“Myths are, in fact…neither primitive nor untrue. They are, rather, a kind of poetry that helps us make sense of the world and our place in it.”
–Stephen H. Furrer
Mythology is a highly integral part of Indian collective psyche. Without Indian myths and mythologies, our cultural tradition can hardly exist. However, these extremely rich Indian mythologies are considered as past, bygone, and almost forgotten by the present-day young generation.
As a teacher of teenagers, I have come across many youngsters who fail to name the parents of Ram. For these highly-educated fellows, Radha is the wife of Krishna and Hanuman is a born-monkey god. This smart-phone generation hardly knows Ganesha has an elder sibling called Karthikeya and Karna is the half brother of Arjuna. I guess it were the 90s kids who got the last taste of the exceedingly compelling Indian myths, thanks to Chandamama, Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and BR Chopra’s Mahabharat. Today’s mechanical and civil engineers have no clue about Lord Biswakarma and they love Lord Shiva because he is a highly cool god who loved weeds and owns a great physique. Dealing with such a generation for more than a decade, my first Gokulashtami celebration on 27th August 2016 in my work place Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University), Coimbatore was indeed a pleasant surprise.
As a teacher, I always believe participation and visual impartment work wonders for students. When they are clustered into a group and become involved, they are all set to create the best. And what could stop these young kids from making majestic floats, striking and magnificent. And what impressed me the most was their research and exploration into the cavernous ocean of Indian mythology because all the floats on Gokulashtami are based on various myths, stories, and legends to Lord Krishna/Vishnu as this exotic celebration was totally dedicated to the birth of Krishna.
The gripping tales of our past were brought into life by these students in the forms of gorgeous floats conveying the narratives of Krishna birth, Baal leela, Raas leela, Bakasur vadh, Kans vadh, Ravan vadh, Hirankashyapu vadh, Mashya avatar, Kurma avatar, Vamana avatar, Samudra manthan, Mahavali Daman, Seeta Haran, Mahabharat yudh, Biswaroop darshan and the list goes on.
The recreation of Vrindavan, Khira Sagar, Kailash parvat, Golden Lanka, the traditional dance performances including Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Bharat Natyam, Mohiniyattam, Thirayattam, Theyyam, Kollattam, Changu, Garba, Ghoomar, Bihu, Raut Nacha, Pulikeli, Chhau, peacock dance, the energetic breaking of Matka, the whole lot was amazing, astounding and astonishing, quite an extraordinary!!!
I was wondering if any of the text books or write-ups on mythology would give these students such an exposure to our past more than this exuberant Gokulashtami celebration!!! I was marveling if any TV show would ever replace the experience these modern kids got when they recreated Ramayan and Mahabharat in the campus of their university??? I was pondering if any app on mythology in their Smartphone would ever grant them an access to our roots without asking them a password or an entrée code??
May be the answer was a big NO!!! No book in the world, no show on TV, no piece of art teaches you better than the life itself. The more you dive into life, the more life embraces you; unraveling its little ounces of secrets and what can be better than the deciphering the myths of your past, the lores of your tradition and the long-forgotten tales of your culture that makes you realize what a great cultural heritage you possess and what a great legacy you are about to carry forward!!!!