Crystal-gazing into Future

Human beings are fascinated by thoughts of future. A part of the reason for the fascination is that it triggers one’s imagination on the exciting possibilities and scenarios. This explains why have we so many books dealing with future. In this post, I’m going to introduce you to a young and upcoming author, Anirudh Chakravarthy, who has dealt with this topic in a unique and daring way with a narrative of his own in his book titled Kalki’s coming.  It’s daring because the author is able to visualize a future scenario when India becomes a super power. Well, more on that later in the post. Let me give a very brief review of the book:

Sometime in the far future, in a world ravaged by third world war, India becomes the number 1 super power with China at number 2 slot. While I like the idea, I would have liked to see more thorough and logical explanation of how this happens. Super power status is not a game of mere numbers or of demography.  However, granting that, the author certainly spins a nice web of plots and subplots around a few key characters. Through these characters, the author forcefully presents a case for banning science and technology as the twin evils out to destroy humanity. The ethical and moral dilemma for and against such a ban was discussed & well presented – Can one individual decide what is good for humanity? Does he know enough? What about the ethics of means adopted to keep out technological literature out of reach of the common man? Also having denied the humanity this knowledge effectively, is it sustainable?

It’s not clear to me, though,  how anyone can own all knowledge for himself and ban it for the rest. Further, will any one person along with his cohorts, be in a position to oversee the banning after a devastating world war? One cannot also expect an imperialist China to abandon technology and then steal the knowledge of weapons from India.  These are some of the grey areas which have to be addressed in an otherwise well-written book.

The story begins with the introduction of a self-styled messenger of God who is the ruler of India after the 3rd world war. He happens to believe strongly that as a ruler his primary responsibility should be to purge all evil represented by knowledge, science & technology. He justifies several sins and atrocities he commits in  the name of  protecting the human race from self-destruction in the future. It’s a case of just one man claiming to know what is good for everyone. One is reminded of what one witnessed in the communist countries after the 2nd world war. The ruler of India, in the present story, kills several who oppose his ideas. He projects himself as the saviour of people and a messenger of God. He resorts to exhibiting carefully orchestrated magical powers to impress gullible people and to convince them about his divine status.

The story takes an interesting turn when an alien is introduced. The alien with his supernatural powers is in a position to swing the balance of power in the ensuing conflict between good and evil*

While the story is simple, it’s handled well. The pacing of the story with rapid fire dialogues in some places, a fair amount of suspense till the end and a bit of romance makes it easy to read. The style of the language is very good and quite consistent. The dialogues are purposeful, have depth and offer insights into the questions of human nature, morality and ethics.  Here are a couple of examples: Kalki, the ruler of India, puts on the mask of a God’s messenger to hoodwink people into believing he has the divine right to rule. To counter that, we have another character who puts on a real mask and declares himself as an angel. A character in the story exclaims: “Don’t we all put on masks of one kind or the other in our daily lives?” How true!

To give another example of an insightful statement, a character in the story says that time is the ultimate winner after all. One may think one has achieved the ultimate good hiding technology away from people. But then, over time, another equally crazy guy would appear and undo what has been done before. Not to be outwitted by this logic, Kalki, the ruler says: I believe that God gives each one a certain role. We play the role as best we can, leave the stage and don’t worry about what happens later in time.

But then what is the final message of the story, I wonder. Is it that Human beings are stupid collectively but brilliant individually. This is perhaps implied in the story but has not been made clear. The stupidity of human beings arises out of the weaknesses like, envy, greed for power, perpetuation of power by any means and a condescending attitude to the common man. And these collectively cause the downfall of human beings.

Greed for power, revenge, one-upmanship​, love, hatred, compassion – virtually every emotion is on display in the story. The plots and subplots are nicely woven together and the author manages to bring to light certain profound facts about human nature.

 

*Portrayal of magical powers through Alchemy is perhaps avoidable considering that Alchemists involved in transmutation of base metals to gold were historically regarded as pseudo-scientists, counterfeit artists or quacks. Moreover, gold cannot be considered as a strategic resource to swing balance of power. One can perhaps think of more imaginative ways in which aliens can influence matters on earth.

Published in: on April 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Of Miracles and Faiths

What makes us believe in miracles or the hand of God?  Rather, what is the stuff of which miracles are made up of?  One answer could be that something  unusual happens which is seemingly difficult to explain logically but readily fits into a belief system.

Ancient Egyptians believed that frogs were generated out of fertile muddy soil itself. Medieval Europeans thought that flies or maggots(larva of household fly) and even mice were self-generated.This argument was extended to conclude that God created everything out of nothing! I read an interesting story about medieval times about a christian priest who created a recipe for making mice. The recipe : Take a dirty underwear, place it in an open pot  and dump a few wheat grains. And wait for 21 days! Yes, this recipe worked beautifully and confirmed the spontaneous creation theory!! Here is yet another equally incredible miracle story. By beginning of 18th century, microscope was invented and for the first time people could see  unfamiliar unicellular organisms such as bacteria on spoiled foods such as chicken broth. Many believed that the invisible hand of God was responsible for the creation of these organisms, which lent further support to their religious theory of spontaneous creation by God. It took almost 150 years for dispelling this myth. Louis Pasteur proved that air-borne microorganisms invaded the broth and spoiled the same!

Now turn the clock back to 4000 BC. What did our sages say? They said pretty much the same thing about  creation…..that God created the entire universe with just one thought. In fact there is one entire Text , Purusha Sooktam in Vedas, devoted to nitty-gritty of creation – the sequence of creation, which species came from which part of the Lord etc. Other religions developed similar theories of creation. Darwin debunked the myth of creation with his theory of evolution, which has been tested and verified repeatedly by scientists. As a compromise religious leaders came up with a theory of Intelligent Design. This was also falsified by scientists, who said there is nothing intelligent about this design. They proved that evolution is a random process supported by Natural Selection.

Turning the clock back to the modern times, we still find lots of people who turn a blind eye to scientific findings. Today, most of us are ready to look at science objectively as long as the findings do not shake our basic beliefs. The moment it questions one’s fundamental beliefs, science is not welcome!

Spirituality says there is a grand design and purpose behind the creation of the universe. Science says that as the Universe keeps expanding, it will grow colder and dilute and eventually head towards a simple and lifeless end.

We all love our little stories, right? Our minds love to make up a story out of random events and find a philosophical message even where there is none. A psychologist once screened a short film wherein 3 geometric shapes (one circle, one big triangle and one small triangle) were chasing each other randomly and after a while two figures just vanished from the screen. People were asked whether they saw any meaning in the film. Interestingly, every one had a story to tell using each figure as symbolic of different aspects of human nature.

If you read my story a couple of weeks back in the post on logic and faith, it is the same mental phenomenon at work. The Mind will never accept the happening as a random event without any significance. (There was a small twist in my story which I didn’t mention in that post. After TTD staff  threw me out from the senior citizen’s Q, I returned to Bus Stand frustrated. I got into a waiting bus, bought a ticket and settled down in a seat. But before the bus left, a TTD employee got chatting with me and assured me that there was no crowd in the ‘300Rs Q’ and that I should go back and try again. I went back and had to spend another 3 hours in the Q for darshan. When I shared this with some people, an explanation was promptly provided! I was told that this was again the handiwork of Lord Balaji who, it seems, was bent upon playing the joke on me!).

However, we miss the real big miracles in life. For instance can anyone explain the miraculous or magical effect classical music has on our minds! It casts a spell on the mind when you listen to Rag Jog or Darbari rendered by a great musician. Within a few seconds of starting the Rag , a restless mind turns meditative and as the Ragalap progresses, one experiences complete bliss. It stirs one’s consciousness as one is transported from a mundane world to an ecstatic world! (By the way, in the last 3 days I had this wonderful experience as I attended several Hindustani concerts organized by Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan in Mumbai). If this is not a miracle what else is? It is this kind of experience that make one believe in some higher consciousness or Life Force and this belief is, in many ways, quite different from the beliefs surrounding personal Gods.

Published in: on December 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm  Comments (1)  
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