Lightning

It had been a busy day. Now, as it turned dark, all the inhabitants of the city were returning to their homes. Some covered in sweat and dust; some tired from the noise and dirt; some squashed, humiliated by the pushing crowds of the buses and the underground trains; and others frustrated and bored of sitting in their cars, waiting for the traffic jam to clear.

The sun had set. It was dark, the birds had returned home, the trees had ceased to cast their shadows. For those who knew nature, there was no reason to be up and about. It was a time of rest, of sleep, of contemplation. In the old days, men and women slept when the sun set. If they didn’t, it was to pray.

In the humdrum of the city, in the self-occupation of its inhabitants, in the screeching of the buses and the roaring of the motorbikes, there was a sudden break. The dark sky, desolate and menacingly opaque, lit up for a moment as a jagged silver line shone across it, lighting up the whole sky till as far as the eye could see. Lightning had struck.

For a moment, all was insignificant. Nature, in her great glory, had shown man the pettiness of all his living. The daily grind, the constant struggle, all ceased and what remained was the power and magnificence of the bolt of lightning. The thunderbolt was a precursor to the rains to come. For a moment, all men and women down below stopped in their obsessive activities and looked up – with awe, wonder and respect. Then, puzzled, they looked down again, not knowing what to make of it. Perhaps there were some for who the bolt was an awakening. Who realised the true proportions of things. Who understood the difference between the petty and the magnificent, the temporal and the eternal, the false and the real.

The ancients knew lightning intimately. The thunderbolt – vajra – was Indra’s weapon. The king of gods, Indra, would vanquish darkness and exhibit his enormous powers to anyone who was blind to them. His majesty was unparalleled. He was the chosen lord of those who lived their lives with a sense of awe.


he, who stilled the quaking earth

who set at rest the agitating mountains
who spread out the space between the land and the heavens
and supported the heavens with his strength
listen, men, he is our indra

before whom earth and heaven both bow down
before whose very breath the mountains tremble

famed drinker of soma rasa
wielder of the thunderbolt
listen, men, he is our indra

under whose orders run the horses and the chariots
under whose shadow live cattle and men
by whose power sun and morning come to birth
who leads to rivers to their destiny
listen, men, he is our indra

– Rig Veda 2.12

Indra was still here. Only men had long ceased to recognise him and in turn, lost their own souls.

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~ by tdcatss on August 31, 2015.

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