I believe, as many of you do, that reading old books is like meeting old friends. And if you read an old classic after ages, you have the feeling that you are at home with a long-lost friend.
It was last week that I had my tryst with some of such 'old friends'. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, Sceptical Essays by Bertrand Russell, The Discovery of India and An Autobiography by Jawaharlal Nehru, and My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi were the 'old friends' I revisited. Such revisits make one feel as if one were in a familiar world forgotten for long.
One can be always sure that Russell never fails to project philosophy in its true essence and to make you realise the importance of rationalism and scepticism, behaviourism and its values. And Durant helps you build a world of philosophy ad philosophers so that you have all the points and counterpoints of philosophic wisdom in one go.
For a peep into Indian history and civilisation, you have Nehru. He also makes you familiar with the then prevailing "currents" all over the world that had a great impact on India and its freedom fighters to be upright and fearless.
The Mahatma tells one how simple but high thinking could be the key to living a happy life. To be mindful and truthful, loving and humanistic is the essence of any Gandhi writing. He makes you feel the time to do something good and meaningful has come.
So, reading great people reminds one to be more sensitive towards the purpose of life. Your life is wasted if you have to exit without having done any difference to the quality of society you live in. One has to build strong moral character because, as English critic Leigh Hunt wrote, "When moral courage feels it is in the right, there is no personal daring of which it is incapable."
And then that enables one to be fearless too. To be fearless, as Cervantes said, is crucial as it has many eyes and can see things underground!