Let's drink to pralay, qayamat. . . whatchamacallit | Cover Story | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Club hits
    July 13, 2013
    Despite their restrictive membership rules, colonial trappings and archaic dress (and gadget) codes, India's private clubs haven't lost…
  • Finer tastes
    July 13, 2013
    It is the culinary tradition and its grand interiors that Bengal Club is justifiably proud of.
  • Movers and shakers Inc
    July 13, 2013
    Insiders say the Gymkhana is a way of life — quite literally.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
FUTURE TENSE

Let's drink to pralay, qayamat. . . whatchamacallit

|


Maya Indian Jose Erenesto Campos prays for safety at a Mayan heritage site in El Salvador.

Doomsday cults have an ancient pedigree. With so many gullible followers around, the nabobs of negativities are unlikely to go bust.

On my last visit to Ephesus, I was offered frothing glasses of cold Turkish lassi or ayran. These days, the hoteliers are touting something classier - Apocalypse Wine. "Enjoy it on Friday December 21st, the day the world ostensibly comes to an end!" says the Turkish vintner from the region long famed for its wines and Roman links. He is betting on Doomsday Fever to bulk up his bank balance.

Travellers with one-way tickets have been swamping the Turkish province of Sirince in the belief that Virgin Mary rose to heaven from here. The "positive energy" of the place, tourists hope, might shield them from global catastrophe predicted by a doomsday prophecy.

France and wine being inseparable there's a doomsday vintage being offered at a mountain in the French Pyrenees. Doomsday cultists claim this will be the only place still standing after the end of the world on December 21. This brings back visions of Noah's Ark resting on the Mountains of Ararat on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Deluge that supposedly devastated the world in Biblical times.

The Biblical flood harks back to still more ancient accounts from Assyria. It speaks of a tremendous cataclysm where all the howling forces of Nature waged a dreadful battle, "when the water rose to the sky and the brother no longer saw his brother... where men filled the sea like fishes and corpses floated like seaweed". When the storm subsided land was completely submerged by water and there wasn't any continent, lament the royal bards from ancient cultures of Mesopotamia.

Manu is the Indian counterpart of the Assyrian Noah. Being a man of truth and justice (Satyavrata) he was spared, says the Bhagavata Purana. The Middle-Eastern clones of Manu were saved too from divine wrath which literally cleansed the old world of burgeoning evil, according to most ancient apocalyptic writings. All these celebrate a cyclical version of the universe with its unending loops of creation (srishti), stasis (stithi) and destruction (samhara or pralaya).

"In seven days, " says Vishnu in his fish incarnation (avatar) to Manu, "the three worlds shall be submerged. " Compare this with the Lord's promise to Noah in Genesis, "Yet seven days and I will cause it to rain upon the earth. " Theosophists believe that the legends of the 'three worlds' and 'fish god' point to the legend of Atlantis. The three lokas or "worlds probably refer to the great empire of Atlantis, described by Plato, " writes Ignatius Donnelly in his 19th century compendium of Antediluvian myths from around the world;"( The other two) being the western continent of America, and Europe, Africa and Asia being considered together as the Old World. "

Like his credulous counterparts who readily subscribe to dystopian prophecies in this age of financial conspiracy theories and other skullduggeries on an interplanetary scale, Donnelly too sternly insisted that it was "too much to ask us to believe that Biblical history, Chaldean, Iranian, and Greek legends signify nothing, and that even religious pilgrimages and national festivities were based upon a myth".

Elsewhere, he claimed that the "the Koran formally states that the waters of the Deluge were absorbed in the bosom of the earth. " This glosses over a more apocalyptic vision of the end of the world which occurs in the form of Judgment Day or Qiyamah or Quayamat both in Judea-Christian and Islamic traditions.

Quayamat is envisioned as a Semitic version of the Karmic 'pay-back' time of the Orientals. While the latter supposedly plays out from one life to another reincarnated life, there is a terrible finality about Quayamat. In fact, the Day of Judgment or Resurrection, al-Qiyamah, is one of the six basic tenets of Islamic faith.

What sets Resurrection apart from the present hoopla over planetary havocs forecast by fearful mortals, the time of the final judgment is supposed to be only known Allah, according to the Koran. After this nothing is supposed to remain except God and He resurrects all!

In the final reckoning if you believe NASA scientists, our planet has been there and done all that - for as long as four billion years! The doomsayers just lost their shirts, for example, on Toutatis, when the three-mile-wide asteroid came 'cosmically close' to the Earth but did not quite manage to clinch it. Never mind, exclaim the nattering nabobs of negativities: there will always be new perditions to forecast, new prophecies to be made as long as there are gullible folks to follow them.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service