To Work Is To Live
Work is the breath of life.
The human being should work to live and to enable society to live. He is born with this responsibility. The work may be physical or mental. There is an aphorism: He who does not work neither shall he eat.
Work is sacred; work is heavenly; work is divinity in the human being. ‘In planned economy beggary and unemployment are unthinkable in any form or sense. Even preachers should not be parasites on society but accept the profession of preaching as a Kaayaka (work) for social service. According to Basava no one is to beg. He should rather work as a coolie than be a beggar.’
All kinds of work are dignified and symbolic of human divinity.
In the inimitable words of Basavanna or Basava:
‘A man becomes a blacksmith by heating iron;
he becomes a washerman by washing clothes;
he becomes a goldsmith by tinkling gold;
he becomes a Brahmin by reading Vedas;
Are there people who are born of an ear in the world? …………………………………………’
When the human being works, he maintains his good health, both physical and mental. If the work is as per his choice, he feels pleasant, refreshed and invigorated. He should contribute part of the fruit of his work to the pool of society for its common use. This will be more fulfilling for him.
Individual and the community are interdependent. To become complete, both need each other. Individual welfare and fulfilment go hand in hand with those of society.
Basava’s followers called sharanas (in Kannada) (spiritual and social revolutionaries) say that sun graces our planet with sunlight daily, trees produce oxygen and fruits, rain feeds both the living and the plant world, the soil produces food; the mother nourishes her child till it becomes fit to take outside food and so on expecting nothing in return for their continuous gifts and services to people. Nature is the mother of all living beings on this planet.
Contribution To the Pool of Society or dasoha
Basavanna’s words about free sharing part of the fruit of one’s work with the community of which he is the part are:
‘Does not the crow call all its group at seeing a morsel of food? Does not the cock make a call for its kith and kin at seeing a few grains? A devotee of Shiva (God), who has no such feeling, is worse than cocks and crows.’
The human being should learn a lesson from mother nature and the human mother. He must contribute his share of the fruit of his work or labour to the pool of society for its beneficial utilization and its welfare. According to Basava or Basavanna, spiritually this is dasoha or contribution to the social pool in any form of food, money, service, and so on with no self-interest.
This, in a nutshell, is the philosophy of work preached and propagated by Basavanna, the twelfth-century mystic, the extraordinary humanist and social revolutionary. There should be a balance between the human being’s work and his need for leisure for his optimal growth and full enjoyment of life.