The author begins the book by narrating an incident that proves an eye-opener for an educator at Palitana in Gujarat. The teacher was exhorting the poor villagers to take to learning and attend classes so that they would not be taken for a ride or cheated and robbed by the wily people around. He warns them, ?See, you do not know how to read or write and that is why you suffer at every step and get cheated in life. You go to toil for others and work with all your heart, but what do you get in return? A mere fifty rupees, while the contractor takes your thumb impression on a hundred-rupee note. Had you been educated, would the contractor ever succeed in his devious actions??
Acharya Ratnasundersuri was close by and he overheard this. He called the teacher and said to him, ?Agreed the villagers are taken for a ride because they are illiterate. But what about the contractor who is cheating them? Is he literate or illiterate??
The teacher was struck dumb and had no reply. Acharya continued, ?On becoming enlightened, if a man takes to the right path to become like Lord Rama then it is indeed a source of happiness. But on being literate, if he adopts the wrong path to become a Ravana, then it is better for the man to remain Kumbhakarna and stay sleep. Why awaken such a person??
Acharya cites another instance by saying that when there is a malaria outbreak, the city corporation launches a cleanliness drive and gets gutters cleared, garbage bulldozed and collected instead of preventing the breeding of such unhygienic conditions in the first instance itself. He even discusses the case of the government complaining about the population explosion, which he feels is due to the sensuous environment created all around by showing television plays and movies which portray roles that are negative, characters indulge in promiscuity or compete in removing as many clothes as possible. He puts a question to the society at large and asks if the need for imparting sex education in schools is greater than observing restraint and discipline in life. He contradicts the claim of the government that if sex education is not given to children, they would fall victim to sexual exploitation and sexual disease. He derides the television channels for showing characters getting drunk and misbehaving with women.
Acharya says that today the situation is such that goods are available in plenty but the demand for them is less. What is happening is that the poor are not becoming rich but the rich are certainly turning poor. He laments that the government is willing to spend crores of rupees on controlling AIDS but is not prepared to spend even a thousand rupees on propagating the missive that control over one'sbehaviour, regulated and disciplined life are the needs of the hour.
Not even politicians have been spared from Acharya'svirulent attack. He says elections are fought by those who are able to garner funds for spending on winning votes for their candidature.
In the book the author attempts to bring the reader face to face with the basic realities of truth and falsehood by substantiating his claims with pertinent examples and proving that we have to strike at the root of the problem to prevent it from worsening rather than merely treating it. The sum of his beliefs is that why allow any problem to be created first and then try to root it out; it is better not to allow adverse situations to develop.
(Ratnatrayee Trust, 14, Ellora Park Society, near Naranpura Chaar Rasta, Naranpura, Ahmedabad-380013.)