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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Older stuff

While turning the pages of history I sometimes notice something so odd that if I think about it a little the mind is thrown into a whirl, reason seems to desert me, it seems as if all efforts to put the story of this endless floodtide of human events into some sort of neat rational theoretical framework is mere childishness, a madman’s prattle.  – Just when Chaitanyadev was stirring up  Bengal with the passionate love for Krishna, Leonardo da Vinci was drawing the first ever realistic sketches of the foetus in the womb, and the earliest known designs for submarines and helicopters. Meanwhile Vasco da Gama and the mercantile descendants of Columbus had begun the work of spreading their victory flags in continents far to the west and east of Europe. While Sri Ramakrishna was soothing and edifying the souls of his disciples with some of the most wonderful spiritual sermons ever given, Europe’s hearts and minds were being lashed into a frightened frenzy by the newly spreading tenets of Darwin and Marx. Lenin, Henry Ford and Tagore shared the world’s stage; in the same century man has hurled the nuclear thunderbolt on man’s head, and also given birth to Gandhi. It was in the same epoch that men extolled the Principia Mathematica, burned thousands of helpless women as witches, and destroyed the magnificent art treasures of the Incas under the goading of the lust for gold. They say Chenghiz Khan, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas were contemporaries. On the vast scale of mahakaal, the emperor Cyrus and the Buddha almost worked side by side, as did Aristotle and Alexander; Picasso, Walt Disney and Mao ze Dong; Benjamin Franklin and the Japanese samurai – just as today in some corners of the world men are hurling spacecraft towards the periphery of the solar system while elsewhere kangaroo courts are stoning and beheading those they call heretics and perverts, and some are trying to sail up to heaven on clouds of marijuana smoke. Yet we are asked to believe that the whole of the infinite riddle of world history is strung together on the same thread, and some great savant has the key to the riddle firmly in his hands!

[I wrote this in May 1989.  Strange to think that the quarter century in between has vanished like the morning mist. I plan to put up some more of my old writing here by and by. Just for those who are curious. In connection with this one, look up if you like the post titled The Sense of Wonder]

P.S., Jan. 23: I have resumed writing on my whimsy blog


akash ganguly said...

Dear Sir,

Thanks for this wonderful post. Who doesn't love 'old stuff' and to feel nostalgic every now and then? And always love to hear about history from you.

I felt as good after reading 'The Sense of Wonder' as I did after the first time I read it.


Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,

It was really wonderful to read your post. But I was also amazed at the fact that I too did a similar thing after completing "The Agony and ecstasy". I found out that while Michaelangelo was busy designing the dome of St.Peter's Basilica in Rome, Akbar was busy expanding the Mughal empire. I really marvel at such facts and it is one of the reasons I find history so interesting.


Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Sir,

The breadth of this post carried my breath away. It is not a surprise though, considering the depth of your knowledge and ability to synchronize seemingly diverse things.

Many thanks for putting up this post. Please keep taking out old wine from your cellar now and then.

With regards,

Subhadip Dutta said...

After reading this post I was just left thinking about how you thought so much and related all that, how you thought so much and tried to relate all this to what we are asked to believe - 'we are asked to believe that the whole of the infinite riddle of world history is strung together on the same thread'. And after realizing that this was no ordinary line of thinking, I was left just dumbstruck.

I have seen people who know history, but very few have I seen who also think history. And I think you are one of the latter kind, given your love for history.

It is a wonderful post Sir!