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Updated: December 31, 2009 13:36 IST

A soul-searching journey

M. S. NAGARAJAN
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‘Ah fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He whom thou seekest!

Thou dravest love from those, who dravest Me’

— Francis Thomson, The Hound of Heaven

From the renowned jurist and constitutional expert Fali S. Nariman’s preface to The Thread of God in My Life, we learn that he and Russi Lala, the author, were classmates, and are lifelong friends. Nariman, the follower of the ethical religion Zoroastrianism, believes in the existence of good and evil and god’s revelation in the ‘orderly harmony of things,’ but not the hand of God in the day-to-day jobs and tasks, joys and sorrows of individuals. On the other hand, Lala has full faith in a personal God who takes care of those who willingly surrender themselves to the will of the divine. This total, unquestioning submission to the spirit of the Supreme informs every action of his.

Lala’s memoir is all about God’s presence in man’s life. Quite naturally, he begins his book with a memorable sentence, “I am not important, but what has happened to me, and what I have learnt from eighty years of living, may be.”

Childhood days

In the first part of the book, “Experience,” he explores life through the prism of his own life. It is full of hazy reflections of sweet childhood memories. As a cancer survivor, he recalls the traumas of his life. What is notable in the narration is his ability to weave all threads into a convincing tapestry of his life. By distancing himself from the slings and arrows of pain — body and mind — he is able to explore his emotional life with a high degree of clarity and truth. This abiding faith in God gave Lala moral strength and fortitude that enabled him to overcome critical illnesses and save what threatened to become a wrecked marriage, besides guiding him through changing but successful careers as a journalist and publisher, and helping him out of financial hardship and family misfortunes.

Moral strength

In his articles of faith put down in the short section ‘I believe,’ Lala avers, “That so long as He [God] has a plan for me I’ll be on this earth, and when my work is over He will call me.” The section on ‘Finding a Faith’ takes us along on his own journey to faith: evolution from an atheist, to an agnostic to a firm believer in God. This soul-searching journey helped him acquire moral strength. “Faith flourishes when you accept that God has a plan and you have a part. Quiet times are the means to find that plan day by day… God comes into the lives of people in His own time. We cannot push or rush, but need to be sensitive at the right moment. He does the rest.” From all his experiments with truth, Lala is convinced that the discipline of regular inspirational reading and the serenity of prayer are vital factors in pursuing what he calls the thread of God in our lives. By way of exposure to the right system of values that ennobled his life, he recounts his memorable meetings with Vinoba Bhave, Mother Teresa, J.R.D. Tata, and the Dalai Lama, among others.

The book gives a consistently enlightening account of a firm believer in God’s help in his everyday life. The book may not — nor is meant to — convert die-hard sceptics; but it may help in clarifying some doubts and removing some uncertainties.

THE THREAD OF GOD IN MY LIFE: R. M. Lala; Penguin/Viking, 11, Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110017. Rs. 399.

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