Thursday, August 2, 2012


Reflections on a Snippet from War and Peace
(From First Epilogue: Chapter IV)

If you ask me which is my favourite novel, I will unhesitatingly say: 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 book 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 and says the purpose of the bee is to sting people.

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

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

Another 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 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 says that the purpose of the bee is to facilitate proliferation of flora.

Another botanist observing the cross-fertilization of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that the purpose of the bee is the hybridisation 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 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’s 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.

PS: There is lot to learn about the philosophy of life from literature 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this review. 
© 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, ITBHU 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 lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Anonymous said...

Heaven in a few simple bites

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Thanks Shiana

Anonymous said...

excellent. For War and peace, which author do you recommend, I find that there are 12 translations, so just wanted to check. once again, Thank you very much for your excellent blog.