Saturday, January 08, 2011

Frog in the Well

Like many people I first heard the story of Koopa Manduka from my teachers in primary school. The story as well as the moral of the story was told not just by the language teacher but also other teachers as well. I guess, the mind tends to react differently and assimilates in a different manner if something is told repeatedly. The way multiple readings of a book can give several perspectives. So in High School when the much loved Sanskrit teacher again told the story to stress the importance of keeping an open mind, I had by that time kind of developed a bonding with that little fool of a frog who thought that nothing could be bigger than its well. I wanted to shout, ‘Leave the frog alone’. The frog could not believe that something like sea which is bigger than its well could exist. So what of it? As long as it did not try to destroy sea to prove its belief Frog should be left alone, isn’t it? It was ignorant and not delusional. May be the frog lived happily ever after in the well and died a fool's death. So what?
I feel this whole business of keeping an open mind is highly overrated. I mean, by not knowing about sea or ocean, Frog didn't suffer a great deal, did it? It was blissfully unaware of the constant dangers above and or the ocean storms. Whats wrong if you create and live in a small universe and do not care for the joys of a bigger world (1).
Naipaul or R K Narayan has written about the simple unquestioning mind of old South Indian women who have pure,unshakeable faith in certain things. Theres no turmoil in their head. Its as if they have fenced their mind and would not entertain repudiation of their beliefs. I have seen such women. And I have felt that they were mentally stronger as a result of that unquestioning mind. When you have an open mind, your belief system can become somewhat shaky and fragile. I used to tell in my younger days that Ignorance is more  often than not a bliss. Knowledge can be a burden. The state of Blissful Unawareness can be rewarding as well. I guess, in Mahabharat if Duryodhana was unaware of his rights as the son of Dhritrashtra, the eldest son of Vichitravirya then the Kurukshetra battle would not have taken place. On the other hand, if Draupadi were to be aware of her rights as a woman then she might not have chosen to slave for all the five brothers. She might have selected the hunky Bheem and Charming Arjun, rejecting the sidekicks-Nakul and Sahadev and Yudhishtar whose whole and sole wife and life was Dharma. Or Draupadi might have caused a mini bharat among the Pandavas!

(1) On a different note, there are infact several advantages of living in a small place. After watching their contingents in Olympics and Asiads I have often considered migrating to this or this country! 

No comments: