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It is impossible to express in limited words, the kind of physical and mental devastation that people of Chennai experienced due to the recent floods. It is equally impossible to express in limited words the kind of help that the affected received. Human brain has evolved in such a manner that when it is in stress, it yearns for social support and is soothed when it receives help. The natural extension of this evolution is that, it responds with compassion when it hears a cry for help. Therefore, when Chennai was flooded with water, it was flooded with help too. The response was as organic as the calamity itself. The very basis of human civilization is built on this twin platform of ‘need’ and ‘response-to-theneed’. Our elders named this beautiful system as Dharma and the process of giving as Dana. A little child only keeps receiving all the time, be it food, material, care or love. As the child grows and become mature, she takes the role of the giver. In a Dharmic society the giver outnumbers the receiver. Those performing the act of Dana, in such a Dharmic society, consider the needy to be a child who needs to be taken care of. One cannot rest seeing the other suffer. An effortless practice of this compassion transforms to something higher than that in spiritual life. For instance, a 70 year old renowned Tamil musician, Ilayaraja, who has scored recently for his 1000th film; while being involved in relief operations, said, “We are in no position to help anyone. All we can do is help ourselves. How can one hand give to the other? When I help others, I feel I’m only helping myself”. This ‘giving’ is beyond ‘Dana’. This ‘consciousness’ is beyond ‘compassion’. It is ‘Samvedana’; experiencing the suffering of others as one’s own.

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