Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

Mythology claims that sometime before 'The Great War' between the Kauravas and the Pandavas took place, Karna took a vow of abstinence. He not only gave up meat, wine and women but also offered a beggar or Brahmin whatever they wanted if they came to him while he went to bathe in the Ganga every morning.

Since mystery and speculation always shrouded Karna, predictably, these acts caused a lot of conjecture. Some thought he was just showing off. Others presumed that he did this to please the Gods and increase his powers to defeat Arjuna.

The more astute and perhaps the more sensible guessed that he was simply doing this because he knew that it was unlikely for him to come out of the battle unscathed or alive. This was probably his way of atoning his past misdeeds, finding peace in his life and hopefully his afterlife.

As we often perceive, people wear kindness like a mantle to redress transgressions or seek favours from the almighty. If virtues are thus rapidly rewarded and kindness affords proximity to God then wouldn't it be simpler if we practiced kindness as a way of life and not just as a bargaining tool?

Why go back thousands of years, sometime in the year 2000, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt starrer movie 'Pay It Forward' came in the cinemas. The concept behind it was simple yet innovative. Instead of returning a favour done to you, you needed to do a good deed for three people who in turn would go ahead and do something worthwhile for three other people. Hence these random acts of kindness or benevolent deeds would proliferate and eventually restore our lost faith in mankind. In the larger scheme of things, everything is connected and the good that we do might not have an immediate impact. But in due course the ripples will become waves and drench us all in kindness.

In this world that is increasingly unkind, our best defence is to be a little kinder than we must. Like in Karna's story, people will speculate and accuse us of selfish ulterior motives. And again, just like Karna, we should disregard doubt, hold the secret to our heart and continue to either pave way for kindness or walk the path ourselves.