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The Power of Promise

Saturday October 30 2004 08:23 IST

By Karmayogi

The Westerner has realised Brahman in Matter, is what Sri Aurobindo said. Brahman is many things and all things. Pre-eminently, Brahman is TRUTH. Truth is powerful because it is the first expression of Spirit in cosmic creation. Therefore, Truth is a direct door to Spirit.

Informed readers, particularly students of economics and politics, are fully aware of the wholesale damage the 1929 economic crash did. Wealthy families in India that became bankrupt in the 30s lost their all in that crash.

There was another economic CRASH a hundred years prior to that in 1825 which caused similar ravages to human life. An interested study of that period the world over explains the POWER of money in human life. More significant than that is that Man's wrong-headed usage brought about that crash.

A detailed study of the two crashes of 1825 and 1929 shows that bankruptcy is not inevitable. It is man-made. One aspect of it is seen in the life of Walter Scott.

It is not easy for writers to make a living by writing. Recently it is becoming possible. Students of literature know the miserable life of Oliver Goldsmith and his visit to the debtor's prison. An eminent poet like Bharathi could not eke out a living by his poems that are full of life. Even in the 19th century Trollope, Dickens and Scott succeeded where every other writer failed.

At that time a successful lawyer or a doctor made 150 a year. Scott made 10,000 a year, a princely sum. The march of life does not discriminate. It levels off high and low. Scott is no exception. In the fierce march of life during a crash, life develops venomous fangs. Its touch is fatal. It bites with a vengeance. It is a cardinal truth of the life of the English aristocrat that those gentlemen do not LIE, irrespective of the consequences.

Scott got into financial prospects of utter ruin because he took on himself the miseries of friends by signing security for them. He did so in good faith as a true English gentleman, in the words of Sri Aurobindo, as one who has discovered Brahman in life.

He was persuaded to declare bankruptcy paying 5% of the loans due and save his skin. He refused. He gave a promise and stood by that. His promise was given from a greater depth than the life of mortals who are anxious to save their own skins. He pledged his future writings and desired to HONOUR his whole commitment. In times of crash, no one will value future earnings and even those would pay 10% of his loan instead of 5%. The promise of Scott had POWER, the power of Truth, which is the power of Spirit.

The inexorable law of the crash relented. Scott could honour his word and save his estates for his heirs. Literature can be powerful when it expresses the Spirit.
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