Fire and Fury. Locked and Loaded. KKK. Words that not only strike doom and gloom but have been generously used by our Commander-in-chief. With complete knowledge. In total control. Authoritatively. Chilling and very very scary. America is in turmoil and no one knows what to expect anymore. Meanwhile an op-ed in the New York Times on India’s seventy years of independence, talks about the passing of an illusion. India is painted in a chilling manner with the rise of hate crimes, nationalism and Hindu supremacists.
What’s going on in the world? How did we get here? Is memory about the world wars so distant? Do people really want to hurtle towards doomsday? Do we even have answers?
India celebrated Janmasthami. Take a moment to understand the meaning of this day. Hinduism is not a religion. It’s a way of life. Many of our beliefs are based in logic. There is a scientific basis, a symbolic basis or some other significance. That it spiraled into a religion where people blindly follow rituals in the name of their God, is another story altogether. In order to get common people to follow a path; stories, myths and rituals were woven encouraging people to follow a certain practice.
Janmashtami celebrates Krishna’s birthday. Krishna of the dark skin. Krishna who arrived on a dark stormy night. Krishna whose parents were in chains. Krishna who set off a series of miracles to facilitate his birth and subsequent survival. His devotees fast, sing praise and celebrate the midnight hour. It is believed Krishna is born to dispel ignorance and vanquish evil. His birth is clothed in metaphors about abandoning ego, rising above confusion and turmoil, breaking worldly bondages and the like.
But beyond the mythology, there are other reasons. Janmashtami falls during the waning phase of the moon where negative energy is predominant and the qualities or rajas and tamas abound. Many festivals precede and follow this celebration. It happens to be the monsoon in India where diseases are prevalent. In ancient days, it was a subtle way of ensuring people fasted, avoided certain foods, avoided cooking on certain days. Some days were marked out as more important possibly due to planetary positions. Festivals also gave people a reason for enjoyment since iffy weather made travel difficult and celebrations also inculcate a community spirit.
That apart, ashtami or the eight day is said to signify the eight-fold path of yogic philosophy. Krishna was the eight child signifying how seven principles have been successfully negotiated and the mind is finally ready to transcend. People are ready to escape the darkness of their loves and find the path towards the ultimate goal of liberation by inviting the light of righteousness into their lives.
And then I look around and see the spread of negative thought. The strengthening of ego. The loss of all reason. It’s not just Trump, Kim and Alt-right. What about Venezuela? Philippines? Even Zuma surviving a no-confidence vote and Kenya alleging voter fraud. Brexit. Everywhere we look there is discord. That’s the world today. Shrouded in darkness because of planetary alignment? Can we expect Kalki to appear and beat out the evil? Maybe it truly is time for Pralay.
#The views expressed in this column are the authors.