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Napoleon Poet on a Throne

Napoleon Poet on a Throne
Item Code: NAZ198
Author: Kireet Joshi
Publisher: Shubhra Ketu Foundation and The Mother’s Institute of Research, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788189490165
Pages: 266 (Throughout Color and B/W Illustrations)
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.5 kg

The task of preparing teaching-learning material for value- oriented education is enormous. There is, first, the idea that value-oriented education should be exploratory rather than prescriptive, and that the teaching-learning material should provide to the learners a growing experience of exploration.

Secondly, it is rightly contended that the proper inspiration to turn to value-orientation is provided by biographies, autobiographical accounts, personal anecdotes, epistles, short poems, stories of humour, stories of human interest, brief passages filled with pregnant meanings, reflective short essays written in well- chiselled language, plays, powerful accounts of historical events, statements of personal experiences of values in actual situations of life, and similar other statements of scientific, philosophical, artistic and literary expression.

Thirdly, we may take into account the contemporary fact that the entire world is moving rapidly towards the synthesis of the East and the West, and in that context, it seems obvious that our teaching-learning material should foster the gradual familiarisa- tion of students with global themes of universal significance as also those that underline the importance of diversity in unity. This implies that the material should bring the students nearer to their cultural heritage, but also to the highest that is available in the cultural experiences of the world at large.

Fourthly, an attempt should be made to select from Indian and world history such examples that could illustrate the theme of the upward progress of humankind. The selected research material could be multi-sided, and it should be presented in such a way that teachers can make use of it in the manner and in the context that they need in specific situations that might obtain or that can be created in respect of the students.

The research teams at the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAITER) have attempted the creation of the relevant teaching-learning material, and they have decided to present the same in the form of monographs.

It appears that there are three major powers that uplift life to higher and higher normative levels, and the value of these powers, if well illustrated, could be effectively conveyed to the learners for their upliftment. These powers are those of illumination, heroism and harmony.

It may be useful to explore the meanings of these terms - il- lumination, heroism and harmony - since the aim of these mono- graphs is to provide material for a study of what is sought to be conveyed through these three terms. We offer here exploratory statements in regard to these three terms.

Illumination is that ignition of inner light in which meaning and value of substance and life-movement are seized, understood, comprehended, held, and possessed, stimulating and inspiring guided action and application and creativity culminating in joy, delight, even ecstasy. The width, depth and height of the light and vision determine the degrees of illumination, and when they reach the splendour and glory of synthesis and harmony, illumi- nation ripens into wisdom. Wisdom, too, has varying degrees that can uncover powers of knowledge and action, which reveal unsus- pected secrets and unimagined skills of art and craft of creativity and effectiveness.

Heroism is, essentially, inspired force and self-giving and sac- rifice in the operations of will that is applied to the quest, realisa- tion and triumph of meaning and value against the resistance of limitations and obstacles by means of courage, battle and adven- ture. There are degrees and heights of heroism determined by the intensity, persistence and vastness of sacrifice. Heroism attains the highest states of greatness and refinement when it is guided by the highest wisdom and inspired by the sense of service to the ends of justice and harmony, as well as when tasks are executed with consummate skill.

Harmony is a progressive state and action of synthesis and equilibrium generated by the creative force of joy and beauty and delight that combines and unites knowledge and peace and sta- bility with will and action and growth and development. Without harmony, there is no perfection, even though there could be maxi- misation of one or more elements of our nature. When illumina- tion and heroism join and engender relations of mutuality and unity, each is perfected by the other and creativity is endless.

Napoleon was an extraordinary man, who highly valued intel- lectual abilities and the discovery of new knowledge. Heroism filled his entire being replete with tireless energy and courage. He endeavoured, ahead of its time as the true visionary that he was, to build the unity of Europe. He even dreamed of uniting the world in the cradle of harmony and justice. But he suffered also from excessive ambition and came to overreach, unable to accept limits to his power and dreams. Thus he had to suffer defeat at the end but nevertheless the central revolutionary ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, which he largely contributed to incarnate to some extent in practical laws, were propagated throughout Europe during the few years that his epic adventure lasted.


In spite of all the libels, I have no fear whatever about my fame. Posterity will do me justice. The truth will be known; and the good I have done will be compared with the faults I have com- mitted. I am not uneasy as to the result. Had I succeeded, I would have died with the reputation of the greatest man that ever ex- isted. As it is, although I have failed, I shall be considered as an extraordinary man: my elevation was unparalleled, because unac- companied by crime. I have fought fifty pitched battles, almost all of which I have won. I have framed and carried into effect a code of laws that will bear my name to the most distant posterity.

I raised myself from nothing to be the most powerful monarch in the world. Europe was at my feet. I have always been of opinion that the sovereignty lay in the people. In fact, the imperial gov- ernment was a kind of republic. Called to the head of it by the voice of the nation, my maxim was, la carriére est ouverte aux tal- ents [the career is opened to talents] without distinction of birth or fortune, and this system of equality is the reason that your oligarchy hates me so much.

Thus napoleon spoke while reflecting upon his amazing ca- reer. That was in St Helena where an ungenerous British government had sent the ex-emperor. Napoleon had placed himself under the protection of England in the following words: (To the Prince Regent of England.) Your Royal Highness:

Exposed to the factions that divide my country and to the enmity of the powers of Europe, I have closed my political career, and I come ... to claim hospitality at the hearth of the British people. I place myself under the protection of their laws, which I demand from Your Royal Highness, as from the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my foes.

But the allied sovereigns and particularly the British had had enough. They did not want to risk a repeat of the Elba island ad- venture, where Napoleon had been first sent as a ruler of that mini-state, which he then left after only a few months to reclaim his lost empire. This time they wanted to make sure that Napoleon would not rise again.

Napoleon vehemently protested,

August 4th, on board H. M. S. Bellerophon:

I solemnly protest here, in the face of heaven and of men, against the violation of my most sacred rights, in disposing of my person and of my liberty by force. I came on board the Bellerophon freely; I am not the prisoner, I am the guest of England. From the instant I boarded the Bellerophon I was at the hearth of the British people. I appeal to History! It will place on record that an enemy who during twenty years waged war against the British people came freely in his misfortune to seek a refuge under their laws; and what more striking proof could he display of his es- teem and of his trust? And how did England reply to such mag- nanimity? She pretended to hold out the hand of hospitality to her enemy, and when he had placed himself in her power, she slew him!

For the next six years Napoleon was to live in that isolated rocky island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, with a very difficult climate, a fact which surely contributed to his early death in 1821. Besides having to live in very rudimentary facilities, Napoleon had to suffer the meanness of the British Governor of St Helena who never missed any occasion to make the life of his illustrious prisoner more miscrable. Napoleon saw that this per- secution at the hands of the British would add to his legend:

January Ist, 1817. To bear misfortune was the only thing wanting to my fame. I have worn the imperial crown of France, the iron crown of Italy; England has now given me a greater and more glorious one, - for it is that worn by the Saviour of the world, - the crown of thorns.

Thus it was how this most extraordinary career was to end. When he was exiled, Napoleon was still quite young, not yet fifty.

Given his prodigious energy and drive, if he would have been al- lowed by destiny to remain in power, he could have yet added more accomplishments to the Napoleonian epopee. We have to acknowledge that it is the Revolution that made this epopee possible. Napoleon is a product of the exceptional period of the French revolution. He himself was quite aware that, even with the same extraordinary abilities, he would probably not have the same opportunities that he was able to seize to rise so quickly to excep- tional heights. The French army had lost many of its officers who, being from the nobility, had emigrated to escape the rigors of the revolution. Being supremely confident and competent, Napoleon, still in his early twenties, rose to the rank of general, something which could not have happened before the Revolution.

From that moment his truly remarkable talents took him in no time to the top of France and then to the domination of a large part of Europe.

But even this was not necessarily enough for him. Seeing no limits to his possible accomplishments, he even dreamed of a world empire.

Did not you yourself say to me: ‘You let your genius have its way, because it does not know the word impossible.’ How can I help it if a great power drives me on to become dictator of the world? You and the others, who criticise me to-day and would like me to become a good-natured ruler - have not you aal been accessories?

**Sample Pages**

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