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Snakes, Saints and Stoners

It is through introspection that we can shred the veils of illusion
12:00 AM Mar 24, 2024 IST | Syeda Afshana
snakes  saints and stoners

There is this famous old legend that tells about a vicious snake that terrorized everyone in the neighbourhood until the day he met a wandering saint. Naturally, the snake couldn’t hurt the saint, and the meeting ended up with the snake listening to a stiff sermon on being nice to people. The saint left after the snake promised not to bite anybody.


The snake kept his promise though his patience was sorely bushed. His neighbours thought he was being good because he had grown too old to fight, and they started pelting stones at him. By the time the saint visited him again, the snake was looking pretty seedy. “Hmm, you and your ideas!” he said annoyingly. On this, the saint replied—“Agreed my friend that I told you not to bite anybody but I did not forbid you to hiss.”


In the world, a few of us may have suffered ala snake whilst numerous others might have acted as stoners. And for the saints, there are many littered around with travesty. The fact is that these days humility in character is often considered as a foible. Sermons are habitually a sham. And stoners are more often sanctimonious as well as foolhardy.

Humans, as such, are enigmatic as well as ambiguous. Shakespeare well said—‘One may smile and smile and be a villain still.’ Masks beneath masks, roles after roles—human beings put on and perform endlessly on the stage of life. And sadly, most of the masks and the roles are designed just to derive sadistic pleasure! Nothing else.


We all know about Janus, the Roman mythological god whose image was of a man with two faces, looking forwards and backwards. Such characters exhibit polarities and are marked by double-dealing. Most times, there is absolutely no need of playing Janus but some people still wantonly do. Sounds weird?! It is.


Simply because in a fast emerging disgruntled and deceptive world, almost everybody seems hooked up by manipulation and materialism at a certain point of time. We somewhere go rampantly reckless and become injury inflictors or deft deluders who stone others as the snake was in the legend.


And then, of course this sort of world is even governed more by outward appearances than by realities. Surely, no one can for any considerable time, wear one face to himself / herself and another to the multitude, without finally coming up in one’s real colours.


Such people may indulge in plausible talk, appear good-natured and worldly wise, but the fact is that their hearts are diseased. (Fe Qaloobihim Maradhun—) and grievous is the consequence they invite because they are basically false to themselves.

The ‘powerful’ life and lingo dominates their simple to complex daily dealings. No sermons work on them. And no stone is strong enough to set them straight!! The level is too deeply disgusting to transform them.

So, weaving the intriguing trilogy of ‘Snakes, Saints and Stoners’, isn’t the discourse far beyond the seemingly simple well-known old legend? Perhaps, yes! Because the Culture of Pretence coupled with the Chronic Identity Crisis is so embedded in our lives that we all swap these trilogy roles, over and over again.

No words seem to set spurs to change or reform us or our bizarre behaviours. Situations present before us the script and we don the role accordingly. No one among us is artless. But a few are actually cheap actors. Likewise none is guiltless.

But some are guttery. We are snakes, saints and stoners—all at a time or one by one in different settings. We terrorize. We sermonize. We chastise. We hit. We run. We arrive. We depart. And the general drama of life goes on!

In the intricate upheaval of existence, the allegorical interplay of snakes, saints and stoners unveils the paradoxes and profundities of human nature. Like the snake ensnared in its promises, we often find ourselves entangled in the complexities of perception and expectation. Snakes after all prove to be snakes. Saints are after all human.

Stoners are after all vengeful. Yet, amidst the cacophony of these roles and masks, there exists a profound truth—that genuine humility, authenticity and empathy are the foundation to unraveling the intricacies of our shared humanity.

While the world may be shrouded in a facade of superficiality and duplicity, it is through introspection that we can shred the veils of illusion and recognize the transformative power of empathy and sincerity.

So, let us heed the wisdom of the ages and struggle to detach the fetters of pretense, for it is in the acceptance of our true selves that we find the path to genuine connection and collective enlightenment.