Adyar Gopal Parivar
|An Element of Immortality
|An Element of Immortality
(Excerpts from "The Discovery of India" by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru whose birthday falls every year on November 14th).
Edited by Mohan Shenoy.
"So it was with my last term of imprisonment which began with the new moon, just after the
Deepavali, the festival of light. The moon ever a companion to me in prison, has grown more
friendly with closer acquaintance, a reminder of the loveliness of this world, of the waxing and
waning of life, of light following darkness, of death and resurrection following each other in
interminable succession. Ever changing yet ever the same, I have watched in its different
phases, and its many moods in the evening, as the shadows lengthen in the still hours of the
night, and when the breath and whisper of the dawn bring promise of the coming day. How
helpful is the moon in counting of the days and the months for the size and the shape of the
moon when it is visible, indicate the day of the month with a fair measure of exactitude. It is an
easy calendar (though it must be adjusted from time to time) and for the peasant in the field
the most convenient one to indicate the passage of the days and the gradual changing of the
approach something that is ever receding. And in each one of us are many different involves
and rejection of much of it. It is difficult to harmonize these contrary tendencies, and
sometimes one of them is dominant and sometimes another.
"For all our powers of reason and understanding and all our accumulated knowledge and
experience, we know little enough about life's secrets, and can only guess at its mysterious
processes. But we can always admire its beauty and, through art, exercise the god-like
function of creation.
"Though we may be weak and earring mortals, living a brief and uncertain span of life, yet
there is something of the stuff of the immortal gods in us. 'We must not,' therefore says
Aristotle, 'obey those who urge us, because we are human and mortal, to think human and
mortal thoughts; in so far as we may we should practice immortality, and omit no effort to live
in accordance with the best that is in us.'
"The world of today has achieved much, but for all its declared love for humanity, it has
based itself far more on hatred and violence than on the virtues that make man human. War is
the negation of truth and humanity. War may be unavoidable sometimes, but its progeny are
terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for the man must die, but the deliberate and
persistent propagations of hatred and falsehood, which gradually become the normal habits of
the people. It is dangerous and harmful to be guided in our life's course by hatred and
aversions, for they are wasteful of energy and limit and twist the mind and prevent it from
perceiving the truth. Unhappily there is hatred today in India and strong aversions, for the
past pursues us and present does not differ from it. It is not easy to forget repeated affronts to
the dignity of a proud race. Yet, fortunately, Indians do not nourish hatred for long; they
recover easily a more benevolent mood.
"We in India do not have to go abroad in search of the past and the distant. We have them
here in abundance. If we go to foreign countries it is in search of the present. That search is
necessary, for isolation from it means backwardness and decay. The world of Emerson's time
has changed and old barriers are breaking down; life becomes more international. We have to
play our part in this coming internationalism and for this purpose, to travel, meet others, learn
from them and understand them. But a real internationalism is not something in the air without
roots or anchorage. It has to grow out of national cultures and can only flourish today on a
basis of freedom and equality and true internationalism.
"We are citizens of no mean country and we are proud of the land of our birth, of our people,
our culture and traditions. That pride should not be for a romanticised past to which we want
to cling; nor should it encourage exclusiveness or a want of appreciation of other ways than
ours. It must never allow us to forget our many weaknesses and failings or blunt our longing
to be rid of them. We have a long way to go and much leeway to make up before we can take
our proper station with others in the van of human civilization and progress.
"Thus we shall remain true Indians and Asiatics, and become at the same time good
internationalists and world citizens."
losing its vitality. The advertizer is
continuous and raucus attempts to
perception. He induces us to buy
unnecessary and even harmful or
burdensome products. There are
great advances in science some of
Life become more artificial and
slowly ebbs away. We use more
and more stimulants to perform
our natural functions and need
drugs to enable us to sleep or
awaken. We go for foods and
drinks that tickle our palate rather
than become wholesome and
nutritious. All these and others
produce a momentary or
short-lived exhilaration at the cost
of weakening the system. We use
various special devices to provide
us a sensation of pleasure and
excitement; and after the
stimulation comes the reaction
and then the sense of emptiness.
Many splendid manifestations and
real achievements have created
much improvement in our life yet
there are many counterfeits also.
We indulge in novel emotions but
our human relations seldom go
below the superficial plane.
The competitive and acquisitive
characteristics of modern capitalist
society, the enthronement of
wealth above everything else, the
continous strain and lack of
security for many add to the ill
health of the mind and produce
The fate of man is dependent on
his moral strength. Joy and
happiness come from self
limitation. Selfishness leads to
accumulation of money and often
monied-man is devastated when
he loses even a part of it. He also
abuses money leading to evil and
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
Edited by Mohan Shenoy.
|Adyar Gopal and Radha Bai