Wednesday 2 December 2015

Wading into the sea

Walking in the early morning dark, for some reason Ranjit Desai's wonderful Marathi novel Swami came to mind, and the young Peshwa Madhavrao saying to his wife, as his health declines: You were the sea, and I only waded into you up to my ankles. The Peshwas, like other rulers of the time, would leave for their mohims or campaigns at the end of the monsoons and return only just before the beginning of the next - and this brilliant young Peshwa died young. His wife committed sati with him - unbelievable terrible scenes in Desai's novel. Sati, terrible thing that it is: a woman, a wife, deciding to burn on her husband's pyre, living death. Did they have the help of some soporific drug to dull the pain? and was Ramabai's sati done out of love, or sheer tradition, the pressure of society, or from relatives?

James Grant Duff says of the young Peshwa:
"And the plains of Panipat were not more fatal to the Maratha Empire than the early end of this excellent prince…" [4][5]
The poignancy of life and love. What, then, is greatness? What happiness? Wading only up to the ankles. "You are the sea, O Lord, the sea that beckons." One has to learn to let go, walk in deep, breathe under water...

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