This is the age of novels. They dominate the world of books. The novels have become the craze of the youth and hence the book market is flooded with fiction. It is very seldom that brilliant works of nonfiction make their appearance. Layman's Introduction to Philosophy and Life marks a departure from this trend. It is a brilliant effort of an octogenarian writer who, though he describes himself as a rank layman is a lover of philosophy and his abiding interest in the subject, even at this advance age, is visible on each page of the book.
This yardstick of a great book has been laid down by Jean De La Bruyere who says, "When a book raises your spirit and inspires you with noble and manly thoughts, seek no other test of its excellence, it is good and made by a good workman' and there is no doubt that this book amply qualifies for the test of a great book laid down by Bruyere. According to Upanishadic sages, 'deathless joy abides in what is great. There is not joy in things small and petty. This is no exaggeration to say that books of this kind strengthen the mind and elevate the soul of the readers who will discover this truth as they go through the book.
The book consists of Two Parts. Part-I gives an eye-view of the unlimited empire of Philosophy, both Western and Eastern (India). It encapsulates the lasting wisdom of philosophy's leading minds, both of the past and also the present. It testifies the definition of a writer 'as a bee which collects from each source the nectar the humanity so badly needs. Part-II describes a man's Odyssey on our planet, Earth, and his life's vicissitudes from the cradle to the grave. What is the need for a study of life? To quote author's words from the Preface of the book: "Life is the workshop of Philosophy hence a study of life is imperative for the study of Philosophy.
The Publishers feel immense pleasure to place this book in the hands of the readers. It contains something of every thing useful and interesting to men and women of all ages and of all professions. It provides food for thought alike for a boy, a youth, a student, teacher, an old man, a philosopher, a businessman, parents, writers and others as it is bound to benefit each and every one of them. It would be proud acquisition by all libraries-private and public and it should find a permanent place in the personal bookshelves of all book-lovers.
BIKRAMA NAND BAHUGUNA (b. 1920) graduated with Honours in English literature from the undivided University of Punjab, Lahore in 1942. After retirement as Class-1 officer from the Government of India in 1978 he worked as an Honorary Editor in an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health, Government of India for over two years and thereafter for over twelve years as-Chief Editor of Mittal Publications, Publishers of Scholarly Books, New Delhi. From the very 'beginning reading and to some extent writing have been his first love. From time to time he has been writing articles on miscellaneous subjects which have been published in sundry papers and periodicals.
His first book, The Golden Treasury of Wisdom (Great Thoughts of Great Mind) was published in 1998.
A writer has said: when I don't know any thing about a subject, I write a book on it'. Nothing illustrates this truth better than the effort of this writer who had no formal or previous acquaintance with philosophy and yet he tried to write a book on the subject. The only consolation for him is that, being himself a rank layman, ho has tried to record his thoughts in the form of a book for the benefit of other laymen who constitute the vast majority of our world and whose level of understanding of the subject is no better than his.
The reader would be justified in asking the question: what motivated this octogenarian to choose so dull and dry a subject as philosophy for his book. So profound a writer as Edwards Gibbon (1737-1794), while introducing his immortal work The History of the Decline And Fall of Roman Empire wrote: "Unprovided with original learning, uninformed in the habit of thinking, unskilled in the art of composition, I resolved to write a book".
Gibbon was here showing his modesty to the extreme degree as in his heart of hearts he knew that he was creating a great work which is no doubt an imperishable contribution to the lore of history. Perhaps, inadvertently he had expressed the feelings of unknown and self-styled writer like this one who, being a novice, merely strives to tinker with the art of writing.
Now the question may also be asked, and quite justifiably, why only philosophy? Well at the age past eighty one cannot think, barring certain exceptions, of writing the 'boy-met-girl genre of stories or weave love plots like novelists to titillate the emotions or sentiments of the young or of not so young.
The two subjects which perhaps deeply interest old people are religion and philosophy. A sceptic has said that either we are fools or we are philosophers. Having lived most of their active life in sensual cravings and material pursuits, their appetite for romance fades and they start pondering over more serious problems of life. And nothing can be more interesting than philosophy.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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