Once I saw a big crowd before a shop. As soon as it was 8 o’clock, the shutters of the shop were pulled down. Some of the people were left without purchasing anything. Their faces indicated that they were disappointed. I said to one of them, “You are looking sad. May I know the cause?” His reply was that he had come over there from a distance of five miles. He was a bit late to arrive and there was a great rush already. He could not buy anything. This was why he was sad. It seemed to him as though his day’s labour was lost. I inquired of him if the things he wanted to buy from there were not available at any other shop.
“They are”, he replied.
“Then, why did you remain standing at that very shop?” I inquired again.
He said that he considered that shop to be reliable. People were assured of the purity of the commodities on sale and accuracy of weights. More- over the prices were fixed. Even if a child was sent to buy, there wasn’t any possibility of his being cheated. The owner of that shop did not indulge in profiteering. It was why he preferred to buy things from there. I told him that he had to pay for his faith. But he replied that it did not matter much to him. He wouldn’t mind coming back the following day to make necessary purchases. I felt that every word that came out from his lips was an expression of faith in trustworthiness of life.
There was a tehsildar in Delhi Administration who often used to come to me for exchange of views on religious matters. One day he arrived very late.
“How is it that you are so late today?” I inquired.
“I missed the bus” said he, “I had to walk all along on foot so I got late.”
“But you have a jeep: why was it then necessary for you to depend on a bus?” I asked him again.
He explained that the jeep at his disposal was not his own, it belonged to the Government. He could use it only when he was on a Government business. As it was his personal work, he wasn’t entitled to use it. This answer from him gladdened me so much that I still carry a recollection of it in my mind.
Once a businessman who was on a tour hired a tonga. He had many valuable articles with him. The tongawala (the tonga driver) took him to an inn and left the place soon after the luggage had been removed from his carriage. When he reached the station, he discovered that he had brought a box with him by mistake. He came back to the inn but much to his chagrin he found that the merchant had already moved to another place. Running from hotel to hotel and from one inn to another looking for the merchant, the tongawala was extremely tired. At last he succeeded in getting a clue that led to his whereabouts in a hotel in the evening. The merchant looked at the tongawala in amazement and was full of praise for his exemplary act of honesty.
Honesty is neither allied to prosperity nor is it opposed to poverty. He who is devoid of sympathetic consideration for others and is motivated only by a desire to earn money is not likely to if he is sympathy for refrain completely from dishonesty even if he is prosperous. He who has the feelings of sympathy for others and does not consider earning money as the sole purpose of his life is unlikely to be dishonest even if he is not rich.
There was an Anuvrati (a person dedicated to the Anuvrat way of life as enunciated by Acharya Tulsi-the sponsor of the movement) who had pro- found faith in honesty. He had pledged himself to refrain from the course of adulteration. Once he bought some goods which included some adulterated items. This fact had come to his notice. He was in a fix. On the one hand it was a question of Rs. 10,000 before him while it was a question of honesty on the other hand. He brooded over the pros and cons of both the factors and came to the conclusion that if he chose to overlook the former, it would only cause him a monetary loss of ten thousand rupees but his losing a principle would amount to his being put to double loss i.e. the loss of moral character and the loss of health. The point that weighed with him was that he would rather suffer the loss of money than the loss of character. He threw the merchandise into the river. One does feel happy when one gets money but he who has faith in uprightness will feel much happier when he findsthat he has succeeded in guarding his principle. Keeping this in view it has been said:
Come what may, a man dedicated to the vow of upright conduct will not violate it. He will guard it jealously whether he is criticised or praised, put to loss or gain, faced with death or life.
He whose stomach is in disorder may eat a sumptuous diet but is unlikely to enjoy it. He whose heart is vitiated is dishonest. He may amass wealth but he will never experience inward peace. We stand on the shore of the sea and its water reaches up to our feet but it neither causes panic to us nor does it alarm us of any danger because we are assured of the fact that it is regulated by certain fixed principles. Its water does not rush forward at once. It rises by degrees. But we cann’t stand before a river in this way for its water rises unexpectedly and sweeps a man away. Regularity is a part of righteousness. He who displays irregularity in life fails to inspire confidence in the people around him. He who fails to inspire confidence in the people through his conduct cann’t achieve any success in life. The secret of success lies in the creation of confidence which rests on the foundation of upright conduct.