Cleanliness is Godliness

Our Chancellor Amma speaks:


Cleanliness is Godliness. Nothing in nature needs to be beautified. Nothing needs to be repaired or renovated. Forests, oceans, mountains and rivers all have their natural beauty. There is no need to sweep or clean them daily. It is man who pollutes them. Conversely, all that man creates must be cleaned daily; it needs to be upgraded now and again. However, our public places, public urinals and toilets and roads have been totally neglected. The embarrassment this is causing our nation is not slight. 

Even the accommodation facilities for the athletes taking part in the Commonwealth Games were defaced by stains from betel-leaf juice spat out by workers, and strewn with litter. The foreign news channels mocked us for this. There are articles in the foreign press criticizing the lack of cleanliness on our roads and public areas. Seeing all this, Amma feels bad. India is an atomic power. She is also making great strides in economic growth and scientific technology. Some even say that by 2025, India will be the third most powerful nation in the world. Notwithstanding these attainments, as far as environmental cleanliness is concerned, we are like a grownup in diapers.

Cleanliness is GodlinessWe blindly imitate the clothes, fashion and eating habits of Westerners. But then why don’t we emulate them in matters of environmental cleanliness? What kind of diseases are we inviting by spitting and urinating in public and by not maintaining standards of cleanliness in public toilets and urinals! At least, from now on, we should sincerely try to stop these practices, which are harming our people and the country.

There is a place for everything in nature. We must realize this and use each object appropriately. For one who knows this, nothing is ‘waste.’ There is nothing insignificant or useless. Understanding this, we can convert organic waste into compost. If we try, we can recycle and reuse many of the things we consider to be waste.

Once, a disciple of Lord Buddha approached him and asked if he could have a new set of robes since his set was old. The Lord readily gave his consent. After some time, the Buddha asked the disciple, “How are your new robes? Do you need anything else?”


Cleanliness is Godliness

Disciple: These robes are really nice. I don’t need anything else 

Buddha: What did you do with your old robes?

Disciple: I’m using them as a spread to lie down upon.

Buddha: Did you throw away your old spread?
Disciple: No, I’m using it as a curtain. 

Buddha: What did you did with your old curtain?
Disciple: I’m using it as a rag in the kitchen for carrying hot vessels.

Buddha: What did you do with the old rag?
Disciple: O Lord, it was terribly worn out and torn in many places. Since it could not be used elsewhere, I’m using it as a wick to light the lamp for reading at night.

Hearing this, the Lord smiled and went to his room.

From this story, we can learn the principle that there is nothing in the universe that is absolutely useless.

Cleanliness is GodlinessWe must strive as much as possible to recycle and reuse waste, and thus create a world without waste—let that be our aim. Learning lessons in keeping our surroundings clean and in loving nature should start at home. We should make children aware of these things right from their childhood. We should train them to keep the inside and outside of their house clean and spotless, and see to it that they never throw waste outside. Parents should first set a good example themselves. We should also create circumstances for children to learn about hygiene and cleanliness from schools; these lessons should be part of the curriculum. We should show students practical ways in which they can express love for nature and tend to it compassionately.

Today’s education merely facilitates the dissemination of information. Education should foster love, refinement of character, discrimination and emotional maturity. Such lessons should be incorporated into the curriculum, and the schools should give students such training. We should be able to express and accept love. When knowledge and love come together, there will be mutual trust. Man will nurture nature; he will protect the environment. We will thus become blessed to witness a new dawn.

November 30, 2011
Amritapuri Campus

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