Saturday, June 18, 2011

Madding Crowd

We like what we read when we can relate it to ourselves. And sometimes it takes some delusions of grandeur to be able to do so.

I took to the crowd and the crowd took to me and yet I never lost myself in it;  always I felt apart from it. From my separate mental perch I looked at it critically, and I never ceased to wonder how I, who was so different in every way from those thousands who surrounded me, different in habits, in desires, in mental and spiritual outlook, how I managed to gain goodwill and a measure of confidence from these people. Was it because they took me for something other than I was? Would they bear with me if they knew me better? Was I gaining their goodwill under false pretences?

I tried to be frank and straightforward to them; I even spoke harshly to them sometimes and criticized many of their pet beliefs and customs, but still they put up with me. And yet I could not get rid of the idea that their affection was meant not for me as I was, but for some fanciful image of me that they had formed. How long could that false image endure? And why should it be allowed to endure? And when it fell down and they saw the reality, what then?

                                                    - Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography

This was in 1940. Not a 'false modesty' piece written later. I see an honest befuddlement. And that he laid bare to the reading public with almost no consideration to his political 'future' is the kind naïveté that I find moving. Yes this is the kind of thing that moves me. Read the 'delusions of grandeur' line again.


  1. On a different level, I think that you are also modest and honest - delusions of grandeur, and admitting that you like the sound of your own voice :) Its stuff like that, that makes me want to read this blog :)

  2. How low the standards of those in the public sphere is now. Let alone their ability to articulate, even to think with as much clarity as this.

  3. Vijay, it is so heartening to see that a mere acknowledgement of one's narcissism is taken as modesty :-)

    Krupa, exactly. And he can be wickedly superior too. Even his daughter has showed some glimpses of that in her letters/interviews.