A belated prayer for the Bangali New Year | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 27, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 27, 2016

A belated prayer for the Bangali New Year

"An empty mirror and your worst destructive habits when they are held up to each other, that is when the real making begins,” wrote the great mystic poet Maulana Jalal Uddin Rumi.  Through crafting these words, Rumi articulated the soul-mirror that reflects our inadequacies as human beings. The true essence for us (human beings) to attain wisdom and morality requires a constant reflection and assessment of our “selves”. Through contemplation and evaluation of our conventional wisdom, we can acquire an understanding of our true deficiencies. Rectifying imperfections resemble an enthusiastic artist who constantly strives for perfection with meticulous brush strokes; the artist never achieves perfection, but attains its likeliness through the exercise of inexhaustible patience. Similarly, weaving perfection in the soul is unattainable; nonetheless, through the exercise of immeasurable patience a resemblance of perfection can be achieved. Let our individual journey of the Noboborsho reside in the path to achieve perfection, since by treading towards the path of perfection we embark on the destiny of becoming good human beings. The aim of a wise soul resides in that journey, since life for those who strive to acquire wisdom is a constant struggle, a constant individual confrontation among the nafs (animalistic, devilish and the angelic qualities) within us.

In this Noboborsho, let the superego (angelic quality within us) supersede the ego (the balancing force between the animalistic, devilish and the angelic instinct within us, which often makes self-centred decisions), and let the ego take charge of us only on the occasion of necessity. Let us come out from Machiavellian realism that defines social relationships in the capitalist world, and let us embrace ‘moral rationalism,’ to define our social relationships, since self-centeredness distorts communal harmony.

Let rationality preside over us, since it is the highest faculty of the soul, and through the deployment of this faculty enlightenment can be acquired like the flowing stream of limpid water into our souls, absorbing the self in gracefulness. Such gracefulness of the soul can be achieved through experiencing flow in the love of humanity, tolerance and diversity. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as an optimal experience that individuals acquire through intense intrinsic motivation. We must each strive to experience flow in the practice of justice and moral values. The sense of justice and our aspiration to be moral beings can be strengthened through engaging in community service, charity and other benevolent activities.

In order for us to practice justice and benevolence, we must each strive to be knowledgeable about ourselves as Al-Ghazali said, since through gaining immaterial knowledge of us, we attain an understanding of the tripartite qualities dwelling within our individual souls. Let us meditate into analysing our weaknesses, and let us bow down in humility into seeking advice on our flaws and indulge in self-rectification, for the passion of self-rectification creates a better human being. 

Self-rectification requires disciplining our soul, “the newly skinned hide, with bitter tanning acid of grief” (Rumi). It is through self-rectification that the indiscernible umbilical cord with the celestial can be strengthened, which would facilitate the penetration of the light of virtue into our souls. Thus, we must not fear to face hardship, nor be afraid to struggle in our way to promote the truth. Hardship is the friend of those who strived to mend their ways, and whose lives were a constant struggle to promote the truth. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa are some of the few examples of individuals who struggled in their way to establish goodness for humanity. They all possessed great love for humanity, which did not shake their values even at the face of adversity.

Love for humanity shall emasculate the vice of avarice that enfeebles us. Let us not allow avarice to possess our souls, for it leads us to the path of destruction. The greed of wealth, the lust of success is ruining the many merits in our society. Both private and public organisations in contemporary Bangladesh are increasingly becoming dysfunctional, as the disease of avarice has infected them. Recruitments, promotions, as well as other work related dealings are based on exclusive bribery, rather than meritocracy. The cancerous disease of the heart is ruining productivity of our economy. Let meritocracy reign over nepotism, and let us not be blinded in flattery, rather let Dike be our guide, and let temperance be the quality that we shall each strive. 

Let the breeze of Boishakh instil temperance in our souls, and let the temperance guide us into restraining our gaze, helping us to prevent from giving into the desires of the flesh. Let each us of be temperate through polishing the soul, contemplating in the soul-mirror. Let us be humble through restraint of the tongue to avoid arrogance, self-aggrandisement, or afflict other people, and let us be silent in humbleness when Lyssa is in possession of our souls in order to avoid conflict and build a harmonious society.

Let the gentle breeze of Noboborsho unify us towards the goal of developing profound love for justice and humanity. Let the flow of love curve smile on countenance, for smiling surrounds us with optimism, conveys the warmth of our hearts to fellow human beings. A genuine smile strips away pride and arrogance in helping us to connect with the celestial. Smiling even under the greatest of distress is a virtue as it makes us focus on the present, rejuvenating our minds for deep contemplation in optimism.

Let the Boishakh breeze vaporise our callous apathy, and let our hearts soften, weep at injustice done to others, in order that we may prevent injustice and create a better society. The goodness in us will create a better country, since “states are not made of oak and rock, but of flesh and blood” (Socrates).

Let us be tolerant of people of other faith and colour, and let us build a state based on Bangladeshi nationalism, leaving behind its non- inclusive interpretation which is exclusive of non-Bangali Bangladeshis. Let us sway in the tranquil zephyr of  Noboborsho tuning the melody of Nazrul, engraving his words into making our country “the Heaven where there are no distinctions, where leaving aside all 'quarrels, men have clasped other's hands as brothers dear, [where] religion does not create differences…..Nor do scriptures raise any futile clamour.” And in this Noboborsho, “Let peace prevail and equality win, Let truth reign supreme, let all unhappiness and misery, all oppression and tyranny, all cowardice and falsehood, perish for good, for good!” (KaziNazrul Islam)

The writer is a Research Associate of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and a freelance journalist. Email: namiaakhtar11@gmail.com

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