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Second Coming

"For many young folks, love at first sight might be a fact of life.  But look can be misleading too.  That is why perhaps, all who are worldly-wise always insist on a second look, second thought before coming to any conclusion about any issue."

Tulsidas Mishra : June 15, 2008

Agra highly elated at hosting the summit” ran the headlines in one newspaper that day.  But the lines that followed, like “…………….the elegant presidential suit that overlooks the Taj Mahal, built by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz……..”struck me more and came as a revelation.

I don’t think many would be aware of this fact that Taj Mahal immortalizes not the first but the second wife of an emperor.  It is equally doubtful whether the historians can also throw much light on Shah Jahan’s first wife beyond her name and may be few stray information.

So for once, something was not on a first come first serve basis. And what an exception. The early bird might be catching more moth in moth eaten kindergarten story book, but here the early bride could not fetch a memorial for her.  At least as legendary as the Taj.

But that way, coming to think of it, if the first comers have their glorified presence, the second rankers have also their own significance and justification of existence.  For example take Ramayan.  If lord Ram, the first son of King Dasarath is treated as an epitome of all conceivable worldly virtues, then the second son Bharat is also acclaimed as a great character - A majestic personality.

Bharat not only symbolizes selfless brotherly love but austerity and rigorous sacrifice as well.  When Kaikeyi’s machination forced lord Ram to abjure the crown and go  for ‘Vanbas’, a heartbroken Bharat castigated his mother and tried his best to bring back Ram. And when Ram showed his inability to do so, Bharat also didn’t return to Ayodhya.  Instead at its outskirt, placing Ram’s wooden sandals on a throne he ruled as his representative.  He entered Ayodhya only when Ram returned after his fourteen year-long exile. 

And for Lakshman’s sacrifice and dedication during his sojourn in the forest, at least he had the consolation of Ram’s physical presence beside him.  Whereas, away from Ram, Bharat’s inspiration emanated from a spiritual association, a  metaphysical contact with him. Perhaps lord Ram too realized the difference in these two kinds of devotion and acknowledged the superiority of his second brother’s long distance brotherly love. Hence, in ‘Ramcharitmanas’, while extolling the virtues of his  great Bhakt  Hanuman ,  he  has  described the monkey god as ‘’Bharatahisama Bhai’’( you are a brother like Bharat) .  What better tribute a second brother can expect  than this ?

And coming to Mahabharat, half of its tragic events relate to the gambling bout that eldest Pandava, Yudhisthira indulged in.  And here too Bheema, the second brother tried to undo many of the resulting wrongs, by killing Duryodhan, Dussashan, Keechak and many more.

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There is this touching episode, about Bheema, which again highlights the role of the second son. Once Kunti was required to send one of her sons to fight with a demon.  And she was in a dilemma.  She can’t send Nakul or Sahadev, because they were not her but Madri’s sons.  From among the rest three also she found it hard to decide whom to sacrifice.

And seeing his mother’s plight, Bheema came to her help.  “ O mother, I can very well understand your anxiety.  Yudhisthira is father’s favorite and Arjuna is your pet. So spare me.” He suggested.  Must be a second to none solution  which would have come as a great relief to the distressed mother.  That Bheema returned unscathed from the bloody duel is an altogether different story.

For many young folks, love at first sight might be a fact of life.  But look can be misleading too.  That is why perhaps, all who are worldly-wise always insist on a second look, second thought before coming to any conclusion about any issue.

And not only individuals, while giving their mandate, even the masses have gone wrong with their collective decision.  And they have set it right in the next available opportunity.  That is why perhaps, someone has aptly observed “ the second, sober thought of the people is seldom wrong, and always efficient.”

And be it in a newspaper or at a market place, don’t we feel tempted to hang on a little while more, if we see something up for second sale?

We all know that N. Sanjeeva Reddy was one of our presidents.  But not many might be knowing that, in his first attempt he had lost out to V.V.Giri.  Then he gave a second try and became second time lucky in 1977.

Jesus bled and died on the cross for the salvation of the sinning humanity.  And with this messianic act became an epitome of love, compassion and sacrifice.  But when W.B.Yeats wrote a poem visualizing the reincarnation of God, no more he portrayed Him as an all forgiving and suffering father figure.  Instead he visualized Him as a ferocious creature, a synthesis of traits of many sinister animals.  Someone who is not bleeding but blood thirsty.  Someone who is out to set even the odds, set the wrongdoers right.  And not to forgive rather finish off the defaulters.  The grim ground reality of his time must have prompted the concerned poet to invoke the cosmic power in such an atypical way.  That way don’t we all treat a second chance as an opportunity to rectify the past wrongs?

And aptly enough the title of the aforementioned poem is “The Second Coming”.

(Author is an FTII (Pune) graduate in Direction. He writes Hindi Poems, Articles and Analysis pieces on various themes related to the world of Cinema and Entertainment)



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