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Knowing Is Death
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Knowing Is Death

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  • 1. Knowing is death His closest friend Satyanarayana accompanied him like a shadow everywhere in Berhampur. The two of them went everywhere on an old bicycle with him riding on the backseat. In the evenings they sat in the paddy fields away from the city breathing the fresh air of the fields. Together they experienced life through the colored glasses of his own imagination. Satyanarayana listened in wide-eyed wonderment as he let go his fantastic imagination and invested ordinary events with a complex mysticism which left his companion entirely breathless. Deep inside he was enacting the stage-play of a most frightening loneliness behind apparent cheerfulness. There was no sorrow in his eyes but only bewilderment . During the Shivaratri night he and his friend would visit the Nilakanthaswamy temple near the cremation ground to experience the mystical power of Shiva who presided over death. On hot Sunday afternoons he heard the heavy footfalls of several people on the road beside his house as they were carrying a marigold- decked dead body to the cremation ground and stopping near his house to lay the corpse down for a minute as part of the ritual. Their shouts of Ram Ram pierced the still afternoon air and slowly faded away as the procession disappeared behind the Ketaki bushes . Years later, in 1986, he saw Raghavan, a dear friend of his , wrapped in white cloth that smelled of formaldehyde , staring into the blue sky of the Vadodara crematorium. The defiant smile on his lips was unmistakable as his brother lit the fire that reduced him to nonexistence. He himself refused to believe that Raghavan no longer existed. A very bizarre theory took shape in his mind .People said that Raghavan no longer existed . How could any body's existence be wiped out from the cosmic space once he had come into existence ? Till Raghavan was born he had not existed but once he was born he began existing in Time and Space . Later ,in 1986 he ceased to exist in Space but did Raghavan cease to exist in Time ? Once a person is born he continues to exist in the vast space of Time with a clearly defined y-coordinate of time . Adjoining the Neelkantha temple the cremation ground was home to several ghosts ..As dusk fell he looked through the opaqueness of the dark night for a fantastic display of weirdly floating flames rising from the bones of the dead. In the eeriness of the moonless nights Shiva drank poison , little by little, and as it sank into His Cosmic Being darkness overtook the world .Once when he was walking on the road to his house he saw black death overtaking an ancient lady , as if it was the most natural thing to happen to her. At the precise moment when he passed her by . an electric shock from a table fan
  • 2. touched her soul and lifted her up as if to complete the electric circuit . Suresh , his friend in Berhampur, laughed all the time at the silliest joke that went around in his group of friends . When he laughed he sounded pretty silly but underneath the flippancy lay the most serious concern for the world and a ludicrous unfounded tension about what was going to happen to the world. The world mattered .He of course mattered . Otherwise who would worry about the world ? Years later the world went around searching for reasons for his decision to embrace the waters of the Bay of Bengal in Gopalpur when there was nothing apparently wrong with the world The world hardly cared . But it was curious to know why this gentleman had to walk into the sea . To prove what ? To save whom ? Sridevi looked straight into your eyes. At the Venkateswara temple , during a classical music concert her eyes challenged his intellect from behind a pillar. When she looked at him he felt miserable and totally inadequate . Why did she have to make him feel puny and insignificant in God's scheme of things ? Her large eyes were mirrors to his own nagging inadequacy. Love ? Love meant nothing for him . There was something utterly absurd about falling in love with Sridevi . She knew that and the way she looked at him it was clear that she meant it. But he needed her . He needed her more than she needed him. But this excruciating realization that she need not have to be loving him hit him each time she looked at him through the corner of her eyes. He tried to make her look at him through the corner of her eyes so that she will bruise his fragile ego in a most delicious fashion .It is a pity that she did not oblige him. Rajeswaramma , the spiritual mentor of his mother , had her own reasons for living and dying. When she lived she explained no reasons why she lived but nobody asked her that . But when she walked into the unknown one of those days everybody wanted to know the reasons . The sea did not ask her anything . Perhaps she faded into nothingness , not even the sea .Was this or was that ? Her disciples tried to demystify her because it was very disconcerting to have a guru who cannot be explained .The process of elimination began . Neti, Neti. Nothing worked .Ultimately everyone gave up. A much easier thing is to worship her as an explainable guru in a picture-frame . That was what they all did. God has no attributes .He is colorless and formless. He is Conscious and Unconscious. In the ultimate analysis Knowledge is Death .Nachiketa wanted to understand life and ,in the process, embraced Death . Year later, he wrote the following poem:
  • 3. Nachiketa ------------- What is death?' asked Nachiketa Experience viscous nonexistence Which is mockingly immanent Embrace death in order to spite it The raucous laughter of Yama Resounded in the Hall of Death The laughter of self-exterminating Self-renewing knowingness It is dangerous to know death For knowing is self-annihilation. Nachiketa's father sent him to the Land of Death from where none returned For in his death lay his salvation Nachiketa saw death in the glassy eyes Of his father's old sacrificial cattle In their death lay their deliverance Nachiketa sought knowledge Dangerous knowledge which is death And cessation of all knowledge . Sitapati ,a distant relative, went bonkers. He had tried to understand the world through the use of mathematical symbols. The world cannot be explained in symbolism because the symbols are only fronts for something much deeper, much beyond the finite world. He tried explaining God in esoteric symbols and fell flat because the symbols were all the handiwork of his fellow-human beings. How could one explain the Dream, the exquisite Dream of which he himself was a part ? All the questions seem to be right but where is the key ? Sitapati tried finding the key and broke his sanity .It was a wonderful thing to look at the world through a mad man's eyes. An engineering graduate , Sitapati went bonkers trying to explain the world on pure engineering principles. His question was if a bridge can be explained this way why not the whole world ?Where did he go wrong ? How can the dream be explained in a purely cause-and-effect sequence based upon a finite understanding of the world ?
  • 4. Bharati, his classmate in B.A., accepted him in a most phlegmatic way. She never questioned him. In return he made her uneasy in a most undignified manner questioning the very basis for her continued existence. Still she never questioned him . She was like a tiny wild flower on the hillside bush asserting her white floral existence in the rocky landscape .Her fragrance haunted him through dark inky moonless nights .She was an exquisite soul whom he worshiped from a distance .The more she refused to acknowledge him the more he adored her .How could she accept him as a part of her mundane life without touching the very core of his inner being ?