A Different History- Analysis

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A Different History
By- Suajata Bhatt
The poem ‘A Different History’ is set in India. In the first paragraph the poet describes how the world is developing at a fast pace and leaving behind culture, morals, value, spirituality etc. But India on the other hand has managed to sustain its tradition and modernity. “Great Pan is not dead;

he simply emigrated
to India
Here, the gods roam freely
Disguised as snakes or monkeys;
every tree is sacred”
Pan is the Greek god of nature. This reference to Greece and Pan could refer to two things. One of the possible interpretations is that- Rome, Greece and India are considered the hubs of spirituality and they have their own set of gods and goddesses. But over the years Greece has developed and consequently its people have lost faith in god. On the contrary, India continues to be highly spiritual and god fearing and the ‘Great Pan’ emigrating to India could connote how India continues to have faith and believe in god. Another explanation could be the love for nature and respect for the natural environment in India. Legend has it that Pan died due to the depletion of nature and animals in Greece. At the time this poem was written India was not a shade of what it is now and was known for its natural beauty and its peoples dependence and respect for nature. The next three lines seem to be mocking the Indian psyche of turning everything and everyone to god and creating a god for everything. The stereotypical Indian has a habit of using god’s name to get things done; associating every minute detail in his life to god and this is what I feel the poet is mocking.

“And it is a sin to be rude to a book
It is a sin to shove a book aside
with your foot,
a sin to slam books down
hard on a table,
a sin to toss one carelessly across a room.”
“You must learn how to turn the pages gently
without disturbing Sarasvati,
without offending the tree
from whose wood the paper was made.”
These lines describe the Indian...
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