One Prince Shrown took initiation, Buddha initiated him into sannyas. That prince was a rare man, and when he took sannyas, when he was initiated, his whole kingdom was just amazed. The kingdom couldn’t believe it, the people couldn’t believe that Prince Shrown could become a sannyasin. No one had ever even imagined it, as he was a man of this world — indulging in everything, indulging to the extreme. Wine and women were his whole milieu.
But when Shrown took the Sanyas, he became a beggar, a hardcore Bhikku, a monk. He took only a handful of food and water per day. He slept on the hard surfaces. He walked barefoot on the thorny forest roads. And soon, other disciples of Buddha observed that he was moving to the other extreme. Buddha never asked anyone to be naked, but Shrown became naked. Buddha was not for nakedness. He said, “That is just another extreme.”
Buddha went to Shrown one night and asked him, “Shrown, I have heard that when you were a prince, before initiation, you used to play on a VEENA, a sitar, and you were a great musician. So I have come to ask you one question. If the strings of the veena are very loose, what happens?” Shrown said, “If the strings are very loose, then no music is possible.” And then Buddha said, “And if the strings are very tight, too tight, then what happens?” Shrown said, “Then too music cannot be produced. The strings must be in the middle — neither loose nor tight, but just exactly in the middle.” Shrown said, “It is easy to play the veena, but only a master can set these strings right, in the middle.”
So Buddha said, “This much I have to say to you, after observing you for the last six months — that in life also the music comes only when the strings are neither loose nor tight, but just in the middle. So to renounce is easy, but only a master knows how to be in the middle. So Shrown, be a master and let these strings of life be just in the middle — in everything. Do not go to this extreme, do not go to that one. Everything has two extremes, but you remain just in the middle.”
Being a sincere and serious UPSC aspirant, we also want to achieve quick enlightenment(good results) in a short duration. But when we increase our motivation level beyond the optimum point, when we impose self-discipline beyond the observable regime, when we decrease our sleep and resting duration beyond rejuvenation point, our preparation becomes unsustainable. We will be prone to break. Any disciplines, routines, habits, skill practice should be gradual, consistent and progressive. If you want to solve 50 MCQs per day, start from 20 per day for one week and move to 25 ->30 ->35 —-> 50 per day.
To clear this exam, you need to put a lot of efforts and follow a disciplined lifestyle. But also, you should have the moral support of timeless thoughts of Gautama Buddha, Mahaveera, and Krishna. May these exemplary stories inspire you every day when get stuck in the process. May the force of Great souls be with you along this journey.