Duty is an action due from us to ourselves, our family, our neighbours, fellow-men and the whole human race. Contemplation is a mental exercise. It may be meditative or it may be just brooding over the past events, or just dreaming for the fulfilment of one’s desires. The first kind of contemplation is very useful as it helps a man to recover his confidence and recharge the battery of his mind. But the second and third type of contemplation is a curse as it leads a man to lose all initiative and enthusiasm for living an idle life, not an ideal life.
Man is the noblest of all living beings and his superiority is due to his manifold activities. In fact, human beings live to work, while lower animals work to live. Animals are found to work for the satisfaction of their physical needs, and they cease to exert themselves as soon as they get sufficient food for immediate consumption. But man does not cease to work when his momentary wants have been satisfied. He works for the future. Again, man must work to feed his mind and spirit. Otherwise, if a man remains idle, both his body and mind get rusted without work.
Duty starts from childhood in a loose and indirect manner. But when a man reaches his adulthood, his duties become more exacting and burdensome. Besides his duties to his family, neighbours and friends, he will be called upon to undertake higher duties — duty to his country, the duty to people in distress and duty to mankind.
Hence, every station in life has duties appropriate to it. The performance of all these duties requires the constant cultivation of all the faculties of man. Thus he can build his character strong enough not to yield to any temptation. Such a man is admired by all for his activities during his lifetime, and after his death, he continues to live in the minds of men. And so the proverb goes — “Man lives in deeds, not in age.”
If we study the lives of great men, we shall find that they were all inspired with a lofty sense of duty in life. They were stalwarts in different fields of work. We can site examples of the discoverers and noble travellers like Columbus, Fa-Hien, Hiu-en-Tsang, Edmund Hillary, Tenzing, etc., the statesmen like Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, etc., preachers and social workers like Swami Vivekananda, Mother Teresa, etc., scientists like Newton, Einstein, JC Bose, Acharya Prafullachadra Roy, Satyen Bose etc, writers like Shakespeare, Milton, Rabindranath Tagore, etc., and in business Jameshedji Tata, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, etc. They rose to the occasion, fought the challenge of life heroically, and succeeded in their objectives. These great men learnt the secret of success that consists in action, not in idle contemplation.
Finally, we can say — what we need in our life is a harmonious blend of action and contemplation. We must remember that noble thoughts and deeds ultimately make the world richer and happier.