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Philosophy and spirituality in Karan Singh's new book

I Believe is a compilation of subjects like politics, human relationships, economy, science and religion in context of the socio-cultural evolution of India.
None | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2008 12:55 PM IST

Karan Singh, president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), says the essence of his life is a multi-dimensional quest for the divine and this forms the basis of his new book I Believe - A Philosophy for the Global Society.

I Believe is a compilation of Singh's reflections on a variety of subjects like politics, human relationships, economy, science and religion in context of the socio-cultural evolution of India as a spiritually mature nation, placed in a global environment.

The slim volume is divided into 12 propositions or tenets of Singh's life, which he expands into essays - his favourite literary genre.

Releasing the book here Friday, Vice President Hamid Ansari said it was a treatise with a difference because it was an expression of faith with a philosophy of life.

"It is an expression of the author's creed and touches upon the three philosophical thought streams of the essential, absurd and the continent," Ansari said.

The three existential thoughts relate to man's reaction to environment and goals, he explained.

Pawan Varma, author and operating head of ICCR, described I Believe as an exercise in the three Cs - clarity, conviction and contextuality. He said the book answered the most difficult question of all: "What is your philosophy?"

"The essence of my life's philosophy is an integrated multi-dimensional quest for the divine," Singh told IANS.

Singh, who is also an authority on the Vedanta and Hinduism, believes that man is still in an intermediate stage between the animal and the divine, but can raise himself to a higher plane if he makes a "conscious dedicated effort to do so".

Singh's literary career dates back to 1952. He has written 20 books since then.

"I always loved to write. My first article, Journey to Amarnath - a travelogue, appeared in the Hindustan Times in 1953. I was only 22 then. Since then, I have written several books," Singh said.

One of his books, The Mountain of Shiva, has been adapted into a television serial by Kunal Kohli for Doordarshan.

Singh, a former parliamentarian and ambassador to the US, is also an orator par excellence, having picked up his skill to articulate and reach out to the masses from his two role models and mentors - former president S. Radhakrishnan and prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

"I picked up the art of weaving Sanskrit seamlessly into English from the former president and the power to reach out to the masses from Nehru. The former prime minister was a scholar and a leader who could make his voice heard, especially at election speeches and in rallies," Singh said.

Singh, the scion of Kashmir's royal family, has another side to him - he is an accomplished vocalist. His new album of Geet and Ghazals will be released July 22.

"This will be my third CD. The two earlier albums featured Dogri devotional songs and Dogri folk songs," said Singh.

"I began to sing at the age of 10 when my father forced me to learn it. However, I picked up Dogri music from my mother, who was a commoner from a village in Himachal's Kangra district," he added.

Singh stands apart from other authors since he does not type or write his manuscripts. "I belong to the pre-computer generation. I dictate my books to a stenographer," he said.

Singh does not find it difficult to arrange thoughts in a logical progression because he “has them all in the head".

Asked about his political views, Singh quoted form his book: "I believe politics will always remain turbulent because that is the nature of politics... But approached in the right spirit, political activity can be a powerful instrument of human transformation."

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