India, my Love|Jan 26, 2004 1:35 PM| by:

Make that Tryst with Destiny

In borrowing both the title of this article and the choice of an address, I am not in any way trying to imitate the legendary and late Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, nor perhaps its great patron Saint Swami Vivekananda. My attempt is merely to seek the inspiration of ideas from them, to echo a spirit in unison with all of you.

Human life, anywhere, is but a weaving in a great tapestry. Each moment comes on us as a cross-road to decisions or of choices to be made. Each moment’s choice is also governed by the fertility of one’s own inner soil, of what comes to it from its past and how well that soil has been tilled during one’s formative years.

In the early ‘80s I happened to  face such a momentous decision. I was a member of the management group of a multinational company in the USA. I had a small privilege in the fact that my boss encouraged fresh thoughts and would welcome my occasional forays into providing white papers on strategy. On that particular morn, however, it seemed that I may have outdone myself. I had submitted a most radical thought. I had suggested that we move my entire department, in terms of cost analysis and efficiency, to Mumbai, a place hardly on anyone’s radar and which, logistically too, was tens of thousands of miles away. Of course, my paper was initially received with the normal courtesy of something that seemed to have style but once the reality hit my colleagues,  I was unleashed with a barrage of skepticism veering towards doubts of my sanity.

“You know how India is?… They have such monstrous problems… a twenty minute ride in a city takes an eternity… You have cows, goats and humans tripping all over each other… Trains don’t function… alarms are dead… every day is a riot or a holiday….no one seems to work…there is no such thing as telephones… You know how we can’t even get a piece of software delivered on time, right under our very noses, here, and you are proposing that we give it to India and lose all control?…..”

The tidal wave that day was unstoppable.

I stood mute for a while, saddened and not knowing what to answer. Each one of the criticisms was indeed true. How could I defend myself against the monstrosity of what I had suggested? As I struggled for an answer, small ghosts of thoughts fought their way emotionally into me …the apparition of my gentle father who surmounted his own difficulties in loving me sufficiently to provide me with an education, a Brother Delahanty who true to his calling as a teacher gave me the only gift he could share, a powerful love for the English language and for Shakespeare, faces upon faces of childhood heroes that  I had drawn inspiration from …a Bhartrahari (whose name my Samskrita loving  mother would drop), of a Rama, of  a Krishna , of a Vyaasa, of a Viswamitra,  of  a Ramakrishna Paramahamsa…the hundreds upon hundreds in a poor struggling land, who had barely anything to give in their poverty but who had still sacrificed something to subsidize an institution like an REC/NIT and subsidize my own education, the only foundation that I could lean against.

I remembered wending my way slowly as if in a haze. I reached for the whiteboard,  armed only with a marker. With all the modern tools of thinking which appeals to the intelligent mind, I  drew on statistics and  probability to illustrate a simple story of the journey of my life, the story of how in terms of  the dollar I could have never have received an education, how I could never have been able to buy a ticket on a plane, of how I could never have been  able to dream of making it to a new and promised land called America. Indeed, I showed them that with the entire power of those tools and armed with the structure of  logical thinking I was definitely nothing more than a man condemned to die at  birth!

Yet, my creator had provided me with another jury. With nothing to look forward to but succor in life,  I had made it this far, to be able to sufficiently stand along with all of them and to be able to  share in the  dreams of any middle class person; to a car, a house, a job and a family. Somewhere at that moment the image of Saraswati, ever my saving grace and that of the country that I grew up in, made its way into my thoughts. I remember leaving the meeting, pronouncing a humble and prophetic note in faith that “…India would meet the world one day in Cyberspace…”

I went on soon, to participate in building that prophesy, of being one of the early ones to provide a  gateway to software between two countries, two countries that had meant so much to me; of an India, of which I have already spoken and of a love for America that was ironically bred in India, by a project in the river valley where I grew up, whose Indian earth was tilled by American John Deere tractors and whose hopes for a strong India, fresh into freedom, was kept alive by a team of American engineers and their families  from Chicago.

Very soon, I would start a company in Princeton, and a company in Bangalore and go back to seek the blessings of  the very same company under whose roof I had dreamt  all of this.

India and it’s many cities, today, are becoming the new version of a Silicon Valley, something which is no more considered a surprise. With the trappings of a Silicon Valley, many momentous decisions, by each of its citizens, will have to be made. A new generation will have to decide if “all that glitters” is indeed “gold”. The country is a vast one of complex problems. The scales of solutions are vaster. Will a new generation see fit to distribute it’s wealth, see it fit to use it like a river (the stream, the Saraswati) in making it wend it’s way to all, or will they just dam the banks for themselves? Will the Y-generation, REC/Nit’s foot soldiers and India’s future seek a broader definition of the term “Technocrat” in it’s ability to see engineering, productivity and capitalism as only stepping stones to something vaster called Life and the preservation of values,  or will they use all of this to invoke only the “me”?  Will they care for their parents and grandparents as they were once cared for, or see fit to condemn them to old age homes and  pay homage to youthful narcissism? As productivity sharpens its keenness, will they see fit to preserve the family unit or disintegrate it with divorces, firing of the family’s bread winners and  squeezing out a society’s obligation towards medical help for the sake of  profitability? Will the new doctrine be the doctrine of a new and powerful beast, true only to its survival of an animal past and true to a new jungle where the only doctrine permissible would be the “survival of the fittest”? Will the sophisticated veneer of packaging and advertisement and franchises create more sophisticated slaughter houses, more wanton destruction of orchards or will Bhrigu Rishi’s proof in knowledge that “Plants too have a life” appeal to the conscience? Will there be anything left of conscience, which takes eons to cultivate, in the new human India?

In summary, will India, that ancient land where beautiful concepts ruled, where an era of enormous values from it’s vast scriptural heritage lived, be respected by its very own? Will a new set of people, the custodians of a vast legacy, whose contents still beg to be fathomed,  declare those contributions to be the pinnacle of  life?

I leave you today with two extraordinary findings, which is indeed India’s unique contribution to human kind and which has led to its self-contemplative way of life and it’s  survival from times immemorial:

That a human who relies on the trappings of the mind alone, relies on a very defective instrument and on a very defective state of things. The mind, having only stimuli for food,  operates only through divisions and sub divisions and can only divide and conquer its way towards annihilation.

That the only path is  through integration, into sources higher than mind, into states that lead to sublimeness, to an ethereal atmosphere, to inspiration, to love,  to conditions of unity, to the approach of a single identity,  the one with the divine.

It is only ancient Bharat, in the whole wide world, that has contributed to the complete model of truth. This model of truth came from its forty six thousand unknown celestial Rishis, from an age of truth called Satya Yuga, an age which encompassed the entire earth. Those Rishis  remain but for each of us to discover them. In their secret alone, shall India remain a civilization.  In seeking it alone, shall we still remain scientific.

There is no other story to be told,  no other tryst with destiny to be made. This was the theme passed on to me from two modern sages of India, in two different aspects,  who were none other but incarnations of those past Rishis. One,  mankind’s most mystical representative and the most noble son of Bengal and India, spoke to me from the scorched pages of the most supercharged  writing ever to be found in humanity. The other sat me in front, in the USA, and  thundered at me like he did with the world for over forty five years  introducing  me to the sources.

Vishwanath Murthy

(Vishwanath Murthy grew up in Bengal and Bihar, and has travelled extensively in India.  He did his studies in Computer Science in the USA and has worked in some well-known corporations in the USA on computers and artificial intelligence.)


  • http://Website Arvind Thapar

    Vishwa Murthy’s article titled “Make that tryst with Destiny” is as thought-provoking, as well as it is poignant. He brings out the truth about the current situation wherein India is experiencing an economic boom of sorts, driven, in a very large part, by the software industry. Although the country still has miles to go before achieving any sort of material parity with the West, it is very doable. The secret is to get it done while keeping intact our core spiritual values, if that prosperity is to offer any real gain to the rest of humanity.