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The Courtesy of Great Men

Monday February 21 2005 08:48 IST

By Karmayogi

Punctuality is called the manners of Princes. One is punctual because he values the time of others who wait for the work. Nehru came to Ooty to inaugurate a UNESCO conference. After the function was over, he drove to the house of a Danish cook who had been with his family for a long time.

In a diplomatic banquet, Nehru was looking for a child of 14 whose birthday it was and gave her a rose. These are princely manners. The recipients find such events unforgettable. Their emotions are deeply touched by the pleasant gesture. A great man meets a trade woman who sells her products to someone in Holland whom the great man knew 15 years before.

He asks her, How is your customer? Convey my regards to him. When the enquiry reaches the trader, he is overawed and realises how great the great man is.

What makes the great man great is the true greatness of his inner truth and its emotions. The sincerity of the enquiry penetrates the sensations of the recipient and he is won over forever. Greatness is great. Sri Aurobindo says all great men know they are great. Goodness, Greatness, Genius, Great Courage, Siddhi, etc., cannot be pretended.

Mother says whatever can be pretended or not, no one can pretend to have attained Supermind. A friend of President Kennedy came to Her to arrange for Kennedy to meet Her. He asked Her what would be the symptoms of having attained Supermind.

One of the three symptoms She gave him was the capacity not to react. Great endowments will always be seen in a person and no one can miss them. Desire to be pleasant, remembering old acquaintances with pleasure, kindness, the capacity to be utterly truthful, the capacity to put the other man at ease, genuine goodness, unsuspecting trust, open-mindedness, inability to react will always reveal themselves to visitors.

Kings and princes are known to go a long way NOT to take note of the awkward manners of their guests. It requires a Big Heart to put up with boorish behaviour. Not to really feel hurt is greater still. A very ugly portrait of Churchill was presented to him on his American tour and he was asked to unveil it.

The portrait was so offensive that later his wife burned it. Churchill did not demur, he accepted the gift and unveiled it himself with a humorous remark, It is a remarkable work of modern art. One needs a generous heart not to be offended by the foolish acts of admirers.

Their low level of culture offends, but greatness goes beyond the appearances, sees the devotion behind it, values it, and offers the courtesy of reception.

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