On Tuesday evening, after I had had my shower, I felt comfortable with a light shawl around my shoulders. At first I thought that I was being too sensitive to the temperature differential occasioned by two days of fairly heavy rain, but then I told myself no, the weather had cooled down rather palpably. Certainly for senior citizens like me, the need for slightly warmer cover was felt as genuine, and why deprive oneself under the circumstances?
Why, at night I had to pull out the thin rajai that had been put away a couple of weeks ago, when there were a few consecutive days of persistent heat, in the thirties Celsius I was told. One was indeed uncomfortable, and there is no gainsaying the fact that the rain at the beginning of the week has been most welcome.
One can begin to imagine what the inhabitants of the village depicted in the Indian film Lagaan must have felt when they rushed out to savour the first drops of the monsoon showers before they danced in the rain in gay abandon, looking upwards and extending their hands skywards to collect the water in their palms as though they were doing so for the first time in their lives!
Mankind has adapted itself to cope with all kinds of weather, even extremes, as well as with the changing seasons. Nevertheless, the onset of the change, especially where extremes of weather are concerned, is always special however often and regularly we have experienced it – whether from winter to summer or vice-versa. Sure, we soon tire again of the one or the other – and long for change again! But that’s human nature for you, in fact that’s nature full stop: change is the law of manifest existence, taking place on a substratum of the changeless.
Philosophers down the ages have debated this ad infinitum and are still groping for the final answer. Scientists too have been stretching their imagination and multiplying their experimentations in their search for a – ‘the’ – ‘Theory of Everything’ which still eludes them. But despite the slow progress and many reversals, and controverted results (for example, was the speed of light really exceeded in the Large Hadron Collider experiment that was conducted some time back?) they pursue their endeavours, and they go on with their other momentous and ground-braking discoveries and innovations, such as those in Synthetic Biology. It is poised to launch humankind on its next industrial revolution, according to the scientists at the Imperial College, London, who are leaders in the field. Many a religious applecart will topple with the advent of new forms of life, and obscurantists will continue to wallow in their ignorance, like worms that prefer the darkness of the undersoil and shun the light. Some other time, for this interesting development…
To come back to our local scene, without being experts in climate change or the environment, as simple laymen common sense tells us that something has definitely changed as far as our weather pattern is concerned. The summer rains have come much later that they are normally expected, and we have to anticipate that this may happen again – and as a country take our precautions as regards our supply of water next year and the years to come, especially in the Plaines Wilhems region, which is served by Mare-aux-Vacoas.
We should not again have to resort to last-minute crisis management, and the current modest replenishment of our main reservoir must not make us euphoric. On the contrary, we must remain vigilant and be prepared for the increasing demands of population increase and our developmental projects, and devise the necessary frameworks to cope with these. Plenty de pain sur la planche ahead of us…
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Ram Nawmi is being celebrated around the island and once again we have been blessed to have Shri Ajay Yagnik from New Delhi in our midst, courtesy the Ramayana Centre at Union Park, to grace us with his blissful renderings of the Ramcharitmanas of Goswami Tulsidas. He has a weeklong programme in different places, and the culmination will be on Sunday next at the Ramayana Centre, from 10.30 to 12.30. Those who miss this will have the rest of their lives to regret.
The Ramayana is mankind’s legacy, for every situation depicted in it reflects some aspect of human life in its myriad expressions. Its forte is the message it contains about the need for human society to be duty-based, starting with the intimate relationships within the family, and going beyond to community and society at large. Because as individuals we have forgotten our primary duties and the responsibilities that go with them, we are at each others’ throats claiming and proclaiming our rights to this and that at the expense of the common good, and whether we are deserving or not. We are driven by greed and the pursuit of pleasure to the detriment of our inner growth.
One aspect which is taking a battering is the man-woman relationship, and the institution of marriage in particular. We would do well to recall, as Romesh Chandra Dutt has pointed out in his epilogue to the translation of the Ramayana, that ‘Rama and Sita are the Hindu ideals of a Perfect Man and a Perfect Woman; their truth under trials and temptations, their endurance under privations, and their devotion to duty under all vicissitudes of fortune, form the Hindu ideal of a Perfect Life…’
Continuing, he observes that ‘if trial and endurance are a part of a Hindu’s ideal of a man’s life, devotion and self-abnegation are still more essentially a part of his ideal of a woman’s life’ and reminds us what Sita said:
For my mother often taught me and my father often spake,
That her home the wedded woman doth beside her husband make,
As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife,
And she parts not from her consort till she parts with fleeting life!
Therefore bid me seek the jungle and in pathless forests roam,
Where the wild deer freely ranges and the tiger makes his home,
Happier than in father’s mansions in the woods will Sita rove,
Waste no thought on home or kindred, nestling in her husband’s love!
Clearly society has strayed far from that ideal, and many Hindu men if not a majority of them are failing their womenfolk by not reciprocating with a similar spirit of devotion and self-abnegation.
As usual, at the gatherings during Ram Nawmi and other such occasions, men in the audience are conspicuous largely by their absence, and they will have any number of excuses for this. How then will they fulfill their obligations properly towards their families and help society to uphold dharma is the least of their concern. Shame on them, for they will not even make an effort to understand what life’s true purpose is, which can be learnt by active participation in satsangs during such occasions as Ram Nawmi.
Let the good souls continue to guide us on the path traced by Ram Bhagwan. To be at peace and enjoy life to the full, we only have to follow that path of strength, courage and perseverance – and it is never too late to step on it…