Cloud Carrier Of Kalinga
‘Cloud Carrier Of Kalinga’ is a work of fiction based on history. Kharvel of the Meghvahan (Cloud-Carrier) family of the Kings of Kalinga (Orissa) was not only the mightiest King of Kalinga, but also one of the most sagacious and far-sighted Kings of India. Though he was a ruler only of Kalinga, he had the rare vision to think of India first and then of Kalinga. No praise would be enough for him, for developing such a broad mind and large-heartedness, especially in the context of the times during which he ruled. Today India is one State, unlike Kharvel’s times when the provinces of India had many rulers who were so shortsighted that they did not treat even their neighborly kings as brothers. They often quarreled due to their enormous egos, and were shut off within the shell of their egos so muddle-headedly that when foreign rulers invaded one province, all the other kings of the other provinces kept aloof.
Kharvel becomes more relevant to present day India, when leaders of one state do not like sharing river water with the states through which that river flows. Also when local leaders survive by inciting their people to not to let citizens of other Indian states come to their state to seek employment, so that the Maharaja-type lethargic leaders may be saved the trouble of creating jobs for them.
Kalinga had been invaded by the famous king of Magadh, Asoka, three centuries before Christ, where many Kalingites had been killed wantonly. That war was especially disgusting. The extent of its monstrosity can be surmised from the fact that it disgusted Asoka himself so much that he disbanded his army soon after, and declared himself a follower of the non-violent dharma of the Buddha. He followed non-violence so meticulously that though he was a devout Buddhist, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that followers of other religions, like Jainism and Brahamanism should not be discriminated against. The strength of his non-violent governance must have been rare for he continued to be the only monk-king of history of such a vast Empire. He did not have to raise weapons, till his end, against any of the warlords and adventure seekers of those times that were always running mad near the Himalayas.
Kharvel united his people, governed them with justice, promoted literature, art and culture, and did so many extensive works of benefit for the people that he won their hearts. His bravery and wisdom aroused so much love in the hearts of his people that he was able to raise a mighty army, and went to take revenge for the massacre and humiliation that Asoka had piled on the Kalingites. It was a coincidence that the Greek King Demetrius also came the same day to avenge some wrong that Magadh had done to him. Demetrius sent a message to Kharvel to unite with him in humiliating Magadh, and become Magadh’s King too, since, Demetrius claimed he had no intention to rule Magadh, and he would go back to his own kingdom soon after conquering Magadh.
The offer was tempting enough. Kharvel agreed to the terms. The battle was fought the next day, but it was not against Magadh, since Kharvel did not give him time to attack Magadh. He routed the Greeks. They fled. He chased them until they went out of the boundary of India. He had to fight twelve battles all along the way to force him beyond all the provincial borders of India!
Before parting he gave the baffled and exhausted Demetrius the message, “I can accept your friendship only on a promise that I would keep the barbarians away from the civilized world on this side of the Himalayas, while you keep them away on the other side of the Himalayas. You will have to accept that we shall fight battles only for the triumph of humanity, not for personal aggrandizement. Let us pledge that we shall fight only to protect the dignity and honor of humanity.”
After three years, he returned and laid siege of Magadh. In the meantime, what he had done had endeared him to every citizen of Magadha and also the King. The doors of the Capital of Magadh were thrown open and the King of Magadh with a few generals and learned men walked out to invite Kharvel to occupy the throne of Magadh as well.
The King of Magadh offered his crown to Kharvel of his own freewill; nonetheless, tears of humiliation appeared in his eyes. Kharvel did not accept and instead, re-crowned the King of Magadha of the kingdom.
Kharvel attacked Demetrius because as civilized people the Greeks knew the value of the freedom and dignity of every human on earth, but they lacked the culture to practice it. They humiliated their enemies, their women, killed even the children, and did not hesitate to kill citizens, burn their libraries and their standing crops.
Kharvel took a second vow after seeing the irresistible tears of humiliation in the friendly eyes of the Magadhan King. He pledged that instead of fulfilling his earlier ambition to become the Chakravarti Emperor of India, he would crown the Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and the metauniverse, the Empress of India. He had seen that if he crowned himself, it would cause negative emotions of humiliation, envy and revenge. It had been the same story and it would be the same story that empowered negative emotions in mankind. He wanted to liberate humanity of the earlier archetype of the self-aggrandizement of all the kings. He wanted humanity to live by the human culture, not the archetypal and barbaric values of civilization.
The dream of Kharvel was a noble dream. It was also his wish to turn it into reality. It is true that kings of the world after him did not follow his example. Nonetheless, this noble example is not barren. One day humanity will have to follow it, for there can be no peace and happiness on earth unless we change our institutions in the light of the human culture, in stead of the institutions that we have built on the base of a civilization that is hypocritical, mechanical and soulless.
Nirmal Kumar’s novel is written in a simple language. It does not sermonize. It is only imbued and inspired by human culture. It should survive for its noble and humanistic vision and the honest and truthful emotions that it evokes. It is full of interesting characters and events. A day will surely come when the political States will wither, the politicians will have no work left for them, when there will be no rulers and no ruled ones, when humanity would have left this artificial world and would have entered the spiritual world where everybody would have plenty, when there would be happiness and every human will be her/his own ruler.