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Ramkrishna Paramhans and Swami Vivekanand were passing through a village. It was an extremely hot day. Suddenly, Ramkrishna saw a parrot fall from a tree because of heat. Ramkrishna rushed to the bird and gave water to drink. He sat there till the bird felt better and flew away. This is compassion or Karuna in Sanskrit.

It's said that all languages have three most beautiful words: Mother, love and compassion. In fact, the words 'mother' and 'love' already have 'compassion' in them. Compassion is the most sublime human attribute, because this very quality binds the human beings together, irrespective of caste, class, colour and creed. All other great qualities like forgiveness, sympathy, empathy and fellow-feeling flow from one common source: Compassion. It was compassion that drove the American President Abraham Lincoln to feel for the Afro-American slaves and vowed to abolish slavery. He succeeded because compassion finally triumphs against all odds. A compassionate heart doesn't just feel for the fellow human beings. It feels for all that has been created by nature or call it god if you think so. Seeing a disciple kick a stone in frustration, Buddha, the embodiment of compassion, told him not to do that because even a 'non-living' stone deserves compassion from those, who have this in their hearts.! This is the ultimate example of compassion. The whole world prayed for the safety of the pilgrims in Uttarakhand in January 2013 and every country extended its help. When Guatemala in Central America was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1976, the entire world rushed to its rescue. Latur earthquake in September 1993 brought the world together in helping the victims. Even India's arch rival Pakistan helped unconditionally, sending plastic tents, a team of doctors and quilts. This is compassion. It brings all together and makes the discrete nations and people come under one roof, forgetting all ostensible differences, discrimination and distinctions of country, class, creed and caste.

Compassion eclipses all hatred and bad-blood. We're all bound up with each other through compassion and all hearts throb like one when this greatest quality reigns supreme. Compassion is a common thread. It's a streak of divine light that passes through every individual and moves every heart. Hindi poet and Chhayavaadi exponent Sumitranandan Pant aptly said, 'Karuna ka deep jalta hai har hriday mein/ Iski lau se jagmagati hai maanavta' (the candle of compassion is in every heart/ Its flame brightens the mankind). The ultimate aim of all philosophies, ideologies and spirituality is to develop compassion for having a world without hatred, jealousy, prejudice and bitterness. A truly compassionate heart sees no wrong in anyone and anybody. Compassion endows an individual with a sense of egalitarianism. It lends evenness to one's vision and augments its ambit. The crucified Jesus could forgive those who nailed him to the Cross because he had love and compassion even for them. Gandhi ji's son Devilal requested the government of India to pardon Nathuram Godse and Narayan Dattatrey Apte because to hang them would be incongruous with his great father's legacy of peace and compassion. That they were ultimately hanged is inconsequential. The man who hit Buddha with a stone, was ashamed when Buddha compassionately said that the 'poor man' had to exert extra energy to throw a stone!!

Even 27 years of solitary confinement in a far away, isolated island couldn't embitter the great African leader Nelson Mandela, because his heart was aware of just one quality: Compassion. We all need to develop this trait to turn this world into a heaven for all creatures, not just for human beings.


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