Chanakya has quoted, “A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first.” My Readers will be surprised to read this quotation, in the beginning of my essay, somewhat contradictory to the title. But, we have to mark the word ‘too’ and it will be clear that Chanakya has not denied the virtue of honesty completely; but, in a profound sense, the honest people have been counseled and warned to be prepared with the adverse outcomes after showing excessive honesty. Honesty cannot be measured in length, weight or volume. In other words, it cannot be defined under term of any counting and therefore the question does not arise that the honesty should be in this proportion or that proportion. Thus, the word ‘too’ becomes null and void here and honesty remains in the same position as the very important factor of man’s character building.
There are many duals opposite to each other in human life that cannot live together. In early times, it was said, “Laxmi (goddess of wealth) and Sarswati (goddess of education) cannot live together”. Same way, ‘greed’ and ‘honesty’ are opposites of each other. A greedy man cannot observe the virtue of honesty and an honest man is always far away from greed. I would quote Mahatma Gandhi here in reference to the word ‘greed’ only as his quotation is not wholly appropriate here. The quotation is – “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” Honest people are always full of satisfaction with what they have and that is why they never come in temptation of any gain for which they have no any lawful right.
William Shakespeare’s dialogue in a play is like this, “Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance.” These are the literary quotes and they can be understood in reference to the character’s situation. But, naturally honest people show their honesty always, not occasionally. Here below, I would like to mention an honest man. His honesty cannot be valued in money because the amount was in Indian old coins of 2 Annas (presently 12 paise) i.e. INR 0.12. Now, go further to the real story of the Late Nurbhai Miyanji Agharia (Nurakaka), the native of Kanodar, a very simple old man of 70, wearing Dhoti (Under waist garment), full sleeved shirt and headdress (turban) made of Handloom Cloth. The year of the episode was 1952 or 1953.
On that particular day, a friend of mine was to travel in the same train from Palanpur to Umardeshi (A flag Rly. Station, 1.75 mile far from Kanodar). Nurakaka asked my friend to buy two tickets for him on his behalf. My friend did so. When the train started, my friend asked him for the other person for whom the ticket was purchased. Nurakaka smiled and said that both the tickets were for him. He explained that while traveling from Umardeshi to Palanpur in the morning, he was late to buy the ticket as the train had already arrived. By reciting the name of Allah, he had traveled without ticket. He further said that it was the grace of the Almighty Allah that he was not caught by the Ticket Checker. He simply said, “Why should we be dishonest to the Raaj (Government)? After all the Railway is ours and it is for us.” What a noble thinking!
My Readers can be witness of the self inspired discipline and honesty of Nurakaka here. Moreover, Nurakaka’s honesty was natural otherwise he would have ignored such a negligible thing and that also when he had successfully completed his journey without ticket. Such are the occasions happening in our routine life also, but we don’t give any serious thoughts over them.
One more illustration of my own experience is here. I had been to a Bank to encash a bearer cheque valued INR 800 lying idle in my firm’s A/c. The cashier took a bundle of hundred rupee notes. He counted a score and handed me over 80 notes of INR 100. I was watching through the window that he was mistaking. I picked those 80 notes in my hand, counted 8 and I placed the rest 72 notes on his table slightly. This happened like lightening. The poor fellow stood up from his chair and he was so much astonished that he could not speak anything, but his face was telling me too much. Then he hurriedly came after me and met me in lobby and almost in a crying voice, he thanked me and told that the sum of INR 7200 was a great thing for him. In those days co-operative bank employees were paid very little. He further said that his family would have to pass three months like in a starving state or he would have to borrow money on interest.
Above illustrations are related to money matters, but the honesty has some ethical values also. An essayist in Gujarati gives an example of a shoe-maker. While assorting some waste pieces of leather, he picks up one to make the shoes of a child. But, at the very next moment, he throws it away and picks up the soft one. This interchange of the pieces of leather is the result of his honest thinking that he is going to make the shoes of a child; not any particular child, but a human child. He instantly listens to the voice of his inner soul that the shoes to be made from the hard leather are surely to irritate the child’s feet. Here, we can find a simple but very practical and ethical form of honesty. Such people are noble and perhaps the God delays to destruct the earth with some disasters as said in some religions in honor of such people. Somebody has rightly said that an honest man is the noblest work of God.
Summing up, I cannot restrict myself in quoting Chanakya once again. He said, “God is not in idols. Your feelings are your God and the soul is your temple.” The words ‘Honesty’ and ‘Truth’ are synonymous according to some Philosophers; but, in view of many others, ‘Honesty’ is the practical stage of ‘Truth’. They argue that ‘Truth’ is first established and then stored in mind, but the honesty is the expression of ‘Truth’ resulting in action. In brief, it can be said that ‘Truth’ is the theory and ‘Honesty’ is the practical. Brigham Young says the same thing in these words, “Honest hearts produce honest actions.” The honest person is praised everywhere. He gets honor in the world. The honest man thinks honestly, speaks honestly and works honestly. Some dishonest people wear the face of honesty just to cheat others, but they do not know that they are cheating themselves. They do not hold any honor in the eyes of the people and God also. Socrates has quoted, “The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”
That’s all, my friends. See you again,
With best regards,
– Valibhai Musa
Dtd. 7th August, 2007