Enlightenment

Yashpal, translated from Hindi by Keshav Malik

Read time: about 2 minutes

Amazon is creepy. But of course, not the point. I picked up this book and started reading the stories one by one. The first I read was by Premchand. But the story was too normal. Nothing noteworthy about the story. So I moved on to the next one. This started with a little description about a hermitage. “… away from temptations of earthly bonds” caught my attention at once.

I dug in. The story went on about Sage Deerghalom and his brief period of indulgence in family life which gave him a daughter.

Personally, I don’t like a woman’s parts being described—I feel it’s blatant objectification—which this story kind of did. But I went on anyway. At one point, the story said Sage Deerghalom’s daughter was pure until the age of 26. The first impression, obviously, was bad.

Some time later, a new character, ascetic Needak, who’d attained enlightenment at a very young age, pops in—someone who had renounced everything as soon as he had attained puberty. One afternoon, the young sage gave a discourse about how it was important renounce everything when one was young, rather than when there was nothing to look forward to in life.

This is when it gets interesting. Sage Deerghalom’s daughter, throughout the discourse, keeps her eyes closed. At the same time, Sage Needak seems to get attracted to her. Also, he wonders if she’s closed her eyes because she’s concentrating or avoiding looking at him. Ah!

Almost every religious belief system we have today, asks everyone to go away from physical pleasures—especially control carnal desires; the systems say that it’s against the path of God. They say:

Logic is a perversion of the mind. Human needs and desires dictate one’s reasoning; hence, directly or indirectly, they start advocating the cause of temptation.

At one point in the story, the ascetic sees Deerghalom’s daughter emerge out of the river after her bath, and an interesting conversation begins. The ascetic proceeds to question these popular ideas of renunciation. There’s nothing ground-breaking about the interaction, but it is interesting to see that these have been questioned sometime way back in the past.

The story is worth a read. It’s part of the book, Our Favourite Indian Stories.

I’ll stop the review here; short story reviews are a little tricky. But, join in for fun. Share stories that you would want us to read! Actually, read along with us!

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Ram Iyer

Writer, PowerShell addict, typographer, self-acclaimed rationalist.

Bangalore, KA ramiyer.me