Waste Paper-News Paper-Question Paper

A felicitation program was arranged two weeks ago at Davangere. The felicitated person was the elderly K. R. Jayadevappa, Ex-Member of the Karnataka Legislative Council. The clean white cotton khadi attire he wears is symptomatic of the unblemished political path he has trodden during his lifetime. Discipline is second nature to him after having served in the Sevadal (a community service organization) during the famed N.S. Hardikar’s period before becoming a lawyer. Extending compliments to him on that occasion, the retired chief justice of the high court, Mr. Shivaraj Patil, happened to pass on the popular English saying:


“Yesterday is a waste paper, today is a newspaper, tomorrow is a question paper and life is an answer paper.”


The entire audience in the packed auditorium applauded. It was heartening to hear the adaptation of paper types to the past, present, and future times of life.


            It seems appropriate to compare ‘today’ to today’s newspaper and ‘tomorrow’ to a question paper. But, comparing ‘yesterday’ to a wastepaper – is it really appropriate? This question kept reverberating like tidal waves of the ocean in my mind until it was my turn to give a speech. I felt strongly like making my appeal against the judgment by the ‘single bench.’ My speech on that day must have sounded like an argument delivered to the ‘double bench’ for the audience whose interest was piqued to the limit. Observing the smile that appeared on Chief justice Shivaraj Patil’s face listening to my argument, the local newspaper, ‘Janatha Vani’ had reported next day, “Objection Sustained.” On listening to the rest of my speech, it seemed like the chief Justice wanted to transfer this case to a different jury to be fair as he was a party to the discussion and felt like saying, “Not before me.” Therefore, here is the rest of my argument placed before the thoughtful readers of Vijaya Karnataka newspaper for your final decision.


            The brief private discussion in the short time we had after the function with the honorable judge clarified the reasoning behind comparing yesterday to a waste paper was more like: “Do not cry over the split milk!” There is no use worrying about the milk that is spoilt or spilled out. Man should learn to forget the bitterness of yesterday and move on. We do read today’s paper with interest only to trash it tomorrow, when we have the new newspaper in our hand to read. Likewise, we should learn to put the bad things in life to trash and be ready to face up to today’s problems.  In fact, Basavanna says that we should not be bogged down too much even with the happy times of yesterday:


O mind! Do not recall the sweetness like the monkey does after eating the Jaggery

O mind! Do not make me go back like the jackal does to the sugarcane after tasting it

O mind! Do not obsess for fortunes like the crow does flying higher and higher


Repeatedly, the mind whines for the things not possessed and brings a person to suffer depression. It broods over the good things of yesterday and is saddened for not having them today. In a way, it seems right to remember the good and the bad about yesterday. But my argument is that it should only be for learning from them and guiding for the future. It should not be like the day falling into the well that it found during the night! All of yesterday’s incidents are not useless like waste papers. Readers, depending upon their interest cut out and retain the relevant articles. The younger ones might prefer to decorate the walls of their rooms with pictures of their favorite stars in multiple poses. Only the ones they do not need get trashed.


What is to be mainly noticed here happens to be, “Tomorrow is like a question paper, Life happens to be the answer paper.” Students, most of them, prepare today for tomorrow’s examination. Even without an inkling of what could be asked in the examination, the bright kids have the self confidence to answer whatever questions they get. The answer papers of the talented kids are usually retained by the University, while those from the below average kids are discarded. The life stories of Buddha, Basavanna, Gandhi, Jesus, and Paigamber and their achievements did not end with them. They are permanently preserved for eternity. When one loses their focus in life, they are there to guide them forever.


Whether a man’s life story is trashed or preserved for eternity is dependent on how he led his life. Could the brief sojourn of 45 days that this same Shivaraj Patil spent as a Lokayukta leader of Karnataka be considered a waste of time? As soon as the baseless allegations about him surfaced he chose not to continue in that role and resigned instantly. His action, in fact, enhanced the prestige of the chair he sacrificed and became a role model for people to follow. The state of Karnataka has not been able to fill the void created by Mr. Shivaraj Patil. His action has set a historic precedent.


A man should be confident of tackling the issues as and when they surface irrespective of how latent they might have been. He should not be like a weak student who resorts to commit suicide just because he was failing in the examinations. Not lamenting over the past mishaps, one should take care to see that it does not happen again and try to make it work. He should be realistic about his abilities and be able to realize and admire the talents of others. Who knows what happens tomorrow? One should have the ability to face up to whatever comes their way tomorrow with equanimity. Basavanna said, “yadbhaavam tadbhavati (How you think is how things shape up – thoughts become actions), let it be fire, let it be fortune, I will accept either of them,” It is not easy to maintain a mental state proposed by Basavanna. But a clean and unblemished living today would certainly equip one with the mental stability to face up to tomorrow’s challenges without fear. We should have the wisdom and determination to make our Todays a keepsake document and not a waste paper as they slide back to become Yesterdays. Then we will have the mental stamina to receive our Tomorrows, no matter how they arrive. With this outcome in mind only that Basavanna said:


What is to come tomorrow, let it come today

What is to come today, let it come right now

Who is afraid or who is hesitant for this

jaatasya maranam dhruvam (Truth is that birth will lead to death)”

What fate our lord Kudalasangama Deva

Has written for us cannot be erased by anyone!


Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru

Dr Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji



Translated by
Dr Annapur Shivakumar