Επιμέλεια: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού

Gods look upon man

As a fit case for a tragic hero

Equipped as he is with knowledge

Through whose pores, wisdom often leaks.

Dr. Anand

In his great tragedy ‘Othello’, William Shakespeare uses this very important quote: “Men do their broken weapons rather use than their bare hands”. These lines not only depict human nature in extreme situations, but also point out to a larger design of destiny in which nobody is fully armed, rather there are chinks in every armour. The great Mahabharata warrior Karna was killed because at the most crucial moment, the blessings of his Guru eluded him. In the same way, Abhimanyu could not have been killed, had he known the way out of the Chakravyuh. Just as Achilles had a vulnerable heel, so did Duryodhana carry  a weak spot in the lower limbs of his body. Otherwise, they were immortal. Not only these great men, even the ordinary people are sent on this earth, each unblessed with his Karna moment.

The world is a battle field, in which we are all warriors and each of us is bound to lose, because we carry at least one such weakness, which can do us in. When Aristotle defines the tragic hero, he says: he is a good man, but he carries in his constitution a weakness, due to which, he makes an error of judgement, as a result of which he falls but when he falls, there is a flood of relief because his destiny produces the twin emotions of pity and fear which when purged, create a sense of catharsis in the minds of the viewers.

Each one of us is important as an individual, and each one of us is not essentially villainous. We are good men, who carry some evil too in our thought processes, and our weak points as well. As a result, we make wrong choices which violate the grammar of morality as a result of which we come to loss. This is the story of the entire human race, and what I want to point out here is that it is perhaps by a cosmic design that nobody has been made impregnable, otherwise, it might have been a threat to the Divine Royalty. They have packed us over to earth, with ninety nine percent powers of making it great, but one, which finally brings us down. If there is anyone who is beyond destruction, and beyond reproach, it is the Lord Himself.

The Lord is always on the side of the people who are essentially and intrinsically good and who repose faith in him while nemesis overtakes all those who play foul. In fact, nemesis is built into the system of the creation.  And people who exceed their brief and violate the chastity of reason, in other words, who over-reach themselves, come to grief. Macbeth, by killing Duncan, helped himself, but not without violating the Elizabethan norm of divine right of the Kings. In the same way, Lear was trying to do extra good to his children and to himself, when he committed a folly, for which he was heard saying:

Beat at this gate, which let thy folly in

And thy dear judgement out.

Lear, Othello, Macbeth–all represent ‘us’ in our humane characterization. They erred in their judgement, which brings them closer to the heroes of Mahabharata. There was something missing in their architecture which finally became the cause of their undoing. And thus, the same logic applies directly to us common people, who are at the losing end. The dictionary meaning of ‘success’ in the book of Heaven is: sin.

The Epical Man

Let us shift the camera now, to view this situation from a different angle.  Death is not the issue. The issue is how you have fought and finally met your end. Viewing from this side, I see the spectacle of a grand man, who knows his architecture has defects, yet he is out in the war, ready to fight, and meets his fate head on. This bravado, this machoism, this bravery, this passion to stand the mightiest forces ranged against him,  is peculiar only to mankind.

When a ship is rolled on the waters, who is certain of its reaching its destination? What happened to Columbus on his way to America? Was it all roses?  Was Vasco de Gama fully equipped with every contingency to reach India? When we move in trains and planes, are we sure we will reach the destination? The issue to ponder over is: Over the years, through the epochs, is there any improvement in the stuff of mankind? The weakness that Ravana had, the weakness that Rama showed in doubting and distrusting Mata Sita, – have we men learnt anything from these epic failures? Is the world the wiser after the fall of Duryodhana? I doubt it very much. But, yet,  what I find in favour of man, is that  he does not stop fighting. He knows there are chinks in his armature, and the bullets that he carries are dead, still, he refuses to lay down his arms and moves forward to meet his destiny.  

From broken arms to bare hands

The bard prompts men to use their broken arms rather than fight with bare hands. But, in case of man, I find his arms not broken, but missing, and he has to wage the war bare hand.  I am reminded of great love pair from erstwhile Punjab, Mirza, whose arrows were broken by his lady-love, Sahiban,  for the fear, he might kill her brothers who were in pursuit of them.  I have found man fighting the war of destiny with his bare hands.  He has an indomitable spirit. He knows Gods are all powerful and indifferent too.  Still, wherever possible, he asserts his might. Has not man proved to the Master that he too can create a parallel universe? What if he is not God, he can be god-like.  

As the fight with the elements is unequal, men often tend to lose their dignity and start looking like small Pomeranian puppies in whose case it is difficult to decide where their head or their tail lies.  In spite of our great knowledge, poets like Edwin Arnold have described mankind as ‘ignorant armies’ on a  ‘darkling planet’.  I think more than ignorant, we the men are born with a self-defeating destiny. We are on a battle which is finally to be lost by design. Perhaps, this is our ignorance if we think we can win this battle. Still it goes to the credit of man, that blessed or unblessed, he carries on the battle of life with the resources available to him. His grace lies in keeping the war up, and his dignity in not losing to lower mathematics of life. It is a war which wipes everyone out of existence. What is left behind of a man is not his ashes, but the stories of his actions etched on the urn of the future.

*Karna was a great warrior in the epic battle of Mahabharata. He was a great archer and could not be defeated in war. But, Lord Krishana, who wanted Arjuna to win against him, conspired to make him lose his most potent weapon the ‘Brahmastra’ on Ghatotkach, a demonic son of Bhima, who had come to help the Pandvas in the battle. When the final fight was going on, Karna prayed for his ‘Brahmastra’, but he could not get it because his Guru had given him a curse that he all his education will not come to his rescue because he had insulted his Guru by telling a lie.

By ‘Karna moment’ I mean a moment in the life of man, when you know you are fighting a battle in which you will finally lose.

Author: Dr Jernail Singh Anand, President of the International Academy of Ethics, is author of 161 books in English poetry, fiction, non-fiction, philosophy and spirituality. He was awarded Charter of Morava, the great Award by Serbian Writers Association, Belgrade and his name was engraved on the Poets’ Rock in Serbia. The Academy of Arts and philosophical Sciences of Bari  [Italy] honoured him with the award of an Honourable Academic.  Recently, he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy [Honoris Causa] by the University of Engg and Management, Jaipur. Recently, he organized an International Conference on Contemporary Ethics at Chandigarh. His most phenomenal book is Lustus:The Prince of Darkness [first epic of the Mahkaal Trilogy]. [Email: [email protected] Mobile: 919876652401[Whatsapp]

Link Bibliography: https://atunispoetry.com/2023/12/08/indian-author-dr-jernail-s-anand-honoured-at-the-60th-belgrade-international-meeting-of-writers/