page3-800px-Manuscript_of_a_Mongolian_Sūtra_WDL8912.pdf
19th century Mongolian sutra manuscript…Wikimedia commons

China has for the first time compiled Mongolian literature, including incantations, from the province of Inner Mongolia, spanning the last eight hundred years.

Eight hundred year ago, the Mongolians had invaded large parts of the world and Kublai Khan,  grandson of the conquerer Genghis Khan  had established the Yuan dynasty which not only popularised the paper currency yuan (that is what Chinese currency is still called though renminbi does replace it within China often), but also hosted  Marco Polo, the first European who left written accounts  of China.

The Mongolians founded the Yuan dynasty and ruled for nearly a century. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem Xanadu immortalised the Yuan dynasty reign in verse in the nineteenth century.

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By some existential quirk of fate it seemed I owed him money. Owed Kasim that is. Yes, deep down within I always felt I owed him money. I did not remember from when, or even how. Did I run up some losses for him in business? Did I take something precious from him that had to be paid for? I did not know then. I do not know now. But I felt then as I feel now, I owed him.

Kasim was generous. He never insisted that I pay. Not that he did mind when I did. In fact, he had a shrewd mind. He knew I would pay. When you owe someone money, and you are the decent sort, you do pay, don’t you? Kasim knew that. So he made it seem like he never really had his mind on the money. Why bring in money matters when you don’t need to? Well, in any case I paid him regularly. Somehow, the debt never seemed to get repaid. There was no cut-off date in our contract, it seemed.

In his new book, What Money Can’t Buy, American political philosopher and Harvard professor Michael J Sandel talks about the moral limits that have been blurred over time: Tehelka

michael J SandelWhat is the difference between a market economy and a market society?
In recent decades, we have drifted, almost without realising it, from having a market economy to becoming market societies. The difference is this: a market economy is a tool — a valuable and effective tool — for organising productive activity. But a market society is a place where almost everything is up for sale. It is a way of life, in which money and market values dominate every aspect of life — not only material goods, but family life and personal relationships; health and education; politics and civic life. What Money Can’t Buy does not argue against a market economy; it argues that we need to keep markets in their proper place.

A Wall Street Journal writer recently decided to seek out the financial lessons embedded in works by classic 19th-century authors like Tolstoy and Flaubert. It turns out that the great writers knew a thing or two about money: CSM

What do business books and 19th-century literature – seemingly polar opposites – have in common?

A lot, in turns out.

Money – and the social changes its possession or lack thereof effects – forms the backbone of so many works of literature that one Wall Street Journal writer decided to read the classics with an eye toward extracting financial lessons.