Skip to main content

Philosophising is fine but action is what matters


“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it."

We were introduced to this quote from Karl Marx by a gentleman named Samit Kar who taught us Marxism in Presidency College. We had a paper on Marxism as a part of our Sociology course designed by the Calcutta University in the mid 1990s. I was not into Marxism, which seemed so anachronistic in the post Berlin Wall fall days, and wasn't too keen on these classes.

However there was no forgetting this line of Marx as Professor Kar would keep repeating it. He was so fond of this line that a friend of mine and I wondered if this is what he told his wife the night he had got married!  I must mention that prof Kar had graciously invited all of us from class to his wedding at a place called Shinghi Park and it was a happy evening. Whether his favourite Marxist quote was a part of what was discussed later that night was not something that we ever found out.


From what I remember, and it's been a while, what Marx meant to say was that the socialist philosophy had been expounded before him by folks like Hegel. However, they hadn't said 'what next'. Marx was apparently the one who suggested a social revolution as a way to take this philosophy ahead and "fix things". 



I know that I have been guilty of simplifying things in the paragraph above but this was the crux of the argument I think.

The reason why I remembered this was that we were recently brushing up our concepts for the exams conducted by the Bharat Soka Gakkai, the Buddhist organisation that I am a member of.


The Soka Gakkai International is based on the teachings of a  Japanese monk, Nicherin Daishonin, who lived in the 13th century BC. He is said to have interpreted existing Buddhist scriptures and came up with a practical way to change one's life based on that. 

The Soka Gakkai refers to this as 'revolution' too. Specifically human revolution

The Soka Gakkai site says:

“Human revolution” is the term used by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda to describe a fundamental process of inner transformation whereby we break through the shackles of our “lesser self,” bound by self-concern and the ego, growing in altruism toward a “greater self” capable of caring and taking action for the sake of others—ultimately all humanity.

I am not getting into the details of this, or what we studied, in this post as that's not the purpose here.

What struck me though was how both the Daishonin and Marx seemed to have said the same thing. If I was to paraphrase it, "it's fine to philosophise but the key is for this to lead to action". 

This is completely my decoding of it of course.

It's funny how Marxism, known for its anti-religion stand, and a religion seem to have a connecting thought. Though, to me, Nicherin Daishonin's Buddhism, as followed by the Soka Gakkai is a practical philosophy on how to lead one's life, rather than a religion.

I then thought of my life as a market researcher. What market research agencies do is take the principles of academic research and apply it for a practical goal. To help client's grow their business. 

What we did. was applied market research and not just theoretical research.

I guess a rainy Sunday evening, when you are stuck at home, is as good a time as any to connect the dots in one's life.

Have a great week ahead.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The importance of being 'Nyaka'

'Nyaka' is a Bengali term which beats translation. It could mean coy, coquettish, scheming, la di da. There is no one word which captures it. The term is used in a pejorative context and has a sarcastic tone to it. Used a bit more for women than for men. Has a feminine context when used for men.I posed the challenge of translating 'nyaka' into English to fellow Bengalis in Facebook. Here's a sample of the answers that I got.I have removed the names and kept the statuese as is, hope it's not too difficult to read

Bong man 1Coy.....but that does capture the essence
14 December at 14:37 ·

Me
No ...not entirely. A colleague just suggested precocious. Maybe its too intrinsic a Bong trait to be translated :)
14 December at 14:50 ·

Bong woman 1kol-lan, difficult to get a english / hindi word for nyaka.
14 December at 15:11 ·

me
that's the point
14 December at 15:15 ·

Bong woman 2
oh, i think the essence of the word 'nyaka' will be lost in translation. just like gettin…

Where will you be twenty years from now?

A taste of Mumbai
It struck me the other day that it has been about twenty years since the time I took my first steps, albeit unwittingly, towards moving into Mumbai.
I had been recruited by a market research agency in Kolkata from campus back then. I joined my new office once the MBA course was over. We were then sent to Mumbai for a training programme in August 1997. Once the course was over, my colleagues from Kolkata returned home. I was slated to stay back for a 2 month training programme in Mumbai which then stretched on for close to 6 months. I was put up at a PG in Bandra by my office then.
Such  a long journey
This was the first time that I was living away from home. All I wanted to do then was to get back to Kolkata as soon as I could. Go back and build a successful career in market research hopefully. Move to an apartment in a posher part of Kolkata than where we lived. At Ballygunge for example. 
I thought it would be cool one day have a club membership given to me by offic…