Saturday, July 30, 2011

Aryavartham - Madampu Kunjukuttan

Spencer Wells, in his celebrated work on Anthropology ( Journey of a man : a genetic Odessey) talks about the first man (and women) , originated in Central Africa and migrated from there to Asia, Australia , Europe and to America. One group took the southern route to South India to South-East Asia and to Australia. The other ( which amounts to almost 90% the current world population) took the northern route eventually populating Eurasia and Americas. The genetic study reveals that the earliest of migration is only about 60,000 years ago ( there are some revisions in this now after a latest study in 2011) . Adding to this debate could be the Aryan invasion, or the migration of eastern Europe/Central Asian Nomads into India and spreading their culture and invading into the inner parts of the country. While there are controversies around it, among historians , the genetic study do demonstrate a possible second entry of human migratory route into India from the north at a later stage.

Madampu Kunhukuttan, explore this myth in his latest novel titled 'Aryavartham' , which recently launched at a function commemorating his 70th birthday. He goes through a hypothesis ( fictional, Of course) that the centre point of this migration of Vedic people originated at the himalayas on the shores of 'Manasasarovar' adjoining the Hindu holy site of Mount Kailas ( of Lord Shiva). The entire population decides to split themselves into 4 groups and move in 4 directions until they reach the destination of their final settlement. This book split in 2 parts confine itself into the initial decision and preparation for migration and follows one group into their early settlement at the northern part of India, which is now famous as Indus Valley Civilization.

Man of abundant knowledge and a descendant of the Original Vishwamitra ( who is called Vishwamitra II ), summoned his people near the Manasasarovar and said, "My dear people, Let us move. Let us migrate from this place for Fire and for food. Let is go to a place where the rivers flow over the banks irrespective of the season ,where our cattle have enough to eat , where the earth is young and fertile waiting to be explored.

It is obvious that the clan was forced to migrate due to changes in the nature. Evidently there is nothing to eat, the earth is barren and not yielding to the efforts of cultivation, the cattle is dying and the milk production is dwindling. There is no hope in a place which is now abandoned by the gods themselves. Hence the only way is to migrate, to migrate to greener pastures. It is important that the tribal discipline is maintained during the journey. There has to be a leader and the others had to be obedient to the rule of the tribe. There had to be division of labour. The cattle has to be taken care off, hence protected. They are not warriors by birth or by need. The only weapon they adorn is the knowledge they carry within. The knowledge in Mathematics, Fire and Wheel is the only thing makes them different from the rest of the world. It is important to preserve the knowledge. Hence it is important to protect their language. They also need to multiply and fill the plains wherever the settle.

After many deliberations and assurances, the initial group takes off, and at a fixed time delay the next until all 4 groups move away from the place of their origin, carrying representative memorabilia with each of them . The last group , which moved north after long walk ends up at the plains with fertile land enough for the cattle to eat and for the populace to live on. The place is of abundance of water through five rivers running through the plain. The group has decide to settle here. There are indigenous people of the plain and they need to work with them for suitable place to build their settlement. Slow and steady progress get the two group together. The indigenous people does not believe in owning up the land. The earth is for all and anyone can cultivate there and reap the result of their hard work. The extra is then traded for essentials. But for the visitors, they have to own their place, they need to fence their belongings and need to get the others to work in their field. They also need to establish their superiority and authority over the others and slowly and steadily take control. The birth of feudalism. The greed for more begins here. Inspite of the visitors superiority in certain fields of knowledge ( like medicine ) the aborigines ( if I can use the word) are advanced in various other fields ( construction, town planning), and a co-existence would be a better way moving forward. They had been demonstrating their superior skills at the now submerged settlement at Harayupi and mohanarupi ( Harappa & Mohanjadaro) which is now rebuilt with the same level of efficiency and effectiveness. The rest is the tale of integration and furthering the relationship with its own twists and turns.

This is non- contemporary theme and hence is not easy to grasp at first. It is also cleverly thought and executed. It is also non-controversial thus far and the journey is not over. The scope of expansion is huge and I'm sure there would be a part two or more in the series. We can see an intelligent writer here using the myth, historical, scientific and vedic data very effectively. At no point of time, the narration goes against any of the current day knowledge of people, social or historical and scientific awareness. His clever arguments on banning cow slaughter , the in-sect marriage, the tectonic plate shifts, the mixing of factual and fictional reality of migration are brilliant.

While this is not a contemporary story , it does not rely too heavily on the mythical facts. It is constructed in an epical style with tales and sub-texts to each stories, building up the whole some narration. It is these stories and diversion makes the reading interesting, more than the theme itself. There are great treasures in them preserved through the oral tradition of the Vedic people. These little gems creates the baroqueness to the straight forward story of migration. The language, as it should be , is rich and sanskritised to a great extend. Most of the names and the places aren't easy to remember and the mythical aura of the narrative is demanding on the reader. Having said that, this is an interesting take on the spread Aryan people and language. Madampu, hopefully continue this journey with the other groups to give a completeness to the epic.
Aryavartham ( 2011 )

Green Books, Trichur

240 Pages

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