Friday, September 25, 2009

मृदङ्गो मुखलेपेन करोति मधुरध्वनिम् l

Social etiquette often requires that we give small gifts to please friends, relatives, or business contacts. If people we are visiting have young children, we invariably take some sweets or chocolates for them. This is an easy way to make friends with them.

Children often share their lunch-boxes with their friends, or with those they want to make friends with. Even adults find that inviting a person to dinner is the easiest way to establish a good relationship with him.

Obliging someone encourages him to help you, or to agree with your viewpoint.

This verse from Bhartrihari's Nitishatakam tells us about this tendency-

को न याति वशं लोके मुखे पिण्डेन पूरितः l
मृदङ्गो मुखलेपेन करोति मधुरध्वनिम् ll

Is there anyone on this earth (लोके) who can not be won over (न याति वशं) after being fed (मुखे पिण्डेन पूरितः)?

Even a Mridanga (मृदङ्गः - a type of musical instrument similar to a drum) produces (करोति ) melodious sounds (मधुरध्वनिम्) after a paste made from rice is applied to its mouth (मुखलेपेन).

[The literal meaning of मुखे पिण्डेन पूरितः would be 'whose mouth is filled with a ball of rice']

[In Sanskrit the word Mridanga is masculine, hence मृदङ्गः, not मृदङ्गम् ]

Today, however, 'feeding someone' is being taken to an extreme level.

In government offices, it is necessary to keep on 'feeding' people at various levels of authority, to get anything done. A friend was telling me about a clerk lady in a government office, who kept a small statue of Ganesha on her desk. If anyone wanted their file to go from her desk to the officer's for his signature, they had to make some offering (in an envelope) to the desk Ganesha first!

This habit of being fed and feeding, has reached epic proportions in government and bureaucratic circles. Ministers and government employees have become modern-day Bakaasuras devouring as much as they can get their hands on. People know that not a single file will move or a single signature made, without the government officals being 'satisfied' first.

The Economic Times says that 'at least 30 per cent of 2,742 business executives surveyed across the world regard Indians among the most corrupt when doing business abroad to "speed things up", according to a report by an NGO, Transparency International India (TII). '

So we are even exporting this habit of 'feeding' people to get results!

(Picture of Mridanga- courtesy Wikipedia commons)


Vinod_Sharma said...

From Mridanga to Desk Ganesha to Bakaasura! How nicely you weave your little stories. Looks like our forefathers knew how "feeding" works in India!

On a more serious note, there is little doubt that we have converted the vast government structure right from the top to the bottom into one huge corruption powerhouse. Even the President just showed that she, a should-have-been-grateful rubber stamp still needs to be fed that "ball of rice"!

Ugich Konitari said...

In the old days, feeding always gave rise to a sense of thankfulness, or gratitude. Even the mridangam produced wonderful notes.....

Today, its not feeding, its grabbing. Blatantly, in front of God, as you describe. Consequently, it will be seen that these same folks who avidly unhealthily swallow today, will have massive health upsets in the future.

I have seen property registration offices where a drawer is left open at a particular desk where someone makes entries, eyes downcast, and people come by, and throw a sheaf of stuff into the drawer after which their papers , of the non-monetary type, move elsewhere.

My jaw almost dropped open, and someone quickly passed me a bottle of water to preempt any incredulous comment on my part :-) Thats feeding of another kind , I suppose...

manju said...

Vinodji- So true- that the whole Indian government structure has become a huge corruption powerhouse.

And if anyone tries to resist corruption, he is either sidelined or destroyed, or he has to ultimately succumb to the system!

Ugich Konitari- Yes, attitudes have changed so much- appetites today are never satisfied.

Sometimes we see that what you say does happen-"these same folks who avidly unhealthily swallow today, will have massive health upsets in the future".

But sometimes it seems there is no justice and they merrily get away with taking bribes.

radha said...

With regard to the wrong kind of feeding, there is a good commercial that is being aired now about corruption - stop feeding the greedy. That is one group where the appetites are never satiated. Nice post. It is not just awareness of sanskrit that you are creating through this blog!!

manju said...

Radha- Yes, I saw that commercial- good one.

And thanks!