Names matter little; still, they serve some purpose. Nouns signify. Thinkers realized early that it was difficult to imagine a shapeless entity as the supreme power, hence most religions have concrete images of divinity. So let us call the gentleman Vivek D. Now approaching sixty Mr. Vivek D belongs to first generations of Indians born in independent India. It was perhaps this political reality imbibed through practices of a new nation finding itself that after getting a degree in mechanical engineering, Vivek surprised all by choosing to lead his life as farmer.
Acquaintances of the sleepy town, recognized as birth place of white tiger, could only nod their heads in sorrow over such a decision. The thought of non-application of precious education (actually, denial of luxury that naturally followed such a degree) made everyone wonder about Mr. D’s sanity, if not downright suspicious of his intent.
They were right to be suspicious of him. He took up the life of farm but with a fervor hitherto absolutely unknown . Miles from the sleepy town (still unknown to many in India), he built a house and life-style that remains a questioned reality even to his sons, both engineers. They grew up reading Readers’ Digest, Illustrated Weekly, DharmaYug apart from classics their father purchased on his visit to Allahabad, Varanasi, Delhi and Bombay. They also grew up treating all who assisted their father, as uncles and aunts. It was only in that remote village in 70s that feudalistic practices had given way to democratic ones. Such respect to hired workers was a sign of weakness (simple folk would argue that only the weak could not exert power) but in time the villagers came to accept such consideration as another act of Mr. D’s kindness. The children often witnessed animated debates with racial knowledge (based on racial memory of generations and not the politically incorrect prejudice) on one side and modern rational information on the other. They learned that rationality lies not in largesse of recent information but in ability to fathom the wisdom hiding underneath traditional practices made dull through witless modifications.
The sons have succeeded in persuading their parents to give up their right to proceeds from the land and devote time to their grand children. The older couple visits the rural hinterland with gifts for families of farm-workers. Mr. Vivek D offers advice about health, higher studies, career goals of their children, encouraging the youth to venture out in the world and explore, discover. He always drives in the importance of family and food. Gandhian both in content and in simplicity of presentation the couplet he encourages children to learn is:
घर का भोजन खाएँ दो बार Eat home-cooked meals twice a day together
बच्चे, पालक सँग, पूरा परिवार Children, parents and all family-members
Truly, the basic drives of a human-being are for food, dwelling and togetherness. If he attains all three without strife, aggression or desperation, glitter that eludes him is just that – a tantalizing mirage. By making available judiciously, the use of facilities he developed, to his co-workers, Mr. Vivek D has granted them dignity of existence; at the same time by joining the families of his sons, he is following his own preaching – enjoying a meal with his family. To his erudite friends he defends the logic of his verse for being a modern Mantra to retain the continuity of Indian culture. For five thousand years and more Indian has absorbed influences from various people who visited this country in war or peace. The globalized materialistic yet virtual life-style that threatens to warp its ancient fabric too would get assimilated provided the people are able to hold on to its lynch-pins, wholesome nourishing food prepared by and for the family and bond that unites them together.
His degree in mechanical engineering may be compared with knowledge of Jyotish-Shastra from Kashi of yore, tending his fields was metaphorically and literally a return to land of fore-fathers, and spending time with sons in different cities, friends and erstwhile compatriots a freedom from materialistic attachment. Vivek D has been successful in Brahmacharya, Grihastha and Van-prastha Ashrama-s. He may be as successful with the final one of Sanyas, the renunciation.