January 2, 2020
Today I met an elderly gentleman. At breakfast. He was in his Seventies.
An old fashioned man. In his tweed.
He is from Madurai. We sipped Coffee.
He lamented the taste of Coffee. ‘Not strong enough to my taste.’ I told him of my son’s addiction for coffee.
‘There was a time he stopped drinking coffee.’ I said. He asked ‘Why? Did he have enough of it?’ I said. ‘ No he began to eat coffee. Raw Nescafé Powder.’ And we both laughed at his addiction.
Then Delhi’s temperature came up. The freezing cold. ‘I am not fond of cold. I am rather suited to this climate.’ He said. We smiled.
As we sipped coffee. Our eyes fell. On Him. On TV. The Anchor. And he sighed.
I smiled. ‘It is so difficult to have a decent conversation today.
Everybody has a view on everything.’ He said. I smiled. ‘ I too have a view. ‘ I said. He laughed a gentleman’s laughter. Soft. Polite.
‘And what is your view?’ He asked. ‘On what?’ I asked.
‘On this recent Population Bill’.
‘’Oh, that? It is easy. My view is that no one knows what is in the Bill. Yet everyone has an opinion.’ He laughed again. And pressed my hand softly.
‘The problem is no one is challenging. Everyone just wants an information to be fed. And jump into a debate. Have an opinion. No one seeks to know the truth.’
We nodded. Shook hands. And we wished each other well. Bade goodbye.
The quest for Truth is an interesting trait. Truly who today challenges information. Knowledge. To seek the Truth. Who today says ‘I do not trust. Because I do not experience.’
I have myself stopped debates long back. Because I speak on what I believe is truth. My opponent view speaks on what she and he believe is the truth. None of us know whether what we say and know is actually the Truth. Because we have both been fed what someone we presumably trust has told us is the truth.
In Rama Krishna Mission, we were told of a story by the Monks. And in the books that we received as a prize in education, elocution, exhibition. This story was always there.
When Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa said ‘Some people call me God’, Narendra (later Swami Vivekananda) told him in response ‘ Let a thousand people call you God, but I shall certainly not call you God as long as I do not know it to be true.’
Shri Ramakrishna said ‘ Whatever many people say is indeed truth. That is Dharma.’
There upon Naren ( Swami Vivekananda ) replied ‘ Let others proclaim a thing as truth. But I shall certainly not listen to them unless I myself realize it as truth.’
(Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 962)
Below is a picture of Swami Vivekananda taken during this time. April 21, 1886. At Cossipore.