Archive for October 4th, 2009

Week 34 Day I
“Culture that seems bizarre for you is natural for another. Just as so many contrary events spliced together bring you either advantage or loss many aspects of our primitive past settle as natural for those whom you call as aliens. Their culture is strange for the same reason parts of your past are alien to you.”(Selected-Sufficient II,p.184)


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A Brahmin had three sons. One day the father wanted to carry out a sacrifice and prayers to please his ancestors.
For this purpose he sent his three sons to bring him a turtle. The sons went to the beach and found a turtle. The eldest son deputed his brother to carry the turtle saying, “ My fine sense of smell cannot endure touching the slimy creature.”
“Aha,” replied the middle son, “ I am much more sensitive than you. Especially in matters of the opposite sex.” The two brothers then agreed that the youngest son would haul the marine creature. But the youngest son said,”No way! I cannot go anywhere near the creature. I am so sensitive especially in bed”. Each son was sure that in matters of delicate sensibility he surpassed others.
They took the matter to the king and the king said he would put them to test.
The king prepared a feast for them and said the dishes were prepared with six different flavors and were the work of his master chef.
The eldest son refused to touch any saying the wheat smelt of corpse. The king sent for his chef who, after checking the fields where wheat grew, said the fields carried indeed corpses. The king marveled at this.
The king sent a woman fabled for beauty and her finicky manners to warm the bed of the second son. The son leant over to kiss her and turned away his head in disgust. He told the king that he could not enthuse himself to appreciate the king’s gift because she smelt of goat.
The king called the girl’s mother to check and she replied that she was brought up in the house of a goatherd and drank nothing but goat’s milk. The king was amazed at the sensitivity of the son.
The youngest son was given a bed with seven mattresses filled with petals. For fear of chafing the skin the king had all the stalks of the flowers removed.
Next morning the youngest son came bleary eyed to announce that he could not sleep a wink.
“I was awakened by a strand of hair, so seems to me.” He grumbled.
The king ordered his servants to check and indeed there was an offending hair on the bottom most mattress.
On reading the youngest son’s case one is struck by the Hans Christian Anderson’s story, The Princess and the Pea. I would not say the Danish master story teller had consciously lifted the story but the truth that we share a common past too long buried to make any story as new. There is nothing new under the sun as far as stories are concerned.
The above story figures in the 46th chapter Al-Mas’udi’s Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems-AD.943.
There exists a much older version, in a compilation of stories written in Sanskrit, ‘Twenty-five Tales of a Vampire.’ Similar stories are found in Tamil and Hindi not to mention variations stretching as far as Hungary and Siberia. Sir. Richard Burton has given an analogous story from Turkey (History of the 40 Vazirs-The Lady’s fourth story). The motif of these can be summed up as follows: “All things return to their origin. ” We make stories to fit our times, tastes and understanding; of this culture modifies the source to give it a particular slant.

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