Posted by: saket71 | May 9, 2010

Books that maketh a man!

I have always believed in the romantic notion of what constituted courage and bravery, a thought which usually cam about to my thoughts as a violent notion, crazily mixed up with righteousness and patriotism and heroism. It was something which somewhere meant giving up on self in the interest of the larger good.

First came, “Arms and The Man” by Bernard Shaw in the backdrop of Serb-bulgarian war, as a part of school studies in pre-college classes. A brilliant piece, a revolutionary play which shook the fundamentals of what I always identified the truth and good and valor with the Chocolate cream soldier of a tongue twister as his name, Bluntschli, getting rescued by Raina Petkoff, who finds all her romantic notions challenged by the man, before eventually falling in love with him. Sergei Saranoff, the anti-thesis of the main protagonist, changes course somewhere mid way. This after he goes to the extent of challenging Bluntschli for a duel, and in the course of discussion which they have. About the time he faces his own love for Louka, the maid, throwing the societal jurisprudence out of window.  Looking at the pleas of CRPF men against Maoists in Dantewada, or those soldiers fighting intruders on western borders, one can not help but understand the point Luntschli makes as a mercenary soldier. What gives a man so much right over another man’s life, that the latter is reduced to being a pawn, a mere plaything in the hands of the former. Looking at the intelligence of our leaders today, I can not say Intellect.  Is it not simply the power to feed that is coming into play. Most soldiers come to the job as any other job, to feed selves and brethren, coming from lower strata of the society. Then pushed by Jingoist armchair thought leaders they are pushed to front into a war in which more often than not, they are mere instruments.  Only other book which I have found to be so emphatically pronounced in denouncing the wars and breaking the social mores was The Mahabharata, whether it was about the shattered heroism which sends pandavas away from kingdom after the great war, or the unblemished character of Karna as Soot putra ( son of a low caste charioteer), who renounces his biological mother from the most royal lineage for the one who adopted her. No other book in my knowledge has placed as much trust and value on the individual wisdom as this one.  Then came “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, which I initially left unread after struggling with some pages, till sometime, during my mid of engineering, I could summon enough courage to complete the finish the book for the first time. I have read it cover to cover so many times since then that I have lost count. Apart from the philosophy of objectivism which it carries as a central theme, what is absolute pleasure is the delicate love and affection with which the author has written every character and instance in the book. As you read the book, you seem to almost live through it with every ray of light falling on every wall explained with great dexterity.  While no one lives in as absolute a term as Howard Roark and non one can possibly, one can not but admire the logic behind a way of life driven by objective rationale.  What sealed my path on which Ms. Rand set me was “Thus spoke Zarusthustra” by Neitzsche, and what had cushioned me against the hard hitting ideas of ” The Fountainhead” and “We the Living” was Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” a great semi-autobiographical philosohical work by a great writer.


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