My Most Popular Blog Post

By | December 31, 2022

[December 31, 2022] Since this year is coming to a close, and after more than eight years of blogging, I wondered what I should write about on this last day of 2022.  As regular readers know, about six months ago, I shifted focus from senior leadership to pursuing truth.  Wherever that led would be a true adventure and more meaningful than posting the many lessons I learned in my military career.  I do that too, but less so nowadays.

I thought, hey, I can write about my most popular blog post, why it was so popular, what folks were saying about it, and the meaning the post has to folks.  It was easy to get into my leadership blog statistics and ferret out that information.  My most popular blog post is:

‘You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!’ – link here

This was no surprise.  I had seen it as popular as soon as the article was posted.  But the total comments were not that unusual, perhaps the total a little more than average.  And the quality of comments was not unique.  So what made this blog post so popular, as measured by the number of people who read it?  Now that is a great question worth exploring.

Briefly, Gunga Din is a short 84-line poem by Rudyard Kipling (Nobel Prize winner) written from the view of an English soldier in India.  The poem is about an Indian water-bearer (a low-status Bhishti) who saves the soldier’s life but is soon shot and killed.  In the poem’s final three lines, the British soldier regrets the abuse he dealt to Din and admits that Din is the better man of the two.

So why is this article so popular, although the poem is undoubtedly famous?  I believe the reason is twofold.

One, this is the story of the unsung hero; who, despite his lowly position in life (a Bhishti Indian water-bearer) and his flaws, Din stands firm for what he believes in and does so while facing almost certain death (and is eventually killed), being mistreated and abused by the British, and while attending to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield.  Only at the end of the poem do we see a British soldier (the poem’s narrator) who realizes that Gunga Din is the better man of the two.  This is a hero-meta narrative that we thirst for in our most popular stories.

Two, I think the article appealed to those who empathize with Gunga Din.  We can put ourselves into his place in the hot, dangerous battlefield and yet feel that we too can (or should) be able to endure danger as we stand against evil.  It means we can appeal to the dangerous and strong man within us, doing our duty, and upholding our lot in life by being responsible to the end.

I end the article with this comment.

Whenever I tell someone, ‘You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!’ it’s a compliment.  It will always be a compliment because it is referring to Din, an Indian Bhishti of unexpected character and bravery.  So, the next time someone refers to you using this phrase, thank them for the compliment and their insight.

Gunga Din possesses something we all desire and very few possess.  He encapsulates the strength of character we all know and want.  He is brave in the face of evil.

NOTE: The thumbnail I used for this article is from the 1939 film Gunga Din, starring Cary Grant as British sergeant Archibald Cutter and Sam Jaffe as Gunga Din.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

29 thoughts on “My Most Popular Blog Post

    1. Robo Cop II

      Because of this article, and after many years, I re-read the poem and re-read it several times. Each look at the poem, I get a better feel for what I think Kipling meant.

  1. Lady Hawk

    Happy New Year and thank you Gen. Doug Satterfield for your continued support of those out there who want to be better than they could be. You are a savior.

  2. Good Dog

    Kipling has inserted the symbol of water in the poem. Water symbolizes life as Gunga Din is also a water carrier. Moreover, when the soldier, the speaker of the poem, is shot on the battlefield, Gunga Din comes to the rescue.
    The thing which brought life into his languid wounded body is water. The soldier was gasping with thirst and his wounds were bleeding. Gunga Din staunched his wounds and provided him with the only water he had. In this way, he brought him back to life. As well as, the wounded soldier praised the water which Gunga Din gave him. He says though water is slime and green it’s the best drink I ever had.

  3. Commie Red

    The title of the poem connotes Orients. Gunga Din is a Hindi name that shows that poem is written upon orients. With that, the concept of colonialism also clicks into the minds of the readers. Hence, the title gives an overview of British colonialism over the subcontinent suggesting racism, prejudices, and exploitation.

    1. Chuck USA

      True enough, but like most Marxists you miss the main point of the poem and that is the recognition of what makes a man, and some of us are late coming to that realization. Gen. Satterfield helps us develop that idea and does so very well.

        1. old warrior

          Welcome DI Thursday. Good to have you aboard. Do all the ass kicking you want here.

  4. ZB Two Two

    The speaker of the poem admits his own faults and realizes the goodness inside of Gunga Din.

  5. The Observer

    The speaker of the poem owes Gunga Din for much more than just the normal sips of water, however; he is carried out of harm’s way by the native and thus owes him his life. Unfortunately the native’s heroic act is his last, for “a bullet came an’ drilled the beggar clean”. The soldier is very grateful to Gunga Din and ends the last stanza of the poem by proclaiming him a “better man than I am, Gunga Din!” Again, the poem is complicated by the reality of imperialism and the overtones of moral and ethnic superiority, but the soldier’s tribute to the man who saved his life is touching nonetheless.

    1. Edward G.

      Well said, The Observer. Most of us have never read the poem but I will do so today.
      Edit 1: I read the poem a couple of times and had to sit and give it some thought.
      Edit 2: Excellent poem, deep, tragic, and provocative.

    2. mainer

      The Observer: you are helping us understand this. I want to give a shout out to Gen. Satterfield a this article to end the year 2022. Let us all hope and have practical wishes for the new year.

  6. JT Patterson

    Wonderful article about a great poem by Rudyard Kipling, Gunga Din!!!

    1. Big Al

      Funny how things worked out the way they do sometimes. I would not have predicted such an article being popular.

  7. Willie Strumburger

    “Gunga Din possesses something we all desire and very few possess. He encapsulates the strength of character we all know and want. He is brave in the face of evil.” So true.

  8. Pink Cloud

    The poem’s speaker – a British soldier – describes Gunga Din as the native who comes from a “blackfaced crew” and is a “squidgy-nosed old idol”. He is a “‘eathen” who is simple and stupid – a “good, grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din”. Interesting. Easy to call this racist because that is what we do nowadays, and improperly. The soldier is showing is admiration and that is not racist.

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      Good point, Pink Cloud. Today we are quick to accuse others of racism when no real look at what is going on. Classic progressive slander of those who they don’t like.

      1. DocJeff

        Right, racism is an overused and mostly ignored any more and rightly so. If you read this poem and think “racism” then you are a tool of leftist, neo-Marxist ideology.

        1. Wild Bill

          I think plenty people love being a TOOL because they can now preen with their ‘moral superiority.’ That makes them feel good. 😎

        2. Scotty Bush

          Well said. And great comments today. Gen. Satterfield, you surprised me but it was worth it too.

  9. Adolf Menschner

    The poem details the respect and admiration for a bhishti water-carrier on the part of a British soldier. A bhishti is the traditional water-carrier of South Asia, including India; they usually carry their water in a goatskin bag. It is rather interesting that Kipling expresses such blatant admiration for this figure, even going to the lengths of titling the poem after him, because it is common to ascribe to Kipling only the beliefs about “Oriental” peoples as found in the noxious “White Man’s Burden”. Indeed, Kipling’s views on native peoples are complicated; even though there is clearly racism at play in this poem and in “The Ballad of East and West”, there is also a frank portrayal of admiration.

  10. Frank Graham

    Popular? Well, I certainly could not guess that Gunga Din would be the top read article.

  11. Stacey Borden

    I would have never guessed this would be the most popular of Gen. Satterfield’s blog posts.


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