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Copyright professor S. P. Kanal Abhinandan Samiti

 Felicitation Volume in Honor of Professor S. P. Kanal 

Foreword by Sri B. D. Jatti, Vice-President of India 

Editor: K. K. Mittal

"I had complete self fulfillment in sharing my understanding with my students, leaving no desire for heaven or moksa.  It was moksa, it was heaven to share love with the best part of humanity the student community, the community of innocence and laughter."

From the address of Professor Kanal at the Felicitation Ceremony in New Delhi, INDIA 1976

 

"Let philosophy live through you." 

 (S.P. Kanal's message to his students)

Foreword

I am happy to get the opportunity of associating myself with the felicitation of professor S. P. Kanal by writing a foreword to Quest for Truth, a volume which contains learned articles on Religion, Philosophy and Psychology and has been brought out in his honor by is students and admirers.  The Latter deserve to be thanked and congratulated for doing this commendable work that shall foster and encourage the study of Philosophy. 

The quest for truth, going on from time immemorial, will continue for all time to come.  Truth, Mahatma  Gandhi used to say, is God.  From the beginning, the Indian mind felt that truth was many-sided, and different views contained different aspects of truth, which no one could fully express.  Ekam sat viprah bahudah vadanti.  The Buddha insists that reason based on evidence is our only guide to truth.  He asks us not to believe any sacred book merely because of its antiquity or regard for its author.  Each one should search for himself, think for himself and realize for himself.  Throughout its life, living with one purpose, our country has fought for truth and waged war against untruth, illustrating thus the endless quest of the mind, ever old, ever new. 

In the past, world-weary men used to go out on pilgrimages to sacred places, mountains and forests, acquire inward peace, listening to the rush of winds and torrents, the music of birds and leaves and return whole of heart and fresh in spirit.  It was in the forest hermitages that the thinking men of India meditated on the deeper problems of existence.  The security of life, the wealth of natural resources, the freedom from worry, the detachment from the cares of existence, and the absence of tyrannous practical interests, stimulated the higher life of our country, with the result that we find from the beginning of history an impatience of spirit, a love of wisdom and a passion for the saner pursuits of the mind.  The "Search for Truth" still goes on here, not as a kind of escapism, but as a conscious endeavor on the part of a few enlightened men to reach the reality and make the task easier for the common man by showing the way to it. 

We live in an age of hectic hurry, of deafening noise where most of us have no time or inclination for anything beyond the passing hour.  True life grows from inside.  It is in the inner solitude that a seeker finds his solace and where the quest has to be carried on.  Yet our modern life is unwilling to grant us this privilege.  Not all of us, however, are deprived of this right, and if there is to be creative moment some of us at least have to reflect on the problem so that we attain the ultimate reality and quench this thirst in those who are yearning to know something of it.  Neither Plato nor Aristotle recommended a life of pure contemplation to a realized soul though for both of them that was the best life.  They directed wise men to serve the people. 

We must realize that the truth which science or philosophy aims at is not of a provincial character.  Its search may be conditioned, even restricted by the mental attitudes, and traditions of different countries, but we must aim at the universal truth.  One of the chief features of philosophical thought today is the growing universality of outlook.  Even Western thinkers, shedding the provincial outlook, are admitting that thinkers outside their cultural traditions have grappled with the central problems of life and a study of their writings may be helpful to students of philosophy. 

The truth, which claims to be universal, requires to be continually re-created.  It cannot be something already possessed that only needs to be re-transmitted.  In every generation, it has to be renewed.  Otherwise it tends to become dogma, which induces complacency and does not encourage the supreme personal adventure.  Tradition should be a principal not of conservatism but of growth and regeneration.  We cannot keep the rays of the sun while we put out the sun itself.  Petrified tradition is a disease from which societies seldom recover.  By the free use of reason and experience we appropriate truth and keep tradition in a continuous process of evolution.  To have hold on people's minds, it must reckon with the vast reorientation of thought that has taken place.  By re-interpreting the past afresh, each generation stamps it with something of its own problems and preoccupations.  There are two levels of truth -- the practical, sanvrti satya, and the ultimate truth, paramartha satya.  We must strike a balance between them. 

 Sravana, manana and nidhidhyasana are the aids to gain knowledge.  The study of classics, which are guardians of the past and heralds of the future -- helps us to comprehend what is truth.  They are dead if they are mechanically and unthinkingly accepted.  They are alive if each generation consciously decides to receive them.  Any system of thought should satisfy two basic requirements; it should state the truth and interpret it for each new generation.  It must move back and forth between these two poles, the eternal and the temporal.  Truth is expressed in a human language formed by human thinking.  The consciousness of this leads to a continual clarifying and fuller understanding of the truth. 

My philosopher predecessor, late Dr. S. Radhakrishnan rightly points out, " The spiritual motive dominates life in India. Indian and thought has its interests in the haunts of man, and not in supra-lunar solitudes.  It takes origin in life, and enters back into life after passing through the schools.  The great works of Indian philosophy do not have the ex-cathedra character.  The Gita and the Upanishads are not remote from popular belief.  They are the great literature of the country and at the same time vehicles of the great systems of thought."  (Indian Philosophy, Volume 1 p. 25). 

The great philosophers strive for a socio-spiritual re-formation.  The idea of Plato that philosophers must be the rulers and directors of society is practiced in India.  The ultimate truths are truths of the spirit, and in the light of these, actual life has to be refined.  In India, religion is hardly a dogma, but a working hypothesis of human conduct, adapted to different stages of spiritual development and different conditions of life.  Whenever it tended to crystallize itself in a fine creed, there were set up spiritual rituals and philosophical reactions, which through the belief into the crucible of criticism vindicated the true and combat of the false.  Again and again we shall observe, beliefs become inadequate, nay, false, on account of changed times, and the age grows out of patience with them, the inside of a new teacher, a Buddha or a Mahavira, a Vyasa or a Samkara, a Basava, or a Jnyanesvara, supervenes, stirring the depths of spiritual life.  These are doubtless great moments in the history of Indian thought, times of inward testing and vision when at the summons of the spirit's breath blowing where it listeth, and coming whence no one knows, the soul of man makes a fresh start and goes forth on a new venture.  It is the intimate relation between the truth of philosophy and the daily life of people that makes the quest always alive and real. 

I wish all success to the efforts of the Delhi Ethical Circle* and hope that it will continue its laudable work with zeal and enthusiasm.

    B. D. Jatti 

Vice President of India

Delhi October 30, 1976.

 

 

 

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