A NOVEL BY KA.NAA.SU
Translated into English by Latha Ramakrishnan
CHAPTER – IV
He was wearing the traditional attire (doga) of the Yavanas, around the waist and a blue – belt, above it. Must have been wearing ‘chappals’ but he had left them outside. Medium height – maximum two or three inches taller than Valluvan. Eyes were slightly bluish and looked wide and deep. Not much of hair on the head and what little he had there were a mixture of pure white and grey shades. The face was free of all that I have heard of being the distinct characteristics of the appearance of the Jews – the sharp, curved nose, thin lips, moustache and beard. His fingers were long like the tamarind fruit. The fingers of his feet were also slightly lengthy.
Coming from some fare off unknown land, he has, through his honesty, cleverness and especially humaneness earned very many friends and a lot of wealth here. It is said that he was a much experienced man having been in various lands the world over. But the scars were not standing out.
I have heard that the Jews are scattered all over the world. They were together in harmony and discipline but were scattered due to various reasons. Wherever they are, however much they suffer, they never let go of the pride that they possess in their creed, i.e., being Jews and the unity of their lot and the heart to render mutual help.
I have also heard that these Jews, above all, are one who would never lose faith in their god and who would, on no account, deviate from their religious customs, habits and practices.
Isn’t it but natural for one in whom knowledge and righteousness go hand in hand, to secure, to some extent, worldly success and wealth…?.
Only after Valluvan getting up and greeting him. I too thought of following suit.
“Please be seated, please be seated” – said he, signaling us to sit and then, turning to his son Mathew, said “Ask them to bring some ‘sherbath’ for these two to drink. Valluvan will not have anything else in our house”.
“Sir, I do not want anything now. Only after having ‘neeragaram’ in the morning I left home. You called me for something, they said? Why? What can I do for you? Please tell me?” – said Vallulvan.
“Received some news regarding what happens, is happening now in
. My brother Joseph has written. I
wanted to read out that letter to you.” Jerusalem
Meanwhile, Mathew’s’ daughter had brought in a plate with four or five cups of ‘sherbat’ and several slices of a mango. “Sent by Miriam only. No? Miriam likes Valluvan very much,” said Ezekial.
“Miriam loves one and all who live on this earth. Not only human beings but she has learnt to show love to the animals also” – remarked Valluvan.
“Loving anything deeply would indeed prove dangerous and sorrowful. This is the way of the world,” observed Ezekial.
“For some, love comes so naturally and due to this love, not causing hurt to others becomes a habit with them. It would be nice if there arises in us that mental frame wherein we can forgive even those who wish us ill.”
“Exactly in this way, a religion of Love which has started only very recently is fast spreading among the Jews as well as amidst others is what my brother has written” – said Ezekial.
“Please tell us in detail!” – requested Valluvan and at once Ezekial took out from his pocket, a folded parchment and read it out.
“There have always been various ideological quarrels and confirmations among the Jews, who are Israelites. For thousand of years, many of us have been led by the belief that a seer called Messiah would come to be and uniting Jews, and helping them attain victory after victory after victory he would lead them to the noblest seat. That such a Messiah, it is said, had been born in the ancestral family of Davood, some forty or fifty years ago, that he had raised his voice against the unjust practices that were going on in the churches in Jerusalem and thus earned the wrath of the Jewish – Priests and they waited for a long time and when the opportunity arose schemed to kill him. And thus, betraying him, they took him to the young Roman of Palestine, Pandias Pilot, accusing him of being a traitor and that, he claiming to be the new king and that he was blamed as uttering lies by calling himself the Messenger of God, Son of God etc., that Pilot tried to free him saying that he didn’t seem to be an anti – social element, but the priests of the temples of Jews insisted that Jesus should be crucified, and so the king finally relented and ordered the same. And thus, twenty – five or thirty years age, that man called Jesus Christ was crucified” – Having read that, Ezekial paused for a while.
“Indeed sad it is! Crucifying is a cruel practice. In our land also, we have this death–sentence called hanging. When will these practices even in Laws where man harasses and even tortures a fellow – human being come to a an end?”, asked Valluvan.
“There will be no end,” said Ezekial “Listen further, what my brother has written. About this man called Christ many unbelievable stories are in circulation. He was not born of human being – they say. That he was born of a virgin name Mary and God himself. Mary had a husband by name Joseph. He came in the lineage of former Daveedh emperor. It seems he who had come as Christ had spoken of the poor and the down – trodden, that they alone belong to
and that Heaven is above the reach of the rich. He has cured leprosy-patients
by his mere touch, it is said. Once he had even brought to life, Lauzeres, when
he died. They say that this Lauzeres is still living. Many stories which claim
that Jesus had performed many miracles have spread. Once, during a wedding
there was not enough wine for the guests, it seems. Jesus had turned a drum
full of water into wine! People say that he had walked on the sea! It is also
said that his name and fame and impact keep spreading steadily far and wide,
among the poor and the have – nots and
hence, fearing that there would be some revolution sooner or later, the priests
insisted on his crucification, they say. But, from what I have heard, he had no
aspiration for power and leadership; nor did he seem to have possessed any idea
of bringing about a revolution. It looks like he preached to spread the gospels
of Universal – Love and for having a heart not to cause hurt to anybody,
among the people. It seems he preached like our God Yahova that we should free
ourselves from that evil mindset which craved for revenge – an eye, for an eye,
hand for hand, leg for leg and the like.
Instead, he seems to have preached thus: “The way you want others to treat
you, you should treat others too” and “If a person hits you on one cheek
don’t hit him back but show your other cheek” .
At this Valluvan stood up and said enthusiastically. “Please read that again. The way you want other...”
Ezekial read that sentence again. He is said to have preached that ‘the way you want the others to treat you, treat them in the same manner, and that if someone hits you one cheek don’t hit him back but show the other cheek.”
“More or less, the same thing has been emphasized by the Jain Theerthan gas for more than thousand years” – said Valluvan.
“There is another important sentence in the letter. I’ll read that also” – so saying Ezekial read out:
“The followers o Jesus Christ believe that the Son of God who died on the Cross came to life again three days after and moved about before their very eyes. That he came to life again and moved about, is held as one important concept of their ideals. The followers of Jesus Christ are Jews. Day by day controversies and quarrels are increasing for the reason that they are ignoring their traditional eating habits and abusing them. There appears many quarrels and controversies between the two groups – those who are the staunch believers of the ‘old school of thought’ and those of the recently born codes of conduct and ideals of Jesus Christ, and the authorities of Laws and Order have to intervene and bring the situation under control by lathi- charging and passing new stringent laws.
The authorities who have come after Pilot are now known to be dealing harshly with those who follow Jesus Christ. Due to these quarrels and controversies, they meet out harsh treatment to both the groups alike – those who call themselves to be the followers of Christ and those dogmatic ones.
and its surrounding places suffer
what with one riot at dawn and another at dusk.” Jerusalem
“See, violence results out in the wake of establishing a religion of Love and Universal brotherhood. This is what is known as the Ignorance of Human heart” – said Valluvan.
“Not only that. These followers of Christ who are Christians are all, in a way, Jews only. Jesus himself was a born Jew. In our caste, all who are born of a Jewish-mother are considered as Jews alone. Still, from what my brother has written, it seems that for these ‘Christ – men’ the main course of action is nothing but hating the Jews and picking up quarrels with them. He has written that there arises feud between the two, Paul and Peter, who are the most ardent followers of Jesus, in matters of religious propaganda and it keeps increasing day by day.” – said Ezekial.
“There is nothing to feel surprised at the way in which the very next generation of the Great Soul who had this Universal Love as the crux of his preaching has started having differences and fighting each other. Here also, we have lots of such silly quarrels. Even matters of no significance would give birth to a fight. It is only to love another person that we need solid reason to build a strong bridge of bondage”– observed Valluvan.
“My brother has written about very many other things too. Of them, two are important. Firstly, it is said that the believers of Christ are the Jews, especially the dogmatic ones. The reason that they give sounds funny. A Jew by name Judas is said to have betrayed Jesus. As it is, they are plunged neck-deep in troubles, and now this is a new headache. They should face the wrath of the other sect of Jews. Apart from this, there is one more important thing to tell.”
“What is it?” – asked Valluvan.
“Judas who is one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ had turned into an enemy right at the outset. The rest of them – the remaining eleven disciples – they are called Apostle in ‘Juda’ languages meaning ‘prime and chosen’ Disciples. It is ordered that they must divide the world into eleven compartments and each one of them is allotted a compartment wherein he is ordained to spread the Glory and Message of Jesus Christ and so strive hard to convert the entire world into Christianity. Thus, Peter and Paul went to
and with some propaganda and the spirit
of sacrifice they had succeeded in spreading the message among the low caste –
born; – so my brother has written”. Rome
“Sounds good only” – said Valluvan.
“In a way it seems good only. But, who could tell as to what all controversies and chaos would be resulting out of these things? And, how the history of Humanity would change due to this impact of Christianity? My brother has written that Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, has been, for his part, assigned the duty of coming to India and converting Indians into Christians, that without wasting time he has reached the Northern part of India by some route and stayed there for sometime, preaching Christianity, successfully, and later has been preaching Christian gospels to the Keralities on the Eastern Shore and that as he has already known about me and my stay in Mylapore, he, the apostle Thomas might come in search of me– thus my brother has written”– so, saying, Ezekial put the letter back into his pocket.
“For religious propagandas there is no dearth here. The people would accept him – what is the name? Thomas? – as one more. But, if he comes, I would like to discuss and learn from him, not about mere religion or concepts, but about the Man called Jesus and the Messiah” – said Valluvan.
Without intervening, Ezekial was looking at Valluvan. Valluvan continued: “Indeed, right from the start, cruelty and hard–heartedness have been reigning supreme in the world. There is no doubt about it. It is also true that time and again there arose many among men who had toiled hard to spread the religion of love on earth. Thus from among the Jains arose a Theertanga by name Rishabadevar who spread vegetarian food – habits and the gospel that Love alone is eternal, it is said. But, a historical personality called Mahaveera – who is a man like us – had standardized these principles and concepts and made those rules a must for the benefit of Humanity. And the Jains think that after him there is no need for the advent of any Theerthanga. To me, it seems that even in a religion which is built on Grace, Mercy and Love, there is a room for the rise of all evil paths and hence, the need for another ‘Theerthanga’, of one more who, as him, is endowed with irresistible power. Even I can turn into a Guru and bring about reformations. There is no one to prevent that. Among the sons of this land whoever wants to accept them can accept and those who refuse to accept can go their way. Though the two would come to blows at times and fight with each other, by large, they would find a compromise. That is why, in this country called Bharatham, in spite of the birth and growth of so many religions, generally, all of us can to some extent continue to live in peace and harmony. True, in a small community like that of the Jews if some conflict arise it might bring about somewhat dangerous and continuing after–effects. And, it is indeed necessary to think of it and fear it. Even after leaving their land and settling here, going about, doing their work that they should live in a state of panic is but a curse on humanity.”
I felt surprised at the way my friend has started giving a long lecture. I, who had been keeping quiet till then, though there was the doubt whether I was entering into something unknown, said, “We can prevent these ideological differences and hatred from affecting anybody. That too, these concepts and the conflicts do not at all affect greatly, those who have wealth and power.” Only after uttering those words did the feeling that whether it was wrong on my part to have said so, start troubling me. Any way, it is done. I remembered the words of Valluvan’s mother Aadhi who used to say, “One can never take back those words once uttered. So, one should always think twice before speaking my son,”. “If I have said something wrong I apologize” .
It was Valluvan who answered. Ezekial who was deep in thought did not reply.
“Some have wealth. Many do not. For some there is that called Power, Influence. For very many, it is not. But, with no exception, there is in every human heart, the inner heart that is called conscience, which is ever alert and evaluating. And, it functions as a silent but wakeful witness in matters like love, attachment towards other human beings, uttering good words etc. It is indeed easy to shun a leprosy–patient and asking him not to come any near. But, those who regard him also as their brother and consider fulfilling his needs and requirements as his birthright and bounden duty should be worshipped as divine – angels in the garb of man. To me, more than his miracles like turning water into wine, walking on the sea, bringing alive the dead, it is touching the leprosy patient and lovingly tending and consoling them looks most important and the noblest. I want to learn more about this man” – said Valluvan.
“I think you would get an opportunity for that. Jews are those who are steadfastly holding on to many things, never letting them go till the very end. I have heard a lot about Apostle Thomas who is said to have come to spread Christianity among the people of this country, on another occasion. It is said that he was highly suspicious of the rise of Jesus from the grave, and that the ‘come – alive’ Christ himself appeared before him and did relieve him of his suspicion by saying. “Have faith. Don’t be suspicious. Death is not the End. There is Life – a Divine Life beyond that.” The other Christians would call him, it is said, “Thomas, the Disbeliever.’ He is said to be more learned and educated than the rest of the Apostles. If he comes in search of me, I will send word. You can come and meet him. I do believe that he would enlighten you a lot on the subject of Jesus as a man.” – said Ezekial.
“Let him come” – said Valluvan.
I too felt like saying “Let him come.” Valluvan uttered those words to know about the noble soul who had come as the harbinger and founder of a new Humane–Religion. Ezekial in his anxiety to know how this man called Jesus would affect the future of his clan – Jews, has uttered those words, ‘Let him come’, awaiting the arrival of – is he an Apostle? – I myself did not know. Somehow, a great expectation had crept into my heart. Couldn’t say why and how. That this visit which has made Valluvan himself to contemplate at length must be significant and important’ – thought I.