Saturday, December 27, 2008

Imitation of Christ

This is Christmas time. Was reading a translation of 'Imitation of Christ' written by Thomas A Kempis, first published in Latin in 1418. The translation was by Swami Vivekananda who always had a high regard for Christ and this text (so much so that it always accompanied him.) Some excerpts from www.
Of prudence in action

We must not trust every word of others or feeling withinourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, whetherit be of God. Unhappily we are so weak that we find it easier tobelieve and speak evil of others, rather than good. But theythat are perfect, do not give ready heed to every news-bearer,for they know man's weakness that it is prone to evil andunstable in words.

This is great wisdom, not to be hasty in action, or stubbornin our own opinions. A part of this wisdom also is not tobelieve every word we hear, nor to tell others all that we hear,even though we believe it. Take counsel with a man who is wiseand of a good conscience; and seek to be instructed by one betterthan thyself, rather than to follow thine own inventions. A goodlife maketh a man wise toward God, and giveth him experience inmany things. The more humble a man is in himself, and the moreobedient towards God, the wiser will he be in all things, and themore shall his soul be at peace.

Of the knowledge of truth

All perfection hath some imperfection joined to it in thislife, and all our power of sight is not without some darkness. Alowly knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than the deepsearching of man's learning. Not that learning is to be blamed,nor the taking account of anything that is good; but a goodconscience and a holy life is better than all. And because manyseek knowledge rather than good living, therefore they go astray,and bear little or no fruit.

O if they would give that diligence to the rooting out of vice and the planting of virtue which they give unto vainquestionings: there had not been so many evil doings andstumbling-blocks among the laity, nor such ill living amonghouses of religion. Of a surety, at the Day of Judgment it will be demanded of us, not what we have read, but what we have done;not how well we have spoken, but how holily we have lived. Tellme, where now are all those masters and teachers, whom thouknewest well, whilst they were yet with you, and flourished inlearning? Their stalls are now filled by others, who perhapsnever have one thought concerning them. Whilst they lived theyseemed to be somewhat, but now no one speaks of them.

Of the imitation of Christ, and of contempt of the world and all its vanities

He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,(1) saith theLord. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how farwe must imitate His life and character, if we seek trueillumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Letit be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the lifeof Jesus Christ.

It is vanity then to seek after, and to trust in, the richesthat shall perish. It is vanity, too, to covet honours, and tolift up ourselves on high. It is vanity to follow the desires ofthe flesh and be led by them, for this shall bring misery at thelast. It is vanity to desire a long life, and to have littlecare for a good life. It is vanity to take thought only for thelife which now is, and not to look forward to the things whichshall be hereafter. It is vanity to love that which quicklypasseth away, and not to hasten where eternal joy abideth.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

NSS Camp

Merry Christmas! Let Christmas bring peace and happiness to every soul, in every nook and corner of the world. This post is about something that happened a month back. It had been a busy December. If time permits, shall come back with other experiences of this month.

It was a great experience to be at the NSS camp during Nov. 26, 2008 to Dec. 03, 2008 in a village surrounding 6 km from IITkgp campus. Approximately, 140 first year students and few faculty members like us were engaged in discovering India that remains largely unseen to urban privileged class and in turn it was a journey to discover ourselves.

The following are some of the excerpts I had with volunteers after the camp following the group mail I posted. (Pls. overlook grammatical errors as I didn't wish to edit anything and post as the students saw and expressed)

One cannot but be reassured to see future India emerging out of the youth of India. Also the role of programs like NSS (specially in institutes like IITs where leader of the futures are made) need to be emphasized that trains young mind, acts as interface and enabler between the capacity building (which IIT does) and right use of that capacity.


Dear NSS Volunteers,

Hope you have all reached home safely or on your way.

It was wonderful to spend those eight days with you in the NSS camp 2008 and share each others dreams as related to nation building.

Let us all try our best to become a better human-being and work for the betterment of our society.

We have experienced how team work can be a fun, how satisfactory it is to work for the poor and needy. Let us continue with the good work.

Please send your feedback on how we can improve. Also suggest some actionable items for the future.

Please don't negelect study, career. A better career gives a larger foot-print, more capacity to serve others.

Please keep in touch. Let us all work together for a better, stronger India.

Sincerely yours



Sir, i am a first year student (08arXXXX) who really enjoyed the discussions we had together. we definitely have to think for the society and for the country as a whole. It felt good collecting clothes for the poor and the needy ones and it also makes us realise how far we are still from total development. I and my friends discuss about this matters regarding the political situations, the corruption and the inefficiency of our system whaich goes on to become a heated debate.i feel strange that iitians have contributed very little to the society,where are all those iitians who pass out every year? Even I may become one of them.but this camp like NSS makes us realize our duty towards india.i have only shared a few things which goes in my mind. ....


Dear sir and fellow NSS volunteers,

This is Sh....., here to express my views and suggestions for the betterment of NSS.
From my experiences at the camp, I learnt many things, most important of those values being the values of sharing and selflessness. Helping the poor and others in need, is a very good way to reach out to the less privileged of the Indians.

These 8 days in the camp have been very useful, helping us learn how we can spend our free time helping others, instead of sitting idle and entertaining ourselves only. Had we all gone back home after the end-sems we would have done just that. But I thank the NSS officials for giving us this wonderful opportunity.

Joyful experiences amongst the company of my friends apart, this visit to a rural area was very helpful in increaing my outlook. First of all, I had been to a village a long time ago. This visit revived some of my memories, and I am very thankful for that. I also made many new friends, which helped in my personality development.

The collection of clothes for the poor from the campus was a very notable exercise in many ways. First it helped all in actively participating in the camp. Second, we got to interact with many persons living in the camp unknow to us. Also. their feedback was valuable, and the amount in which they donated was notable. ......


Dear Sir,
We too enjoyed those 8 days.
I have reached home safely. It was a nice experience to work & play in the lap of mother nature which many of us have not done before.
Thanks Sir . You & your collegues have guided in an extremely friendly manner.
In my view the camp was a great success.
I have enjoyed the kichhuri the most.
I cannot forget the early winter morning cycling experience through the soft village road.
The camp days are now sweet dreams to me......


Thank you for taking such a personal interest and inofrming us of your views. But more than that sir, thank you for making the camp such a wonderful experience for all of us.I have already given my views during the group interaction on the final day. If ever NSS requires the help from any volunteers, kindly let us know.


Sir ,
      I being a student,who took part in NSS camp I really enjoyed it.I am a student in your weekly classes also .I didn't find this much spirit to work for NSS  in those classes.Its better to continue like those (performed in camp) in our weekly classes also.Its better to prepare our schedule in that  way so that we must be able to accomplish a work like coleecting clothes or keeping surroundings clean.
     I think that every student will enjoy like that thing.
     I felt happy that you are asking for students suggetions about this NSS work ...