WARTS AND ALL
While writing a biography, the author keeps in view the good name of the person whose life he is writing. Most of by incidents he describes would have on the reader an edifying effect. The author will carefully avoid mentioning the mistakes made by his hero, all his acts of meanness and cruelty and whatever else tends to present him to the public in an unfavorable light. Thus the writer draws a veil over the defects in a biography. An autobiography is different. The man who sets out to narrate the events of his own life should not suppress the truth.There could be no question here of credit or discredit. Such an autobiography becomes real literature that ennobles the mind of the individual who reads it. It acts as an Intellectual tonic and also enriches his life.
It would faithfully record all varieties of experiences, the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows which is the stuff of life. A record of such a life would fill with hope in even those who are depressed. No human being is exempt from conflicts so long as he Lives in a community governed by both temporal and spiritual laws. Such is the nature of life. The autobiographies of thinkers, of savants and of saints show us the way of deliverance out of this tangled pattern. There are bound to have been stages in the lives of such people when they were children and childish, young, misled, caught between imagination and reality, between fallacy and the steady light of reason.
The consciousness they arrived at during the different stages of their development may not all be perfect. The opinions they came to hold finally, after mature judgment, would often be found to be at variance with their own former utterances. There is nothing unusual in this. That is life. That is evolution. That is the way of progress.
That is the way one attains perfection, enlightenment. I too have had my due share of perplexities, ups and downs, good and evil, honor and dishonor, and such like, and I propose to set them all down faithfully while narrating the story of my life. I wish my friends to read it through with unflagging spirit and derive whatever benefit they can from them all.
FALLACIES AND PERFECT FAITH
I stayed with my parents till I was eighteen. It was indeed a daily ordeal to which I subjected them with my questions and the explanations I myself furnished for them.
When I got an answer to a straight question. I accepted it if it sounded reasonable. Otherwise, I would not rest till I found arguments to prove it wrong.
It all ended with exultation on the part of my Father and my Mother, as they listened to me. They would confess that my words helped to wipe out the searing memory of what they had passed through grinding poverty and sorrows of several kinds.
Adverting to that story that had captured my Imagination, the story of Gajendra Moksham, that had so often helped me to down my daily quota of infant food, I remember I was seized with a doubt when I reached the age of seven.
There had been a funeral at Guduvancheri, and the people were observing the tenth day’s rites, which they called Moksha Deepam, lighting the lamp to Heaven. Immediately I asked my Mother what it meant. She answered that “going to Heaven” was just one way of saying that one was dead.
The story of Gajendra Moksham flashed in my mind.Did the elephant then die that attained to Heaven?’, I asked.
She could not reply. “What is Heaven, and what is salvation, please?”, I persisted. “Both mean the same”, she answered. “Then it could only mean that both are creatures died the crocodile that went to Heaven and the elephant that found salvation. Isn’t that so?”
My mother had a keen intelligence. She gauged correctly the state of development I had reached. “I told you in my turn the story exactly as elders had told it to me”, she said, “I don’t know anything else about it”. When my Father came, I would not leave him either.I asked him the same question, and the answer he gave was
the same as my Mother’s. Then I gave them my own explanation.