Makarand R. Paranjape, Professor of English at JNU, New Delhi, is a scholar, critic, poet, novelist, and columnist. He read English at St. Stephen’s College before getting an MA & PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). He has published over 45 books, 170 academic papers, and 500 newspaper/periodical articles. His recent books include Cultural Politics in Modern India (Routledge, 2016), The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (Penguin Random House, 2015), and Transit Passenger/Passageiro em Transito (University of Sao Paolo, 2016), an Indo-Brazilian book of poems. Makarand is currently a columnist for Swarajya, DNA, and Mail Today. Bookstalkist spoke with him on sidelines of the Bangalore Literature Festival, 2017. 

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“The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth.

“The simplest meaning of the word sutra is “thread”. A sutra is, so to speak, the bare thread of an exposition, the absolute minimum that is necessary to hold it together, unadorned by a single “bead” of elaboration. Only essential words are used. Often, there is no complete sentence-structure. There was a good reason for this method. Sutras were composed at a period when there were no books. The entire work had to be memorized, and so it had to be expressed as tersely as possible Patanjali’s Sutras, like all others, were intended to be expanded and explained. The ancient teachers would repeat an aphorism by heart and then proceed to amplify it with their own comments, for the benefit of their pupils. In some instances these comments, also, were memorized, transcribed at a later date, and thus preserved for us.”

From the Translators’ Foreword.

The Advaita system is nondestructive. This is its glory, that it has the boldness to preach. “Do not disturb the faith of any, even of those who through ignorance have attached themselves to lower forms of worship.” That is what it says – do not disturb, but help everyone to get higher and higher; include all humanity. This philosophy preaches a God who is a sum total. If you seek universal religion which can apply to everyone, that religion must not be composed of only the parts, but it must always be their sum total and include all degrees of religious development.

 

“Two weeks after her sudden departure for California, Swami Vivekananda praised Joe’s detachment, as noted in a letter from Betty to Joe, written October 27:

He spoke of “Joe” and said you were the only real soul who had “attained freedom among us all,” including himself. You could drop everything, everybody and go out without a thought of regret & do your work, that you had attained this through thousands of reincarnations, he had seen it in India & here. No luxury counted, no misery (as in India) mattered – [you were] the same poised soul, etc.

“Results indicate that complete retirement leads to a 5-16 percent increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities, a 5-6 percent increase in illness conditions, and 6-9 percent decline in mental health, over an average post-retirement period of six years. Models indicate that the effects tend to operate through lifestyle changes including declines in physical activity and social interactions. The adverse health effects are mitigated if the individual is married and has social support, continues to engage in physical activity post-retirement, or continues to work part-time upon retirement……. Retiring at a later age may lessen or postpone poor health outcomes for older adults, raise well-being, and reduce the utilization of health care services, particularly acute care.”
(Source – The Effects of Retirement on Physical and Mental Health Outcomes –  Dhaval Dave, Inas Rashad, Jasmina Spasojevic)