A spiritual self-help book

Parvez Dewan
Book: Koham
Author: Santosh Sangra
Publisher: Highbrow Publications, Jammu
Year: 2022
Language: Hindi

‘Who am I?’
Thousands of thinkers have asked themselves this question.
Mrs. Santosh Sangra has gone deep into the issue, by looking at it from at least as many angles as there are chapters in this perceptive book, which is about human existence itself. She has tried to uncover the secrets of life by showing us scenes from life and then analysing them.
The book, with its humanistic philosophy, high human values and roots in Indian culture, has several inspiring passages that motivate the reader. For instance, the author points out that real beauty lies in the sweat of one’s brow, in diligent physical labour.
Mrs. Sangra’s easy familiarity with different religions gives the book depth, making it an interesting read and makes a case for the unity of mankind across diverse religious traditions.
She also differentiates between devotion and religious faith on the one hand and the grouping of people into religious identities for political purposes on the other. Devotion and prayer, she points out, is the essence and basic ingredient of all religions. However, she underlines the difference between knowledge and devotion, especially devotional love, which has the power to bring the entire universe to the doorstep of the devout.
The next question is, What is love? For one, the author points out, love is the door through which we can walk towards God. However, not all avatars and prophets find recognition, during their own lifetime or even at all.
The author also examines the extent to which food influences behaviour and thinking. An excessive consumption of food moulds people as much as a shortage of food does. Appropriate as well as inappropriate foods similarly shape human minds.
Emphasising the importance of sleep in our lives, the author astutely observes that the invention of electricity killed sleep.
The title of the book, Who am I?, is a question that has engaged philosophers and thinkers through the ages. The author’s research and conclusions are based on literature published since ancient times as well as on her study of human beings, because each person is a treatise on the subject.
The author’s starting point is the question, “Where is life [located]?” Her answer is: Life resides within you. Those who seek it outside themselves are souls that were never born. Mrs. Sangra looks at different aspects of life and in her simple, lucid style concludes that life is a gift, a blessing.
Ko Ahem abounds in insightful aphorisms. The following are some of her best observations:
Life is just. We get only what we deserve.
What makes families stable? It is essential to control one’s tongue. Female householders who follow the traditions and principles of their clan tend to convert their homes into temples.
Petty thinking and sprained feet prevent us from moving forward. (This one is one of my favourites.)
Self-confidence is the key to success that everyone has. Therefore, we should honour our teachers.
A person’s deeds are his signature. Therefore, we should perform our actions with care and to the best of our abilities.
Suppress your anger. Meditate upon it in a solitary room. Ask yourself: Why did my anger arise? Thank the person who made you angry because he gave you the opportunity to awaken powers that lay dormant within you.
Ko Ahem is a spiritual self-help book that summarises the corpus of Indian knowledge and learning and the author speaks with the wisdom and authority of the ancient sages.