by Rajen KumarDildaar or Daag-daag? Redefining Delhi's Tagline?
Rather than forward a mail, which disturbed me no ends, to the Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, I have thought it prudent that I share it with my readers. For, I am not sure if the mail...
Special ReportsMay 2013
According to, “The State of Food and Agriculture Report 2012”, “world agriculture needs to feed a projected population of more than 9 billion people by 2050, some 2 billion...
First Person Singluar
Got to go ? Go the Socrates Way : Nehru !
Both by his background and scholarship, he, apparently, would dig and dip, and e deep into the stream of his sub conscious to muse on subjects which were perplexing the populace. He was a wordsmith. I stand amused and enlightened, even a wee bit impressed, at what he thought, a death sentence would mean, were it to be handed down to him ?
“At one time, I was strongly opposed to death penalty, and in, theory, my opposition still continues. But I have come to realise that there are far worse things than death, and if the choice had to be made, and I was given it, I would probably accept a death sentence rather than of imprisonment of life. But I would not like to be hung. I would prefer being……
……“shot or guillotined, or even electrocuted; most of all other methods, I would like to be given, as Socrates was of old (era ), the cup of poison which would send me to sleep from where there was no awaking. This last method seems to me by far the most civilized and humane. But in India we favour hanging. It is probably easier to sentence……
.……a man to death than to see the sentence carried out. And yet even sensitive people get used to this painful sight. With all my repugnance for executions, I find that some method of eliminating utterly undesirable human beings will have to be adopted and used with discretion.” ( I was tempted to revisit a part of my post graduation: Socrates ).
The Great Greek Troika sprouted with Socrates in 469 to 399 BC and was complete with his disciples: Plato and Aristotle. Athens-born Socrates, as Plato's eulogy reveals spent last 30 years of his life convincing the decadent Athenians (Greeks) that their views about morality and mundane pleasures would fall apart under critical scrutiny of logic.
Hailed as the 'Socratic Method' by the intelligentsia, then and even now, Socrates' applied human approach was to search and seek definitions of such morally debatable ideologies of piety and justice, and thereafter point out contradictions in answers he elicited, thereby mocking at the shallow arrogance to motivate a definitive conceptualty.
Summing him up was a task. I wondered why Socrates did not know the answers himself ? Why he was a teacher yet a taught who turned his taught into his teacher ? Said he: 'human excellence was knowledge; wrongdoing was ignorance; none desired bad things; it was worse to inflict injustice than to suffer it.' The youth were mesmerised !
He was held guilty for corrupting the youth and sentenced to death by drinking 'Hemlock' -- a conifer native to America, Europe and Asia. In India, Ayurvedics spot it in the sub-Himalayan temperate belt where it's a stand alone plant with purple flowers and fetid alkaloid stink. And grate its lethal alkaloid to tolerant doses in disease.
It's not clear how Hemlock was administered to Socrates. Though murals and paintings in museums across the continents ( National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi ) except in the theocracies of mid-West give a fair idea: Socrates was made to sip a mix of hemlock to put him to sleep, never to wake up. And, thereafter, meet his maker.
His thoughts were immortalised later, in dialogues by Plato and rarefied democracies everywhere. Even Islamic theocracies from Africa, the Mid West, to South-East Asia, adherents to right-to-left Arabic script; it's variant Persian; sub variants, Pashto and Urdu, had Socrates incorporated as 'Sukraat'; Plato as 'Aflatoon' and Aristotle as 'Arastu'.
With time, Socratese by Plato became a bedrock of Constitutions and conventions. Having had a fling with Fabian Society in UK, back in India Jawahar Lal Nehru wrote in 'Glimpses' (1934): “He was a philosopher, always searching for truth. To him the only thing worth having was true knowledge, and he often discussed difficult questions……
……with his friends and acquaintances, so that out of the discussions, truth might emerge. In life, Socrates served the cause of truth and knowledge well but better still he served it in death.” ( Surprisingly, Mahatma Gandhi, who saw truth as panacea to pains of mankind, authored his autobiography “My Experiments of Truth” without any mention of Socrates ).
Nehru was circumspect: “I am not a literary man, and I am not a historian: what, indeed, am I ? I find it difficult to answer that question. I have been a dabbler in many things; I began with science in college and then took to the Law, and after developing various other interests in life, finally adopted the popular and widely practiced profession of jail-going in India.”
How I wish, his descendants – daughter Indira, grandsons – Rajiv and Sanjay too had inherited his trait of 'mirror and muse'. And put the pen to paper. It would have amused me. Or, if his great grandchildren -- Priyanka, Rahul and Varun were to 'mirror and muse', I'll be enlightened. All three are healthy, wealthy and ( of late, politically ) wise. Too wise !
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