Mystic Mantra: Wisdom from the spider’s web

Columnist  | Rajgopal Nidamboor

Opinion, Oped

Archane’s excess pride resulted in her being transformed into a spider.

Tipu Sultan

Silk is nature’s sublime, also wondrous creation — because the pint-sized spider, as a freak of nature, was given the facility to make silk, a cloth like no other. As Robert Boyle, the celebrated Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor eulogised, we are indebted to the little caterpillar — along with its web-centric tiny companion — for silk, just as much as the ant-hill-inspired King Solomon’s sublime contemplation that turned his horse aside and all his troops followed suit, so as not to harm the diminutive living beings moving along the path. No sooner this happened, the Queen of Sheba proclaimed, “Happy, indeed, must be your people, wise King. I shall remember the lesson. He only is noble and great who cares for the helpless and weak.”

One may also, in the context, highlight the amazing good old parable of Archane — the gifted mortal weaver who challenged Athena, the Goddess of wisdom and craft, to a weaving challenge. Archane’s excess pride resulted in her being transformed into a spider. The fabled story allegorically illustrates that it is to the humble spider that we owe the first cue for weaving cloth too. Or, as modern philosophy teachers, David Werther and Mark Linville explain, every mystery in any religiously significant sense is best construed as a species of appreciation, knowledge or acquaintance, and perhaps, of what silk “feels” like — silken finesse.

When the “Tiger of Mysore” Tipu Sultan first thought of silk as an industry, he may not have visualised that science would one day tweak the fabric’s “natural” ethnic appeal from the ground up. That is, synthesise the exquisite fabric for use as protective attire, bulletproof vests and other accessories, including a “diamond” for a coveted World Cup cricket trophy. Or something that would give the silk weave a new tag — one that could be used or employed as the most ideal, durable material in the manufacture of specialised items, viz parachute cords, not to speak of synthetic tendons, non-allergic sutures, implants, silk protein patches to repair damaged hearts and most importantly, artificial skin, among other paraphernalia.

The point also is, irrespective of whether you accept or reject such groundbreaking exemplifications, you ought to embrace noted arachnologist — one who specialises in the study of spiders and other arachnids — Theodore Savory’s progressive aphorism: “Silk is the warp and woof of the spider’s life.” It simply means this — from their birth to death, the lives of spiders are tied up in silk, which is akin to every soldier’s call of duty in the service of their motherland. This is a noble avowal — the “web” of life’s lesson too — for each of us to do our humble bit and make our world a better place.

The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author

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