Time Travel – 1
Every Tuesday, Roopa Pai – our favorite columnist, will be on KYS to tell you all the history of Karnataka themed around her rivers. We couldn’t think of a better way to wish you all a very Happy Karnataka Rajyotsava and wish Roopa Ma’am a very Happy Birthday than with the announcement of her column – TIME TRAVEL.
A River Runs Through It – This set of weekly columns was published in the student edition of Deccan Herald during the school year 2011-12. Here’s the first one!
RIVER OF LIFE
Hello, hello, hello! Lovely to be here again. It’s the start of a brand-new history column!
This year, we are going to explore the history – and mythology, and people, and much more – of our Cheluva Kannada Naadu, Karnataka. But, but, but. We’re not just taking off in any random direction across the state. We’re going to Follow the Water! Is that exciting or what?
Hmm. You don’t look excited, not in the least. You look merely puzzled. Now you are looking annoyed – you think I’m having you on. You have this ‘Follow-the-water? What’s-the-weird-lady-going-on-about?’ look on your face. Well, uncrunch your faces right now, girls and boys, and allow me to explain.
Let’s go back – really, really far back – in time. Let’s go to the beginning of history itself, to the time when things began to be written down. (Yes, yes, by humans, of course, dinosaurs did not know how to, did they?) When do you suppose that was? 2000 years ago? 3000? Actually, it was some 5000 years ago. Give or take a few hundred years.
By this time, humans – or to give them their proper scientific name – Homo Sapiens – had been around for some 2 million years. But it was only now that they figured out a way to write things down, so that people who came after them could know what their lives had been like.
Why did it take them so long? Well, for the longest time, humans just kept wandering from place to place like animals, hunting and gathering their food, sleeping in caves, moving on. Then around 10000 years ago, some bright spark came back to the same place he had been in a year ago, and found that a whole field of wheat (or corn, or something) had come up there. He thought back a little, grunting to himself, and remembered throwing away some seeds there.
A-ha! said Bright Spark to himself. Throw seeds, get food. Ugga ugga! And that, as we all know, was the beginning of agriculture.
Once Homo Sapiens realised that he could grow his food, his wandering days came to an end. He and Mrs Sapiens built a home close to the seeds they had planted, chased away the greedy birds and the rats, harvested the grain when it was ready, and stored it in baskets and pots. Whenever they were hungry, they just cooked up the grain and ate it. And that was the beginning of fast food!
Other Homo Sapiens came by, and were impressed by what they saw. They built homes next to the farmer’s, and planted their own seeds. Soon there was a thriving community by the fields. Once they had planted their crops, these guys had very little to do except go Ugga Ugga at each other, and that got boring quite quickly. So they began to think, and imagine, and invent.
Now, they wanted to share their thoughts with other people (like we do on Facebook today), and THAT’s when another Bright Spark came up with the idea of Writing. This whole process had taken some 5000 years.
You’re crunching your face up again. What is the point of this story, you are thinking. Here’s the answer – the point of this story is that A River Runs Through It. You see, in the 5000 years between the first farmer and the first writer, Homo Sapiens had discovered that crops grow best when they are planted by rivers. So the cleverest humans of the time moved to the banks of large rivers around the world – the Nile River in Egypt, the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers in Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq), the Indus River in today’s Pakistan, the Huang Ho River in China – and built great cities there. And it was these clever humans who invented writing – the river took care of their food and water, and left them with enough free time to do stuff like that.
So, since rivers played such a huge part in making sure we got to know so much of mankind’s history, isn’t it fair that they become the stars of our new history column? You bet. And since this column is about Karnataka, it is the rivers of our state – the Kaveri, Tungabhadra, Sharavathi, Kali, and many more – that are going to get top billing. Here, we will tell their stories, and the stories – involving goddesses and wise men and empires – that played out on their banks.
Excited at last? Come on then, let’s Follow the Water!
Liked reading this? Then you might also like to read And the Children Shall Lead: Mrs. Roopa Pai.