King Kashyapa February 07 2016

Growing up in Sri Lanka, we often heard of lore dating back to the age of ancient kings who ruled over the citadel of 'Sigiriya'. Once such tale cusped the savagery and temperament of King Kashyapa. It was said that one morning, a peasant had discovered a lush blue gemstone and had brought it to the feet of this crazed king to spare his life and those of his young daughters. The insolent King noticed little of this poor man but once he caught the glimmer of this stunning blue gem under the glaring red sun, he was stunned with awe and admiration. King Kashyapa held this wonder on the palms of his hands, enamored by its intense cornflower blue hue, and placed it on a golden pedestal beside his throne. He ordered his guard to behead anyone who would lay his eyes on this wonder. That afternoon, after a long and tiresome wild boar hunt in the dense forests, he returned to his throne to rejuvenate his senses. Lo and behold, the gem had been replaced. The King was furious. The guards insisted that they did not see anyone enter the throne room except his Queen and children. His temper inundated him, as he rampaged across the entire palace, killing his offspring, his wife and the guards who failed him. He ordered the peasant who offered the gem to the palace and told him of the theft that had occurred. The peasant trembled in fear of the King’s anger and said,’ O’ dear King. This gem has not been replaced. Come to the light and witness the change and the fate that has been brought upon you!’

Color changing sapphires are indeed a rare breed. However, they have helped spread a message across many generations highlighting the importance of stabilizing one’s mind and emotions. Witnessing these gemstones today may not be as dramatic as they once were in Sri Lankan lore but they are indeed a spectacular sight. The most common shifts in color involve the change from a lush blue to a violet-purple under different lighting conditions. Unfortunately for King Kashyapa, it was the dimmer light of the evening sun that created this ‘new’ gemstone but unlike it, his family will not return to him at the dawn of the next day.  

A better understanding of the scientific principles behind optical transmission gives us a much clearer view of why this gemstone is capable of changing colors. The cause of this change involves the presence of two light transmission windows in exceptionally rare sapphires. For example, a blue sapphire appears blue because it is capable of absorbing all of the frequencies of light except blue. However, if these sapphires absorb all frequencies of light except blue and purple, it will appear blue in light that is rich in blue wavelengths and purple in light that is rich in purple wavelengths. The morning sun, as opposed to the evening sun, is richer in blue wavelengths than it is in purple wavelengths. Hence these sapphires will tend to appear with a blue hue in the morning and a violet-purple hue in the evening.

The story of King Kashyapa is unfortunate and saddening. However, it is applicable for us all in modern times. We must not let our emotions and temperament get the better of us. Life is a series of ups and downs but being able to mediate our responses to them will help us embrace the good moments and overcome the bad.  

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