It was during the time of World War II. St. Petersburg, a prominent city of was blockaded by the German troops. All the supply lines and transport lines to the city were cut off. The citizens were starving to death. The blockade claimed the lives of 1,400,000 people. One of the few survivors was a small girl named Lenochka. Her whole family died due to disease and starvation – her father, mother, grandmother and elder brother. She was rescued by a group of soldiers in the harsh winter and was taken to an orphanage.
Lenochka was feeling lonely and was exhausted. She lost the desire to eat owing to malnutrition and dystrophy. She was sitting silent near the fire warming herself. Many children who were similarly rescued were dying because of dystrophy. The soldiers that Lenochka will follow the suit. One of the soldiers Kolya taking pity on her, handed her a doll. Uncle Kolya rolled the doll out of an old towel. Somehow he cut it, rolled it up, sewed it, and it turned out to be an ugly doll. He drew on the doll’s eyes and mouth with a chemical pencil. And a squiggle nose. It is an ugly doll.
He handed the doll to the tiny Lenochka and told her – ““You, Lenochka, cradle the doll. And teach her to eat well! You’re the doll’s mother now. And take better care of her. She’s sick and weak. She’s not even crying!”. Lenochka suddenly clung to the doll and pressed it to her. And she began to cradle and stroke it with her thin hands. And at dinner, she fed the doll porridge, whispered something affectionate to her. And along with the doll, she also ate porridge and a piece of bread. Well, Lenochka slept with the doll, and warmed it at the stove, hugged it and busied herself with the doll – an ugly doll made from an old towel with painted eyes.
The girl survived as a consequence of taking care of the doll. She lived to give life to the doll. This girl later became a nurse. Her hands were always busy taking care of others. Her heart was always filled with joy. Every one of us have the intrinsic need to love. That alone gives actual life to the heart. It alone can bestow actual and complete happiness. Love is innately selfless. Love means to give and to be grateful for the opportunity to give. This virtue of selflessness, compassion and charity is what that actually qualifies us apart from the sub-human species. Their life more or less is centered around getting and gratification – getting things for oneself or one’s near and dear and gratifying alone or together as a family, community or country.
Getting can be means but not the end. We cannot become happy by collecting things, accumulating them and showing off to others. Gratification can be a part of life. It cannot become purpose of life. An opportunity to get and gratify is limited by time and space . Our ability get and gratify is limited by our body and resources (BG 5.22). If someone makes getting and gratification as purpose of life, one is bound to get frustrated. The opportunity to give is never limited by time and space. There are many things to give to many people in many ways.
We can revive and reinforce our innate propensity to love by seeing everyone as part and parcel of God. Giving and gratitude based on this vision will not be limited by time and space. Such giving and gratitude will have the most stable and best motivation possible. Love towards God through selfless service and devotion offer complete satisfaction and happiness to our heart. Love towards God purifies us of the impurities to get and gratify. Selflessness, charity and compassion towards others based on this love of God will be most effective and efficient (BG 18.33) for both the giver and the recipient as demonstrated in the life of King Rantidev.