Rohith Vemula And Idol Carl Sagan: 'We Are Star Stuff'!
"We are star stuff ”,(1) Carl Sagan, Rohith’s idol told his daughter Sasha once. Indeed Rohith Vemula was one. His suicide note indicates a highly evolved consciousness of a bright mind. To understand Rohith’s note, one has to understand Carl Sagan first.
Carl Sagan was a Cosmologist, Astrophysicist and an outstanding communicator of science and scientific wonders. His narratives are so outstanding that prefer to quote him rather than trying to verbalise it with my limited talent. He had that unique worldview which admired vast ness of our universe as compared with our tiny planet the earth and all the same did have great appreciation of how important a human is. In his famous ‘Pale Blue Dot‘ commentary he says;
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out his or her lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The events since August must have made Rohith realise the truth of this Saganian worldview. Living on a “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam” the existential turmoil surrounding him must have caused deep revulsion within him. And that certainly resulted in his clinical detachment from the humpty dumpty game the powers that be were engaged in.
In his last days it was more of a pity for the establishment’s Lilliputian existence playing out its petty survival game with pretentions of being Masters of Universe must be what he was immersed in.
And having realised the miniscularity of his conspirators, he simply dropped his weapons like Arjuna did on the battleground of Mahabharata. Sadly, there was no Lord Shri Krishna around as wise counsel. But contrary to what vested interests would like us to believe Rohith did not abandon his struggle and his fellow comrades out of depression or defeat. But once again quoting Carl Sagan “Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, (is) the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe.
Rohith must have come to realise what guru always maintained and wondered about, “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. And despite this, how frequently we misunderstand, how eager we are to kill one another, how fervent is our hatred has resulted in rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
All those starry nights under open sky, being denied bare human decencies and the apprehension of witnessing bitter vindictiveness of clay feet politicians, must have driven him way past disgust into grave sense futility of human life and so he wrote “Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art”
He had reached a stage, where he had stopped being disillusioned because he must have wondered; am I right in expecting from all these minions who will strut on this tiny speck of dust called earth like an emperor and wield their power with vanity. In the words of his Idol, he must have thought, “terribly idealistic, I know, I know. There are political and economic and geographic and ideological and biological and cultural forces down here on Earth that make it damn hard for the human race to stop perpetually roundhouse kicking itself in the face. But I can dream, I guess. Plenty of us manage it, after all—manage to be basically courteous humans who don’t kill or rape or otherwise maliciously inflict suffering on others. But collectively, we keep failing.”
Rohith must have been composed and peaceful as is evident from his tone and tenor of the note. But once again, let us not mistake (knowing or unknowingly) that this part of personality belief or resultant tryst with destiny out of his Saganinan worldview. In fact, he was an aspiring youngster who wanted to be a science writer like the iconic Carl Sagan
But the circumstances created by his tormentors made him feel in his words“ a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster”. This in my opinion is the greatest defeat of our society and the leadership class something that will haunt every conscientious individual in India in times to come. But to end on a positive note, as the least that we owe to Rohith, I once again quote Carl Sagan
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”