The clocks had been changed, and the evenings suddenly signaled the arrival of Winter. The stars shone, the moon beamed, and the crickets clicked much sooner than usual. I was pottering about the kitchen when I overheard an interesting conversation between brother and sister.
“What is the difference between a Super-Hero and a God? “
The question was obviously the son’s. The young fellow had a curious look on his face, and he wanted to learn the truth, and nothing but the truth from his older, wiser, newly minted teenage sister. His sister looked discomfited, and said, “Dude! Seriously?”
I tried my best to keep the stuffed frog look about me, and acted non-committal. A vitally important step if you want to see how the discussion proceeds.
The son is a great lover of mythological tales. Hanuman, the monkey god, who could jump across seas, carry mountains with one hand, and fly with the mountains is a positive hero. This is such a change in pace for us for the daughter was never one to ask for super-heroes or Indian mythological tales.
Her philosophy matches the Roman poet, Ovid’s, thoughts on God:
It is convenient that there be gods, and, as it is convenient, let us believe that there are.
“Hanuman is my favorite super-hero.” said the son. “Was Hanuman a super-hero?”
“Yes …. and … no. Well…Hanuman is a super hero, but he is also a God. Most Gods are also super-heroes, you know?”
This must’ve felt like a tantalizing puzzle to the fellow, for he continued with the quizzing.
“But not all super-heroes are Gods right? Superman is not a God. “
“Yes…he is not. Definitely not. Nor is Spider man, and Captain America and all the rest of the fellows you watch.”
The son gave a raucous peal of laughter at this. It amuses him that the super-heroes who mean so much to him, mean so little to his sister. He looked at her with that look artists paint on disciples waiting to hear some Saint giving life-advice.
“Well… Gods don’t die, but super heroes do.” She sounded tentative, quite unlike her usual self.
“But Rama died, and he is a God right?”
The daughter looked at me with pleading eyes, and I threw up my hands. This child asks the kind of questions that spiritual speaking the Dalai Lama could answer. Me? I sputter and stutter and look like a duck stuck with duct tape in her throat.
His world has super-heroes, and if in the olden days, they were Gods, they must have been the super-heroes of the day.
To ruminate consciously is a privilege: Who are our super-heroes today? Which ones will be the Gods and which ones the Demons?
P.S: I recently read a book titled The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo. It is a book chronicling an unlikely trip taken by the Pope and the Dalai Lama together. It is an opportunity for them to escape the fanfare that is constantly around them, and delve into what their sub-conscious has been telling them. I don’t usually read forewords, but after reading this book, I felt happy enough to go back and read the foreword. The author said that the concept of having the two world’s most prominent religious leaders, who also have a wonderful sense of humor appealed to him, as so many leaders today are so devoid of this important ability to laugh and delight in little things.