The Harmony of Virtue – 1

The Harmony of Virtue is a fictional story written by Sri Aurobindo.

In this story, Keshav Ganesh and Broome Wilson are friends. They both are undergraduate students working towards completion of their Tripos exam. Broome comes to visit Keshav one evening and Keshav is very happy to see him and asks why he hadn’t come the past fortnight. For which Broome replies that he had been preparing for the Tripos exams.

Keshav asks Broome to postpone his studies until tomorrow and invites him to talk. Keshav says that he has cigarettes, coffee, cake and biscuits for them to eat and share. Wilson is very pleased with this arrangement.

Wilson asks Keshav if he is still working in the room. Keshav gives a humorous reply that life is too precious to be wasted in labor and the hour after dinner is the perfect time to be idle. Keshav adds on saying that he bears the hard work of the past 12 hours just to enjoy and be idle during the 1 hour after dinner.

Wilson is amused and calls Keshav a living paradox as he has turned indolence into the aim of life.

For which, Keshav asks what other aim life can have. Broome replies perhaps “duty” is the aim of life.

Keshav responds skeptically that he would only accept this answer if he knew the meaning of duty.

Wilson sneers that may be he is doomed to an evening of metaphysics. He says that duty is something we ought to be doing.

Keshav asks a question of how can we know we are doing what we ought to be doing?

Wilson replies that we ought to do what the society requires of us.

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