Enataro mahaanubhaavu- 

landuniki vandanamu 

Great souls are many. Salutations to them all! These words of the great minstrel of God, Saint Tyagaraja, rings in the ears when we think of the saints and sages of Bharatavarsha, from Vedic period to modern times, who have sanctified this holy land. She is rightly called Ratnagarbha for only she has carried in Her womb such innumerable gems that have been constantly shed ding light on the meaning and purpose of life so that humanity can march towards its destiny. 

Every devout Hindu chants the Praatasmaran or the Bhaarata bhakti stotra every morning, recalling to his mind the glorious names of this array of saints and sages and other mahaapurushas of the holy land. What is the purpose? They are the ideals that we have to follow in our day-to-day life. Bhagavan Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavat Geeta: 

Yadyataacharati shreshthah  

tadttadevetaro jannah;  

sa yat pramaanam kurute  


Whatsoever a great man doeth, the other men also do; the standard hesetteth up, by that the people go. 

Life dedicated to great ideals and a mission is not the exclusive privilege of a handful of a handful of god-men who come into this world from time to time. In our utter ignorance, we merely idolize these great souls, worship and adore them, but never realize that they lived such exemplary lives to show us the way. We call them avataaras and think that we, ordinary mortals, can never reach their heights. We forget the fact that they too came into this world as ordinary mortals like us, but by their self-sacrifice and supreme devotion to their ideals, rose to such heights of spiritual life that they have come to be called as avataaras. In the Raamaayana Bhagavan Sri Rama himself declares: 

Devaa maanusha roopena  

charantyete maheetale 

—Gods walk on this earth in the human form. He asked us to consider him a man, born as son of Dasharatha. He too had the quota of sufferings, pangs, pains and agonies as well as the brighter dises of life just as we all have in our lives. But he lived the life of a Maryaadaa purushottama—the ideal man. 

A renowned English poet, Longfellow, said: 

“Lives of great men all remnd us 

We can make our lives sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 

Footprints on the sands of time.” 

So it is for us to follow the footsteps of the great.  

Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan

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