Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Benny Thomas, changes, fable, salaf al-salih, Salafism on August 14, 2016 |
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A Brahmin who traced his lineage to Sage Agastya worshipped his ancestor and the Sage one day appeared to him in his dream and said, ‘I have attained moksha and I am past attending to prayers of mortals. But if you must pray and ask for favours, try Mushika Muni, who between you and me shall never reach the lotus feet of the Lord Brahma. But in case of emergency he is the one to put your case.’ Thereafter Brahmin did everything after praying to the muni.
Mushika Muni was a rat.
The Brahmin worshipped the rat, or rather his golden image. He prospered and he amassed great wealth and he became certain that he was beyond any reproach. He concealed his wealth and he had offshore accounts. One morning the Income Tax authorities raided his premises and they found incriminating evidence of tax evasion. He was not in the least fazed. He smiled when he was asked to come clean. He merely said, “My case is before Mushika Muni. There is nothing you or I can do.”
That night he slept soundly in his own bed; he was under house arrest but that did not disturb his sleep.
In a dream he saw an elephant and he said, ‘ Do not mistake, I was Mushika Muni, in my previous birth. I became elevated to this form. My devotee is the one who must try your case. His prayer has reached me and I am before you to tell this. I am to flatten you under my foot after your case is heard. No hard feelings.’
Appealing to ideas that ancients had accepted as truth are as sound as our Brahmin whose actions were as wrong as his idea that it can remain perfect or constant. Similarly misguided are “salafists”, advocating a return to the ways of the first Muslim ancestors, the salaf al-salih (righteous ancestors)
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”. Heraclitus
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There was a frog that lived in a shallow well.
” Look how well off I am here ! ” he told a big turtle from the Eastern Ocean. ” You ought to see what treasures I hide in my little kingdom.’
The wise old Turtle could not believe his ears. So he asked whether he would show a few of them. The frog said,”You come tonight I shall show.” That night the turtle came around, calling the frog he announced he was at his disposal,’I shall be grateful if I could add something to my knapsack of knowledge. The frog said,”I have a wonderful brotherly feeling towards you.” The treasure is however so buried deep I cannot yet show you. May be another night. The turtle was so eager that he came around next night and he was disappointed. After a few nights the frog showed him the reflection of a quartermoon and said, “ this well is my garden and I planted some seed which I forget when. But it is sprouting.”
The turtle smiled and said, surely your garden is a magical garden. “
“Don’t you wish you had rather been born in this well than any other?”
The old turtle said,” The Emperor dragon put me in the backwaters while he appointed you to take care of his inestimable jewels.”
The frog said, “Pity, you were not singled out for luck; my forefathers in their time were doorkeepers of the Imperial Palace and the Emperor must have found their service excellent.”
“It seems so.” Replied the Old Turtle and went off wishing him well.
Are not we like the frog in the well when we speak of our belief-systems for which we stone, kill and burn others?
If we cannot handle this world of shadows what shall we do with the real?
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Man is a social animal. Language was a necessity, a tool with which he could communicate with others. Culture is a natural extension of such communal living in context of his environment. In savannah folks need carry water from the nearest watering hole. In their daily chores they alter their environment indelibly. So many feet carrying on daily fetching water must surely create a path? Necessity and custom becomes set on a familiar pattern. It also gives groups of men with similar needs and aims a certain guidelines. Folks do not consider creating another path between the watering hole and their dwelling place. Culture creating a tradition is similar.
Prophet What’s-his-name was born on the saddle so to speak. In Mongolia among the nomads it was nothing unusual. But the baby was born with a wart as big as a quail’s egg. It was right hanging on the chin and every time he saw his reflection in some vernal pool he shuddered. In deep embarrassment he grew a beard as soon as it would grow. He would not miss the single shrine he passed along the caravan route. Something of a habit and it somewhere connected. He became a spiritual person and when he reached age of maturity he took time to retreat into some part of the Gobi desert to commune with his uncles as he said.
One day he told his companions to hit in the direction of the Big Heap a mound of stones that had lain for centuries undisturbed since it was out of the route of caravans. As he predicted there was plenty of water for the animals to drink and a grazing ground. It made the entire tribe happy. They revered him as a Prophet. For the simple nomadic folks the Prophet was a figure of awe and they averted their eyes not daring to look.
They began growing their beard precisely in the same cut as that of the prophet.
It was an unwritten rule: all men in the tribe must sport a similar beard or be cast out of the group. Some traditions are useful and some are useless.
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A Shadow Play
In the time of Emperor Wen a minor official in the Palace, Lai Chutang having retired from his office returned to his native village. By special permission he had retained his title meaning ‘Reflected Glory” which reminded all of his closeness to the Imperial person of the Emperor. As days passed his pride also increased. Once he slapped a villager who stepped on his shadow and let it be known then and there that he shall not tolerate any impertinence to his person or his dignity.
One night a burglar broke into his house. He jumped on to the terrace from a tall tree only to land squarely at the feet of Chutang who, as bad luck would have it, was awake. It was with great difficulty that he managed to escape. Next day the burglar was asked by his wife what happened to his face, which was black and blue. The man said that he stepped into darkness, which however had a life of its own. ”What’s more it carried the voice of Reflected Glory,” he added. How did you know that?”
“I knew where I was going.”
“How come that you are in pain and bruised all over?”
“Going into was easy. It was getting out in that darkness, that nearly did me in. O dear not a word of this to any one.”
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Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, illustrations, tagged Benny Thomas, China, Confucius, fable on February 7, 2014 |
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An Identity Crisis?
Confucius was waiting in the Hall of Thousand Moons at the Palace Grounds on Yu Island. The Emperor of China had come on an expedition and expressed his desire to see him. So Confucius was at the appointed hour at the palace and settled himself to be called in. A man in splendid robes peered at the sage and frowned. When he was told that it was Confucius he became so glad and said that he had always wanted to meet so illustrious person as he. Introducing himself as the Keeper of His Majesty’s Seals he asked: “How is every one in Hoon Chow?”
“Hoon Chow?” Confucius was perplexed.
“Come, come,” said the fellow in the courtly dress. “I am so honored to see the man who discovered Hoon Chow.”
Confucius was all the more confused. “Didn’t you describe the land where men walk on all fours and women sported tails? They even eat grass. Do they not?” The nobleman chuckled.
Confucius wondered if he were dreaming or talking to one who had lost all his senses. Confucius strained to speak but the man said that from his travel books he imagined him to be different. “No matter, at last I have met the man who made Hoon Chow popular in the Court. The emperor also is taken by your book.”
“But I…” Before the sage could explain the mistake the Keeper of the Seals smoothly said: ”I expected you to belittle your great achievement, so modest just as I had expected.”
As the King’s First Minister approached them, the Keeper murmured, ”The Emperor is weighed down by various affairs of the state and as a friendly advice, royalty takes ill of modesty from one of such merit. Do not correct the messenger of the Sun and the Moon. He is apt to lose temper.”
“But I am the other Confucius” Confucius explained but the Keeper with a wave of his hand seemed to say, ‘Tell it to the birds!” With a quick courtly bow he went out.
Before he could recover his astonishment a gong sounded and he looked up to see the inscrutable face of the First Minister who with his entourage bowed before the sage. “The emperor will receive the Incomparable Master of Hoon Chow!”
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Work and Play©
Once the gods who roosted in the Yggdrasil conferred with one another to find out how the nine worlds were doing.
Wotan said,’Oh well we are always at hand to give the worlds their buoyancy. Freya said,Hear hear,!’ I can always turn the despair in women’s heart with a motherly touch’. Each god had something to speak about their role in keeping the order. Hope, Joy, Pleasure-well every emotion that made the worlds run on and on was discussed.
After a painful silence they looked at the dragon who was hopping from the three roots which never stayed still,’I see someone who has nothing to do but make a play on our tree.’ they said.
Prompt came the retort.’Play you call? If I did not put my foot down the root will swat some worlds to oblivion. You calll my role as a trifle, Do you?’
The gods knew the tree itself stayed the course since the keeper made a play of his work. It needed all the foresight and concentration. The dragon, after all was the balance wheel that made the tree work.
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Posted in graphic novel, illustrations, tagged b&w comic strips, Balzac, Benny Thomas, comic strips, fable, la peau chagrin, life, magic skin illustrated, serial on April 29, 2013 |
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