Life is a mystical teacher which changes perspectives over a period of time but is unfortunately labelled as change in persona. The Amar Chitra Katha of Uncle Pai and the Social Studies books of our times have played a vital role in imprinting the values of certain legendary figures. One such legend, Mahavira, has always been a fascinating soul. The courage of a person to relinquish virtually everything that he possesses and ironically acquire more than what he could have aspired for leaves yours truly spellbound. It is in this background the visit to Sravanabelagola which remains a fresh memory contrasted with the visits to Belur and Halebid is a mystery to many of the friends. The ascent of Mount to catch a glimpse of the marvellously crafted sculpture which cocks a snook at the perils of weather and race down the steps is tucked in a corner of the childhood memories.
The days of childhood brought out the question as to whether Mahavira or Bahubali who were personification of sacrifice would be able to maintain the cool composure as gallons of milk, tender coconut water besides the lavish turmeric and sandalwood paste were even poured over them out of sheer reverence let alone on a 57 ft sculpture. None of them considered it a question even fit to be asked let alone be answered. Times rolled on and with the advent of television, the sight of the then Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi showering flowers from a copter was beamed on the Doordarshan raising a query as to whether it was Garibi Hatao.
As decades turned leaves and the news of 2018 setting in trickled, strangely yours truly looked forward for the Mahamastakabhisheka. On the appointed day, the sight of the sculpture being bathed luxuriously revealed several aspects. The willingness of people to bid in crores for participating in the jalabhisheka, the routing of the sums to needy as well as the systematic bathing which presented a spectacle of the epochal figure changing colours even as emotionally charged people at the feet of the monolith drenching in the colours, fragrance and devotion with virtually with no damage to anyone nearby brought to the fore a different forte of Indianness- discipline as a mob unknown to any other culture. It would be only half truth, if the fact as to the temptation to have been a part of it is also not made a part of this memoir. The capitalist economy gets such a boost from such events that even leaves and flowers make a killing. The agrarian economy also gets a booster.
To confess, not for a moment was the feelings of Mahavira or Bahubali considered during the televised session. A silent desire to take part in at least one such mega event rose to the fore. But the irresistible urge to read Mahavira led to the finding that desire is the cause of all miseries. The perspective returned to the original position with a slight deference to leave the devotees to their will. Maybe they being great persona could still charismatically smile without contempt but with grace. Can we get the courage to shed our modesty too and absorb the ultimate knowledge which they selflessly sought to deliver to us?
Another dilemma! Another piece! Who knows may be another travel by chance! Will the kashaya be removed and the fragrance of turmeric and sandalwood with those of the flowers be part of our lives? Time will again tell.