The English words "The pen is mightier than the sword" were first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.
Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him, but as a priest he is unable to take up arms against his enemies. His page, Francois, points out:
But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord.
The pen is mightier than the sword... Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!
The saying quickly gained currency, says Susan Ratcliffe, associate editor of the Oxford Quotations Dictionaries. "By the 1840s it was a commonplace." Today it is used in many languages, mostly translated from the English.
Carl Sagan wrote about the impact of the written word,
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."
[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”
And so too the book "An Autobiography of a Yogi" has changed many a life on first reading including me.
It was 1994 and I had just moved back to the headquarters after serving at a unit. I had just moved into my new house and was traveling quite a distance to and fro for work. That was the time my boss asked if I would volunteer to return back to headquarters to clear a large backlog of work. I agreed as it would now be relatively a shorter distance from my new home to my headquarters.
And so I met Sekaran at the office.
Sekaran was about to leave the government service to become a monk as I arrived at my new workplace. He had visited the Ranchi branch of Yogananda Paramahansa's centre in India, the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Math, five times prior to making this decision.
Just before he left, he passed me a beautiful painting of Lord Siva, a copy of "An Autobiography of a Yogi" and a few words of advice. He advised me that at times we would receive work totally unrelated to our job scope but if I had the time, and the knowledge or knowhow do take it up.
I did just that and I soon was doing something that was not related to my post and job. I was in the engineering field but began to involve in preparing presentations for the department. I became an asset to the department. The new knowledge that I acquired then has helped me to start a website, make videos, and audio recordings; all important components to catch the attention and eye of a reader. I am grateful to "Monk" Sekaran for his words of advice. I am grateful to him for the book. And I am grateful to him for Siva's lovely picture.
"The Autobiography of a Yogi" really amazed me. It suddenly opened up a whole new world out there that I did not know existed until then. It showed me the hidden world of the mystics and saints. The tales of the Saint with Two Bodies, The Perfume Saint, The Tiger Swami, The Levitating Saint, The Sleepless Saint, and of course Master Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Mahavatar Babaji, kept me glued to the book. I read and cherished the book. Slowly I added more books by Yogananda to my prized collection of spiritual books including "Whispers from Eternity", "The Science of Religion", "Wine of the Mystic", and of course "God Talks With Arjuna - The Bhagavad Gita". I picked up "The Holy Science" too, a book by Yogananda's master Sri Sri Swami Yukteswar Giri and another "Light on the Spiritual Path" by his student Roy Eugene Davis.
Along the way I remembered passing my copy of "The Autobiography of a Yogi" to an auty of my wife only to be told that she wasn't having it. I had lost my prized collection.
When a colleague at the office was transferred, I helped him pack his personal things and sent them to his car. One day as I passed by his workstation, I thought I saw a book on the table. To my surprise there was a copy of "The Autobiography of a Yogi" lying on the table. How did it come there? I was pretty sure we had moved every single personal belonging of my colleague to his car. The book could not be his as he was not the reading type and definitely not a spiritual book. As the rest of the officemates were Muslims, I kept the book for myself. I was miraculously given a replacement copy for the book that I had lost.
I have read and re-read this book just like what Rajni mentions in the last post, till literally speaking I tore the the book into two.
It is true what Rajni said of Yogananda Paramahansa as a guru who came back for our sake, to bring us from the dark into the light. Yogananda Paramahansa prefered to share his spiritual experiences with the hope of bringing others too into the fold of divinity. So did Ramalinga Adigal and many other saints. The Divine sends these highly evolved souls when there is a necessity to bring back mankind to his fold, the path of truth and satyam.