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Gopala Krishna Gokhale’s Speech

Comprehension Questions on Motivational Essays - Gopala Krishna Gokhale's Speech on 25th July in Mumbai

Gopala Krishna Gokhale’s Speech on 25th July in Mumbai

My first duty on rising is to tender my most sincere and grateful thanks to the students of Madras for their address which they have just now presented to me. . . There is no doubt whatever in my mind that if I could now go back once again to the days of my student hood, I would do so at once with pleasure. The life of a student is, comparatively speaking, a sheltered life. There are, of course, certain responsibilities; they are definite and they are assigned to you by those who are willing to take care of you and there is not much need to be constantly exercising your own judgments. You know that in later life the position is reversed; instead of others helping you, you have in the first place to help yourself…

Gentlemen, because this is the happy part of your life, there are certain responsibilities attached to it which must be well discharged by you, because no privilege in life is worth having, unless it is attended by corresponding duties and there are certain duties, which those who placed you in your present privileged position expect you to perform.

I will consider these duties under four heads. First of all, the duty which you owe to yourselves; then there is the duty which you owe to your fellow-students; the third duty is the duty which you owe to those in authority over you, and the last duty is a duty which you owe to those who are around you, not students, but people of the wider world.

Duty to yourselves

 The duty to yourself is two fold. You have first of all to lay by a stock of knowledge that will suffice you not sincerely for your examinations but will be helpful to you in later life. Knowledge is an exacting mistress; she needs devotion, whole hearted, on the part of the person who seeks her. Such whole-hearted devotion is possible only in the days of studenthood. Therefore, the first part of the duty towards yourselves is to take the utmost advantage of your present position, to lay by a stock of knowledge that will be useful to you in later life.

Importance of character

But it is not merely knowledge that will help you or help any class of human beings by itself. Along with that knowledge there is another requisite that you must secure and that is character. It is almost a truism to say that more depends for success in life on character than on knowledge. It is an invidious thing to distinguish between comparative values of knowledge and character. But since both are indispensable, I would urge on you that you should attach as much importance to character as to knowledge. This character must show itself in earnestness, in energy of action and in high and generous sentiments being brought to bear upon the discharge of your duties and in recognizing what is due to yourselves. You have to acquire a character which will raise the whole life of the people amidst whom you move and for whom you are expected to work.

As character will naturally have to act on those around you, the stronger, the firmer and nobler it is, the better work you will do for the country.

Even if you acquire a fairly high character while you are at school or college; it may not always be easy to retain that character in the struggles of later life, because you are sure to be actedupon by those who are around you. But if you begin by acquiring a strong character for yourselves and when you in course of time, occupy the place of the present seniors, then the students or the younger men of the succeeding generation will find that the forces that act on them are more helpful for retaining a good character than possibly what you may be able to find today. This is the two fold duty which you owe to yourselves – the acquiring of knowledge (I use ‘knowledge’ in its widest sense) not only knowledge from every quarter which will be useful to you in later life – and acquiring character which will enable you to achieve success in whatever work you may take on hand. That, in brief, is the duty to yourselves.

Duty to fellow students


Your duty to your fellow-students will teach you in later life and will secure for you the habit of co-operation. The foundation of the habit of co-operation is really to belaid in our student days, because you are trained to be together in your class, and you cannot have it all your own way, if you want to get on with your class. Therefore, if youuse your opportunities properly, you will know exactly how to get on with them by sometimes giving in to them and sometimes standing out for your own view, being regardful of the feelings and considerations of other people. This habit of co-operation once acquired will continue with you all your life. It is not easy to acquire it in later life if you have not already acquired it in your student days.

Duty to parents and teachers


Your third duty is towards those in authority over you. Obedience to parents, especially during the time of studenthood and reverence for teachers while you are studying under them – these are two of the most essential conditions necessary for acquiring knowledge and for taking the fullest advantage of those opportunities which are placed within your reach while you are students.

While you are young men and students, while parents have to care for you and find means where with to enable you to prosecute your studies, it is necessary that their wishes should prevail with you in all matters, but when once your education is completed, and the struggle of life commences and when you are able to stand on your own legs, you owe it to yourselves and to your country, that you should use your own judgment as to what work you should do.

In the same way you owe reverence to your teacher while you are at school or college. Unless your whole attitude in the college and the school is founded upon a proper feeling of reverence for the teacher, you will miss one of the principal lessons of the school or college life, viz., the appreciation of discipline. Remember that in later life, along with the spirit of co-operation, what you will need most and what you need most in public life is a true spirit of discipline – the true spirit of that discipline which voluntarily subordinates your judgment, your convenience and personal gain to common good. Unless you acquire this habit at school or college, it will not be possible for you to acquire it in later life.

Duty to government

 In addition to that, you owe a duty to the rulers, the Government which is the supreme authority over us all. Students with their generous mind and unsophisticated hearts naturally fall an easy prey to stirring up emotion. But that very circumstance unfits them in some instances to exercise independent judgment on current affairs. In any case, as long as they are students, not standing on their own feet, it is not their business to do so. While they are students, their attitude towards the Government of the country, such as it may be good, bad or indifferent, should be one of acquiescence, loyal acquiescence.

You should do nothing whereby your relations with the authorities will be disturbed.You should, no doubt, study public questions, but wait for your time. But while you are students you should give no cause to anybody to say that your attitude towards the authorities is one of greater or less hostility.

Duty to wider world

The last duty that you owe to those who are in the wider world is to acquire aknowledge of their needs, observe their condition and observe their struggle, and to acquire an attitude to mind, so as to sympathize with those who are struggling, eventhough you are not immediately able to give them redress. There is a great deal of injustice and suffering in the wider world which requires to be remedied and when it comes to you to play the part of grown-up men, it is expected you will contribute your share to remove these things. In the meantime you must not enter the wider world without knowledge.

Observe and study the conditions carefully, as you are bound to do.

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