What defines the confines of societal thinking? How fertile can the imagination of a culture can be? I will give one example – when Europeans brought to oxen a Pacific island, the natives, who never saw an ox, named it a pig with two large teeth on it’s forehead. I don’t remember this anecdote perfectly, but this is what sets the context. The confines of your imagination is what is available to you. Those islanders never saw an animal except a pig. So, even, an ox also becomes a type of pig. A dragon looks like a lizard, a unicorn like a horse. Why don’t they look like something else?
Well, the trigger for this is the Ahom creation myth which goes thus –
Then a pair of large golf tinted spiders were created. The spiders as they floated in the sky, let fall their excrements, out of which the earth arose. The earth became nearly one thousand bighat thick. The spiders put eight pillars in eight corners of the earth. They, then, thought of creating the heaven. They went quickly backwards and forwards, like a woman in her looms and joined their webs to the highest summits of the mountains. They finished making of the heaven in the shape of a gold throne.
So, what does this mean? Either spider is exotic for them – very few saw spiders or spider is everything for them – either the spiders or the insects they trap are main source for their food. This, then, diverted the discussion towards coconuts. If Kerala is not a Hindu area, what will be their origin myth will be? It should be something like this –
The god suddenly woke up and saw that there is nothing around him. Since he was getting bored seeing only water, he created coconuts which were floating in the sky. Then, to eat the coconuts, he created man – he took a coconut, removed the husk and shaped the husk into men and women and gave them life. Men started complaining that the coconuts were flying too high in the sky and they are not able to pluck them. To help man, god created trees and told that the trees will create coconuts instead of him and will stick to them until they are plucked. Then, god decreed that man should climb the tree to pluck the coconuts… and so, it goes on.
Getting more curious on this, I started searching over origin myths based on coconuts and got one from Kiribati –
Nareau(The Spider) was the supreme god, no one knows he is from and he was floating all over the sky, sleeping. In a dream, someone called him three times and he woke up to see who it was. The first two times, he dozed off but the third time, he woke up to check who it was. There was none. Gazing down into the emptyness, he saw a sealed object(Te Bomatemaki) floating around. He was curious and thought of opening and seeing what it is. He made four rounds around it but was not able to see a single crack in it. Then, with his tail, he made two holes and inserted two hands inside – with one, he pulled out some sand and with the other, water. He combined them to create Na Atibu(stone) and placed it back and mandated it to lie with Nei Teakea(emptiness). They gave birth to Nareau the wise, who resided inside Te Bomatemaki. He complained one day, the sky and earth are too close for him to move. And then, they split it into two to create the earth and sky.
So, what do we see here? Their life is restricted to coconuts and spiders(and octopuses which come later in the story). This again, affirms what I said – your thought process and imagination is confined to what you can see and feel around you.
Now that I have presented my case, how should I end this?