Sabarna Roy is a much awarded, critically acclaimed bestselling author of 6 literary books: Pentacles; Frosted Glass; Abyss; Winter Poems; Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018, and Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020. He is the lead author of a technical book, which has been published from the European Union and has been translated into 8 major European languages.
He has been awarded the Literoma Laureate Award in 2019, Literoma Star Achiever Award 2020, Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 won the best book of the year 2019, the A List Award for excellence in fiction by the NewsX Media House, Certificate for The Real Super Heroes for spreading a spirit of positivity and hope during the COVID-19 Pandemic from Forever Star India Award 2020, the Certificate for Participation in the Indo Russian Friendship Celebration 2020, and the Literoma Golden Star Award 2020: Lifetime Achievement.
The following is an excerpt from Mr Sabarna Roy’s speech given to the participants of a Webinar organized by Engageindia.biz on the occasion of their 16th Anniversary.
1. If we give a cursory glance at the syllabi of Standards VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII of any Secondary and Highersecondary Board in India, we will find that the focus is on rote learning and appearing for various kinds of entrance examinations, like that for engineering, medical, and law etc. A student after migrating to Standard VII and further, is left with very little room for pursuing any kind of extracurricular activities or sporting activities. As such, the focus towards hobbies and passions are completely done away with.
2. India is essentially a poor country, and as such, the implicit focus is to monetize education at a later date. Hence, even education loses its fundamental premise as a conduit to greater learning.
3. India being a majorly Hindu populated country and, therefore, is deeply caste-driven, which has not allowed development of respect for all professions. This is directly related to what a job has to offer in terms of money at the lowest risk.
4. Nobody wants to be an entrepreneur, nobody wants to be a film-maker or an artist or a musician or a writer, generally to start with because the success ratio in creative pursuits is considered very low as much as with pursuing a sporting career. Nobody wants to be a plumber, a carpenter, or a mason.
5. Our peers and elders focus on us to lead an average life, a lived-life at the lowest risk. This kills all seeds of birth of purpose in our individual souls.
Birth of Purpose:
1. What is my purpose in life? What do I want to do in life? What does the cosmos wants me to do in life? Does it want anything at all? These are philosophical as well as practical questions to examine.
2. We are besotted with such questions very early on in life. Although, the matrix of civil society existing around us wants us to bury these questions deep inside our souls.
3. Let us examine the questions separately. How will I decide uniquely what I want to do in life as my wants change with change in time? Sometimes I want to be Mr X, sometimes I want to be Mr Y. It is a fact knowing the human mind that there is no constancy in our purpose or what we want to do.
4. Does the cosmos really want us to take upon a unique purpose? Broadly, there are two opinions on this – one who believe in faith and the other who are atheists or absurdists. People who believe in faith, do feel that the cosmos wants us to take upon a unique purpose. It is our devotion to god that will help us in knowing that unique purpose. However, atheists and/or absurdists, like me, feel that the cosmos is silent, that the cosmos does not want us to take up any unique purpose.
5. So, if you are a believer, there has to be a response spectrum between your purpose and what the cosmos wants you to take upon so that you are able to function in harmony.
6. But as an absurdist or an atheist, I believe you are swinging on a pendulum of varying purposes, looking at the silent constellations and galaxies of stars, planets, and asteroids. From this vantage point, either you will commit suicide or cause revolt or ride your pendulum against the coldness of the cosmos.
Purpose as in a Career:
1. We have created a society that has empowered currency to appropriate value of all materials that exist around us. As such, it is incumbent on us that we earn as much currency notes as much as we can so as to derive ownership of as much as many materials around us. Do materials beyond our needs give us happiness: beyond happiness of ownership? This is an indeterminate problem. Career does provide us with an opportunity to earn currency notes. Not all careers are equal in intent, content, and purpose.
2. It is a given fact that rote learning ultimately takes us towards some kind of absurd specialization and takes us deeply away from interdisciplinary learning. Simply put, if Mr X starts learning a Trade A, gradually, he becomes a misfit for Trade B.
3. Because the system does not provide us with the benefit of interdisciplinary learning, it is significant that boys and girls start developing this practice early on in their life of their own volition. This will also help in identifying individual purpose, and in knowing one’s spectrum of ambitions and aspirations. It has to be understood for a fact that nobody is good at one single thing. In fact, everybody is good at doing many things. Lot of examples can be given to substantiate this point. I would always give the example of my mother. She was excellent in housework, she was excellent in imparting my training in English grammar. Later, she became an expert in organizing events in her club.
4. The larger point is: a career at the end of the day keeps us engaged at various levels –
a) Ownership of currency.
b) Passing of time.
c) Learning from the value of what we do.
5. How do we integrate our choice of career with our purpose in life? Like, somebody who is interested in social work can join an NGO or become an activist-politician. The problem is, in our choice of career: we are mostly concentrating on how much currency it pays rather than on the quality of time that we will pass in that engagement, and the learnings of value of the work that we will do.
6. Quality of passage of time, and the learnings of value of the work that we will do are generally integral parts of our purpose in life.
7. However, I do not find anything wrong in earning currency for earning sake, although, there could be many questions on ethical, moral, and legal grounds. It is almost okay if somebody values even passage of time and learning from the value of what we do by the amount of currency that one earns.
8. However, earning currency notes repetitively and in great portions over a period of time without adding value can create boredom in life. There is a saying that entrepreneurs do not do it for the money because of which capitalism is understood as an economic art, which in spite of its greed and lust for money survives because of its intrinsic core of being an art.
Dualism in Purpose:
1. Should I be an author? Should I be an engineer? Should I be a traveller? Should I be a thinker?
2. These questions prima facie look self-conflicting. Yet, they are not. It is because it is possible to be an author, an engineer, a traveller, and a thinker all at the same time, and much more a father, a husband, a friend, and a son.
3. We have to understand that at the core of our being, we carry multiple identities because of which we ride on a pendulum of our varying purposes. To identify, and understand our multiple identities, interdisciplinary learning, and honesty in facing our own truths are deeply required.
4. It is important to expand our interest in life – literature, music, arts, performing arts, natural sciences, technologies, visit places, knowing people and cultures, even at the expense of rote academic learning.
5. Robustness of understanding the purpose or purposes in your life depends on the robustness of your brain, that is, directly proportionally to how much you enhance your interest in life.
6. It is only then the conflicts move away, and harmony sets in.
7. You understand that your multiple identities require multiple purposes, multiple expositions, and multiple careers to be able to satisfy your need for happiness, and well being in life.
8. If a huge iota of currency would satisfy a human soul to the extent that he or she would stop earning any more after having done that, no successful enterprise would sustain more than 10 to 15 years.
In today’s deeply fractured, violent societies yet intensely integrated, and globalized world order besotted with climate change, we must understand that whatever we would do will have a consequence. It is important to be interdisciplinary, it is important to have multiple interests in life, it is important to engage in the dualism in purpose and career in life, it is important to identify harmony in self-conflicting purposes, and for that we have to know, and believe that it will not be possible without acknowledging ourselves as global citizens with responsibilities and duties. This will enhance our understanding of purpose, and finding harmony in dualism in purpose.