Friday, August 28, 2009

स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रताl

नाभिषेको न संस्कारः सिंहस्य क्रियते मृगैः l
विक्रमार्जितसत्त्वस्य स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता ll

A lion is not coronated (नाभिषेको) by the other animals (मृगैः), nor is he taught ( संस्कारः) how to be a king. He brings down his prey by his own courage (विक्रमार्जितसत्त्वस्य) - and assumes the position of supremacy among the animals ( मृगेन्द्रता) because of his own (स्वयमेव) valour.

The lion, being the strongest and most courageous among beasts, has no need of acknowledgement of his superiority by lesser animals. It does not matter whether the other animals accept him as their king or not. He is the ruler of the jungle because of the attributes he, himself, possesses.

Today this quality of 'स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता' is not frequently seen. Everywhere we see that people are running after titles. Padmashrees and Padmavibhushans are sought after. And people are ready to sell their souls to get their names in the list of awardees.

There are controversies galore regarding such awards. Whether so-and-so artiste would not have been more deserving than some other who actually received it.

Even authors- who are supposed to 'hold a mirror to society' in their writings, are not exceptions to this. Who cares about authentic writing, when sensational but politically correct penmanship gives you a shot at the Booker Prize?

But we should not despair. There are still people like our former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He is not respected just because he was President of India but because of his rare qualities.

Or people like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is renowned for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans and abhangas).

I remember reading an article where he is quoted as saying that he used to drink occasionally. But realizing that this prevented him from getting the required quality of feeling ( भाव ) in his devotional singing, he completely stopped drinking. Such is his dedication to his art.

He has received many awards, including the Bharat Ratna, but his greatness is not because of that. His greatness lies in his superior qualities.

Now for a story- about the great poet, Kalidasa and Raja Bhoja, who was a patron of the arts.

The story goes that Raja Bhoja wanted to see how talented a poet Kalidasa was. So he set a test for him. He gave the poet the last line of a verse and instructed him to compose the first three lines.

The line was as follows- " ठठं ठठंठं ठठठं ठठंठः " which seemed to have no meaning. How to compose a verse ending with this line?

But brilliant poet that he was, after some thought, Kalidasa came up with the following three lines.

1> रामाभिषेके जलमाहरन्त्या:
(While fetching water for the coronation of Shri Rama )

2> हस्ताच्च्युतो हेमघटो युवत्या: l
(a golden vessel slipped out of a young girl's hands)

3> सोपानमार्गेण करोती शब्दं
( falling down the stairs it made the following sound)

and then-
4> ठठं ठठंठं ठठठं ठठंठः ll
(Ttha ttham ttha ttham ttham ttha ttha ttham ttha ttham tthaha)

True genius! Raja Bhoja conceded that Kalidas had passed his test with flying colours!

Friday, August 21, 2009

विषय- प्रवेश

Sanskrit is regarded as a language which has little relevance today. It is also regarded as a complex language, hard to understand. But by viewing Sanskrit in this way, we are depriving ourselves of a wonderful part of our cultural heritage.

In reality, Sanskrit literature has many facets. It can be difficult to understand, its grammar can be complicated, but it can also be fun! Sanskrit Subhaashits ( सुभाषितानि) or 'wise sayings', fall into this last category.

Subhaashits are not only 'fun' but they are also what is called imperishable -'Akshar' ( अक्षर ) - literature, since they deal with various aspects of human nature which is pretty much the same in any age. Thus they were relevant not only in the time when they were written, but even today.

So through this blog, I hope to give an introduction to these Subhaashits and also try to show their relevance to our lives- personal as well as social.

I'm afraid that my enthusiasm for Sanskrit Subhaashits is greater than my knowledge of the Sanskrit language, though- which is quite limited. So it is possible that grammatical and other errors may creep into my posts here. My apologies in advance, for that!

I shall not translate the verses literally, but rather try to write free translations so they may be more easily understood.

Today I am posting a Subhaashit about Subhaashits-

भाषासु मुख्या मधुरा दिव्या गीर्वाणभारती l

तस्माद्धि काव्यं मधुरं तस्मादपि सुभाषितम् ll

Of all the languages (भाषासु ) , the most important (मुख्या ) and sweetest (मधुरा ) of all languages is the divine (दिव्या ) language of the Gods (Sanskrit).

Even sweeter than the Sanskrit language is its poetry (काव्यं ) and sweeter than all the other poetry is the Subhaashit ( सुभाषितम् ).

I'll end this post with a riddle-

अपदो दूरगामी च साक्षरो न च पंडितः l

अमुखस्फुटवक्ता च यो जानाति स पंडितः ll

Does not have legs, but travels far,

Is connected with the alphabet but is not learned,

Lacks a mouth but speaks plainly,

Whoever guesses who this is, is a wise person.

Can anyone guess the answer?