Last Sunday, that is 24th May early morning I drove to BITS Pilani Hyderabad Campus to pick up my son after one year of his study at this new campus. On road, I had some visuals that is quite common back in Odisa. And that reminded me the day is special, at least in Odisa as 'Savitri Brata' . Yes, the visuals I was telling is – rushing to temple with wife on back seat of a scooter. You will never miss this in towns in Odisa. Now you may find cars instead of scooters for slide ups of today's Satyabans. You may be wondering how did I could have that in Secunderabad. It's simply a courtesy of huge Indian Army that draws people from different parts of India. In that sense Indian Army is an efficient integrator. Some Odia middle aged jawans were trying to comply with this duty before they took up their duty with army. After all, this occasion comes once in year only. Ofcourse, it reminded me of that job too. But, I'm off this sort after my kids have put their hands on wheels. This is something in Odia said: 'patni samarpi putra pase chaliba athaba sanyase.' For my non-odia friends – I should explain: One in old age can take up Sanyasa (detachment) on leaving his old wife with their son to take care'. Feminists as well as humanists may raise their swords on this. I will not dare to delve with this more. But, I should say it's true at certain time you feel like saying 'enough is enough and time to relax'. Looks I have reached that. And waiting for the days when kids will say 'it's enough of you' , so that I can retreat, ofcourse, to my village that many Savitris may not agree to.
Savitri, as popularly known in Odisa, atleast coastal districts is interesting. In towns, the previous day people just become so sincere and rather aggressive in purchasing fruits for ladies who will be denied to eat cooked foods to remember how the real Savitri grueled without food, living only on fruits available in forest and worshiping Yamaraj to save her husband from death. In my childhood I remember we used to collect fruits from forest to be true to the Savitri. May be four years back, on this day I was in Bhubaneshwar to witness the great hurry of husbands. I was also directed to pick up some traditional stuffs for puja in Hyderabad and I was trying to make it up with several calls to Hyderabad to check up I'm purchasing the right thing. Today on returning home, I found Savitri is under progress. And my wife is frantically searching for 'brata katha' that's obviously misplaced for its year long no usages. Fortunately, Intenet came to rescue. I remembered a site some enterprising Odia lovers have put up www.odia.org with a lot of classical stuffs a nostalgic Odia would love. I had a great admiration of this site and people behind of it. Savitri katha – the story on Savitri was there on site for everybody's happiness at home.
For nearly last one month I'm reading a Odia book 'Atimanaba: Sambhabana and Pratisurti – Nidse and Sri Aurobindo” by Mohapatra Nilamani Sahu and Dr. Archana Nayak. It's a fantastic scholarly book on two philosophers who dealt with the issue of Superman that can conquer Death. This 'conquering' attitude of human is very interesting. And the wish of conquering death is its highest form of manifestation. The van with a write-up on its body saying ' On Aging : Ford Foundation Project' in University Campus and an advertisement of a location with a caption 'Stop Aging' are typical signatures of that great desire of intellectuals – rishis and scientists. For common people – Savitri is an annual reminder of the quest, I wonder !
In Savitri, Sri Aurobindo tells:
Into the little room of mortal life
I saw them cross the twilight of an age,
The sun-eyed children of a marvellous dawn,
The great creators with wide brows of calm,
The massive barrier breakers of the world
And wrestlers with destiny in her lists of will,
The labourers in the quarries of the Gods
The messengers of the Incommunicable,
The architects of immortality.
From Savitri epic written by Sri Aurobindo.
28th May '09