Albert Camus and Indian thought

New Delhi, India: National Pub. House (1989)
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Abstract

The theme of essential futility, absurdity, utter incomprehensibility of life and death is stressed in almost allthe writings of Albert Camus. Like Buddha he was shocked by the sight of human misery and mortality. Yet, paradoxically was attracted to the essential desirability of it. Although completely ruffled by the consciousness of an ambiguous and silent God, he was not unaware of “that strange joy that comes from a tranquil conscience”, a perfect inner harmony one experiences on attaining true knowledge. Upanishads are a search for this very reality underlying the flux of things. Malraux, Sartre, and others had already developed this line of thought before Camus. What is essential and original in him is, firstly, that the world’s absurdity not a cause for despair, but on the contrary, a spur to happiness. And secondly, that , mortality and suffering actually enhance the value of life: they invite men to live more intensely. In addition to absurdity another subject the Upanishads insistently deal with is ethics, the purity of human conduct. Very much in the manner of the Existentialists, the Upanishads, aeons before, hold man himself responsible for his actions. Dr. Radhakrishnan, very aptly says that Existentialism is a new name for an ancient method. In Albert Camus and India Sharad Chandra has put forward a convincing comparative study of the two philosophies as expounded in their respective literatures. Her argument is that the parallel ideas found in the two views are not mere fortuitous conclusions but, either the result of seminal influence, or emanation of a common, deeper vision. Reading of the book will help the reader to form a firm opinion. Camus had read the Gita and had attended the lectures given by Swami Shraddhananda of the Ramakrishna Mission in Paris.

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