As the world becomes smaller, the distance between individuals increases – or so it seems to me. No sooner had Paris or San Bernardino happened, we knew of it. We have begun to look askance at strangers; particularly those of a certain skin colour, from certain countries and belonging to certain religions. But life goes on, focused, specialist, one dimensional life of either/or, black/white.
As life goes on two contrary publications are being worked on now simultaneously, at work. We are editing a book on Swami Vivekananda. And we are also due to publish a Bengali translation of Marguerite Duras’ entitled “Priyotom” or the Bengali translation of “L’Amant” or “The Lover”. The Indian Victorian sensibility would be astonished and even offended at our two contrary interests.
Anyone who knows the ways of the world swears that the time is right for concentrated and focused thoughts and studies. I feel guilty in being as interested in the spiritual as in the here and now, physical world. Also, in this increasingly censorious world of ours such unapologetic indulgence in the many facets of life is considered the ultimate dilettante pursuit. But really, I don’t give a damn.
At the end of this terrible year, more and more people arm themselves and decide to align themselves to one cause after another. One disturbing cause is the establishment of a Caliphate with Baghdadi as the Caliph or the head of the Muslim nation that resembles what was in existence one and a half thousand years ago. I may laugh at this madness of them attempting to turn back the clock, but obviously all those who kill don’t share my brand of humour and continue perpetuating tragedy.
At the other end of this marauding menace are the climate change and the floods that ensue to wreak vengeance on planet earth for destroying our natural resources. I have read that in India it is Kolkata and Mumbai the cities most susceptible, but before the thought can filter through our fossil fuel addled brains, Chennai experienced the most devastating floods. It is said that one of the reasons for such floods is that the swamps and water bodies have been clogged up with bricks, mortar and plastics to build upon. Thus, natural disasters are compounded by human efforts.
It seems that we are indeed approaching an apocalypse as mentioned in the Biblical Book of Revelation or the Hindu and Buddhist belief of Kaliyug wherein all things are destroyed, beginning with the breakdown of the social order and in which of course the universe is said to be torn apart by natural calamities.
If that is so, Swami Vivekananda’s beliefs are that much more relevant now. And truth is, at the individual level, Duras’ self discovery through the body, also makes for a great amount of truth.
So I recommend all to enjoy life in its many facets before it all is torn out of our beings either by the crazed or by this ravaging earth of ours. Till then may we find bliss and Ananda.