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The First Christmas

Painting by Pietro Perugino (1446-1524)

I had seen greed of all sorts.  My ancestors had told me about the various kings and conquerors who crossed the mountains and the seas out of greed for land and its riches, for power and wealth, or for sheer adventure. 

The usual varieties of princely greed failed to enchant me.  My parents were disappointed in me as I did not grow up as a prince was supposed to.  “Caspar will be no good,” I heard my father tell my mother once, “he gazes at the sky more than is good for a prince.”

My greed was for knowledge.  I wanted to know everything that lay beyond the horizon.  I wanted to know what the stars knew.  I became a star gazer.  It was thus that I noticed a unique star in the sky.  Was it a dream or an illusion?  I was not sure.  Sometimes I could not distinguish illusion from reality. The star invited me to leave the cosy comfort of the palace and explore the world beyond the horizon.  Thus it was that I started my long, long journey, across the Himalayas, through Persia and Arabia, through lands that smelled of dust and lust.

It was during that journey that I came across two wanderers similar to me: the Persian Melchior and the Arab Balthazar.  Melchior said that he had seen a star too which marked the birth of some special person.  Balthazar joined us later and we all moved on, braving the mountains and deserts, the heat and the cold. 

The world went on with its usual activities of finding food, conquering lands, vanquishing other people, mating and reproducing, killing and plundering, building and destroying.

Following the star, we reached Bethlehem.  The star invited us to enter a cave where we saw a newborn baby.  The moment we saw the baby, we felt a pang within.  Melchior and Balthazar shared their experiences with me later.  We all had an experience of tragedy.  Was it another illusion, another dream?

In my dream or illusion, I saw the child’s future.  He would grow up becoming increasingly discontented with humanity.  With humanity’s greed and envy, dissimulation and treachery, diseases of body and mind, ignorance, falsehood...  “I am the light,” he said meaning that each person had to be a light.  But people refused to understand him.  “I am the way,” he said and people chose to misunderstand again.  He sought to liberate them from the evils that oppressed their being.  They made him their Messiah.  Frustration was his destiny.

Melchior saw him covered with blood at a tender age in his youth.

Balthazar saw crosses in his life.

We looked at the sky.  The star had vanished.  But the regular constellations continued to occupy their positions in the galaxy.   The Hunter and the Great Bear were all there.  We longed for a special star.

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  1. So beautiful.
    I love this line : “he gazes at the sky more than is good for a prince.”

    1. Those who wish to make earthly conquests should not hitch their wagon to stars! Thanks, Ashwini.

  2. Nice read.. :-).. The journey from the 'adoration of the Magi' to becoming the Messiah..

    1. People like to create Messiahs and adore them rather than look within and see the light there!

      I'm sure you are familiar with T S Eliot's poem on the same Biblical narrative: 'The Journey of the Magi'. While Eliot's Magus arrives at a realisation, mine is still left with a dream in the sky.

  3. Beautifully narrated Sir!! May this Christmas all of us understand the true meaning of 'I am the light' and 'I am the way'....Wishing you a Merry Christmas!!

  4. I may sound stupid but could you please explain me the hidden meaning behind the story. I am lost :(

    1. Pankti, You don't stupid. I think I was stupid in not providing the necessary background info.

      The Bible speaks about 3 wise men who visited the infant Jesus when he was born. Nobody is sure where these three men came from. I just imagined myself in the shoes of one of them. The protagonist is from India, you see, in my story.

      What is the protagonist seeking? Is it truth? Or is he a dreamer looking at the stars for solutions?

      I think I shouldn't spoil the story with more explanations.

      But one question I'm raisin is: Could Jesus (God incarnate, according to beliefs) save the world? Isn't salvation a mere dream?

    2. Yes...To be honest, I am agnostic...every time I see people sacrificing the way of humanity in the name of religion, I am ashamed of being human.

  5. To me two statements,1) "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone" 2) "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's"
    If a 30yr old told this 2000 years back, he sure was an extraordinary person, even if we take off all the supernatural frills that got attached to him later.

    1. He was indeed an extraordinary person, Santhosh. He divided the history of humanity into two parts: Before him and After him. Of course, the leading ideology did that work. But why did that ideology become the leading one?

      The Buddha, the Christ and the Mahatma - they were indeed very unique persons.


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