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Compassion means love and concern for all beings, including own self. This love that we call compassion has very peculiar origin; it stems from the knowledge that the whole universe is but the manifestation of One Supreme Being. The knowledge springs from the firm realization that 'I am but one part of the whole universe; all beings are my own reflections in their various aspects of existence. I am not in the world, but the world is within me. Whatever that I perceive as name and form is nothing but my own self in that reality.' Thus, a person of compassion is a highly evolved human being. Only one example of such a person should suffice: Gautama Buddha. However, it should be remembered that no one is devoid of potential seed of compassion in his or her heart.

Two options are open for the person in whom the flower of compassion has blossomed. One, such a person may plunge in this world of suffering and dedicate his (or her) life in the service of the afflicted and the needy. We tend commonly to associate want, poverty, and disease with the poor and ill fated affected by personal or natural tragedy, or have become victims of terror and exploitation. However, behind the golden or silver screen of comfort, luxury, and security the rich are the real sufferers. Swami Vivekananda says to the effect: Bring light to the poor, and bring more light to the rich; for, their vanity makes them unaware of their weaknesses.'

Therefore, to serve the poor and afflicted is only partial expression of compassion; full value of compassion can be or would be realized only when one tries to help everyone to become free and selfless. That is why, probably, the great saints and prophets never hesitated to approach the kings and the monarchs to preach them their idea of compassion. Vedanta philosophy and practice naturally makes one compassionate, this is a by-product of spiritual practice: "For the Liberation of Self, and the welfare of the world" that is the idea.

The second option available to the compassionate saint or the prophet is to proceed on the path of Knowledge - Jnana, as Acharya Shankara did. His compassionate heart melted for the people ignorant of their Divine Nature. He cajoled, espoused, and exhorted everyone to realize his or her oneness with the Absolute - Brahman. Shankara also felt as Buddha did; however, it was a different expression of his compassion that made him roam all over India and preach Advaita aspect of Vedanta. In Swami Vivekananda we see a wonderful synthesis of Jnana and Karma as taught by his Master, Sri Ramakrishna.

Therefore, compassion is not to be seen as static and service oriented 'broad-heartedness', but should be viewed in its totality where love takes universal form as regards to both human welfare and addition to human knowledge and wisdom. The highest goal for a compassionate soul would be to see that everyone of us comes to such a state that even in the vilest of human beings we would see the Real Self within, and instead of condemning them, would say: "Rise thou effulgent one, rise thou who art always pure, rise thou birthless and deathless, rise almighty and manifest thy true nature. These little manifestations born out of ignorance do not befit you." Such a prayer springs from the knowledge of oneness with Higher Self, and includes rich as well as poor. The rich equally needs the same love and concern, even though physically he may not be suffering; his suffering is spiritual - lack of self knowledge.

Thus, compassion tries to bring a new revolution in social thinking. The values of kindness, generosity, and care that we cherish, limiting them to our near and dear ones and ourselves, need to be expanded to cover everyone; for, there is in reality no other being than our self. In helping others we help ourselves, in treating others we cure ourselves, in feeding others we get satiated, in preaching others we become wise. When the receiver becomes greater (God) than the giver (the worshipper); that is real compassion. From any and every aspect, be it Bhakti, Karma, or Jnana, Advaita Philosophy can thus be studied to focus on unity amidst diversity; to realize the reality of one Supreme Brahman in every being. Here we have tried to put forward Advaita views based on one noble virtue: Compassion.
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