Gandhiji’s Talisman

June 10, 2020 at 12:05 am 15 comments

The grandfather clock in our house was an ancestral property and my father’s was the third generation to inherit it. It was a mammoth time machine with many a needles, dials, wheels and a huge pendulum, all encased in an exquisitely crafted wooden box. The pendulum was kept in perfect oscillation by a network of wheels rotating at varying speeds, the cogs of the bigger ones pushing that of the smaller wheels. The margin of error of the time it displayed was 1/100th of a second, a precision standard that could be the envy of the most modern atomic clock. While it struck a single bell for half-an-hour, the number of the bells it let out every hour matched the hour count it displayed, the peaks being the noons and the midnights. The machine needed regular oiling and servicing and once in a week winding of the keys, an exercise that my father undertook with clockwork precision. It also served as cocoon to sparrows that seamlessly flew into the drawing room from the courtyard and built their nest on the broad upper curvature of the clock to lay the seasonal eggs. The machine served well for generations and kept a close watch and a benevolent glance on all of us siblings during our growing up years. 

But one noon there was no more ticking of the seconds hand nor was there the tolling of the bells at the appointed hour. The grandfather clock had ceased to work completely with all the needles looking upwards as if to convey that the life of it has moved to the heavenly direction. No amount of cajoling the pendulum and winding of the keys could bring it back to life as it stood motionless, up on the walls. Slowly we stopped expecting the hourly strokes and the habit of looking up to check the time also soon left us. But the clock remained on the wall for many more years because it continued to be the home for the tiny birds to nestle its babies as my mother resisted all attempts to disturb their habitat with the zeal of an activist. The sparrows flew in and out of the drawing room umpteen times everyday, dirtying the floors with every flight with its droppings and mother would endlessly clean them without a murmur, only to ensure that the birds happily raised their families in our house. This went on for years until the sparrows themselves became a rare species owing to the unending constructions all over, leaving them with little space to whiz around and thrive. But the grandfather clock continued to hang on the wall, waiting for the sparrows to come and build their nest on it. The clock episode taught us all the cardinal lesson of putting the interests of the less privileged above our little inconveniences and that it is the binding duty of the fortunate ones to take care of those who are dependent on us, even if that means taking upon ourselves the extra burden. 

This sensitisation to put the interests of others above that of oneself stood me in good stead when faced with many a moral dilemmas later in life.  Be it the question of cutting down staff to increase profitability, or finding newer ways and methods to spruce up sales, the interest of the less vocal and more disadvantaged were always protected, even when it meant slower growth, increased expenses or compromised efficiency. The hand woven cloth was preferred to machine made synthetic fibre, purchase from the local stores superseded the temptation to relieve the hi-tech shopping experience of the malls while the services of maids, washermen and the like were continued to be availed even when surrounded with modern gadgets meant to replace these manual work.  

As  advances in web technology, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and the like are making forays into our everyday life  and adversely impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions, the need for a human compass based on compassion is most acutely felt now than ever before. And it is here the talisman given by Gandhi, would serve as guiding post to resolve the moral dilemmas of the present age and help us arrive at the right choices, be it the individual decisions or the policies at the government level. Gandhi exhorts us to recall the face of the poorest man and benchmark whether the decisions we contemplate to take be of any help to him and if the inner voice is in the affirmative, then we should follow that course of action with abandon. This way, a simplest and the most effective tool is granted to us by one of the greatest human beings ever to walk on the face of this earth, that could make the most complex decisions easy and morally upright.

Yet, sadly, it is this very fundamental yardstick that we fail to gauge our decisions with that result in colossal damage to society and the nation at large. If only we remind ourselves of the poorest man and place his welfare as the centre of our actions, we would invariably arrive at the right choices always and would be spared the agony of causing distress to the ones whom we are meant to serve.



Entry filed under: National.

The Domestic Treaty Taming the Dragon

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pooja rani  |  June 10, 2020 at 9:45 am


  • 2. Ayan  |  June 10, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Nice writing with reference of Gandhi to modern day dilemmas and its conclusion. Hoping for good thoughts like this in future.

  • 3. sandomina  |  June 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    That’s such a noble thought, Narayanan. Very well put across.

    • 4. chapter18  |  June 12, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks. Gandhiji has answers to all the modern dilemmas..

  • 5. Siraaj sait  |  June 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Good one Narayanan , reminded me of the grand father clock we had which ceased working , not sure where it is now but the hourly bell which reminded us the time is being missed now. I realised that I need one now .

    And the message of looking down to the poor helps us always to remember how lucky and greatful we are .

    • 6. chapter18  |  June 14, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Siraj…The less fortunate look upon us with trust and we should never fail them.

  • 7. Susruthi  |  June 16, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Well written.

  • 9. nitinsingh  |  June 20, 2020 at 6:53 am

    Lovely post thnx to share this lovely post

    • 10. chapter18  |  June 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

      Thanks… it’s my pleasure.

  • 11. Aryawart Kathpal  |  July 1, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    This actually… was a good one


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