I had a cousin who passed away in April 1991 at the age of 58 when he underwent a second bypass surgery in U.K. We were very close to each other with deep mutual respect. When I passed my engineering examination from the University of Roorkee, he advised to join private sector. I followed his advice but subsequently providence brought me into the I.A.S. and he was one of the happiest persons on this development. In the later years, he changed his opinion about government service and wanted his son to join the I.A.S. The reason why he changed his opinion was perhaps his adoption of an integrated view of life. He himself had had a brilliant career as a chartered accountant and served in some very good private companies where he worked with great dedication. Unfortunately he developed a coronary problem and underwent a bypass surgery in U.K. Thereafter he continued to live cheerfully for years until he was advised to undergo another operation. He left India for his second surgery on 8 April, 1991. On that day I spent about an hour with him in the morning. When I was taking leave of him, he gave me a word of advice saying, “Rakesh, remember one thing — Peace at any price is cheap.’’ Obviously it was the essence of his life which I took with great reverence and emotion.
After a week or so, we got the news of his passing away but his last message still keeps ringing my ears. The more I contemplate over the message, the more I find it true and relevant. Only about a year before his passing away, I had founded a mission called ‘Kabir Peace Mission’. In the preamble of its aims and objects, the word ‘Peace’ was defined as ‘Integrated Development. I am of the view that any development should lead to peace and if it does not happen, it is not real development. Similarly, when we think of progress or development in life, peace should be its natural corollary. If it is not so, there is something wrong in the so-called progress or development.
Today peace eludes most of us despite all our achievements. I know several friends and relatives who have everything to make an impressive bio data but do not have peace of mind. The question arises — what is it that goes wrong? The intention here is not to discuss the subject from a very philosophical point of view but to establish the fact that even from the materialistic point of view, it is necessary to understand certain facts of life. There is no doubt that we all need material progress. The error most of us commit is that we make this progress the end and not the means. I look at material progress only as a means to achieve the ultimate aim, which is peace of mind. Very few are able to discriminate between the two and no wonder that peace eludes most of us.
We do not know the amount of money we need, the size of the house we require, and the number of clothes we should own. Most of our time and energy are wasted in increasing them rather than using or enjoying what we already possess. The result is that while we may be in a position to afford very good food, we have no time or appetite to enjoy it. We may be having a big house with lawns, but have no time or mood to relax. We may have a large number of friends and relatives but have no time to spend with them. My cousin had seen life closely and God had given him the wisdom to understand it fully. In giving his advice on the choice of career, his intention was not to compare jobs but to emphasis the fact that life was to be seen as a package. Any package which offers greater peace of mind was to be preferred over the others. Perhaps, he realised that a government job was a better package because of its stability and well defined limits. Irrespective of all these, the message given by him is an important fact of life. Those who understand and absorb it can hope to lead a happy life. Peace will come to them without paying any price.