call Him by any name, has sent us to this beautiful planet, provided us with all the requirements for our survival, amazing flora and fauna, a versatile body and a brain without a rival. All this He has given us without expecting anything in return. Of course, we can’t give him anything but surely we can give him some of our time, just a few minutes in twenty four hours. Have we become so busy in our routine, generally materialistic pursuits, that we are able to find tine for most insane activities but not for God who is doing so much for us every moment of our lives? This is thanklessness in its most detestable form.
Our rishis, munis, and saints have stressed in holy books that man should remember God always. With firm determination and regular practice it is possible to do so even when submerged in our daily activities. In time it becomes a part of man’s existence and he need not consciously remember God all the time. Vyas Muni has said that “All human beings should strive to realize God.” And that the realization of God is the Dharma of all people.
Dwelling on the subject of thanklessness, I am reminded of one of the much appreciated lines of William Shakespeare who used to write in the language of the common people and on the subjects that were of interest to them too. Here he depicts brutal thanklessness by portraying an ungrateful elder brother and broken hearted younger one. The elder brother turns out his brother from the house penniless, without adequate clothing. And this to a brother who selflessly did everything for his elder brother’s well-being and prosperity and never thought of his own interest. The scene is London and the month December. Out in the streets the biting cold wind blows hard and the snow begins to fall. And in this state of discomfort, he says:
“Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as men who remember not.”
“Freeze, freeze, though bitter sky, thou sting is not so nigh, as man’s ingratitude.”
The above lines show the inner mortification of the younger brother who has been stung to the core. For all the good done for his brother he has been turned away from the house in most demeaning manner. Out in the cold least bothering of his own body discomfort which is true to his nature, as previously too, whatever good that he had done for his brother it was without expecting anything in return. He does not complain but reflects in his mind that his brother’s ingratitude is more lethal than the cold winter wind or the freezing snow falling on him. Disillusioned by the thanklessness of his brother he wishes the wind to blow with more severity and the snow to freeze him so that he may be able to benumb his inner heart.
Quite similar is the relationship between God (who does good) and man (who forgets and becomes thankless). God has given us life, the means and spirit to survive, and to excel, and yet fail to remember Him. It shows thanklessness sometimes become deep rooted in man and he finds difficult to cleanse himself of this sin. This happens because of his arrogance and his self deception that he is the doer and should come out winner by hook or crook. With this kind of temperament he severs his in born relationship with God.
If material gain is the purpose of life, or accumulation of wealth gives us inner peace, then Ravan, Kans and Duryodhan should have been most happy and contented but then we see what kind of end they met because they denied God, turning epitomes of thanklessness.
From such innumerable examples we learn that we should be thankful to God and remember Him by reciting His holy name and doing satsang. Being thankful makes man humble and realize the true worth of his existence which is to help and do good to his fellow-beings. Always be thankful even to the smallest of good deeds. It spreads goodness all around. And that is the essence of life.