|Politicians & Literature|
Sharad Yadav | 65 | Bihar
President, Janata Dal (United)
I CAN’T SINGLE out just one book that I have been influenced by, because there have been so many of them, and by different thinkers. There have been books by Mahatma Gandhi, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, and others who came before them, like Kabir, Guru Nanak and the poets of the Bhakti movement — who have battled to change and reform society.
Neither is there a single line of thought that I follow. I have read literature and history, but the writers who have had the greatest influence on me have one thing in common — they were people who were close to the truth.
Of them, Basavanna, 12th century philosopher, statesman and social reformer, fought the caste system in Karnataka and formed the Lingayat sect; Lohia wrote about how caste was handicapping the country; and others like BR Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule fought against it.
However, my fondness for reading and writing is a result of Osho. He was a lecturer in the college where I studied, and we interacted a lot even outside classes. It was he who introduced me to the writings of Lohia and Kabir. My interactions with him were literary; he had a great command over language, and his knowledge of ancient literature was extensive.
I also enjoy poetry. For a poet, there are no boundaries and the sky is the limit. Among poets again, I think Kabir, who I have already mentioned, is by far the greatest. He wrote to change the world. My prayers, like his, are, ‘Sayeen itna deejiye, Ja mein kutumb samaye, Main bhi bhookha na rahun, Sadhu na bhookha jaye’ (Give me just enough, oh god, that my clan may survive, that I don’t stay hungry, nor let a hungry medicant go by’).
The greatest writers are those for whom there’s no slip between words and actions.