Books are our never failing friends. Our worldly friends desert us but they never desert us. They are our best friends, philosophers and guides. Friends are plenty when the purse is full but fair-weather friends fall off in adversity. Books, like a true friend stand by us through thick and thin. They uphold and encourage us when we feel sad and despondent.
They lift the poor out of poverty and the wretched out of misery. They make the burden bearer forget his burden, the sick his sufferings and the downtrodden his degradation. They bring light into darkness and sunshine into shadow.
All the same we should be very judicious in the selection of books as in the choice of friends. The friendship of good books is the medicine of life but there are books more dangerous than snakes and more poisonous than scorpions. The really good books sharpen our intellect, broaden our mind, enrich our experience, widen our knowledge, uplift our morals, making us better, nobler and happier in life.
Good books are the life-blood of a nation. Books like the Gita and the Mahabharta inspire us. They make us brave, daring and dauntless. Good books are the quintessence of man's experience extending over thousands of years. They are our best companions in solitude. They are a treasure house of noble thoughts which are open to us day and night.
A book like the Ramayana is undoubtedly the best of companions. It offers us all the balm we need when life has given us a rebuff and the world looks cold and uncharitable. It is a book to be digested. It is a book to be read with diligence and attention.
Gandhiji called the Gita his mother. He said, "Today the Gita is not only my Bible or my Quran, it is more than that-it is my mother. I lost my earthly mother who gave me birth long ago but this eternal mother has completely filled her place by my side ever since. She has never changed; she has never failed me. When I am in difficulty and distress, I seek refuge in her bosom."
Once Carlyle was asked whether he would choose the dramas of Shakespeare or the kingdom of heaven if he were given a choice between the two. He at once said that he would choose the dramas of Shakespeare and spurn the Kingdom of Heaven. This reply of Carlyle shows the importance of good books.
Books bring enlightenment among the people and make them fond of knowledge. Like the appetite which is removed by food, man has a craving for knowledge. He is curious to know things. It provides him with mental satisfaction.
This craving for knowledge is satisfied with the reading of books. Books are our mute friends but they are not dumb. They speak in a language which is understood by the heart of man. They bring us into communion with the greatest minds of the world and of all ages.
When we read the biographies of great men, we move and associate with them, they were. Books enshrine the noble thoughts and sublime truths of all ages. They are man's most precious heritage. They provide food for the mind. They shape our character and their influence penetrates deep down the mind. They arouse us, teach us, comfort us. A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit.
Good books are like gold mines. The more one works as a miner, the richer one becomes. They enlighten us and widen our vision and sympathy. A mind which is not lit with knowledge is a dark cell and a home which does not have books is an unhealthy place to live in. If people are ignorant and illiterate, they will suffer from superstitions and baseless fears.
They will be narrow-minded and mean. Books are a valuable possession. They correct us when we go astray, amuse us when we are bored and give us a jolly company when we feel lonely. They provide us with extra eyes to enjoy beauty and extra ears to listen to great music.
They take us to those remote places that we have not seen, those heights we can never scale and those fairy lands we can hardly imagine. A drawing room for its decoration needs well designed furniture and printed curtains but it cannot be complete without a book-shelf. Books have ornamental value no less than material utility.