• Ankur Mithal
  • India
  • Mar 07, 2015

“Do you want more evidence?” The words were spoken calmly, each syllable standing out - much like the character of Professor Snape (in the Potter movies) speaking to a young, disbelieving Harry. But they had the effect of a thunderclap on the listeners. A hush descended on the audience. “Nnnno,” came the feeble reply. For the audience the matter had already been settled. The speaker of “Nnnno” was a renowned scientist. In a panel discussion on the existence and usage of an Access Control System that was superior to the ones in use today, he had dared to question the veracity of claims made by a prominent leader of a political party (who had argued in favour of the motion). The fact, as the leader had knowledgeably articulated, was that there were, indeed, Access Control Systems that were superior to the ones in common use today. After some light debate, while patronising the lack of knowledge of the scientist and hoping he would back off and avoid a public embarrassment, the political leader had finally got irked and, rising to his full height, said, “Have you not heard of the ‘Laxman Rekha’?”. This had produced a stunned silence in the hall, to break which he had calmly queried, “Do you want more evidence?” Now, who has not heard of ‘Laxman Rekha’, the magical line drawn by Laxman. Before venturing out to look for his brother Ram in the jungle, he had drawn it around Sita’s dwelling, to ensure that nobody could cross that line and harm her. Was that not a system of access control? And it was created not by some maniacal data-punching into a computer and the issuing of plastic cards, but simply by drawing a line with the tip of an arrow in his quiver. It was activated neither by proximity nor by insertion (of a card), but by the mere presence of an individual in the vicinity. It was thus based on advanced bio-technology. The scientist, clearly, had not researched his facts. 

The Prime Minister had set the ball rolling immediately after winning the election and forming a new government, by informing an incredulous crowd at a rally that plastic surgery was commonly practised in the country in ancient times. His claim was met with a stony silence. The PM had paused, expecting a thunderous ovation. But he had reckoned without the ‘rationality’ of the gathering. Sensing the mood, which he was then so good at, having only recently become PM, he weighed his options. The credibility of the PM, and of the new government, was at stake. He reluctantly asked, “How do you think Lord Ganesh got the head of an elephant?” It was a rhetorical question, and the crowd erupted in response. The smoking gun, with fresh fingerprints, had been produced. No other evidence was needed. Soon after, at another rally, the Home Minister informed the gathered crowd that genetic sciences were commonly practised during the time of the Mahabharat. The crowd was taken aback. They had heard about the plastic surgery capability, which had been revealed to a crowd at another place by the PM, but they were not, it appears, ready for another blow to their dearly held beliefs. Displaying traits of an informed, logical crowd, they met the claim with a stony silence. It was the Home Minister’s turn to be taken aback. After the PM’s performance he had expected this disclosure to be met with less resistance. However, taking a cue from the PM, he asked, “How do you think Karn was born outside his mother’s womb?” Once again it was a rhetorical question, and once again, logically, the crowd erupted in response. They were a generous crowd. They recognised greatness when they saw it. They acknowledged that the Home Minister had been able to rise to his exalted position only because of such powers of observation that he was now sharing with them. They realised that the makers of the Mahabharat serial had erred in not explaining it as well. 

Organisations claiming to be associated with the ruling party have been on a roll ever since. Skeletons have been tumbling out of cupboards all over the country. We now know that we discovered Pythagoras’ theorem – though of course it was called something else. We then apparently lent the copyright to the Greeks. Flying was common in ancient India - inside aircraft as well as solo. Who has not heard of Ravan flying off with Sita in the ‘Pushpak Vimaan’? Who dare question that Hanuman flew off to ‘Doonagiri Parbat’ in the Himalayas to quickly get the ‘Sanjeevni Booti’ for Laxman (when he was struck by an arrow)? Even though not required, sketches of huge rectangular boxes have emerged, which do not adhere to any of the laws of flying discovered by the modern world. If the ancients could make those boxes fly, surely they could make anything fly. And can anyone question the invention of nuclear missiles? Who can forget Ram and Laxman (so tellingly shown in the televised version of Ramayan) touching arrows to their forehead, saying a silent prayer, and then unleashing terrible death and destruction with their ‘missiles’? And only they had the access and control to do so. Further, that the Earth is round is what we have always known. Haven’t we heard that Lord Vishnu, in his Varaha avatar (incarnation as a boar), lifted the Earth out of the water to save it from deluge and destruction. Recently illustrated versions depict Varaha with the Earth on its nose. And since the Earth is round in these illustrations, it proves that we knew the Earth was round even in those times. QED. 

We are on the lookout for creating more such scientific and undisputable data. We need to find reasons for having found the solutions to problems that either did not exist in ancient times or had not been discovered. With the vast mythological treasure trove at our disposal, no peak seems too high to scale. Several noteworthy initiatives are already underway. A path-breaking research has been undertaken at a prestigious institution to prove that the chemical composition of water in the Nile is the same as that of water in the Ganga. Would it not prove that the Ganga is the font of all the rivers in the world? I am humbled by all these revelations…and the ones still to be made. Actually, I am ashamed. I have not known our true history and traditions. I should have been even prouder…nay, the proudest. How am I any better than the unthinking masses whom I often mock? I need to make amends. As a first step, I consider it my humble duty to take forward this rich legacy - of writing great stories that have no fundamental logic underlying ‘magical’ events. So that, a millennia later, should some likeness of the magical events be translated into reality, thanks to technological advances in the interim, our centuries-old traditional prowess is rightfully acknowledged, and accepted as proven. It’s a different matter how many would still believe us. I believe that my generation is infinitely better placed to do this than the sages who penned most of our mythological literature. The old sages did not have our vision (or did they?). They definitely did not have such political leadership, which has blazed the trail for us. They were merely writing great stories like ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’...the most riveting and compelling stories ever told…and which remain relevant to this day.


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