Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The Biggest War in History
India has a great mythic history that has been captured in books and comics. I've shared previously that I was a great big ass fan of Virgin Comics and I was very depressed when the company quit production and moved to smaller efforts and mostly aimed back towards India rather than the USA, Canada and the UK. But, I understand it. I told people every time I bought the comics, I am chasing a fleeting dream. I know this won't end well, but I have hope, however small it is. And the best stories were found in the Ramayan, which was very nearly about the end of the world. It featured enormous battles with creatures from the sweeping tales and mythic lands and legends of the fertile minds of India. I loved it. The art is gorgeous, and while the writing takes a bit of time to get worked through the western mind, I liked it, and the overall story is worthwhile, and worth seeking out in single issue or tpb.
The Book Ramayana was written by a great poet, known now, in the present as the FIRST poet, Valmiki. It tells the story of a prince, Rāma of Ayodhyā, whose wife Sītā is abducted by the demon-king (Rākṣasa) of Laṅkā, Rāvaṇa It happened thousands of years ago in India. And Prince Rama and Lord Krishna were called to fight. The wages of war, alliances broken, betrayals, friends made, interventions by the gods, tremendous displays of bravery, were beyond any previous or later examples. This was the true battle of all time. What, you didn't hear about it? You've probably been kept from reading about it since it is found in a country's history not your own, in that country's native religion, Hindu, and is considered by historians and academics to be "myth". But, as you might well know, from my writings on myth, I think it has something that we can learn from. In myth, and legend, we capture our values, beliefs, and ideals.
Not every book of myth and legend is about war, but even if they are, as the Bhagavad Gita is, it captures a great deal of truth, spiritual fact, and words to live by. As a Christian I grew reading the Bhagavad Gita, and when my mom died in 2012 I spoke at her funeral, and my words inspired some, as they told me afterward.
"You grieve for those who should not be grieved for;
yet you speak wise words.
Neither for the dead nor those not dead do the wise grieve.
Never was there a time when I did not exist
nor you nor these lords of men.
Neither will there be a time when we shall not exist;
we all exist from now on.
As the soul experiences in this body
childhood, youth, and old age,
so also it acquires another body;
the sage in this is not deluded."
The book Bhagavad Gita provided for me the answer, despite knowing it, the words to answer, why should we not mourn. My mother had died, but she suffered deeply from Alzheimer's. Before that thief of memory, she was smart, spry, and energetic to a point of making others tired. After it drained her, she was no longer herself. I missed her, but, for 7 years, I already missed her. But I knew that her spirit was alive, someplace safe, good, and happier.
As comic book collector I breathed a sigh of relief, sort of when I found some graphic novels on sale that looked remarkably like those that Virgin had put out. I am not yet certain, and haven't confirmed that they are linked. But when I am done reading them, I'll let you know.