Quest for the Holy Grail
By Anand Balaji
THEOLOGIANS, HISTORIANS AND TREASURE HUNTERS have for long believed that hidden in some corner of the world is a sacred vessel like none other. It is one that Jesus Christ is said to have used at the Last Supper. Some versions would have us believe that Jesus’ blood was collected in this vessel as he hung on the cross.
Though no one is sure of the appearance of the Holy Grail, it has nonetheless spurred people over the centuries to seek it for it holds a fascination and significance far greater than that of perhaps, El Dorado! And as with precious objects everywhere, the Holy Grail too is surrounded by its share of amazing stories.
The legend of the Holy Grail is one of the most enduring in Western European literature and art. The search for the vessel became the principal quest of the knights of King Arthur. It was believed to be kept in a mysterious castle surrounded by a wasteland and guarded by a custodian called the Fisher King, who suffered from a wound that would not heal. His recovery and the renewal of the blighted lands depended upon the successful completion of the quest.
False Images of Christ:A recently discovered rendition of Christ by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci
Equally, the self-realisation of the questing knight was assured by finding the Grail. The magical properties attributed to the Holy Grail have been plausibly traced to the magic vessels of Celtic myth that satisfied the tastes and needs of all who ate and drank from them.
The Holy Grail first appears in a written text in Chrétien de Troyes’s Old French verse romance, the Conte del Graal (‘Story of the Grail’), or Perceval, of c.1180. During the next 50 years several works, both in verse and prose, were written although the story and the principal characters vary from one work to another.
With the passing of the Middle Ages, the Grail disappears until the 19th century when medieval history and legend stoked the interest of writers such as Scott and Tennyson, of the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and of composers, notably Richard Wagner. The symbol of the Grail as a mysterious object and as the source of the ultimate mystical, or even physical experience has persisted in the novels of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis and John Cowper Powys.