The Chain Of Happening


Ahmadnagar Fort. August Thirteenth, Nineteen Forty-Four. It is just over two years since we came here, two years of a dream life rooted in one spot, with the same few individuals to see, the same limited environment, the same routine from day-to-day. Sometime in the future we shall wake up from this dream and go out into the wider world of life and activity, finding it a changed world. There will be an air of unfamiliarity about the persons and things we see; we shall remember them again and past memories will crowd into our minds, and yet they will not be the same, nor will we be the same, and we may find it difficult to fit in with them. Sometimes we may wonder whether this renewed experience of everyday living is not itself a sleep and a dream from which we may suddenly wake up. Which is the dream and which is the waking ? Are they both real, for we experience and feel them in all their intensity, or are they both unsubstantial and of the nature of fleeting dreams which pass, leaving vague memories behind?

Prison and its attendant solitude and passivity lead to thought and an attempt to fill the vacuum of life with memories of past living, of one’s own life, and of the long chain of history of human activity. So during the past four months, in the course of this writing, I have occupied my mind with India’s past records and experiences, and out of the multitude of ideas that came to me I have selected some and made a book out of them. Looking back at what I have written, it seems inadequate, disjointed and lacking in unity, a mixture of many things, with the personal element dominant and giving its colour even to what was intended to be an objective record and analysis. That personal element has pushed itself forward almost against my will; often I checked it and held it back but sometimes I loosened the reins and allowed it to flow out of my pen, and mirror, to some extent, my mind.

By writing of the past I have tried to rid myself of the burden of the past. But the present remains with all its complexity and irrationality and the dark future that lies beyond, and the burden of these is no less than that of the past. The vagrant mind, finding no haven, still wanders about restlessly, bringing discomfort to its possessor as well as to others. There is some envy for those virgin minds which have not been soiled or violated by thought’s assault, and on which doubt has cast no shadow nor written a line. How easy is life for them in spite of its occasional shock and pain.

Events take place one after the other and the uninterrupted and unending stream of happenings goes on. We seek to understand a particular event by isolating it and looking at it by itself, as if it were the beginning and the end, the resultant of some cause immediately preceding it. Yet it has no beginning and is but a link in an unending chain, caused by all that has preceded it, and resulting from the wills, urges, and desires of innumerable human beings coalescing and conflicting with each other, and producing something different from that which any single individual intended to happen. Those wills, urges, and desires are themselves largely conditioned by previous events and experiences, and the new event in its turn becomes another conditioning factor for the future. The man of destiny, the leader who influences the multitude, undoubtedly plays an important part in this process, and yet he himself is the product of past events and forces and his influence is conditioned by them.

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The Discovery Of India – Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru

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