The Great Exceptions

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(Discourse from Ananda Vacanamrtam Part 6 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti)

In every sphere of this world, in all motion and in all existence, one finds an exception to the rule. The Bengali word for exception is “vyatikrama” (vi – ati – kram + al) which literally means “departure from the usual.” In Hindi, it is called “apaváda”. In Bengali, apaváda has a different meaning: “censure” or “blame”.

Since the days of Australopithecine, a new kind of creature slowly evolved: proto ape or ape man. At a certain stage in evolution, one of these creatures became an exception to the norm of the community, resulting in some evolving into chimpanzees, some into orangutans, some into gorillas, and some into human beings. All of these creatures are tailless. These diverging evolutionary branches occurred due to an exception somewhere along the path of evolution.

Various fishes have evolved from the Silákantha, the original ancestors of the fishes. One would think that, having all evolved from the same source, all fishes would be of the same appearance – but this is not the case. Due to many exceptions along the path of evolution, different species of fishes emerged. If such exceptions had not occurred, all the fishes, all the chimpanzees, gorillas, etc. would have been of the same type.

These exceptions were not accidental but were preplanned to bring about certain changes in the process of evolution. Their occurrence led to different evolutionary lines branching off the main established line. Had there been no exceptions, there would have been no major evolutionary changes.

The same things also happen in the case of language. The Saḿskrta word “cikitsá” was in vogue for a long time until somebody distorted the pronunciation to “cikicchá”. Similarly, at a certain point in the past, someone wrongly pronounced the word “mahotsava” as “mahocchva.” Later, the word changed to “mocchava”. We should never say that these deviations were wrong.

Many deviations have occurred in human society due to human ignorance, human inefficiency, and a number of other reasons. These deviations formed new branches which opened up new vistas of human intellect. One of the most important factors on the path of movement is the exception. The value of these exceptions should never be underestimated.

In India, princes and princesses used to eat sumptuous food, dress well, and travel extensively. One day, however, a prince thought, “Why do humans suffer from so much pain and affliction? What is the cause of this suffering? What is the reason behind it? I will have to go deep into the matter to find out why. I will have to step down from the throne to make a thorough investigation.” This exception to the rule occurred in a prince’s mind and led to the birth of Buddhism.

There was a great scholar who had a sudden realization that mere pedantry will not lead to the cessation of misery; it will not bring any lasting joy or happiness. So he gave up his worldly life and started wandering through the streets. [His name was Sri Caetanya Mahaprabhu.] This led to the birth of Gaoriiya Vaesnavism.

Those people who are society’s exceptions are extraordinary people. Keeping our ideology fixed before our eyes, we must also become exceptional people. For those people who are treading a new path, who are constructing something new, exception is as valuable as their very lives.

Most people spend their lives on this planet eating and drinking. Sometimes they contract diseases, their stomachs become distended, and they die. But there are certain exceptional people who say, “No, we have not come to eat, drink and make merry.” Those who lead licentious lives foolishly get involved in brawls and fights, but the exceptional people say, “No, we don’t want to live such a life.” Missionary life was started on this planet by such people who today are glorifying that tradition in ever increasing numbers. They alone will make this line of exceptions even more brilliant, and will build human history. Others cannot and will not do it. The poet Rabindranath Tagore said;

Kon álote práńer pradiip
Jváliye tumi dharáy ása
Sádhak ogo premik ogo
Págal ogo dharáy ása.

[Enkindling the light of your lamp
With what divine light have you come to Earth?
O sádhaka, O devotee, O intoxicated one
With what divine light have you come to Earth?]

These exceptional people are sometimes seen as a bunch of lunatics by others, but the fact is, these so-called lunatics do something new and constructive for society.

Je tore págal bale
Táre tui balisne kichu.

–Rabindranath

[To those who call you a lunatic
Do not say anything.]

You should also know that you are exceptions. You, too, will do something great, will build something historical.9 January 1979, Kalikata