Monday, October 15, 2007

As different as chalk and cheese..!

I have this habit of reading 2-3 books simultaneously. I mean not exactly, but I guess you understood what I meant. Though I pick books quite randomly like one fiction, one non-fiction and one somewhere between those two categories, many times I have had this eerie feeling that all the books that I pick up are somehow connected. It has happened more than a few times. The similarities may not be very striking but still it can knock you down sometimes.

See, while I was reading Mahabrahmana by Devudu, I was also reading a collection of short stories by Woody Allen. By any stretch of imagination I cannot connect these two writers. Devudu was a Rishi kinda person who lived and died in Bangalore or Mysore in the first half of the 20th century and wrote about ancient India. If I were Bernard Shaw I would consider Woody Allen the ultimate superman:-) Allen's absurd humour provides comic relief. Though he puts many unanswerable questions, immediately he answers them in his inimitable way. Devudu and Woody Allen are as different as cheese and chalk (don’t ask me who is what, I won’t be able to answer for sure!) So how can there be any connection between the writings of the two, you ask. Let me explain.
Allen in one of his short stories talks about a man, trying hard to acquire skills of levitation, instantaneous translocation, omniscience, ability to materialse and dematerialize. One of the characters, in the story, is told by another that these abilities are acquired by completely dissolving the Ego. As I told in my earlier post Mahabrahmana is all about Vishwamitra, the Kshtriya’s journey in attaining brahminhood. In his endeavour towards becoming a Brahmin Vishwamitra acquires many special skills and gets numerous boons from the Gods. One of the skills he acquires after his marriage to Indra’s favourite apsara Menaka (with her, he fathers a girl child called Sakuntala who later gives birth to Bharata, who in turn becomes one of the greatest Chakravartis of all times and it is from him our country got the name Bharat. [1]) is the capacity to vanish at his will and lift himself up and go to any place he wants to go like the Gandharvas. Further, after Katinn Tapasya he acquires the ability to see in to the future and understand the will of The Creator. By the time he becomes a Mahabrahmana he would be able to see himself in all and thereby completely lose the ability to see only himself. Now, do you see any link between Allen’s story and Devudu’s?

(1) I was thinking, if our country got the name Bharat from Bharata Chakravarti then Bharatmata is Sakuntala, no? Now, I can understand the fervor and passion with which many great leaders including Gandhi, Nehru fought for Bharatmata’s freedom. Now its no longer a puzzle!! Who said incest and Oedipus complex and all were the monopoly of Greeks and Egyptians!!

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