Sachin Tendulkar’s long-awaited retirement has brought several interesting things to the fore – ‘things’, I suggest, that might help us to understand how Mahabharata-Itihasa evolved into Present Mahabharata.
No, personally I am no more a cricket-lover, and I lost all interest in cricket when match-fixing was discovered to be a Svabhava of cricket. Thenceforth, I love more the other cricket that sings Naturally and Spontaneously in the bushes.
So, I am not beginning this article with Sachin to compare him with Epic-heroes (like our Ad-Industry) and to glorify an already over-glorified cricketer, but to learn from our contemporary experience how real facts or Reality becomes victim of (or, is made victim of) or becomes a part of (or, is made part of) a Myth-making Process in a unique atmosphere (Spontaneous and Natural and Manipulated) of Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
First, one media-sponsored refrain about Sachin is: Tendulkar is Cricket-God.
Rationally: why would we need to invent another God while there is already aplenty jostling for attention and devotion?
We know who invented this Cricket God – the great Media. Was this invention Sense of Humor? Was it to create new Opium of the Mass with Eyes on the Market?
Actually, it is no different. The Mass, in general, has such pitiful dearth of Sense of Humor, that the Media can easily with closed eyes affect Humor to bask in a sort of Intellectual glamour, while cashing in on the great Tumor in the Mass-Brain – the Love for Illusion and Delusion, particularly when Narratives are created about God or Religion, whether Seriously or Playfully does not matter - such is the Power of Cultural Memory.
Now, why would the mass sway to this tune? Why would they love to hear about and think of an ordinary Human Being as God? Why would they not think that focusing on Sachin’s humble character or Humanness is a better way to love and respect him, than to associate his name with Supernatural, Mysterious, and Miraculous?
The first lessons we get here about Mass Psyche are –
The mass – as I have mentioned - loves to live in Illusion and Delusion in a state of Willing Suspension of Disbelief (and in such a scenario, Marx was right to say that Religion is Opium of the Mass. Had he lived today, perhaps he would have replaced Religion with Cricket.)
The mass connects an adored hero with God, and ascribes godhood on him in some form or other, whether playfully, or actually being played while thinking it playful; whether willingly, thinking it smart, while actually smarting in a prison-house.
Such examples abound in India. The attempt to ascribe Supernatural Power to Mother Teresa to establish her as a Saint is another case in point. The same has happened about Shri Ramakrish?a too. Even B.R. Ambedkar was claimed by certain quarters to be a Bodhisattva.
The difference is: everybody seems to know that calling Sachin God is not really calling him so, or Serious, yet it is this Self-Delusion of smartness that leaves their Brain Vulnerable to Brain-Washing.
The mass loves to transform their adored hero into a Symbol – quite in oblivion that the Symbolic Value actually alienates the Real individual from his Human Value; the hero is thus tragic who knows at heart that he/she is not the Symbol and does not actually have that Symbolic Value, but has to constantly to live under and with its pressure. He/she is tragic because he/she might feel his Human Self strangulated thus by a Constructed Self.
The mass do not realize what Game the Ruling Class is playing to transform a Human Hero into a God-Hero thus, or while pretending to be in the state of Willing Suspension of Disbelief with them.
The Ruling Class in this case consists of Political Parties, Media, and the Industry who gain financially or by Power through engineering that transformation and letting the mass live in Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
Thus, in the Self-Delusion of Identification with the Ruling Class, through sharing (actually believing to share) a common Humor or Play, the Mass is a willing Scapegoat.
If all these happen in Sachin’s lifetime, we can only try to guess what might happen over time.
Perhaps, some Puranik-poet has already started composing Purana-like poem about Sachin, if not a Challisa – like Hanuman Challisa, or even Lalu Challisa!
This Puranik-activity is already tangible and visible in some Media-dos. I chanced to see in a popular channel such a narrative unfolding: “When Sachin would enter the field, his opponents trembled in fear” and so on. Sachin’s guards were also called “invincible” – naturally reminding of Karna’s armor.
Is it any different from Purana narrative?
And how does this nonsense go on – even in this “scientific” 21st century?
Well, when the Jana-Ganesha (mass) is a willing participant in this nonsense, everything goes; Irrational appears to be Rational, Myth appears to be Reality … and the show must go on!
I think this much introduction is enough; readers have already understood what I want to say.
Let us now come back to Mahabharata.
I suggest, Mahabharata-Itihasa with Real historic figures transformed into (and sometimes transformed beyond recognition) Present Mahabharata with overwhelming Supernatural, Mysterious, and Miraculous elements by the same Process of Myth-making in a curious Nexus of the Ruler and the Ruled – as evident in our contemporary and Real Experience.
There is however, another point to it.
When a commentator said something like: “Sachin sends the ball to the boundary like a rocket” – he was of course not mythifying Sachin; he was merely using the word “rocket” as a Metaphor.
Now, in an atmosphere of Willing Suspension of Disbelief, the mass would like to interpret the Metaphor as Literal. To take Metaphor literally is another Process of Myth-making – a phenomenon I would call “Mistaken Metaphor”
We must remember this while reading Mahabharata because Mahabharata is not only Itihasa but also Kavya; therefore, Metaphors abound.
Human Psychology has not evolved over thousands of years – the same Shara Ripus still Rule us as they Ruled our ancestors. Thus, the Myth-making Process has also remained constant.
If Sachin, despite being a mundane player of a very mundane game, is regarded God by consensus when he entered the cricket arena, Krishna could have been regarded so when he entered the wrestling arena when he had gone to kill Kamsa, or when Kunti and Pandavas entered Hastinapura-arena for the first time, or …
… when Karna entered the arena for the first time to challenge Arjuna …
I am not really comparing Sachin with Krishna, Arjuna or Karna; Sachin is too much a Lilliput to even prompt such a thought. I am only trying to make the point that Lilliput or Gulliver, the Human Form being common, the Human Experience is bound to be common too.
War or Game – everything is ultimately about Testosterone-channeling, we must remember that.
For Kshatriyas in those days, War was Game.
Thus the Real Krishna transformed into Vishnu’s Avatara; the Real Pandavas transformed into God-sons, God’s Amsha or even Gods, and Karna transformed into Surya’s son.
This has happened about every religion of the world - Buddhism, Christianity, Islam etc.
Buddha, Christ, Mohammad - all have been mythified in similar ways - whereas, true respect for them should be to think them as 'Great and Exceptional Human Beings.'
There is always a difference between Belief propagated by Ruling Class, and Belief that is born spontaneously in the heart from Respect, Love and Devotion. The latter justifies the 'Truth' of Belief in Avat?ra, the former justifies the wretchedness of the Ruled.
Thus, Mahabharata – that is, the Content of Mahabharata – once Itihasa, began to spiral into Supernatural and Mythical Narratives of Puranik mould – that much of it no more stands the test of Rationality, till Truth of Mahabharata remains only as a matter of Religious Belief – giving those Agenda-oriented Indologists/Agendalogists the opportunity to claim India had no Itihasa.
The Ancient Rshis declared that one way of knowing the Truth is Pratyaksha.
Let us remember this; let us use our Pratyaksha of Contemporary Experience to understand how the Flower of Itihasa blooms – with petals of the hue of blended color of Truth and Myth.