Pragat Brahmaswarup Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote about laziness on the occasion of the Vachanamrut Bicentenary Celebrations. His article in Gujarati was published in the October 2019 issue of Swaminarayan Prakash. A translation of it is as follows.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan recommends in the Vachanamrut to beware of laziness. He says that one should abstain from the company of a lazy person. Laziness is the biggest obstacle on the spiritual and temporal paths. Thus, let us contemplate a little about laziness.
A teacher in a school held an extempore essay writing competition. The subject was, “Laziness Means…” All the students immediately started writing on laziness. Someone wrote, “Laziness is a great enemy.” Another wrote, “Laziness is a living person’s grave.” All wrote something of this nature. One student handed four pages to the teacher, but they were all blank except for the words, “This is called laziness,” at the bottom of the last page.
Once, a teacher asked his students, “Those who have been affected by laziness raise your hands.” Nearly all the students raised their hands, except one. The teacher asked him, “Why haven’t you raised your hand?” The boy replied coolly, “Sir, I feel lazy in raising my hand.”
These two incidents demonstrate what laziness is. Laziness is a sign of weakness, being irresponsible and careless. Laziness means not feeling like doing anything and remaining inactive. Laziness also means to rest (or sleep) more than required.
Many people state, “Laziness is a living person’s grave.” Does anyone say, “The root of poverty is laziness.”? Someone has also opined, “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.” The surprising thing is that those who say these things and who have given such adages indulge in and enjoy laziness.
Laziness is a sweet poison. It is difficult to give it up. Many times a question arises in one’s mind that though most people enjoy being lazy, why have great people been critical of laziness?
Laziness seems interesting and joyful, but its fruits are not. They are in fact deadly! One may enjoy being lazy, but one has to bear its bad consequences a thousand-fold more. No lazy person has ever lived happily in life. A thinker has said, “It is easy to escape from one’s responsibility, but one cannot escape the results of shirking
responsibilities.” Under the pretext of laziness one postpones or neglects the responsibilities assigned to oneself. This, may seem okay for a short while, but one will experience its bitter consequences.
There is a saying, “Heaven never helps the man who will not act.” When we do not help ourselves then Bhagwan will be helpless in doing good to us.
Laziness is one of society’s greatest evils. An expert in criminal law, Dr Shethna, once proposed, “Prisoners should always be engaged in constant activity in jails.” Referring to this, someone remarked, “Since the prisoners are in jail, that itself is punishment for their crimes. So, what more punishment should they be given?” Dr Shethna replied, “Lethargy and laziness have devastated countless people. Due to laziness they resort to stealing and other crimes. To avoid work they resort to stealing! Thus, through activity they should be redeemed from their habit of laziness.” Laziness gives birth to so many wrong things!
Because of laziness one tends to be irresponsible and prone to neglecting things. Benjamin Franklin narrated a story that reflects the consequences of laziness. Once, a king went to battle. A nail in his horse’s shoe came out and subsequently the king lost the battle. Thereafter, a saying become popular, “For the want of a nail the king lost his reign.”
In contrast to being neglectful or lazy there are so many examples of people who have made their lives noble (and successful) through intense effort and labour. Swami Shraddhanandji was a learned sannyasi. He was nationally renowned and was always actively working. Once, someone asked him, “Despite your old age there’s not an iota of laziness in you! What is the reason behind this?” Swami Shraddhanandji replied, “Laziness is a person’s grave. I do not wish to lie down in it from now!”
All through his life Pramukh Swami Maharaj remained active and persevered in his work. He never postponed or delayed his work, no matter how small or big it was.
Reasons for Laziness
What are the reasons for laziness?
One of the biggest reasons for laziness is not having a goal. People who have no fixed goal in life do not know the value of every second. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel said, “A person without a goal is like a ship without a captain.” A person devoid of a goal or one who has no clear goal flies here and there like flecks of dust. He does a little work for some time and then something else thereafter. Then, he gives both of them up.
Another reason for laziness is ignorance.
The third reason is the habit of leaving everything to fate.
When it comes to doing work some people leave it to fate or Bhagwan and say, “Whatever either does is okay.” But, prior to starting your task, there is no need to leave it to either of them. Bring them on to the centre stage after accomplishing the task. It is not proper to leave things to fate. This is cowardice.
On seeing Panini’s palm, an astrologer remarked, “You do not have the palm line denoting good studies.” Panini asked, “Show me where it should be.” When the astrologer showed it, Panini instantly took out a knife and cut a line on his palm. Then, he expressed, “Now, I will become a great scholar!” Thereafter, he worked hard and succeeded in becoming a renowned Sanskrit scholar. He did not leave it to fate.
At 10 years, Dr Radhakrishnan told an astrologer, “I will go abroad not to study, but to teach others.” Thereafter, Radhakrishnan worked intensely hard and progressed phenomenally. He did not leave it to fate.
Often, some people simply make wishes but do not endeavour to realize them. But it does not suffice to make wishes. After making a wish and deciding upon the goal one has to make efforts. One has to firmly adhere to making efforts.
Lack of patience and tolerance are also reasons for being lazy. When one fails in any work or one doesn’t get the desired amount of success one’s patience and tolerance comes to an end. Subsequently, one feels like doing nothing. We lose interest in our work.
Disraeli (of England) lost three times for the prime ministerial election, but he persevered with patience and finally succeeded in becoming the prime minister. Abraham Lincoln lost fourteen times before he became the president on his fifteenth attempt. How much patience he had!