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PANDIT NEHRU

An Element of Immortality

(Excerpts from "The Discovery of Indi"a 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 season."

        "All of us try to 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."

       "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 neurotic states.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 crime. "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."

Concluded
        "The advertiser makes 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 our lives. 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."
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