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Chronicles from the writings of Henry David Thoreau - III

Chronicles from the writings of Henry David Thoreau

Chronicle – I:  Essential needs, work and money

Chronicle - II:  Being Truthful

Chronicle III – Natural Living


Even while farming, the seeds of beans and corn he was planting in two-and-a-half acres of land, though imaginable, brought him the virtues like sincerity, truth, simplicity, faith, innocence etc, to grow amid all other crops what the New Englanders were trying to cultivate? Weren’t these virtues been cultivated along with them and he express a shy of worries, “Our ambassadors should be instructed to send home such seeds as these, and Congress help to distribute them over all the land. We should never stand upon ceremony with sincerity. We should never cheat and insult and banish one another by our meanness, if there were present the kernel of worth and friendliness. We should not meet thus in haste. – p.69”


Travelling and enjoying the beauty of the nature never leaves one humiliated. It was the true birth right of every one who is born on this planet. While reading makes one knowledgeable, visiting woods and water bodies capture us in all our senses. It becomes thus complete, humane and fulfilling. Natural way of living in the midst of village atmosphere is much more pleasing and versatile as we could breathe along with it. Most of the facts what science books preach us could well be experienced. Thoreau is no exception.  In his own eloquent words, “He who is only a traveler learns things at second-hand and by the halves, and is poor authority. We are most interested when science reports what those men already know practically or instinctively, for that alone is a true humanity, or account of human experience. – p.86”


In the ages of wild hunting, that too, while dwelling in the woods, handling of a gun is inevitable. Thoreau’s boys were brought up with no education but with the pursuit of fishing and hunting they survived an inhumane living in the early years. When it no longer supported a better life strangling their hopes of becoming a noble men, these ‘professions’ fade away from their lives. He remarked about himself upon his poor, self-respectful fishing which created an inhumane instinct of its unclean diet and flesh but helpless many times as he had to live with the uncivilized forest environment.  Yet, he beautifully put his views on vegetarianism, “Like many of my contemporaries, I had rarely for many years used animal food, or tea, or coffee, etc.; not so much because of any ill effects which I had traced to them, as because they were not agreeable to my imagination.”


His hopes on seeing a potential difference in mankind’s food habits from preying on other animals to fully relying on vegan food as the savage tribes of olden ages stopped eating one another upon fighting over the period is far distant a dream. As long as man listens to his own conscience it lives. Our expectations never are chased in full. Even the hunter doesn’t get satisfied with his prey. Striving hard to follow an ideal and preach what we believe takes a long course. The charm is in its continuance. “Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice. Goodness is the only investment that never fails. In the music of the harp which trembles round the world it is the insisting on this which thrills us – p.89”


We try to keep our minds pure and chaste. Brahmacharya is one such virtue that generates huge energy impending enough to carry on the road of eternity. Vedas told us to do good acts and command over our senses to get our mind to approximation to God. It was that Bakthi Margh (the path of devotion) that takes us to salvation. “Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it. Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open. By turns our purity inspires and our impurity casts us down. He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him day by day, and the divine being established.”

To be continued tomorrow.

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