While Partridge has posted my thoughts on the book in 2 parts in their blog, I present the original write-up here.
I took a course in Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While going through the course, I came to understand various facets of how human society evolved. The course also taught how and why different forms of architectural patterns came into being. One striking aspect of all that I was learning was that there were very strong physical needs due to which human beings devised various strategies for survival on this Earth. All along the way, human beings were constantly experimenting to find the best way for the most comfortable life. Sometimes, mankind made mistakes. Sometimes, things just worked. I am convinced that human beings have survived on this Earth and human beings lord over the entire creation on Earth just because ultimately we made the right decisions and retained the right choices for future use.
Earth is constantly evolving. We all know that “Change is the Only Constant”. We are also witness to the fact that we are constantly trying new techniques for making life better for us and for our children. However, the pace of change has increased enormously in the recent past. Catalysts like the agricultural revolution, industrial revolution, automation revolution and recently the knowledge revolution have fuelled this increase in the pace of change. The rate of change that I experience in today’s world as a 45-year-old is higher than the rate of change I experienced when I was in my 20s.
It is a natural consequence that when we try making too many changes in too little time, the chances for making mistakes increase exponentially. Another significant aspect is that the world’s human population has grown by a greater multiple in the last century as compared to during the previous 100,000 years. This growth in the world’s population has led to many times more people trying to make a change. This is also a natural consequence, as this directly follows from Darwin’s theory of the Survival of the Fittest. The darker side is that this has led to competition that has encouraged human beings to innovate in isolation.
In this novel endeavour of human beings for creating a better and smarter world in the shortest possible time, the chance for making mistakes is enormous, especially with the tendency to work in isolation. Many of the mistakes are evident to the common man. The learned human beings spot many times more of them. One of the significant observations is that while making changes in such massive quantity, there are many instances where human beings are trying to reinvent the wheel. For example, it could be argued whether we need inventing new religions when we already have so many for this small world. I feel that such endeavours are absolutely unessential.
In my opinion, evolution is always better than revolution. I believe in this way, as evolution has a tendency for carrying everyone along with it, while revolution has a tendency of carrying only those who are compliant. If I have a desire, it is that nature should make the selection of the survivors and human beings should not make this decision. So that such a dream can be realised, I wrote this book, Origin of the King (published by Partridge India), that tries to stitch together part of the reasons why the world was what was about 5000 years ago starting from about 100,000 years ago. If not anything else, I would be extremely happy if this book could help the children of today understand the story of our evolution. This way they might be able to make better decisions for the future.
Many aspects need consideration for designing anything of lasting value. The evolution of human beings has also been around designs of many facets of existence. This book only explores one aspect, i.e. the aspect of food. Food is an essential commodity for the survival of human beings on this Earth. One would not be wrong to say that among all aspects, food is possibly the most important for considering the design of human society. In Indian culture, where we carry a huge population, everything boils down to food. We say, “Paapi Pet Ke Liye” meaning, “Everything we do for our stomach”; and the stomach is also referred to as the main cause for “Sin”. We consider that man does good deeds for the sake of the stomach, and that man also does bad deeds for the stomach’s sake. It would not be wrong to say that majority of the innovations are created for the sake of feeding the stomachs of the innovators and the people who will use the innovation.
Ultimately, Origin of the King concludes that it was for safeguarding food that Human Being innovated this concept of “King”. The book tries illustrating why there was no need for a “King” earlier when man was a “hunter-gatherer”. In the modern context, there are many instances where people are revolting against authoritarianism of “Kings”. There are catastrophic events happening in Syria. Elsewhere, in Bhutan, the king himself introduced democracy. In India, a dynasty has ruled a democracy for more than 60 years. Does this mean that we should start a revolution to abolish monarchy? I do not think so. There was a need that gave birth to the King. Five thousand to 7000 years is a very short duration of time for this novelty to have lost its meaning. We need to keep the good aspects of this need and build a society of the future by removing the bad aspects that have adulterated this concept of King.
Knowledge has the power that allows human beings for weaning the good from the bad just like the swan sips the milk and leaves the water behind. Every drop of knowledge that human beings acquire enables and empowers them to make a difference in this world. Great institutions have started using the power of the Internet to extend quality education to the masses. This book is a tribute to these great masters. If I understood the lessons well in writing this small piece, I would have passed the test. You, the people, are the judge. I await your judgement.