Saturday, July 16, 2011

Root I: Getting to the root

The Vindhya range geographically separates the country into northern and southern part. The two villages at the foot hills of the Vindhya, one on the north and other to the south, have been inhabited from times immemorial. They have been friends, enemies and rivals at different points in time in the history.

Today the villagers like to talk about the golden past. One story that is often repeated is that of a hero who despite all odds defeated a demon with infinite heads. As in all the stories the hero cared for the people while the demon troubled everyone. But the catch was that the hero had finally killed the demon, when the demon had kept its weapons aside and was drinking water. We heard this story from several people and each of them had a different interpretation of it.

Interpretation 1
Demon troubled everyone. It's fair to kill the demon in any manner. The hero was from our village. The demon was from the other village.

Interpretation 2
Hero defeated the demon in an unjust manner. The hero (who is actually the demon) was from the other village. The demon (who is actually the hero) was from our village.

Interpretation 3
This was just a story to show the contemporary world of the win of good over evil. Look at our contribution to the world. Such nice literature.

Interpretation 4
Don't believe in the story. It does not hold in today's world.

Interpretation 5
Who cares? See the state of our villages today. We like to live in the past and that is responsible for our downfall.

Interpretation 6
Let's use the principles of this story to make progress. If we could do it in those times then we can do it now.

For the next few days we were intensely debating on what was the right interpretation.  Based on the features of the demon we can identify the village one said. But the village that was powerful at that time might have changed the story said the other. Demon had to be killed to bring peace to the society said one. But unjust killing is not right said the other. Good won over evil said one. Hero was as bad as the demon. Look at the way the hero killed the demon said the other. It was a never ending debate.

With our discussions in full flow we entered a dimly lit hut where we were invited for dinner. An old woman was cooking on a cook stove (chulah). We had not noticed any of it as we were engrossed in our discussions.

As the dinner was served the old woman asked us a few questions.
1. Can the hero still be a hero for everyone although he had committed the sin of killing? No way we said. A hero should always do all things in the right way.

2. Can the story be a win of good over evil for everyone? No way we said. Hero was worse than the demon at the time of killing.

3. Can the story hold good for everyone today? No way we said, there are too many differences in opinion even among us.

And then in a very low voice she thundered. What if the hero and the demon were one and the same person? What if hero represented the good thoughts of the person and the demon represented the bad thoughts that keep arising no matter how many times you try to kill them? What if the story is a struggle of that one person to cleanse the internals?

Then how does it matter if good thoughts kill the bad thoughts in any manner? Isn't the story good for all now? We did not have any answer.

Messages presented in this post:

- Stop looking externally. Turn inward.

- Simplifying will take you to the root. Going to the root will simplify.

- Going to the root is like peeling the layers of onion.

- Root is the foundation on which other layers are built.


Anoop Kunchukuttan said...

Let me interpret the story in a different way.
The myth is actually a historical story. What it show is:
1) History is never objective. One man's hero is another's villian. The Vedas and the Zend Avesta are testimonials to that. The 'Asuras' are demonized in the Vedas, while the 'Devas' were demons in the Iranian Zend Avesta.

2) History is written by the victor. Were the Pandavas justified in the war for a peace of land, for all the destruction they brought about and for the tactics they used. Yet they are heroes today, because they won.

sagar said...

End is Eye Opener.. Loved it..

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