Reading for the Day

From Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s short story, “Innocence”, in the New Yorker, June 26, 2006

… Her disciples sat cross-legged in a circle around her while she spoke of the Absolute, both in its aspect of the inconceivably immense and as the tiny Person no bigger than a thumb within the human heart.

The real Dinesh and the fictional D. had the same attitude toward our absorption in this heady stuff. He said that we lived in an India that had been invented in the nineteenth century by German professors, and that, by keeping our eyes fixed on mystical and mythical abstractions, we failed to look down at the earth and the people crowding it. It was only, he said, when something unpleasant happened to us– a sickness, or some fat shopkeeper cheating us, or a youth groping us on a bus– it was only then that we recognized that we were living in a real place, in a city like any other; and at once our noble, our spiritual India was degraded into a country of thievery and lechery.

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