Of being the best in class…

विभूति: (vibhutih)- mighty, powerful, great power

आदित्यानामहं विष्णुर्ज्योतिषां रविरंश‍ुमान् ।
मरीचिर्मरुतामस्मि नक्षत्राणामहं शशी ॥ २१ ॥

ādityānām ahaṁ viṣṇur
jyotiṣāṁ ravir aṁśumān
marīcir marutām asmi
nakṣatrāṇām ahaṁ śaśī

Of the Ādityas I am Viṣṇu, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Marīci, and among the stars I am the moon.

वेदानां सामवेदोऽस्मि देवानामस्मि वासव: ।
इन्द्रियाणां मनश्चास्मि भूतानामस्मि चेतना ॥ २२ ॥

vedānāṁ sāma-vedo ’smi
devānām asmi vāsavaḥ
indriyāṇāṁ manaś cāsmi
bhūtānām asmi cetanā

Of the Vedas I am the Sāma Veda; of the devas I am Indra, the deva of swarga; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the consciousness…

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita has a whole chapter – Vibhuti Yog – in which Sri Krishna praises the best or most outstanding in each class of beings by identifying himself with it.

He says – “Among immovables I am the Himalaya; among rivers, the Ganga; among trees, the holy fig; among cows, the divine cow of plenty; among sages, Vyasa; among heavenly singers, Chitraratha; among generals, Skanda; among rulers, Yama; among celestial sages, Narada; among warriors, Rama; among men, the King. I am the glory of the glorious, the victory of the victorious, the goodness of the good-natured. I am life in all beings and austerity in ascetics.”

Sri Krishna summed up the general principle of Vibhuti Yoga in these words:

यद्यद्विभूतिमत्सत्त्वं श्रीमदूर्जितमेव वा ।
तत्तदेवावगच्छ त्वं मम तेजोऽशसम्भवम् ॥ ४१ ॥

yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ
śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ
mama tejo-’ṁśa-sambhavam

“Whatsoever being is glorious, good, prosperous or powerful, understand thou that to go forth from a fragment of My Splendour.”

In this way Sri Krishna has commended the best and the greatest in all walks of life, not the mediocre or routine workers. This is the call for super excellence – a clarion call to all aspirants to acquire greatness and glory by their deeds.

Modern thinkers have made a strong plea for the cultivation of super excellence. Thus Emerson wrote: “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbour, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

In his book, Excellence, J.W. Gardner, President of the Carnegie Foundation, writes: “Excellence implies more than competence. It implies a striving for the highest standards in every phase of life. We need individual excellence in all its forms, in every kind of creative endeavour, in political life, in education, in industry – in short, universally!”

“An effective personality,” says the noted psychologist, Dr. Links, “requires not only a variety of skills but relative superiority in a few fields and distinct superiority in one. The chief superiority should be in a vocational field, the others in the fields of sports, hobbies and the social arts. The mere habit of developing superiority is a preparation for success in later life.”

Seva Dharma requires hard work, but mixed with presence of mind. All work must be done efficiently. According to the Gita, efficiency in work is one of the definitions of Yog and the devotee who is dear to Sri Krishna is daksha or dexterous in whatever he does.

The essence of spiritual efficiency is selflessness or other centredness, to do the work as an offering to Sri Krishna or for the good of fellow beings, keeping the eye on the interests of those whom the work is intended to serve rather than one’s own. This is Karma Yog.

The performance must also be satisfactory in the worldly sense. Whatever we do must be of good quality, neat and clean, free from errors and blemishes. Secondly, speed must be added to accuracy. The work must be completed in time. Usually a good worker is also a fast worker and slowness is a sure sign of incompetence. Nothing big can be achieved without promptness.

Another important factor in efficiency is economy in labour, money and material. A capable person can work for long hours without feeling fatigued. He uses his time and energy, in fact all resources, to the best advantage. He never attempts things which his assistants can do for him – he delegates. He multiplies his powers by winning the cooperation of others.

Finally, the highest ingredient of efficiency is inventiveness and originality. The really efficient man is not simply a routine worker, doing things as they were done in the past. Rather he breaks new ground, makes new, better and cheaper things, simplifies procedures and makes improvements everywhere. He leaves his organisation better than he found it.

Sri Krishnananda says that “very noble are those who practise Karma Yoga and work efficiently for the general good. By their efforts, they maintain the world order. Even more valuable are the few who practise Vibhuti Yoga, serve as exemplars, heroes, leaders or luminaries, and make significant contributions to the knowledge, wealth or well-being of mankind.”

The development of talent, which has been so much stressed in the Vedas and the Gita, is a basic principle of the doctrine of evolution. Man starts as a seed with several kinds of powers hidden in him. They must be brought out and put to good use. This is essential for the happiness and progress of the individual as well as mankind.

“Each soul is potentially divine,” said Swami Vivekananda. “The goal is to manifest this divine within by controlling nature, external and internal.”

Sri Krishnananda continues “the possibilities for the development of talent are almost unlimited. Even the most learned, if they only feel humble and sincerely try, can gain deeper insights and climb to greater heights of wisdom. Similarly, age is no bar to the growth of talent. While physical development stops in middle age, intellectual development can go on even in ripe old age. Two ways to keep the mind alert and growing even in the evening of life are to apply it to tough problems and to continue learning something new all the time.”

Sister Nivedita writes in her inspiring book Religion and Dharma: “We cannot be satisfied till our society has produced great minds in every branch of human activity. Advaita can be expressed in mechanics, in engineering, in art, in letters as well as in philosophy and meditation. But it can never be expressed in half measures. The true Advaitin is the master of the world. He does not know a good deal of his chosen subject; he knows all there is to be known. He does not perform his particular task fairly well: he does it as well as it is possible to do it…. The highest achievements of the mind are a Sadhana…. The man who has followed any kind of knowledge to its highest point is a rishi.”

to be continued…