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Of Moving Fingers & Indelible Writing
on The Wall
|by Gaurang Bhatt, MD|
Amongst the ancient cultures, civilizations and countries, the Greeks and the Indians stand out in the number of myths and their made up explanations for a host of natural phenomena. On the other hand the Jewish myths which constitute the Old Testament are a diametrically opposite of the minor and irrelevant status of the Jewish kingdoms. They had neither the power, wealth or clout to be even a minor player in the arena of the Middle East and were repeatedly dominated and forced to pay tribute to their masters, who were Egyptians, Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians or Persians from time to time. They sought solace in writing imaginary stories about their belated triumph or rescue by their uniquely jealous, tyrannical and sadistic god (torture of Job) or one of his hallucinating prophets.
In the Book of Daniel, the Babylonian king Belshazzar fails to see the handwriting on the wall and succumbs to defeat by Darius, the Mede. Then Daniel, who has become an employee officer of Darius, disobeys a decree of Darius, which forbids any of his subjects from praying to anyone other than the King Darius during the holy month. Daniel, being Jewish and bound by his covenant given by penile foreskin cannot pray to anyone except his god, Tyrannotheos prepucephilus and is punished by being thrown into the lions’ den. His god rescues him and he is honored by the king and his accusers punished. Such themes recur in other Old Testament stories like that of Joseph, Abraham etc. and are a mere reflection of the hopes and prayers of a weak peoples desperately praying to a divinity for hope and justice, the root causes of religion together with a desire for immortality. There is no historical record of a Babylonian king named Belshazzar or a Persian or Mede named Darius who overran Babylon. (Cyrus did)
The purpose of this article is not to chastise Israel for its past historical weakness or its still prevalent habit of making up false stories, as it is a strong nuclear power and the dominant state in its neighborhood, a lesson foolish India has yet to learn. The past history is important to understand that the Medes and Persians dominated their neighborhood and infamous Medea, wife of Jason, the Argonaut who stole the Golden Fleece was from Georgia and the Georgian language is derived partly from ancient Persian, as is Tajik, the language of Tajikistan. Azeri is spoken in Azerbaijan and also northern Iran (surrounding Tabriz). Georgia and Tajikistan allow a visa free entry to Iranian passport holders. India does not get the same privilege from Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, even though their national languages are connected to Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali and Ardha Magdhi.
I beg my readers’ indulgence for my long winded digressions. They are not for showing off as some have in the past misconstrued and accused, but to reveal connections. I am not claiming the wisdom or insight of a Buddha who sees the unity of everything, but the awe and delight of a child when it first stumbles from mere babbling to understanding speech and its purpose to convey thoughts and meaning. Thus the other great Persian poet, Omar Khayyam (Hafez, Saadi and Rumi were the other three) in one of his most famous verse, as translated into English by Fitzgerald says –
From Wikipedia -
The poem, in turn, refers to Belshazzar's feast as related in the Book of Daniel, where the expression the writing on the wall originated.
When I went to my ophthalmologist after my cataract surgery and intra-ocular lens implants, his assistant tested my visual acuity by projecting the usual decreasing size letters and when the doctor came in and asked me, “how do you feel Gaurang?”. I told him that he was a miracle worker and I should be addressed henceforth as Daniel, as I could read the handwriting on the wall.
My story like a stream of consciousness narrative has a deeper intent. What Omar Khayyam and much of the East and eastern religions inculcate is a form of fatalistic attitude and our inability to change our Kismet.
The moving finger is like the three fates of Greek mythology or the Viddhata who inscribes our future on the sixth day of birth in Hindu mythology. There is far more important family of moving fingers, which are responsible for the development of the embryo from a single celled zygote (union of sperm and ovum) to a normal human baby. Once again, I am going to quote from Wikipedia to help readers understand what Zinc finger protein transcription factors do.
Thus the moving finger’s writing is not absolute, indelible or fatal. Let me end with an apocryphal ancient myth about the first and greatest grammarian and linguistic scholar Panini. He was what we would now label as an Afghan. His works Dhatupada and Sandhi were probably written on the banks of the Kabul river. His mother took him to an astrologer to find out his future. The astrologer said the boy would be illiterate. The precociously intelligent boy asked why the astrologer concluded so. The astrologer replied that the boy’s palm had no line for education. The boy asked him where would such a line be? When the astrologer pointed out the location on the boy’s palm, the boy grasped a knife and made a long line on his palm and said, if lines determine future, I now have the longest line. I think it is effort and talent which determine future. He could have quoted my favorite lines of Henley if he was a time traveler.
Thus, Rubaiyat, Fates, Allah are mere crutches for the weak and foolish, in this era of designer genes (or is it jeans), and not all words are written by the moving finger and at least some of them are not indelible.
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