I have difficulty in assigning the epithet perfect to any extant entity on earth. I find the concept of a supreme being tantamount to a very sorry picture of the human civilisation. I find Dr Feynman’s views very comforting as far as the acceptance of a supreme power in play is concerned. In his interview on the same (in his general wry humour and characteristic candour,) he questions the validity of a supreme being; most importantly, he questions our blatant lack of curiosity while assigning the origin and/or causes of anything supposedly sphinx-like (until the point when science – by definition, knowledge – smashes through the barriers of ignorance and awe) to the same. He has problems with our acceptance of a denouement as far as problematic issues are concerned; we are never supposed to stop questioning, because the moment we do so, we will stop evolving. The most significant trait that separates us from other beings on the evolutionary ladder, is our ability to observe, question and assay any phenomena around us. Acknowledging the presence of a God as the origin of every thing worldly and celestial, is like renouncing our most important defence – the power of rationality. It is dangerous because now we have begun to rely on blind faith and a loudly offensive lack of knowledge, and we are insouciant about the same. We can not stop questioning and evaluating, just like we can not stop breathing. Imagine Bruce Wayne (sans his voice) attempting his leap, during his escape from the pit of hell, in The Dark Knight Rises. As long as we have a figurative rope around our waists, we can never make the death defying leap; it’s basic human psyche. We begin to slacken our efforts, our ability to question, the moment we have accepted the cause of something as mostly extra-terrestrial. It’s imperative that we let go of the rope and try and make that leap. Even if we fail during the process, we would have learnt that a certain procedure was wrong; instead of not making headway because we decided that without divine help, it is not possible. In Mr Wayne’s case it was the fear of death that kept him going; in our case, it is the ability to question, analyse, and deduce – while being open to the bending of the rules we have set for our own convenience – that keeps us going.
I am a Bengali. Durga Puja has had a special import in my upbringing. When I was young, I’d necessarily accept the folklore taught to me: the spread of evil across the world, the reign of terror by the evil Mahishasura, the convention of the Gods (the details of the libations, philandering and the amorous love making that generally accompany such a conclave, were usually privy), and the inception of a goddess with ten arms (ludicrous as it sounds now, back then it was the stuff of dreams,) as a measure of her protean self, to fell the evil henchman, the epic battle that ensued and the ultimate defeat of the villain by the war-god is probably innate to every Bengali you’ll ever come across. It is basically the tale of the defeat of evil by dominant good, the quintessence of female liberation and authority. Over the years though, as my belief in a supreme being waned and a freshet of epiphanies began, I began questioning this particular rendition. I came up with an interesting albeit a moot one.
Year after year when I stand in front of the beautiful embodiment of this particular phenomena, I can’t but feel a tinge of sympathy for the evil henchman. I think over the years, we have ended up increasing his villain quotient until he appears almost ludicrous with all the evil about him. Probably he was just a poor dreamer, who thought he could challenge the mores of a world so bound by stereotypes and precepts. He attempted the impossible, he challenged god. He probably had had the temerity to question that which was accepted as sacrosanct; thus he was victimised and labelled as a villain (For people interested in etymology, villain originates from the word village, thus it’s almost ironic and ludicrous at the same time.) The defeat of Mahishasura by the goddess Durga is probably the defeat of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a man who refused to accept the world as perfect, set about finding the causes and the origins and ended up scotched in his attempts to look for the ‘why’. There can never be any perfection, as it is the same as accepting that there’s a god; the moment we recognise something as perfect, we have stopped looking for ways to improve. For me, that’s tantamount to death. You ask me, if the poor dreamer embodied by the now calumniated and mock-butchered a million times by the goddess Durga (embodying the societal norms and the picture of perfection) has slithered into oblivion? He hasn’t. Because every year when we are busy embellishing the reputed goodness, we have to add the imperative villain at her feet, because then you see good would become irrelevant. It’s all a question of perspective, I refuse to accept any ultimate reality, because I want to further the poor chap’s dreams of evolving, questioning that what we think is the limit.
Like life, like love. You can not love someone enough. The moment you think you’ve loved someone enough, you have quantified, cheapened and constrained your love. Most importantly, you’ve probably stopped loving because now it is turning tedious. I’d rather accept my love as vulnerable, incomplete and susceptible to hurt; that way, I can keep on loving while never having to rationalise for the imperfections of it.
For you, Mishti. ?