Friday, February 3, 2023
HomeOpinionNot much wrong in ‘test-tube Sita’ remark. It can be India’s Renaissance...

Not much wrong in ‘test-tube Sita’ remark. It can be India’s Renaissance moment

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If Florentine Renaissance shaped the next 500 years of world history, there is no reason why we should not lay claim to our destiny and derive inspiration from our past to shape the next 500 years.

Dinesh Sharma is the former mayor of Lucknow and the current deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He is now being excoriated for his remark that Sita was born in a pitcher, and that it must have been “some test-tube baby project at that time”.

Most of the responses were negative. Even a few supporters and sympathisers of the BJP were quick to haul him over hot coals for what was widely perceived to be a ‘stupid’ and ‘regressive’ and ‘reactionary’ statement.

But there is not much that is wrong with what he said. If we strip the statement down to its bare essentials, all that he was saying is that since there is a mention of a phenomenon in classical literature, it might not be a bad idea to actually explore it.

We need not instantly dismiss references to ancient technology in our classical literature.

Let us take the legend of Theseus for example. The Greek classical historian Plutarch spins a seemingly fanciful tale in his ‘Life of Theseus’ about how the eponymous Athenian hero managed to subdue King Minos’s illegitimate offspring – the-half-man-half-bull Minotaur – after navigating his way out of the Labyrinth, which had mortally confounded so many heroes in the past, by using a clever stratagem suggested to him by the King’s daughter himself.

For centuries, we were told that King Minos and the Labyrinth and the Cretan civilisation belonged to mythology and not history. However, just about more than a century ago, English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans actually did unearth the city of Knossos on the island of Crete and discovered remains of the Labyrinth as well as evidence of a great Bronze Age civilisation that pre-dated the Mycenaean civilisation. The revered Bull was featured in the frescoes showing young men and women jumping over and around the beast.

Now, I am not saying that Plutarch’s rendition is true in its entirety. In all probability, a prince of Athens did lead a naval expedition to the island and effaced its civilisation and enslaved most of the nobility. But my argument here is that there have been times when an enquiry based on classical literary evidence does culminate in some eponymous discoveries.

Such discoveries make us challenge our view of the past. Many popular technologies have been lost in subsequent years only to be rediscovered and popularised again.

A knight from the Dark Ages would surely have had difficulty in comprehending the importance of washing his wounds with vinegar –something that the Roman soldiers are said to have done throughout the subsistence of their empire. Similarly, an affluent city dweller in London around the 14th century would have been hard-pressed to comprehend how technologies like running water aqueducts, again popular during the Roman era , would promote hygiene and actually arrest the spread of deadly diseases like the Black Death that swept Europe, and London in particular.

It is a commonly accepted view today among historians that it was a burgeoning interest in the Classical Ages, promoted by the merchant rulers of 15th century Italian city-states, that culminated in the Renaissance and the Reformation that, in turn, shaped the modern world into what it is. Did the elite class of these city-states write about how the Medici family was patronising scholars, artists, philosophers and polymaths, who were studying the achievements of the Classical Ages?

It was one such Renaissance man himself – Leonardo Da Vinci – who perfected a rather imperfect prototype for a flying machine, which, to some extent, inspired the Wright Brothers just before the First World War.

If we were to have something of an Indian Renaissance, that has the potential to shape the world over the next century, it is surely not a bad idea to derive inspiration from our ancient past. Ancient Indian civilisational achievements are comparable if not better than those of Hellenic or Hellenistic civilisation. If the Florentine Renaissance shaped the next 500 years of the history of the world, there is no reason why we should not lay claim to our destiny and derive inspiration from our past and shape the next 500 years.

Raghav Awasthi is an advocate and an RSS member.

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  1. This Psycho Awasthi is from Nalsar University of Law Hyderabad. He got in trouble in his very first year for beating up a senior. Its no wonder he joined RSS.

  2. Awasthi is a psycho from Nalsar University Hyderabad. He beat some senior in his very First year. Its no wonder he joined RSS.

  3. After having read this column, the idea that stands reinforced is that RSS from top to bottom is comprised of dull thinkers with brazen spirit.

  4. I am not as gifted as Awasthi with words and deception of clever argument.Nor am I well versed with
    the greek mythology.
    But I and we,including Indian rustic villagers,know very well what it means by getting a child by”ploughing a land”.

    Why Awasthi is shying away from acknowledging the idiomatic expressions of our Indian classics?

    Is it too offending for your “susheel sabhyata”?

  5. No one takes the Greek myths or the Norse myths to be scientific literature. And does this Awasthi even know what a test tube baby is?! It is not a baby found in a test tube! The baby still has to grow in the womb of a woman!

    If there was any more evidence needed that the Sangh parivar and its ideologues are intellectually bankrupt and unable to call a spade a spade (provided the spade is a person/ideology/statement from the Sangh parivar), then this article is the best proof.

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