One day, a professor of art asked his very eager and eager students, “Do you put in a huge amount of effort into the art you create?” His students replied, “Of course! We devote ourselves day and night working on and perfecting our techniques. Behind every masterpiece created, there is years of unseen practice.” The professor smiled and replied, “I see. So your art is a very precious creation for you; it is like your baby.” The students replied, “Indeed Sir. We work very hard to create those intricate details, put a great deal of thought into it, lot of love, care and attention. It is very gratifying when people delight in our art and look after them well.” The professor was thoughtful and nodded his head with a smile.
He continued, “Let me tell you the story of a little boy whose mother was an artist. As he grew up, everyday, the boy watched his mother work very hard, practice and improve her methods. In her lifetime she created a great many paintings and they became extremely famous and renowned. One day, she gave her most labored, cherished and most beautiful painting for her son to keep and enjoy, and peacefully passed away. In honour of his mother, to glorify and celebrate her name, the son displayed this painting in his home and lighted candles every year on her anniversary, as an ode to her. Year after year he did this piously and ceremoniously.
Although he noticed that the candles were depositing soot, grime and damaging the painting his mother created with painstaking effort, the boy did not care. He was too busy filling and inflating his own ego about how great and devoted a son he was to celebrate his mother as such; his mother must be grateful to him instead of complaint, as no other son glorifies his mother as he. One such anniversary, a windy night that it was, the fire of the candle touched the painting and the whole thing went up in flames leaving only ash as remains of what was once true beauty.
Did the son realise his folly? Was it wise to foolishly and pompously ruin someone’s hard work? What use was such a realization now that it was too late? Was it possible to restore what was destroyed by pseudo devotion? Is it true devotion when there is no thought for others and it satisfies only one’s ego? Now that you have listened to this story, tell me your feelings, my dear students.”
The students were thoughtful and absorbed by the narrative. “It is a shame. It is an atrocity, indeed.” The professor calmly went on to ask them, “Now let me ask you a different question, do you feel that nature inspires the artist in you? When you’re stuck with an idea, do you feel that a walk among the trees, sitting by a lake, or feeling the breeze on your cheeks at the sea helps you open up your soul and create beauty? Or does a walk along a grimy, dirty road with vehicles honking, smoke, dust and poisonous gases oozing into the air and people shouting curses… does this inspire you?” All the students burst out laughing, “Of course not Sir, beautiful nature inspires us.”
The professor continued, “My dear students, now tell me, don’t you think that nature is the work of art by God, in all its majestic beauty and glory. Don’t you feel that by using non-ecofriendly firecrackers at Diwali festival celebrations, we are pretty much like the son who ruined his mother’s work of art in the end due to his own misdirected devotion. Isn’t it our own ego that we are celebrating, if we do not have concern for God’s painstaking creation, His beautiful nature? Shouldn’t we correct our ways? Please ponder on this during this season, and do what you feel is the best way to celebrate God. As for me, I am sure that kindness, compassion, consideration for others and nature, and preserving nature’s purity is the best way to glorify His name.”