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Lessons from Corona

The veranda of an ancient church in Kerala

We are essentially vulnerable creatures. All that medical insurance and the elite treatment promised by it may suddenly abandon us on the wayside like unwanted orphans. All that security we built in concrete in the form of walled mansions may mock us. There is apparently no refuge even in religious rituals.

There is no escape from certain inescapable frailty. Covid-19 places us face to face with our susceptibility to sudden death. This is the quintessential absurdity of human life to which philosophers like Albert Camus drew our attention again and again.

We live as if we are conquering Alexanders or Genghis Khans. There is no end to conquests in our dreams. One conquest urges us on to the next. Even our gods become our tools in the process. We forget the real purpose of our religions and their rituals and use them for personal aggrandisement. Our fellow human beings become our stepping stones to what we perceive as success.

Coronavirus disease may be a reminder. This is not to suggest that there is some supernatural entity sitting up somewhere there teaching us lessons or punishing us with viruses. This is not even to suggest that the cosmos has any moral sense or conscious motives. At best, the cosmos gives us back according to what we give to it. Seen that way, Covid-19 is our own creation. It is a brake that the cosmos applies when the rocket of our personal aggrandisements gathers intolerable accelerations.

Covid-19 is a reminder, a much needed one. A reminder to a people who forgot themselves, their roots, their hearts and also their gods. A reminder to slow down and take a look within.

A reminder to redeem yourself with a softening of the heart. All that craze for power and lust after wealth, the endless conquests, the throat-slits, the deafening slogans, hollow rituals, jubilant marches, halleluiahs and frenzied chanting of mantras, all rise before you like phantasmagoric grins.

Now you know how helpless you are.

Perhaps, if you had conquered less and contributed more you’d have been a happier person. Perhaps, now is the time to learn that fundamental lesson. Doing something to ameliorate the suffering in the world around you, to bring a little spark of light into all the darkness that surrounds you, a small act of kindness amidst all that brutality, would have given you a greater sense of satisfaction now than all your great conquests. Perhaps, there is still time to start anew.


  1. As Pablo Neruda suggested in "Keeping Quiet",
    ".. we'll all keep still...
    Let's stop for one second (or may be even more),
    And not move our arms so much."

    This sudden strangeness might have got a million lessons to render. May this void and silence teach us more wisdom than verses of those visionaries.

    1. Indeed we are forced to slow down and introspect. There's no other way. We need to acquire wisdom that suits our times.

  2. Good pointers along with a back history.


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