‘Hitch your wagon to a star’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson (Post No 2771)


Compiled by london swaminathan


Date: 1 May 2016


Post No. 2771


Time uploaded in London :– 9-59 AM


( Thanks for the Pictures)




(for old articles go to tamilandvedas.com OR swamiindology.blogspot.com)



American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) said in one of his essays:

“Now that is the wisdom of a man, in every instance of his labour, to hitch his wagon to a star, and see his chore done by the gods themselves. That is the way we are strong, by borrowing the might of the elements. The forces of steam, gravity, galvanism, light, magnets, wind, fire, serve us day by day and cost us nothing”.

It means always aspire to do great things. Do not set pessimistic goals. Set in the footsteps of great men and use their wisdom and experience.





Aim high is one of the concepts or ideas that Hindu saints put forth before their disciples. First we found it in the great scripture Bhagavad Gita and then in a Sangam Tamil verse. Later Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar also repeated this.

Let a man lift himself by himself; let him not degrade himself, said Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (6-5)

Buddha also said the same in the Dhammapada: The Self is the Lord of the Self (verse 380)

Every one of us has the freedom to rise or fall and our future is in our own hands. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar said: The stalk of a lotus blossom grows long enough to project the pretty flower out of water, so too, a man’s level of greatness is determined by his own will.


Rajaji, first Governor General of India, commenting on this said: Think of ever rising higher. Let it be your only thought. Even if your object be not attained, the thought itself will have raised you.”

Dr S M Diaz added: If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated? The well-known expression of “hitching your wagon to the stars”, has, therefore some special meaning. You may not reach the stars. You may fall short of it. Even so, the effort involved in the process has certainly involved in the process has certainly served to elevate and enrich you, well above the ordinary run of human beings.


hitch star

I wrote the following in 2013:–

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.” —Albert Einstein.
All thought should be the thought of rising high though it fails; it is the nature of success. Your aspirations keep you on a higher plane (Tirukkural 596)

Though wounded with arrows, the elephant stands firm in his greatness; he who has spirit never loses heart when he fails (Tirukkural 597)

Let a man lift himself by himself; let him not degrade himself; for the self alone is the friend of the self and self alone is the enemy of the self. (Bhagavad Gita 6-5)
Purananuru verse 214 of Kopperum Chozan also advises everyone to Aim High. “A person who wanted to hunt an elephant will come with an elephant after a successful hunt. A person who wants to hunt quails may come even without a single bird. So aim high in life”.

Kopperum Chozan, the Choza king continues, “In the case of the superior persons who are inspired by higher desires if you admit that they experience the fruit of their deeds they may enjoy pleasures in the next world. If they do not enjoy them in the next world they will attain joys in the next re-birth; if even that is not admitted, it is an excellent thing to die after having planted one’s good name as high as the lofty Himalayas.” (Karma Theory)

(From my post : Albert Einstein and Thiruvalluvar; Post No. 749 dated 17th December 2013)


English Proverbs on ‘Aim High’:-


There are some interesting English proverbs echoing the same theme:-

He who aims at the moon may hit the top of a tree; he who aims at the top of a tree I unlikely to get off the ground.

Nothing crave, nothing have

Nothing seek, nothing find

Seek and ye shall find – Mathew 7:7

See mickle, and get something; seek little and get nothing (mickle = much)

He begins to die that quits his desires

There is always room at the top.


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