When we reached Gopeshwar that night, Gana seemed speechless. But Neel looked at him with satisfaction giving an expression like then he has seen.
We sat around fire, while waiting for the food to arrive. Open your ears said Neel and he began speaking like reciting an over practised hymn. The men in the east, he said, are trees; those in the south are flocks of animals; those in the west are wild plants. And those in the north like ourselves, who cried out while they ate other men, were the waters. When the collective sound started filling the air, he started explaining about eating.
The act of eating is a violence that causes what is living, in its many forms, to disappear. Whether grass, plants, trees, animals or human beings, the process is the same.
There is always a fire that devours and a substance that is devoured. This violence bringing misery and torment will one day be carried out by those who inflict it. Pouring milk into the fire- every morning, every evening- meant accepting that what appears disappears and that what has disappeared serves to give sustenance to something else, in the invisible. There are some people who have become skilled in detecting evil with supreme ease. Evil for them was already apparent ever since that moment when an axe first struck a tree or a hand uprooted a plant; a metaphysical evil, inherent in everything that is forced to destroy a part of the world in order to survive. Evil is therefore everywhere and in everything. This is why sacrifice is also everywhere, above all in mankind and hence in everything. In every act that consumes a part of the world, in every act that destroys. There is no neutral state, no state in which this doesn’t happen. Such a chain of events cannot change. Those who eat will be eaten. Those who slaughter will be slaughtered. Those who eat meat will themselves become meat.
Men always follow, it is the agni who conquers.
For several years there have been feverish attempts to unearth horse bones in Punjab and around regions. Region around Kurukshetra, the birth place of Bhagvad Gita – to prove that there innovation the horse was already to be found in those regions. For according to some all that is most ancient and memorable must necessarily grow on Indian soil.
Why did the ancients not build cities, or kingdoms, or empires? Asked Gana. Because they did not seek power, but rapture, said Neel. Every construction was temporary, including the fire altar. It was not a fixed object but a moving vehicle. Once the voyage was complete, the vehicle used to be destroyed. And hence the ancients never developed the idea of a temple. If such care was given to constructing a bird, it was to make it fly. To attain the light. They wanted nothing more, but also nothing less.
That they received their learnings from the sun. To know one must burn.
Also read: Life is only breath. Every other thing a distraction
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Illustration ‘The Ancient Life”(2017) by Narayan Tushar Kaudinya
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