Before wisdom dawned on him and made him the great scholar that he became , the Great Kalidasa was a stupid lazy lad who roamed the village. Fed up with his loitering, his wife asked him to do something useful. Immediately, he climbed a tree and started cutting a branch off it. A passerby looked up at him and laughed loudly. He said” you fool, why are you cutting of the part on which you are sitting? Don’t you have common sense?” . Hurt by such ridicule , the man climbed down and shut himself up in the temple of Goddess Kali. When he emerged many days after his penance,he was a different man altogether. He was reciting verses in impeccable Sanskrit, the language of the gods. He went on to become one of the gems in the court of the great king, Vikramaditya who authored such timeless classics like Abhignana Shakunthalam, Kumarasambhavam, Meghadootham.
We,the modern earthlings have much in common with that man who is bent on cutting of the tree which gave him shelter.
Recently, Kerala lost one of its greatest poets of all times with the death of ONV Kurup who penned the famous, A Requiem to Mother Earth or Ente Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham, in which the poet laments the plight of Earth whose children are plundering her with no thought about her welfare or their own existence. In fact he wonders how the Earth survived the cruelties of mankind so long, when he sings… “To the earth that has not yet died, this is a song for you..a song that I write in your memory and mine.”
The newspaper headlines in recent days read: Four black bucks killed by a speeding train !!A leopard is trapped in a Bangalore School!!! Elephants maraud fields in Wayanad!!! A monkey loses her life in delivery in an apartment balcony in Bangalore. The baby is healthy. Bangalore lakes are fuming with foam and froth!!! Literally!!!
Increasing human intrusion and encroachment of wild life areas is causing conflict across the country. While we want progress and better living conditions, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the wild life in lieu of development.
Its worth pondering why we don’t have natural corridors in India for wild animals?When such thoughtful action and concern is possible in a small country like Bhutan, what excuse does India have? Why is it that residential buildings and industries are allowed to release untreated waste into water bodies? Why do we insist on polythene carry bags as if its our birthright?
Sometime in 80’s the state assembly in Kerala debated on allowing the sale of bottled water in a state which boasted of 44 rivers. It was argued that Keralites who drew water from wells, bathed in ponds and rivers will never ever buy bottled water. But times have changed and one can hardly find anyone who carries water bottle from home any more.
While we have lapped up the comforts that development has brought we are not ready to take responsibility for our actions. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility.
In his beautiful, little poem, Keeping Quiet, Pablo Neruda urges mankind to stay put and keep quiet till he counts twelve. He says that for once humanity will be united in quiet introspection during those precious moments.
For such good will to prevail,we need to work on our collective conscience, to work with a resolve to preserve earth for our children.