Just to my mind appears a perfect instance of your silent teaching. Some months back, when the winter was curiously gazing upon the world to view its magical effect, I had been enjoying company of a sober boy by a poolside. He has always fascinated me since his childhood for his disciplined approach to anything in experience and absolute religiosity in expressions. While his father had a Christian inheritance, his mother belonged to a Hindu family. With their marital union both the paths have meaningfully mingled into his view of life. Over his face sparkled a gentle shine of the fading sun. While deeply engaged in staring at the dark face of the pool he asked me, “How deep is the pool?”
“Maybe, some 15-20 feet, as it colour says”
“Quite deep. Yes, quite deep to hide secrets underneath. But, does it have tides too?”
“No. Rivers close to its mouth can have tides. But, that’s ever-renewing scorecard of endless game between sea and the moon; rivers only display it.”
He sat silently for long time and then said, “Depth is dull enough. It loses rhythm in holding secrets only. It misses the mirth in rhythm and remains dark and stale forever. How joyous are tides—they are only effect of greatness over great—the moon and the ocean.”
I never thought about it in such a fantastic way. I felt guilt of all dark stale knowledge that I had cherished so long to hold as secrets within—to boast of, sell to buy respect and fame. This little soul transformed the twilight into a portrait of my vacuous existence. He did not need to explain what he so fluently said and such a few words tore apart millions of pages of books and words afloat around the world before me into a singleness of a perfect moment of wisdom.
I never consciously felt recognition of young mind during the phase of my own youth. I couldn’t understand why “Child is the father of man” as felt by Wordsworth. I had been engaged in measuring the depth unfathomable while ignoring its absolute revelation in simplest term of emotion. I had never been a great soul to have effect of such greatness in the poet. I am not even now, but only endeavour to be a river near to a great ocean.
My dear kids, I wish to share this with you to make you feel why you are so important to the life that promises the future of this world. With my little love in heart and scanty intellect in brain I have pursued to know more than what I am credited to. Still I loved reading literature, history and science. Those three aspects of scholastic pursuit have necessarily run down midway for being bereft of both devotion of heart and intellectual essence in me. But, whatever little passion I have hold in me has always been for knowing unattainable.
I always felt happy in company of both history and literature. They seem so differently attractive. Literature is boundless, spontaneous and a space where I can simply lie leisurely in her lap. It is just like my mother. I can weep, I can laugh, I can play, I can shout, I can do whatever I wish with always rewarded with an unending love. History is disciplined, bound, logical and systematic. It is like my father. It shares its love only with guidance of its past successes and failings. It is conditional for good or bad to choose. Science seems to be a music that borrows its lyrics from the history and the melody from the literature. It has both vision towards horizon and its feet on the ground. I love to look them as such.
But, being renewed in your lovely companionship, I have recently felt very differently while experiencing tryst with those of my beloved subjects. A much-read book now bares a new revelation. You have given away this priceless reward to me.
History of Science is an interesting subject. It is the costliest aspect of human progression towards both pleasures of creation and pains of destruction. It deals with people of the highest intellect, great philosophies, and conscious individuality, who had to struggle more with stubbornness of rulers, religious preachers, and political masters than the complex explanation of events in the nature. Their crises were multifaceted. Science needed a tranquil thought-process in individual consciousness, humanity needed a strong presence of conscience, and society needed comfort and security of their contributions. These crises in them and their journey through such crises have been the finest attraction in the History of Science.
But, while re-reading one such fine history by Robert Jungk I experienced altogether a different feeling for which I only owe to sacred teaching of you, my beloved children. It evolved around the events concerning political turmoil in early 20th century over the effects of the first World War and its impacts over Science and technology with over-approximation towards feeding the conflicts and, in the midst of all such turns of social progression, the fate of a bleeding society of the Scientists who had ever been satiated in its own humble peace-loving environment but could not withstand the socio-political pressure upon concertedly.
I didn’t understand the crises fully in course of my previous numerous journeys through it. Then I felt that the German Scientists were intellectually more individualistic than those of Allied countries. I always felt pity in how miserably they failed to feed the social demands of Germany. They had a vast pool of brilliant scientists, superb educational atmospheres like Gottingen, Hamburg and Berlin, and a strong cultural base to entwine all fine faculties into completeness. Nevertheless, the history conveyed me of its faster declassification with the wishes of its political masters in comparison with what happened in the rest of the world at that time. I thought their devotion towards both the nation and the Science was not so pure compared to that of those migrated ( rather forced to leave Germany ) or domicile scientists of Allied and neutral countries.
But, when I read it again twice this year, I was shocked with shame to find my utter intellectual bankruptcy. The history of Jungk clearly defined how pure were the great German scientists towards committing themselves to humanity that they did not engage in manufacturing an atom bomb for aiding an evil hand and wilfully wasted time to shatter hopes of its mighty rulers just to protect innumerable deaths of civilian societies across the world. The collective responsibility of those scientists was pure enough to shed all apprehension of what scientists of Allied countries were doing. On the other hand, great scientists of Allied countries were slowly won over by fear of impending disaster at devil’s hand that eventually put them in claustrophobic cells of terror. It was truly for personal experiences of many of them to apprehend such a disaster and there is no iota of doubt to reason that even a smaller bomb would have been shelled by the then German ruler had it been offered to them by its scientists. But, what matters most is those great men could not differentiate between the political masters of Germany and its scientists on intellectual terms. The people they worked with in same laboratories for decades were undervalued as human beings. When the war was about to end with bomb ready in military hands of allied nations, one of those greatests of the great scientists, Albert Einstein regretted for once having advocated for attainment of super nuclear power by Allied nations before it was done by Germany. He led all his life for peace and humanity; yet he had to bear the deepest scar of war upon his mind. Individually some of them took enough initiative to embolden the neutral society of scientists and even dared to express their opinion risking own career, reputation and even charges of treason. After Hitler’s authoritarian acquisition of Germany and its consequent effect in purging of Jewish intellectuals, some of the greatest German scientists did not bother to oblige the rulers. Professor Hilbert, a great mathematician, who had to take over the charge of Gottingen University had once answered to a query of the then Minister of Education, Rust. Rust asked the professor, “Is it really true, Professor, that your Institution suffered so much from the departure of the Jews and their friends?” to which Professor Hilbert simply said, “Suffered? No, it didn’t suffer, Herr Minister. It just doesn’t exist any more!”
I shall conclude with some meaningful words of respect of a great father towards his scientist son. It was a tribute not only to his son, but to humanity itself.
Pastor Emil Fuchs was the father of Klaus Fuchs, the great atomic scientist, who was convicted with the charge of treason for espionage scandal for supplying security inputs of scientific data to other world. His father spoke in an interview about his son:--
“As a father I can understand his extreme inward distress at the moment when he realized that he was working for the manufacture of the bomb. He said to himself, ‘If I don’t take this step, the imminent danger to humanity will never cease.’ He thus found a way out of a situation that seemed hopeless. Neither he nor I have ever blamed the British people for his sentence. He endures his fate bravely, with determination and a clear conscience. He was justly condemned under British law. But there must of course always be people from time to time who deliberately assume such guilt as his………….His action imperilled the highly paid and distinguished post he held and a still more distinguished career in the future. I can only have the greatest respect for the decision he took…”
I have no matching tribute of any father for any great work by his son so meaningfully conveyed to the future generations.
But, I could only realise his message only for teaching, bit by bit, I have received from you all. I love, my kids, for making me thinking honestly, to trail back to the world of peace and believing in others.
That is my honest tribute to your commendable contribution towards my life. Wish you all spend nice summer vacation with studies, games and all nice hopes and dreams.
[I thankfully acknowledge quotes in this essay from the brilliant history “Brighter than a thousand suns” by Robert Jungk. This has been used only with sharing academic aspects with kids without any effort of infringing copyrighted authority of the great author and his publisher]