Ideals and Values/Unity, Cooperation & Loyalty

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia


Unity, Loyalty & Cooperation

This section on Unity illustrates how we should forget our petty differences and work as a team to achieve common goals. No man is an island unto himself that is totally aloof from everyone else, and it takes a whole village to raise a child. Everyone has unique gifts and we should utilize them to achieve our common goals. As a proverb goes in Hindu scriptures ?

"There is no root that has no medicinal value. There is no person who does not have even a single good quality. But rare is that human being who knows how to put all of them to some good use."[1] While playing sports too, each team member has to forget his ego and selfishness and play his role to the best extent possible so that his team wins the game. In football for instance, the offense, defense, quarter-back etc. all have to do their respective roles in perfect coordination and mutual understanding. If there is a lack of team spirit, even the best quarter-back cannot make that team win!

The Hindu tradition records the inspiring story of how Bhagavān Rāma collected a team of totally mismatched creatures like beer, monkeys and other apes, and even a little squirrel to complete the most astounding feat - the construction of a bridge across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka for the purpose of rescuing Devi Sitā. Every member of Rāma's army played their respective role. The story a few pages later illustrates the role played by the little squirrel in completing the bridge.

One way to practice unity and cooperation is to overcome our selfishness and instead show loyalty or firm devotion towards one's friends, family, religion, nation and community. A person who is loyal to them defends them against criticism against outsiders. If someone criticizes our Hindu Dharma, for example, we should show our loyalty to our Dharma by standing up and refuting their false criticism.

How do the Six enemies of humans prevent Unity & Cooperation?

What is it that prevents us from working united as a team? One of the main reasons is the presence of the six internal enemies. This may be illustrated with the help of the following example:

The Enemy(Hindi Word) The Enemy (English Words/Meanings) How it Prevents Unity
Kāma Desire, Lust I'd rather help that pretty woman.
Krodha Anger He had hurt me in the post, so why should I help him now?
Lobha Greed Why should I help if there is nothing in it for me? My share of the rewards for the help that I give is not enough and I want more.
Moha Delusion, Attachment It is his work, so why should I help him? It is not my work.
Mada Arrogance, Ego, Pride I can do this alone and I have no need of people like him.
Mātsarya Jealousy He will take all the credit for our success if I help him.

Scriptural Quotes on Unity/Loyalty/Cooperation

Fight the Battle of Life Together

The stream of life filled with stones or obstacles flows on. Move forward together. Stand erect and cross over my friends! Let us leave here those who are opposed to good and let us cross over to the powers that are beneficent.[2]

Benefits of Unity

Just like the honey bees unite against the person who tries to steal honey from their beehive and kill him in the same way even a united group of weak men can defeat a strong enemy.[3]
If a stout and sturdy tree, with deep roots and a giant stature stands alone, it can be uprooted and smashed to the ground by storm winds in a short time. But if there are several trees together in a grove, then even the strongest winds cannot destroy then.[4]

Unity Among Priests and Other Leaders of the Society

Walk together in harmony, speak in harmony; Let your minds be of one accord, As the gods of old, being of one mind, Accepted the share of sacrifice (so may you share your belongings).[5]
May your counsel be common, your assembly united, Common the mind, and the thoughts of these- united. A common purpose do I lay before you, And worship with your common oblation.[6]
Let your aims be common, And your hearts of one accord, And all of you be of one mind, As you may live well together.[7]

Friendship with Everyone in the Society

May all beings look on me with the eye of friend! May I look on all beings with the eye of friend! May we look on one another with the eye of friend![8]

Unity in the Family

The union of hearts and minds and freedom from hate I'll bring you. Love one another as the cow loves the calf that she has borne.[9]
Let son be loyal to father and of one mind with his mother. Let wife speak to husband words that are honey sweet and gentle.[10]
Let not brother hate a brother, nor a sister hate a sister, unanimous, united in aims, speak your words with friendliness. Atharva Veda[11]
I will make the prayer for that concord among men at home by which Devas do not separate, nor ever hate one another.[12]
Be not parted - growing old, taking thought, thriving together, moving under a common yoke; come speaking sweetly to one another; I'll make you have one aim and be of one mind.[13]
Common be your water-store, common your share of food; I bind you together to a common yoke; United, gather around the sacrificial fire, like spokes around the nave of a wheel.[14]
With your common desire I'll make you all have one aim, be of one mind, following one leader, like Devas who preserve their immortality. Morning and evening may there always be a loving heart in you.[15]

Religious Unity

Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, Suparna the divine chariot, Gurutman - The Truth is One, but the wise call it by many different names.[16]

Stories on Unity, Co-operation & Loyalty

Story: How the bridge to Lanka was constructed Bhagavān Rāma decided to attack Lanka. But how could he do it? Lanka was on the other side of the ocean. So they decided to build a bridge across the ocean with stones and wood. Many strong Vānaras or monkeys started lifting giant stones and trees to construct the bridge. But when the Vānaras placed any stone into the water in the ocean, the stone would sink down. This is because stone is heavier than water. But one clever Vānara found that if he wrote the name "Rāma" on the stone, it would not sink on water. Instead, it would float on water. This made it easier to construct the bridge. This story shows that if we chant the name of Bhagavān Rāma as "Rāma, Rāma, Rāma" or if we write it many times on a notebook, all troubles and problems will go away. At the same time, we must also work hard, just like the Vānaras worked hard to construct the bridge.

Monkey after monkey set to work carrying huge stones and enormous boulders to the seaside. Thousands of monkeys worked ceaselessly and King Rāma was pleased. Then Rāma noticed that a small brown squirrel rushed up and down from the hills to the shore carrying little pebbles in her mouth. "What is that little creature doing?" he wondered. The monkeys also saw the squirrel and grew angry. "Get out of our way, they screeched. You are too small. You are not needed."

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The little squirrel looked up and said, "I am helping to build the bridge to save Queen Sitā." All the monkeys began to laugh. They held their sides and roared and hopped and mocked the little squirrel. "We have never heard anything so foolish in our entire lives" they said. The squirrel answered, "I cannot carry rocks or stones. I can only lift small pebbles, but that is what I can do to help. My heart weeps for Sitā and I want to be of assistance." The monkeys moved the squirrel away but it continued to carry small pebbles and pile them up nearby. Finally, one monkey grew so irritated that he lifted the little animal and threw her into the air. The squirrel cried out, "Rāma; Rāma" lifted his hand and caught the squirrel safely in his palm. It was just at that moment that the monkeys realized they needed the little pebbles to place between the larger stones to keep the bridge from falling.

Rāma said to them, "Monkeys, never despise the weak or the deeds of those that are not as strong as you. Each serves according to his strength and capacities and each is needed to make this bridge." With three fingers, King Rāma drew three lines down the squirrel's back. "What truly matters is not the strength one has but how great one's love and devotion is." From that day forth squirrels have had three pale stripes on their rich brown furry backs - marks of the great Prince Rāma. That is how the strongest bridge across the sea was built.

Story: How the Parrots defeated the Bird Catching Hunter A group of parrots once saw corn thrown on the grass underneath a tree. They descended and started nibbling at the corn. But it was a trap. Suddenly a net fell on all of them! They were trapped. Soon, the hunter who had set the trap started coming towards them.

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The parrots were now terrified. They knew that the hunter would capture them in the net and then sell them in a market in cages. The eldest and wisest parrot suddenly had a great idea. He said, "Let us all fly up at the same time. Then, we can fly away from the hunter swiftly and go to the Sona Hill, where our mouse friend lives. When we reach there, the mouse can use his sharp teeth to cut the net open and free us." So, all the parrots started flapping their wings at once and lifted the net. The bird catcher was surprised at what he saw. He started chasing them but became exhausted after a long run. The birds flew with the net together to the Sona Hill, where they found their friend, the mouse, who chewed up the net with his teeth and freed them. This story has a great message. The parrots as well as the mouse were very weak as compared to the hunter. But they applied their effort together and as a result they were able to defeat the hunter!

Story: The Four Friends Once, a turtle, a crow, a mouse and a deer were fast friends and they lived around a lake. One day, the first three of them were playing around the lake and realized that their fourth friend, the deer was not with them. The crow went in search of the deer and discovered that their friend had been trapped in a net by a hunter. The crow immediately flew back and told the mouse and turtle of what had happened. The three decided to free their friend from the trap and started flying and walking towards the deer. Soon, the mouse reached the net and chewed it up with his teeth, freeing the deer.

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Suddenly, they saw the hunter come from a distance. The crow flew away, the mouse hit in a hole and the deer hid in a bush. Unfortunately, the slow walking turtle had also arrived by then and did not have the time to hide himself. The hunter caught him in a bag and said, "I may have missed the deer, but now I can make dinner out of turtle meat." When the three friends of the turtle heard the words of the hunter, they were terrified. Something had to be done to free their friend turtle. So, the deer came out of the bush and pretended to limp in front of the hunter. The hunter was overjoyed and said, "It appears that I have double luck today. I have the turtle caught in the bag and now I will catch this limp deer. So, he started chasing the deer with his bow and arrow and went away from the bag." The deer ran continuously and took the hunter a long distance away from the bag in which the turtle had been trapped.

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Meanwhile, the mouse came out of his hole and cut a hole in the bad, freeing the turtle. The crow kept an eye out for the hunter all this time. The deer ran very fast and finally the hunter gave up chasing it. He said, "I cannot catch the deer today. Let me just go back now and take that turtle that I had trapped in the bag." But when he returned, he found that the bag had been chewed open, and there was no turtle inside it. In fact, all the three friends had escaped while the hunter was chasing the deer. The hunter was now very upset, but he could not do anything. This story shows how four very different animals used their respective skills to protect each other, because they were united as a team.

Story: The Importance of National Unity- Why we lost the Third Battle of Panipat Panipat is a city located on a plain a little north of New Delhi, in the Indian state of Haryana. Can you locate it in the map of India below?  In the history of medieval India, the three battles of Panipat[17] have played a decisive role in the turn of events. In all the three battles, the invader from Central Asia won and the Indian ruler lost. Each of these battles have a lesson to teach us for future. Let us study the lesson that the Third Battle of Panipat, that was fought between the troops of Afghan King Ahmad Shah Abdali on one hand and the Indian troops lead by the Hindu Marāthās from Maharashtra in western India.

After the rule of the fanatical Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb,[18] Hindus in various parts of India rose against the Moghul rule. One of the most successful revolts was that of the Marāthās, led by Śivaji. The battle was carried on by his successors and within a few decades, the Marāthā armies marched all over central and northern India and even reached the river Indus close to Afghanistan.

Some Muslim leaders in India got worried that the Marāthās are overthrowing Islamic rule in India and they invited the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade India and re-establish Muslim power. The Marāthās should have rallied other Hindu rulers like the Rajputs of Western India and the Jats and the Sikhs of the Punjab in northern India, but they were too proud of their own prowess. Moreover, the Marāthās had levied heavy taxes on all of these Hindu groups and therefore did not get their support. Consequently, they were able to raise an army of only 40,000 on their own accord to face the 60,000 army of Abdali. Moreover, Abdali had support from several Muslim rulers of northern India and was assured of supplies even in the foreign territory of India. The Afghan ruler had a cakewalk from Afghanistan all the way to Panipat, where the two armies faced each other for several weeks. None of the two sides dared to attack the other.

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One day, Abdali noticed that every evening, multiple fires were lit in the Marāthā camp. He sent a spy to enquire. The spy examined the Marāthā encampment and reported, "Your majesty, the Hindus of different castes do not eat together. Therefore, they are cooking their food separately." Abdali smiled and said, "If even the Hindus cannot eat together, then how can they fight united?" This gave him added confidence and the resulting war lead to a total rout of the Marāthās.

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The consequences of this war were disastrous. The Marāthās could never establish their rule over the Punjab and other parts of NW India again. The Afghan ruler advanced further into northern India, where he destroyed the holy Hindu city of Mathura and slaughtered thousands of Hindus. Luckily for us, there was trouble back home for Abdali and he had to return hastily. But on his way, he desecrated the Harimandir Sahib, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in the city of Amritsar, by filling its sacred water tank with the blood and bodies of dead humans and cows. His soldiers also captured several Hindu women to take them back to their country as slaves. These acts really angered the Sikhs and they fell upon the retreating Afghan soldiers as Gorillas to harass them and free the captured Hindu women. The Sikhs soon exacted their own revenge by driving out the Afghans or enslaving them to re-construct the Harimandir Sahib temple.

But nevertheless, only if the Marāthās had shown effective leadership in uniting all the Hindu groups and if their own army were not divided along the caste lines, they had a much better chance of completely defeating Abdali in the third battle of Panipat. This defeat is a lesson for us that in the face of external aggression, all the groups within our country should unite, forgetting our egos and past enmities and face the foreign enemy united. Because "United we Stand and Divided We Fall."

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Story: The Bhakta who Saw Viṣṇu but touched Śiva We should respect all Forms of Bhagavān. We should not make fun of someone else's Ishta Devatā. Hindus who make fun other people's Ishta Devatā or of their religion cannot be good Hindus. Let us now read the story of a man who loved Śiva but hated Viṣṇu. Let us see how Bhagavān Śiva taught him a very useful lesson about loving both Śiva and Viṣṇu.

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The town of Pandharpur was famous for its temple of Viṭhoba, a form of Bhagavān Viṣṇu. In that town also lived a famous goldsmith named Narahari. He was a great bhakta of Śiva but he decided that he will not worship any form of Bhagavān but Śiva.

Once, a rich merchant who had no son made a promise to Viṣṇu that if he became a father, he would give a gold waistband for Vithoba's Murti to thank Bhagavān. His prayers were answered. Soon, a boy was born to him and his wife. The merchant approached Narahari and requested him to take the waist measurement of the murti of Viṭhoba for making the gold waistband. But Narahari refused flatly even if that meant losing the business. So the merchant offered to measure it himself and bring the measurement to Narhari. He went to the temple, took the measurement and then gave it to Narahari. Unfortunately, when the gold waistband was put around the murti, it was found to be somewhat shorter than needed. The merchant took it back to Narahari and requested him to add one more section to make it a bit longer. But, this time the merchant discovered that the waistband was a little too long.

Annoyed, the merchant requested Narahari to go himself to the temple to take the measurement of the murti's waist. Narahari did not even want to see the murti of Viṣṇu Viṭhoba, but he agreed on the condition that he will be taken blind-folded to the temple. The merchant agreed to this condition. While Narahari was being taken to the Mandir with the blindfold, the pilgrims took pity on him for his foolishness for not seeing the beautiful murti. But Narahari would not change his mind.

There inside the temple, the blind-folded Narahari placed his tape-measure around the Murti of Viṭhoba. But instead of feeling the stone murti, he felt elephant skin, just like the skin that Śiva wears on His waist. Narahari was a little shocked. He put the tape-measure around the waist again. But once again, he felt a murti of Śiva with an elephant skin around it. Narahari was convinced that the foolish worshipers of Viṭhoba were actually worshiping a murti of Śiva.

So he took off his blindfold. But now he got a bigger surprise. He saw that he was indeed looking at the murti of Viṣṇu Viṭhoba and there was no elephant skin around its waist. He tied the blindfold again around his head and started measuring the waist. But once again, he felt that he was touching the Murti of Śiva. Upon taking off the blind-fold, Narahari now saw again that it was actually Viṭhoba and not Śiva. Narahari understood what Śiva was trying to teach to him that Śiva and Viṣṇu are one and it was foolish on part of Narahari to assume that he could worship Śiva but totally ignore Viṣṇu, because They are one half of each other.

Notes & References

  1. Śukranitisāra
  2. Ṛgveda 10.53.8
  3. Mahābhārata 3.33.70
  4. Mahābhārata 5.36.62-63
  5. Ṛgveda 10.191.2
  6. Ṛgveda 10.191.3
  7. Ṛgveda 10.191.4
  8. Śukla Yajurveda Mādhyandina Samhitā 36.18
  9. Atharva Veda Śaunaka Samhitā 3.30.1
  10. Atharva Veda Śaunaka Samhitā 3.30.2
  11. Śaunaka Samhitā 3.30.3
  12. Atharva Veda Śaunaka Samhitā 3.30.4
  13. Atharva Veda Śaunaka Samhita 3.30.5
  14. Atharva Veda Śaunaka Samhita 3.30.6
  15. Atharva Veda Śaunaka Samhitā 3.30.7
  16. Ṛgveda 1.164.46
  17. They were fought in 1528, 1556 and 1761 respectively.
  18. He lived in 1658 - 1701 CE.