It is uncanny that a book authored by Dr. Abdul Kalam (with Arun Tiwari) was released in Chennai on Saturday last. 'Transcendence, My Spiritual Experiences With Paramukh Swamiji' captures the philosophy of this extraordinary man, who had a great vision for India and worked tirelessly for it. In his introduction, the former president recalls how his house in Rameswaram would resonate with the healthy debate that went on among three persons - his father Jainulabdeen, an imam in the mosque, Pakshi Lakhmana Sastrigal, Vedic scholar and head priest of the famous Rameswaram temple and Rev.Fr. Bodal, who built the first church on the island. As a ten-year-old boy, Kalam had learnt secularism, in its true sense. "Now throughout the nation and the world, the need for such frank and genial dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations is more urgent than ever," he observes. He dedicates the book to all the righteous people of the world, wherever they are.
Dr. Kalam meets Pramukh Swami for the first time in 2001 and seeds are sown for a fruitful guru-disciple relationship. Dr. Kalam asks the swami: How do we transform a developing country into a developed one within the next 30 years? We have identified five important areas - eucation, healthcare, communication, infrastructure and critical technology. The swamiji says: "Add one more - faith in God and developing people through spirituality." Dr. Kalam describes the moment as Divine Presence. What Swami Pramukh said subsequently had a great impact on the scientist, who took it up as a mission: "Go and channel the minds of youths all over the world. Lead India."
He was called upon to do exactly that, on June 10, 2002. Through a telephone call, the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, expressed his wish that Dr. Kalam should be President. By evening the candidature was confirmed and the rest is history. In the book, Dr. Kalam reflects upon the unexpected events and blessings that came into his life. Hours of pain as first an earthquake and then riots ravaged Gujarat that were overcome through grit and faith. Akshardam, the temple of love and peace that Swami Pramukh raised became a symbol of hope. He marvels at the swamiji's equanimity when the place was attacked by terrorists. You can drive out hate only with love and not hate, he learnt. A belief he found in Nelson Mandela, whom he met much later.
The concluding words echo the tenor of the 220-page account of Dr. Kalam's spiritual saga: "All of us - bright atheists and committed religionists - need to awaken now and hear the earth's call... the only thing that will redeem humankind is cooperation. Let us make our planet more liveable! A strong message, looking back his last, from a man, who only thought of the country's progress, who cherished the youth as the hope of the future!
(The book has been released by Harper element)