Big-Endians vs Little-Endians

Posted by Dev Baul - 15/05/21 at 11:05 am

Big-Endians vs Little-Endians

In the course of his travels, Lemuel Gulliver met two warring factions in  Lilliput—Big-Endians and Little-Endians. Big-Endians broke their boiled eggs from the bigger end while the Little-Endians did the same from the smaller end. In earlier times, a crown prince had cut a finger while breaking the egg from the bigger end. Whereupon the emperor decreed that his subjects were ordained  to break their eggs from the smaller end only and default would result in stiff penalties. People resented this law and rose in revolt multiple times. These rebellions, often aided and fomented by the monarchy of neighboring Blefuscu, resulted in a loss of life of one emperor and thousands of Big/Little-Endians. At the time of Gulliver’s  visit, Lilliput and Blefuscu had been engaged in a war  for “six and thirty moons(three years).”

I came across this bulletin board while walking around in a modern Egyptian museum in Cairo and was reminded of the Big-Endians vs Little-Endians story. Here were two peoples with identical prophets but for the names, engaged in an eternal war. Their salutations (shalom vs Salaam), headgears (kippah vs taqiyah), rituals (brit millah vs khatna), and concepts of purity (kosher vs halal) are similar too. They agree even in their taboos (pork) but keep firing rockets at each other and have kept at it for decades! Unlike the Big-Endians vs Little-Endians story, there is no egg in play here let alone the big or small ends of the egg.

Jonathan Swift had used Big-/Little- Endians as metaphors for Protestants/Catholics and Lilliput/Blefuscu for England/France. I have examples from closer home in mind but desist from citing them lest I  hurt someone’s sentiments and go behind bars under UAPA/NSA.

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18 Responses to “Big-Endians vs Little-Endians”

  1. Aali Pant says:
    May 16th, 2021 at 7:24 am

    It takes guts and humility to introspect and think about the use and consequences of one’s action. Political power alas makes everyone blind.

  2. Deepasri says:
    May 16th, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    What a relevant time to highlight the senselessness of religious warfare. And thank you for revisiting this story from Gulliver’s Travels. One can only speak about real issues through literary allegory these days, as you have yourself pointed out.

  3. Dev Baul says:
    May 17th, 2021 at 11:40 am

    My confidence in the IT Cell’s grasping ability(or lack of it) emboldened me to write the last line 🙂

  4. Shyamal Mazumder says:
    May 16th, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I enjoyed it. Please write more.

  5. Dev Baul says:
    May 17th, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Shyamalda,

    I always look forward to your encouragement. You might enjoy the rest of the site devbaul.com – give it read when you can.

  6. Amit Roy says:
    May 16th, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    The history of Islam is not known to many who follow the faith today. That Judaism is the origin is blasphemy to Muslims now. The Christian world is happy to see them at loggerheads and transfer the hostility between Christians and Muslims to Jews and Muslims.

  7. Raj says:
    May 16th, 2021 at 11:43 pm

    Loved the analogy. If one steps back and looks at the larger picture, one feels sad about all this wasted energy. If only they can be channeled for the betterment of Humanity!

  8. Dev Baul says:
    May 17th, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Raj,

    Still, we call ourselves rational, logical! I came across Big-/Little- Endian in data structures – was intrigued by it and traced the origins to “Gulliver’s travels.”

  9. Samrat says:
    May 18th, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Very nice and timely. Something we were just discussing the other day – that how similar the two people are and yet one can’t seem to have a tolerance for the other’s way of life. Tragic, how inward bound humans make themselves. In fact it’s even hard to call ourselves humans in that state.

  10. Jayant says:
    May 20th, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Since the time we graduated from fighting for survival, we have progressed to surviving to fight. And there are very many jackals who prefer to get others to fight, by which they make a killing.
    So YES, as long as jackals and greed survive there will always be (manipulated) BIG & LITTLE Endians, only the narrative will change.

  11. Vipul Anand says:
    May 21st, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Interesting read.
    Shows knowledge and wisdom you carry.
    Keep Enriching us with your thoughts dear Sir.

  12. Dev Baul says:
    May 21st, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Thanks Vipu. Check your mail.

  13. Ritwika says:
    May 21st, 2021 at 10:19 am

    Pratap, love reading your short, crisp and to the point blog. Very timely article and we draw inspirations from history and allegory. Actually life is a reflective reality of the current world irrespective of boundaries. Keep writing.. we need more of such bold but thoughtful articles as constant reminders of the mindlessness and dirty side of politics.

  14. Dev Baul says:
    May 22nd, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Glad that you like it. Thank you. Hope you have recovered fully from Covid now.

    Just check your mail

  15. Pramit says:
    May 23rd, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    Gulliver’s travels has been a fun book to read! Great job on relating it with current events.

  16. Ajit M Naik says:
    May 26th, 2021 at 5:24 am

    You write very well. Hope to see more posts from you on the blog

  17. Venkat R Tadanki says:
    May 26th, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading them. Keep going with the writing 🙂.

  18. Venkat R Tadanki says:
    May 27th, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Dev Baul, thoroughly enjoyed reading them. Keep going with the writing 🙂.

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