“Hey did u read ‘The Da Vinci Code?” Perfectly harmless question. Or so I thought. But these seemingly innocent words started such a huge debate that left me wondering what went wrong! This New York Times bestseller by Dan Brown has been creating ripples ever since it the stands in 2003.
The book has rekindled a debate that has been under covers for a long time. Every person who has read has a strong opinion about it- either wondering about the alternative to conventional faith that the book provides, or passionately protecting the conventional view about things. In fact, the books even elicited extreme reactions from as far as Kerala, where a customs investigations sleuth (no less!), undertook a six month long investigation to refute Brown’s contentions (full story in The Week, Sept.19,2004 issue). To quote Mr. Francis Kodankandath, who has given quite a strong case, “I found it appalling that he (Brown) had manipulated a great work like the Last Supper to drive home his contentions. Though one is entitled to have independent views on Christianity, it should not be at the cost of historical objectivity and artistic greatness of a monumental work”.
Fair words sir, but I wonder how you define ‘historical objectivity’. Brown uses facts embedded in historical works like the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper etc., to draw his conclusion. Kodankandath interprets the same facts to reach a different one. So whom do we deem right?
One of the biggest flaws in our understanding is our failure to distinguish between facts and myths. And history, as we know it, is a fine balancing act between the two, so much so that it is difficult to say where facts end and myths begin. And this distance between facts and myth, is faith. One’s faith is not just the understanding of the known, but the acceptance, and a trust in the Unknown. Most of us don’t question our beliefs, what our religion preaches. Today if you ask an average Jack on the street why he goes to church or temple or performs any kind of religious ritual, the answer would most probably be ‘I’ve been doing it all my life, and my parents before me’. Religion, for most has become tradition, a legacy that we get from our fathers and forefathers. And when somebody suggests an alternative to this convention, we panic, and the immediate defense is denial.
Probably why the Da Vinci Code is so hard to digest is because it would mean questioning everything that we’ve ever known. But then what we need to ask is that whether the possibility that Jesus was mortal, make his teachings any less poignant or profound or for that matter true? To this a friend replied, “My faith is like a circle. One link breaks, the whole circle breaks.” Agreed that it is so- search for God is the search for meaning, for truth. It begins within you and that’s precisely where it ends too. But why assume your circle is complete? The world is not so small that you can know all that’s there is to know in one lifetime. So many secrets hidden in this creation that it just is humanely impossible to know them all.
The search of god begins with belief and ends in faith. Belief is what u start with, your base. You question it, fight it, and find reasons for it. When you’ve found your reasons, that’s faith. And that, is when life comes full circle. The problem is that most of us don’t seek truth; we just assume we have it. But for those who do seek it, it’s the journey, more than then destination that counts.
Like’s a Rubik’s cube- at first glance, it may seem like a random collection of moments. But when each piece falls in its rightful place, then the pattern emerges…definite and meaningful. And till we find it, faith, god- is a feeling, the inspiration, which in this world of chaos and confusion, keeps us going.
As for what da Vinci meant when he painted those 13 cups, we can guess but we’ll never know for sure. I guess that’s one secret, like many others that died with him- maybe he that was his private joke…his way of mocking at the world. Maybe that’s why, Mona Lisa is smiling.