2. Cognitive Dissonance and the Mission

Before talking about which psychic problem I had and how Mission Tirhutipur fixed it, it would be good if you know a little about me. My name is Vimal Kumar Singh. I am originally a resident of Sunderpur Kaitholi village under Tirhutipur Gram Panchayat. After studying till the tenth standard from the village itself, in 1987 I went to Delhi with my father who was serving in Delhi Police. After doing BA, LLB from Delhi University, I stayed there in Delhi itself. My career began as a lawyer, but very soon I realized that this is not my cup of tea. Thereafter, I started exploring myself in many other avenues like translation, writing, editing, research, survey, publication, printing, film production, journalism, etc.

Incidentally, in the year 2004, I met Shri Govindacharya Ji. He entrusted me with the responsibility of editing his monthly magazine – Bhartiya Paksha. At that time I was running my own business firm in the field of editing and publication. I thought that Bhartiya Paksha will be one of my several assignments. But it was not so. Gradually I realized that it is difficult to strike a balance between the Bhartiya Paksha and my business. Bhartiya Paksha was a magnet that constantly pulled me towards the social activities around Govindacharya Ji. However, I was also very passionate about my business. In the year 2011, I formed my own company by the name of “Samvad Media Private Limited”. I wanted to become a big businessman in the field of media. But ironically my time was being spent less in business activities and more in various social activities related to Govindji. Slowly I started losing my focus. I was neither able to earn money nor was I able to do social work wholeheartedly. In fact, I was experiencing a problem which is known as Cognitive Dissonance in the language of psychology.

What is Cognitive Dissonance? Check if you are also struggling with this?

American psychologist Leon Festinger published a research on cognitive dissonance in 1957. He says that a human being does not want to sustain any kind of contradiction between his values and his works. Whenever such a situation arises, he tries to make both of them compatible by changing any one aspect according to the demands of the other. However, in most cases, it is the values or perception of life, which a person tries to manipulate with. For this, he adopts 4 methods. Let us understand this with the example of a cigarette smoker who believes that smoking cigarettes is bad because it causes diseases like cancer, etc.

1. Denial: When an Action causes the inner conflict; the mind usually uses this method in the beginning. Let us take the example of a cigarette smoker. When the initial phase of smoking begins, he will convince himself that he is not in the habit of smoking cigarettes at all. He will argue to himself – I rarely smoke. It is occasionally done with friends. This is the last time, I will not smoke again.

2. Rationalization: When addiction increases then denial will not be effective. So he resorts to logic. He will look for examples where a person got cancer even though he was not smoking. He will gather all those facts which prove that smoking cigarettes is not directly associated with cancer or any other disease.

3. Reframing- When both denial and rationalization fail to silence the dissonance, he interprets the whole story in a different way. At this stage his arguments will be like this:- Look, it is not okay to smoke cigarettes but what to do, my mind is weak, I want to quit but I cannot. Many times he will not give up the habit of smoking cigarettes by projecting it as something unavoidable for the sake of his friendship and his profession.

4. Separation- When all the above tricks fail and internal conflict continues, the addicted person will use the last weapon to manage the dissonance.  He will divide himself into two parts- good and bad. He will try to keep one side of his personality neat and clean by attributing all his objectionable deeds to the bad part of the personality. In such a situation he will even avoid talking and thinking about his objectionable deeds.

When the problem reached its peak…

When Govindji made me the coordinator of Mission Tirhutipur, my age-old problem of cognitive dissonance reached its peak. None of the above four methods were effective to eliminate the dissonance. Carrying out the responsibility of Mission Tirhutipur and earning money by becoming a big businessman in Delhi, these two were almost opposite goals. It was difficult to keep up with one without leaving the other. At this critical moment, by the grace of God, I found my Dikshaguru (Pujya Rajendra Pandey Ji, Ayodhya). Under his guidance, the meaning of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, chapter 3, verse 35 became clear to me in which the Lord has said, “…swadharme nidhamam shreyah pardharmo bhayavah“.

I understood that it is my dharma (duty) to go and work in the village for the Mission Tirhutipur. Even if I get death (failure) while doing that, it will be a better option than the success (pardharma) that I may gain while working in Delhi.

In this state of mind, I decided that I would do the work of Mission Tirhutipur wholeheartedly. Thus after living in Delhi for 33 years, I decided to leave it as my permanent residence. I have decided not to take two boat rides anymore. I will do only those things which have a direct connection with Mission Tirhutipur.

Vimal Kumar Singh

Convener, Mission Tirhutipur

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