If you want to achieve something in life you have to struggle. Without struggle, you cannot become great. You may become a teacher, a professor, a doctor; still that is not everything. Boys and girls both study at schools, colleges and universities. Some become professors, some doctors, some political leaders, some ministers, others collectors; however, nobody remembers them. Why? Because what you achieve without struggle does not last for long.
Mahatma Gandhi struggled so hard; all the circumstances were against him. In the same way, the Rani of Jhansi had to struggle and fight against all odds. Subhash Chandra Bose struggled; he escaped from jail, went to Germany, Russia, Japan, and started the Azad Hind Fauj or the 'Free India' Army. How did he achieve it? How did he collect the money? Did he get his three square meals a day? A struggle cannot take place in favourable conditions. Imagine you have a farm, able parents and a bike on which you go to school. When you return, your meal is ready for you. These are favourable, conducive circumstances. In such a situation, getting a BA or an MBBS degree is possible, but true progress is very difficult.
You have to struggle in adverse and difficult situations. Difficult circumstances are those times when you have to cycle seven to eight kilometres to get anywhere, food is difficult to get, parents are sick, there is no money; these are difficult situations. Lal Bahadur Shastri, one of the prime ministers of India, had to cross the river to go to school, not by boat, but by swimming. To get on the boat he would have had to pay a few paisa, which he did not have. It was a small river and in the monsoon it would swell. He would tie his bundle of books on his head and cross over, swimming. In such conditions, God helps the person from within. There are many such stories. There have been many great people in the world and they all have struggled and risen above difficult situations.
Swami Vivekananda rose to such heights under very difficult circumstances and passed away at the age of thirty-eight. When he became a sannyasin, there were times when he did not even get food. Once a monkey stole his underwear. When he reached America, nobody was there to receive him. He had to sleep in a large water pipe. Whomever he went to, they would not even open the door to him. He had so many difficulties, yet today the whole world respects him.
Mother Teresa was a history lecturer at a convent. She opened a school and hospital in a slum area. People used to ridicule her, saying she was simply putting on an act. This was fifty years ago. Today, the whole of India remembers her. The wife of the President of the United States has come for her funeral; many important people from all over the world have come. Remember, if you want to achieve something in this life, do not seek the easy way. The man who does not climb mountains does not become strong.
—14 September 1997