“You Need A Mind That Is Able To Stand Completely Alone”



As mentioned previously, a new page, ‘AKS Diaries-Notes and Quotes’, has now been started, which will reproduce briefer quotes and notes recorded by AKS in his diaries. From the page, we are reproducing this quotation from the philosopher J. Krishnamurthi. This quote is undated in the diary, though it is written on Diary page Saturday 22nd January 2005.


Jiddu Krishnamurthi
(1895/1896 – 1986)


“You need a mind that is able to stand completely alone, not burdened by the propaganda or the experiences of others. Enlightenment does not come through a leader or a teacher; it comes through the understanding of what is in yourself, not going away from yourself. The mind has to understand actually what is going on in its own psychological field; it must be aware of what is going on without any distortion, without any choice, with any resentment, bitterness, explanation or justification. It must just be aware.”

          ‘Beyond Violence ‘, J. Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti Foundation

Alice Munro on Her Childhood, Mother, Father and Aunts


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Today, we bring to you excerpts from an interview of Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. This interview was published in ‘The Paris Review’, No. 137, 1994 under the heading ‘ Alice Munro, The Art of Fiction’. Interviewed by Jeanne McCulloch and  Mona Simpson, it is a fairly comprehensive interview with the author beginning with her childhood and then covering her art of fiction, her views on life and times etc. In the following excerpts, we cover her views on her childhood, and her reflections on her father, mother and aunts in the form of a compilation as these questions were not posed to her in continuity-AKSCENTRE


We went back to the house where you grew up this morning: did you live there your entire childhood?


Yes. When my father died, he was still living in that house on the farm, which was a fox and mink farm. It’s changed a lot though. Now it’s a beauty parlor called Total Indulgence. I think they have the beauty parlor in the back wing, and they’ve knocked down the kitchen entirely.


Have you been inside it since then?


No I haven’t, but I though if I did I’d ask to see the living room. There’s the fireplace my father built and I’d like to see that. I’ve sometimes thought I should go in and ask for a manicure.


We noticed a plane on the field across the road and thought of your stories “White Dump” and “How I Met My Husband.”


Yes, that was an airport for a while. The man who owned that farm had a hobby of flying planes, and he had a little plane of his own. He never liked farming so he got out of it and became a flight instructor. He’s still alive. In perfect health and one of the handsomest men I’ve ever known. He retired from flight instruction when he was seventy-five. Within maybe three months of retirement he went on a trip and got some odd disease you get from bats in caves.


Photo Courtesy: http://www.oprah.com


The stories in your first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, are very resonant of that area, the world of your childhood. At what point in your life were those stories written?


The writing of those stories stretched over fifteen years. “The Day of the Butterfly” was the earliest one. That was probably written when I was about twenty-one. And I can remember very well writing “Thanks for the Ride” because my first baby was lying in the crib beside me. So I was twenty-two. The really late stories were written in my thirties. “Dance of the Happy Shades” is one; “The Peace of Utrecht” is another. “Images” is the very latest. “Walker Brothers Cowboy” was also written after I was thirty. So there’s a really great range.


How do they seem to hold up now? Do you reread them?


There’s an early one in that collection called “The Shining Houses,” which I had to read at Harborfront in Toronto two or three years ago for a special event celebrating the history of Tamarack Review. Since it was originally published in one of the early issues of that magazine, I had to get up and read it, and it was very hard. I think I wrote that story when I was twenty-two. I kept editing as I read, catching all the tricks I used at that time, which now seemed very dated. I was trying to fix it up fast, with my eyes darting ahead to the next paragraph as I read, because I hadn’t read it ahead of time. I never do read things ahead of time. When I read an early story I can see things I wouldn’t do now, things people were doing in the fifties.



What about those aunts, the wonderful aunts who appear.


My great aunt and my grandmother were very important in our lives. After all, my family lived on this collapsing enterprise of a fox and mink farm, just beyond the most disreputable part of town, and they lived in real town, in a nice house, and they kept up civilization. So there was always tension between their house and ours, but it was very important that I had that. I loved it when I was a little girl. Then, when I was an adolescent, I felt rather burdened by it. My mother was not in the role of the lead female in my life by that time, though she was an enormously important person; she wasn’t there as the person who set the standards anymore. So these older women moved into that role, and though they didn’t set any standards that I was at all interested in, there was a constant tension there that was important to me.


Photo Courtesy: articles.latimes.com


Then you didn’t actually move into town as the mother and daughter do in “Lives of Girls and Women”?


We did for one winter. My mother decided she wanted to rent a house in town for one winter, and she did. And she gave the ladies’ luncheon party, she tried to break into society, which was totally impenetrable to her. She couldn’t do it. There was just no understanding there. I do remember coming back to the farmhouse that had been occupied by men, my father and my brother, and you couldn’t see the pattern on the linoleum anymore. It seemed as if mud had flowed into the house.



Was the community you grew up in pleased about your career?


It was known there had been stories published here and there, but my writing wasn’t fancy. It didn’t go over well in my hometown. The sex, the bad language, the incomprehensibility . . . The local newspaper printed an editorial about me: A soured introspective view of life . . . And, A warped personality projected on . . . My dad was already dead when they did that. They wouldn’t do it while Dad was alive, because everyone really liked him. He was so liked and respected that everybody muted it a bit. But after he died, it was different.


But he liked your work?


But he liked my work, yes, and he was very proud of it. He read a lot, but he always felt a bit embarrassed about reading. And then he wrote a book just before he died that was published posthumously. It was a novel about pioneer families in the southwest interior, set in a period just before his life, ending when he was a child. He had real gifts as a writer.


Can you quote us a passage?


In one chapter he describes what the school was like for a boy who lived a little earlier than he did: “On other walls were some faded brown maps. Interesting places like Mongolia were shown, where scattered residents rode in sheepskin coats on small ponies. The center of Africa was a blank space marked only by crocodiles with mouths agape and lions who held dark people down with huge paws. In the very center Mr. Stanley was greeting Mr. Livingston, both wearing old hats.”


Did you recognize anything of your own life in his novel?


Not of my life, but I recognized a great deal of my style. The angle of vision, which didn’t surprise me because I knew we had that in common.


Had your mother read any of your work before she died?


My mother would not have liked it. I don’t think so—the sex and the bad words. If she had been well, I would have had to have a big fight and break with the family in order to publish anything.

You can read the full interview at http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1791/the-art-of-fiction-no-137-alice-munro

Nobel, Man Booker Wins Reveal Canada’s Confidence As a Literary Nation


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Following on the life-long habit of AKS to record events of literary and human importance, we are starting a new section for our readers NEWS THAT MATTER wherein we will import interesting news and views from around the world focusing on the literary world, as well as socio-cultural issues. The NEWS THAT MATTER will be a category in itself which the reader can check out under the categories of articles listed on the left hand margin.-AKSCENTRE



The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Oct. 16 2013, 3:42 AM EDT

Last updated Wednesday, Oct. 16 2013, 3:46 AM EDT

Eleanor Catton, who on Tuesday won the Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, is 28 years old. The novel for which she won, The Luminaries, is 848 pages, the longest book ever to win. And it is her second book, following The Rehearsal, which was published to wide acclaim in 2008.

Surely the most remarkable thing about her story is that that Ms. Catton, the youngest person ever to win the prize, has accomplished all of this at an age when many of us remain engaged in heated debates about the merits of pineapple as a pizza topping. (Delicious, for the record.)


Man Booker prize shortlist nominee Eleanor Catton poses with her book “The Luminaries” during a photocall at the Southbank Centre in London, October 13, 2013.

But not in Canada. Here, the most remarkable part of this story is that – you guessed it! – Ms. Catton is Canadian. Or, rather, she’s sort-of Canadian: She was born in London, Ont., moved to New Zealand when she was six, and now calls that island nation home. But she probably learned to write within our borders. That’s close enough, right?

But can you blame us? As of last Wednesday, no Canadian had ever won the Nobel Prize for literature. And no Canadian had won the Man Booker since Yann Martel’s tiger-maintenance manual Life of Pi took the prize in 2002. Only three Canadians had won in the Booker’s 45-year history, and again only sort-of: Michael Ondaatje had to share his 1992 honour with a co-winner, Barry Unsworth.

And then, last Thursday, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize. And on Tuesday, Ms. Catton won the Booker. And, for those so inclined to read the prizewinning tea leaves, it felt like, as a literary culture, we had made it. As a colleague jokingly wrote me by way of informing me of Ms. Catton’s win, “We’re a real literary nation.”

Of course, to believe that is to ignore the fact that Canada has, for a long time, produced a lot of remarkable literature, much of which has been celebrated around the world. Before winning the Nobel, after all, Ms. Munro was but one of several Canadian names tossed around in speculation. I heard some say Margaret Atwood or Michael Ondaatje; someone predicted Rohinton Mistry as a longshot. It was suggested by the especially optimistic that Al Purdy had once been thought a contender.

This bounty, though, is a relatively recent thing, which is probably why this sudden confluence of international recognition feels, even to the skeptical, like a real moment. Canadian literature, late to gestate, late to blossom and late to grow into a sustainable maturity, has, of late, arrived in a significant way.

Once, Nick Mount of the University of Toronto’s English department pointed out to me that that everything CanLit happens a few generations behind broader trends. Compared, for instance, to our English-speaking counterparts in the U.K. and United States, we got started rather late. (After all, Canada has not yet celebrated its 150th birthday.)

To give you a sense of how meteoric our growth as a literary culture was, in 1959, McClelland & Stewart, Ms. Catton’s publisher, issued 19 books. A decade later, that number was more than 70, and the house had become one of the country’s dominant cultural forces.

Writing in the periodical Books in Canada in 1975, critic Robert Fulford quantified the change similarly: “When I wrote a daily book column for The Toronto Star in the early 1960s I tried to review every serious novel by a Canadian published in English; and some seasons I nearly succeeded. Today it would take a platoon of critics to attempt the same task.”

That decade, the 1960s, was the crucible of CanLit’s growth. But that was 50 years after Woolf or Hemingway, 100 after Dickens and Dickinson, more than 200 after Defoe or Richardson or Fielding. Almost 400 after Shakespeare.

Obviously, we cannot know if Ms. Catton’s bizarre and ambitious account of the 19th century New Zealand gold rush will be remembered, even canonized, as some Booker winners have been. The prize’s 45 years have recognized a lot of famous books, but also too many that have slipped from our collective cultural imagination. Is The Luminaries a Midnight’s Children, or a The Remains of the Day? Or is it destined for the remainder bins of history, like P.H. Newby’s Something to Answer For, which won in the prize’s inaugural year, 1969?

But perhaps it does not matter. Some readers love The Luminaries. Some find it tiresome and mannered. But its victory, and Ms. Munro’s, speak to something larger: a culture finally fully grown, and the confidence for us, as a literary nation, to tread upon a bigger stage. Even if we have borrowed an actor from our Kiwi colleagues.

Jared Bland is the The Globe and Mail’s books editor.

Courtesy: http://www.theglobeandmail.com

“He is Great Who Can Alter My State of Mind”


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Today, we bring a brief excerpt recorded by AKS from ‘The American Scholar’ of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 –1882)), the legendary American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, and is viewed as a champion of individualism. The introductory lines ofhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Scholar state: ‘The American Scholar was a speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson on August 31, 1837, to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was invited to speak in recognition of his groundbreaking work Nature, published a year earlier, in which he established a new way for America’s fledgling society to regard the world. Sixty years after declaring independence, American culture was still heavily influenced by Europe, and Emerson, for possibly the first time in the country’s history, provided a visionary philosophical framework for escaping “from under its iron lids” and building a new, distinctly American cultural identity.’–AKSCENTRE


From “The American Scholar” by R.W. Emerson:

The world is his who can see through its pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind custom, what overgrown error you behold is there only by sufferance–by your sufferance. See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.


R W Emerson

Nor he is great who can alter matter, but who can alter my state of mind.

I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or Arabia; I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give one insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future worlds.

To read the full essay, ‘The American Scholar’, you can visit this website: http://www.emersoncentral.com/amscholar.htm

“Ask Someone Where We Are”


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Today, we reproduce these opening lines of the Sophocles’ play Oedipus at Colonus as recorded by AKS.  This is of the three Theban plays or trilogy of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles (c. 497/6 BC- c. 406/5 BC), with the other two being Oedipus the Rex and Antigone. For the uninitiated, the explanatory lines taken from http://www.litcharts.com/lit/oedipus-at-colonus/themes are also being brought here for a better understanding of the context of these opening lines: ‘Long before the beginning of Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus has fulfilled one of the most famous prophecies in world literature—that he would kill his father and marry his mother (these events are covered in detail in Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex). Despite his efforts to avoid this terrible fate, it came to pass. When Oedipus learned what he had inadvertently done, he gouged out his own eyes, and was banished from Thebes. As Oedipus at Colonus begins, Oedipus is nearing the end of his life.’ AKSCENTRE


Opening lines of Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus”, Tr. by E.F. Watling (Penguin Classics)


Enter from the country Oedipus, white -haired, blind, and in squalid garments, guided by his daughter, Antigone.


Oedipus at Colonus by Fulchran-Jean Harriet, 1798, Cleveland Museum of Art
Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus_at_Colonus

Oedipus: Tell me, Antigone – where have you come to now

With your blind old father?

What is this place, my child?

Country, or town? Whose turn is it to-day

to offer a little hospitality to the wandering Oedipus?

It’s little I ask, and am well content with less.

Three masters – pain, time, and the royalty in the blood –

Have taught me patience. Is there a resting place,

My child, where I could sit, on common ground

Or in same sacred close? And while I rest,

Ask someone where we are.


क्या पानी ऊपर आएगा?


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सन् १९७९ और १९८१ के बीच AKS ने सम-सामियिक चिंतन की तीन  पत्रिकाएं–‘चिन्गाङी’, ‘युवा-जागरण’ एवं ‘समाधान’,–अपने सहयोगियों और विद्यार्थियों के एक प्रतिबद्ध टीम के साथ मुजफ्फरपुर, बिहार से प्रकाशित किया. इन पत्रिकाओं के ‘संपादक’ रोटेशनल बेसिस पर इनके विद्यार्थी, जो कि उस वक्त बिहार विश्वविदालय में मुख्यतः स्कोनातकोत्तर के छात्र थे, हुआ करते थे और AKS का नाम ‘संरक्षक’ के रूप में जाता था. इन राजनीतिक-सामाजिक-सांस्कृतिक पत्रिकाओं के कुछ अंक अभी भी उप्लब्ध है और उनपर अलग से विस्तृत समीक्षा प्रकाशित की जाएगी, लेकिन यहाँ हम प्रस्तुत कर रहें कुछ-एक फिल्म समीक्षाएं जो की AKS ने खुद लिखी थीं. हालाँकि, चूंकि इन पत्रिकायों की कई सामाग्रियां AKS खुद हीं तैयार करते थे, इसीलिए शायद इन फिल्म समीक्षाओं में उन्होंने अपना नाम नहीं दिया करते थे.  आज प्रस्तुत है फिल्म, ‘चक्र’ की समीक्षा. ‘चक्र’ १९८१ ई. में रिलीज़ हुयी थी, और इसकी समीक्षा ‘समाधान’ के प्रवेशांक ‘मई १९८२’ में प्रकाशित हुयी. संभव है की उस समय बन रही कला फ़िल्में अलग-अलग शहरों में अलग-अलग समय में रिलीज़ होती हों. यहाँ दिए हुए फिल्म का पोस्टर इन्टरनेट से लिया गया है और ‘समाधान’ के फिल्म समीक्षा में यह शामिल नहीं था. यह उल्लेख्नीय है कि इन पत्रिकाओं को बेचने के लिए AKS अपने विद्यार्थियों के साथ शहर के मुख्य बाज़ार, रेलवे स्टेशन, कॉलेज एवं विश्विद्यालय परिसर आदि में खुद जाते थे. आश्चर्य की बात है की, ३० से भी ज्यादा वर्षों के बाद भी यह फिल्म, और शायद इसकी यह समीक्षा भी, आज उतनी ही प्रासंगिक लग रही है. –AKSCENTRE        

क्या पानी ऊपर आएगा?
आदमी को भरोसे के माँ-बाप, भरोसे का समाज मिल जाए और काम लायक दिल और दिमाग भी लेकर वह पैदा हुआ हो, तो वह कहावती तारे भी तोड़ ला सकता है. इन तीनों (माँ-बाप, समाज, तथा दिलो-दिमाग) में से कोई दो तो बेहद ज़रूरी है, आदमी को पशु या पदार्थ के स्तर ऊपर उठने के लिए.
हिंदी फिल्म ‘चक्र’ में जब आदमी कोशिश करता है झुग्गी-झोपङियों की देह और आत्मा विहीन जिंदगी (?) से ऊपर उठने की, तो वह या तो गेहूं की लूट में ट्रक के नीचे आ जाता है या, लूका की तरह, अवैध शराब बनाते हुए और हर वैसी औरत के साथ सम्बन्ध रखते हुए चर्म रोग से ग्रस्त हो जाता है, तथा अपना ही मांस कट-कट कर गिरता हुआ देखता है.
लूका (नसीरुद्दीन शाह) के माँ-बाप का पता दर्शक को नहीं दिया जाता है. शायद निर्देशक संकेत से यह बतलाना चाहते हों कि उन्ही के माँ-बाप का पता दिया जाता है, जिनका अपना कुछ पता हो. दो-तीन साल बाद (जिसमे एक-दो बार वह जेल भी काट आया है) लूका अपनी पुरानी झुग्गी-झोपडी में लौटता है. यह झोपड़ियां क्या हैं, ठहरे पानी का एक बड़ा गड्ढा है, जिसमे मछलियाँ इस तरह से सड़ती हैं कि जैसे उनके सड़ने मात्र से सृष्टि का कोई उद्देश्य पूरा हो रहा है.
इस ठहरे पानी के तालाब में एक ऐसी मछली (स्मिता पाटिल) है, जिसने मन के स्तर पर सङना तो शुरू कर दिया है, पर जो जिस्म के स्तर पर पूरा जोखम भरी है. इस जिस्म्वती महिला को एक पंद्रह-साल का पुत्र भी है, जिसे अभी तक यह नहीं मालूम हो सका है की उसे हाथ-पाओं किस लिए मिले हैं. लूका उसकी माँ का पुराना दोस्त है, पर अभी तक उसको यह नहीं मालूम है कि दोस्त के कितने मायने होते हैं…लेकिन दो-तीन दिनों में लूका उसको सब कुछ सीखा देगा. और जो सीखने को बाकी रह जाएगा, वह ट्रक-ड्राईवर (कुलभूषण खरबंदा) से सीख लेगा, जिसकी हर लम्बी सफ़र का अंत उसकी माँ के पहलू में होता है.
 फिल्म ‘चक्र’ को सराहना आसान नहीं है, क्योंकि यह मनोरंजन प्रदान करने के बहाने हमारे तथाकथित सभ्य समाज का पदाॅफाश कर देती है. बम्बई महानगर में स्थित इन झुग्गी-झोपड़ियों में रहने वाले औरत-मर्द ऐसे तो सभ्य भाषा में  पति-पत्नी, या माँ-बेटे कहे जाऐंगे, (क्योंकि एक के मरने पर दूसरा रोता या दूसरी रोती है) पर दरअसल, वे इस व्यवस्था के अनिवार्य और अंतिम शिकार हैं.
 ‘चक्र’ के आखिरी दृश्यों में ट्रक-ड्राईवर भी, जो इस ठहरे हुए पानी का निवासी नहीं लगता था, अपने ट्रक से हाथ धो लेता है, झोपङियाँ प्रस्तावित पांच-सितारिया होटल के निर्माण के लिए ध्वस्त कर दी जाती हैं, मन और अब शरीर से भी रोग-ग्रस्त मछली सोचती हुयी दिखाई देती है कि क्या धरती के नीचे का पानी कभी फूट कर ऊपर आयेगा भी या …?
 –”समाधान’, [सामायिक चिंतन का लोकप्रिय प्रतिनिधि; आर्थिक समानता, सामाजिक न्याय एवं स्वस्थ शिक्षा के लिए प्रतिबद्ध], प्रवेशांक ‘मई १९८२’, मुजफ्फरपुर, बिहार  



“The ‘I am Ready for Anything’ Look of D H Lawrence”



Today, we reproduce the passages from Catherine Carswell’s biography of D H Lawrence, The Savage Pilgrimage, which was first published in 1932. Catherine Carswell (1879-1946), a Scottish author, biographer and journalist, is more famously known for her not-so-flattering and controversial biography of the legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns. However, the passages from this biography as recorded by AKS in his diary, have not been taken in continuity. Lawrence’s views on marriage, his lesser known play ‘Touch and Go’, his impressions of foreign lands such as Italy, Ceylone, Australia, Taos and finally his comparsion of America with Europe have been put together by AKS– making transitions through one line comments or simply through signs like XX; the page nos. have not been mentioned. This needs to be mentioned that for AKS, D H Lawrence, with all his imperfections, was in a sense epitome of a perfect artist. Thus, interestingly, amidst these discussions, one finds that a small passage about the ‘fiercely or sufferingly thoughtful’ photographs or portraits of Lawrence as opposed to his ‘usual sparkling awareness’, as observed by Carswell, recorded in the diary. AKSCENTRE


It is, I think, a misfortune that by far the most of the photographs and portraits of Lawrence show him as thoughtful – either fiercely or sufferingly so. His usual expression was a kind of sparkling awareness, almost as “I am ready for anything” look which was invigorating to behold.


D H Lawrence
Photo Courtesy: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/


Early 1922, while on way to Ceylon: ”I think one must for the moment withdraw from the world away towards the inner realities that are real: and return, may be, to the world later, when one is quiet and sure. I am tired of the world, and want the peace like a river: not this whisky and soda, bad whisky too, of life so-called. I don’t believe in Buddhistic inaction and meditation. But I believe the Buddhistic peace is the point to start from – not our strident fretting and squabbling.”


To read the full excerpts please click here: https://akscentre.wordpress.com/aks-diaries-excerpts-and-fragments/

“Conflict Is An Inescapable Social Fact”



28 July 05


(on which Alwin Toffler’s ‘Power Shifts’ is based, in his own words)

1. Power is inherent in all social systems and in all human relationships.  It is not a thing but an aspect of any and all relationships among people. Hence it is inescapable and neutral, intrinsically neither good nor bad.

2. The ‘power system’ includes everyone – no one is free of it.  But one person’s power loss is not always another’s gain.

Alvin Tofler

Alvin Toffler

3. The power system in any society is subdivided into smaller and smaller power subsystems nested within one another.  Feedback links these subsystems to one another, and to the larger systems of which they are part.  Individuals are embedded in many different, though related, power subsystems.

4. The same person may be power-rich at home and power-poor at work, and so forth.

5. Because human relationships are constantly changing, power relationships are also in constant process.

6. Because people have needs and desires, those who can fulfill them hold potential power.  Social power is exercised by supplying or withholding the desired or needed items and experiences.

7. Because needs and desires are highly varied, the ways of meeting or denying them are also extremely varied.  There are, therefore, many different ‘tools’ or ‘levers’ of power.  Among them, however, violence, wealth and knowledge are primary.  Most other power resources derive from these.


8. Violence, which is chiefly used to punish, is the least versatile source of power.  Wealth, which can be used to both reward and punish, and which can be converted into many other resources, is a far more flexible tool of power. Knowledge, however, is the most versatile and basic since it can help one avert challenges that might require the use of violence and wealth, and can often be used too persuade others to perform in desired ways out of perceived self-interest.  Knowledge yields the highest quality power.

9. The relationship of classes, races, genders, professions, nations, and other social groupings are incessantly altered by shifts in population, ecology, technology, culture, and other factors.  These changes lead to conflict and translate into redistribution of power resources.

10. Conflict is an inescapable social fact.

11. Power struggles are not necessarily bad.

To read the full excerpts please click here, https://akscentre.wordpress.com/aks-diaries-excerpts-and-fragments/

“…Every Blessing Ignored Becomes A Curse”




From Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’

 [1] ” I’ve had this shop for thirty years. I know good crystal from bad, and everything else there is to know about crystal. I know its dimensions and how it behaves. It we serve tea in crystal, the shop is going to expand. And then I’ll have to change my way of life.”

            “Well is n’t that good?”

alchemist            “I’m already used to the way things are. Before you came, I was thinking about how much time I had wasted in the same place, while my friends had moved on, and either went bankrupt or did better than they had before. It made me very depressed. Now, I can see that it had n’t been too bad. The shop is exactly the size I always wanted it to be. I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am.”

             The boy did n’t know what to say. The old man continued. “You have been a real blessing to me. Today, I understand something I did n’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don’t want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I’m going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things you should be able to accomplish, and I don’t want to do so.”

             …And as he smothered the coals in the hookah, he told the boy that he could begin to sell tea in the crystal glasses. Sometime, there’s just no way to hold back the river.

 X X X

             The Englishman was fascinated with the part about the progress achieved at the crystal shop after the boy began working there.

“That’s the principle that governs all things”, he said. “In alchemy, it’s called the soul of the world. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the world. It’s always a positive force.

            He also said that this was not just a human gift, that everything on the face of the earth had a soul, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal – or even just a simple thought.

            “Everything on earth is being continuously transformed, because the earth is alive … and it has a soul. We are part of that soul so we rarely recognize that it is working for us. But in the crystal shop you probably realized that even the glasses were collaborating in your success.”

To read more excerpts recorded in AKS Diaries, please click here: https://akscentre.wordpress.com/aks-diaries-excerpts-and-fragments/

Remembering My Teacher, A.K. SINHA aka AKS (अक्स) or (Pollen)

This is a rare write-up by Dr. Rajendra Sanjay, a student of M S College, Motihari between 1962 and 1965, remembering AKS as a young Lecturer in English at the College. We are grateful to Dr. Rajendra Sanjay for writing this piece putting together episodes that took place nearly fifty years back -AKSCENTRE

For digging out the past one needs spade work. Later entering deep, comes out pondora’s box of memories. The scattered memories dazzle like precious jewels. To pinpoint one’s past is an audacity that fills heart with sweet and sour reminiscences that keep the person oscillating between pleasant and unpleasant incidents– a real tough job to write about as the incidents do not occur in chronological order. Besides, with each incident emerges a particular face. To collect all these scattered memories in order along with relevant appearance is another difficult job. To write memories related to a particular person is real hard task because it requires the analysis of that person, his character, his traits, attitudes, good and bad. In other words, it becomes an evaluation of a person who is physically very far but in memory very near and alive.

While my short stay in Delhi in connection with the publication of my latest book, I met with one young man of pleasant personality named Kumar Vikram, who in flow of conversation revealed that his father Shri A.K. Sinha was professor of English at Munshi Singh College from 1961 upto 1975. What a surprise! I too studied Science at the same college from 1962 to 1965 and was close to his father!! The picture of my college days ran on the memory screen.

After completing my study at MJK College, Bettiah, I got admitted at M.S. College, Motihari, to study Chemistry Hons on insistence of Maths professor, Shri C.P. Singh, who on leaving MJK College had joined MS College. At MJK, I had availed full freeship. So, I applied for the same at MS College too. But unfortunately, only half freeship was offered to me, apart from the hostel accommodation. So, I met the concerned professor Chakradhari Singh to explain my poor financial family background. A quite hefty and sober looking simpleton Chakradhariji bluntly asked me “why should you get full freeship when you are enjoying the college hostel at concessional rate?” I had no reply. Helpless, I approached C.P.Singh, who introduced me to English Professor A.K.Sinha, who had good rapport with the Principal Bholanath Singh, the Chemistry Professor. He strongly supported my case to the Principal. Having known that I was not only a meritorious under ten at the Board Exam, but also a brilliant poet and stage actor, the Principal passed a funny remark in a question as per his jovial nature “Tell me kaviji! putting stress on ‘Kaviji’-” the belt you are wearing is a ‘belt’ or lasso (‘Naada‘ in Hindi)?” It earned a laughter from C.P. and A.K. Sinha, both present there. Being young blood, I felt hurt and embarrassed too. Those were the days of thin belt used in pant as fashion very popular among the youngsters.


A View of the building of M S College, Motihari

So controlling my nerves and keeping my senses together, I replied in quiet and poised voice-“That I don’t know sir! Please determine the same with a measure tape,” I replied innocently, “I have used it not as a fashion like today’s young generation, but as a dress code requirement.

“Well said”, praised Professor A.K.Sinha. The Principal pinned his eyes at me for a moment as if he was studying me. I gave him a timid look. He later called Professor Chakradhari and recommended for my full freeship. But Chakradhariji clarified, “He is doubly benefitted Sir!– with half free ship and hostel accommodation.” I thought he must have felt otherwise on my appeal to the Principal.

“I think kaviji should be considered as an exceptional case,” Prof. A. K. S pleaded for me.

“It will send wrong signal among other students,” objected Prof. Chakradhari.

“If kaviji vacates the hostel accommodations?”, before I could understand suddenly Prof. C.P. Singh suggested. There was a complete silence for a moment. I didn’t know, what was in C.P.’s mind, behind his utterance, but it was certainly like a bombshell for me. Losing accommodation where would I go?

“In that case I have no objection for his full freeship,” Prof. Chakradhari gave me a victorious glance. I looked awkwardly at C.P. who shotback, “Then kaviji will stay with me as he deserves full freeship.” I felt elevated in my eyes and obliged to him.

“Kaviji! you are lucky having three seniors in your support. So don’t let us down,” A.K.S said warmly.

“I am highly obliged sir! Be sure! I will never disappoint you all,” I was overwhelmed and felt proud of myself that all the three stalwarts treated me not as a student but like their younger brother or junior in making. Thus I came near to A.K. Sinha with whom although  I had no connection study-wise but yet he had developed a soft corner for me. The reason for such support in my opinion was that I was a self made person right from my school days. A.K. Sinha used to come occasionally to C.P.’s rented house specially on Sundays and holidays and ask what new poem I had written. I remember once I had narrated a poem in Hindi with a title एक सांवली पत्नी का निवेदन (Request of a Swarthy Wife). the last two lines of which had touched his heart-cord. I got his pat affectionately advising me to keep it up. That day I had a great feeling. Most probably that was the reason why those two lines became very dear to me-

रुठो अरे प्राणतम से रुठो

तिमिर से ही ज्योति किरण फूट पाई

 While staying with C.P. Singh, I came to know a bizzare name addressed by CP for AK Sinha as ‘AKS’ in one word. It became in fact a puzzle word for me. He was ‘A.K. Sinha’ or ‘Prof. A.K.’ for people, but ‘AKS’ for CP. On asking, CP explained ‘AKS’ is a Urdu word (अक्स) that has parallel word in English ‘Pollen’ i.e. ‘essence of flower’ or any substance better known as ‘Parag’ in Hindi. I liked the word immensely as it truly reflected the sweet nature of A.K.S ever since I too started calling him ‘AKSji.’

A.K.S was quite young, energetic, gregarious and good orator. His art of non-stop speaking English was miraculous. It was his art of speaking that impressed me to pick up English for writing and speaking. In the beginning, I used to stumble or fumble while speaking but AKS kept on encouraging by saying “English is so easy to speak and graceful to impress others.”

This art of oration later helped me to become Science teacher in an English medium higher secondary school and part time Chemistry teacher in Darjeeling Polytechnic in Kurseong after completing my study. His keen interest in cultural activities impressed me to follow suit in my school’s extra-curriculum activities.

I remember the year 1962 when Chinese aggression on Indian Territory in October had created tremendous sense of unity and patriotism among we Indians, raising our voices to the top against the traitor Chinese-imperialism. During those days, a Kavi Sammelan had been orgnised on the campus of MS College in which Gopal Singh Nepali had recited firebrand patriotic poems. AKS in association with the Hindi Department had participated deeply to make the function a success.

Well before the Republic day celebration, AKS had asked whether I was ready to participate for the poetry competition and I had replied in affirmative. On 26 Jan, 1963, many participants came on the stage one by one, recited their poems, all patriotic. I too receited my patriotic creation by singing.

है जब तक दिशा ध्रुवतारा रहेगा

हिमालय हमारा हमारा रहेगा

ये माटी देंगे भले जान जाए

रहे सांस जब तक ये नारा रहेगा

हिमालय हमारा हमारा रहेगा

 The judges of the competition took their decision collectively and announced the name of the poet, adjudged as the best. It was no other than my name. At the end of the function AKS as a jury member said in his thanks giving speech that my poem had reminded him of Gopal Singh Nepali and that he felt proud of me.

I did not know what made him say so, nor did I know what bond was between me and him that he showered so high on me. Perhaps he had become my fan or because I was his fan? Whatever may be, but undoubtedly it was the affection, encouragement or blessings of AK Sinha, CP Singh and Bholanath Singh that I remained throughout my life indebted to them. Even today, whenever I see the award winning memento given to me, I slip into my college days at Motihari, all the names associated with me glitter like gold that draws a thin line of smile on my face.

It is unfortunate part of my life that I never met again either of the two personalities of my student life after I left Motihari nor ever heard about them as myself was so busy struggling to get a firm permanent foothold for my livelihood thousands of miles away in Tram city Calcutta, hills of Darjeeling and later human ocean Mumbai. During my last visit in 2004 after 2000 I tried to know about them but could not get any hint even. I owe to them cultivating my career initially that helped me for founding my later career. This article has provided me an opportunity to peep into my college days past by putting reels on the projector to have a re-look on both of them and thus reliving those days again and again by fast forward and rewind like film reels.


Dr. Rajendra Sanjay

Dr. Rajendra Sanjay [B.Sc. Hons (Chem), B.A.(Hindi), IT-(Dip), MA, Phd. (Environ)], originally from Motihari, Bihar, is an accomplished theatre activist, film-maker, scriptwriter, playwright, actor and a poet with an educational background in Science and Environment. A multi-linguist, having knowledge of languages like Hindi, English, Nepali, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi & Bhojpuri, he has been associated with All India Radio for more than four decades.  Writer, director, lyricist  and producer for numerous documentary shows, radio-plays etc., he has also acted in popular Hindi feature films like ‘Saudagar’, ‘Hum Bachchey Hindustan Ke’, ‘Teesra Kinaara’, ‘Ek Thi Hirni’ etc. He has also published poetry collections and books on theatre, while various research books have been published on his creative writings. He lives in Mumbai.   

 Mahavir Nagar, Kandivli (West), Mumbai-67