Excerpts from the book ‘Ignited Minds‘ Written By A.P.J. Abdul Kalamji


On one occasion, as I was leaving for Bangalore, I spoke to a friend of mine and told him that I would be talking to young people and whether he had any suggestions.

He did not offer any suggestions as such, but offered me these nuggets of wisdom. ‘When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust … withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad … ‘What actions are most excellent?


To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of the injured …

‘All God’s creatures are His family; and he is the most beloved of God who tries to do most good to God’s creatures.’

These are the sayings of Prophet Mohammad. My friend who told me this is a greatgrandson of a Deekshidar of Tamil Nadu and grandson of a Ganapathigal (vedic scholar).

He is none other than Y.S. Rajan. Such an outlook is possible only in our country. Let us remember the Rig Veda: ‘Aano bhadrah kratavo yenthu vishwathaha.’

That is, ‘Let noble thoughts come to us from every side.’ I recall an event that took place in my family. My grandfather and greatgrandfather were called Ambalakarar–noble leaders– in Rameswaram. This island has the privilege of being known as the place where Lord Rama is said to have launched his campaign against Ravana.

The island celebrates this event by organizing his marriage with Sita– his divine counterpart.

My greatgrandfather would provide a floating platform for the occasion to carry the decorated vigraha through the holy tank named Ramar Theertham.

The tank is very deep. The floating platform with vigraha, bedecked with beautiful gold ornaments, of Lord Rama is taken round a small mandapa at the centre of the tank.

Then and now, all of Rameswaram assembles for the occasion. One year, my greatgrandfather was witnessing the event when a mishap took place.

The vigraha toppled down and sank. Without any hesitation or prompting, he jumped into the tank and recovered the vigraha as the entire town watched.

The temple priests instituted muthal mariathai (first honour) for our family.

There was a special prayer in the Rameswaram mosque to thank the Almighty for the recovery of the vigraha and to bring God’s grace on our family.


I have always considered this incident as a shining example of human brotherhood and harmony, specially significant in today’s context.

Could not each of us help nurture such a brotherhood wherever we happen to be?


On 15 August 1947, my high school teacher, Rev. Iyyadurai Solomon, took me to hear the midnight freedom speech of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

We were all moved to hear him say that we were free. Banner headlines announced the momentous event in next day’s newspapers.

But alongside the report of Panditji’s speech in the Tamil newspaper I read, was another news item, one that has been embedded in my memory.

It was about how Mahatma Gandhi was walking barefoot in Noakhali, to help assuage the pain of the riot-affected families there.

Normally, as Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi should have been on the ramparts of Red Fort, the first one to unfurl the national flag.

Instead, he was at Noakhali. Such was the Mahatma’s greatness, and what an everlasting impact it left on the mind of a schoolboy!

Having sensed the pulse of the young, and armed with the wisdom of the elders, I thought deeply about my own experiences with technology projects where people worked on problems that were new and demanded efforts that were unprecedented.

What really makes one succeed in the face of difficult tasks?

We have talked about the importance of having a dream and of commitment, of hard work and having the spiritual strength to persevere through difficulties and failures.

Is there anything missing in the cycle of creation