Wednesday, 20 April 2016

What is Plaguing People?

In my teenage, as I kept voraciously reading of several things, one thing I came across was the phenomenon of the Dog Star and its prominence in the constellation Canis Major and how it causes fever in men and madness in dogs, as believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans[1]. It is surely a myth, I dismissed. But then, as I swept through the pages of my trusted daily, it didn’t feel like so, at least to me. I wondered what could be the working force behind such absurdities, habitual boredom or the tempering heat caused by the rise of the Sirius (dog star).

As the headlines shouted issues like “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and Kashmir valley torn between the malicious debate over my country sans your country, one thought that struck me foremost was why can’t these people shut up and enjoy the peace (the peace of mind) they most apparently destroy.

Why can’t people open up their minds to the larger issues of life. Life is as it is challenging: to some who have to make ends meet everyday like the daily wage laborer or the farmer; to some who are forced to reconcile with natural calamities like earthquakes and floods; to some who have to forego living despite accidents and mishaps; to some who have to endure life after the loss of a beloved; to some who have to live for the sake of living. Life is considered a boon to many when a baby is brought to the world and it is considered a bane when the aging body is grieving for salvation and release.

“From the winter’s gray despair,

From the summer’s golden languor,

Death, the lover of life,

Free us forever.”[2]

 

It is unfortunate when we choose to scorn future potentials in the fancy for momentary gain.

Once King Croesus of Lydia welcomed a brilliant scholar and sage to his kingdom. After ample display of pomp and wealth, he asked Solon, as to who he thought was the happiest man in the world. So confident was he that the wise man will take his name, he was flabbergasted when Solon said Telus, the Athenian. He said Telus lived to prosper in a state, which allowed him to grow to his full stature, he lived both a contented family life and an honourable soldier’s life. He fought for his country and died in the battlefield and was given a public funeral in honour. Croesus didn’t understand the philosopher, but still insisted upon knowing, who was the second happiest man, thinking this time he will pronounce his name. This time Solon named two young men, Cleobis and Biton, the Argives. These young men were known for their athletic strength and devotion for their family. Once their mother wished to pay a visit to the Goddess’ festival at the temple of Hera, but they had no oxen to convey her there. So these lads harnessed themselves to the heavy oxen-cart and mounted over six miles, to carry their mother to the fest. When they at last reached the temple, the crowd cheered and poured praises upon the athletic feat of the two brothers and the mother for such fine borne sons. The mother prayed to Hera for the biggest blessing that could befall on mortal human for her two sons. After the ceremony, as the two sons fell asleep, Hera granted their mother’s wish to allow them to die in their sleep. The Argives considered these boys heroes and even erected statues of them, which they sent to Delphi. Croesus now grew impatient and asked the old sage, why wouldn’t he consider him to be the happiest man and enlist him so. Solon said he could not as he did not know his end. He asserted: “Count no man happy until the end is known”. A man may be fortunate now, but there is no guarantee that he will remain fortunate forever. The rich may be powerful but they have no power over the truly valuable things in life such as “civic service, raising healthy children, being self-sufficient, having a sound body, and honouring the gods and one’s family”[3]. Croesus now thought that Solon was a fool who told him to “look to the end of everything, without regard for present prosperity”[4]. Infuriated, he dismissed the philosopher from his court.

However, very soon he was to realize the naked truth behind his words. His son and only heir to his kingdom died in a hunting accident and then he blinded by excessive pride led a failed campaign to capture King Cyrus’ Persian Empire. Consequently, the Persians laid siege to his empire, seized him and chained him down to a funeral pyre. As the blaze started to taste his body, King Croesus cried: “Oh Solon, Oh Solon, Oh Solon! Count no man happy until the end is known.”[5]

The moral of the story is never to take things for granted, not to be blinded by pride and to focus on the most essential things in life such as piety, virtue, honour, self-sufficiency, health and family.

India is a democratic country. The best of all the constitutions of the world were handpicked to build up our constitution and we take pride in that. We are a country housing several ethnicities from times immemorial and have been living amicably ever since. We are tolerant towards all religions. Then why make the country the butt of ridicule and parade as such. Aren’t we growing to be a spectacle of our own folly?

 

 

 

 

[1] Known to Romans, Greeks and Early Egyptians. www.siriuslink.com/brightest.php

 

[2] In Hospital by William Ernest Henley.

[3] Bret and Kate Mc Kay. “Count No man happy Until the End Is Known”. www.artofmanliness.com/2012/08/14/count-no-man-happy-until-the-end-is-known/

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

No comments:

Post a Comment