“Indian culture?” I asked a trifle bemused.
“Yes,” my friend replied. “Indian culture and philosophy is now the need of the hour. So is religion”.
“My God,” I said, “now you seem to be on a different trip”. I looked about and I saw copies of the Mahabharata.
“The English versions of the Mahabharata are very interesting,” I said.
“Have you read P. Lal’s version?” I asked showing off a little. “Or for that matter Christopher Isherwood’s rendition of the Bhagawad Gita?”
“I haven’t read them but I am trying to,” he sighed.
“But why suddenly?” I asked.
“It’s always good to know about Indian culture, history, mythology and legends."
“And moreover,” my friend continued. “There is so much relation today to mythology and polity."
“How?” I asked. The conversation was really getting exciting. My friend and culture, two strange bed fellows I thought.
He continued excitedly. “Can’t you see the intricate parallels that are being drawn? History and present day polity. History and the happenings in India today. Why, our venerable Prime Minister is now compared to Dhritarashtra."
“Dhritarashtra?” I was surprised.
“How can the Prime Minister be compared to this legendary figure? Dhritarashtra was Dhritarashtra and the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister.”
“Well,” he said. “That is what is going on and he is being compared to the legendary figures of the Mahabharata. In fact, what is going on is indeed a re-enactment of this great war. The country is in the throes of a war and our Prime Minister is playing a crucial role."
“But who are Lord Krishna and Arjun,” I asked. “After all, Arjun was exhorted by Lord Krishna to fight.”
My friend evaded what I thought was a very astute question. I looked triumphant.
“Anyway, let me continue to read,” he said, “then I will work out the exact comparisons, metaphors and syllogisms.”
“Alright,” I replied. “But please read them in the original Sanskrit. After all, you are using a foreign language to read our ancient culture and mythology.”
“A great war,” he said. “A great Mahabharata which is being staged right now. Very soon I will discover who is Lord Krishna and who Arjuna!”