S.P. Kachru

S.P. Kachru

S.P. Kachru

S.P. Kachru (e-mail: spkachru @ rediffmail . com)


Reaching Out

A Piece about Peace

by S.P.Kachru

Everyone is seeking peace, peace among peoples and nations, peace within society, peace within community, in the little circle of our own family or most intimately, within oneself. A great majority of seekers still agree that be it mighty or meek, prince or pauper, the happiest find their peace at home.

If we want peace, happiness and prosperity at home, then we must establish them abroad. No wonder when billions are spent in aid poured into various under-developed or developing countries, also supplemented by generous donations from large corporate or private sources, only part of this money has actually been used for the avowed aim of helping the recipients to help themselves, as huge amounts have ended up in pockets for which they were not intended or misdirected in other ways. Peace cannot be established by wishful thinking, at least not until everyone in the world agrees on a common set of values and beliefs. And finally, even within a family, hard words or hard blows can be exchanged even without the involvement of the neighbours, for no one is born with perfect self-control. The discipline or art of self-limitation is considered in the era of self-realisation as a means of repression, which should be rejected. And whether the wiser man should always yield, is a debatable contention. The most convincing way to experience in peace is hardly experienced here but the peaceful coexistence as a normal state remains a dream despite a wealth of instructively painful experiences. We could continue chasing a dream that unfolds a time when the power of love will replace the love of power and then our world will know the blessings of peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Banishing avarice, ambition, anger, envy and pride can simply lead us to everlasting peace, within and without. Indeed these efforts may not be easy but that is no reason why we as individuals cannot start immediately with ourselves and with our neighbours to practice peace in freedom and tranquility.

Some seekers of peace desire to create a new universe as they believe that the society in which they live is not compatible with their thinking, it is not comfortable being in it. But a new universe and society can be formed only when a new mind and new peace is formed. Psychologists say our mind is conditioned on the basis of some established beliefs and set convictions - unless these are shattered, the construction of a new society is not possible. The human mind becomes fully developed, usually at the age of 15, when the power of lust is controllable. We need to revamp and revolutionise the whole system. Today, that part of the mind which is called the animal or primitive mind, is active. The animal mind produces greed, it is selfish. In turn, selfishness creates cruelty which generates criminal tendency. Finally, the criminal inclination gives birth to addiction - a criminal takes to intoxication so that he may forget his inner Self and experience momentary peace.

In this world, there is only one fundamental deterrent to peace and that is greed. The rest are just its extensions. Our mind has actually been conditioned by greed. The whole thinking process hovers around that. Every man thinks of his self-interest only and therefore this thought prevents rationality hence truthful relationships. Relationships are either subjective or objective. In subjective relations, reality is either totally absent or it is negligible. It is only a reformed mind that will have relations based on peaceful reality, therefore, in order to purify and reform the mind, we take refuge in meditation. When we actually start knowing, perceiving within, then the ingrained beliefs are reformed. Those beliefs - the basis of life - start reforming. So the important thing for achieving a state of peace is to reform belief or to destroy it. The burden of beliefs carried by man is even more than the burden carried by a donkey. The process of reforming life is meditation. It reforms the basic beliefs and the mind too will be reformed. A reformed mind t r a n s f o r m s personality which in turn reforms society, logically leading to all abounding and all prevailing peace enveloping us and so it does for the entire world around us.

We see so many congregations of people praying and meditating for peace. The spiritual search for peace leads to various methods, for, if one believes in the existence of a Superior Force, a God, then taking the next step to believing that there is a Cosmic Design, that the Stars and Planets are messengers of this God who is the Celestial Architect, is a simple and uncluttered step. To try and find understanding and peace, there are so many ways to find patterns that make sense of our lives and give us the fortitude to face our fears and insecurities. 


Morality Matters

by S.P. Kachru

A fish seeing from below the water and a bird from above shall see same thing differently and so for our opinions about moralities. It is sometimes matter of convenience to preach morals but law makers have nowhere been able to impose it by law. Morality in effect is the result of a rational process, whereby, the mind reasons about moral ideas and creates moral rules, which shall make morality acceptable and applicable universally. An interesting paradox this since the myth of moral conduct and justice needs to address the application of so-called ‘duty'to rescue those suffering injury by others or by nature. Indeed legal quibbles cannot govern the morality of governance.

Some European nations even go to the extent of imposing lawful stipulation of binding duty for citizens to offer support and help in such emergencies, failure of which may even lead to defaulter’s imprisonment. On the contrary, in USA even a group of qualified life guards may not be penalized for seeing a child drown, however, they may be questioned for the liability of any injury to the child or even for the damages to the pool, caused by the rescue attempt. So while there indeed is a moral duty to help but legally there is none. European nations may have perhaps overlooked or underplayed the Janet Jackson visual but unusual uproar and protest that ensued in USA was unrivalled.

Understandably, there is more than one set of morals and therefore each one can cause aggravation in a different fashion, time and people. We observe media morality in what we see in the newspapers splashed across the pages whether passed off as a news item or indecency and obscenity flashed in the garb of product promotion but how often is there a public outcry against them ? Not unaffected is our Censor Board and hence the liberal spirit of unprecedented anatomical displays and permissiveness for daring and baring thus the so called morality of our nation undergoing a big change. Similarly, the increasing indecency over Radio has many running for cover over their ears while the eyes shall anyways bear the brunt of unprecedented race for exposures over various TV channels, trying to out do each other in order to ensure higher TRP. Films have always led from the front when it comes to showcase morality in various forms, however, policing of eroding morality appeared in yet another form through recently released and running to packed houses, Bunty Aur Babli, a movie wherein the super cop Amitabh Bacchan lends a perfunctory nod to morality.

Morality in public life and politics has also attained newer dimensions –political leaders of all kinds and creeds overruling the established laws and precedents as and when they want to do so. Be it the Chief Minister of Bihar, Tamil Nadu or Gujarat, they would get away by doing their own thing just as, morality in political arena showcases how no political party falls short of offering tickets to many gangsters, slumlords etc., what with a strong vote base that they may claim to carry with them. Not too long ago, Barbie dolls were declared a threat to morality in Saudi Arabia since revealing clothes of the “Jewish” toy were considered offensive to Islam hence religious morality was activated. Similarly, Mumbai recently heard some moralists blaming the molested women and their attires for inviting the attacks on them while the offenders were given the support of sympathy. Morality may also mean bombing schools and hospitals as war against terror and terming protection of temples and residential areas in Kashmir from militant barbarism as human rights violation. Morality thus also distinguishes world’s most powerful democracy from world’s largest democracy - depends upon how one sees it.

Composed or Cool !!

by S.P. Kachru

Composure complimented with charm, would even in our day and age, be an effective remedy against outbreaks of uncontrolled temper, which place relationships under unnecessary additional strain. Inappropriate behaviour, making a mountain out of a molehill, dogmatic intolerance – when such characteristics become fixtures of the individual makeup, then we must agree that such behaviour be interpreted as a sign of an inferiority complex.

On the other hand, a lack of balance may just as well indicate under developed self-restraint, a deficiency which can effectively be countered by the strength of conviction that one who can reign or control his desires, passions or fears, is greater than a king, for, he fortifies himself in moderation against an impregnable fortress called Self.

Almost essential element in the promotion of one’s composure, indeed a pre-requisite for its existence, must surely be the measure of cultivation enjoyed by an individual. A higher level of culture and knowledge must assuredly lead to an ability of taking a step back, to find an objective distance and confront a problem without anger or excess zeal. Are we not thus getting close to the real meaning of the fashionable accolade 'Cool'?

Comparison is difficult because the word cool has taken on a variety of meanings, with at least two mutually incompatible sets of content. On one hand, Cool may be understood to indicate a certain degree of composure in encountering new objects, conditions or events. The aim is, though, probably an attitude of casual, nonchalance or some degree of emotional detachment but hardly the factors contributing to composure in its traditional sense. Similarly, Cool may on the other hand even express a certain reluctance to exert oneself. Does this type of Coolness not also accentuate a certain rejection of the overwhelming hustle of a virtual world that promises everything but totally lacks any substance, the glitter that blinds us to a deteriorating quality of life ?

When young people call someone or something 'Cool', one must assume that they usually mean it in a sense of acknowledgement, admiration or affirmation. The long accepted 'Super' seems to have relinquished to 'Cool' as an adjective of praise. This kind of ovation is, nonetheless, a pleasant change from the bombastic jubilation that seems to accompany the most mediocre of events.

Similarly, the slogan of Lifelong learning loses none of it’s validity simply because it is overused by bodies, which actually despise it. No wonder then a strong belief in the co-relation between learning & self-restraint concisely for the growth in one’s wisdom, one’s prudence may be reliably gauged from the decline of one’s ill temper. Are we therefore, on the right road, be it Composed or Cool ? Such learning can ultimately bring about, what is described as ‘Civility’. We need many terms to describe this attribute: Refined Deportment, Good Manners, Composure, Poise etc., in short, Civilised Behaviour.

And all of that can be ours, free of charge, if only we believe that Civility costs nothing but gains for us many things in many ways.

The Art of a Cheerful Life

by S.P. Kachru

The only drug that may safely be certified as not only harmless but even a lasting success can surely only be cheerfulness. Never has it caused an untimely demise as has, for example, grief. The characteristic of a life elixir attributed to cheerful gaiety can befittingly be understood as good cheer is an emotion supporting as well as amplifying body’s power to act. Mournfulness, in contrast, an emotion which reduces and inhibits the body’s power to act. It is a peculiarity worthy of note that cheerfulness as an outstanding characteristic is all the more prevalent where affluence is lacking. One begins to wonder whether the rich blessing of sunshine in such otherwise underprivileged regions of this world could possibly be the sole reason for such a quite essential deviation from the norm set by the predominantly expressionless, often rushed and sullen looking inhabitants of the more temperate zones, with their grey skies but an average income entire orders of magnitude above what is typical for the south of the economic divide.

Impressions of this kind seem to stand out in stark contrast to the belief that he who aims for accomplishment has need to be cheerful. Now one cannot deny that many a chronic grumbler has been known to achieve his goal, but it seems to be safe assumption that a cheerful man will reach his goals with more ease and expedience. He is also less likely to consider his profession as a burden, all the more if he is able to acquire a new cheer from his daily work. Joy and good cheer are apparently siblings; they brighten our lives and have a more lasting influence on our well being than the most perfect combination of vitamins or other ingredients could ever provide.

Therefore, rightly recommended - great cheerfulness with open arms, whenever it may be, never comes at an inopportune moment. Our highly developed world is rife with contradicting answers to such queries as what hinders the cheerful populace in the sunnier climes, in their quest for liberty from poverty. And that may be for reasons influenced by levels of education, political compulsions and the like. He who is no longer able to hold the door open to cheerfulness may be unwittingly limiting himself to the occasional absurdity as a temporal escape from the earnest obsession inherent in the hustle of daily life.

Our famous film industry or theatre arts have a constant flow of such absurdities to offer. Let us rather remain cheerful, taking things in more humorous vein than they really merit, especially considering that we have been taking things more seriously than they deserve for such a long time. CHEERS to that thought for now and forever !!!

Realities About Realities

by S.P. Kachru  

Views and opinions are, more often than not, based on our interests and prejudices rather than facts. This starts with our selection of those facts that are worthy of our attention and this selection is not made on the basis of free will but on that of subjective necessity. The more we project our subjective desires on to the objective exterior world - the more we succeed in projecting our interior outwards - the more the real world becomes a backdrop for the realities which we have created for ourselves.

The point is underlined by language, which instead of being used to describe things as they really are, gives objects a subjective purpose, which objectively does not suit them. We only need to change the accent a little, and we are confronted with another reality - as an example, for many centuries slaves were treated as servants but referred slaves and in contrast, if we presently try to look for translation for slaves, it would be in vain.

Through films and television etc., media has become a big source of such ideal counter realities. Indeed touted as the unreality industry, films and television demean and trivialize everything and everyone connected with it in as much that we no longer prefer to confront reality directly. For long ago, we learned and accepted the fact that reality has for all practical purposes become unmanageable. Instead we have turned our energies to the proliferation and production of endless amounts of unreality to soothe our tired and fractured egos.

Whether this can lead in an era when, for example, smoking has been demonized. War films, appallingly, showing no soldier smoking even though every soldier’s basic ration included cigarettes. Notwithstanding this, the recent case of a superstar apologizing for his cigar chewing appearance following an uproar on smoking in films. The dedication to fictional realities, especially in religion, is obviously a product of the need for an antithesis to a reality that is felt to be inadequate or even intolerable.

That is why religions place so much emphasis on pointing believers to another reality that fundamentally differs from the uncomfortable reality of this world. In this other reality, phenomena which flatly contradict earthly reality such as miracles may occur and believers can hope for things which are actually impossible.

These 'alternative' realities are often more important to us than the factual, which can for example lead to the contradiction that minors can be sentenced as adults if this seems appropriate to the court. In order to understand the paradox of parallel realities, which are hierarchically arranged, a backward glance to Adam and Eve can be sampled to a good effect.

Even though the first man and woman were expelled from paradise, we have a residual collective memory of the same, so that it continues to exist as an unearthly reality. It is before us and behind us, it is also present and inspires our earthly acts, as though it were never entirely lost, as though it were not entirely of the future.

Cultivating the Culture of Conflict

by S.P. Kachru  

When and how to avoid a quarrel or conflict at all costs is well circulated to indoctrinate the meddlesome advice but the rationale has been more than flimsy on the issue of why one should even want to avoid a quarrel in the first place. What are friends who do not also quarrel !

Mastering the art of initiating a dispute and more so, learning to enjoy it still remains elusive to a vast majority of fun seekers. Peace and placidity of thoughts may win us some dispute, sound sleep, piety or prudence – all very well but at least once every fortnight or thereabouts, one should surely have an opportunity to get justly worked up, to be thoroughly excited once in a while and cause a scene for one’s opposition. If not for yourself, then please for the sake of your friend, your wife, the neighbour or whoever else it may happen to be.

Trust me, there never was anything more irritating than a person with whom one cannot enjoy a healthy dispute and argument. Indeed, silence is the only argument that cannot be refuted and yet makes case for mistrust too. It may not be the people who quarrel that we should be wary of, but rather those who evade a quarrel. Simply countered, why such people should feel obliged to shy contention, unless they know of their weaker arguments hence fears of losing out ? Or do such people have anything to hide in which case, they should better get involved in a hearty quarrel. After all, it is in a dispute that we really get to know each other. Dispute is indeed a high form of art and also a useful one at that. It hones the mind, it breaches moral lethargy and – best of all – a quarrel is followed by reconciliation. Here we have the opportunity to appear in the best possible light. Healthwise too, regular and abundant disputes are to be highly recommended. Quite commonly, pursued with sufficient zeal, it leads to higher pulse rates, without any need for a home-trainer or any other form of bothersome, thoroughly unimaginative ways of getting more exercise. A good quarrel should, above all, always leave room for a certain element of surprise. Under no circumstances, should one bore one’s counterpart with a constant repetitive stream of accusations or demoralizing grievances, imagination being the order of the day. It is much better to think up something new from time to time.

Hazard an unexpected venture ! Even an accusation straight out of the blue can work wonders in stimulating a dispute and it awakens creative impulses. Yes, care may be taken to assess the actual weaknesses of the counterpart, there being nothing quite as offending as truth. Listening carefully to the opponent’s arguments or accusations may actually lead you to your victory, therefore, do not miss out on this prime and possibly never to be repeated opportunity to find out exactly as to what would the counterpart would otherwise keep carefully hidden behind a mask of courtesy. Why else would a poor argument be best countered by not interrupting their presentation ? In our heart of hearts we know fully well that wrong is rarely to be found only on one side. For that reason, one will always benefit from a good quarrel because it is perfectly legitimate to learn from one’s opponents hence the wisdom “.... Donk donk karnus chudanai..”

Visualising Individual

by S.P. Kachru

Oblivious to the consequences, man continues in his endeavour to change the world – each in his own way and to conform to his own individual perception, be it to the advantage or detriment of the community at large. By way of a reminder; as a product of nature just like any other form of earthly life, man began his existence in a community of fellow humans. Anyone could use anything. Later on, community of hunters and gatherers began to emerge – the menfolk took care of the hunting and women the gathering. The spoils were then divided among all for consumption accordingly to each one’s need. Mankind had just formed a society.

But it was not to stay that way. The individual’s main concern was concentrated on his own tribe ,then on his immediate family and finally upon himself. That became the basis for tribal conflict, then family conflict, finally developing into personal conflicts. The change-over from community to individual thinking was then accelerated by the advent of religious beliefs, which always called upon the devout to keep fellow humans’ needs above individual’s desires. In contrast to other living beings, man attempts to assign his own life a meaning which will transcend his actual bodily existence.

He, therefore, sets his heart on ideals under which he counts such values as religious orthodoxy, liberty, independence, patriotism, family or his personal property. And the more these values mean to him, the more he will be willing to sacrifice in their interest The age of enlightenment, globalization etc. have isolated society even further. Whereas discriminating citizens had previously been few and far between, they were now to be found in droves. Their competitive spirit was seen to sanction the right to the survival of the fittest and thereby demand that there be victors and losers, classes and hierarchies. Man’s endeavour for self determination now circles around the individual, no longer as a member of the community but as a competitor within it. With that he concedes that individual interests rank higher than those of the community. This becomes even easier to accept as his own death is assured, so the continued welfare of the human race pales into insignificance. In it’s final consequence, the fate of all could therefore fall into the hands of a single individual, for what temptation could be greater than that of becoming victor over all others as the vanquished ?

Having said so, who would debate our genetic exclusivity of claiming to know all, the subject, nuances or numbers notwithstanding. Throughout the history, the communities have produced institutions in order to respond to social needs, needs for protection, needs for mutual defense, needs for religious and spiritual expression, needs for knowledge and learning which eventually led to prosperity of several kinds. If we were to exercise our nostalgic recall, we would have our hallmark heritage, high-minded humility, humble beginnings, hymns, hill-tops etc. etc. springing forth and indeed that may help check the decline setting in our midst and hence merit reconsideration of our present day thinking. Till then, it may be a self indulgent pleasure to believe that since God helps those who help themselves, serving an individual’s self interest is divine !

Speech is Golden

by S.P. Kachru  

If you are to uncover a truth while conversing freely, you have to admit that you do not know where it lies from the outset . There have been numerous attempts by clever minds to clear away the ac cumulated mountains of prejudice and deliberate misunderstandings .This often is possible in individual cases ,however, often enough the people who prevail are the ones who proclaim that the truth is whatever they say or believe it is. With increasing number of mature population and education, there has been a corresponding rise in the likelihood of getting to the bottom of things and finding out what really is the truth. To suggest that do not speak ill of your enemy only think it, may have it’s own merits while people demand truth from the government and from the electronic media too, what with those sting operations et al. And they specially seek it in their families, their communities and their relationships in general, where honest one to one talk is essential for maintaining placid relationships.

People often react reflexively to thoughtless remarks that are tossed to them without allowing the actual problem to be recognised. Mediators easily talk past each other and their sense of alienation grows, rather than being overcome. The famous saying Speech is silver but silence is golden is helpful on ly as a n interim solution, until wrath burns itself out and self criticism emerges to take its proper place. But then the tongue must be moved in order to aid the mutual search for the facts. Perhaps this may lead to the insight that yet another motto is more appropriate –speech is golden. Speaking ,in effect, is reaching out to others, expressing your concerns, your criticism, your compliments and of course, touching others with your feelings. Not infrequently, serious resentment and misunderstanding grow out of the failure to talk soon enough to one’s partner, long time friend, relatives or even children , upon becoming annoyed, and there can be many reasons for this. Remaining silent too long is risky as prejudices may grow entrenched. They may become all the more difficult to dismantle, the longer a clarifying discussion is postponed.

The search for the facts deserves to be prioritised when the people concerned seriously want to resolve contentious issues , be it in personal or public life. SATYA MEV JAYATE affirming truth alone prevails and the belief that sets it’s sights on the aim of creating an in dispensable prerequisite for sustainable conflict resolution by seeking out the truth rather than repressing it. This can apply at both the levels, the microcosmic as well as macrcosmic.

The big question then is whether the readiness to learn in this way is universal hence the typical old school refrain - learn or leave, but saying so is important for speech is golden.

Imperfect Mankind

by S.P. Kachru  

Ever since human beings started thinking about their identities and values, they have been aiming for an ideal – the perfect human being, whom all other human beings should strive to imitate. There is only one concrete result of this deliberation upon which everyone in the human race will agree, however-namely that mankind as it lives and behaves on this planet today, has not yet become perfect. No wonder that while nature does attain perfection but we people never do.

There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee etc. etc. but mankind is perpetually unfinished. Imaginatively, when mankind’s spirit awoke to life, a concept was born that became known as ethics. Ethics can serve as a signpost on the way to becoming perfect.

Imperfect or as some may want to address unfinished man requires ethics because the consciousness of self prompts people to think of themselves first and only then – if at all – to think of others. Despite Ethics, crimes like wars, murder, mayhem and better not to mention lesser rated ones like dishonesty, continue to exist and grow, unabated. The only thing that has continuously changed and will continue to change is the way in which morals are interpreted, justified and implemented. Unfinished mankind, however, has remained and will continue to remain as far away from what people actually should be or could become.

Modernity has provided a garb that men now have a shower and a shave before going to attack another fellow human being. The ethics of those who are on their way to becoming perfect human beings seem thus to be imperfect, a fact that will clearly prevent these ethics from becoming fully effective.

One of the main shortcoming probably is that , ethics are, as a rule, preached to others, hoping that they will take them to heart thus underlining that we have two sets of morality, one which we preach and the other which we practice but seldom preach. Every human being, however, has his or her own unique experience to guide their ethical practices. There may not be any society where morals are not contravened daily. We are, thus, forced to admit that crime is unavoidable hence routine. Consequently, there is no point in referring to the unavoidable imperfection of human nature as a disease too since if it were so, we all would have contracted this disease as imperfection reigns everywhere. In short, the perfect human being will never exist.


by S.P. Kachru  

By merely hinting his intent to resign from the council of ministers, a senior minister not just caused a mini tsunami, what he actually provoked was nothing short of outrage. Infact it would be insensitive and in poor taste to speak of a wave of outrage in this connection which may or may not have struck as a flood of letters to various newspapers and mad rush of coverage by various TV channels.

Usually it is simply a question of tact and consideration to prevent a heavy duty faux-pas as cited above. The problem, including the politician’s blunder, is that even though the originator may not have the intention to cause any harm, an expression can easily injure the feelings of an audience or listeners. Once a statement is made, it can no longer be retracted hence the word harms more easily than it heals. Although it is commonly said that Time heals all wounds but we do not know as to how much we shall have to wait to recover from that insensitive derailment. On the other hand, we are witness to aggressive sales campaigns and advertisement blitz for new products and services etc. make an impact like a bomb dropping, is nobody outraged ?

Why do Bomb threats, sex-bombs, bombing attacks and also the successful bomb tests appear together on one and the same title page of a newspaper ? Why do inflation trends develop into forest fires in the economy pages while the prices explode in the advertisement section ? Does it not injure anybody’s feelings when unsuccessful or out of form sports stars suddenly age or have the plague ? I have no intention of either defending the politician or support the parallel pessimism.

Apart from extreme verbal lapses, there is common place neglect and thoughtless crudity - and downright good journalism, poetic licence and verbal sensitivity in day to day life. I would only like to raise awareness to the words, as they can be both, influential and injurious, at the same time. They are deployed, often so inflationally, that they literally lose their value; they are split and recomposed in unrecognizable connections, twisted, often subject to brute force, until such point as they fall from being acceptable fads to the taboo. Why should we disregard the word knowing well that it is surely a mighty instrument, the means by to one another, the way we inform, influence or impress others.

Factfully, words deserve attention, deliberate and scrupulous usage…..esteem for the word, its usage in strict diligence and in incorruptible inner love of truth, are indeed the precondition for the growth of the community spirit and humanity.

Beginner's Luck

by S.P. Kachru  

All beginners are difficult and as an amateur scribbler of thoughts, I too ought to know this first-hand. Well, a blank white sheet searching an introductory sentence although that stage comes before the actual beginning. The real problem, in effect, is making a start.

Once one has started, just as I have at last, the magic formula which dwells in the beginnings for guarding and helping us to lead our lives, comes into its own. To start, begin or to embark upon a journey, are the magic words. They conjure up images of a morning breeze, the zephyr of 'Basant Ritu' springtime, a breath of youth. Here at last, I have started ... and now what?

Time to begin the next paragraph. Many describe beginnings as cheerful and that is presumably why we favour such boisterous celebrations at the start of a new year, welcoming it with donning of new apparels, arranging colourful decorations, convivial celebrations, exchange of gifts, fireworks and the like.

2007 is a new comer, a freshman, a greenhorn and we all declare our solidarity with it by becoming cheerful debutants independent of whether it is our 25th or 75th new year. The word greenhorn is often used as not very complimentary remark but I think this needs correction. Newcomers have every reason to be cheerful. They are conceded the right to make mistakes, and to bask in beginner's luck.

The great advantage of life as a debutant is the wealth of open and far stretched out opportunities. Freshmen or starters don't fail; they have only just begun. Debutants feel that they are at the entrance to the virgin territory. With their commendable initiative and drive, they are explorers of their own potential. That is why beginners radiate good cheer - for the very reason that they have embarked upon something new.

Now, of course, I am long past the beginning of my text. I have to think of bringing it to a close. There is much less joy in that, so let me dwell on beginnings a little longer.

Infact, I could even start all over again. A renowned singer says that he is no more than a beginner in his own affairs. To me that always sounded particularly promising, even though - may be precisely - because it is essentially an admission of a lack of routine. Imagine a beginner, a newcomer as someone who is more attentive and aware, seeking a path-breaking success.

At this point, one could easily argue that nothing leaves life poorer than starting much but completing little, but I object to that. Let us not allow a cheerful beginning to be spoilt by such long-term negative thinking. The end always comes soon enough, be it crowned with success or otherwise.

Take the opportunity to indulge in the beginner's euphoria. Let yourself be charmed. Now, as always, is a splendid time to start something new - a novel, a love affair of new relationship, an overseas chat pal, a new hobby. You could launch a humanitarian aid project, embark upon a journey to the Cape of Good Hope, or set some other new ball rolling. May be, you would like to simply start singing a song, learning to play keyboard, to knit a few stitches or invent a new source of energy. There are so many possible new beginnings. Beginning something new is fun. And I would be pleased if you can make some use of this column, because then I will not have to worry about the ending.

Navreh Mubarak.

Fated OR Faulted

by S.P. Kachru  

No sooner has one fallen foul of a stroke of fate, the know-alls are at hand. Comments rain down on the unfortunate victim from every quarter, all basically confirming that he has only himself to blame. A Heart attack - a clear case of bad food habits or too little exercise or too much of work. Has someone’s husband been cheating on her ? Then she must have been neglecting him. That’s always a safe assumption. Or she has pampered and spoiled him so much that it’s no wonder that he got into mischief. And why did she marry him anyway ? That was where she went wrong in the first place.

Oh, yes, I do believe in the good in man. That is precisely why I cannot believe that mere spite could be the root of all his abject behaviour. Surely not! Quite the contrary, it must be deeply engrained feeling of being no more than a pawn in the hands of the powers of fate and fortune. This feeling needs to be countered most resolutely.

We will be subject to blind and savage fate if we behave correctly. I, for one, most certainly won’t. Nothing can happen to me. After all, I am reasonable and sensible at all times and therefore perfectly safe. Alas! If only it were just that easy! That really would be fine. But who on earth has prophetic vision of all possible risks and opportunities ? And even if we did, and carefully looked right, who is to say that fate wouldn’t take the opportunity and strike from the left at that very moment? That’s the way it works. Of course, I shouldn’t have pulled the steering wheel around so abruptly. But what can I do about it, if a big fat spider suddenly decides to crawl across my neck ? My own fault ? Yes, of course. But no one is immune to losing face to some extent, now and again. And what sort of life would we lead if we were determined to eliminate each and every risk ? After all, fate leaves thousands of culprits unchallenged, only to strike out so much harder against a single unfortunate individual. Certainly, not an ideal occasion to relish such a mean form of satisfaction.

Nevertheless, many other reasons can be found to counter such superficial judgement of fate, fault and fortune. At the end of the day, are not our own character, our power of judgement, our upbringing and our personal history – in short all that allthat brought us to do all that we have unfortunately done – all an integral part of our fate? Or do all these aspects no longer matter to us? Are we in a position to make independent decisions at any given point in time? Hard to say but one thing is certain; one is always wiser after the event. It is completely pointless to shout after a child has just fallen down a well "I told you so". I mean of what use is that ? Why bother to talk about it, now that is so obvious ly too late ? It is just as bad as decrying the dead.

Destiny on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish altogether. As is our attitude now towards any misfortune that we suffered in the past. We could claim that the ability to feel self-pity is one of characteristics distinguishing man from beast. But whose merit is that? One could be inclined to cite an animal’s behaviour as a role model for man. But then one is quickly forced to reconsider. After all, the beast is too dumb to understand. Nevertheless, self-pity is a powerful temptation for mankind, and it takes plenty of energy to counteract it. It may be a pleasant sensation for a fleeting moment but believe me, I have tried it. It doesn’t work.

By the way, compassion, the milder sister of self-pity, is something completely different. Quite often, this is the only thing able to soothe the pain. Let us all be gallant enough to hold back from our inclination towards arrogance the next time fate strikes one of our acquaintances. Let others make their piercing remarks, we want to try our hand at understanding and compassion. Let us not befool ourselves. We don’t control our fate; it controls us. We must realize that it is the Fate that deals the cards and we have to play the hand.

Top Secret

by S.P. Kachru  

Many politicians, policemen, lawmakers, law breakers, protectors, perpetuators, professed lovers etc. have one thing in common. They all participate to a great degree in the delights – as well as the burdens – of sharing a secret. That is why we are jealous of them, for the secret fulfills a truly basic human need. A secret is absolutely wonderful ! Whether wife discovers it while scrumptiously rummaging through husband’s drawers, or Saas ji eavesdropping outside closed doors of Bahurani, whether we share it in furtive whisper or stoically keep it to ourselves, a secret is the perfect synonym for excitement and adventure.

A secret can be a burden too, if we have to keep it to ourselves. But the difficulty of keeping a secret cannot outweigh the delight of discovering one. Nothing unites people than having a secret in common. Secret societies, conspiracies and intrigue benefit from the power and attraction of a secret. And the good news is – there’s a secret around just about every corner. So while there is no dearth of secrets, the trick is to retain a sense of curiosity.

Most people have a secret or two. A friend of mine once indulged in the fun of calling up all sorts of people on the phone and whispering "I just chance to know a couple of those things and goings on etc." into the handset in his most conspiratorial voice.

Actually he knew nothing at all but almost all of the people so addressed were nevertheless astonishingly quick to realize which of the secrets he claimed to 'know'.

Secrets lie in wait just beyond our own four walls for the open mind-well, at least if one of the walls borders on a neighbouring flat. What goes on there day and night, why this neighbour returns so late in night, who is that frequent visitor of theirs? What mysterious fates are lived out behind the doors and windows which we pass by so innocently? Nothing but uncharted territory on our maps. All of animate and inanimate nature offers us nothing but secrets – the minute we care to look. But you need not become too inquiring and marvel at every single thing from now on. A spark of curiosity is enough to confer undreamt of allure on life. If that is not enough for you and then I recommend that you adopt a lead you to all manner of excitement and complications – if you really keep it concealed. This in turn will make substantial contribution to honing your memory and mental agility. But above all, such an alter ego enables us to act out aspects of our personality which we may not have inkling of yet. An alter ego might actually save you from boring or indeed dangerous conformity.

But beware ! keeping your own secrets is not the sole requirement. In every close relationship it is essential in more ways than one that we remain reverent and respectful towards the secrets of others. If you lack discretion, you actually challenge your opponent to insist on his inalienable right to have secrets by reverting to secretiveness and disloyalty. If, one the other hand, you think you already know all of the others’ secrets, then tedium and boredom are your just punishment.

Not every secret has to be resolved. If you persistently seek to be open and alert, however, and live by these active opposites of mysteriousness, then you will never have to worry about running out of secrets.

Track and Truth

by S.P. Kachru

One who answers a point even before having heard, brings embarrassment of folly to himself. That any truthful information and knowledge are unmistakable key to success is well known to all. Whenever someone tries to bypass the icy terrain of semi-truths, he does not find success in conclusion.

Truth, therefore, is like an indestructible plant, one may try to bury it under a rock but it is bound to prevail when the time comes. Education, upbringing and the degree of resultant acceptance of inter-personal values and concepts surely make up a major part of the true character that we display in day to day life. But none of us is in anyway immune to surprises since never may the difficulties and imponderability encountered in the search for truth discourage us from getting to the bottom of the obscure, in order to avoid falling foul of any deception or illusion. The closer we approach the truth, all the more thoroughly do we lay foundations for a well established verdict, a formal decision on the next turn to take. That may apply to interpersonal relationships too, in the attempt to solve the professional problems or even to forming an opinion on political issues which may seem vital to our future. It is common knowledge that truth becomes questionable whenever it becomes a political issue, at that point one is surely prone to add that manipulation of truth, the systematic dissemination of semi-truths or even malicious lies, does not only open the less pretty side of politics to public view, notwithstanding the fact that politics is not considered to be most reputable of occupations in our country by the vast majority. Even the so called yellow press and of course the unavoidable multiplicity of TV channels are already well known for the discrepancy between their highly profitable sensational headlines, breaking news, trumped campaigns, sting operations and behind the facade facts.

The moral stature of a Mahatma Gandhi may be light-years away from such business practices but it would nevertheless be much more recommendable starting point for more peaceful future. Gandhi ji is known to have stated that without truth it is impossible to apply any principles or regulations in one’s life, which mayfurther mean to convey that without truth there can be no peace. Truth is not made up of proofs but in reduction towards eventual simplicity. We may not all finally succeed in that quest but as that popular saying reminds us "Truth may go under now and again but never will it drown."

Wisdom Versus Reality

by S.P. Kachru  

A few centuries ago, one saintly Philosopher who is said to have been satisfied with a small barrel as a home, propagated the insight that a human being always wants what is good for himself alone but not what would be good for all people. This wise perception probably holds true to this day, which leads one to assume that it will continue to be so, a few centuries later. The only likely use for this insight will be to decorate book shelves with volumes containing it and other ancient pearls of wisdom, or to give such tomes to one’s friends and grandchildren, so that they can enhance their own display of reading material.

The human being evidently expects to benefit more from new realities than from ancient wisdom. We appreciate the automobile, for example, which people have not been entirely mistaken deriding as a toy for adults. The only thing that cars produce are accidents, which primarily harm their proud owners and their passengers. Far more people have lost lives in accidents than in wars, nevertheless, while such sudden end to life is hotly discussed and disputed, we have yet to see anyone who has demanded abolition of cars in order to save thousands of lives, each year. Critics merely find fault with the fact that in a car, one drives past far too many things that one could otherwise enjoy.

This is not the only reason why automobiles are expendable. They also have no nutritional value and are thus not required to keep people alive or help them procreate. You might object that automobiles are required to transport marketable goods, but profit-driven trade has always found adequate solutions for doing this in all epochs, even without such vehicles. Moreover, what we can say about automobiles, applies just as much to other technical toys - ranging from televisions and computers to aircrafts - which are all very entertaining but which contribute nothing to the physical well being of the world’s population. Words of wisdom such as those uttered by our great saints appear to be superfluous because hardly anyone has any use for them, but weapons of all kinds are expendable for the opposite reason - people use them too much. Tanks, Bombers and Missiles etc. are useful solely to those who manufacture them. Everyone else could exist without them, and this would not detract from their quality of life in any way. The ever available supply of guns, revolvers etc. is probably sufficient to meet the needs of jealous husbands and robbers of all kinds.

Other things, incomprehensibly described as dispensable, can probably be called essential, namely luxuries. Arguably so, the allure of luxury is integral to the human being as such. Superfluous and unreasonable things, which have lost all semblance of being necessary or useful, act as signal of freedom. They confirm something that human being can spare less than any other, self-respect and dignity.

Each sign of superfluousness, each piece of luxury, takes on a special, even crucial meaning especially in bitter poverty, where the experience of want determines a person’s life expectations. Luxury confirms and symbolizes the fact that the human being is able to raise his existence above all the indignities and insecurities, despite everything. All this taken together leads inexorably to one conclusion. We do not need words of wisdom which no one bothers to live by. What we need is luxury - superfluous and unreasonable - especially for the poor.

What’s The Truth

by S.P. Kachru  

The term ’truth’ in common parlance relates to the world as it appears to us. It applies specifically to certain objects or circumstances. It always relates to the form and not the content of a statement. We may well sample the view that the purely logical criterion of truth, namely, the agreement of knowledge with the general and formal laws of the understanding and reason, is a sine qua non, and is therefore, the negative condition of all truth. But further than this, logic cannot go. It has no touchstone for the discovery of such error as concerns not the form but the content.

Thus, although we may read all manner of statement in Upanishads, their variety is an open question and, in the last analysis, a question of belief. To put it more philosophically, no truth is more certain or independent of others and less in need of proof than this, namely that everything that exists for knowledge and hence the whole of this world, is only object in relation to the subject. Everything that in any way belongs and can belong to the world is inevitably associated with the being conditioned by the subject and exists only for the subject.

No matter how sincerely witnesses swear in court that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, their evidence is at best what they believe to be true, an imperfect substitute for ‘the truth’. Today, post modern pragmatism offers another truth substitute called contingent truth i.e., the substitution of solidarity for truth. What is normally accepted as truth depends on the society in which one lives and on the influences which it exerts. The members of a society should therefore, for the sake of orderly co-existence, reach agreement on what is to be considered true. The attitude to truth has been fiercely criticised, particularly by religious philosophers, some fearing that it may destroy the basis for any absolute truth or morality.

Are we therefore forced to make do with substitute truths or must we put our faith in believed truths ? Neither ! Completely unmoved by the above arguments, many of us are obviously pressing on with the search for absolute truth. And we are perfectly justified in these attempts as the statement "there is no truth" is actually paradoxical. For if there is no truth, the statement cannot be true.

Secretary's Scribble

by S.P. Kachru  

Our distinct approach, bearing social sensitivity and community culture at heart, has brought us a unique cohesiveness that is worth emulating. The passion to do more and be more has helped us grow in the hearts of the very people that we strive to touch and serve.

Our various cultural and social welfare initiatives over the years have seen us transform from a little seed into a tree today. We aim at securing more inclusive participation and co-operation of our community members towards the objectives and goals of Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai (KPA). For this, we are investing our full dedication, passion and zeal to achieve them in order to emerge as one of the best Kashmiri Pandit charitable organizations globally, focusing greatly on the preservation of our rich cultural heritage.

The under-construction 'Sharda Sadan' at Kharghar, Navi Mumbai is the case in O point, soliciting spirited financial contributions from all. Upon completion, 'Sharda Sadan' shall showcase an unprecedented display of our spiritual and cultural preservation and promotion. By sharing our values and becoming part of our ongoing endeavours and initiatives, together we aim to impact the lives of people around us and hence the society. At our core, we are no less than a family, therefore, we invite you to become a part of the KPA family and its success story. We need to make a conscious effort to build 'Sharda Sadan' sincerely and at the earliest so that these 'building efforts' outshine all the other. The next time someone asks you, "What did you do today?" - wouldn’t it be nice to simply say, "I built."

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