Timeless ideas from the land where the Sindu Flowed

...As applied in the present context

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Book Publisher: Bharitiya Vidya Bhavan
Author: Nixon Fernando
No of Pages: 218
Paper Back Price: Rs. 150 /-
I.S.B.N: 81-7276-132-5
Buying the book: This book will be made available shortly. In the meanwhile do please contact the author or publisher for copies.

"His clear vision, and sharp focus does separate for the reader, the chaff from the grain, and does show the average citizen that there are other options in life..."

--Admiral Arun Prakash, PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM, Former CNS.



The book answers the questions:- ‘Is there hope for India's rich legacy?’ 'Why is there confusion?' 'Where should one look to get optimal solutions for contemporary problems?'

When indigenous problem solvers ponder over solutions to challenges faced by today’s society, they are usually confronted by counter arguments that in turn gain legitimacy/authority ... in the thought process of the western world. The problem sovers land up in an intellectual no-man’s-land and experience confusion/uncertainty/dilemma; and this uncertainty, in turn, taxes the nation’s efficiency.

There is therefore a need to take into reckoning basic differences in perception that exist between the oriental and the occidental, Modern and ancient, scientific and religious, indigenous and alien. Having considered these, any underlying presumptions, if found, needs to be challenged and the truth found.

In a world driven by Science and Technology, where The Divine is at best considered to be an invention and not a discovery, it is most likely that the social, political, economic and other systems set up will reflect this atheisic/agnostic belief. But what if there is a ‘hidden variable’ — if one may — that controls human behavior? Would the systems not be altered accordingly with its discovery? And what if the the ancient masters discovered and achieved mastery in this 'hidden variable'? If they did, then they would surely have designed ‘applications’ based on that understanding and their systems and traditions would reflect that. And all that would come to us in the literature that they passed on and in the traditions practiced in the Indian subcontinent. An open minded inquiry can throw light on all of this and may give us promising directions to work on.

This book is about a set of debates that point out to those promising directions that our ancient sages thought were important. It seeks to introduce the deep thinking of the ancient sages and throw light on how they set up systems, practices and traditions that reflected that deep wisdom.

This book is designed more for a western audience than an Indian one, and that would include the west-educated Indians — even if they were west-educated in their native language! This is because the content and thrust of education today (even in the vernacular) is based on the model that was first introduced by the colonial rulers in India; and that is the norm the world over today. Be that as it may, the title of the book seeks to point out, to this west-educated reader, that there is equivalence between the wholly western concept of 'Kingdom of Heaven' and the Hindu concept of "Ramrajya". In the opinion of the past masters, the differences amount to superficial things and it is the similarities that are substantial. Both concepts stand for living on earth in accordance with the will of The One Supreme. They are also about setting up systems that facilitate the creation of a Heavenly atmosphere here on Earth.

In each of the essays, as one can see in the index appended below, the aim is to juxtapose the thinking and methods of the ancient sages and other spiritual lights against the thoughts and practices in the modern world. And as we delve on the issues it becomes evident that we may not have paid adequate attention to some very deep understanding coming from the ancient masters.

The book makes no claim of there having been nuclear weapons, airplanes, interaction with aliens, or having internet and television and the works in ancient India. Matter of that kind can be totally avoided. The focus is on ‘human nature’ or more specifically ‘the divinity element in human nature’, the awareness of which once upon a time made the sub-continent the go-to place in the world.

It is time for the thinking Indian to, albeit think along scientific lines, inquire for himself the truth about the ‘hidden dimension’ and its applications, and benefit from his amazing civilizational inheritance.


Arun Prakash
Admiral, PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM

Former Chief of Naval Staff

Over the past many months, I have observed with approval, and perhaps, an occasional tinge of envy, Nixon Fernando functioning as a junior member of the academic faculty of the prestigious National Defence Academy. A dedicated and responsive Professor of Physics for BSc classes, he is popular and well liked ... by the cadets. However, what actually brought him to my notice was his propensity for outdoor activity of every type. If one day I saw him wielding a cricket bat with panache, another day I would see him kicking a football, swimming, riding horse-back or tossing a basket-ball with equal ease and felicity.

We did, on one or two occasions, briefly engage in discussions of a slightly philosophical nature. However, it was only when Fernando handed over the manuscript of “Towards the Kingdom of Heaven” to me one day, that I was struck by the extent of this versatile young man’s intellectual domain.

The title of this book could be somewhat misleading, but it is certainly not a theological work. It only attempts to draw upon the treasure-house of wisdom which it claims is embedded in each religion, but which, for various reasons in neither apparent nor available to the man on the street.

Conventional wisdom today, appears to convey to the common man that not only do religions have nothing to offer us, but are perhaps the root-cause of turmoil and conflict in which much of mankind is embroiled.

Samuel Huntington, a Harvard social scientist, in this recent book. “The clash of Civilisations”, considers that differences between religions are irreconcilable, and goes so far as to postulate that all future conflicts will arise along so called “Civilisational fault lines”. The civilisations as defined by him, are synonymous with the world’s great religions, and therefore, his thesis tends to reinforce the suspicion with which a large percentage of the intelligentsia looks at religions.

In a refreshingly different viewpoint, Fernando attempts to dispel this somewhat grim prognosis, with the opening sentence of his book. Striking an optimistic note, he says, “Diverse as they are, religions do have at least a fine thread of similarity running through all of them. And when one gets hold of this thread, a whole world of logic and reason opens out to him”.

A Catholic by faith, Fernando is also obviously catholic in his readings and accumulation of knowledge. He sees no conflict or contradiction between science and religion, between physics and metaphysis, and between Marx and Mohammed. If the search is only for the ultimate Truth (and surely there can only be one Truth), then these are different paths to its attainment. So, according to Fernando, there is scope for neither conflict nor contradiction. He feels that the literal and simplistic interpretation by lay individuals, of many profound religious tracts, is the root-cause of common misunderstandings about relation.

Fernando’s collection of essays are very readable as discrete entities, but they also form a continuum which covers a vast gamut of related and topical issues ranging from Governance, Representation and Leadership to Capitalism, HRD and Education, and concludes with a treatise on Dharma. The underlying theme remains the same. Religions contain the contributions of many great minds and the manifold problems of mankind lend themselves to easy solutions only if we take the wisdom of religion. The suggested path to peace, tranquility and resolution of problems is through “Param Vidya” which is a form of education that correlates the self with divine.

Fernando wires with the fervor and burning conviction of an idealist, that instantly strikes the reader. Going through Fernando’s prose, which often contains and unorthodox turn of phrase, entirely his own, the reader can sense the eagerness of an evangelist as he comes forth to offer succor and salvation to humanity through seemingly new-found simple truths.

However, to read Fernando, is not necessarily to agree with his thought-process in its entirety. The cynics amongst his readers may probably consider his ideas naïve, and his solutions simplistic. It may be said, for example, in the Indian milieu, that they do not take into account, on the one hand the influence of poverty and ignorance or human nature, and on the other, the reality of human cupidity and venality in the context of prevailing value systems.

The blind adoption of the Westminster form of democracy by the founders of our Republic seems a major blunder in hind-sight. As we watch the complete mutilation of the parliamentary system by our self-seeking and predatory politicians, there seems little chance that noble thoughts and pious offerings of thoughtful, creative, and concerned people like Fernando will bring such people back to the path of righteousness, or turn the tide of anarchy that seems about to engulf us.

Having said that, one also sincerely hopes that Fernando’s efforts will not be in vain. His clear vision, and sharp focus does separate for the reader, the chaff from the grain, and does show the average citizen that there are other options in life. He has left many questions unanswered in the present work. Of these, the most prominent is, “Where do we go from here?” Perhaps he will have an answer for us in the next volume.

Arun Prakash
Vice Admiral, AVSM, VrC, VSM, Former Commandant NDA
National Defense Academy
23rd December 1998


Diverse as they are, religions do have at least a fine thread of similarity running common through all of them. And when one gets hold of this thread, a whole world of logic and reason opens out to him. Interestingly, this aspect of religion is ... in no conflict with science. And the treasures in it are immense. It clarifies the thought like nothing else. And it reveals a lot.

A writer once remarked that ‘in due course, generations to come will look back at our times, amazed that such a lusty and foolish group of people even existed on this earth’. And going by some ideas in religion (which in turn, seem to be perfectly rational) this writer seems to be quite on the mark.

We have the very best in terms of material advancement. But the restlessness in our societies suggests that there is something catastrophically wrong …. !

The environment will not be able to sustain our onslaught for long. There is evil everywhere. Religious communities are squabbling within themselves and with each other. People repeatedly violate their own consciences and other peoples’ rights and don’t seem to notice that they have done any wrong. We indulge in the most immoral things and feel proud of it. People are fighting like cats and dogs and we do not know how to find who is right and who is wrong. We know that we are being taken for joyrides by our own politicians and yet we cannot effectively spot and pin down the problem. We know that at the next door there is somebody suffering, but our priorities do not make this our problem; even though we feel concerned.

After all, why should we bother? If we worry about all these things, who will worry about us? And if we give things to others, how will we get the things that will make us happy….. ?!

When the general beliefs are such where is the chance for hope?!


There is nothing as disappointing and demoralizing as the thought that we cannot do anything about the problems around us. And to add to that, what if we ourselves might be contributing to the problems of the system, out of our ignorance?

When we sit back and think it all comes out at us; the gloom, the anxiety, the hopelessness, the helplessness… Death looms large, on one hand through military arsenal and through starvation and disease on the other…. We generally shirk it off and block it out of our minds. Otherwise the only hope seems to lie in doing our bit with the hope that it will make a difference somewhere.

How will we be able to overcome these forces that have taken hold of our lives? It seems impossible. And indeed it is theoretically impossible within the perimeters of our present-day levels of understanding. We can try, that is we can be duty bound or protest, demonstrate or argue, that’s all, otherwise our present understanding of human beings, clearly, paints a bleak future. We habitually say “human nature is like that….”


No! It may not be like that!

There have been greater frontiers. It is amazing how we ignore some of the greatest minds that have walked on this earth. These persons have been tremendous in their wisdom, most benevolent in their dealings and ultimate in their selfless friendship. Their comprehension of human nature seems to be total. Their claims about the final truth about man seem to be substantial. And their suggestions to us, for our lives, however stupid they seem, ‘do’ improve the quality of our lives. That, of course, does not mean religions are perfect. But again, definitely, they are not total nonsense either. If there is a problem, then it lies in our inability to distinguish between what is good and what is bad in religion. The important question is, ‘do we have to ignore these stalwarts of religion?’

If we want to have better lives then ‘we’ have to make life better for our neighbors and our neighbors’ neighbors too. We may blame the ruler in the land of ruler-and-slave, but in the land of friends we can only blame ourselves. Have we supported the right system? Have we contributed our mite to the good of society? Are we serving our friends or are we serving ourselves through our friends? These questions are not easily answered. It takes a lot of learning to understand the facts involved. And it takes a lot of courage to face the truth.

In religion here is promise. Each of us ‘Can’ contribute to the building of a better world. We can join hands in a selfless effort that has been going on through the centuries. In the spirit of the immortals and without crossing the limits of rationality, we can do justice to our fellow men: and happily at that!


Naturally, if we really want to make progress in this line, it is important for us to know what these stalwarts were up to.

Are they fools when they give up their aspirations for material wealth and status? Or are we fools, who spend our life time searching for eh joys that these things are supposed to give?


Ultimately what matters is the truth. When somebody tries to subvert the truth, then the truth is that somebody is trying to subvert the truth. And when somebody, in all sincerity, describes something very foolish as the truth, then the truth is that a foolish thing is being described as the truth. The point we have to concern ourselves with is whether we are able to see, objectively, ‘this truth.’

It is difficult. And sometimes, we have to place our trust in teachers and in leaders, with hope that they will show us what the truth is. And there seems to be better promise in the works of Jesus Christ, Veda Vyasa, Muhammed the Prophet and their likes, when compared to the likes of Adam Smith and Karl Marx; especially when we are concerning ourselves with ‘Human Nature’.

If the truth is that religious stalwarts are manipulating us and fooling us to do good to society then fine, let’s know about it. If the truth is that stalwarts of the modern world are ignorant about the greater truths, then too fine, let’s know about it. The important thing is to be sure that we are aware of the “truth.”


The idea preempting this effort is to have a comprehensive look at the system, so that everything is seen in place relative to everything else. It is to look at the society as the initiators of religion wanted us to look at it. The effort is at trying to picturize what these stalwarts are trying to say, in the background of the advancement available in the eve of the 21st Century. May be, as we dig deeper into the treasures that these geniuses left for us, we may find remarkable solutions for out problems. May be, we could unite with them, in an effort to build a world that promises the joys of heaven.

--------------- x ------------- x ------------------

A word of caution to the faithful: Nothing in this goes against your faith. If you have faith, and you know that it is good, then there is nothing to worry. Keep to it while contemplating on what is said here.

• An effort is made to make each chapter complete in itself. So there will be some repetition. It is hoped that this will enable the reader to pick out essays of his choice and find them sufficiently complete in themselves.
• A fleeting glance might not help, if one is to get familiar with the topics and the ideas contained in it. There is need of some patient debate and time, to follow the intricate logic behind a few of the points, to trash out the truth about points raised herein; and most of all to overcome the limitations of communication. And if there is caviling then the reader rather not read it.
• People not interested in hard core philosophy are advised to skip the first two or three essays… especially the first. Just that the flavor of the first few chapters are a little different from the rest of the book as it involves some basic arguments that would have a mathematical feel rather than a literary one…



Acknowledgement ...

Section I : A question of fundamentals
1. Ideas build civilizations …. 3
2. The science versus religion paradox … 7
3. The evolution of our scientific civilization….

Section 2: Self Government an inquiry
1. A Theological view of good and evil rules
2. Leadership and authority
3. Freedom and the administration—distribution ideologies
4. An ideal for statehood in Vedic and mythological India
5. That’s what you call justice
6. Community power

Section 3 : 1.Culture is no pastime …

Section 4 : ‘Economic’ ideas and the ‘other’ angle: a critical examination…
1. The mainstream perception of wealth: Mistaken assumptions?
2. Fortification for an untested belief
3. The rationale of captalian ideals
4. Relativity of progress
5. Marching frontiers of corporate wisdom
6. Common sense sold to the free market labour pricing?
7. The overzealous servants…

Section 5 : Education
1. The wider horizons of education
2. The unique vision of the Ancient Indian Education
3. A business venture called “Alma Mater”
4. Our schools’ possible destiny…

Section 6 : Dharma

i. Fundamentalism and its confusing synonyms
ii. How to divide and lead
iii. An experiment on the self
iv. Ekalavya
v. Evolution time-scales
vi. Notes ….

Section 1 : Chapter 1: (Sample)

‘Civilization is a blossoming of collective living.’

Nature is a vast treasure-house of knowledge. Everything has its own way, its own pace. And it is left to us, humans, to understand the intricacies of the truth, ... and make the best use of that understanding.

Groups of people discover and cultivate ideas among themselves. And the ideas they hold in common define their collective output—its quality and its size.

We know many things by instinct and we learn when we stumble across facts through our experience. It is ‘communication’ through which we share our experiences with others. And through this others are stimulated to experience what we have already perceived.

Discovery is the process by which, truths in nature are brought into the realms of communication for the first time. Then, by the stimulation of experience through communication, that is , by deliberately exposing novices to discoveries by the forefathers, much is learnt in a short while.

At the macro level, this has translated into the building up of huge volumes of information with contributions from a wide spectrum of individuals. So much information, that one my cover not more than a mere fraction of it in a single lifespan, however hard one tried.

We could have none of this if each individual was left to himself, to discover from nature. With luck, the best of us might have progressed, at the most, till the wheel. Probably nowhere is this truth prominently displayed that in science.

We see for instance that apples always fell to the ground, (under normal circumstances of course) but it took a Newton to discover the ‘Law of Gravity’. He learnt of nature from his predecessors and added to their knowledge through his discovery. He put into words a fundamental truth that always existed. He brought it into the realms of communication. As a result, numerous others would understand, and use to advantage, the scope that his discovery created. How else would it be possible for the accomplishment of such magnificent feats of modern technology? Many like him laid the foundations, and many others built on them. This is why we have such prosperity in the material world.

So, gigantic achievements are a result of, firstly, the strong foundation that the scientific spirit laid; secondly, the edifice that is built around the foundation; and thirdly, the participation of committed individuals in a remarkable collective effort.

The question is, ‘does this also apply tour philosophical ideas and to our spiritual life…?

Humans are a part of nature too! We too are governed by some laws of nature, having their own contents, their own ways and their own pace. There are fundamental truths that apply to humans when they live together in groups; there are fundamental truths that govern an individual’s state of mind and his behavior.

Like truths of the material world, these natural laws also always existed, and we are controlled by them. Discovered or not, they still dictate the terms on which we live.

People have always thirsted to discover these fundamentals. They have always strived to bring into the limits of communication the ‘content’ of this ‘Human Nature’. And they have succeeded to various degrees. These discoveries are either converted into documented literature, or into practical applications that form components of cultures. And all these get carried down the ages.

Looking at it from the opposite end, the study of the literature and culture of a group should give ample insights into the discoveries made by men of an yesteryear (Refer chapter on ‘Culture’).

Needless to say, we can also attempt to infuse some new elements into local cultures. But as nature will have it, these will survive and move down the generations if they integrate themselves to the overall culture, and if they aid life in any way. That is, if they are resonant with human nature.


The fundamentals that go into a system are not always correct. Many cultural traits enter accidently and are maintained for vested interests. But cultures that are built on faulty foundations lose in the struggles for survival, where only the fittest survive. The faults may never allow societies to grow up into bigger units in the first place.

These groups, that discover and apply fundamentals that are good enough, develop into great civilizations. These fundamentals form the spine of that civilization…


That brings us to an important question: - are the fundamentals of our ‘Modern Civilization’ correct?

The spurt in technological advancement shows that our attitude towards truth in the material world is definitely well placed. But the restlessness of our times also points out, that, as a civilization, we may have failed to realize the right fundamentals about basic human nature; about the ‘self.’ We have become fatalistic in that we believe that all the suffering people go through today is inevitable because man is an incomprehensible aggregate of base instincts.

Actually there are volumes of material in this field, but then we have failed to apply them as effectively as we have applied the laws of the material world. The social system that we use today have evolved more out of trial and error than based on fundamental truths that have been discovered.

As is evident today, even the efforts of the founding fathers of the U.S.A., who made a conscious effort at building a society on strong fundamentals, are found to be wanting. The various constitutions of the nations of the world have been found wanting as well.

We urgently need answers to the problems that we are facing today; and probably the answers are already there. It is left four us to sieve out from the volumes of available literature, that which is good. It is quite likely that there have been geniuses whom our scientific world has yet to learn to appreciate. Maybe, there is a legitimate claim to truth in the scriptures even as strong as is Science’s claim.


Section 3 : Chapter 1 (Sample)

If one is well versed with the basic principle underlying the theory of ‘The survival of the fittest’, and if one could see how small changes in attitudes can build or destroy nations, one would not underestimate the importance of cultural traits.

A study of tribes and civilizations show that each of these have, and had, strong cultural traits. And why not? It is but natural that groups of persons living together develop their own set of practices, mannerisms and attitudes. These aid them in ... their living together. The traits get carried down the generations. And as dynamic influences they serve to shape the life of the members of the group.

As we have discussed in the chapter ‘ideas build civilization’ we can see that individuals and groups who discovered truths about human nature and about the surrounding environment developed an advantage over others. Those among these individuals or groups, that appreciated, remembered and preserved these discoveries, successfully fought erosion of society. In fact, looking at it from the other side, every group or tribe that survived had, in their ways, their traditions, their practices, etc. elements celebrating the very fundamental nature of humans.


There has always been a search for better community behavior, more than that, there has always been this seemingly unquenchable thirst for human happiness. When discoveries were made in these fields, it was natural for thoughtful persons to help others in the society imbibe the content of the new discoveries. The discovered knowledge itself helped in the appropriate selection of social structure and systems and therein, in the support structures of these systems, this knowledge of human nature was used. The knowledge, one may say, was ‘induced’ into the selected system. Induction of knowledge was achieved either by direct means in the form of education and philosophy, or by numerous other indirect means like folk songs, epics, stories, rituals, celebrations, traditions, etc. So finally, the existing cultures, local geographical factors, other contemporary cultures, and new inductions, all helped in the shaping of the mannerisms of any particular generation, and naturally of subsequent generations as well.

Looking at this issue as of today, clearly, traditions that various communities inherit are indeed an expression of hat their forefathers discovered.

There is another important dimension to this issue of inducing discoveries into the system. Even if the discoveries were the same in content the final manifestations into forms, which the discoveries took at different times and at different places, were different. That is, after discoveries were applied on a variety of backgrounds, these were bound to find varied expression. These discoveries could well have been added as patch work or corrective measures, on an already existing spectrum of backgrounds. And since there are also numerous methods and means for expressing the same discovery, a single basic idea produced different cultural traits in different communities. Going by this logic, we can safely conclude that diverse cultural traits of different groups could possibly be expressions of a ‘common truth’.

This gives us a new point to consider. A fundamental truth existed, continues to exist and will exist in the future. If cultural traditions are an expression of the discovery of this truth by our forefathers, wisdom on our part would lie in looking into these traditions to see how our predecessors thought.

All our forefathers did not have bad intentions while inducing traditions. And, of course, ‘all’ induced traditions were not good either. But the very fact that traditions have survived thousands of years proves that there is some good in them. This is most probable especially where survival of the fittest’ has been a way of life. There has to be, to say the least, something in them relating to the fundamental truths of nature. In fact, a look will not suffice. “Only living in one’s own culture at its depths while at the same time learning from others will give both, experience and insight needed to understand the true content of culture!”

To substantiate this point, let us consider the role of sports, fine arts and other performing arts in the lives of individuals and communities

“The world of action is a true method of realizing the Supreme Truth”
--Rabindranath Tagore

This is a re-statement of a truth that Indian ancient seers discovered and institutionalized in all forms of arts and sports. The ‘spirit behind the arts’ has philosophical backing in some traditions; like the Hindu one for instance. But most other groups absorbed these traits because they instinctively experienced the value of the various activities.

One needs to remember several things that are related to this. Firstly, most of these activities, when executed in the manner they have to be, demand intense concentration, or wholesome abandonment into activity. One is sure to get ample confirmation from stalwarts that there is much more in these activities than mere entertainment. One statement that you cannot miss, when talking about good performances goes like this: “When you perform, you may be technically the most sound; and in rendering most accurate even to the level of flawlessness; but without ‘inspiration’ behind it, the whole exercise is of no use. It’s dry. There is no ‘life’ in it.”

The idea behind it is that the involvement in such activities brings us close to the truth as against living in the world of one’s whims and fancies. It brings everyone down to reality. It levels humans to a common platform. It has in its core the essence of ‘God’.

Any individual, high or low, has to be on that dynamic interacting plane, where things are happening as nature dictates, close to reality, down to earth, if he is to achieve any degree of proficiency in these activities. Thus, participation in these activities helps in an intimate discovery of oneself: especially if one is stimulated to also ‘think’ in that philosophical direction too. Continuing in the same vein, that relevant philosophy explains that good sportsmen and excellent artist get on and off this state of mind with ease. Rather, instinctively they are on “that” dynamic, interacting, down-to-earth plane either when the time demands it or otherwise most of the time. These people are supposed to be sleeping geniuses. Though they have a tremendous wealth they do not have the awareness or means to bring this into the realms of communication. That which they generally experience they might not easily express with conviction, or when they do express it the others completely miss the point. Incidentally, this aspect is now being researched in the U.S. as the ‘zone’ achieved by players of Basketball during play.

The idea behind encouraging all sorts of art and sport, both in terms of participation and good viewers’ appreciation is to stimulate people to realize that fundamental truth about their nature. It is to honor those that are in “that” state of mind. It is to set up leaders before the general public so that they too learn to imbibe the joyous spirit of practicality, of surrender to the will of nature –the will of God.

Obviously, these activities can make a big contribution towards better living standards of individuals. As of today, there is probably need of it like never before. Only through these activities will we be able to forgo the consumerists’ mad chase for, should we say, ‘illusory’ wealth?

Secondly, the other dimension of these activities is associated with the betterment of person to person interaction. In most sports, team work is an important factor. In group dances, dramas and other group arts this is an important component too. Collective participation in such activities give tremendous scope for education about mutual adjustment. It provides an added scope for intense human interaction in a deliberately built theatrical environment. This is a school for learning much of the traits that form the culture of an area. The right attitude of viewership and the appreciation of the right component of human feelings in such activities strengthens the right communities in many ways. Considering all this, it should not surprise us – that every tribe has some form of dance or music of its own.

The third point is that these activities naturally enable the government and other authorities to monitor the quality of life of people. Observing performances of individuals and of teams who belong to a particular area, can give a lot of insight about their physical and spiritual health. Through such performances, monitors can estimate as to which community needs what kind of correction or reform. Encouragement of widespread participation in such activities improves the chances of producing ‘free individuals’. It also highlights the qualities of these persons for emulation by others. All this serve to build better nations.

Performance activities, that we considered so far, form just a part of many factors that contribute to the making of a culture. Factors like traditions, festivals, rituals, religions, the political structure, languages and their literature, food habits and such other things make the overall culture. And each of these factors can be studied to a greater depth for their contribution to life in general.

As of today, there is obvious need of an intense study into these cultural traits; in a rather ‘scientific’ manner. They may not be totally superstition after all. If we make a careful study of various societies and their cultural traits, we are bound to come across a lot of rationality; of a kind that we, the members of the modern scientific civilization, are probably not aware of. Surely, at least those cultural traits that have sustained civilization for thousands of years now, ‘should’ have something that we can take note of …! And it is quite likely that our own forefathers excelled in such fields that did not need great proficiency in material science and technology.

Of course we cannot allow barbarism in the name of preserving local cultures. Social changes are necessary and it is especially so in those communities that do not have a blossoming culture. But these efforts at change should be kept at the barest minimum. Except for highly objectionable bits, efforts should be made to safeguard and preserve local cultural traits. It would be wise on our part to otherwise leave things as they are, with the hope that at least the coming generations may be able to decipher the hidden meanings therein.

For all we know they may re-discover something. May be they will gain some insight that could reduce the coznfusion they would probably inherit from our ‘modern’ times.


Section 6 : Chapter 1 (Sample)

Once a system has been adopted it is important to maintain it. And maintenance of a system calls for a lot of, let's say, 'Discipline' from those who constitute it. A better substitute for the ethos the word 'discipline' tries to convey is 'Dharma': it means much more. Dharma, though generally ... viewed from the side of the individual, implies many conditions on the system too and it has much to do with the 'duty' of each individual.

'Dharma' is a concept based on a subtle idea that consist of a universal 'supreme self'. Study of the nature of this 'supreme self is outside the scope of this book however, the manifestation of this concept is rather practical and observable. A rough idea can be sketched in the context of a 'suitable system'.

One basic assumption that is made in 'dharma' is that it is imperative to have a 'system', that is, a socio-political - economic structure is an absolute necessity for society. For without that there would be chaos and little possibility of civilization. Beings would suffer extensively and that would not be admissible to the 'human soul'.

The question naturally arises then is 'what system'? and for that matter 'who will choose the system .. .'? This again goes a little beyond the scope of the book but we may generalise that the Hindu traditions give a high regard to certain individuals in history. Such as these are given a pride of position because they have, in the course of their lives, displayed a certain wisdom. The wisdom enables them to listen to and act according to the will of that supreme being; which in turn is inherent in each one of us. With faith in the likes of these (wise men) and using the precedents set by them a system gradually evolves. Naturally, such a system divides responsibilities, that have to be shouldered in society, among its members.

Now, every system does not necessarily qualify to be classed as 'dharmic'. A system that is consistent with dharma has to consider the well-being of every individual within the framework of the practical world; that is, in the framework of actual space, time and creation. And most importantly it should aim at being a system which stimulates every individual into achieving oneness with the 'supreme being' on whose behest the system was constructed in the first place.

Such a system expresses certain basic beliefs about individuals. It believes that 'wealth' is that which is beyond 'pleasure'. It believes that it is detachment which eventually brings out the best in man - both for himself and for the world at large. It assumes that man is never happy by being self centred. There is no fear of death. There is no pain in duty, in fact there is no duty because on achieving oneness with the supreme being you just do what you want - exactly as 'dharma' dictates. If you are doing according to what you wish should happen, then where is duty?

An individual in society is called upon to play his role in the 'dharma'. Through achieving oneness with the supreme being, or by having faith in it, or by at least giving up self centredness, or lesser still by abiding by the law through righteousness, one is expected to play that role in society. Even at the cost of death, for death has no significance for the supreme self (or enlightened life.)

The idea may sound fantastic or mind boggling but a look into the life of any 'brave man' anywhere around the world and the kind of feelings it invariably kindles in each one of us, irrespective of what the mind says, is a pointer to the possibility of the truth of these things.

Needless to say, honour in 'dharma' goes to one who does his job well, not to one who is doing a bigger job - badly. In the final analysis, the quality of life that they lived is judged not by what they had possessed or where they had served but rather on the basis of how they had lived. This final analysis again need not be considered as some day of reckoning in some celestial court' in the future: it is obvious even today. Obsession with the material world and frustration go hand in hand, those that break free live joyously.

A system breaks down when people forget to keep the dharma intact. When individuals do not perform then the very purpose for which a system is set up is defeated. It leads to chaos. The system itself may play host to evil. On the other hand, a land where individuals strive towards that ideal is an enlightened one. They call it 'Ram Rajya' in Hinduism and the 'kingdom of Heaven' in the Christian doctrine. The supreme self manifests itself in the best of men in that society and it is all together a different world: the world of the brave, the martyrs, the immortals ... Honestly, this is nothing new, every thriving culture knows this somewhere in the back of its mind. Take this quotation for instance.

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."
--- John W. Gardner.

'Dharma' is a refined form of this sentiment. Probably a culmination to a deep study of ideas such as this. A core idea was discovered and it turned out that this truth pervaded every facet of human existence. This becomes obvious in its manifestation as a complete 'dharma.'

Book for whom?

TTKOH is primarily a letter to a friend, who in turn is a fellow explorer trying to understand more about the world around him. It focuses on discussing principles and ideals. ...

The book is recommended for the patriot, for general reading, for school and college students and for anyone from across the world who seeks to widen his horizons on matters of spirit and society.

It is a good book for a foreigner who wants to gain deeper insight into India and its thought processes. It is also good for the spiritualist who is at loggerheads with science and for the scientist who is at loggerheads with spirituality.

The author would specially like to recommend TTKOH for leaders and educationists, because they need to lead the youth and the future generations to be the best they can be. The book has the ability to encourage diversity in thinking in senior school and college students and help them gain deeper insights on issues related to socio-political systems, value systems, traditions and culture… An excellent book for debaters...

What readers have said about the book...

Very interesting, educative and absorbing reading.
…….. Lt Col K Ramam Raj (Officer, Army Education Corps) ...

The best thing about the book is that it does not force an opinion on the reader: you are actually suggesting things and encouraging the reader to think for himself.
…….. Cdt V Thyagaraman (NDA cadet -- Degree Student)

It is very interesting. I enjoyed reading it.
..…… Mrs Shikha Bannerjee (House Wife)

The thoughts expressed through his pen are truly advanced.
..…… Dr MK Nagpal (Former HOD Physics, National Defence Academy)

"A Catholic by faith, Fernando is also obviouslycatholic in his readings and accumulation of knowledge. He sees no conflict or contradiction between science and religion, between physics and meta physics, and between Marx and Mohammed...."
..…… Vice Admiral Arun Prakash, AVSM, VrC, VSM, Commandant NDA, (in the preface)

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