Unless you know the culture of Holland, you may misunderstand why somebody takes so much time to answer the question in the affirmative. Why the first answer is no. It can be misunderstood. I don’t know if this is the culture of Holland. I may be wrong. I’m only telling you an example of why, if it is so, it should be understood.
In England, for example, I know that there is one sentence which is clinching in argument, which you can argue and come to the ultimate point where conviction is to be generated, you should say, ”It pays, it pays.” You can argue as you want, but the final conviction will come when you can say, ‘It pays. It pays.’ So, look it pays. Argument is complete.
So we can collect stories of these three themes from Eastern and Western culture. But we can also give themes – basic themes – of cultures, if possible; not that you should be absolutely rigid about it.
I would very much like, first of all, good stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, as far as Indian culture is concerned. I would very much like the stories from Iliad, Odyssey, Greek mythology – some very good stories; if you can put them side by side, I would like to bring out the first volume only on this.
And many other stories, for example, the Vedic cycle. The Vedic cycle of Indian culture was devoted to the search for immortality. And the story of Savitri, for example, refers to that particular cycle, where the entire thrust of the whole story is search for immortality; it’s the search of the conquest over death. In fact, I would like very much that the series would start with the story of Savitri, as told in Mahabharata. It’s a story of the Vedic cycle, a brief story, and I would like to end the whole series of the stories on vital education, at the end, with Savitri, as expounded by Sri Aurobindo. This is how I conceived it: what’s at the beginning is also at the last. We begin our story telling with the story of Savitri, as told in Mahabharata and end with the story of Savitri, as told by Sri Aurobindo. This is the first and the last, as it were.
This is my first draft thinking I’m just putting before you. There can be four or five volumes of stories. We can have the story of Draupadi, for example, the story of Damayanti and Nala; these are special stories of Indian culture. Many of you may not know these stories at all, but they are very, very interesting stories; they tell you what life is. If you read the story of Nala and Damayanti, the entire gamut of human life is described through this story. The stories of normal experience, stories of occult experience, stories of supernormal experience, stories of the action of man, action of Gods, the vicissitudes of human life, from rise to fall, and fall to rise, the entire vision of Indian life is portrayed in one story, Nala and Damayanti. Therefore, I give a great importance to this story, Nala and Damayanti. In one story, the Indian vision of human life is described. I’m told that Sri Aurobindo, if someone wanted to learn Sanskrit, used to recommend Mahabharata’s account of Nala and Damayanti. If one wants to learn Sanskrit very easily, he used to recommend the story of Nala and Damayanti as told in the Mahabharata in Sanskrit. It’s very well told and very easily told. And if you have learnt a little bit of Sanskrit you can go into this story much more easily.
Similarly, Illiad – most of you know better than I do – has many interesting stories.
The Odyssey also has got many interesting stories, stories of heroism; even stories of harmony, although most often there are stories of war, their main thrust is very often toward harmony.
So I would very much like stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata and the stories from Illiad and Odyssey, particularly. The first volume should contain stories of this kind so that the children who read or teachers who read get into the heart of the Western and Indian culture quite well.
And there are many stories. For example, in the middle, I want to put only four stories from Shakespeare. I consider four stories as told by Shakespeare extremely important for vital education. So that if you read these four stories, the vital being is purified; there is a catharsis of the vital being in the story of Hamlet, the story of Othello, the story of Macbeth, and the story of King Lear. Hamlet is the story of an intellectual man who has not been able to arrive at a conclusion and remains in a state of doubt, and how tragedy overtakes him and gives a catharsis, actually, as to how not to allow doubt to prevail upon you. If you are intellectual, it is good; intellectual people always remain doubtful for a long time. Scepticism is a normal characteristic of the intellectual personality. But if you remain only in that field, then the vital being overtakes you ultimately and the intellect is not able to illumine you, and therefore ultimately it results in a tragedy. And when you read the whole drama, you find a Hamlet in each one of us, in some way or the other, at a certain stage of our life. And then we become illuminated: “Well, I should not live like Hamlet.”
Macbeth is a purely ambitious personality which is overtaken by a tragedy.
Othello is a story of a true lover overtaken by doubt, jealousy; ultimately he kills his own wife whom he loved most dearly. And ultimately, when he finds the truth, he kills himself.
When you read the story, the lesson goes home: let us not be jealous. Jealousy is overcome through this very story itself; when you read the story; it’s a tremendous cultural catharsis that occurs in our consciousness. This can happen – when you are jealous, when you being to doubt, the doubt can be completely unfounded. We become much wiser, much better.