Of constant change in being

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Aug 2018 11:13:41


 

By Vijay Phanshikar,

 


 

 

 

 

 

... I do not know how other authors feel about their writings, but always I have a strange 

sensation when I read something that I had
written some time previously. That sensation is heightened when the writing had been done in the close and abnormal atmosphere of prison and the subsequent reading has taken place outside.

I recognize it of course, but not wholly;
it seems almost that I was reading some
familiar piece written by another, who was
near to me and yet who was different. Perhaps that is the measure of the change that has
taken place in me.
So I have felt about this book also. It is mine and not wholly mine, as I am constituted today; it represents rather some past self of mine which has already joined that long succession of other selves that existed for a while and faded away, leaving only a memory behind.
- Jawaharlal Nehru
Anand Bhawan, Allahabad
29 December 1945.

(Closing lines from the ‘Preface’
to the iconic book
‘Discovery of India’)

What a masterful way to capture in words a very powerful human emotion! But then, such a reflection on
certain inner phenomenon and such a meaningful expression of the process is typical of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Let alone what he did in politics and governance, Jawaharlal Nehru was an author of global standard -- not just because of his mastery of the language, but also because of his continuous scrutiny of his inner processes and inquiry of the psychological dynamics -- that often eludes most of us. So conscious was Pandit Nehru of the inner dynamics that he realised that there was a constant -- and forward-moving -- change overtaking him. So, he felt a strange sensation when I read something that I had written some time previously ...!


Quintessential Nehru!
‘Discovery of India’ is a very special book which Nehru wrote in just five months while in Ahmednagar Fort prison. And as he has written in the Preface of the book, so many colleagues of his in freedom movement helped him in reading the manuscript and suggesting
appropriate changes. But when he read the
manuscript once he was out of the prison, Nehru felt that he was reading some familiar piece written by another, who was near to me and yet who was different. Perhaps that is
the measure of the change that has taken
place in me.


This recognition of the constantly
paraphrasing inner being kept Jawaharlal Nehru’s mind engaged in search of a newer meaning of life through its challenges as well as vagaries. He kept looking at his changing self with a sense of a little wonderment. He did not feel puzzled, of course, with the constant change he sensed in his being -- inner and outer -- but did feel at times amused. As political life overtook him after Independence, Pandit Nehru’s writings got reduced only to official expressions. Despite that, through the rough and tumble of running a country embroiled in turmoil, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did not lose touch with his inner motions -- and emotions. After years of the tiresome leadership process, he took a few days off to spend a quiet time in Simla. There, ensconced in the calm coolness of the hills, he wrote his ‘Musings’ in which he made free-wheeling observations of the outer world’s happenings and his inner being’s confrontations with self.


True, he made a lot of mistakes as Prime Minister. True, the trouble on the Northern border and the hellish experience in Kashmir are considered to be his ‘gifts’ to the nation. Despite those, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru remained a poet at heart, a dreamer -- and also a visionary who was perhaps ahead of his times. And as he warped and wefted through the complexities of public life, he did respond positively to the inner paraphrasing that went on all along. But then came the disaster of 1962 and the man broke up as the poet in him could not withstand the roughness of that ‘Tryst with Destiny’.


Let alone those dirty moments, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru remained a poet, a dreamer who kept up his own search within. And that made him a different man, tall despite
everything.