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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sorry, and new question...

So this last planned venture has definitely been given the thumbs down by my readers, if only by default: 600-plus visits in seven days, and only 13 people have felt enthusiastic enough about the project to tell me to go ahead. In a way it’s good that I had asked before plunging headlong into creating the new blog; it would have been so much effort wasted, and that would have been most annoying, because I’d have not even been doing it in the hope of making money, and I have to struggle to find time for all such new ventures.

I guess, for reasons unknown to me, people are still not willing to use the facility provided by the net for this kind of communication – at least not with me. So maybe I’ll just have to carry on dealing with them privately, face-to-face, on a one-on-one basis, as I have done for so many years. I wonder how much longer I’ll have the steam power, but that’s another question.

Anyway, my thanks as well as apologies to the few people who wrote in with encouraging comments. (One thing I couldn’t help noticing was that, while so many people write so much nonsense anonymously, this time, barring one stray exception which I have posted, there have been no anonymous comments at all!) And, as far as the earlier post is concerned, comments are closed, as of today.

Now let’s turn our attention in another direction. A fairly sincere and thoughtful pupil recently asked, in the context of something we were reading in class, ‘What does it mean to be truly human?’ Good question. I gave an answer in class, but I shall reserve opinion here for now: let’s hear what readers have to say.

What, in your opinion, makes someone truly human?

[P.S.: I found the picture on the net. If someone has copyright problems with my using it, please let me know]


Shilpi said...

Suvro da,

I'm sorry about the lack of response to your previous question/post but I'd had the creeping feeling that there wouldn't be anonymous writers telling you to go ahead with your venture or too many non-anonymous ones either.

For this latest question of yours: to be truly human, I'd say, means to know who and what one is (and to act in accordance with the same)and it is no easy thing. It may be simple but it's not easy, and at one (some?) point/s there is nothing on the outside that can help or obstruct. Maybe that's why so many great people have said the same and in different ways (and far more lyrically and/or grandly).

I'll end my comment right here (for now) otherwise I'll never end it.

Thank you.


Arijit said...

An educated man with a good character
plus one who loves everyone and learns
from his mistake in my opinion is a true human being.

Chitra said...

Being truly human to me means having the capacity to reason, the ability to let your heart rule over your head every once in a while. And the gift of a particular, not-so-popular emotion, among others, in abundance – empathy.

Winning Is Living.. said...

Dear SIR ,

The lack of response to your previous post is indeed sad .

Coming to this post , to be truly human , firstly (I agree with what Shilpi Di said) one needs to know who and what one actually is. Without knowing that how can one know others well ??

Secondly , one should have a proper and clear outlook towards life and other human beings . One needs to have morals (to which one would always stick to and should be honest about these !) and also notions of what is right and what is not . Other virtues like discipline , good manners and honesty also count .

With regards ,
Shameek .

Winning Is Living.. said...

Dear SIR ,

I just missed out a point - besides what i said , one must be properly educated (and that is certainly not limited to just textbook knowledge !!)... Education is a must..

With regards ,
Shameek .

Rajarshi Chattaraj said...

(I'm making an exception here. Apologies.)
A 'true human being', in my opinion - far greater minds have dwelt on the same question - , has three pertinent qualities:
One is a good listener.
One is a hard worker (physically or mentally)
One is Grateful.

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,
I thought about the question and I think a human is generally a mix of the characteristics that you had taught us in 'The Imp and the Crust' and 'Jenny', both beastly and angelic. To become truly human, one should try to reduce the beastly instincts in oneself and heighten the angelic qualities, which means looking beyond the base pleasures and using one's mind effectively to attain the higher qualities since it is the mind that distinguishes humans from animals.

Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,
Its quite sad to know that there has been so little response. I really wished that blog to start.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

You can always meet me and talk heart to heart, Soham - as all others who are keen on it can - I've said so in this post itself. To start up a new blog would have been pointless in the face of so little reader-enthusiasm...

and now, back to the question asked in this post.

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda

It is a tricky question. I must say, I am unable to provide a concrete thought. Having said that, let me try.

I think biologically, human beings have superior brain/nervous systems when compared to other animals. Hence, how they use this attribute in themselves make them human.

To me, being human is having control, patience and tolerance.

By control I mean, self-control on oneself so that one does not get trapped in the age-old seven sins. By patience, I mean realisation that everything does not happen at the spur of the moment and it takes ages to realise something beautiful. By tolerance, I mean accept others as they are and trying to make them flourish rather than destroy – be it fellow human beings, animals, plants and anything that is part of the mother earth.

If we realise our virtue of having a better brain and use it towards self-good then world will be a much better place.



Harman said...

It is the struggle that defines us as humans: the clash between good and evil, action and inaction, virtue and vice. Humanity is forged in the battlefield of the mind.
Some tools to help one in the good fight:

1) Living in remembrance of the Lord. Being thankful. If one does not believe in God, the corollary would be to try and be self content, at peace.
2) Earn an honest living.
3) Sharing ones good fortune with others.

Everytime I walk by Rodin's sculpture, The Thinker, that image reminds me of what it means to be human.

Amit parag said...

Judging some one is a very heavy responsibility, and in my humble opinion, it is carried out correctly by very few. One needs to rise above common preconceived notions and personal grudges and in many cases, the exigencies and popular opinions of the season (the distinction between correct opinion and popular opinion is in itself onerous enough) while keeping in mind the moral sentiments ( of what is moral and immoral and their dichotomy is to be considered very carefully) that may rise up very frequently when one is called upon to judge. One must also decide between priorities, choosing which is the higher ideal, for instance, (not to poke my old friend Shameek!) being educated is desirable, having knowledge outside the textbook is refreshingly welcome, but it is not 'must'. The people in Jim Corbett's stories were mainly illiterate but no lesser humans.By Jove, their acts, decisions and choices brings tears in the eyes of any reader who has a heart. By the way, Voldemort had vast knowledge, certainly not limited to textbooks. If I must point out, education and knowledge have almost become synonymous but there is a thin ,yet important, line splitting them, this is very clearly evident in Leo Tolstoy's book 'The Kingdom of God and peace essays' , which deals with similar issues.
The full and immense gravity and the inability to find one correct answer is apparent when we consider some of the greatest names in the history of man- Isaiah, Christ, Buddha, Logan, Lincoln, Wilberforce, Gandhi, Grattan, Churchill, Marcus Aurelius, Aesop, Nurse Cavell, John Appleseed(he was not only famous for his apples!). Doesn't one feel how tough this question is! So I shall wait for other people and Sir to elucidate further.

kallol mitra said...

Humane is a practice where emotion takes precedence over prudence.
Humane is a way of thinking where ones ideas are imbibed permanently on the beneficiary.
Humane is an act committed where you never regret under all circumstances.
Humane will always pass the lie detector test with aplomb
Eagerly awaiting your valued views Sir
Best Wishes
kallol mitra

Anand Tiwari said...

Dear Suvro da,

One facet of being a 'true human' is to realize that we share this beautiful earth with countless other plants, animals and small organisms. We often forget this simple fact in our day to day selfish existence. I find our callous attitude towards other species extremely inhumane.


Sunup said...


I think a true human is one who treats fellow humans as 'humans', with dignity, love, and respect. And I believe these are traits that are in-born. No amount of motivating/preaching/teaching would make someone truly human.



Subha said...

Sir, you are very right in guessing that people are not going to use the internet, because they cannot rely much on the internet for any kind of counsel. It is always better for someone to sit and talk rather than just posting a question somewhere and then getting some written reply for it.

Shilpi said...

...I was reading Amit's comment. Amit - the way I see it - one can see the question from at least two angles. One way would be to look at other people and the other way would be to look at oneself and consider what would make one truly human. It's not that the two angles are disconnected - but they are different. So while you're absolutely right in saying that illiterate and simple people can indeed be truly human - it's also most likely also true that you cherish your own abilities of being able to read, think, write, and remember.

I wouldn't dismiss what you say about education or even knowledge because I'm sure there are more examples than I know of - but I can think of Ramkrishna and Kabir, who would both be deemed illiterate - yet they would hardly be seen as being non-knowledgeable...and they were most likely super-human.

Yet was Voldemort truly human? That's easy enough to answer. Was Voldemort knowledgeable? I'd say no. He wasn't. He didn't even know what love meant. He didn't experience love, and from the looks of it wasn't even interested in it, and didn't give any nor was he interested in receiving any - so I'm sorry, but I can't call him knowledgeable.

...and you forgot to include Tagore in your list.

Take care.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Hmm... divers and most interesting observations, thank you all (and of course more inputs are most welcome).

Can we see some common ground here? And can others help to fill in any gaps they might have observed?

And another poser: given that all the observations till date may be true, does living in the contemporary (techno-commerce-advertising dominated) world help us to become more truly human, or to the contrary?

Anand Tiwari said...

Dear Suvro da,

Striving to become a good human being in 'Satyug' or in 'Kaliyug' is differetiated only by the amount of effort it requires and nothing else. The essential characteristics of a good human does not change over time. Technology, money, power or the existence of temptations have been around the human race since the beginning of time. Parallels to Raam-Raavan, Yudhishtir-Duryodhan have always been around us. The quantum of temptations maybe more in Kaliyug but everything else is the same.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Maybe, Anand, but it is a fact that a lot of thoughtful people have been saying that with so many things offering instant sensual gratification and perpetual distraction these days, the kind of composed looking inward that is essential to finding out for oneself what it means to be truly human has become harder than ever before...