Today, I’m here to narrate a story. More than a simple folk tale, it is a local legend with considerable historical backup. The protagonist of this legend is not a prince, or a local hero, or a troubled family man. The protagonist of this legend is actually a mad man.
But he isn’t your typical lunatic, though. Many revere him as a divine incarnation. The story of his lineage is extremely curious. He was born as one of the twelve children of a nomadic and scholarly couple, who left their every newborn behind during their travel across Kerala. He suffered from lymphedema, and used to spent his nights in crematoriums. His numerous oddities and eccentricities gained him a title – ‘Naranath Bhranthan’ , or the madman of Naranam.
Now, this madman of Naranam had a very queer hobby. When dawn breaks, he would go to the bottom of the nearby Rayiranelloor mountain, find a huge stone, and would painstakingly roll it up the hill. As soon he reaches the top of the hill, he would push the stone down. And there the stone would go, rolling down the hill, while our weirdo would break into an uncontrollable, childish laughter accompanied by a thunderous clap of his hands. But, he doesn’t stop there though. Again, he would go down the hill , roll the same stone high up the mountain, and let it roll down, continuing to laugh at this sight with a strange pleasure. He does this over and over, till dusk arrives.
Why did he carry out his routine hobby of rolling the stone up and down so religiously? Above all, why did he hauntingly laugh at that mere sight?
There are two kinds of craziness. One is the real madness defined by medical terms. The other is the apparent madness defined by behaviour and thoughts that go beyond the comprehension of the ordinary men. Naranath Bhranthan was no ordinary loony. His madness wasn’t real. It was apparent. He was a pure genius who pondered the philosophical complexities of life. Bhranthan was symbolically demonstrating a simple but powerful truth about life. Going up the ladder of success is a painstaking job. Like gravity pulling down the stone and the man, there would be several factors that attempt to drain our energy and pull us down. Once we reach the lofty heights, the view would be mesmerizing. It is then that we have to be more alert and cautious. There would be no room for mistakes. Be it out of over confidence or out of indulgence in our success, a simple negligence of any kind can lead to us falling down the ladder, like the stone rolling down under the grip of gravity. Naranath Bhranthan wasn’t laughing at the stone. He was laughing at those who are blind to this harsh truth. He was laughing at man’s ignorance, at his lofty, haughty nature that comes when he reaches the pinnacle of achievements. He was laughing at the transience of material success.
Yes, he wasn’t guffawing at the stone. He was guffawing at us. He was the one normal man who found the rest of the humanity ridiculously stupid, funny, and loony.
Tell me, can you hear his laughter ?