HUMAN SHIVA, GOD SHIVA: A READING OF IMMORTALS OF MELUHA

By Uttam Boruah


“Mind is in its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven…” (John Milton). Human being feels inferior and becomes desperate to know the mystery behind the power of God. He resolves the problem curtailing superhuman beings of their power, imagines how they would work in a particular situation and creates works of art. Indian epics are long narrative poems declaring the greatness and achievements of a hero establishing poetic justice- victory of Satya and Dhamma. Lord Vishnu is the greatest hero amongst the epics of all the time. According to human belief, his ways of imparting justice are unique, undeniable, unpredictable and unquestionable (Raman et al, 1997). This belief is questioned, as Satan in the Bible raised voice against the authority of God. In Assamese, books like Manuh Krishna Bhagawan Krishna (Human Krishna, God Krishna) are written.

From Marxist point of view, democratic decentralization has been constantly being done in modern Indian epic-based novels. In Indian writing in English, Chitra Banerjee Dibakaruni’s Palace of Illusions gives a spectacle of the Mahabharata from the point of view of Draupadi, which reveals her unrequited love for Karna.

The Immortals of Meluha humanizes Hindu god Shiva and gives us a common man (Tripathi, 2010). A man in 1900 BC, overcomes all the obstacles through his wit and might, and ascends to the level of Mahadeva.  As we all know, Shiva, Mahadeva, Rudra- all are different names of Lord Shiva. But here, Shiva is a common man, who becomes the leader of the Gun community at first, and later, of the Suryavanshis. In Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana, Rama prays Lord Shiva at the time of distress. But in this novel, Shiva appears after a long time of Lord Rama’s existence, following the same way, to destroy the evil and restore peace to the world. This is a disruption of the chronology that exists in our mind, a re-telling of the myth.

The Nilakantha myth is also disrupted in this novel. In the epic it was the result of the poison Shiva drank at the time of Samudra Manthan. But, in Amish’s novel this is only the result of a precaution taken by the Meluhas, while welcoming the outlanders. When people from a different land enter into Meluha, they are given a drink named Somrasa, so that they do not carry any harmful viruses to the land. This makes people remain forever young and live long. As a result of this drink, Shiva’s throat becomes blue. People of Meluha believed that one Neelkanth will come one day and destroy all the evils and kill the neighbouring Chandravanshis, who are constantly creating trouble in Meluha. This is not any heavenly power of Shiva, but the faith of the Meluhas, the might and bravery of Shiva, that made it possible. He was made to overpower the Chandravanshis. He was not the flawless god –symbol, but the person with great potentialities, who is misled, events are misinterpreted to him. The Suryavanshis cannot be blamed for this, because they had a strong stance, belief and determination. They had a furnished life-style; even people’s behavior was also decided in favour of the nation’s security.

On the other hand, Swadweepa or the land of Chandravanshis is not so well-planned; they lived a life free from state’s intervention, but not free from stately-care. Even a beggar also offers the alms he got to Shiva. They had contentment, satisfaction. This can be referential to the number of soldiers, king Dilipa had, which is far more than king Daksha. Since the Swadeepan people are given full independence by the state, in turn, they are also willing to give something as a sign of gratitude.

The author disrupts the difference between good and evil, by providing two different perspectives. They same Neelkanth myth was cherished by the Swadeepans. For them, Suryavanshis are evil and they will be destroyed by Neelkanth. When Shiva came to know this, he was moved, he was repentant for all his doings in favour of Meluha. He was comforted by the priest saying that it was not only he, who had not understood the difference between good and evil. Even Rudra could not understand this before killing the asuras. One can never be fully evil; his way of life might be different. The so-called god does not have the understanding of good and bad. Even a common girl (Dilipa’s daughter) can point out what is wrong with him. Moreover, Amish creates two persons out of one: Rudra and Shiva, both being the names of the same character according to Hindu mythology.

As a human being, Shiva had great understanding and unbelievable war-skills. From his experience, he comes to know that somrasa can cure mortal wounds and thus he saves Sati from her certain death. Though he shows great might at war and becomes the mastermind behind Meluha’s victory over Swadweepa. But he fails to capture the Naga which attacked Sati. He does not remain unharmed during the war.

Shiva, though from an uncultured tribe, is not superstitious. He wants to disrupt the Vikarma custom of the Meluhas. This is not the result of the sins of earlier life that makes one suffer in next life. They are neither untouchable nor weak. He prepares a troup of the the vikarmas for the Daksha-Dilipa war and this troup plays a great role in the war and proves themselves as strong as others. Shiva even weds Sati, who is also a vikarma, lives a happy life. It is noteworthy that before this incident, people were barred from touching a vikarma. They had a belief that the result of this will be dangerous. Some opine that it is only due to his love and passion for Sati; Shiva was trying to break the convention up. But it is not like that. This is the humanitarian side of Shiva that prevents him from discriminating fellow human beings. The Neelkanth myth becomes handy for the transformation of his thoughts into action.

Thus Immortals of Meluha becomes another name for ‘human Shiva, god Shiva’, with the imposition of all human characters and drawing our attention towards the differences between god and man. This is a post-war reading of the mythology. Nietzsche once said, “God is dead”. Lord Shiva is brought down to the level of human beings, so that they feel akin to the gods and emerge with full potentialities. This kind of modern reading is not anti-religious or atheistic. It has been translated to various Indian languages along with the two sequels- Secret of the Nagas and Oath of the Vayuputras. The Assamese translation of the book by Bipul Deuri is a strong trans-creation of the translator’s skill, creativity, strong dignified diction and wit.

References
  • R. Selden, P. Widowson and P. Brooker. A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary LiteraryTheory. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf. 1997.
  • A. Tripathi. Immortals of Meluha. New Delhi: Westland Ltd. 2010.

About the Author: The author, Uttam Boruah has recently completed M.A. in English from Tezpur University and has been serving as a part-time lecturer at C.K.B. College, Teok. He spends most of his leisure time in reading novels, particularly of Assamese literature and society. He aims to be an author-translator and wants to involve in socio-cultural, economic and educational issues through his writings. He has been staying at Teok, Jorhat, Assam.

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