Sunday, March 09, 2014

Only One

A very dear friend of mine, from one of the Abrahamic religions tried, in all earnestness, last evening, to open my eyes, to make me see how ridiculous it was that one of my gods was riding a peacock, the other a lion, how outrageous it was that an elephant’s head should fit a human body, what a confusion it was that there should be a god of death, one for wealth, one for learning, one for creation, one for destruction, a whole bunch of them, their wives, their children, their pet animals...3 lakhs in all... on earth could an intellectual like me believe that all of them wore sarees, or dhotis, wore a bindi on forehead, ornaments, have a chakra a one hand, an axe in another, a bow in one more, ten hands in all... and all of them were born in India, what a coincidence!

And what did they do? One watched women bathe in rivers, the other sent his wife away when he knew she was chaste,...are these the kind of things Gods do? No, all of your ‘stories’ have been written by men, intelligent men, that’s not who God is, there is Only One...

I smiled through this for over 2 hours, rather amused, for he was genuinely trying to save me from damnation.

I also realized anew, something plain that I have always known.
Someone who knows to count up to ten, surely knows the number one. But to someone who knows only the number one and cannot count beyond one, it must be so difficult to understand the possibility of 2, 3,... 8, 9... and must inevitably deny any number other than one.

For the first time, I saw how genuinely difficult it must be for others to grasp what we so easily understand, an understanding we seem to be born with and therefore take for granted. How vast, how plentiful, how colourful, how multitudinous our religion is and how easily we get it all, without constantly stumbling upon this conflict, that contradiction, how that and why so and all... how much more easier it is for us to ‘get’ the Bible, or the Quran than it is for them to get a Mahabharat, or the Geetha...

There was this 3 year old child in the family that could count up to 3 and no more.
On, tu, thee.
Any question you asked, many trees in the compound, how many days a week, how many idlis you want...
You always got one answer. Thee. It was yet to learn 4, 5 and the rest of the numbers.
And it’s naivette was so cute. Who ever would think of being angry with it?

I wouldn’t smile at blasphemy from anybody and everybody, but this was a very dear friend, a perfect gentleman, sincerely trying to save me from damnation.

It was 2 O' clock in the night when I said bye to him. He waited until I had locked the door and then descended the steps. I was heading straight to bed when I saw that monthly business magazine on the sofa I had finished reading. Almost.
There was one section I always skimmed through on purpose, a section that was for techies and not for me.
I stopped.
I picked the magazine and turned the pages to the technical section I had taken a quick glance at that noon. And started reading about designs and frameworks...
A framework designed with a view to scalability, interoperability, reusability, scope for configurations, compatibility with softwares written in different languages Versus a framework designed to operate in one specific environment, for one specific set of users, replete with hard coding; one program aiming to accomplish one result with a strong defense against any scope creep...

I turned the lights off and waited for sleep to come.


Ravi 拉维 said...

Well written blog..!!

Sachin Thombre said...

absolutely fantastic Sowmya...

Sachin Thombre said...

now this is called maturity and wisdom....superb.

Sirisha said...

The post is well concluded. I don't want to sound cliche but our mythology calls for intelligence with innocence. Innocence to not lose the essence of the story and intelligence to get the right message. Well written !


Concluding paragraph answers the confusion of your friend who lectured a lot for the 3 lakh gods.

Anonymous said...

super liked the post ... brilliant perspective :)
- Murali Krishna Kesapragada

Anonymous said...

I liked it.

Strangely I was reminded of Gargi, the lady intellectual who confronted
Sage Yagnyavalkya in King Janaka's court with a barrage of questions,
some of which he could not respond to and resorted to a prevention option-
that of a irreversible curse that would befall if an honest quest, in the course of
heated arguments, ventured close to blasphemy.

However, I find this was a more peaceful, mostly one way appeal.
He might have sensed that beneath your affable demeanor, there is
an undercurrent of persuasive, logical reasoning.

Indira, was recording ' Swagatham Krishna', a famous piece of Oothukkaadu
Subramanya Iyer in Moahana ragam - both Jesudas as well as Jayasree Rajeev's
versions from the internet ( so that she could obtain a tradition bound
concoction that would suit her students.

Some coincidence, after a few kritis on Rama she has also chosen to balance
the tally with songs on Krishna! I was thinking of you then.

V Vijayaraghavan

Anonymous said...

I chuckled to myself reading your wee hour date with technical writing!
Somehow I got to remember, rather vaguely, having read something about
the Kon-Tiki expedition in the abridged book section of The Readers Digest long ago.
Why did my mind dig that bit up? I scanned the internet and came across this:

Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914 – April 18, 2002) was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer
with a background in biology, zoology, botany, and geography. He became notable for his Kon-Tiki
expedition in 1947, in which he sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Ocean in a hand-built raft
from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. The expedition was designed to demonstrate that ancient people
could have made long sea voyages, creating contacts between apparently separate cultures.
This was linked to a diffusionist model of cultural development. Heyerdahl subsequently made other voyages
designed to demonstrate the possibility of contact between widely separated ancient peoples.

Do you see any relevance?

Veera Vijaya Raghavan

Sowmya Chakravarthy said...

Interesting piece of info by itself, but how does it relate to our subject? Christ made contact with India, learnt of the Geetha and took that to his people, which is why so many parallels between Bible and Geetha? is that it?

Anonymous said...

'Kon Tiki' was about seeking identical threads between cultures despite an intervening ocean of bewildering dimensions and directions.
Your friend is convinced that the ocean is a great threat, thus questioning the route and not the quest. You who has chosen to ride in an ancient but facile,
primitive craft that floats; thus confident of your shore some day, despite storms en route.

You are right in a way on your land route logic. I am just linking Kon Tiki voyage, a sea route, as equally and somewhat contextually relevant
because the Supreme Lord (Narayana for me) is, in essence, stays with us in the form of water, the reason why all rivers are considered sacred
and people across our land bathe in them. He resides amidst an ocean. Water hence is humanity's basic cleanser.

You have a knack of exposing my basic ignorance, though I do enjoy such encounters that make me scratch my head. It sets me thinking
or at least shows me in my place!



PS Why all explorers chose the sea route and not a land route, because the former was safer in comparison or because of
enormous possibilities ?
Why is crossing oceansforbidden for brahmins in our scriptures and you do a 'prayaschiththa' if you do so.
( If you go by land, you maintain a thread of a muddy track puts you symbolically in the fold of "Bhudevi", Mother Earth,
who is an insulator and protector blessed by the Divine?

Loose ends!