It’s an interesting confluence of science and spirituality in APJ Abdul Kalam’s last book, writes BHAVIN RAVAL
and I have become
like two giant fat people living
in a tiny
keep bumping into
Krushna and Arjun. Ram and Hanuman. Gautam Buddha and Anand. One often wonders what may be transpiring, what may be radiating when these duos are together…
Duet, solo, chorus?
Let us ruminate further. Many of us have heard and chanted the following shlok:
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashisyate II
Om Shantihi Shantihi Shantihi II
This shlok is shrouded in some mystical divinity, some divine intrigue. It can be translated verbatim in any language. But what could be the archetype of this shlok?
We now have a response to the above mentioned intrigues in Transcendence, where Dr APJ Abdul Kalam awls the reader’s heart. And soul. Indelibly. Intricately. Succinctly. Divinely. He takes the reader on the pilgrimage of the numinous aura that reigns and realms between him and his Guru, Pramukh Swami.
If one could find a book written by Radha about Krushna, in terms of tenor and tenets, it would be a mirror image of Transcendence. This is the core premise and core promise of the book.
Transcendence is a prose poetry of Meera’s kirtans, albeit with a contemporary membrane. Dr Kalam has written the book ornately and exceptionally. He has narrated how he came into contact with Pramukh Swami, how the bond was nurtured and how it became umbilical, spiritually. The most appealing aspect of the book is how and why wisdom, consecrations and aura of Pramukh Swami illuminated and sheltered Dr Kalam since their first meeting.
Dr Kalam, consciously, subconsciously and even unconsciously, takes decisions in the context of Pramukh Swami’s teachings. The book has many examples of guru shishya samvaad without being preachy or wordy. Some books about spirituality often profess abstractly and, in the process, fail to sustain the reader’s interests and/or pursuits. Transcendence is a trend setter. It is a book that the beginner as well as the enlightened on the path of spirituality will find sacrosanct, absorbing, relatable, learnable and adaptable.
Something more about the book’s vistas. For a starter, there is always a benefit when a scientist undertakes to do anything. The paradigms are an analytical approach to defining questions; the design of testable hypotheses; broad-based knowledge acquisition; interpretation and analysis of data.
Dr Kalam must have taken the above mentioned steps numerous times in his great career as an ace scientist. His approach in the field of spirituality is no different. He takes a step, carves out a theorem, tests, relates, corroborates, concludes and documents.
For corroboration, Dr Kalam casts a wide net and assesses the assertions of other faiths, eras, luminaries and expanses. It is as if he stands in the centre of a utopia of knowledge. And he strides towards the horizon where philosophy, religion, scientists, astronomers, mystics, poets beckon. And he collects nectar from them and ricochets to the utopian centre and repeats the process again. He completes a 360 degree circle and enhances the reader’s quest for corroboration. He treats the reader with nectar collected from all directions. This is the nectar of life. And of beyond life. He divides the book into four parts, each having eight chapters. The confluence of science and spirituality is uplifting, fulfilling and stays with the reader like fragrances from a beloved land.
Dr Kalam also dwells upon Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Akshar Brahma Gunatitanand Swami and the lineage of Gunatit Parampara. He also briefly explains the origins, history, spirit, spread and impact of activities of BAPS, an organisation that Pramukh Swami leads.
As a result, the book becomes a lesson in eternity, a seeker’s almanac. In ancient times, there was said to be a ‘Kalpavruksha’. This book is a ‘Kalpapustak’. The book is also a promenade. To yourself within Thyself. To Thyself within yourself.