As soon as I was about seven or eight years old and could read Hindi well, I started looking for books that I could read. This way, I found a book entitled VrihadIndrajaal in our neighbour’s collection. It was such a delightful book! I read it with extreme pleasure and tried several of the procedures described there.
I still remember some. There was this simple and sure method to produce plenty of scorpions from cow dung. I wanted to try it and release them in the house of a class bully. “Collect cow-dung from a black cow on a Saturday. Mix curd to it and cover it with a bowl of bell metal. Open it after 15 days.”
So I dutifully took a bath on a Saturday, collected some cow dung from our black cow, lovingly called Kali. Kali looked at me with amusement, as normally the man looking after our animals used to perform such duties. I got some curd and mixed the two, and covered it with a bell-metal bowl in a corner of our garden. I heaped some dry leaves over it for cover. For two weeks, my mother looked everywhere for the bowl. I helpfully tried to suggest that she must have misplaced it but my wise grandmother concluded that it had been stolen by someone, and asked my mother to be very vigilant.
After fifteen days passed, I took a cloth bag and went to the hidden place, gleefully imagining the spectacle of the bully being stung by multiple scorpions. I covered the bowl with the bag and lifted it gingerly. Out shot a stink that reached the seventh heaven, where Indra, the supposed author of the book, was enjoying a dance of the apsaras! But there were no scorpions, only some worms. They wallowed in a muck of fungus and some organic chemical of very unknown composition.
I must have made some mistake. Perhaps the proportion of the curd and the cow dung was not correct. Perhaps it was because our beloved cow Kali was not perfectly black; she had a white patch between her eyes!
I took the bowl to our pond and used a lot of ash to rub it clean and hid it back where I had taken it from. My mother assumed that she had perhaps kept it under some other utensils. My wise grandmother declared that the thief must have been scared as she had let it be known that she would ask the village Ojha to curse him or her!
Then there was this powerful method of making a master key. We had a relative with a visibly large steel box with a large lock, which he had brought with him from Rangoon, decades before they started calling it Yangon. He was often taking interesting things out from there and putting the lock back. Once he had given us a 100-rupee note issued by the Japanese Government of Burma. We were excited although none of the shop-owners showed any inclination to accept it. We always wanted to see the other treasures but the key was always tied to his sacred thread and he was a light sleeper.
Indrajaal suggested I was to collect some dry twigs from a mango tree, go to a pond at midnight on Diwali and throw the twigs in the pond. Then I was to strip naked and recite some mantra to Goddess Kali. After that I was to return to the pond. The twigs were to swim back to me as snakes. I was not to be afraid as they were to turn to twigs upon touch. Those special twigs could open any lock just by touching them.
I memorised the mantra, full of strange mono- and bi-syllables, with difficulty and waited for Diwali. I sneaked out after the feast and went through the procedure, and waited for the twigs to return. They ignored me completely; even in the dark of the Diwali night, I could see them floating in the pond and refusing to move. By then my uncle, who had been sent to find me, arrived and I hurriedly put on my clothes. All my entreaties to him to not tell anyone were ignored. My screams reached the seventh heaven, to disturb the dance performance Indra was enjoying.
Not deterred by two failures, I wanted to give it a third try. This one involved Goddess Lakshmi. I was to take a coin (or some object of gold or silver) that I wanted to have doubled, and on a Thursday, I was to bury it under a kaner tree (Cascabel athevetia). I was to offer freshly drawn water from a well while reciting the mantra, given in the book, every day. It was promised that the wealth would double on the seventh day.
When I dug the place up on the seventh day, my coin was gone! Apparently, some curious kid had seen me watering a spot there and, not finding any sign of any of the gods around, he had investigated and taken the coin offered to him by the goddess of wealth, ruining my well-planned experiment.
I was crestfallen and started reading some more, and neglected my studies. Now, my father had this nasty habit of taking surprise tests. Naturally I did poorly. My brother, who did exceedingly well, gleefully told our father about Vrihad Indrajaal, the book I was reading.
On this occasion, as well, my screams travelled to the seventh heaven. But Lord Indra paid no heed and concentrated on the dance performance. Fortunately, the screams reached my grandmother too. She arrived and extricated me from my predicament with some difficulty and a lot of grumbling from my father, that she was spoiling me.
My brother was ordered to return the book to the neighbour immediately. I tried to plead with him with gestures and copious silent tears but he did not let go of this great opportunity to ruin my happiness. Later, when my father met the neighbour, the poor fellow received a severe tongue-lashing. He still remembers it after more than 50 years and never fails to mention it when I meet him.
You see, the famous first short story of Hindi, ‘Usne kaha tha‘ (‘He had said so’), says the old village priest had told the soldiers that the Germans had learnt the art of making aircrafts by reading the Vedas. Do you think the priest was speaking a lie? Sir, the Vedas are so full of sciences.
I want to put on record once again for all the world to know (and cite me for this) that when Meghnad Saha discovered his ionisation equation to lay the foundation of stellar astrophysics, he was told that it was “all in the Vedas”. You only had to find it! I am sure to find it in my research.
In a famous temple of a famous university in a famous town that is not on this Earth, there is a stone plaque describing the conversion of mercury into gold. If mercury – which is not at all golden in colour – can be converted to gold, why can’t the liquid effluent of the cow, which is so golden in colour? We are letting all the wealth of India go down the drain. What an unfortunate country. Cry my beloved country, cry.
The strict discipline imposed by my father put me on the trail of western science. But now I know, I realise that my life has been a lie. I want to return to Gau Mata.
You see, life always gives another chance to bravehearts. I have just come to know that our “maibaap log” in New Delhi (Why is it not yet called Indraprastha?) have decided to provide ample funds to make toothpaste, beauty lotions, soaps, etc., from cow-dung and its liquid counterpart. I promise that if you want a fair complexion, use the cream from the solid effluent of a white cow, which I will provide. The lovely dusky damsels of our country will find the ones to be prepared from the droppings of the black ones very valuable to give them a shining skin.
I am going to submit a research proposal to investigate all the procedures described in the VrihadIndrajaal, especially those that involve cows.
I know that many of you want to tell me that Indrajaal is just delusional. There was this gentleman from Kerala who lived in the seventh century and who tried to tell the world that there is no difference between ignorance and delusion that these lead to human bondage. But any policeman in the north will look at you with suspicion if you were to tell him that you were from Kerala. They know the truth. And what they know is the truth; all else is false.
I have just found that one can buy the Vrihad Indrajaal from several websites. I will be selecting several research students for my research. During the selection interview, only questions from Vrihad Indrajaal will be asked.
I know that people will laugh at me, but what are a few laughs and smirks compared to the glory that awaits me. Remember Giordano Bruno? They burnt him on a pyre after tying his tongue, but now everyone knows how great he was! Greatness beckons me and those who choose to follow me.
Courtesy: The Wire