This article contains the following points:
The Gamit Myths take us into the inner world of the Gamits. Though illiterate, the Gamits are born story tellers. Myths make us aware of our instincts - self, surrounding, human nature etc. The author of this article has lived with the Gamits for 11 years.
The photo above shows Mr. Thogiyabhai Gamit,
age 75, Village-Raniamba, narrating the Gamit
Myths to the younger generation at Vyara.
Enriched by the Gamit Myths
As I move about in the world of the Gamits daily, one thing that strikes me very vehemently is the reality of their myths. Normally speaking the elders of the Gamit community, both men and women, are conversant with the myths. Such a knowledgeable lot is dwindling day by day. It is, indeed, a matter of serious and urgent concern that the world of their myths be preserved and prevented from becoming extinct. Hence I, personally, deem it very necessary that such a significant aspect of their life be maintained with all our might and main. Having lived with them, for nearly a period of seven years or so, I am both hopeful and confident that the myths will help us to deepen our understanding of the Gamits. In the bargain, the Gamit myths, to some extent, will contribute to the understanding and the process of human development.
Rollo May says, “Myths are a treasure house of the revelations of man’s self-interpretation of his inner experience and his world down through the ages.” (Love and will, New York, W.W. Norton Company, Inc., 1969).
Sigmund Freud notes, “The instincts are my mythology” (Ibid.).
Human beings feel inspired to express that ‘element’ which lies at the very core of their experience. Human beings interpret that ‘inner element’ and these ‘instincts’ with the help of experiences that take place in ‘Self’ and ‘Surrounding’. This provides them with an occasion to communicate with them selves. And the subject of this communication is the gist of what he or she has learned about himself or herself and about the world.
Positively, this helps them to control their behavior and enhances effectively human growth. To put it differently, it capacitates human beings to maintain their equilibrium and composure, raising their degree of self-consciousness. In view of this human beings order their world in its proper place. Apart from that, it does not allow him or her to indulge in meaningless and apparently annoying questions regarding life itself.
It is not always necessary that myths are real stories. They may or may not be planted in the muck of history. The question here is not of historicity. A myth may just be an imagination of a person or a community or a society. Imagination and historicity are external embellishments, a structure, a form, and a skeleton. But what is of utmost importance is what is ‘within’, the soul, the element, the gist, the heart, or what is pointed to.
More often than not myths are connected with religions, which may be of great or small traditions but it need not always be the case. All those concerned with the growth of humanity must learn to talk in the idiom of myths of that particular community. Myths are created and they disappear from the horizon of that particular community with the passage of time. Some myths have been challenged and destroyed by science, research and investigation and thereby rendering them useless. To give up myths altogether would mean plunging humanity into turmoil. Human beings have to constantly re-order their world that is in and around them. This process of re-ordering is both dangerous and painful. But it yields abundant fruits in terms of human maturity. Hence myths may become outdated or be proved false but human beings do keep their mind, heart and soul open to the reality of myths. There is a dimension in the very make-up of human beings that voluntarily leads them to the world of myths. Hence it is a never-ending aspect of human beings’ existence.
Myths are a unique heritage of every culture. To some extent with the key of myths one can unlock the human mind heart of that particular community. The Gamit world too is such a world, about whose origins we know very little. But it is a world that is deeply rooted in the maze of life. The Gamits have been battling with fundamental and foundational questions of life and these are reflected in their myths.
Practically, all the myth-narrators in this book are uneducated. Yet in the school of life they are quite advanced. There is a great degree of self-consciousness in them. In the labyrinth of their forest of inner experiences, instincts, revelations and interpretations all of us are invited to take both a meaningful and a gentle walk and be enriched.