Thursday, December 27, 2007


Fish, Tortoise, Pig, Lion-Man, Midget, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki
These are the 10 incarnations of God on earth according to Hindu mythology. I was wondering about the order. How come the first four are not the last four? Do you suppose that whoever thought of these divine incarnations had some elementary knowledge of evolutionary principles and applied it while working on it? (1). Isn’t it quite apparent? Emergence of complex form from the simple.
It looks perfect except that the Lion-Man (narasimha) should have been Monkey-man (Hanuman). A touch of orang-utan-chimpanzee-gorilla to the list. But, I suppose, since monkey-man comes during Rama’s period he cannot have two existences. But on the other hand, he could have had a re-incarnation, no? Divinity reincarnated.
Do you think the ones I have highlighted and underlined go with the flow? If you ask my opinion, their stories do not fit in to the framework of divine incarnations like the others. I mean Parasurama went on a mission to kill only one section of people. Whether they are good or bad, it was not his business to know. Discretion was not part of his dictionary. How can you herald him as the manifestation of God, when the divine Krishna himself pronounced later that he appeared in the past and would take birth again and again to teach a lesson to the bad and naughty and protect the good and haughty!
And Buddha. Don’t you think it was a brilliant idea to consider him as a God? It killed all the opposition to the orthodoxy in one straight shot. An ideal example for the Inclusivist approach. But it served a different purpose other than those enshrined for the actual incarnation of divine. Hence I feel they don’t fit into the theory of dasavatarams. At the best they can be labeled as replacements for DML i.e. Darwin’s Missing links!
You must be wondering why all this now? It all came because of Bernard Shaw’s short story, not exactly the story but preface to the story, which as usual was more interesting than the story itself. The collection in question is called ‘The Black Girl in Search of God and other stories’. How it came into my hands is another story. Because I really had not picked it up in the library and I really had no notion that Bernard Shaw also wrote short stories. What I picked was a novel from penguin’s classics series, but somehow, somewhere it got exchanged with this, which is also from penguin’s classic series, and I noticed it only after reaching home. And me being me did not find any harm in reading about Shaw’s speculations about the development of the concept of God in Western world and I had to speculate about it in the same way about the eastern, Indian to be precise, mindset.
(1) Theres nothing more frustrating than to know that what you thought was an original idea was on the contrary as obsolete as the IBM computers. You can find lot more info on this on the web. And I discovered that this parallel between dasavatarams and evolution is quite an old idea. But nowhere have I found any mention of DMLs. Oh, doesn’t it give ample reasons to cheer. Yeah :-)

No comments: