It is extremely desirable that India, now an Independent Nation, should introduce the system of preparing a record of life lived by people, in a particular period of say 30 to 50 years. This record should be containing information, about the different activities and moralities and religiosities, and principal features of the social life, the individual life, family life, remarkable instances of helps, friendships, enmities, charities likes and dislikes, services and sacrifices, sentiments and fashions, change in beliefs, customs, traditions and cultural manifestations, transitions in types of activities and mentalities etc , in addition to the usual collection of facts, as at present under census statistics.
Only the study of the past can guide and help a nation to form its future. In spite of our loudest cries about our past civilisation, which are surely deserved and justified, we have no recorded and connected history of any nature. We know only how our grandfathers lived and died, because we personally saw them. Regarding our great grandfathers, we are entirely in the oblivion. Would a man of today or tomorrow believe, our great grandfathers were not beggars as of today, bent to make out every pie out of what Nature gave them so bountifully, or what the abuse of intellect could have given ??
Let me at least make a beginning of such a record here. Before 1914, we used to roll in plentifulness regarding food, and quite happy about the real necessities of life. There were so many instances of poor relations staying with rich ones for months and years and even for lives. Fruits like mangoes were freely distributed in streets and among acquaintances. It was a dishonor for any zamindar to sell fruits. Buildings of rich people were available at nominal rents, with no greed of return, just for being “taken care of‘. Rich people sent over bags of grains and packets of clothes to poor people without causing any humiliation, in an unknown manner. Sugarcane field-owners and coconut trees’ and fruit-owners invited all, and gave an established right to any passer-by, to take as much juice or eat as many sugarcane and fruits as he liked. Women during pregnancy would get all ornaments to wear, owned by all relations and class-people. A poor man would be helped to defray the expenses of a marriage of his children, with helpful solid presents to him by all around. A poor man will have dainty dishes to eat in castle-dinners, or at rich man’s places for about a hundred days in a year.
What honesty ! What charity ! What a belief, what I earn is not mine or of my wife and children alone ! ! What a trustworthiness ? ? What a magnanimity ? The modern man lets loose the fireworks of his rotten rebellious hot-headed excuses. A millionaire today is more beggarly to a needy stranger, than an ordinary villager of the past with a hand-to-mouth living. It is no use giving reasons which explain, how we have degenerated, the stages of our degeneration, as the causes and justifications of the same. How does not explain, why at least does. Let there be the record of the history of Hindus, about what our forefathers were and what we are, without any paraphernalia of justifications.
To be a debtor, cheat or a misappropriator was the greatest dishonor ; conscience-pricks, and social belittlement punished people more smartingly and effectively than the law courts. Creditors maintained every respect of their debtors on one hand; and, on the other, even grandsons repaid the debts of their grandfathers and family, together with interest. No rich man dined alone; and in towns, you would so often find, rich men themselves walking over to their destinations on foot, and lending their carriages to some needy relations or acquaintances. People took pleasure in giving, serving and sacrificing. People had their personal harmless pride as the best men of their society, regarding goodness, virtue, morality and charity. People, so to say, cared for their personal honors, family traditions and ancestral greatness. So many poor people enjoyed music, sight-seeing, medicines etc., free, provided they had the humility, reverence, goodness and straightforwardness. the poor had practically a legitimate right and share of enjoyment in the fundamentals of human requirements, in the richness of the rich. The poor never envied the rich, because the rich parted with a substantial portion of their richness, and on the top thereof, maintained an appearance of social equality. The rich showed humility, although sometimes affected and attributed their greatness to their prarabdha, and not to intellectual or financial greatness.
Such were the great grandfathers of the modern money-mendicants, who are simply the formations and conglomerates of selfishness from their nails to the highest head-hair.
Will the modern man believe this fact ? A rich man known for his religious piety and supernatural powers was once visited by a poor lady, who approached him with a request, to permit her to rub a piece of iron with his sacred feet, as she learnt that that would be turned into gold.
The rich man was staggered. He said “Let me have that piece and go to the worship and prayer room. You are right, but only partly. Iron turns into gold, but not on rubbing it with the feet of a poor sinful man like me. That belief is true, in respect of the image I worship.” He went in the prayer room, took out his own gold equal to the weight of the iron piece, and handed it over to the lady. Satans of to-day call this a folly. There has been a pinching bankruptcy of even appreciators of goodness, virtue and charity.
If there is no recorded faithful history, what remains for the posterity is the natural and justified attitude of a disgustful disbelief and an outright denial. If there is no recorded history of generations to generations, where is the ideal to follow, and the inspiration and basic material to judge our amelioration and deterioration ? Unless we have an idea of a superior living or superior powers and working capacities, etc., and unless we have a conviction and a realism, where is the remotest chance of even a desire to become better, with the urge and confidence of “what some one man has done in the past, any man can surely do, in the present.” ?? It is only on the still waters of a faithfully represented history of lives lived, that the sheep (?) can find an inspirational proof of its being really a cub of the lion-race. Stories, cinemas and novels can’t help you to elevate your character and practical life. They are all works of imagination only, sometimes of some intellectual genius absorbed in wine and women. You must have seen or at least heard or read about living persons and the work they left behind them, who actually lived a life of virtue, suffering, service and sacrifice, humility, charity and philanthropic activity with benevolence. For the modern world, we want a lot of new literature about psychology, character, lives and memories of great men in details, biographies and auto-biographies.
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK MAI-ISM
AUTHOR : MAI SWARUP MAI MARKAND
MAI NIWAS, SARASWATI ROAD END, SANTA CRUZ WEST, MUMBAI 400054 INDIA