Thursday, 5 August 2010

The parable of the Hermit and the priest

Once upon a time a learned priest, seeking knowledge of the highest mysteries of Holy Scripture, retired to a hermitage in the forest. Pious folk from a small village in a clearing nearby came to to seek his blessings and see to his simple needs.
A strange, solitary boy, who delighted in killing birds with stones and whacking bush rats with a stick, haunted the vicinity.
The old hermit chanted aloud chapters of the sacred text. The boy, drawn by the melodious sound, would abandon his cruel sport to come and listen to the holy man.
One day, while chanting the last verse of the last chapter, the hermit died. When the villagers came to bring food for the hermit they were amazed to find that the boy was chanting the holy book in place of the hermit.
Believing this a miraculous occurrence, the villagers showed the boy the same reverence they had shown the hermit. In time, he grew old, and it was as though the old hermit was still alive, chanting the sacred text in his accustomed manner.
Meanwhile the village had become prosperous for, believing themselves especially favored by proximity to the hermitage, the villagers had grown confident and enterprising.
At this time a young graduate of a prestigious seminary thought it worthwhile to set up house and institute congregational worship in the village.
The villagers showed the ambitious young priest every mark of veneration and built a splendid house where he could lodge students and acolytes of his own.
However, the villagers did not discontinue their practice of seeking the hermit's blessing and this galled upon the learned priest.
He hinted to the villagers that there was nothing very marvelous in an idiot boy learning to repeat, parrot fashion, verses of the sacred text. The point about holy Scripture is to understand it and to be able to draw correct inferences from it.
Finally, the priest and his acolytes decided to challenge the hermit to a scholarly debate.
At first, the hermit appeared to be holding his own for no sooner did the priest quote a verse of Holy Writ than the hermit proceeded to recite the entire chapter from memory.
However, when the priest began to display his knowledge of the syntax and vocabulary and hermeneutics of the sacred language, the hermit fell silent.
The priest said, 'the learned jurists disagree as to the exact meaning of this verse. I have related what the commentators have said and the manner in which the theologians have erected radically opposed philosophies based on rival interpretations of the text. Perhaps you, oh holy hermit!, can resolve the battle of the schools and dispel the confusion of the seminaries by granting us your insight into the true meaning of the piece of Holy Writ?"
Without a word, the hermit rose swiftly from his seat and beat the priest to death with a stick.
'Why such violence?' the villagers cried out.
'I like killing things with a stick,' the hermit replied grinning happily, 'It is most enjoyable. Mom discouraged me from playing with the other kids only for this reason. However, when the strange words that the old Holy man used to utter became lodged in my mind, my taste for beating things to death departed from me. Today, since this man was kind enough to explain the meaning of that nonsense, its hold on me has been broken and so I can resume my favorite pastime.'
The priest's acolytes then spoke up- 'In truth, this is a miracle! The highest mystery of Holy Scripture has been revealed!'
After everybody had run away from the village- those, that is, not nimble enough to avoid the Holy Man's stick- they spread far and wide as Evangelists of the True Gospel and also Media Personalities with a side-line in Pizza delivery.


Sanjay K said...

Way too long & not even remotely funny. Your posts have dropped off a lot since I last looked.
And why have you given up on pissing on Ghalib's grave with your translations?
My guess is liver failure.

windwheel said...

Bastard! It hurts coz it's true. I mean about this post being crap. I do not piss on Ghalib's grave- just like mebbe get drunk and throw up a little.
Anyway, you little shit, good to have you back.