Monday, October 02, 2006

Gandhi is sentenced........

The Universe was created 13.7 billion years ago, our sun was born 5 billion years back, earliest life forms came into being 3.8 billion years back, primitive animals appeared 700 million years back, mammals evolved 200 million years ago, homo sapiens emerged 600,00 years ago…..

Don’t you love the way the entire past can be compressed on an inverse logarithmic scale and 13.7 billion years dismissed in one sentence?

Or, when you try to compress the story of someone like Gandhi, in a single paragraph.

“Gandhi was born in 1869, educated in law and admitted to the British bar in 1891, moved to South Africa in 1893, fought for elementary rights for Indians living there, returned to India in 1914, initiated the non-cooperation movement in 1919, established the civil disobedience movement in 1921, marched to Dandi on his Salt Satyagraha in 1930, launched the Quit India movement in1942, won freedom for India in 1947 and was assassinated in 1948.”

It makes it look as if he put in just 4 or 5 days of work in his entire life. He got involved in our freedom struggle only at the ripe old age of 45, then did something noticeable once every few years and had long interludes in between. From 1930 to 1942, for example, he seems to have enjoyed one long break.

Of course, of course, he did a lot many more things and we could fill pages and pages about him. You and I know that. But in 2200 AD, this is how he will be appear in history textbooks.

Aren't you reminded of Solomon Grundy who was born on Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday, worse on Friday, died on Saturday and buried on Sunday? Whether these refer to days of the same week, or why he should take ill the day after his marriage are questions posterity won't have answers for.

7 comments:

Usha said...

I am not so worried about Gandhi's achievements getting abridged. i am more worried about the fictitious achievement of some others (like Rajiv or Sonia) getting elaborated by sycophants and finding their way into history.

Raj said...

Usha, you have a point. The history of the Gandhi dynasty as a separate text book!

Ram said...

Agree with you about even the most sentient of them all getting reduced to a mere sentence in the footnotes of history.

Agree with Usha--the appropriation of the Gandhi label is highly inappropriate.

Ganesh Ranganathan said...

The reason we can compress billions of years of history in one sentence is that we don't know even an iota about that time....lots of information got lost....

regarding Gandhi, it is inevitable. People need idols they can relate too...and people wouldn't be able to relate to Gandhi in 2200...he will just be an inspirational name

Parthasarathi said...

Fantastic

Well even TODAY many kids born in the 1980s DO not know Gandhi as he is & What he means to India
Why even GR8 politicians remember him only on Oct 2nd & may be on Jan 30th OR during times it suits them Its necessary POSTERITY should know his greatness in FULL form THE museum in MANI BHAVAN in Mumbai is one such Kids must be taken to those places by the schools

Anyway thanks for UR xcellent write up
BRP

Anu said...

I wanted to leave a comment on your post "waves" but was too busy at the time. Now, when I read about this year's nobel prize for Physics I was reminded of that post again. It wasn't all that quiet was it?
Come to think of it, if we can still hear the big bang, at least some in 2200AD will hear the waves made by Gandhi? :)

Raj said...

Ram, yes, the wrong Gandhis musn't be venerated.

ganesh, you are right on both counts. The past tends to get 'compressed' in our minds, as the 'present' get to overwhelm.

Parthasarathi : Thanks, but I am afraid, we won't be able to keep glorifying past heroes for ever- due to the 'compression' effect.

Anu : yes, I stand corrected. It was quieter, but not silent. All those cosmic rays from the days of the Big bang, whizzing past our ears all the time......Eerie.