Recently I came across the word ‘transmogrify’ for the first time in a WordPress challenge. The very sound of the word and its meaning fascinated me. It means, “to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely.” The word sounds ominous. Transformations happen all the time, sometimes harmlessly and sometimes otherwise.
The word took me back to those days when Dracula and werewolves were thrilling and horrifying at the same time. I still remember that night, long ago, when I finished reading Dracula in one sitting. It happened to be a night when the full moon was visible in the sky. Beams of moonlight entered my room. Dracula is supposed to come to his victims on those beams. I still remember waking up screaming. It is fascinating how a single word takes us back in time.
There is a tree close to our home. A month after the rains start it transmogrifies into a mammoth. A wild creeper covers the entire tree, and the transformation is complete. ‘Transmogrify’ perfectly describes the tree in that form: we know that it is a tree but it looks like an animal of long-ago days.
In our everyday life we see only the better side of nature. Everything seems so beautiful : trees, flowers, clouds, birds and the animals, sunsets and sunrises and so on. We often take nature for granted. We destroy so much in nature for our own greed. We forget that gentle nature can transmogrify in a moment and annul in a few minutes all that human beings have built by destroying nature.
Alterations take place not only in the external world but also in ourselves. This happens so often in families. There are bound to be differences when people from different families, from different backgrounds come together for some reason. But we see members of one family severing their relationships, going away from each other and so often breaking all contact. People change beyond recognition, not physically but mentally. They transmogrify. It is not only they who change but everything around them changes. Nothing is the same ever again. It is said time heals. It does heal wounds but the scars remain. Why do these changes happen?
My father used to read The Bhagavad Gita regularly. He used to tell us about the analysis of ‘nature’ in the external world and also in human beings. The Gita says that there are three Gunas or forces in the world and in human character. They are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Tamas is “inertia”; Rajas is “tremendous energy”; and Sattva is “balance, calmness”. When Sattva predominates people are balanced, and there is a change when Rajas and Tamas take over. People alter when changes occur in the combination of Gunas or the forces in their character. According to such a view it seems as if we have no control over our own behavior, but many a time there are no answers to certain questions.