A family elder had once remarked, “There’s a tale for almost everything under the sun in our mythology.” That is not a far-fetched claim but quite true. For every ritual, custom or even some universal fact, you’ll find an explanation narrated in the form of a story. We all grow up hearing these stories. It is an oral tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation and continues to this day~the mantle being taken over by TV serials from our grandparents! What is missing is always the hidden import of the story. So it was a refreshing change to read this modern interpretation of an old tale…
“So tell me Vasu, what are you working on in your US university these days?”
“Mom, as a genetic scientist i am doing research on the evolution of man. It’s based on the Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin. Have you heard of him? ” Vasu asked.
His Mother sat down next to him and smiled, “I know Darwin, Vasu. I also know that what you think he discovered is actually old news in India.”
“Yeah sure Mom!” Vasu said with sarcasm.
“Well if you are so smart then listen to this,” his Mother countered, “Have you heard of Dashavatar? The ten avatars of Vishnu?”
“Then let me tell you what you and Mr. Darwin don’t know. Listen carefully- The first avatar was the Matsya avatar, it means the fish. That is because life began in the water. Is that not right?”
Vasu began to listen with a little more attention.
“Then came the Kurma Avatar, which means the tortoise, because life moved from the water to the land. The amphibian. So the tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land.
Third was the Varaha, the wild boar, which meant the wild animals with not much intellect ~ you call them the Dinosaurs, correct?”
Vasu nodded wide eyed.
“The fourth avatar was the Narasimha avatar, half man and half animal, the evolution from wild animals to intelligent beings.”
By now she had his full attention.
“Fifth came the Vaman avatar, the midget or dwarf, who could grow really tall. Do you know why that is? Because there were two kinds of humans, Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens, and Homo Sapiens won that battle.”
Vasu could see that his Mother was in full flow and he himself was quite stupefied by her story.
His mother continued, “The Sixth avatar was Parshuram, the man who wielded the axe, the man who was a cave and forest dweller. Angry, and not social.
The seventh avatar was Ram, the first thinking social being, who laid out the laws of society and the basis of all relationships.
The eighth avatar was Krishna, the statesman, the politician, the lover who played the game of society and taught us how to live and thrive in the social structure.
The Ninth avatar, the Buddha, the man who evolved from Narasimha and rose to find man’s true nature~the nature of ‘Buddha’, of the enlightened one. It was he who identified man’s final quest of enlightenment.
And finally, son, will come Kalki, the man you are working on. The man who will be genetically supreme.”
Vasu looked at his Mother speechless. “This is amazing Mom, how did you….this makes so much sense!”
“Yes it does Vasu! We Indians knew some amazing things, we just didnt know how to pass them on in scientific terms. So they were made into mythological stories. Mythology makes sense. Its just the way you look at it – Religious or Scientific. Your call.”
(Coming up tomorrow…the mythological tale)