The existential predicament of man is usually approached and analysed in two ways. The first is to examine the personal, social, political and economic circumstances that contribute to it and theorise on possible solutions. Many of the theories advanced are at best ad hoc rationalisations drawn from skewed perceptions of human behaviour. In practical terms, they are of little value. Further, the real villain is not the ‘circumstances' but the human mind, which is what creates endless problems.
At another level, neither the philosopher who pursues Truth, nor the religious teacher who offers to reveal Truth, nor the spiritualist who promises to lead us on to wisdom is likely to carry conviction because man's afflictions demand instant remedy and cannot brook any delay. The troubles stem from man's “over-worldliness”, with the human consciousness being unable to extricate itself from the shackles of the external world. When the scientist started peering into matter, searching for laws that governed its working, he began unleashing vast energies. He was not concerned with the ethics, good or bad, and it became the lot of the turbulent mind to make the choice. An objective, detached choice-making is difficult when the mind is not free from baser passions. The mind having created the demons is not going to destroy them. In the words of Einstein, the problem that man creates with his mind he cannot solve with the same mind. The “superficial mind”, as Aurobindo calls it, has grown to such dimensions that it has begun to wreck the fabric of harmony and happiness.
This, in brief, is the way Bhimeswara Challa builds up the argument before discussing the place of God. The pervasive divine grace is ever ready to show newer vistas of the spirit and a comprehensive perception of the “higher realities” in human mind, provided man could train his consciousness to detach itself from the self-centred reaction, eschew differences and see all life as one. Man must make his choice and reform his consciousness, says Challa. It is for man to go beyond brain-based sensory cognition and discover new dimensions of consciousness. In the author's view, human effort is the prime requisite for securing God's grace.
The philosophical and social thoughts and the spiritual truths come in for a detailed discussion in the book. How advances in science and technology have contributed to a remarkable progress in material terms are brought out clearly. It is also shown equally effectively how they have, at the same time, caused considerable harm to the human psyche.
Challa speaks of the surrender of man's consciousness to money, sex and authority, and says this “baggage and bondage” needs to be shed for a better perception of the “real values” that lie buried in one's self. Decrying what he calls the “craze” for scientific or intellectual and material transformation — which he blames for much of the human suffering — he forcefully argues for a “spiritual transformation” of consciousness, together with greater concern for and empathy towards the other souls.
Striking a note of warning, he says it is time the human race changed course and the human consciousness transformed itself — as suggestively put by the book's cover design that depicts an ‘ugly' caterpillar and a ‘beautiful' butterfly.
The author has brought to bear on the work his experience as an administrator by citing instances of hatred, ill-will, and narrow-mindedness fuelling fanaticism and causing human disaster. Well-planned and cohesively written, the book is noteworthy for its delightful blend of information and arguments and reveals the depth of the author's understanding of human predicament. That it has as many as 600 references is testimony to the extensive research that has gone into the effort. This is a closely argued and thought-provoking book, and there is every possibility of the reader wanting to delve deeper into the issues raised and propositions put forth by the author.