Article No. 2079
Written by London swaminathan
Date : 17 August 2015
Time uploaded in London :– 19-59
“Forbearance is the best ornament for men and women”, says sage Valmiki.
“Alankaaro hi naariinaam ksamaa to purusasya vaa” – Valmiki Ramayana
Patience is a virtue extolled in every scripture and preached by all the saints. There are popular anecdotes in the life of famous people. Tamil saint Tiruvalluvar has devoted one full chapter for it. Mahabharata and Ramayana have plenty of references to patience, forbearance and forgiving.
Retaliation gives but a day’s joy;
Forbearance brings glory for all time – Tirukkural 156
There are three anecdotes to illustrate the greatness of this virtue:
Isaac Newton and his dog Diamond
Isaac Newton’s favourite dog is Diamond which was so famous even Carlyle has mentioned it in his book on the French Revolution. One day Newton went for a walk leaving the dog at home. He had his research work on his table where there was a lighted candle. The dog had jumped on it and set fire to the papers. It was the product of his twenty year work. When Newton returned from the walk he saw the charred papers and got a shock. But he never became angry or threw the dog out of the house. He patted on its back and said, “O Diamond, You don’t know what you have done to my work.” He started writing all his work again.
There is a similar story about Dr Thomas Cooper who edited a dictionary during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He edited a learned dictionary with the addition of thirty three thousand words, and many other improvements. He had already been eight years in collecting materials for his edition, when his wife, who was a worthless and malignant woman, going one day into his library, burnt every note he had prepared under the pretence of fearing that he would kill himself with study.
The doctor shortly after came in, and seeing the destruction, inquired who the author of it was. His wife boldly avowed that it was the work of her mischievous hands. The patient man heaved a sigh and said, “Oh, Dinah, thou hast given me a world of trouble!”
Then he quietly sat down to another eight years of hard labour, to replace the notes which she had destroyed.
Buddha and Purna
Purna was one of Buddha’s disciples. He decided to preach in the region of Sudana, which was an uncivilised region.
Buddha asked, “Purna, Where are you going to preach?”
In the region of Sudana, said Purna.
What if they refuse to accept your teachings and criticise you?
That does not matter. I am happy that they did not physically hurt me.
What if they attack you?, asked the Buddha.
It does not matter. I am happy that they did not attack me with weapons.
What if they stab you or cut you with a knife?
I will be still feeling happy thinking that they did not kill me.
What if they kill you?
It does not matter. I will be happy that they helped me to get liberated
Buddha was very happy when he heard this and allowed him to go to the chosen area saying that he reached the highest stage.
Tiruvalluvar, author of Tirukkural
Plato and Aristotle
Dr S M Diaz in his commentary on Tirukkural points out neither Plato nor Aristotle said anything about patience:
“It is surprising that these higher level virtues like forbearance, which before Christ, were not referred to by Plato and Aristotle in any of their treatises. But Sangam Tamil literature (Kalitokai 113-14; Natrinai 116)) and the Kural mention it. Obviously the Tamil society of those days, through national channels, had reached a high plateau of norms of virtue, as regards individual and social conduct.”
Some English Quotes on Patience, Forbearance and Forgiving
To err is human, to forgive is divine – Alexander Pope
Good to forgive, best to forget – Robert Browning.
Only a great soul can be superior to the injury – Cato
The best revenge is not to copy him
That was wronged you – Marcus Aurelius, Book VI-6
Unkindness must be treated with kindness – Seneca, Book 27-III
Father, forgive them; they know not what they do – Luke 23-34
The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance – Francis Bacon
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