I don’t remember the name of the writer who defined life as a conspiracy of chromosomes. But I learnt recently that the probability of a particular sperm combining with a particular ovum is 1:300 trillion in the creation of a child, though only 23 chromosomes come from each parent. What that means is that there were possibilities of 300 trillion other individuals being born in my place! 300 trillion other persons could replace me at the time I was being conceived.
Worse, psychology teaches me that “we enter the world with biologically based mechanisms that enable and predispose us to behave, to feel, and even to think in certain ways.” [Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour, Passer and Smith]
Yes, it’s all predetermined. “It’s the stars, / The stars above us, govern our conditions,” lamented Shakespeare [King Lear] four centuries before scientists identified the stars in our chromosomes.
A student of mine wrote to me the other day that he would have been in Princeton or Harvard had he not joined my school. It was his destiny, he said, that he had to study in this particular school and meet such particular persons who changed his destiny. [To become a politician in India who would earn much more than any Harvard- or Princeton-scholar?]
Is our destiny a conspiracy of the chromosomes?
I’m very familiar with conspiracies. Like most of us ordinary folk!
Aren’t our mythologies full of conspiracies? Think of Sage Vishwamitra or the other sages whose tapas was jettisoned by our gods by means of conspiracy.
Was it the conspiracy of the Roman pantheon or the Egyptian pantheon that turned Mark Antony’s life topsy-turvy?
Whose conspiracy prevented Sonia Gandhi from becoming the Prime Minister of India and whose conspiracy helped Barack Obama become the President of America?
Whose conspiracy gave me my boss?
Whose conspiracy gave me my life? And the chains in my life?
Whose conspiracy keeps Yeddyurappa of Karnataka and Narendra Modi of Gujarat from the prison? Whose conspiracy keeps Suresh Kalmadi and Andimuthu Raja in prison?
If our gods were conspirators, can we be better than them? At any time? Any hope? Of liberation? From conspiracies?
Whose conspiracy is raising the price of gold? Whose conspiracy is sinking the Sensex?
“The vast majority (99.9 percent) of genes we share with all other humans creates the ‘human nature’ that makes us like all other people,” say Passer and Smith, psychologists.
Our gods too share the same genes. Our bosses too. They are all our creations. Or we are their creations.
In other words, it is all the conspiracy of the 23 pairs of chromosomes we inherited from our forefathers, from our gods, from the stars in the conspiring cosmos.