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 Success in Perseverance

It has been very aptly observed that success lies in perseverance. The entire gamut of human history testifies to the truth of this saying. Life’s journey, frequently directed along uneven paths, is one in which one faces many unfavorable situations. Yet the wayfarer has to continue his journey whatever the odds. This is called perseverance. One who possesses this quality reaches the destination of success in this world. The greater the perseverance the greater the success.This is a law of nature. Just open your eyes and you will find clear indications of this reality.

I am reminded of the man, standing by the side of a rock, who looked down and found that, due to the continuous lashing of the waves, the rock had worn away, remarked to me, "Look, the rock is a hard object, while water is so soft. But even if as soft a thing as water acts with perseverance, it can crush as hard an object as a rock into pieces. All the huge quantities of sand found on the sea shores have been produced by this lashing of water against the rocks."

The career of Dr. Subramaniam Chandarashekhar (1910-1995) provides a recent human parallel. From his childhood he showed keen interest in mathematics and astronomy. Later on he took up as the subject for his research the birth and death of the stars. In this connection, he presented his initial conclusion in the form of a research paper at a meeting of Astrophysical Society held on January 11, 1935. Scientists of repute, including Sir Arthur Eddington, were present at the meeting. Sir Arthur Eddington ridiculed Chandarashekhar and tore his papers to pieces.

Later on Chandarashekhar wanted this paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal published from London. But his paper was rejected. Disheartened by this discouraging experience, he left Britain for India. Here he applied to different universities for a job but failed to find one. He was rejected both at home and abroad.

Yet this was not enough to dishearten Chandarashekhar. He now left India for Chicago, where he found the circumstances more favorable. He devoted himself once again to his research. Gradually his theory became so popular that his papers were regularly published in important scientific journals and magazines. Ultimately his theory came to be accepted as Chandarashekhar Limit in the world of science. At the age of 73, in 1983, he was awarded the Nobel prize for science.

Human history is replete with such exemplary lives. Anyone who has achieved any real success in this world has done so through continuous effort and perseverance. There is no other path to success in this world.

It has been observed that if you want to achieve success for yourself, you should cultivate the virtue of patience, for success is always dependent upon the exercise of patience. This is necessary because in a period of struggle such obstacles come in the way as apparently remove one further from one’s destination. That is why man must never allow himself to become discouraged. Equipped with patience and perseverance, he should persist in his efforts.

This is so great a certainty that it leaves no choice as to our course of action. We have to abide by this verdict of nature, for we can survive only by living in accordance with it. It is not possible for us to change the system of nature.

Given this state of affairs, wisdom demands that we refrain from wasting our time in complaints and protests, and take steps to banish despair and discouragement. Adopting the path of realism, one must continue one’s efforts. In that case success will become as certain as the setting of the sun in the evening and of its rising again the next morning. Unflagging effort inevitably leads one to one’s desired goal.Nature requires only a few months to grow a crop of cucumber. But this is not the case with the oak tree. Nature here requires a period of a hundred years. Then how can man be exempt from this universal principle?

If you are not willing to accept the reality of a long period of struggle, then you shall have to be content with very minor success: the necessary price of great success is long-term endeavor. One who is not willing to pay this price should not expect any great success.

(This speech was broadcasted from the All India Radio, New Delhi, on September 28, 1995)