Nirvana through reading
Rereading old books is like meeting old friends. And if you read an old classic after ages, you feel as if a long-lost friend is back to bring in cheers in your life.
Last Sunday was my tryst with some of such ‘old friends’, not lost but left unattended to for ages. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, Sceptical Essays by Bertrand Russell, The Discovery of India and An Autobiography by Jawaharlal Nehru, My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi were those ‘old friends’ I revisited. And this act of revisiting gives one a great sense of satisfaction as if you have landed in a new world very familiar but forgotten for long.
While Russel gives you a sense of philosophy in its grandest way by making you realise the importance of rationalism and scepticism, behaviourism and its values, Durant takes you into the lives and thoughts of the greatest philosophers ever on this planet in one go and makes you a part of an ideal world.
Nehru takes you not only into the world of Indian history and civilisation but also makes you familiar with the then prevailing “currents” all over the world that did impact India a lot and its freedom fighters to be more upright and fearless.
And Gandhi gives one the ‘training’ to be simple but high thinking as that is the way to move forward and be dauntless for the achievement of any meaningful goal. To be mindful of truth and the essence of being loving and humanistic are the very essence of any Gandhi writing. Read him and you feel as if you were unnecessarily caught in a web of complex and fruitless exercise all your life; and the time has come to do something meaningful.
In other words, reading people like Gandhi, one is reminded to be more sensitive towards the purpose of life —to be meaningful and useful. A life spent with no achievements that could not make any difference to the rest of the world is a life gone haywire. To live a meaningful life, one should cultivate moral courage to be fearless to face the truth and race ahead.
It was with this point in mind that English critic Leigh Hunt wrote, “When moral courage feels it is in the right, there is no personal daring of which it is incapable.” And it is from great minds like Gandhi that one gets the inspiration to aspire for things that are noble and useful. One also learns to be fearless from people like him. And fearlessness is crucial because, as Cervantes said, it has many eyes and can see things underground!