“... Give us our daily peg and forgive us our hangovers as we forgive those who hang over us...”
Moopan had just finished his prayer before decanting his daily quota of Scotch on the rocks as I entered his house. Moopan is my great grandfather, holder of the wisdom (and vicedom, as he acknowledges) of generations.
A Malayalam TV channel was showing a documentary on the Ghar Vapsi being conducted among the poor tribal people in Chhattisgarh.
“It’s always the poor,” said Moopan with his mischievous smile, “who have to keep changing their identity like the chameleon according to the given situation. Thank god, there is no vapazi in life,” he laughed in his mirthful way. “Otherwise we would have to return to Mesopotamia or Harappa.”
That’s Moopan’s wisdom just for which I visit him every now and then. He started with Manu himself. A flood and a god. Myths begin there. Myths have to begin somewhere and a flood is an ideal place. A fish comes to rescue Manu. The fish becomes the first incarnation of Vishnu. Fish-vish, says Moopan. Vishnu continued to take on avatars as and when required by those who wielded the power on the earth.
A bard am I, my father a leech,
And my mother a grinder of corn,
Diverse in means, but all wishing wealth,
Alike for cattle we strive.
Moopan sang. Rig Veda, Mandala 9, he said. My great, great, great, infinite times great grandfather lived in Harappa. And they came. The Aryans. Armed with cattle. Cows and bulls. Cows were the currency. Cows were the maal.
Cows conquered Harappa and Mohenjo-Daru. Moopan sipped his whisky.
They brought a language too along with the cattle, the language of their gods. The language with which they enslaved people. The language was a fire, a great sacrificial fire which merged everything into itself. The local deities burnt in it and were reborn like phoenixes adding themselves to the burgeoning pantheon. Ghar Vapsi is today’s avatar of the fire.
“Hindutva is a cultural and civilisational ideology,” said Mohan Bhagwat on the TV, “and everybody living in India should consider himself a Hindu. Ek bhasha, ek devta, ek sampraday banana hoga. For unity we need uniformity ...”
Moopan laughed. “Yet another aswamedha is going on,” he said. “Varanasi was originally the city of God Shiva, you know? He was dispossessed of it by the King Divodasa and God Brahma together. Shiva was not one of the Vedic gods. The Dasaswamedha ghat in Varanasi got its name from the ten horse-sacrifices made by the King of men to the King of gods. ”
The political power and the divine entities conspire together to dispossess whoever they choose of whatever they choose. Without the gods, however, imagine where the human world would have been. Moopan looked into my eyes. Our science and technology have taken us already far beyond our own planet, to the divine milieu, to the realm of the stars. That’s the aswamedha of science. Conquests. Somebody has to apply the brakes to the rockets. That’s why gods are still required.
“To dispossess man of the heavens?” I asked.
“Yes.” Moopan refused to explain it further. Some truths are so profound that they cannot be explained, Moopan had told me once. “I can only ignite the spark,” he had said, “it’s your duty to keep it burning.”
As I walked back home I dreamt of the infinite cosmos as my ghar. Is it ‘unity with uniformity’ that holds the cosmos together?