Friday, December 12, 2014

Ray-trospective: Thoughts on Ghare Baire and Charulata. (Part-II)

Also read: Part-I

"Where the mind is without fear..." is Tagore's vision of India. It is also his prayer for India.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free

Where there is no thought control, no regimentation of the mind, no intellectual laziness or straitjacketing of ideas. Where there is dignity and humaneness ("and the head is held high"). Where the windows of the mind is open (an open, curious, analytical mind that fosters the ability to think, imagine and dream; to develop the cognitive abilities: "where knowledge is free"). It is [therefore] necessary to clear the mind of cobwebs (shackled with rigid, obsolete or selfish thoughts, ignorance, narrow-mindedness, naiveté or muddle-headedness, and the like).

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls

Tagore advises the blurring of myriad fault-lines, schisms. (In a country as vast and diverse as India, there is no one-size-fits-all. Religion is not a binding factor. Rather it is more divisive than can be imagined, especially for a diverse faith. The rise of religionism in the past has been deleterious. It has taken centuries of sustained effort to undo some of it. Getting into that kind of quagmire is easy, emerging out is not. Doing the same thing, over and over again, will not produce different results.) Tagore felt it was necessary to find out something common to all peoples/cultures, which will prove their real unity (confluence, synergy - yoga), but that looking for a mere political or commercial basis of unity is not sufficient. Discovering the spiritual unity (empathy, kindness, humanistic beliefs and their accompanying values and ideals) is essential. Collaborative karm-yog (teamwork, synergy-creation) also contributes towards forging affinity and cohesion, which in turn helps in sustaining (nourishing, nurturing) the cherished societal values (shared civilisational ideals). Collaboration also provides a sense of contentment and a sense of national purpose, of collective achievement. Tagore, a citizen of the world, also believed in an intellectual union (confluence) of world cultures; he recognised the importance of what India could learn - from other nations/cultures/peoples - to/for her own benefit and progress. His vision was to take on a more holistic attitude towards understanding the dynamic flavour (zeitgeist) of his time (and beyond).

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action

Knowledge in the absence of wisdom is merely learning by rote or mere regurgitation. Parochialism, narrow/selfish thinking leads to national quicksand, the proverbial quagmire. A vacuous or stagnated mind, intellectual laziness or intellectual pusillanimity is counterproductive. The ability to think, learn, unlearn, adapt and assimilate should not be forsaken. Open-mindedness, creativity, fostering a culture of reading, the pursuit of excellence and continuous effort/endeavours to become a better person and [collectively] a better people will help realise the full human potential. Therefore, intellectual stagnation (stagnation of the mind) should be eschewed. Progressive change/transformation/evolution is inevitable... for a people to progress, and [thereby] for a nation/civilisation/society to progress. Absence of scholarly engagement, even informal ones, gives rise to archaic sensibilities and retrograde or obsolete aspects (values, mindsets). Wisdom of knowledge is the obverse.

Knowledge does not have a narrow definition or scope. And so, creating a reading culture is necessary. Reading the literature, poetry, classics etc in any language(s) that one may be proficient in, will help stimulate the intellect. It will help broaden the thinking process, 'expand' the mind (thought process, worldview, the ability to think, perceive, take cognisance, comprehend and thereby overcome the cobwebs of the mind). 

Tagore advises/emphasises intellectual rigueur and intellectual engagement, instead of national selfishness ("narrow domestic walls") and cynical, specious or superficial discourses or arguments (debate and discussions).

(True knowledge, education and wisdom is also the ability to eschew verbosity, utter selfishness, indifference, worn-out clichés or platitudes, finger-pointing, learning by rote, intellectual laziness, and the like... and to do clear-eyed objective thinking (logic, wisdom and creativity/imagination); to have a broader vision, to take a wholesome view of issues, to prioritise and to emerge with result-oriented, holistic, organic and doable solutions.)

By sharing, by empathising, by making continuous effort to be a better human being, and [collectively] a better people (spiritually, emotionally and intellectually - through our thoughts, words, and behavioural aspects/actions) can there be happiness and contentment. Such a mindset, such a way of life is likely to have a positive influence on societal aspects/values too.

Dharma and karm-yog elude translation - since it is performative (not to be construed as ritualism or ritual practices). It has [therefore] to be experienced to be understood, since it is beyond the domain of academic description and definition (terminologies etc). Impossible [unrealistic] ideals are futile. The larger [common] social goals and objectives (for social progress, societal betterment and evolutionary change) are important, and one's commitment and effort towards actualising/realising them is what matters. This is dharma. And this is karm-yog. ... Dharma is also about striving for inner perfection, to be a better human being: to overcome one's prejudices, ego, negative anger, self-centredness, delusion, vainglory and the like. Metaphorically speaking, it is about moving out of one's inferior manas (lower mind) and into the superior manas (higher mind) so as to reach a higher level of existence (i.e. so as to discover one's higher nature). By elevating one's consciousness one can also experience the joys of contentment. Dharma is thus a 'way of life'. Dharma is at the root of well-being (individual and societal). 

Pessimism is a state of mind that (if indulged long enough) can become an involuntary habit (accustomed behaviour or disposition). It is not wise to only choose to see the disappointing moments. Therefore, it is good to take a holistic approach, to have a broader perspective, so as not to disregard the wider realities, so as not to ignore the positive aspects or the brighter side (as well as so as to not ignore the intangible things). 

("When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of despondency or adversity. Learn from mistakes/hardships/struggles or challenges. Try to make the best out of an unpleasant situation. And that with the right mindset, a perceived bad situation can be the complete opposite, an unexpected opportunity. Make the best of what has been given to you. When things turn sour, try to make them sweet. Life isn't about perfection; it's about doing the best you can. It is through experiences both bitter and sweet that you gain wisdom. Smiling is infectious. It passes all around. Laughter is contagious. It is a joyful sound. Humankind will not know joy if it were served on a platter. Humanity [therefore] needs to laugh, embrace, move forward, open their hearts and minds, notice the beauty around them, adjust, decide to go the distance, and evaluate their significance in the universe. Measure life not by lemons, but by lifting high a glass of lemonade and toasting bright promises. Making heavy weather of issues/problems will not resolve them. Argument and conflict, prioritising narrow interests over finding a rational solution is unhelpful. Unraveling chaotic spaghetti thinking can improve decision making. Be optimistic; be open-minded; be analytical; be cautious, but use intuition and feelings to make decisions. Be creative, a free-form way of thinking. Adopt different thinking styles, different perspectives. Look at different aspects of a problem - and make better decisions (to come to wise, robust decisions), but seldom criticise, when you want a new solution for an old problem.)

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

This is indicative of a civilisation and/or [individual and shared] civilisational values and ideals in decline. (Ideals should not be construed as ideology. Stream = the perennial knowledge stream, which should not be stagnant or filled with the proverbial muck/slime/sludge (archaic sensibilities, retrogressive aspects or obsolete thinking). It should always be sparkling and free-flowing, implying intellectual rigueur, fresh approach/thinking, creativity and so on).

Tagore, though critical of the excesses and exploitation of colonial rule, did not reject western civilization per se. "[...] I am not for thrusting off Western civilization and becoming segregated in our independence." He recognized the importance of what India could learn - from other nations/cultures/peoples - to/for her own benefit and progress. "If Providence wants England to be the channel of that communication, of that deeper association, I am willing to accept it with all humility. I have great faith in human nature, and I think the West will find its true mission." He also believed that the responsibility of a great future must be "untrammelled by the grasping miserliness of a past." Tagore's vision was to take on a more holistic attitude towards understanding the dynamic flavour (zeitgeist) of his time (and beyond). He also felt that the West should be capable of "imparting to the East what is best in herself, and of accepting in a right spirit the wisdom that the East has stored for centuries." This is synergy creation at its best. It is (after all) western innovation and technology that has helped create India's economic infrastructure.

(An objective assessment indicates that colonisation, despite its excesses, was part of the solution that helped us emerge out of our self-created quagmire - courtesy collective myopia, selfishness, and so on (the proverbial "dreary desert sand of dead habit") which proved to be deleterious, counterproductive and self-defeating. The colonisers did leave us with various scientific innovations and a ready infrastructure, a link language, an education system, an electoral system, other institutions and frameworks, and so forth. All of which was indeed crucial in equipping us to interact and integrate with the rest of the world. We were reasonably prepared for the new world system that emerged.)

Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

Here, "Father" does not refer to any 'father figure'. It means Bishvadhata (the World's Master - universal teacher, motive power and guiding force) to whom all of humankind prays.


Tagore, a South Asian, was also the first Asian and the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize - when he was declared winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize (in Literature) and given the award in December of the same year. (Thirteen is Tryodashi. In Sanaatan Dharmic thought Tryodashi is considered very lucky.) British artist Sir William Rothenstein did a few interesting pencil sketches for the cover page of Geetanjali (An Offering of Songs) – that won the Noble Prize in Literature in 1913 (making Tagore the first Asian and the first non-European to win the Noble).

E Monihaar: 


Dharma-samsthapanarthaya (a complete renaissance): Towards an enlightened mind, a new dawn: broadening the thinking process, eschewing retrograde or obsolete mindset, making effort towards emotional and intellectual growth, developing empathy (humane gestures, kindness etc). ... To dispel [to cleanse, to de-clutter, metaphorically speaking] the accumulated spiritual and intellectual 'dust' and 'grime' (intellectual ennui/poverty, obscurantism, pessimism, prejudices, selfish individualism, coarse materialism, spiritual impoverishment and so forth.) To stir, awaken and elevate the (stagnated) thought process as well as the slumbering consciousness (leading to an enlightened mind and a higher/enlightened consciousness) by the re-imbibing of karm-yog (kartavya, shunning of verbosity or platitudes), humanistic values and dharmic ideals, i.e. through inner transformation. A change from within - through learning and unlearning, through broadening the mind/thinking process: to be a better person, to [collectively] become a better people - through re-energising, through re-imbibing of humanistic values. A progressive (healthy, open-minded) and humane society supports dharma. Societal progress and sustainable economic well-being (quality of life and contentment) of a composite society supports dharma. A minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of outcome or significance is counterproductive. Ad hoc fixes is no substitute for well-thought out and longer-term effort, karm-yog. However, instant transformation is impractical. Immediate or instantaneous change is superficial, inorganic and unsustainable; it creates confusion and unrealistic expectations. Aggrandisement, desires focused on immediate gratification, is not the same as lasting, longer-term benefit. It is a sustained, gradual effort (with a realistic and clearly defined plan for the future), rather than an instant change.

Aaloker Ei Jharna Dharaaye:


Dharma and karm-yog are intrinsic to each other. Dharma is not religionism, ritual practices, self-righteousness or even righteousness. Dharma is an enlightened way of life. Ignorance and spiritual impoverishment (lack of empathy etc) is not part of it. Dharma is about sharing, about self-fulfillment (or Self-Actualisation) - to become a better person, to become a better people  (individually and collectively) - through shared values, humanistic approach, empathic concern and behaviour, spirit of co-operation and camaraderie. Dharma is about intellectual evolution (open-mindedness). Being open-minded is to possess the ability to assimilate: ability to read, think, listen, learn and evolve); a scientific temper (a curious mind) as well as the ability to appreciate the small things, the simple joys and pleasures. Dharma is about spiritual humanism (empathy, compassion, kindness, helpfulness, affection). Dharma is also a set of beliefs, values and ideals - individual and vis-à-vis society (not to be construed as impossible attributes, utopian principles or textbook moralism). There could be dharmic ideals but no ideal dharma. (Impossible or textbook moralism will make a society dysfunctional). This world is a human world, and humans are not perfect. Therefore, there can be no such thing as 'epitome of righteousness' or 'idealised perfection'. Never is. One can lead one's life by adhering to (i.e. imbibing) certain principles or a set of beliefs and values: by endeavouring to be a good human being (making effort towards self-improvement, self-actualisation/self-fulfillment and personal growth - intellectual and emotional growth); by contributing towards the betterment of society (to do something for others, to care about the well-being of others, to care about the well-being of society, to be a good citizen) in one's small way - to the best of one's ability. However, one will still have to adapt to society. How much one adapts, or what one gives up in the process, matters. Some could compromise on the essentials and concentrate on selfish ambition/individualism (selfish materialistic tendencies, platitudes etc), while others could continue to strive for worthy causes, and [therefore] continue to do whatever they can to improve societal conditions (e.g. by imparting good upbringing, by displaying good social behaviour, by making effort towards changing retrograde mindset, negative stereotypes etc), so as to make a real difference. The former is tokenism, the latter substance and therefore, dharma. Given the requisite determination and perseverance/effort, great tasks can be accomplished. However one must also be realistic. For instance, raising literacy levels may be doable, but ensuring higher education for every child may not. 

Dharma and karm-yog complement each other, since merely having a set of ideals (values, principles) or intention or empathy is not enough, it must be backed by well-thought out and sustained effort (logical, well-reasoned, though not devoid of common sense and pragmatic imagination, along with empathy, compassion, kindness). It is the quality of wisdom that matters. Also, perfunctory effort will not do, it will not give the required outcome (nor help in outgrowing unpleasant habits or behaviours). Therefore, there must be earnest, enthusiastic and diligent [continuous] effort (a conscious effort with application of mind, not routine/indifferent/cursory, insensitive/condescending or superficial endeavours with non-application of mind, since such an approach will not help in intellectual and spiritual awakening and evolution - self-improvement/self-fulfillment or self-actualisation, to become the best that one can be, and to care about the well being of others). ... Self-improvement is a continuous process. Creating and sustaining a healthy (progressive), humane and vibrant society is a continuous process. A work-in-progress. Thus, there is a need for continuous effort and endeavours (karm-yog) - individually and collectively. To be a better human being (not just vis-à-vis society but overall, in all aspects of one's life), to inculcate worthy social values, to uphold worthy values (ethics, principles etc), there must be continuous and sincere effort. There has to be a genuine and sustained effort for the betterment of humankind and towards social progress (so as to make it sustainable), viz., to create a reading culture, to raise literacy levels, fostering scientific temper, to generate awareness (about diseases, health and hygiene, financial literacy, social responsibility etc), to promote health and sanitation, to inculcate social ethics/social behaviour, so on and so forth. Karm-yog is [thus] steadfast (sustained, sincere) result-oriented effort/action with application of mind (and accompanying humanistic values and ideals); it is a means to the broader vision, not personal glory (selfish aspects). It is not enough to be clear about what needs to be done, but also (more importantly) how to go about it. Thus karm-yog is about shunning platitudes, ad-hoc fixes, narrow selfish motives et al and embracing toil wholeheartedly (whether physical or intellectual) - for a larger cause, for the longer-term, for the future. 

Karm-yogis are doers (practical problem solvers, change makers), not idealistic dreamers. Doers are visionaries too. They are insightful and imaginative, they see the larger picture, and they emerge with new ideas and long-term plan. They see how ideas fit together. As doers they endeavour tirelessly to actualise/realise those ideas. They know what needs to be done, as well as how to actually do it (i.e. how to realise/implement them). Karm-yogis are the ones who give the saplings. They (metaphorically speaking) plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Values are preferences for particular forms of behaviour, the principles by which people conduct their lives. Beliefs/value systems are dynamic, they are meant to evolve. Ideas and beliefs should have the fluidity to evolve in order to broaden mindsets. Intellectual stagnation and spiritual impoverishment (a lack of, or a significant depletion in compassion, humanistic beliefs and their accompanying values and ideals) = accumulation of spiritual and intellectual 'dust' and 'grime' = all kinds of obscurantism. (To be spiritually impoverished = coarsened, to become coarse, or to be emotionally hardened, to lack humanistic values, empathy etc). Spiritual development is meant to evolve; only then can humans evolve, individually and collectively. And once this happens (i.e. once there is a perceptible change in the thinking process and behavioural aspects of the people) can a society evolve. A broader progressive mindset = a progressive (healthy), humanistic and vibrant society. This is organic change. It requires objective introspection, deliberation (discussion, exchange of ideas and points of view), prioritising, patience and continuous effort (perseverance). A narrow/selfish worldview is counterproductive.


Edutainment could help regenerate enthusiasm for science. There used to be a well-received UGC programme wherein [renowned science communicator] Professor Yash Pal discussed and explained natural phenomenon like an eclipse. He took keen interest and was involved in the national campaigns built around the events of the Total Solar Eclipse of 1995. He was also instrumental in bringing these events live on our television screens. Prof. Yash Pal became popular as someone who could explain science in a layperson's language. He appeared regularly in the TV science programme 'Turning Point' - to answer questions sent by viewers. Science cannot be understood through rote–oriented learning. He explained science by making the viewers think and understand.

Indian-born American physicist Dr Mani Lal Bhaumik - the first student to get his PhD degree from IIT Kharagpur, gifted the world eye corrective LASIK surgery technique.

The great Dr. Satyendra Nath Bose deserved the Nobel Prize, as did the brilliant polymath Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose. And so did Dr. Meghnad Saha, Srinivasan Ramanujan and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. They were men of science who created science and scientific progress. With Professor Satyendra Nath Bose an era ended - an era of great men who created science in India. He was a rare combination of kaleidoscopic versatility. He worked in as diverse fields as chemistry, mathematical physics, mineralogy, biology, soil science, philosophy, archaeology, the fine arts, literature and languages.

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight, with good intentions – for the larger good. Knowledge is at the very core of a nation, around which pulsate its other multifarious activities and achievements. Ancient India was a knowledge hub. The eastern part of India was renowned for reputed centers of learning. Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantapura etc. Will they rise again (backed by aesthetics and a strong clear vision - so that their reputation and past successes is not diluted)?


Ghare Baire: The film begins with a woman telling the story of the events in her life and how they changed/influenced her perspective on many issues/aspects. She talks about how her husband challenged tradition (orthodoxy, ignorance) by educating her, and letting her, a married woman, out of seclusion. The story is set in early 20th century India. Nikhilesh lives happily with his wife Bimala until the appearance of the radical revolutionist, Sandip, whose revolutionary ideas and speeches have a significant impact on Bimala. She is easily influenced by the ideas that Sandip presents with much fervour as well as the man himself. She possibly finds in Sandip what she may have longed for in the gentlemanly Nikhilesh: fierce ambition and even violent defense of one's ideals. Her seemingly increasing patriotism causes her to spend more and more time with Sandip. Bimala is [thus] gradually drawn towards Sandip. She is slowly overcome by her feelings for Sandip. (Literally translated Bimala means "without blemish". It is often used to mean clean, pure (genuine). Immaculate?) Although Nikhilesh understands what is happening, he is a mature (broad-minded) person and feels Bimala should choose what she wants. Meanwhile Bimala experiences the emotions of love for the first time in a manner that helps her understand that it is indeed Nikhilesh who really loves her. That he is with her wholeheartedly. (However, though she may be the most important person in his life, his life's mission is not necessarily centered around, nor dependent on, their relationship).

Bimala, dark-complexioned and not particularly attractive, comes from a humble background while Nikhilesh is aristocratic, urbane. Nikhilesh loves her very much and likes to buy her the modern, western goods and clothing that he too enjoys. He makes great effort to not only educate her, but also for her to develop a broader perspective (a broader outlook, thinking). He believes that Bimala should make her own decisions. He is a progressive, modern-minded man. Bimala in turn enjoys the modern things that Nikhilesh lavishes her with. But when Sandip comes and speaks of nationalism with such fervour, she begins to see them (western goods) as an unnecessary influence to her way of life.

Nationalism is also expressed through the rejection of foreign goods. Sandip is strongly (vociferously) against the sale of foreign goods, he makes it clear that all foreign goods, together with the demon of foreign influence, must be banished from the country. Nikhilesh, on the other hand, felt the opposite. He refuses to "tyrannize". When Bimala, firmly under Sandip's influence, pleads with him to banish foreign goods from his Suskar market (since banishing foreign goods would not be tyranny for selfish gain, but for the sake of the country), Nikhilesh says, he could not do it.

Nikhilesh and Sandip have vastly different views for the growth (and development) of the nation. While Nikhilesh is modest, somewhat reticent, well-mannered and lacks oratorical skills, Sandip is impassioned and stirs the emotions not only of Bimala, but also of the common people. He spreads the notion of Swadeshi - using goods made locally and boycotting British ones. Sandip is very vocal in his anti-imperialistic views and (unlike Nikhilesh) is a skilled orator. Sandip (thus) represents characteristics (qualities, attributes, points of view, thinking process, values/ideals etc) that are contradictory to those that Nikhilesh possesses/represents. Nikhilesh is educated and considers himself to be more aware of his country's role in a broader sense, and [therefore] refuses to take part in Swadeshi (that Sandip is overtly passionate about). He is unwillingness to participate in more "patriotic" endeavours. He refuses to wear his patriotism on his sleeve and run amuck shouting Vande Mataram. (Ghare Baire is [thus] a cautionary note about narrow/selfish nationalism, about a seemingly peaceful movement turning into aggressive nationalism and it's subsequent deleterious outcome/effect. Such nationalism, such a change would do the country more harm than good.)

Sandip's character is that of the vivacious and ardent leader/proponent of Swadeshi. He is a dissolute man, morally unrestrained, a libertine (rakish). He is also aware that his movement has the potential to turn ugly. And yet, he fervently believes that freedom must be achieved no matter the cost. To bolster his views, to support of his own choices/views/line of thinking, Sandip cites a story from the Bhagavad Gita. His use of the ancient texts (and stories) to support his movement illustrates the tendency of individuals to use religion (or religious motifs) as a basis for nationalism. The use of excerpts from the ancient epic was indicative of the blending of tradition (or religious) elements (and motifs) of (ancient) Indian culture with the values/ideals, objectives and goals of modern Indian Independence movement. As it has the potential to yield an unshakable fervour for the "cause", this can be a rather unsavoury combination. While Nikhilesh dislikes an intensely (selfishly) patriotic nation, Sandip has contrasting views for the growth of the nation, he believes in power and force.

Sandip tends to create illusions that almost always have negative effects on his followers and on the nation. He creates an illusion of his objectives (through his polemics) that attracts the people into a sort of cult. The illusion put forth by him is complete sovereignty, free of all foreign influences/goods, and an endless supply of wealth and self-enjoyment. He also creates an illusion for Bimala to believe in - through idolisation, that she is the future, women are the future, and they are the chosen paths to salvation. All of this ultimately sells these people a front-row ticket to watch their nation self-destruct, fall into complete chaos and strife amongst people with different beliefs. The biggest illusion of all is Sandip's mask of caring and passion, which is merely a camouflage for his own selfishness and instant gratification. He is far from the ideal man he tries to project himself as. His motivations are selfish at times, prompted by the need to better himself socially. He fools people with his mask of goodness, something that Nikhilesh sees through. His fleshly/overtly materialistic feelings make him nurse delusions about his religion and impel him into a rigid, tyrannical attitude in his patriotism. His nature is coarse, and so he glorifies his selfish lusts under high-sounding epithets. He tries to use Bimala and her money. He convinces Bimala to steal for the "cause". However, this helps Bimala overcome her delusions about Sandip, she begins to understand that he is concerned only with himself. She realises that Sandip is incorrigibly self-centred and also corrupting the nation. Sandip's powerful influence can also be seen on Amulya (who Bimala considers as her adoptive son). Amulya frequently accepts Sandip's motives by rationalising them as necessary for the "cause". In a sense, he can be considered a mere pawn used by Sandip in his strategic power struggle. Sandip's presence in the novel concludes with him fleeing while his polemics and ideas result in disharmony and disaffection. He can be described as exciting, arousing (raw emotion and passion), but lacking empathy or humaneness.

This story also tests the boundaries of the union of marriage. In addition to the idea of romantic love, there is a sense of love of one's own country. Whether it is best to love one's country through an understanding of the future, by taking a broader/holistic approach, through patience, and through actions that benefits others (social renewal, social transformation) or through selfishness and even violence? Nikhilesh loves his country dearly, but refuses to (overtly, selfishly, vociferously) worship her as a god. He believes religion and nationalism make for an unsavoury combination. Nikhilesh's perspective is through the moral aspects (a set of principles, values and ideals that are not entirely selfish) and the intangible (not disregarding the intangible, that is), while Sandip is more concerned about the tangible things, which to him is reality. Sandip believes that living in a manner where one may follow his or her passions and seek immediate gratification, is what gives strength and portrays reality. Such a point of view is reflected in his strong belief in (his version/idea of) nationalism. Nikhilesh is more concerned about becoming a better human being (through broadening the mindset/thinking process/points of view and resultant actions) rather than being influenced by instinct and fleshly desires (coarse materialism, selfish and instant gratification).

Arjuna is a true warrior (upholder of justice, one who makes untiring efforts for the betterment of societal aspects), and therefore conscientious. He could differentiate between dharma and adharma (injustice, unpleasant aspects and so forth), he is [thus] anxious and agonises over contradictions, perplexing situations and uncertainty: to act or not to act. (We find similar characteristics in Feluda as well). A selfish, unscrupulous person would not have behaved thus; such persons would have simply been motivated by narrow selfish considerations (and thereby taken whimsical/unreflecting decisions). Such decisions are regrettable, sometimes painful, counterintuitive and usually hard to undo. The results are usually not very good, or beneficial to anyone involved. It is the obverse of critical thinking, adaptive decision-making or problem-solving, which is a combination of logic and common sense, and while not precise, can produce satisfactory solutions. It is important to work on matters that are important: strategising and prioritising; making incremental decisions to achieve an objective, to move cautiously in small steps toward a solution (by avoiding decisions that transfix into a single choice). Unlike a throw of dice, however, it requires a firm sense of purpose and direction, the necessity to create options based on experience, values, and gut feelings. To go slow if required - to make time to develop options. The path may become clearer as one reflects on it. With options, there is possibility to make better decisions. Without them, decisions become forced choices. It is also important to focus on the future... for opportunities and options that may help resolve the problem. By finding tomorrow's opportunities and developing options, one can make enduring, quality decisions. However, indecision, stalling, overreacting, vacillating or half measures are best avoided. There is no magic wand or quick-fix, either.

The glorification of Karna as a noble-minded heroic figure who upheld worthy values (e.g. loyalty, justice) is probably misplaced. He was an opportunist motivated by selfish considerations. Thus, he decided to be on Duryodhana’s side, nothing could change his mind. Unlike Arjuna he is not conscientious, and [therefore] does not feel the need for self-reflection (to get clarity of thought and purpose: to act or not to act?) or differentiate between dharma and adharma (negativity, injustice, longer-term effect etc). He had his reasons of course; he was motivated by power and it's associated aspects, and thus could compromise easily (even on the essentials). Karna craves power for the sake of power. Krishna does not. Karna was overweeningly ambitious and understood his value/importance with Duryodhana - as a counterweight to Arjuna. (What value did someone like Krishna have for him? To Duryodhana he was priceless.) Though Karna is called a great "archer" he is the antithesis of Arjuna. He became king of Anga courtesy Duryodhana. He is more interested in pleasing Duryodhana, and thinks nothing about demeaning Panchali in the process. He knew which side his bread is buttered on. What does all this say about Karna as a person?

Positive pride [confidence and belief in oneself] is not the same as negative ego or vainglory. Positive pride is good to have. It can motivate. Negative pride is when one refuses to open the mind to new ideas or refuses to take appropriate action because one is accustomed to a set way of thinking or acting (behavioural aspects), and does not want to change or mend one's ways. The refusal to do the right thing out of "pride" [arrogance, vanity, conceit] can be detrimental to oneself and others. Similarly, positive greed can help accomplish great things. Selfish avarice is different, though. Temperate or worthy self-respect is different from self-righteousness, ideals are different from (rigid, obsolete) ideology, sustained effort is not the same as quick-fix or ad hoc fixes. "Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value." – Albert Einstein. The story of Trishanku elucidates this.   

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