Monday, 18 June 2012

The Stink Came First, Therefore...

The New Indian Express has a section on spirituality in its Sunday magazine. I usually skim through it for my weekly dose of humour. This week (June 17) was no exception, but the first paragraph of one article got me hooked completely and I read and re-read it a few times in the potty. Later, I found that piece on the web, book-marked it and read it on my computer. I still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I am aware of the profound lack of profundity in such treatises, and that is what humours me most of the time. This time I was struck by the usage of the word ‘therefore’, which crops up after a long, rambling “reasoning.”  
I am reproducing below the part that boggled my mind. (Yogi Aswini. “Celestial Sound That Perfects All.”  The New Indian Express, 17 June 2012: p9.)
The first corporeal manifestation on earth after the Trinity’ birth was in the form of sound. Om (Aum) was the first sound. It arose from the damru of Lord Shiva. Before sound (creation), there was eternal silence and absolute stillness. It was from here that the journey of an individual began. Therefore, sound can be termed as the first dimension perceived in physical creation. From sound emerges the dimension of colours; from colours emerges everything that we see in the physical creation, including our physical body.
I tried to deconstruct the paragraph, but mostly failed. The words corporeal manifestation bugged me for a while. Dictionary entries of corporeal include: having a body or a physical form; that can be seen and handled, etc.  This was the first time I heard of seeing a sound. So, sound has a physical form?? Hmm. Let us skip controversial entries such as damru and all and go straight to the next sentence.
Before sound (creation), there was eternal silence and absolute stillness. Now, this is being stated as a fact. And I found myself struggling not to fall off the commode, “of course, eternal silence! How could I miss that?” The next two sentences, however, had me totally stumped. Where and what is the connection with sound, and who is this individual when he says, “It was from here that the journey of an individual began.” And before I had time to digest these concepts, the sentence “Therefore, sound can be termed as the first dimension perceived in physical creation” appears out of nowhere, suggesting a logical conclusion from the preceding drivel.
What he essentially said was, sound came first, therefore sound came first.  
It (use of therefore) doesn’t work like that.  “I farted, therefore it stinks.” Now, that is a proper way of using therefore in a sentence. If you are doing it after gorging on really spicy channa masala, beef ularthiyathu and beer, then you could elaborate on the premises. “I washed down some nice spicy channa and beef with beer which made me fart and therefore it stinks; royally.”
I slept on it and then the lord appeared to me in my dream and said, “Son, the stink came first.” I thought he was making fun of me. “Everything will be clear to you when you wake up.”
I woke up and walked out and then it hit me – the stink. It was omnipresent, omnipotent and believe it or not, corporeal. It hit me physically. I realized everybody in my city (and perhaps the whole country) worships it. The mayor-ess definitely does. The Chief Minister and the MP too have their own ways of appeasing it. It is there in the piles of raw waste in Big Bazaar bags, etc. placed religiously at various auspicious spots, where pious folks keep coming and leaving their offerings in an unending flow and show of piety. It is there in the railway stations and tracks. It is there in the carcinogenic fumes rising from smouldering plastic and Styrofoam piles, where the devotees make sure that the flames stay lit eternally. It is there in the Amayizhanchan canal that cuts through the city. It is all-pervasive! I bowed before it and I apologized to the lord for doubting his words. Therefore, stink can be termed as ….blah, blah…. “You farted, didn’t you?”   


  1. Your post is funny.

    Although the text you quote doesn't seem so weird to me. See, sound is a vibration, that you can feel without having eyes or ears. Snakes "hear" by feeling the earth vibrating. The link bewtween sound and colours has been a subject of research in the West, I remember reading an article about it recently. Also physicians tell us about light particles crossing the earth in seconds and emerging intact. Also the atom is made mostly of emptiness ; therefore matter is empty.

    Eternal silence and absolute stillness is the possible (Shiva) that is not born. It is Shakti who allows the possible to be manifested. You need one individual to see, hear and feel what is manifested, one consciousness, even if it is it the counsciousness of a bug.

    One might argue that fart is the contrary of lightning ; you can hear it before you smell it :) (Padparadscha)

    1. I can try to explain why it is wierd.
      Sound, as you said, is a vibration, and therefore it needs a medium to travel, e.g. air, which should have preceded sound in the creation process.
      Re: the passage - Let's start with the trinity. He is not talking about the dad-son-spook trio but apparently about Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He says the first physical thing after the trinity's birth was sound. And then he says it came from the damru. A damru has to be made from something (I'm not going into the trinity's dress and other paraphernalia), usually wood and leather. That means some trees and animals were already there. Air and water must have been there for these to live. These would have disturbed the absolute stillness and silence far before Shiva's damru created that sound.
      If you're a believer, you probably don't want to ask such questions. I'm not and I like simple, clear explanations.
      If he had said sound came first, it wouldn't have sounded that bad. The moment he introduced the damru, the whole premise collapsed.

    2. I am not a hindu and don't know what is a damru. However sound can travel in water. In fact the text makes sense to me because once in meditation I came to the conclusion that there was stillness and silence in the beginning, only preceded by light. It might be a poetic way to explain human conception. Spirituality often speaks in riddles.

    3. >I am not a hindu --> Neither am I
      > and don't know what is a damru -->Damru is a small drum.
      Spirituality can (and often has to) speak in riddles, but I think it still has to be plausible to a certain extent.
      My beef here is not against stillness and silence, but against the explanation that 'sound was the first physical manifestation' after the birth of the trinity.
      But then he says it came from Shiva's damru. The damru is a physical object. Has to be made from wood and leather - again physical objects. Which would mean trees and animals were created before sound. And that would bring in air, water, etc. into the picture, which would have preceded trees and animals and also sound.
      Do you see my point?
      He should have said, "After the trinity's birth (in the buff) sound was created" -just like that- by whoever created the trinity. Would have made sense as long as you accept the premise of some supernatural being creating things in sequence.
      If he has to introduce damru in the scheme of things, he should get rid of the 'sound being the first physical thing'.
      I hope you agree with as much. (And I have mentioned in the previous reply that sound needs a physical medium- and water is one of that.)