I 've been, right from my formative years, witness to elders in the family attending discourses on philosophy, also scriptures.

I'd, however, never ever gauged the tenor of their impact on anyone. I'd be aloof without being officious of their 'hold' thereto in the perimeter of my nascent, albeit expanding inquisitiveness. This was, doubtless, subdued intonation, lest my parents admonish me.

It was also a tough balancing act for a 'rebel' that most growing up kids invariably are while emerging to being non-conformists.

My outlook was shaped by conservatism within and outside of the family. There was hardly anything that drove me to thinking laterally. It was only when I shed the castings of my basic education and began to pursue medicine that I began to explore what lay outside of my traditional, nay conformist, cocoon.

This was primarily through friends, who followed different beliefs without being peremptorily rigid. In the process, I was drawn to Nehruvian ideals, viz., Jawaharlal Nehru's penchant for Fabian socialism, his zeal for science and everything science - of new landmark institutions and projects that he christened as the temples and gurudwaras of modern India.

My whole thought progression was, thus, not propelled by 'dogma', but by science and the legendary statesman's celebrated axiom that propelled us to develop that much-required 'scientific temper'.

My interests expanded to areas other than science and medicine - literature and the philosophies of the East and West, not 'faith'. It was akin to Socrates and Friedrich Nietzsche going out for a walk in the garden with Sankara and Madhva - two pre-eminent Indian philosophers and exponents par excellence of Vedanta.

It's an ocean of knowledge, and after 3-4 decades of being a self-effacing student, I'm afraid that I've not imbibed more than a drop of that nectar in their sublime philosophy. It is not that I'd like to, therefore, pontificate as I'm witness, no less, today of folks attending 'proffered' discourses with just as much alacrity, also ostentation, as I'd seen my elders do - no more, no less.

While the quintessential foundation of the modern discourse hasn't changed much, the glitz surrounding it certainly has. It mirrors surreal serenity amidst the panoply, where people congregate, and someone, or other, whispers on their cell phone, "You know the revered speaker spotted and recognised me in the audience?" Or, "The organisers called me to the podium.

I was humbled and honoured."

The inference is obvious.

What makes most people euphoric isn't the idea of seeking wisdom, but being sought.

Some things just don't change.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 23, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.