PRE-REQUISITE : Basics of Hindu Mythology. Don’t know your Rama, Vishnu and Narada? Please consider not wasting time here, lost in alien references.
Vaikunta is exceptionally quiet. No soul seems to be around, not even Lakshmi.
Aadi-Ananta Sesha is seen coiled up tight, his massive thousand-headed hood bent low at an angle. . apparently to block light from disturbing a sleeping Vishnu.
Vishnu is seen tossing and turning restlessly, lying with the end of Sesha’s tail for a pillow.
He hears humming accompanied with the familiar clang of wooden cymbals. Before he could groan his annoyance at being disturbed, he hears a bright bubbly voice “Narayana, Narayana! Prabho… Pranaam”.
“Uggh.. What’s it Narada? Anything important?? Didn’t you see the huge ‘Will bite if disturbed’ board outside?” groans Vishnu without opening his eyes.
“I’m sorry Prabho. I did not mean to disturb you. I just came to say Hi. . Haven’t seen you outside for ages.. You haven’t even been attending the weekly group meetings to discuss earthlings.. “
“Yeah yeah. . So what? Can’t a god rest in peace with some solitude? As if the Maanavas are getting any better if we sit and brainstorm novel ideas for their upliftment. Let me sleep. Just go, would you?”. Vishnu pulls down Sesha’s hood curtain lower.
“What’s the problem Hari? You look harassed.. baggy eyes with dark-circles, you’ve put on weight and you are clearly.. umm.. irritable”. Narada steps back cautiously.
In one swift motion, Vishnu sits upright, pushes Sesha’s head upwards to see Narada clearly, and snaps. “Oh for Shiva’s sake, I’m depressed! Haven’t rested in ages. Have been binge-eating. Haven’t gone out in the sun or even gotten off Sesha for I don’t remember how long. What do you expect? For me to look like pretty N. T. Rama Rao with blue body-paint? Really?”
Narada blinks, shocked.
“I am filled with self-doubt.. Have been suicidal. But alas, suicide is not even a possibility for me. Anyway, since I don’t believe in the stupid anti-depressants, I decided to take at least Valium and get some sleep. Grr.. who wants to be God? I don’t even have the self-esteem of a Maanava anymore!”
Narada walks to Vishnu and tenderly touches his shoulder “Do you want to talk about it Hari? What is it that is bothering you Jagannatha? Perhaps, you would feel better ranting to me?”. Vishnu sighs, shifts and makes space for Narada, and motions to him to sit beside him.
“I have failed, my friend. Miserably. I have let down everybody – all those who trusted me, all those who worshiped me. Look at what I have become – useless, miserable, and clearly intolerable.”
Vishnu looks up to meet Narada’s eyes – with tears brimming up in his own. “Even Lakshmi can’t stand me anymore – she left a week back – to stay with Parvathi and the kids”.
“I feel so lonely Narada.. than ever before.. alone with my failures and woes.”
Narada puts his tambura and cymbals away, sits beside Vishnu, turns Vishnu by his shoulders to face him and speaks with authority.
“Useless! He who has not less than 9 avatars to show as invaluable work to the universe, he who is the subject of two of the greatest epics in all times – is useless! And this most loved celebrity of the most powerful trinity of Gods is lonely! Rrrrrrrright.. Just listen to that and you’d know how silly you sound. Get off Sesha now and get ready for the weekly meeting now, would you?”
Vishnu laughs – cynically. “Celebrity. Powerful. Have you forgotten Narada? Lonely at the top?”
“And answer just one question for me – with conviction – and I’ll go where you want me to go.”
“Shoot!” says Narada impatiently, while reaching for his tambura.
“What use have these avatars been? Especially the last four? Give me one constructive, clear, really universal way in which they have affected and changed the ways of the Maanavas for the better.”
Narada protests “Oh, come on! They are not so etched in the memory of generations of Maanavas for nothing. They have taught them all the values that they hold dear – they have taught them dharma, karma, and how to live as good people. There are just too many ways to list.”
Vishnu goes back to sleep, “Well.. I asked for just one – JUST one constructive, clear, universal way – no vagueness, no exceptions, no big words. Take your time. I am not going anywhere. Go ask others and come back to me, if you wish.”
Narada opens his mouth to speak, fumbles, closes his mouth, lets his shoulders slump and sits thinking.
“Okay, now, you are being unfair. This is too vague a question – it has no definite answer. There is no defined metric, there is no defined goal which was either achieved or not achieved. This is like those English poetry analysis classes these Maanavas have in school – take a short poem from a dead author and ask ‘What was the author trying to say?’, and start off with ‘He mentions a blue curtain – he is talking about clinical depression’. Vague, silly, and absurd. All of those interpretations are mere conjectures unless the author comes to class and states his own interpretation of his poem. And only then can the poem and the poet be deemed to have succeeded or failed in communicating what they set out to communicate.”
“YOU created these avatars and their lives – you were the actor, screen-play writer, and director – you were the author. What were YOU trying to say in the first place?”
Vishnu sits back up, thinking. “Well, you do have a point there.. what was I thinking when I went down to the earth? The first time, and every time that followed?”
He gets up and starts pacing.
After a while, he pauses. “Let’s look at it chronologically, shall we?”
To be continued..
Coming up next..
What was Vishnu thinking when he came down to the earth?
In the next episode – Don’t miss it!