Ajit Singh Nagra
My never-failing friends are they
Withwhom I converse day by day
With them, I take delight in weal
And seek relief in woe
My days are past among the dead
And round me I behold
Wherever my casual eyes are cast
The mighty minds of the old.
Man is called the cream of the creation. Nature has gifted him with superior brain-power, intelligence and power of reasoning. There is much common between man and brutes as they share hunger and thirst,sleep and sex alike.
George Orwell opines that four -legged are good friends but two- legged are all nuisance. It is the sense of right and wrong that distinguishes man from the brutes. Man dominated the creation and outwitted and out distanced other creatures and set foot on the path of cultural revolution and civilizations. His tireless struggle through inventions, discoveries and exploration of new vista of knowledge enabled him to build a cultural bridge and books were used as vehicles of expression to disseminate the ideas in the world. Knowledge served as the springboard as well as the stepping stone to raise the edifice of culture. It was used as an instrument to usher in cultural refinement, emotional catharsis and social mobilization .
Books have played a vital role in shaping the personalityof an individual and destiny of the nation .The indian freedom-fighters and leaders got inspired by browsing the western literature, nibbling at the works of revolutionaries to imbibe the nectar of liberty, equality and fraternity. Reading of books provides adequate information, knowledge and enlightenment.A library is a scholar ‘ workshop and his study at home is a tiny sanctuary where he sits with singleminded concentration to do his sedentary job of reading to relish the luscious fruits of knowledge from the books – called the life- blood of an author to replenish his treasure to enjoy the company of the men of letters through meaningful interaction s otherwise an ignorant brute has to wean away from a literary circle and his gorgeous dress as well ashandsome face can’ I conceal hi s mental bankruptcy and he feels humiliated.
Abraham Lincoln rose from humble position of abject poverty-= from woods to White House and had to borrow books from welloff neighbours to slake his literary thirst to occupy the last rung of the ladder of his self-made caree rSocrates had whetted the curiosity of his pupi l who loved to carry a book in his knapsack to enjoy reading during military adventures. Alexander knew the eternal values of book and he founded the city of Alexandaria in Egypt and ordained that a copy of anewly written book should be donated to his library but this city got demolished during the earthquake.S
Reading is the hallmark of a cultured man. It provides the key to unlock the treasure of distilled wisdom to satisfy our insatiable hunger for knowledge. The professional people keep themselves buried under the heaps of books to equip themselves with up-to date knowledge to keep their image untarnished, reputation unsulliedand popularity undiminished in the society.
Reading is an indispensable habit, a mental exercise and intellectual sleight that keep us occupied and saves our energy from dissipation, our time and money from wastage. Money spent on books is a long term investment that pays a richS dividend throughout life.It galvanize us with stoic resignation and emotional stability to endure the stress and strain of life patiently .The reading of books helps us to save us from ethical pitfalls, moral turpitude and useless pursuits as the occupied mind leaves no room for wanton hands to make a mischief or the weeds of negative thoughts to sprout to make us an offal or a social out-caste.
John Ruskin a literary giant called books ‘The King ‘Treasure’ and divides them as books of the hour-= all trash literature like the newspaper, weeklies and monthly journals provide ephemeral information while all the major works of literary divines constitute the books of all time and these books are the priceless treasure of mankind that will serve the mankind as beacon light . Their eternal value shall outlive the ravages and dust of time . The holy books of all faiths- The Vedas, The Upanishads, The Ramayana and the Gita of the Hindus , The Adi Granth of the Sikhs, The Quran of the Musltns The Bible of the Christians . The Zendavesta of the Parsis, The Tripitakas of the Buddhists and The Angas of the Jains serve as the elixir to transform us from devils into divines They provide us spiritual uprightness, moral enlightenment and philanthropic warmth to awaken us from the slumber o ignorance. Besides the religious books and tenets, The writings of noble souls , scholars ands savants as the books like the Gulistan And the Bostan of Sheikh Saadi Paradise lost of John Milton The Plays of William Shakespeare and Virgal make us god intoxicated ,prudent and skilful bread earner.
Francis Bacon advocates vehemently the value of the books saying that they serve for delight, for ornament and for ability. They perfect nature and are perfected by experience. Crafty men condemn studies, Simple men admire them and wise men use them.Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested. He advises the readers—Read not to contradict and confute,, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse but to weigh and consider Reading maketh a full man , coference aready man , and writing an exact man. Histories make men wise, poetry witty, mathematics subtle, natural philosophy deep, moral grave , logic and rhetoric able to contend.
Reading is indispensable for mind as it provides nourishment, ambrosia and activity and lubricates the brain cells as food is essential for our body and its needs. Read with a purpose: As a profitable bargain always keep a small pocket diary to jot down the quotations, mind- blowing ideas and thought- provoking hints to improve our eloquence and articulation. Use of pen is discarded to underline the library books as it is not the patrimony of a single person, and it defaces the book and it shortens its life. Some mentally sick wretch suffer from the bad habit of tearing away the important pages and deprive others of their benefit and it is also a culpable sin to indulge into dog- earring of a book in the library.
However, the habit of book reading is falling day by day. Barring some scholars, people in general have stopped reading books. This passion seems to have been taken by TV and Internet. It will be a great loss in case, book reading dies down.
(The author is former Principal)
Ajit Singh Nagra