The blessings of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray16

There was a very, very great scientist who was also a great patriot. Everyone adored him. He lived a very simple, austere and spiritual life and remained unmarried. He had a very long beard and moustache, and was very lean and thin. He believed that well-educated young men should not just accept the work of clerks and other unimportant work. He felt they should not act like slaves but should do something with their lives if they were well-educated. He came to realise that money gave one the opportunity to do quite a few things in life.

“Money properly used is a blessing, but money badly used is a curse,” he used to always say. “If one has money and uses it properly, then one will have a decent life. And from this decent life one can try to aspire. But if one is pinched with hunger all the time and suffers from poverty, then how can one do anything great and good?”

He always used to advise everyone, especially the Bengalis, to enter into business and to make money, and then to use the money to try to do something great and good for mankind.

Just because he was great, after getting their degree young people used to come to him to get a recommendation from him for jobs as clerks. But instead of a recommendation, with all love and concern he would give them a smart slap. “Go away from here,” he would say. “I will recommend you to become somebody’s clerk and assistant? I don’t want that! I want you people to enter into business and use the money you make to lead a decent life. Then only will you get the opportunity to do the right thing. But if you misuse the money you make, you will destroy your life.”

One day, when the great scientist was an elderly man, a young man approached him and asked him to say a few words in favour of him so he would get a clerical appointment. As he usually did, with all love, affection and concern the great scientist gave the young man a smart slap. Then he said, “You deserve it! I always tell you people to enter into business.”

The young man said, “Yes, I want to enter into business, but I have no money.”

Then the scientist said, “You want to enter into business? How much do you need? I will give it to you.”

He said, “I need ten thousand rupees.”

The scientist said, “Ten thousand rupees you need for a business? Absurd! You don’t need that much. I am giving you three thousand rupees. You people are under the impression that if you have a large amount of money to invest, then only will you be able to make money. It is not true! It is not the money you invest, but your will power.

“I am giving you three thousand rupees. You don’t have to return this money to me, only promise me that you will enter into business. If you enter into business, I will be very happy. With this money you will start and, I tell you, you will be successful. With all my blessings I am giving you this money.”

The young man bowed to him and said, “This money I am taking as your blessing.”

The old man said, “Yes, it is my blessing. But you have to try to be successful. And even if you are not successful, I will be very happy and proud of you just because you have tried.”

This man was India’s most famous scientist-pioneer, P.C. Ray. He received his Ph.D. from Edinburgh University and, as a teacher of chemical science, had many pupils who later became great world chemists. When once asked if he had any children, he responded with a list of seventy-three of his dearest and brightest students. Such was his love and dedication for those who took him as their teacher-father.

GIM 56. 15 January 1979