Reading a good book or a good article can change your day and it will have positive effects on your mindset and way of thinking,” goes the saying. If you are not sure whether it’s really true, check out what Acharya M R Rajesh, founder of Kashyapashram in the city, says. “I believe reading is not a means to just pass time or an activity to take upon simply because there is nothing else to do. It’s more importantly the inevitable ingredient of a better lifestyle,” says the Acharya who further adds that his reading routine is timetabled to one book in a week.
“Every week I make it a point to complete one book. I don’t read during my leisure hours, in fact I dig out time for my book,” he says.
And ask this honourable personality, who has authored 43 books on religion and philosophy, about his favourite pick, his choice is no different. ‘The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers’ from Will Durant has caught his eyes and heart for many a reason. If you thought the book attracted him because of his liking for philosophy, you are mistaken. “I believe the book is a compulsory read for all those who wish to develop their English. You will be amazed by the way the language has been beautifully handled by the author.”
Through the work, the author has made a profile of eminent Western philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Herbert Spencer and Friedrich Nietzsche.
“Altogether, the ideas of nine philosophers are penned in this book and the best part of it is that ‘Story of Philosophy’ has nothing to do with hardcore preaching and indigestible philosophies. The author has beautifully crafted the work without giving over-prominence to philosophy, though philosopher and philosophies are always intertwined,” says Rajesh, who adds that he is a voracious reader of Sanskrit works too.
There are nine chapters each, focused on one philosopher and Durant’s attempts to show the interconnection of their ideas. “There are several touching moments in the book and the chapter of Friedrich Nietzsche is worth mentioning,” he says. “The philosopher loses his mental equilibrium and on one instance when he retrieves it, he tells his sister commenting on her book collection, “I too write lots of books.”
“The particular segment is beautifully etched in the chapter,” says Acharya.
Acharya says he got hold of the book whilst pursuing his graduation studies and though this is his all-time favourite, he thinks about a second one and nods in the negative if you ask him if it’s a compulsory read for all Indians.
“Story of Philosophy is an exceptional work on many grounds, But when it comes to a compulsory reading option, I believe ‘Discovery of India’ from India’s first Prime Minister tops the list. The original heritage of the country is narrated throughout and I feel every Indian should understand every bit of that work.”
An ardent follower of Swamy Dayananda Saraswathi, Acharya claims that he has read the complete work from the religious master. After completing his master’s degree in English and Politics, he studied the four Vedas in the ancient Gurukula system of education.
He says it was his ardent dedication to the four pillars of epics that helped him accomplish the dream of setting up an exclusive place for Vedic study at Kasyapa Veda Research Foundation in the city.
Currently he is busy working on his next work, which is a Malayalam translation of the four Vedas. “There is no such concrete work of the vast subject in our own language. It’s a marathon project and I dedicate some hours of early dawn for the task,” he winds up.