What is Compassion?


It is a real pleasure to be writing on such a great topic, i.e. Compassion. My dear compassionate friend and fearless leader of Write Tribe, Corinne, has asked me to write a post and link it to the blog of her ailing friend – Darla Dollman, as she is hosting a post on this topic. Though I promised to try and write something, I wasn’t sure that I could do justice to such a deep and vast topic in just a few words. But I tried my best and this is what I came up with and have linked to her blog here:

What is Compassion?

If you are walking down a street and see a lost little child crying, you would try and make the child stop crying and get him/her to the nearest police station for help. You show compassion by this act of helping the distraught child and reuniting him/her with the parents. The emotion we feel when we see the suffering of others and our desire to help them is compassion.

I saw a beautiful Ted talk on Compassion, why we aren’t more compassionate By Daniel Goleman. In this he talks about the reasons people are not always compassionate, even kind people sometimes don’t practice compassion.

My mother is a very religious lady and reads the Ramayana every day, she has memorized all the (Bhajans)holy songs and prays for at least 2 hours daily. My relationship with God is a very unconventional one; I don’t consider myself to be a deeply spiritual and religious person, though I believe in God and say a prayer, twice a day, max. I don’t light the diya daily or go to the temple very often but know that when I need him; he will be there for me. We have a perfect understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

I listen to my gut feeling and do what my heart tells me to do, what feels right to me. I don’t eat non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays, an old habit from my childhood days. It is considered to be a holy day and as kids, we never had eggs for breakfast on Tuesdays, ever. I don’t stop my children from eating any kind of food, any day; I consider it an act of compassion on my part, in a way 🙂

I am quirky and impulsive at times and logical and practical at other times. It’s very difficult to label me as a strict disciplinarian or an easygoing fun mom; I swing both ways. Yesterday morning, my cook walked in shivering, in the extreme cold of a Delhi winter and when I enquired about her lack of adequate clothing for warding off the cold, her reply made my heart go silent for a couple of seconds. We have been experiencing some unexpected showers during the coldest spell in January, and her woolens had got soaked in the downpour, the previous evening.

I pulled out my black sweater from the cupboard and gave it to her , she was hesitant and looked at me questioningly. I told her to wear it before starting work, she took it and said she would bring it back once hers had dried off and was wearable. When I said I wasn’t going to take it back, she smiled a sweet smile and my heart was alright again. I don’t know what happened but the glow of her smile stayed with me for a long time, and I felt very happy.

I saw something akin to admiration in my son’s eyes, and it added to my inner happiness.  On a cold winter morning, the warmth of compassion filled my heart and I discovered the secret of compassion is that every time you give, you receive.

16 thoughts on “What is Compassion?

  1. That's a fantastic lesson in compassion taught by action, Sulekha. By seeing and observing from close quarters children have a lasting impression. 🙂

  2. How wonderful! Yes, compassion is something that comes from within, it has nothing to do with religion or religious beliefs!


  3. You're right. One doesn't need to look for opportunities for compassion. They are present always. You just have to be a little sensitive.

    1. Obsessivemom, People are generally sensitive but sometimes their minds are preoccupied and they slip. The ted talk explains it so well.

  4. Lovely post. We are compassionate if we connect with people more. Compassion comes naturally in that case. I strongly feel that we should start respecting our maids more for the hard work they do to make our lives more convenient. You demonstrated it 🙂

  5. Hey Sangeeta, welcome to my blog and thank you for writing such a lovely comment. We do need to be more considerate towards those who help us function efficiently 🙂

  6. Hi, Beautifully written words. And you have given us compassion in the simplest form. Yes, There are many reasons why people are not compassionate. Even kind people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *