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Monsoon Musings

Lakshmi Bayi loves travelling, books, films, and elephants. Writing is her way of muttering to herself
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The perils of mistreating nature

The monsoons bring both life as well as death to our country. While we experience the rain, whether in dribbles or in jets, seldom do we look back at how the monsoons have been regarded within the maze of traditions which together meld into the unique chemistry of our land.

Without air, human beings become brain-dead vegetables in four minutes. Without water, survival after three days is difficult. But first, a brief recap of just why the rains are so essential to our lives. Two thirds of the Earth's surface is water. Seventy per cent of human body weight is that of water. Water is one of the five elements that are the building blocks of the entire Universe. Yet, it is marvellous to think that water is made of a combination of two parts of Hydrogen and one of oxygen, both of which are air elements.

The ancients discerned that Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Space are the five irreducible primaries, not in themselves, but as components of creation. Every object, they said, is the result of different proportions of the above. Yet all of the above are inter-dependent. Shiva, as Panchabhootha Natha ( literally, Lord of the Five Elements ) sees to it that these proportions are evenly maintained. Monsoon is one of the nature's ordained seasons.

"Akaashaal pathitham Thoyam
Yada gachchathi Saagaram

One of the most beautiful of Vishnu Shloka states that the water that falls from the skies (rains), goes to the sea. And of course the sea water is evaporated back. There is this eternal cyclical movement of water in creation. Air, the most widely distributed, most crucial element becomes semi-visible only in the totally out-of-control spiralling motion of a tornado. This is not the case with water. Like a child creating whirlpools in a bucket, the oceans rise, with deep troughs in between. Drowned souls ride the waves in white crests, waving a fake peace flag, inveigling others to join them in the watery grave.

Tsunamis are the Ghototkacha children of the oceans, rising out of them, no doubt, but with a reach (literally) much beyond. Again, with the ease of a destructive child pulling down whole Lego townships, man and man made constructions collapse in the giant watery fists of the sea making a grab at the land.

By hacking down the trees which are the direct offspring of the earth, man inadvertently strengthens the water power. He creates an imbalance. Water, instead of being channelized and therefore useful for consumption and irrigation, becomes vindictive. Fresh water becomes salty, thanks to the influx of the oceans.

Mountains, rocks and hills are assassinated to yield fancy flooring and cladding for mansions made largely out of unaccounted wealth. The mathematics is settled by rivers flooding. What should be sustenance becomes a murder weapon. Legends of a great flood (pralaya) that destroys everything is the final chapter of each episode of creation according to the Hindus. Echoes of this are there in the Biblical story of Noah.

A walk on the beach invigorates most human beings. They forget then that this green carpet into which even the sun sinks grateful for repose each evening, could well one day, rise up to be our common shroud of eternity if we continue to disobey the wisdom of past ages, that saw nature as a parent rather than servant. Continuing to treat nature in the latter way will end in destruction, as we were warned many millennia ago. But in the insanity of greed for the immediate, who will listen to the counsel of the sages?