Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE - LEARNING PHILOSOPHY FROM LITERATURE


WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
LEARNING PHILOSOPHY FROM LITERATURE
Reflections on a Snippet from War and Peace
(From First Epilogue: Chapter IV)
By
VIKRAM KARVE


If you ask me which is my favourite novel, I will unhesitatingly say that my all time favourite novel is WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy.

War and Peace is a most astonishing work of fiction which seamlessly incorporates history and philosophy in the story.

I am sure you have read this masterpiece by Leo Tolstoy, but if you haven’t yet read this masterpiece, I urge you to do so at the earliest opportunity.

Here is a small snippet from this book, a piece from First Epilogue Chapter IV, suitably paraphrased, for you to reflect and ruminate on.


A bee settling on a flower has stung a child.

The child is afraid of bees so the child says that the purpose of the bee is to sting people.

A poet admires the bee sipping honey from the cup of the flower so the poet says that the purpose of the bee is to sip the nectar of the flower.

A beekeeper observes that the bee collects pollen from flowers and brings it to the beehive so the beekeeper says that the purpose of the bee is to gather honey.

Another expert beekeeper who has studied the life of the bee more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, so he says that the purpose of the bee is the perpetuation of its species.

A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, so the botanist says that the purpose of the bee is to facilitate proliferation of flora.

Another expert botanist observing the cross-fertilization of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, so he says that the purpose of the bee is the hybridization of plants.

But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern.

The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension.

As it is in the case of the bee, it is the same in the case of humans too.

Remember, when you live your life in a certain way or you indulge in certain actions, whereas different observers of your actions (including you yourself) may derive your own perceptions about your immediate purpose, your ultimate purpose of life is beyond your or anyone’s comprehension. 

Maybe, towards the end of your life, comprehension may dawn on you as to what was the ultimate purpose of your life.

The Moral of the Story is encapsulated in Chapter 2 Verse 47 of The Bhagavad Gita:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

karmany evadhikarass te maphalesu kadachana ma karma-phala-hetur bur ma te sango stv akarmani

(Seek to perform your duty; but lay not claim to its fruits. You have a right to perform your prescribed action, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results your activities, but neither should you avoid doing your duty).

So that is the essence of a philosophical approach to life:

Always do your best without expecting results and you will be happy

Think about it, reflect, ruminate and have a nice day.

There is lot to learn about philosophy from literature. 

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
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Email: vikramkarve@sify.com
    
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