By Life Positive August 2013 Silence enveloped the classroom. A spelling test was in progress. The teacher carefully pronounced each word and then walked along the rows to make sure nobody cheated. He glanced at one answer sheet and quietly whispered the correct spelling to the student. Scientist Marie Curie risked her life studying radioactive substances But the student believed in gaining knowledge and learning from his mistakes rather than scoring marks. To the teacher’s surprise, the student left the spelling untouched. The student grew up to be one of the most inspirational leaders the world had ever seen – the father of our nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly called Bapu. Gandhi was driven by a desire to free his country from the bondage and slavery of the British rule. He gave up his thriving law practice in South Africa and returned to his country to fight for a cause he believed in. Here he led an ascetic and humble life, always remaining true to his ideals. There are those who work for monetary gains, and there are others who work because of the passion and zeal they have for their work. Marie Curie was a famous scientist who had an inclination to study radioactive substances. In spite of knowing their lethal effects on human beings, she continued with her research for the benefit of mankind. Consequently, she died due to aplastic anemia, a chronic condition due to constant exposure to radioactive substances. However, she inspired many in her field by working on a breakthrough discovery for modern science. Moreover, Indian history provides a vast insight into the lives of kings and princes whose actions in the past manage to inspire people across the globe till today. Buddha, formerly known as Prince Siddhartha, was born in the lap of luxury. Born to loving parents, Siddhartha had everything at his disposal. A magnificent palace, beautiful lush green gardens, chariots driven by white stallions, and a kingdom that adored him. However, all this was about to change. One day, while strolling through the city, he came across sights that changed his perspective – an old man, a diseased man and a dead man. It was then that the prince realised that the world was full of pain and suffering while he lived a joyous life. Soon after, he fled his kingdom in search of the deeper truth. He founded Buddhism and stayed true to his name Buddha or ‘the awakened one’. Now what was common in Gandhi, Marie Curie and Buddha? They all had a conscience – powerful enough to win a country its independence, make a path-breaking scientific discovery, or even discover the ultimate truth of existence. Fame, money and glory are evanescent in nature. Character is what remains eternal. Conscience is that inner voice that tells a child that it is wrong to take a stealthy glance during an exam. It is that inner voice that tells a servant that it is wrong to steal money from the house. It is that inner voice that tells a shopkeeper that it is wrong to trick his customer. And finally, it is that inner voice that guides us towards the path of righteousness. Our conscience is the driving force that makes us who we are. -Suchita Mukerjee, Mumbai (17 years)
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