The cover page of this book brings a smile; it certainly could not be authored by a member of the Indian Police Force, a tribe known for its encounter ‘specialists’! Randomly, I open one of the 21 stories contained in the book entitled “The Cook”. I read it thrice. Principal Gopalan takes the British journalist to Shankaracharya in Kanchi. After having answered the queries of the journalist, the swami affectionately remarks that perhaps ‘Gopalan did not have much faith in things which were other-worldly’! The innocent remark acted as ‘the key to open the heart and mind of Gopalan’ who then posed the query: “We do not see you moving about giving percepts to people, and yet you are addressed as the Jagadguru—the teacher of the world. How is it so?” The swami laughed in his childlike manner and said: “It is true they call me Jagadguru. But there has been a slight misunderstanding. It is not that I am in any way a teacher of the world. It is the other way, jagat, the world, is my teacher!”
As one matures in years and continues to growing up, the realization of abundance of learning opportunities invariably dawns at every stage. The book of life is the greatest source of learning. It opens up generously before everyone who has the keenness to read it. Yes, the skill of observation and analysis would be the basic ingredient and these do sharpen with application. Each one of the twenty-one stories, as the author prefers to call these, is a lasting example of the search for the higher values in life from life around; a trait with which the author is blessed with.
Having been a part of the process of teaching and learning for over five decades, one is convinced that interactions with men and women who have understood life, live a life of virtues and values make a lasting impact on the future lives of the young and impressionable. “The Inspiration” vividly describes a chance presence in the lecture on Kathopanisad by Swami Ranganathananda.
It is impossible for anyone who has the inclination to read to put this book on the shelf. It keeps on inviting you in one context or the other and the encounter with the readers keeps on extending itself ahead. One peruses each Encounter separately and feels like going through it again and again. I wonder whether even in one single case I have gone to the next without repeating and making conscious efforts to understand it! If I had the absolute authority, I would make a copy of this book available to every young boy and girl in their sixteenth year. The book itself shall make them read and help internalize all the humanistic, ethical and moral values that they need in the 21st century to lead a life of contribution, creation and service.
By JS Rajput