We are in the year 2017. Seventeen years have passed since we stepped into the 21st century. It had seemed as if we were stepping into a different world because we were moving into a new millennium. Life in the new ‘era’ was not all that different, but different enough to make it interesting. Ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly are a part of life. Human nature does not really change.
2016 brought to mind the year 1916, a hundred years ago. My grandparents got married that year. My grandfather has written about his life in two notebooks. That was a different world. He writes about the journey made by him, his parents and relatives to the bride’s place. They went by bullock carts and traveled only at night. It took them four days to reach their destination, about 87 kilometers away from home. In December last year, our daughter, son-in-law and grandson traveled across continents, to Germany, in less than fifteen hours. My grandparents are no more; their children are no more ; their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are living their lives. How things have changed in the last hundred years!
However, some things have not changed and will never change : the ability to be truly evil and the casual way of being cruel to those who can be dominated. It truly hurt to read about a ten- year-old suicide bomber. Human life has little value. I am reading The Gene : An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It is a fascinating book. One of the chapters is called ‘Lives Unworthy of Living’. It is about the connection between genetics, heredity and the Holocaust. It is difficult to conceive of how the Nazis got away with all the horrific things they did, but they did. That is the tragedy of human life. I was reminded of the book, The Source by James Michener. This book is about Judaism over the ages. The book covers thousands of years, and we travel along with the characters through generations.
Time brings to mind the idea of infinity. Time in its infinity is behind us, and infinity is ahead of us. I wonder what changes will happen. But then, we cannot predict the near future. How then can we say anything about the far, far future? Of course, science fiction writers have taken us to the distant past and far into the future. According to what they have written, life is very different but so same too. It is humbling to think that in this long stretch from infinity to infinity we are somewhere and our existence like a grain of sand. That seems so very unimportant, but it is not so to us who are living this life.
Our Gita tells us a lot about Time. Shloka 17 of Chapter 8 says, “The whole of Reality includes Time and Eternity. Time is where evolution goes on, activities go on, processes go on, beyond which is the One absolutely imperishable, changeless Reality. We have got both Time and Eternity as Reality; time is one aspect and eternity is another aspect” ( From Swami Ranganathananda’s commentary on The Gita ).