Delhi University: To help the other is to help oneself

Acharya Prashant
4 min readOct 23, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Sir, if we do something to make someone else happy by deceiving our own self, is it worth it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, you cannot make someone else happy by deceiving your own self. That kind of a thing cannot exist; that kind of a thing exists only in ignorant stories or novels or movies, where you say that, “I want to just suppress my own pleasure or happiness to make the other happy.”

The characteristic of the real thing is that it is not exclusive in nature. If helping someone makes you feel sad within, then that help is of no use. If the help is really authentic, you will find that it fills up your heart, it raises you from within; there is a certain joy. Even if that involves losing time, or making effort, or losing money, or compromising on something — all those things will be there — but still, there will be an internal fulfillment.

So, both parties will gain: one party will gain as the receiver of the help, and the other party, the helping party, will gain through inner fulfillment. So, it is not going to happen that in the process of help it becomes a zero-sum game where one party is smiling and the other one is sitting with a shattered heart and saying, “Oh, in a bid to help other, I lost so much!” No, it is not possible.

You see, there was the famous śāntipāṭha (peace invocation) of the Upanishad that we had at the beginning of this session, and what did the śāntipāṭha say?

Pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇāmevāvaśiṣyate.

Even when you take away the full from the full, fullness still remains.

That is the characteristic of the real thing: give away everything and you will still be left with everything. In fact, I will go a step further: give away everything, and you are left with more than what you had. It is a strange arithmetic. Even when the infinite or the full manifests itself from its unmanifested state, what you have is nothing but fullness. Pūrṇāmevāvaśiṣyate — only the full is left as a remainder.

So, this is a very special kind of giving. You give, and you find that you have not lost anything. At one time I had…