Friday, October 07, 2005

Of Gandhi's autobiography, comprehensive exams and more...


After an excruciatingly long break I am finally back to my old blogging ways. I can see that the blog world has not changed much over the last two months. These two months have been very interesting. My break started with a trip to Pittsburgh to visit my uncle. I spent the first three days in Pittsburgh helping my uncle unpack and set up his new house.

On the 15th of August I was helping my uncle organize his office in the basement and I came across Gandhi’s autobiography “THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH” (click here to read the book!) in one of his shelves. Gandhi seemed to be peering through his glasses beckoning me to read the book. I started reading the book with some kind of religious fervor, anxious and excited to read about the MAHATMA, the man I have always considered the greatest ever.

Gandhi’s life is an example of how an ordinary man can rise above everything and everyone and embrace immortality for sacrifice and service. Everything that Gandhi did in his life was an experiment. These experiments were carefully planned and their results were carefully analyzed, interpreted and applied (for example: He turned sathyagraha one of his experiments into a weapon against the British).

I felt like writing about the book because Gandhi remains relevant even today. The part I enjoyed reading the most was about Gandhi’s formative years. He talks in great length about his marriage to Kasturba and the difficulty he had in controlling his “carnal desire” during the early days of his marriage and the drawbacks of child marriage (he was only 13 when he married Kasturba). It is interesting to know that Gandhi who had over 400 million followers had a very bad personal life. His eldest son left him because of personal differences and yet Gandhi remained unmoved in his quest for the truth. It is hard to imagine a man fighting for Independence in the midst of a personal crisis. He was very focused in his goals, and human service came first before everything else. It is a pity that his name has been tarnished and the likes of Godse are being worshipped in some parts of India. Gandhi’s life in England and South Africa played a big role in making him the politician he was. Some of you might argue that “GANDHI WAS NEVER A POLITICIAN!!”

Well if Gandhi was never a politician who is a politician? Gandhi might have never held public office but was well and truly a member of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi was perhaps the best example of an ideal politician. Gandhi’s autobiography is a must read for every human being on earth (at the least all Indians should read it).

I returned to DC after the short trip to Pittsburgh rejuvenated to face the challenges of my current semester. The semester started with a bang with a series of experiments to be performed for the paper I have been long waiting to publish. The experiments kept on failing till last week when I finally got the results I wanted.
I had a viva voce today and my comprehensive examination committee bombarded me with questions for 1 hr and 15 minutes until my brain froze. After a lot of deliberations they finally decided that I could take my written examination on the 27th of October. I guess I am back to blogging sooner than I ever thought I would. I am going to take another break in December when I head to San Francisco for the American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting.

15 comments:

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Hi Robbie,
Welcome back...Welcome back..and thanks for coming back.

I am glad you had a good time. I am glad you were able to read Gandhi.!

I didn't know about his problems..!! Interesting...Wonder what that son is doing today? What were the differences? I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the link.

When you come to SFO please remember, you have to visit us and if possible stay with us a few days.

Good luck with your exams.

By the way, Pittsburgh is my dream city. My first job in the US with my family was in Pittsburgh 1994 March thru 1995 April. First driving experiences, first car and also some of the best times in my life so far were in Pittsburgh, I cannot forget the beauty of the city from Mt.Washington.! I cannot forget the temple there.!!

One of these days...when I get my GC, I might consider moving back to Pittsburgh.

Until then , it is California.!!

Rajmahendra said...

hi

may i take a privelage to post a comment on Sanima Mirza.

See my blog adn read about laterst news about saniamirza.

http://sketchesofraj.blogspot.com

Thank you.

Raj

Adaengappa !! said...

Welcome back Robbie..
Your last para really scares me as i'll be starting school-spring-06..First hand experience of US school system..Anyways...Let me face it !!

Goodluck in your research and presentations..

Shiva said...

hey man!! Welcome back.. All the best for ur Oct end exam.

Revo's nuggets said...

Your site was introduced to me by Ganesh.
enjoyed your description of Gandhi's autobiography...
I have heard some people (experts in the subject unlike me) question whether Gandhi's political technique could be employed in todays world - esp. with the intensity with which we have global interaction. Unlike my world of molecular biology, political field seems to require constant evolution of new techniques for sucessful leadership - may be the basic humanitarian look that Gandhi is an ideal thing to be had in all politicans - a point worth being pondered. :)
Viji

Raman said...

Buddy Robbie,

Welcome back. Good to see that you are back to blogging sooner than expected :-).

My Experiments with Truth is a really amazing book and one of my all time favorites. Now that you have read that, I would highly recommend Gandhi - A Life by Yogesh Chadha. It really is an amazing book that helps understand Gandhi - the man better. Though it is critical in certain places, it still is a very reverential book.

When reading about someone, I usually like to read a variety of books on that person and then try to form my own opinion. So, I read "My Experiments in Truth", "Gandhi-A Life" and "Freedom at midnight" around the same time. I would highly recommend that you also read the latter two books if you have not read them already. Let me know if you want to borrow my copy.

Yoginder Chadha's introduction note actually quotes the Mahatma's own opinion about the disciple-biographer,

"A disciple cannot write a critical biography. It would be presumptuous for a disciple to do so. The true disciple merges himself in the Guru and so can never be a critic of the Guru. Bhakthi(devotion) has no eye for shortcomings"

That should give you a good idea about the book and also the amazing philosophy of the Great man, the Mahatma!

Raman said...

Buddy Robbie,

Welcome back. Good to see that you are back to blogging sooner than expected :-).

My Experiments with Truth is a really amazing book and one of my all time favorites. Now that you have read that, I would highly recommend Gandhi - A Life by Yogesh Chadha. It really is an amazing book that helps understand Gandhi - the man better. Though it is critical in certain places, it still is a very reverential book.

When reading about someone, I usually like to read a variety of books on that person and then try to form my own opinion. So, I read "My Experiments in Truth", "Gandhi-A Life" and "Freedom at midnight" around the same time. I would highly recommend that you also read the latter two books if you have not read them already. Let me know if you want to borrow my copy.

Yoginder Chadha's introduction note actually quotes the Mahatma's own opinion about the disciple-biographer,

"A disciple cannot write a critical biography. It would be presumptuous for a disciple to do so. The true disciple merges himself in the Guru and so can never be a critic of the Guru. Bhakthi(devotion) has no eye for shortcomings"

That should give you a good idea about the book and also the amazing philosophy of the Great man, the Mahatma!

Anonymous said...

Hey Robbie Welcome back...

My Experiments with Truth is well written and it has highlighted the intellectual, moral and spitual aspects of Mahatma - a title given by R.Tagore. One of the autobiography I enjoyed reading

Did u see the movie where Ben Kingsley played his part?

Good luck with qualifiers...Even I am starting my Phd..this winter....

Kavya

ROBBIE said...

Narayanan:
Thank you for the invitation. I certainly will look forward to meeting you in San Francisco. My presentation is on the 14th and I will be busy the other days attending seminars and looking at exciting cell biology posters. I will surely try to meet you there when I get a break. I will let you know about the details of my hotel once I reach there. Please send me an E mail with your phone number if possible.

Adengappa:
I am sure you will do great here. I was very nervous during my viva voce yesterday and things did not go as well as I expected them to, maybe that is the reason why it sounded so ominous.

Shiva: Thanks!


Revo: Thanks for visiting my site. I totally understand your view of the evolving politician and I am glad that you also seem to understand how relevant Gandhi is to the present generation of politicians. I havent yet visited your site, I will do so when I get time.

Raman:
I would surely love to borrow that book from you. I am also currently reading Nelson Mandela's autobio. I really love the way you indulge yourself when you write comments. It really shows how careful and meticulous you are. Thanks man!

Kavya:
I am glad that you keep visiting and reading stuff here. Best of luck with your PhD. I am glad that more and more people are choosing to go one step further. I am sure that you will not regret your decision. I have watched the movie "Gandhi" and I thought that Ben brought Gandhi to life.

Eshwar said...

Hey Robbie welcome back. Looks like you are into discovering the Mahatma. Good luck.
And good luck too for your written exam on Oct 27.

Swahilya said...

Hi Robbie: Needn't say, how happy I am to see you back here. And back with a bang too! I will be in Chicago between Dec. 1 to Jan 8, if everything goes well.
Swaha.

ROBBIE said...

Eshwar:
Thanks a lot for your wishes and I am yet to read all the wonderful posts that you must have written in the last two months. I am going to make an effort and catch up with all of them.

Swahilya: I am honored by your comments. I am so glad that I met people like you through this blogsite. I can only hope that these wonderful relationships last till I die.

sen said...

Welcome back man.Well, i write a counter post on gandhi in my blog, someother time.

Ram.C said...

glad to see you back, Robbie.. hope many more interesting things are up in your sleeves.

Arvind said...

Hey Bud,

Welcome back - Gandhi is some 'soul' indeed - he used a weapon, that can never be called a weapon in the first place !!!

And ATB for your upcoming exams- i can already see the spiced up comments in the blogworld :P