Thursday, July 07, 2005
Reading this book called "Holy Cow" by Karan Chopra - it's such a delight. It's written for first time tourists to India. Our country is so colorful. And we hardly notice. Reading about the Mughals, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sadhus - it is somebody telling me everything I know....... for the very first time. And you know what? That changes everything!
For example, when Mumtaz Mahal was dying, a tear drop fell from her eyes and rested on her cheek. ShahJahan picked it up on his finger and said 'I will build a monument that looks exactly like this tear drop, descended from heaven and eternally frozen on earth...." That is how Taj Mahal was built. While Taj Mahal was being built, a small city called Mumtazabad sprang around it. Imagine this.... Taj Mahal being built... 500 elephants bringing marbles, silver and gold to Yamuna... Craftsmen, engineers, workers..... The whole place hustling bustling for over 20 years with one goal... To create an eternally frozen tear drop on earth....
Or Aurangzeb... The super-villain amongst Mughals was the least indulgent of them all. He wore white clothes, no jewels and sew caps for a living. He was a fundamentalist and he razed numerous temples and gurudwaras to ground. He did not take opium (every other Mughal emperor was big on dope) or alcohol and did not have any monument built for his death. He lies buried in an inconspicuous grave near Aurangabad (which Anisha, my neighbor has visited :-D)
Or did you know that Ganesha, the elephant God has only one tusk. He broke one off while writing Mahabharata (which was dictated in one sitting by Vyas) to use as a pen.
Or that Jain religion favors extreme form of ascetism. They wear those white masks because they do not want to kill an organism while inhaling or exhaling.
Or that Sikhism is the only religion in the world where the book defining the religion was composed while the figurehead of the religion was still alive. Sikhs do not worship statues, they worship the book - "Guru Granth Saheb"
Or that 85 temples dedicated to love and passion were built, out of which only 22 remain and Khajuraho is the most well preserved.
I am really enjoying this book. Really. It's about rediscovering what I have known all my life and there is nothing more interesting than looking at something you know and you think you understand very well in a new perspective.
PS: Do not confuse this with another book called Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald.