Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jaggery and other Urban Legends

The word of mouth , I have come to realize, is far too potent a tool. Consider history: most of it, as we know it today, has passed on through several mouths across generations. One can only begin to imagine the distortions it has gone through before finding the pen, ending up as folklore at best rather than hard facts.

Case in point being a recent discussion in my class where we were analyzing the ethical framework over which the book 'My Experiments with Truth' was based on. To stress on Gandhi's moral highness, our professor mentioned an anecdote about how Gandhi refused to give fundas to a kid on addiction to jaggery before he himself gave it up. Before I could add that coincidently, I knew the very same story except with Prophet Muhammed in place of Mahatma Gandhi, a fellow classmate countered saying that the story belonged to Guru Nanak and not Gandhi.

While it is still plausible that religions share a common set of values that are considered desirable in every person, and that such stories were possibly created to imbibe these values, it is scary to watch such stories creep into politics. In my opinion, Gandhi was one of the greatest leaders who with sharp acumen and the right strategies had led an entire nation to freedom from slavery. That act would suffice for me to title him the Father of the Nation. But the minute his character is given idealistic moral attributes, in an attempt to make him more than was, it leads to the creation of new deities and newer religions. Whether such a thing has already led to the existing religions is a matter of personal opinion. The life-is-a-bitch part of it is that current wars and beliefs are based on this very same history.

I do not think it would be an exaggeration to extrapolate the trend. Fifty years from now, it's possible that we hear the story of how Sachin refused to give Dhoni fundas in life till he himself stopped eating Jaggery.