Late last evening, I was discussing with a dear friend about people/events in the past that one would like to experience and that gave me an idea for another of my interesting lists. Assuming ideal conditions, following are the representative sample of people and events that I would like to meet and experience. Lets start from the very beginning.
1. Let there be light: The universe microseconds after the big bang. How did it happen? Was it spectacular? The most brilliant fireworks beyond imagination?
2. Genesis: The earth when the first protein molecules were being formed. The very first “living” single cellular organisms.
3. Jurassic Park: This one spans millions of years. In this period, I would like to observe a T. Rex hunting and a Triceratop grazing(Although some scientist now claim that they never existed.). I would want to see the unbelievable flora and fauna that existed. There would be species that we could not even imagine. Movie Jurassic Park was able to just give us a micro sneak peek into the amazing wonders that existed.
4. Eve: (140,000 years ago) Mitochondrial Eve (Matrilineal ancestor), the mother of all humanity. Richard Dawkins states that all of humanity can trace its evolution back through its Mitochondrial DNA back to this lady. What was she like? Was she beautiful? Graceful? Was she a loving mother? What was the mother of mankind like?
5. Adam: (60,000 – 90,000 years ago) Y-Chromosomal Adam (Patrilineal ancestor). Similar to the Eve, Adam is the Most Common Recent Ancestor of humanity. But Adam is separated from Eve by almost 50,000+ years. What was Adam like? Was he any different from his peers? Was he smarter? Was he stronger? What was his nature? Was he a good man? How did he spend his time? Did he contemplate about existence? How long was his life? Was he handsome (in the contemporary manner)? Did he have dreams that he wanted to realize? What made him so special?
6. The Inventors: How was wheel, pottery, fire, agriculture first came to being? Was it some “Thats weird!” moment?
7. Rise of Civilization: I would want to walk through the streets of the first cities of the Sumerian Civilization. walk through the fields of lower Nile and observe the life in the cities of the Harappan Civilization. I would also want to know why Harappan civilization just disappeared.
8. Wonders: I would want to see the amazing pyramids of Khufu and the mythical Tower of Babel in all their glory. I would want to take a nap in the Hanging Garden of Babylon. I would want to stroll through the aisles (if it had aisles) of the great library of Alexandria and absorb the knowledge in its treasure.
9. God and his Prophets: How was the progenitor of the three major Abrahamic Religion like? What made him special? What was Moses like? Was he really a prince? What made him a rebel? Did the miracles actually happen? If not, then why did the Pharoah let the Jews go? How did the Ark of Covenant really look like? I would want to see David slay Goliath. I would want to see the First Temple in all its glory. I would want to talk with Solomon and get a glimpse of his wisdom.
10. The Enlightened One: I would like to be with Siddhartha when he sees the old man, the diseased man, the corpse and the ascetic. What would I not give to know his thoughts! I would want to witness the moment when he achieved enlightenment under the Pipal tree. And obviously I would want to listen to his teachings.
11. Kurukshetra war: I would want to witness the Kurukshetra war, especially certain key moments like Krishna ‘s conversation with Arjuna, Slaying of Karna, Abhimanyu inside the Chakravyuha (How was the chakravyuha created). The list can go on and on. I would also want to know the real Krishna. What made him a God?
12. Wars: They say that history is all about wars. Battle of Kadesh, Battle of Troy (Seeing Helen would be a big bonus), The first recorded war which happened between Sumer and Elam near modern day southern Iraq (Near Basra), battle of Hydaspes river (Alexander vs Porus), the Aryan conquest of India.
13. Philosophers: I would want to be a witness to the trial of Socrates and be present during his execution, I would want to study under Plato with Aristotle. Legend has it that when Alexander came to meet Diogenes the Cynic (Who begged for a living and lived in a tub in the market), he asked if he wanted something from him, to which D replied “Yes, stand a little out of my sun”. Alexander then famously told the people accompanying him that if he were not Alexander he would be a Diogenes. It is amazing how great philosophers are the ones who make us the most uncomfortable. This tradition continues from Socrates to Jesus to Gandhi.
14. Son of God: I would want to lie down in the plains of Bethlehem and watch the rise of the Star of the East. I would want to see Yeshua when he was lying in the manger. I would want to listen to his sermon on the mount. Yeshua, in another parallel universe, could be just another Sadhu executed by the government. But there was something in him. He was not a king. He was not a conqueror. He was not a leader. Despite his death, despite persecution, despite being condemned, his small bunch of followers remained steadfast in their faith. Even threat of death could not dissuade them. After 2000 years more than 1.5 billion people follow a poor 33 year old carpenter from a dusty little village of Nazareth. Was he God? What did he actually tell his followers for them to follow him even beyond his death? How did he manage to do this?
And thus we reach the Year of our Lord. I know that I missed countless number of personalities and events that were perhaps more important than the events that I have written about. I will leave the events and personalities of the last two millennium for another post.
Astronomy and History are the two subjects that are perhaps opposite to each other in the feeling that they create in you. Astronomy makes you feel like a minuscule part of an infinite whole while history tells the story of Men and Women who changed the future. Astronomy tells us that humanity with all its grandeur is nothing when compared to the utter emptiness that surrounds us while history on the other hand tells us that a single individual can make a difference!
PS. I realized that writing even a blog needs awareness and understanding that far outstrips the breadth and depth of my knowledge. Any good writing requires countless hours of research and thinking. I know that I have tremendous scope for improvement.