Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back story. A week ago, there was an article in the ToI tracing the epic battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata to 3067 BC. Clearly early harappan, a rich period with urban centers, backed by numerous cross references, so it says. The closing chapter of City of Djinns (ok, absolutely the last ref to the book) traces bits of Hastinapur and Indraprastha that exist to this day in modern Delhi, the Nigambodh ghat for instance. And it quotes a scholar as to the manner in which a work than began as a few hundred verses is added to, with successive generations, embroidered with poetry, dreams, aspirations and voila!, till it bears little resemblance to the original.
My personal favorites are Mrityunjay and Yugantar, interpretations afterall, and I return to these pages when I’m confused, opening up a page at random, and finding a way out, a narrow winding lane, but yes. And when the morning shadows lengthen on gray stone, I wonder about a bronzed scholar-warrior striding home after his daily prayers to the sun, the waters and the sky, puzzled about his lineage and the incredible tangle that is his life, walking on, alone and determined. The epitome of a larger-than-life bravery and generosity. No, this can’t be a myth.
One reads and draws inferences, inferences based on today’s conditioning and frames of reference, wondering too if there were things known but not quite acknowledged, words said unsaid, a back story so to speak.

7 comments:

Proxima said...

"The past influences the symbolic definition of the present, the definition of the present is influenced by inferences about the future, and the future will reconstruct our definitions of the past."

The Journal of Psychology
1992 Vol. 126(4), pg. 334

One of my favorite things to quote. In a nutshell: Inferences are the invisible glue that holds things together.

-P

austere said...

Very true, Proxima.

E said...

Quite a merry-go-round eh?

Paavani said...

History, books and all
Samajh ke bahar. :D

austere said...

the epics, you meant, e? yes, i suppose so.

paavani- dilli walein logon ko this reply not allowed. :)

GhostOfTomJoad said...

I'm going to be the bad skeptical guy here :-)

I don't doubt the historicity of the places, just as you say, but it's the events that I'm not so sure about. Maybe they aren't entirely mythical but, like a game of Chinese whispers (right?), I feel the incident just kept getting bigger every little while...till it became a saga.

I'm more inclined to believe the much-maligned Romila Thapar's views.

:-)

austere said...

Chinese whispers distorted past the generations is on the dot, Mr Ghost.
Will need to read Romila Thapar's views before I can comment, ignoramus that I am. ah where's google now.