Chapter 19 – KINGS OF EGYPT AND LANGUAGE OF GODS- (The Saga of the Aryans of Bharat Varsha in Egypt)- 5,005 BCE

THEME 19 – EGYPT UNITED UNDER AN ARYAN KING – Continuing Saga of Aryans of Bharat Varsha in Egypt — 5,005 BCE
Selected extracts from Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani, published by Penguin Books, India, ISBN 0-14- 024053 – 5
(Main Reference: Main Reference: page 761 to page 782 from Return of the Aryans)
‘In a better world it is a singer of songs and a dreamer of dreams who must lead mankind.’

‘I don’t rule heaven. If I did, I would banish the mad god who rules over earth and heaven and permits such cruelties.

(From the song, ‘Hopes of Hutantat’ – around 5005 BCE – See page 761, Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani) –

‘He hideth Himself; long the journey,
And crying heart cries “Where is He!”
Arduous the path, much testing on the way
But does glory await the steps of a single day!
No, this is not the end of the end
But the beginning of a beginning, my friend . . . . .’

(From ‘Songs of Nila’ – around 5005 BCE – See page 761, Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani) –

‘But faith achieved through force and assault! What kind of faith would that be? A faith conceived in sin! And he who tries to impose such a faith on another, what kind of a person must he be? Truly, an enemy of God, or one who believes himself above God, for God never demanded what a man should or should not believe. . . . .’

(Nilakantha, the Aryan Commander to Sage Hutantat of Egypt -5005 BCE- see page 774, Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani) –

After what seemed an eternity, the Aryans of Bharat Varsha, under the command of Nilakantha entered Egypt, along with Hermit-King Lugal. Along the way, as planned, some Aryan groups parted to go to other areas – now known as Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. With them went many locals from Iran. But the locals from Sumer and Assyria would not leave King Lugal.

The journey was long and toilsome and before they reached Egypt, many were overcome with melancholy – where are we going and why? They would sing all the louder to keep up their spirits but often the songs did not allay their restless grief. Where was the land in which God ruled in his splendour? Was it all an illusion? But silent they remained, unwilling to share their uneasy forebodings with the others. There were those who understood each other without words and wondered: how powerful and alive we were with faith when we left Bharat Varsha . . . . .

Long before they entered Egypt, they met many on the way, who went their way, groping, as their eyes had been put out. Others had their limbs cut off and tongues torn out because of some minor offence like not completing their allotted work on time, or to set a stern example to other workers on occasion, but also, often, for sport or simply to terrorize.

Such unfortunates lived and died miserably, in poor settlements. There were also youngsters who were more often than not on the run for fear of being taken to the land beyond – army service for men and slavery or prostitution for women – though prostitution among men was equally common.

The land beyond was called by many names – ‘Valley of Kings'; ‘Land of Sun'; ‘Land of Glory’ – but the glory belonged to the King and the sun was simply a reflection in the sky of the King’s glory.

At first, the Aryans believed that the land had a single king. But as they learnt the language of these people better, they understood that there were thirteen kings. Each king viewed the other with hate and spite and they were all at war with each other. Borders were undefined, raids common and loyalties shifting.

At one settlement, mostly barren, where the Aryans became really friendly with the locals as the result of looking after their sick, a local brought out from hiding two gold cups to offer water to Nilakantha and Lugal.

The truth was soon out. Beyond, in the hills, was a hide-out of robbers, who supported the settlement. In turn, the people there would warn robbers of any strangers around, with designs to catch them. Yet these robbers rarely robbed the living. They were grave-robbers.

In all these kingdoms, each man, on death, would be buried along with all his living wives, in their best clothes and whatever jewellery they had; additionally, there would be items of daily necessity, such as pots and pans, for use on their journey to heaven, through the bowels of the earth. A man of status would, in addition to his wives, have at least one slave buried with him and there would be a variety of luxury items, including wine and wine-cups to make the journey pleasant. Such a journey was supposed to take twenty-seven days but for those who had a live donkey or horse buried with them, it could take less time, depending on the speed of the donkey or horse.

There was a curse against grave-robbers – that they would never ascend to heaven. This apparently did not deter the grave-robbers. But if caught, they were crucified by fastening on a frame, with wooden nails driven through their arms and legs and their bodies smeared with a honey-like substance to attract flies and ants.

Much of the information on the land beyond came to the Aryans from grave-robbers – how to cross safely, away form the clutches of kings, how to outsmart their little armies and where to hide. They even gave information on the huge catacombs to which the Aryans could run, in case of need – ‘If soldiers ever enter there, they never come out alive and thieves are too honourable to steal from anyone else hiding there.’

Indeed, the grave-robbers had a high opinion of men of their profession. When they stole from the living, they were convinced that the man must have exploited the poor to amass so much – ‘for how else is a fortune made except by robbing other’s share!’ As to grave-robbing, they never approached a grave during the first twenty-seven days that it was supposed to take a person to ascend to heaven and just in case a heavenly traveler turned lame or lost his way, they even waited for fifty-four days, ‘For by then, his heavenly ascent is surely accomplished and he needs nothing in the grave any more for the journey. So why burden the earth with what it needs not, but we do!’

Friendly and informative the grave-robbers were, but they knew little of the lands beyond. They felt that the Aryans could at first avoid the river where it was populated and then follow its course to the south where the desert began – ‘Maybe the river and desert will lead somewhere or maybe nowhere but the north holds no prospect, for the river itself drowns into a huge body of salt-water.’

The river was then called Kemi which means ‘black.’ This was an allusion to its sediment. Its mud was black enough to earn that name. Later, after the Arya entry into Egypt, the river came to be known as Ar, Ary or Aur. Much later it came to be known as Nil or Nile from Nila – and some say that it was to honour Nilakantha the Aryan leader. Others have a different version , saying that the name Nile could have come from the Greek Neilos which is derived from the Semitic root nahal, meaning a valley or river-valley and hence by extension, a river. This seems too far-fetched.

The Aryan contingent moved on. They were to leave behind their thirty-six men, women and children, too sick and bruised to travel any more. Ajitab, an Arya from Bharat Varsha – though himself well enough to travel – was left behind in charge.

Such farewells had taken place, often before, on the way, but they were always heart-wrenching. The grave-robbers consoled Nilakantha, ‘Maybe, we will teach them our arts if they cannot rejoin you.’

Nilakantha laughed, ‘No, we have learned much of your language from you. That is enough. Teach us not your arts. But I hope our people will teach you our arts to sow, plant, to build shelters and live differently and well. Meanwhile protect them.’

They promised, ‘With our life and honour.’

Nilakantha believed them. He genuinely felt that one day the Aryans left behind would show these misguided men the way to atone for the past and live well.

Meanwhile, Nilakantha gave them the ‘way to die well’. With Lugal guiding him, Nilakantha had searched far beyond the area for a particular wild plant. They found many. Its leaves, sun-dried and pounded, yielded a bitter powder that dulled pain and an overdoze even caused deep sleep. This was his gift to the grave-robbers for use, if ever they were caught and were to be crucified. It would not save their lives but would prevent the torture of painful, lingering death.

‘Be as silent as the graves we rob,’ the robbers had warned the Aryans as they moved out. They sang no more and marched with a quieter tread.

Unbidden, dark and gloomy thoughts assailed them and Nilakantha asked Lugal, ‘Should we not go back?’ But it was too late.

Their mistake lay in assuming that like the grave-robbers they could steal their way into unknown, uninhabited paths. Robbers went in groups of three or four. Here a huge ‘army’ traveled. The Egyptian rulers had spies everywhere and this large movement could not pass undetected. Also, the Aryans were unsure as they zig-zagged into unknown tracks; and so they went slowly. Superstition had compelled them to decline when a grave-robber had graciously offered to guide them. Their slow, unsure movement gave enough time to the local King to mobilize his men and face what he thought was a challenge. His spies had exaggerated the strength of the oncoming Aryans.

Suddenly, the Aryans stopped. Ahead of them were the local King’s men, massed like an ocean. The King’s commander shouted from afar, ‘Animals! Get down from your animals! Throw down all you carry!’ The Aryas compiled as Nilakantha repeated the order. He had learnt enough of their language on the way to understand what the commander desired.

The commander was surprised. He expected some resistance or at least the ‘enemy’ trying to run away. With ten slaves shielding him, he came forward slowly, afraid to be within their immediate arrow-range. But what he saw surprised him. These men and women looked different from his people. Even their clothes! And they had children too!

As a victorious commander, he was entitled to a hundredth part of captured booty in slaves, women and goods. Already, he was eyeing the women, men and their goods, as if relishing his own share.

Yet suddenly, the commander thought of the condition that some blood must flow on his side to be entitled to booty. This condition, perhaps devised originally to reward great warriors, had degenerated into a senseless token formality – and yet it was unavoidable, or else the booty was lost. The commander quickly gave his order. His slaves held their own eldest salve and one of them ran a sword through him. Soon his writhing agony stopped. He died.

The Aryas understood nothing of his bloodthirsty rite. But fear gripped them and they thought this was the start of a merciless massacre. Nilakantha moved near the commander with a hand on his dagger. Lugal came forward too. Without an order, the Aryas picked up their weapons and mounted their animals – let us die fighting rather than be slaughtered.

The commander raised his hand and shouted, ‘There is naught to fear. None of you shall be harmed.’ But he was afraid too. These newcomers, he knew, could not stand against his superior force. But he feared he would be the first to fall, having come so near. He tried moving back. The Aryans inched forward. He halted and barked, ‘Remain where you are! The Sun-god (King) shall soon arrive.’ Meanwhile, face to face, he explained to Lugal and Nilakantha that killing the slave was no more than a necessary rite and meant no threat to them. He was simply ensuring that he got a part of the booty due to him. His explanation, instead of reassuring Nilakantha and Lugal, actually terrified them. They looked back at the Aryanvv vs as if to translate his words; but said, ‘Whatever happens, keep your arms ready to surround the King and the commander.’

At the commander’s order, a slave rushed to advice the priest, so that their King was informed of total victory.

Face to face, the two armies stood.

At last, then, the King came. But he was not like his foolish commander, overpowered by greed. He was surrounded by an outer ring of priests and an inner ring of soldiers. He could hardly be seen. Nor did he come near, but halted along the middle of his army. Six priests came to inspect the opposite army and reported back to him.

The King demanded the presence of their commander. Nilakantha insisted on taking Lugal. ‘None approaches the Sun-god with a weapon,’ the priest said so they went unarmed.

‘Kneel, dogs, kneel, before the Sun-god,’ the priest barked as they reached the King’s group. Nilakantha and Lugal knelt.

The King would have to shout to speak directly to them. But he spoke through the six priests he had lined up.

‘Why do you have two commanders? I asked for one,’ was the King’s first question. Nilakantha answered, ‘Sun-god, I am in command, but we all respect Hermit-King Lugal, so I brought him.’

‘The only kings that enter my land are dead kings,’ the Sun-god responded.

Nilakantha regretted his foolish response but Lugal spoke, ‘Sun-god, I am not a king in the ordinary sense. I am known as king of architects and builders.’

‘So what do you come to build here?’ asked the Sun-god.

‘To build a dream,’ said Lugal, but even before conveying the reply to the King, the priest muttered, ‘Explain, dog, explain!’

Lugal explained, ‘A dream came to me, Sun-god! – that I build a glorious temple in your land to honour you.’

‘What need have I of a temple to honour me when, wherever I am, a temple lies unseen beneath my feet!’

‘True, Sun-god, but my next dream clarified that doubt. Just as the sun shines in the sky to reflect your glory and is seen by all, there has to be temple, seen by all on earth, to reflect your glory here.’

‘How will a temple reflect my glory? Will you build a sun on earth?’

‘Yes, Sun-god, something like the sun – to reflect its glory and yours.’

The man must be mad, the King thought but Lugal had excited his interest. Nilakantha had his mouth open and understood nothing. ‘Explain!’ the King shouted for the first time.

‘Sun-god, like all great architecture, the idea in my dream is profoundly simple. The movement of the sun that revolves around you throws its light differently in various phases. Your temple shall have a number of obelisks in pyramidal and tapering squares. The rising or setting sun would, at different times, gild with a bright gold glow, the tip of each particular obelisk. And in those golden glimpses, each shall observe with awe and reverence, your glory, that is reflected in the sky as it shall be reflected on earth.’

‘But surely,’ said the King doubtfully, ‘sunlight shall fall equally on every obelisk.’

Lugal went on, at length, with his explanation. He was on firm technical ground and had no doubt. But it was all beyond the King’s comprehension. ‘Bring Hutantat,’ he ordered.

Hutantat was the sky-watcher (astronomer) in his land.

Well before Hutantat arrived, Lugal started drawing all kinds of figures on the ground. With the King’s permission, Lugal called one of his men – Himatap, an Aryan from Bharat Varsha. All along the way, Lugal and Himatap had been engaged in discussing and observing movements of the heavenly bodies including the sun. Himatap was his ‘star-pupil’. (It is not clear if by expression ‘star-pupil’, the poet meant that Himatap was the best pupil or a pupil who studied only stars – in any case, the poets did regard the sun as a star too – and the idea was that each god’s universe had a star attached to it and the sun was the ‘local star to guide the earth.’)

Under Lugal’s instruction, Himatap began drawing all kinds of figures on the ground with an arrow-tip – lines, squares, angles, triangles. Even the King came nearer, with his entourage, to watch curiously, while they waited for Hutantat.

Nine soldiers, carrying Hutantat’s litter, arrived. Hutantat had no priestly or secular titles. But his claims to fame were many. He often predicted when the river would rise in flood and when it would recede. He knew more about an eclipse than anyone – predicted it accurately. But more than that, when six kings had joined together to attack the kingdom in the time of the present King’s grandfather, he had predicted the defeat of the six kings, even though no more than eighty soldiers were left to fight against them. At his bidding, it was said, ‘the rivers rose, drowning all that came before it and the six kings fled and one even died before reaching his land.’

Since then Hutantat was known as the ‘oracle who could alter events.’

Perfunctorily, Hutantat bowed to the King. Anyone else making such a careless bow would have been beheaded on the spot – but he was not anyone else. It was the King who returned the bow. At the King’s order, the chief-priest explained the impossible dream of Lugal.

Hutantat left the priest without waiting for him to complete his explanation and walked over to Lugal and Himatap who were still drawing figures on the ground. With impatience, even with anger, Hutantat rubbed off with his feet, one figure drawn by Himatap; he snatched Himatap’s arrow and redrew the figure differently and, at a greater distance. Lugal nodded in agreement with the correction.

Then began Hutantat’s scrutiny of the figures drawn by Lugal. Hutantat rubbed off no figures but drew and redrew; and Lugal too drew and redrew. It was as if both were discussing, by means of figures, the best way to achieve the objective.

Hutantat ignored two distant interruptions from the impatient King who wanted to know his views immediately.

The King was now being served with choice refreshments. When he sent a priest to call Hutantat, the priest heard Hutantat’s insulting shouts to remain away – lest he disturb the figures drawn on the ground.

Lugal and Hutantat were both tired. They stopped and looked at each other in silent appreciation. Lugal felt that Hutantat had the eyes of his mentor – the recluse priest-father – who had taught him all he knew about the sun’s movements.

But Hutantat’s words were pitiless as he responded to the King’s shout – as he said, ‘Only a fool would begin such a project.’

The terrible words were spoken. Lugal felt no anger – only sad weariness.

The priests who had know all along that it was an impossible idea, and had said so to the King, were pleased.

The King was already discussing with his commanders how the Aryans be surrounded to avoid undue bloodshed. It pleased him to have so many different looking men and women as slaves.

Lugal hardly heard Hutantat who was speaking to him. ‘How can you think of wasting so much time and effort over a useless temple to satisfy the ego of an arrogant king when most people here are hungry, naked and without shelter. Do you know how much it would cost? And the poor here will groan and suffer! Are you without pity?’

‘Pity! Yes, I have pity. But for my people too. From what the King’s commander said, clearly we are to be enslaved here. It was pity, then, that moved me to offer to build a temple. You think it is wrong to have pity for one’s own people!’

‘Then it was not a dream that brought you here?’

Ruefully Lugal laughed, ‘I have many dreams but this is not one of them. It suddenly occurred to me when we were threatened with slavery or death and I thought it was worth a try.’

‘Yet, it is a glorious idea,’ Hutantat said almost to himself and fell into a reverie.

Suddenly, Hutantat shouted across to the King’s entourage, ‘And I must see the site where this temple is to be built.’

‘What!’ the Chief-priest shouted back. ‘I thought the proposal was dead.’

Hotly, Hutantat replied, ‘You may be dead yourself. Why don’t you ask the King?’

It was the King who spoke, ‘But Hutantat, did you not say that only a fool would start such a project!’

‘Of course,’ Hutantat replied and he pointed his hand at Lugal, ‘is he not a fool, who comes from afar, pursuing a dream, not for his glory but yours! And he stands in the sun, his people without food and water, while even your eunuchs are having refreshments with umbrellas over their heads. Certainly he is a fool to start this splendorous project. But only a great King would embark on such a project. Are you a great King?’

The priests winced. Hutantat never called the King by his true title of Sun-god. But to challenge the King’s wrath with such impertinence!

The King ignored the question and asked, ‘You think the project has merit! You really think so?’

‘I don’t think so. I know so.’

‘It cannot fail?’ the King pressed.

‘Certainly, it can fail if the sun moves away, elsewhere, for ever; or if the earth under our feet disappears. But otherwise, how can it fail? This dreamer here may be a fool to pursue his dream for your glory, but his dream is solid and splendid, based on the movements of the sky and earth and the manner in which the sun’s rays invariably fall. No, it cannot fail.’

There was silence all over. But the King soon ordered four sun-umbrellas to go to Hutantat, Lugal, Nilakantha and Himatap. A refreshment cart was also brought and left for them. Hutantat took a little; Lugal took nothing. He was thinking of all the Aryans – his wives and children among them – sweating in the hot sun, unaware of all that was happening here.

But Hutantat told Lugal, ‘Take a little. My insolence they expect and appreciate; yours they may not.’ They drank and ate and it occurred to Lugal that Hutantat possibly used his impertinence as a screen.

At last the King spoke, ‘Sage Hutantat! Will you help these men to select a temple-site?’

‘That I shall,’ Hutantat replied. ‘But first let a site be found to house them and all their people.’

The Chief-priest spoke, ‘Our men will assist too. Surely, not all the people brought by them are needed to work.’ The Chief-priest was simply translating the King’s desire to have some of these different-looking men and women in his household.

‘Are you mad, eunuch!’ Hutantat shouted. ‘Do you think these people came from so far off to rest here? They too come chasing the dream of this fool for the greater glory of our King. Or is our King’s glory of no consequence to you? Do you realize that if a single one of them does not work or is hurt or harmed this project of glory will suffer! So see to it, then, that they are all able to work and he who disturbs or harms them is punished with the highest penalty. You are personally responsible for that.’

Sadly, the Chief-priest looked at the King. They spoke. How could these people all be workers! Some were old and quite a few women had children. The King spoke, ‘But Sage Hutantat, some of their women have children. . . . . !’

‘Exactly, King, exactly!’ Hutantat interrupted ecstatically, as though agreeing with him. ‘That is what your priest does not understand and never will. They even brought children for the promise of this glory. You are absolutely right, King, and wise too!’

No one understood what he meant. Maybe he did not understand either. Certainly, the King did not understand. But how could he disagree with a sage who not only agreed with him but even called him wise. The King could not recall a single other occasion on which Hutantat had so complimented him.

The King’s orders were now clear. All these people were to be well-treated and well-housed and anyone trying to harm them would meet a terrible fate.

Finally, the King said, ‘Sage Hutantat, when you select a temple-site, come to me and bring this . . . . this . . . . .’ He pointed to Lugal; maybe he disliked calling him King Lugal or maybe he forgot his name.

But Hutantat immediately said, ‘Certainly, my King, and I shall also bring the King’s architect Lugal.’

‘King’s Architect! Good title! Yes, let that be his,’ said the King.

The Chief-priest and the King came forward. The Chief-priest shouted at Lugal, ‘Kneel dog, kneel!’ Lugal knelt, bewildered.

The King touched Lugal’s head with his whip gently. The Chief-priest shouted, ‘The Sun-god has spoken. And all shall honour you as such. Rise! Honourable King’s Architect, rise with honour!’

Obviously, it was a great honour. But the day had been crowded with so many startling events that Lugal did not know whether to laugh or cry.

The King and his entourage left. The commander and his soldiers remained to carry out the King’s order to arrange for food and housing for the King’s Architect and his people. The commander discussed arrangements with Hutantat and Lugal.

Nilakantha ran to the Aryans. Breathless, laughing, crying, he reached them, unable to utter a word – and they thought he had brought news of the calamity awaiting them. At last he said, ‘We are saved! Sing, sing, sing!’ And many sang, though others shouted questions at him and at each other, while still others exclaimed, ‘Sing! He says we are saved!’

The commander heard the off-key song, with some singing, others stopping midway to ask questions or to hear the answers. To him it sounded like a disorderly lament, ‘Why are they bleating like goats and sheep?’ he asked. Lugal himself was surprised at the tuneless song.

But Hutantat said, ‘They sing in a language that God understands better – the language of goats and sheep.’

‘God understands the language of sheep and goats better!’ the commander asked. ‘How is it then that our King, the Sun-god, does not speak the language of goats and sheep?’

Hutantat wondered if the commander’s question was a trap to entice him into saying something indiscreet about the King. He said, ‘King knows all he needs to know. It is for you to know better – perhaps the cry of slaughtered slaves, and the lament of those that you call sheep and goats.’

Many heard what Sage Hutantat said – and the story would be told and retold that these outsiders speak the language of the gods! Language of the gods! Who says so! Why, Hutantat himself! And Hutantat, they knew, was never wrong and never spoke lightly.

The locals, obsessed with the idea of after-life, that awaited them after a brief journey of twenty-seven days from their grave, regarded the coming of Aryans as auspicious. True, the locals carried their wives, pots and pans, even slaves and asses to the grave for their journey to heaven. But these foreigners go armed with the language of the gods! Many aspired to crowd around these new-comers to learn their heavenly language.

Some thousands of year later, far into the modern post-Vedic ear, possibly around 1200 AD, poetess Satyali of Sindh would sing of the echo of Sage Hutantat’s words and say, ‘The Aryans took our language out to lands distant and near – oh where did they not go and so few came back! – But they left their words on the lips and hearts of many in those strange lands; the strangers were strangers no more and those that returned, rich they came with much they learnt of what was on the lips and in the hearts of them that they left.’

Poetess Satyali also adds something more to the point. She says, ‘And then came the venerable priests and they said, “Beware! The language we speak and see is the language that the gods speak and see. Honour therefore its eternal divinity and pure perpetuity and think! Should not God’s language always remain perfect and refined!” And who but a senseless poetess like me would argue with a sentiment so noble and lofty! Then the priests pronounced their codes of command to refine the language and make it perfect and fit for the gods. No longer then did it matter what a poet said, but how he said it. And as my poet-great-grandfather said to the priests, “Beware, for soon it may be that the gods alone shall utter this language of perfection, and humans no more. . . . .”

‘And I, Satyali, tell you that though fortunately the number of gods has not gone down, unfortunately the number of those that now speak the language of my ancestors is restricted to very few. And I know not how many humans shall speak this language in the time of my great-great-grandson, but I hope, he shall – even if he be the only one so to speak.’

Poetess Satyali mentions no one in particular as a target of her criticism. It may be wrong to assume that her criticism is against Panini – author of Astadhyayi, fourth century BC, which contains 3,983 sutras, and an almost equal number of rules affecting Sanskrit; also the criticism may not be against later commentators like Patanjali – author of Mahabhasya, second century BC, or Jayadity and Vamana – authors of Kasika Vritti, seventh century AD. The fact is that poetess Satyali mentions her poet great-great-grandfather who is identified in her other poems as poet Kundaliya of the sixth century BC – a predecessor of Sage Panini of the fourth century BC. Obviously therefore, poet Kundaliya’s criticism, at the least, must be aimed at grammarians before Sage Panini’s time. The obscure line of a fourth century BC poet that ‘Rishi Panini drank water from the same river as Kavi (poet) Kundaliya’, seems to be irrelevant for this purpose and all it probably means is that both Panini and Kundaliya resided near Sindhu river. As it is, Panini had his ashram at Salatura, situated near an angle formed by the junction of Kabul with Sindhu river, while Kundaliya lived at the mouth of Sindhu near the sea.

The Aryans were now about to leave to follow the commander. Suddenly, a young, shrill voice rose, ‘But where is brother Himatap?’ They all looked. Far away, alone, was Himatap, where the King and his entourage had been. He was still drawing figures on the ground, untouched by the bewilderment that affected everyone that day.

‘What is he doing?’ asked Nilakantha.

‘He is trying to discover God’s law,’ Lugal said.

‘Yes,’ Hutantat rejoined grimly, ‘so that the Devil may be served better.’

Nilakantha misunderstood and said, ‘Himatap is a good lad.’

Lugal and the others shouted to Himatap to return. Himatap heard and suddenly seemed bewildered at finding himself alone. He had been much too absorbed to notice that the others had left.

The King approved of the temple-site. Hutantat said to Nilakantha, ‘Many untruths were spoken to the King. Yet I am bound by the promise that you shall build the temple.’

Nilakantha felt sad that Hutantat doubted the Aryan sincerity and said, ‘Each of us is honour-bound and I swear by the light of the sun . . . . . . .’

Hutantat smiled, ‘Enough! But learn a few rules before you break them. Never swear by the sun. The sun may not object but as all here will tell you, the sun is only a reflection of our Sun-god King, and never annoy him if you hope to die of old age.’

Nilakantha was still hurt, ‘But you doubted our sincerity, did you not?’

‘Sometimes I doubt the sincerity of God the Creator, too.’

‘Sincerity of God!’

‘But then, perhaps, god does not exist; so why question his sincerity?’

Nilakantha looked more sad. Hutantat asked playfully, ‘Why! Does everyone in your land believe that God exists?’

‘Oh no! There are some who disbelieve in God.’

‘And they are evil men?’ asked Hutantat.

‘No, not at all. Many are good, though I think they are . . . . . inside them. . . .’ he groped for a word.

‘Lonely?’ Hutantat prompted.

‘Yes, there is a loneliness, an emptiness inside them.’

‘And you try to bring to them your belief in God?’

‘Me! Why? How! Each person reaches his belief himself, within himself.’

‘Nothing outside of him influences him?’

‘Of course. The winds of influence will be there, form parents, teachers, neighbours, but above all from what his soul tells him.’

‘Oh! So you too have a talkative soul!’ Hutantat said. ‘But tell me, in your land, does a man who disbelieve in God go to heaven?’

Nilakantha too now had the urge to be playful and said, ‘No one in our land is expected, ever, to go to heaven.’

‘What! You live a life and die. That’s all!’

Nilakantha then told him of his belief – that there was no heaven, no hell, but only moksha – reidentification of the human soul with the soul of God, if the individual in his earthly journey lived with righteous karma; or alternatively a chain or rebirths till he achieved righteousness, though no one was ever denied either the opportunity or the hope to achieve salvation.

‘And surely this moksha will be denied to those that disbelieve in God?’ Hutantat asked.

‘Why would it be denied if the man’s karma was righteous?’

‘Surely God decides!’

‘How can God be unjust?’

‘You mean that your God is not angered by neglect, nor placated by praise! But then what is the point in believing or disbelieving in God, or loving or hating him, if moksha is unrelated to it?’

‘Sometimes, the love for God in a man’s heart will overflow. If a man can love his father and wife and even unborn son, grandchild or friend, why is it inconceivable that he loves and believes in God? That love and belief itself will incline an individual to right conduct. But whether he believes in God or not, if his karma is righteous, how can God deny him moksha! How can a just God ever refuse to a man what he has earned!’

Hutantat asked many questions in order to clarify things. But in the end he said, ‘Interesting. But I believe none of it.’

Nilakantha smiled, ‘That is your privilege, Sage. Many in my land too do not believe it. That is their privilege.’

Hutantat asked with heat, ‘You mean there is nobody in your land to tell disbelievers to believe!

Nilakantha had difficulty in replying. He was wandering how the wise sage could ask such a preposterous question. At last he said, ‘But how, by what right . . . . .!’

‘If you believe, why don’t you make others believe?’

‘Why? How! If I, a believer, force myself upon another, does the non-believer not have the right to force his non-belief on me?’

‘Exactly! And in the end, force will decide whose belief succeeds.’

‘But faith achieved through force and assault! What kind of faith would that be? A faith conceived in sin! And he who tries to impose such a faith on another, what kind of a person must he be? Truly, an enemy of God, or one who believes himself above God, for God never demanded what a man should or should not believe. . . . .’

Nilakantha stopped with the feeling that he had been lecturing an honoured sage and said, ‘Forgive me, Master, I know so little and I have no way with words. But you know we all love and honour you. . . . . .’

‘Even if I don’t believe in God?’ Hutantat challenged with a smile.

‘That, Master, is between God and you. But I simply wanted to respond to your first question, to promise that each of us would work sincerely to see that the temple you have promised the King shall be built.’

Hutantat was serious now. ‘Good. The King has released 1,500 slaves for temple-work despite the Chief-priest’s protests. They will be freed in my custody when the temple is completed; and the King will give me six villages where they can remain in freedom. Already hundreds of others work in freedom in villages which King gave me three years ago. I care not at all for the temple. But if my promise for the temple fails, no harm may come to me but the axe will surely fall on the slaves.’

Nilakantha was looking at him with a fixed stare. Hutantat thought he had spoken too fast in a language that was still not too familiar to these people. He was about to explain but Nilakantha spoke, ‘You saved us! You save slaves! Can God have greater love than that a man should love his creatures so much! I wish I could trade my faith with your karma.’

‘Do not give away so much for so little!’ Hutantat rejoined.

Even Lugal was thinking, as he saw hundreds of slaves being driven to the temple-site by the whip and the lash, with wounds and sores on their bodies and terror in their eyes, of karma and human free will of which the Aryans had spoken – that the soul was a source of liberty, that a human had the capacity to go beyond his heritage! That no one was denied the hope and opportunity to so advance!

But where was human free will, Lugal wondered. And where did it lead? Nowhere. It was simply an illusion – an escape from one tyranny into another. Did these slaves at the temple-site have free will? Did he have free will? In his land of Sumer, priests were the tyrants and here the King terrorized with priests; commanders and soldiers under him. But what was the difference? Except that here the tyranny was more visible, more naked, more brutal. And now, they were building a temple to the glory and vanity of a King who ruled with indescribable horror! Where had he led his people with this free will? From one horror to another! No, there was no free will; no mysterious, benign presence that governed the universe! Man was simply a pawn of fate, a slave of necessity.

Lugal’s gloom actually arose from being rebuffed by the slave-commander who had tersely told him, ‘Lord Architect! Tell me what you want these salves to do and my soldiers shall get it done. Don’t tell me how!”

Later, Hutantat told Lugal and Nilakantha, ‘The King’s Architect cannot interfere with the King’s commanders. Only a priest can.’

‘Then get Nilakantha appointed a priest,’ Lugal urged. ‘He sings, he prays, sometimes he even thinks, and his thoughts are always auspicious.’

‘Although Nilakantha will gain much by being a priest, he will lose a little too,’ Hutantat said.

Hutantat explained: the King appoints ninety-nine priests – no more, no less. He bows to them every morning. He cannot dismiss them. So if he dislikes a priest, or wishes to appoint another, the priest must die. And even those that kill the priest, at the King’s command, must die, for it is a sin to strike a priest.

Hutantat continued, ‘Maybe, no one sheds tears over a priest’s death, as it means one vicious person less; but imagine Nilakantha in that role! After two years, he must lose his manhood and be a eunuch.’

‘What!’ Lugal and Nilakantha shouted in surprise.

‘Yes. For the first 730 days, the priest is permitted the freedom to pick any and every man’s wife, sister, daughter, mother and take her to bed. No restrictions, except that he cannot touch the King’s wives. All others must submit to his desire. But on the 731st day, the priest undergoes an operation and becomes a eunuch for life.’

‘Why this madness?’

‘Simple. When the King dies, his queens and his ninety-nine priests are buried with him, alive. Queens are mostly of royal blood, as the King must marry all his sisters, whatever their age. He can marry others too and they too are buried with him. In that cramped grave, where there are so many buried, only eunuch males are allowed lest they corrupt the queens on their celestial journey. But of course, the belief is that when they reach heaven, there is abundance of everything, including human spare parts; so their manhood is promptly restored and there too, they can claim any woman that their hearts desire.’

Nilakantha was speechless but Lugal asked, ‘Priests and queens – are they the only ones buried alive?’

‘No, many slaves. They are castrated too. Why, even horses and asses are castrated before being buried alive with the King, lest his queens begin to suffer from unholy desires during that brief journey to paradise. The only difference is that slaves and animals do not get their spare parts back.’

‘Why?’

‘Why! Don’t ask me! I don’t rule heaven,’ Hutantat said. ‘If if did, the first thing I would do is to banish the God who rules over earth and heaven and permits such revolting cruelties.’ He paused to ask, ‘Brother Nilakantha, would you like to be a Lord Priest?’

Later, they were told why a priest was castrated during his lifetime. A priest was always with the King. He escorted the queens to the King, served as their teacher and physician. Nobody could see a queen except the priest.

But why not assign such duties to women, they wanted to know. But Hutantat said the women, here, were regarded as fit only for work in the fields or to satisfy man’s hunger and produce children.

‘But Aryan women work! They are even teachers, singers and doctors!’

‘Well, maybe they will say Aryan men are not manly enough and their women, not feminine enough.’

‘Does anyone then wish to be a priest?’

‘Why not!’ Hutantat explained. ‘Two years of riotous living to compensate for castration; then living in the lap of luxury. Sex? But even a eunuch does have some inlets and outlets to satisfy his desires. And remember! He has the absolute certainty of reaching heaven with his manhood restored and bliss everlasting!’

‘Does anyone believe it?’ Nilakantha asked.

‘You believe what you believe – they believe what they believe.’

‘What do you believe?’ Nilakantha pressed.

‘I believe everything and nothing,’ said Hutantat. ‘One day I may know what I should have believed but by then it may not matter!’

Actually, it was Hutantat who secured better treatment for the slaves working for the temple. Most of their heavy work lay outside, like bringing huge stone-blocks and baking bricks, but they were also leveling huge, hilly terrain of the temple-site.

Nilakantha asked Hutantat, ‘The commander is unduly brutal with the slaves. Is there no way that you can get another commander?’

‘Another commander will be equally brutal,’ Hutantat said, but added after a pause, ‘Good idea, Brother Nilakantha! You cannot be a priest, but you could be appointed to serve as a commander.’

‘You mean you can appoint me as commander.’

‘No, only the King can. But it is brilliant idea. Yes, you replace the commander and your men replace his soldiers, for they are more brutish than their commander! And certainly, the slaves will respond to your gentleness. They know the King’s promise that they will be freed once the temple is complete.’

‘I hope the King will remember his promise to free the slaves when the temple is completed.’

‘He forgets no promises. He just won’t keep them. If I count all his promises to me, I should have had eighty-five villages with thousands of slaves freed. But some promises, sometimes, he keeps. So the problem now is about your ambition to be the King’s commander: or are you to remain only the commander of your Aryans?’

‘Ambition! But please don’t call me a commander of the Aryans,’ Nilakantha begged. ‘It is Hermit-King Lugal who leads us all. He commands that I march ahead, as I am simply a singer of songs.’

‘Yes, Lugal knows too, that in a better world it is a singer of songs and a dreamer of dreams who must lead mankind.’

But Hutantat influenced the commander, not by moral force which only met with indifference but by threatening him. ‘You are maltreating and starving the slaves which bothers me not at all, except that it disrupts the King’s temple.’

Again said Hutantat to the commander, ‘Beware, the King may make you not a priest but priestly (castrated)!’

The commander would have struck down anyone else, but not Sage Hutantat. Often, the King came to the temple-site, demanding Hutantat’s presence. Gratefully, the commander would hear Hutantat praising him to the King for his work – and once the King even said to the Chief-priest, ‘Remind me to promote the commander when the temple is complete.’

Hutantat also lined up a few Aryans, visibly, to keep watching the treatment of the slaves by the commander and his soldiers. It had its effect and the soldiers no longer interfered with Aryans offering food and water to the slaves, or tending to their wounds and later the soldiers became less harsh with the slaves and sometimes even considerate.

‘Work goes slowly,’ Hutantat said to Nilakantha, in mock-complaint against the good treatment of the slaves.

‘But, auspiciously,’ said Nilakantha, happily. ‘And I thank you, Master.’

Among the Aryans, Himatap was perhaps the only one unconcerned with the slaves or any other matter. All his dreams and waking thoughts were centered on temple-construction.

The King often came, each time to demand that the temple be made bigger and grander than Lugal’s conception. Readily, Hutantat would agree, only to demand more slaves, so that they could be freed at the end, and more villages to house them in.

‘Do not promise lightly, my King,’ Hutantat said, ‘for you know the curse on him that vainly promises in the temple’s name, and keeps not his promise.’

The King did not know the curse and asked. But Hutantat only said, ‘Too much I honour you, King, to utter such a curse in your presence.’

Thoughtfully, the King promised more slaves, but Hutantat never demanded too much, knowing that each superstition had a limit.

In the centre of the temple, the King demanded a palace, surrounded by tapering obelisks, monolithic shafts with a pyramidal apex, on which the sun’s rays gleamed with a golden glow. Yet, he also wanted a place for burial, with his entourage.

‘Why not a Ziggurat for the King to ascend to the heavens directly from the sky,’ said Lugal, with his Sumerian experience. But he silently realized his mistake – bodies decompose and surely on that open platform, everyone would see the condition of the King’s body with horror. Besides, the King’s body was not a bait to trap animals, as in Sumeria.

The King’s objection was different. ‘Grave-robbers steal even from closed pits and an open Ziggurat won’t do. Instead, think of how to keep the robbers away from our grave-pits.’

Himatap had a suggestion, ‘Let it be a closed pyramid then – closed for ever.’

It was Hutantat, then, who answered the King’s doubts – ‘How will bodies go into an enclosed pyramid?’

‘An opening will be there,’ explained Hutantat, ‘which will be sealed with bricks after the bodies are put in.’

‘Is heavenly ascent possible from an enclosed pyramid?’ the King asked.

‘Yes, the King’s spirit is mighty.’

‘But what of those that must accompany me?’

‘The King’s might will guide them too, but holes shall be provided at the top of the pyramid for weaker ones.’

‘But so far, heavenly ascents have been made from earth. What if the sky-route is impossible?’

‘No problem. The earth will be under your feet.’

Except cost and effort, every problem was considered.

The King’s decision: ‘Build the pyramid, Hutantat. You will get 900 more slaves, to be freed at the conclusion of construction, with two more villages. No more, but no less. That is a promise.’

Each visit by the King resulted in intense discussion, chiefly among Hutantat, Lugal and Himatap, with all three drawing and redrawing figures, diagrams and lines – sometimes disagreeing, often pondering, and even striking their own foreheads in frustration.

Later Western and Indian historians would write about the theorem of Pythagoras of Samos, a Greek philosopher and mathematician.

Someone could argue that somehow Hutantat, Lugal and Himatap learnt it from Pythagoras – except that Pythagoras lived in the sixth century BC while Hutantat, Lugal and Himatap worked on the first pyramid in Egypt some thousands of years before Pythagoras. But that apart, there are well preserved pyramids and funerary monuments in Egypt, built long centuries before Pythagoras, and it may be worthwhile for Indian historians to take a trip to Egypt to see how this simple theorem was well within the grasp of those simple people.

It is difficult to say who came upon the theorem first – Hutantat the Egyptian, or Lugal the Sumerian and Assyrian, or Himatap the youngster from Bharat Varsha with the Tibetan mother. Chances are that it came to Hutantat the Egyptian, or Lugal the Sumerian, though it is possible that Lugal learnt it from his mentor – the Sumerian recluse, who was the son and father of a priest. In any case, a later poet’s claim ‘surely this knowledge flowed from my land (India)’ has no basis either, except that the Indus Valley finds clearly show that pre-ancient India was well aware of the application of this theorem.

Many poets from Bharat Varsha credit Nilakantha with much that the Aryans did in Egypt. He deserves credit – after all he was the leader, though he distinguished himself largely through self-effacement.

Hutantat was their spokesman with the King and commander. All work was organized by Hutantat and Lugal. Nilakantha was supposed to supervise everyone. But so convinced was he that they were all working excellently, that he hardly supervised, except to appreciate their work. And since he realized that he achieved nothing by supervision, he did what pleased him most – going to the slaves and often serving them food. Sometimes, he detached the Aryans from work to prepare some delicacies for the slaves. But first he would offer them to the commander, and soldiers, then to the slaves. He would talk to the slaves although a lot of them did not understand him, for they had been caught from lands in the African south along the Nile.

Nilakantha would wonder about the darker colour of the slaves’ skins. He sometimes sang for them and encouraged them to sing. He understood the sadness in their songs, if not the words. He addressed each slave as ‘brother’ in his language.

The commander did not interfere with Nilakantha’s contact with the slaves. After all, everyone, even Hutantat, respected Nilakantha as a leader. He was a fool but a delightful fool – thought the commander. The soldiers considered him funny but pleasantly so. Only the slaves regarded him as lovable, without reservation.

Nilakantha was the son of a celebrated singer and the grandson of a poet. Why did he leave with the Aryans? To seek a better life for himself ? Maybe to seek a better life for others.

Lugal saw Nilakantha often speaking or singing to the slaves and said what once Hutantat had said, ‘Work goes slowly.’ And Hutantat too said what Nilakantha had once said, ‘But auspiciously, Master.’ Both laughed.

Nilakantha saw them from a distance. Somehow he knew they were laughing at him. But even so, he was happy, for so overwrought were these two with work and worry, that it delighted him to see them laugh.

But this is a simplistic view of all that Nilakantha did. He was perhaps the ablest listener. Everyone came to him with their troubles. He listened, rarely saying much. But, often, the mere recitation of woes softens distress.

One wound remained – and that was in every heart. Where was the object of their long quest? Why were they caught in this land? Was it for this that they had left their homeland? Nilakantha had these doubts too and his voice trembled as he sang, ‘So onward Arya, onward all . . . . . .’

What more is wanted from a leader than that he keeps his hurt to himself but cheers his troops and raises their morale and sanity when there is no way of going forward or back!

Poets from Bharat Varsha wrapped many fables and legends around Nilakantha as if he were the inspiration behind all the monuments and mathematics of Egypt.

Even Nilakantha’s narration of the story of the Egyptian calendar was misunderstood. Nobody paid attention to the story as a whole. Everyone merely heard the title of the story and assumed that Nilakantha established the Egyptian calendar.

The story simply was that Hutantat who often praised Lugal, once said to Nilakantha, ‘Every day, Lugal gives me lesson in humility, and teaches me something new.’ Actually, all that Lugal had done was to prove to Hutantat that a year consisted not of 365 days but 365 ¼ days, ‘And I was the foolish one,’ said Hutantat, ‘to declare to the King’s grandfather that the year begins when the brightest star is seen in the morning sky in direct line with the rising sun; and all my observations showed the year to have 365 days – no more, no less.’

Nilakantha knew that in Bharat Varsha, a year was known to have 365 ¼ days; so also in Sumer (Mesopotamia); he did not know how or why. But he was sure that so insignificant an error of a mere ¼ day hardly mattered and he said so. But Hutantat gravely said, ‘It makes a difference of a year in 1,460 years.’ Apparently, Hutantat did not view this lightly.

However in Bharat Varsha calendar, a day was divided into twenty hours, an hour into 100 minutes, and a minute into 100 seconds, and a second into ten subdivisions. In Sumeria, a day had twenty-four hours, each hour sixty minutes, and a minute had sixty seconds, with no subdivisions for seconds. But then, the Sumerians always had six as their sacred number. Everything had to be a multiple of six – whether it be their gods, immortal angels, the number of lashes to punish a culprit, or division of days, minutes and seconds.

Even the man-made cycle of a ‘week’, as an artificial cluster of seven days, owed its inspiration to the Sumerians. Their proverb was, ‘Six days of the priest and one day of sin.’ All that this proverb meant was that each person owed his six days, out of seven, to labour for his priest, while the one remaining day was, inauspiciously, for a person’s own individual, private pursuits.

People in Bharat Varsha had a ten day week, and the eleventh day was a day of rest and to entertain friends, while the twelfth day was for public festivities; and thereafter the ten day work-week restarted.

It was actually from Sumeria that the system of twenty-four hours for a day, sixty minutes for an hour and sixty seconds for a minute and event the concept of a week as a bouquet of seven days reached the Romans, Christians, and others – and while the origins and routes of borrowings are obscure, it may be that the Sumerian system came to Bharat Varsha not through returning Aryans but later, indirectly from Europe.

On the Sumerian’s use of multiples of six and Bharat Varsha’s preference for multiples of ten, Hutantat asked Himatap, ‘Is ten a sacred number in you Bharat Varsha?’

‘Not at all,’ Himatap said, ‘But ten is a convenient number for decimal placement.’ But decimals came later. Many say that in its pre-ancient origin, the popularity of number ten arose simply for its convenience – as man had ten fingers and counting up to ten was easy.’

Lugal laughed, ‘Maybe, the first Sumerian who began counting had six fingers in his hand; or maybe he had six children and no more and stopped counting after six. Who knows! But the fact is that six has always remained a sacred number with us.’

Nilakantha pleaded so Hutantat took him, along with many others, to bring back Ajitab and the thirty-six sick and injured Aryans they had left behind in his charge at the settlement which was under the protection of grave-robbers.

There was no settlement there, any more; only skeletons of the dead, fleshless bodies, left there to rot. Also, they found no one in the hills where the grave-robbers had their hide-out.

They did not know it but this tragedy was actually related to the temple that the Aryans were building. The King’s soldiers had fanned out everywhere to hunt for new slaves to work on the temple. Apparently, everyone too young or too old to serve as a slave was killed and the rest were dragged away as slaves.

Since then, Hutantat sent out his men everywhere to look for any slaves taken from there. None could be located. He tried to console Nilakantha, ‘Maybe, your Aryans joined the grave-robbers to escape.’

Nilakantha was in anguish. ‘Don’t worry,’ Lugal said, ‘If they are robbing graves, they are working less than we are and living better.’ Nilakantha shook his head.

Both Lugal and Hutantat knew what Nilakantha was thinking – would the Aryans who confront the karma of last life, soil their karma for the next life, by committing the evil of robbing a grave?

They did not want to intrude on Nilakantha’s anguish. Yet they were both thinking – each man has his destiny and neither tears nor hope can wipe it away!

There was silence in Nilakantha’s heart. Laughter did not come to him as easily as before. Around him, he saw the graveyard of his hopes – his own and of the Aryans who relied on him. How comforting it would be to adopt the philosophy of Hutantat, that our hopes and dreams, our effort and will, matter not; and all is ruled by destiny.

NOTE: The Saga of Aryans of Bharat Varsha in Egypt will continue for years, as outlined in the Theme that follows (Theme 20)