This chapter is the English translation of Gujarati Book
Title - Sadhak and Sathi
Author - Shri Atmanandji (Dr. Soneji)
CHAPTER - 5
Tolerance is defined as voluntary endurance of inconveniences
pertaining to the mind, speech and body, in a spirit of
equanimity, so that a person attains to purity of soul.
Training in Real Tolerance:
Tolerance without the attainment of purity of soul does not lead
to attainment of the Supreme Reality (Param-Atma).
A merchant may engage himself in business for profit without
even taking food and drink for some time. A student may
persistently keep awake studying during examination. These are
a few practical examples of worldly tolerance. Such activities
inspired by selfish motives are common.
Noble tolerance having higher human values dawns in life only
when a person endures hardship for others, even at the cost of
his own personal gains and works. During the practice of
tolerance, one has to cultivate a spirit of equanimity and
develop virtues like patience, calmness and forbearance. Again,
here is a matter of voluntary endurance, because one engages
oneself in it only for his own spiritual welfare.
When poor people or animals endure inconveniences such as hunger
and thirst, cold and heat, insults and abuses, it is not out of
volition but out of helplessness. The tolerance of this type of
afflictions is merely through helplessness, dependance and
compulsion. This is certainly not the real or noble tolerance.
External Forces Testing Tolerance:
The spirit of tolerance of a Sadhaka is tested by a variety of
distressing circumstances induced by worldly people, animal
life, natural calamities and so on. Ordinary people are bereft
of faith in super sensuous bliss and therefore, have no faith in
the activities of doing good deeds to others.
In the elementary and intermediate stages, a Sadhaka may
experience non-cooperation even from his relatives and it may
sometimes amount to clear opposition. An advancing Sadhaka is
cruelly referred to as a "bookworm" and is even insulted and
banished from society. Some cruel and heartless persons may
deprive Sadhaka even of food and drink. Very often he finds
that his path is obstructed by stones and thorns. He might even
be physically manhandled by kicks, blows, sticks and other
When Sadhana is practiced outside the house in lonely places
such as a holy place, a forest or a garden; here also a Sadhak
may have to endure harassment from ants, flies, mosquitoes and
other small insects. Occasionally, rats, squirrels, or even big
animals may torture him. Apart from causing physical suffering,
they can also disrupt the meditation by producing harsh sounds
or frightening movements. Natural forces can also act as
sources of disturbance to a Sadhaka. These are excessive cold,
unbearable heat, heavy rains and so on.
The production of different diseased states in the body is also
a natural calamity in which the Sadhaka is expected especially
to preserve equanimity. This is the most direct, and difficult
of all tests of his overall spiritual attainment. The Sadhaka,
who reveals tolerance even in a diseased state of the body, is a
real saint indeed.
High-Grade Noble Tolerance:
As the aspirant becomes more and more enlightened in the true
concepts of the nature of the universe, he will rather blame
himself for any distress or calamity than blame others. The
mental repose of a real Sadhaka is not disturbed because he does
not find fault with circumstances, other individuals, or
objects, but rather looks within himself for the same.
For acquiring true tolerance, one should, therefore, learn both
the types of practices; i.e. acquiring true knowledge as well
as practicing to endure the pains patiently even under adverse
circumstances. Through the maturity of this two-fold practice,
the Sadhaka attains to the state of an emancipated Yogi
(Siddha-Yogi) i.e the state of a person of steady intellect
(Sthitaprajna) who has attained equanimity. This is the climax
of spiritual Sadhana.
In addition to the natural afflictions that befall the highly
advanced Sadhak (aspirants), they test their tolerance
voluntarily by sitting in meditation by a river-side in winter,
on rocks of mountains in summer or by walking on thorny and
gritty roads at other times. This is precisely how they
impartially test the state of steady intellect
(Sthita-prajna-dasha) acquired by them.
Gold-dust obtained from a mine cannot become real pure gold,
before it passes through processing in several furnaces. An
iron-rod cannot be turned to the desired shape until it is made
red hot. A cloth that is excessively dirty must be well-rubbed
in the hands or machine before it becomes thoroughly cleaned.
Similarly, one cannot get over long standing adverse beliefs,
knowledge and behavior without appropriately tormenting the soul
and cultivating due forbearance.
It therefore becomes the duty of a person desiring liberation at
all stages, constantly to practice tolerance. The inner
strength of a person gets enhanced with the practice of
tolerance. As one increasingly develops the art and science of
forbearance, the inner strength is enhanced, and the aspirant
(Sadhak) conquers the path of self-knowledge and self-control
and continues to reap the fruits in the form of meditation
(Samadhi). It is therefore necessary that we seek this virtue
of tolerance that is the very cornerstone of spiritual progress
GLORY OF TOLERANCE:
1. The path of tolerance with goodness is extremely difficult
but it still yields the best of rewards.
2. Gold acquires greater and greater brightness as it is heated
more and more in fire. Sugarcane is squeezed again and again
and yet it does not give up its sweetness. Sandalwood is
rubbed again and again and still it does not discard its
coolness. In a similar manner, noble persons do not give up
their nobility in spite of countless tough tests. They
attain to their cherished goal with tolerance in a spirit of
3. The diamond extracted from a mine has only limited
brightness, but when it is washed and cleaned and facetted in
a variety of shapes, only then does its brightness shine all
the more. In a similar way, the Sadhaka has to pass through
numerous tests before he becomes a saint.
4. Tolerance and benevolence form is the very nature of good and
noble men. Trees bear heat and yield shade to others. The
sandal tree gives coolness and fragrance to the edge of the
axe that cuts it. Likewise, noble persons spread love and
benevolence in spite of countless calamities that overtake
5. Just as clouds take the salty water of the sea and yield a
rain of sweet water, in a similar way, noble persons suffer
calamities and shower goodness.
LIVING EXAMPLES OF TOLERANCE
Shri Vishvanath Shastri, was a great scholar and logician, who
lived in the eighteenth century in the state of Bengal, India.
Shastri was invited by other scholars for debate. Discourses
and discussions commenced at the scheduled time. The deep
learning and intellect as well as powerful arguments of the
learned Shastri silenced all other scholars. Their defeat
became a certainty.
When no other way was left, one scholar opened his box of snuff
and threw the snuff on the face of Shastriji. Shastriji took
out his handkerchief, rubbed his face and said, "This is only a
digression, let the discussion continue now."
The whole assembly was stunned. The opposing scholars (Pandits)
had expected that Shastriji will get excited and dissolve the
assembly. However, he pretended nothing happened and the
session continued. The opposing scholars had no courage to
continue the discourses and discussion further. They all fell
ashamed at the feet of Shastriji and begged his pardon.
We learn from this event of the life of Shastriji that great
achievements are possible if we can cultivate the spirit of
Shri Ganeshprasad Varni, a famous Jain saint, lived about eighty
years ago. In the first stage of his religious life, he had
decided to travel to Jaipur on a pilgrimage. From Lalitpur in
Jhansi district, he proceeded towards Khurai via Sonagiri. When
he went beyond Sonagiri, he had with him very little money, one
water pot, a small piece of cloth and some clothes on his body.
As he reached Datia, he was left with absolutely no money. For
two days he lived on rice and that day he had no money for even
that. He approached a shop-keeper and requested, "Well friend!
I would like to sale this umbrella.
The shop-keeper said, "I hope it is not a stolen one."
Varniji was dumb-founded and tears rolled down his eyes. The
shop-keeper showed no sympathy and said: "This is the price of
your umbrella. After deducting for rice, you get this amount
Varniji pleaded, "Well friend! The umbrella is new. Please pay
The shop-keeper replied: "Take the amount or else go ahead!"
He left with a small change (six Annas). Thus Varniji lived on
rice for several days and took cooked food only when he came
across a householder (Shravaka) whom he knew and completed the
Every great man attains to the highest status only after
gradually passing through such tough tests and with the power of
Sadhana of the self (Atmasadhana).
Mahatma Gandhiji's original name was M. K. Gandhi, bar-at-law.
He was the greatest person of the last century who initiated the
freedom struggle of India by non-violent means. He attained to
National and International fame by making India free from
British rule on August 15, 1947. He was then designated as the
"Father of the Indian Nation."
Gandhiji was roaming in the city called Champarana in the state
He always travelled in a third-class compartment of a train.
Once he was on his way to Betia, a passenger got in, gave him a
push and said, "You are sleeping at ease in the train, as if it
is your own train! Get up!"
Gandhiji got up and sat by the side of that passenger, who
started singing, "Noble indeed is Gandhiji. A great soul who
helps the suffering!"
In the morning, the train reached Betia. Thousands of people
gathered round his compartment with cries of victory for
Gandhiji. When that passenger realized that he had insulted the
Gandhiji, he wept bitterly and fell at his feet. Gandhiji
consoled him and raised him up, as if nothing had happened.
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