“Strong Roots


“Strong Roots”

APJ Abdul Kalam

1. Kalam’s childhood/Kalam’s ancestry/family/Why does Kalam feel that he had a secure childhood?

Answer: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was born and brought up into a middle class Tamil family. His parents were Jainulabudeen and Ashiama. His father was neither formally educated nor very rich. But he was wise and generous man. His mother came of a more distinguished family than his father. His mother was always busy with household services. Over all his parents were an ideal couple. He was one of many children of his parents. He was shot boy with ordinary looks. He and his family lived in their ancestral house, built of limestone and brick. All essential needs like food, medicine and clothes were provided for Kalam in his childhood. He ate tasty food with his mother sitting on the floor kitchen. Being generous his mother fed many outsiders every day. He had a very simple and secure childhood-both materially and emotionally. His family was richly blessed in spirituality. That is why Kalam said that he had a secure childhood without any hardship or difficulties.

2. i) “Our locality was predominantly Muslim, but there were quite a lot of Hindu families too”-explain.

ii) How does Kalam describe his locality? iii) What impression of communal harmony is presented?

Answer: In ‘Strong Roots’ Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has given a vivid description of his locality. He was born in Rameswaram. The Shiva temple in Rameswaram was very famous to pilgrims. There was a very old mosque in the locality where his father would take him for evening prayers.

         When his father came out of the mosque after the players, people of different religions would be waiting for the holy water. There was the communal harmony between Hindu and Muslim. The locality in which Kalam lived was predominantly Muslim, but there were quite a lot of Hindu families too. They lived amicably with their Muslim neighbours.

          People of both religions the Hindu and Muslim live in harmony and peace without any sense of antagonism.

3. Justify “Strong Roots” as an autobiography? Or Justify the title of strong roots?

Answer: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s biography ‘Wings of Fire’ unfolds his personal and professional life. It compasses Dr. Kalam’s long journey from his childhood to the peak of success. The opening chapter highlights the foundations of Kalam’s personality, his birth, parentage and family background. Kalam childhood was secured in every sense. He and his family lived in their ancestral house. They were not well to do you but he never felt want of food medicine and clothing. He enjoyed the company of his father who gave him spiritual knowledge and fundamental truth of life through his moral senses. His mother Ashima was equally generous. His family was very simple but rich in spirituality. Thus ‘Strong Roots’ successfully introduces the strong foundations and family bound of Kalam’s life which is a lesson for all age.

4. “This is not a correct approach all and should never be followed”. – What according to Kalam’s father is not a correct approach? What is a correct approach? Why should be followed?

Answer: According to Kalam’s father, the function of helping the distressed through prayers and offering is not at all a correct approach.

           The correct approach is to ask the sufferers to take into themselves for seeking the enemy of fulfilment. He explains that when a man understands the cause of his suffering, he can try to come out of that state through prayers, offerings and introspection.

           Dr. Kalam’s father mentioned that such an approach should never be followed because it originates from fear-ridden vision of destiny.                                                                                                                                                                                    Who was Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry? How was the relation between Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry and Kalam’s father? What does the relationship signify?

Answer: Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry was the high priest of the Shiva temple of Rameswaram.

           Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry was a very close friend of Jainulabudeen, Kalam’s father.

           Dr. Kalam describes the most vivid memories of his early childhood. Both Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry and Jainulabdeen put on their own traditional attire. Though they were the representatives of two distinguished different religions of the world, they were discussing spiritual matters. This relationship not only brings the message of tolerance and love but also it signifies unity in diversity. 

6. How does the sprit of communal harmony get reflected in A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s autobiographical essay “Strong Roots”. Or What picture of communal harmony can you find in A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s essay “Strong Roots”?

Answer: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam establishes a chord of communal harmony in his essay “Strong Roots” through unity. The essay takes us to the lanes of Rameswaram where temple and mosques exist side by side. The locality where A.P.J Abdul Kalam used to live was equally occupied by the Hindu families along with the Muslims.

       They lived together in peace. The high priest of Rameswaram temple, Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry was a very close friend of the author’s father who was a devoted Muslims. These two men discussed spiritual matters.

        (When Kalam’s father used to come out from prayers, people of different religions would wait outside the mosque for his father to dip his finger in their bowls containing water so that the invalids get cured. Later they would thank Kalam’s father when they would get well). Thus, we find a picture of communal harmony between the Hindu and the Muslims in this essay.

7. Describe Kalam’s father’s daily routine.  OR What kind of life would Kalam’s father lead?

Answer:- Kalam’s father Jainulabedeen was a religious person. So he would lead an austere but simple life leaving all inessential comforts and luxuries. He would start his day by reading the Namaz before dawn. After Namaz he would walk down to a small coconut grove they possessed. The coconut grove was about four miles away from their house. He would return home with about a dozen coconuts tied together thrown over his shoulder. Only then he would have his breakfast. He maintained this routine even when he was in his sixties.

8. “I have endeavored to understand the fundamental truths” – Who said this? Whom does the speaker try to eliminate? What are the fundamental truths? Who revealed them to the speaker? Or

What is Kalam’s perception about divine power?  Or

How can an individual achieve freedom, happiness and peace of mind?

Answer: – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam said this in his autobiographical essay ‘Strong Roots’.

Dr, Kalam tried to emulate his father, Jainulabedeen in his professional field of science and technology.

               The Fundamental truths referred to here are that there exists a divine power that can lift one up from confusion, misery, melancholy and failure, and guide one to one’s true place. And once an individual severs his emotional and physical bond, he is on the road to freedom, happiness and peace of mind. Dr Kalam applied the spiritual concepts of his father in his own world of science and technology.

              A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s father Jainulabdeen revealed them to his son.

9. What was Kalam’s father’s response to his son’s query about prayer and spirituality?

Answer: – Kalam’s father was a religious person. Naturally Kalam was brought up in a religious atmosphere. One day when Kalam asked his father about the relevance of prayer, his father explained it very clearly. He told that there was nothing mysterious about prayer. In fact prayer made possible a communion of spirit between people. He further told that when a person prayed he transcended his body and became a part of the cosmos. He becomes a part of the cosmos without any division of wealth, age, caste or creed. As for spirituality Kalam’s father told that every human being is a specific part within the whole of the manifest divine being. So we should not be afraid of our difficulties, sufferings and problems. When we are in trouble we should try to understand the relevance of our trouble because adversity always presents opportunities for introspection.

10. ” Why don’t you say this to the people who come to you” Who said this and to whom? What is referred by this?  What did author’s father answer him?

Answer: – In his autobiography APJ Abdul Kalam says this to his father Jainulabdeen.

          Kalam’s father told that every human being is a specific part within the whole of the manifest divine being. So we should not be afraid of our difficulties, sufferings and problems. When we are in trouble we should try to understand the relevance of our trouble because adversity always presents opportunities for introspection. This fact is referred to by the word ‘this.

          People come to the person spoken to because they are in trouble and in distress condition.  When someone is in trouble, they start looking for company. Whenever they fall in deadlock, they search someone to show them the way out. So the distressed people come to him for help and advice to get rid of their problems.

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