In the dawn of human civilization, man was almost like a quadruped beast living on the collected fruits of the forest, meat of the hunted animals roasted by fire and drinking water from the springs of the forest. In due course of time, man started cultivating the land which led to agriculture. With the advent of agriculture man shifted from nomadic life to stable life which is called sedentary life. With this stability, man lived in communities, which is called village. Man formed ‘society’. Since then, society marched forward. In the beginning, society was a simple society. Its everything was simple – economy, social, cultural, religion, etc. But later on society became complex. The serious study of society began in the nineteenth century. A French man, Auguste Comte, founded the discipline and named it “Sociology”. In our modern times, society became most complex. In psychological level also, man’s behavior became critical. A psychologist has also said –
“Human behavior is so complex that it escapes our understanding”.
You can measure the depth of the Ocean; but you cannot know the depth of mind. Modern man and modern human society is no more simple. It is more complex than we think. With the development of science and technology social organization has undergone rapid changes. Joint family system has vanished. It is a thing of the past. Nuclear family is on the rise. There is no peace in most of the families. Old parents are being neglected in spite of legislation in this regard. Everybody is defying law. Consumerism has eaten the life. Most of the problems are self-created. Life style has changed. In the name of modernity man has become an unthinking man. As a result, man is undergoing through uncertainty and confusion. Matthew Arnold, the English poet rightly said in his poem ‘Dover Beach’ –
“Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
where ignorant armies clash by night.”
Palsied heart, divided aims are the symptoms of modern life. Man does not know what he is and what is the real meaning of life. The modern English poet T. S. Eliot has said –
We are the hollow men
we are the stuffed men,
Head piece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices when
we whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless.
As wind in dry grass
or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar.
Man’s life has become meaningless and devoid of morality. Immorality has gripped the human mind. Now life is not worth living. We ourselves have ruined the life. We have ceased to hope. We cannot discern right and wrong.
That’s why T. S. Eliot has again said –
“Where is knowledge?
We have lost in information.
Where is wisdom?
We have lost in knowledge.
Where is life?
We have lost in living.”
Indeed, there is no life. Only living. That means meaningless life. Only a routine life. In Harold Pinter’s play – “The Caretaker”, one character says – How are you? The other character replies – Well, yes. Again he replies – No, no, I am not well. This indicates the uncertainty and confusion of modern human mind. His perception is blurred.
SahirLudhianvi, the great lyricist of the 1957 film ‘Pyasa’ says –
“Nigahon me uljhan
Dilo me udaasi.
(The disturbed appearance and indifferent mind)
Yeh duniya agar mil bhijaye to kyahai?
(What is the use, even if I get this world)
In India, we have forgotten Emperor Ashoka’s ideals and moral instructions which have been written on his rock inscriptions. If we will follow his ideals, certainly we will change for the better. People of this world are in illusion. In the Vishnu Purana, the demon king Hiranyaksipu asked his son Prahllad, on his completion of the education in the pathshala –
“What you have learned from your pathasala?”
“Father, I am astonished with one thing of the world that people are taking real things as unreal; And unreal things as real”. This is the tragedy of this world. This is happening because it is a mediocre world. Most of the inhabitants of this world are run of the mill persons. It is a world of mediocrity and mediocrity has a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo. The meek shall inherit the earth. Unless we change our mindset, the world will remain the same. So again the poet says –
“Shape without form, shade without colour,
paralysed force, gesture without motion”.
This sounds like a note of the true tragedy of modern human life. Are we not a contrived testimony of a laughing philosopher? Modern society is a buried society.
(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)
Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur. He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.
He can be reached at [email protected]