Friday, December 25, 2009

अरसिकेषु कवित्वनिवेदनं शिरसि मा लिख l

वितर तापशतानि यदृच्छया विलिख तानि सहे चतुरानन l
अरसिकेषु कवित्वनिवेदनं शिरसि मा लिख मा लिख मा लिख ll

Oh Lord Brahma (चतुरानन), (You may) write (विलिख ) any other hundreds of troubles (तापशतानि) that you like (याद्रिच्छया) (in my destiny) I will bear them (तानि सहे) .
(However) most definitely do not write (मा लिख मा लिख मा लिख ) reciting poetry (कवित्वनिवेदनं) to unappreciative people (अरसिकेषु)(into my destiny)!

It is believed that Lord Brahma the creator, inscribes the destiny of a human being on his forehead, which determines the future events in his life. So the poet tells Lord Brahma that he would not mind any number of other sorrows being written into his future- except that of reading the poetry he has composed, to an unappreciative or ignorant audience.

Audience response is important to an artiste. The clapping at the end of a play, signals to the actors, that the spectators have enjoyed their performance. That is why so many actors find it more fulfilling to act on the stage than in films- because they enjoy the enthusiastic response that a live audience gives, after a great performance.

Any person giving a speech wants to know that the audience understands what he is trying to convey. When his listeners nod after he makes an important point, and laugh at a punchline, then he feels satisfied that they have understood what he is saying.

In the same manner, any poet feels gratified when his listeners are moved by his verses. If they are unappreciative, if his words make no impression on them, that is a very disappointing experience for him. So he implores Lord Brahma not to write such an experience in his destiny.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Unity is Strength

There is a story in the Panchatantra, explaining the importance of Unity.

Once upon a time, a flock of doves, led by their King, Chitragreeva, spotted some grain spread under a Bunyan tree. They flew down to eat the grain, and were caught in a net that a hunter, who was hiding nearby, threw over them.

Chitragreeva advised them not to panic but to fly away all together, taking the net with them. They did so, landing at a place where Chitragreeva's friend, Hiranyaka, the mouse lived.

Hiranyaka gnawed through the net and set all the doves free. Thus the doves could successfully save themselves because they acted unitedly.

The following Subhaashit echos the teaching in this story-

अल्पानामपि वस्तूनां संहतिः कार्यसाधिका l
त्रृणैर्गुणत्वमापन्नैर् बध्यन्ते मत्तदन्तिनः ll


Great things can be achieved (कार्यसाधिका) if even insignificant or small (अल्पानामपि) things (वस्तूनां) are used together(संहतिः).

Many blades of grass woven together can make a rope (त्रृणैर्गुणत्वमापन्नैर्) capable of tying up (बध्यन्ते) an elephant in rut (मत्तदन्तिनः) (which has become extremely aggressive).

'United we stand- divided we fall'- This quote has been attributed to many statesmen of various countries- the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, has been said to have used it, too. He also described India as 'Unity in Diversity'.

Nowadays it appears that Indians remember only the diversity- of languages, of ethnicities, of traditions, and of geography. India has become a virtual political and social battlefield, with different groups of people fighting over myriad issues.

But we seem to have forgotten the unity- which should be strong because of our love for our motherland, because of our identity as Indians.

We find Indians justifying the secession of Indian states from the union. We find Indian citizens giving assistance to those who orchestrate terror attacks on our soil. We see insurgents murdering their own fellow countrymen. We find people of different religions demanding separate laws- laws which go against the principles laid out in our constitution.

Whatever our differences, whatever our problems, it is necessary for us not to lose our unity. Problems can be sorted out. But only if we stay united will it be possible for us to stand strong against any outside threat.

We should remember the story from the Mahabharat- the Pandavas received news that the Kauravas- their cousins- were losing the battle against the Gandharvas. Bhim was of the opinion that they should not help the Kauravas, who considered them their enemies. But Yudhishtir, the eldest Pandava, thought otherwise. He told the others-

परस्परविरोधे तु वयं पंचश्च ते शतम् l
परैस्तु विग्रहे प्राप्ते वयं पंचाधिकं शतम् ll

"If there is a quarrel between us (cousins), then we are five and they are a hundred.
But if there is a quarrel with an outsider then we are five plus a hundred।"

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Scorching Sand

रविरपि न दहति तादृग् यादृक् संदहति वालुकानिकरःl
अन्यस्माल्लब्धपदो नीचः प्रायेण दुःसहो भवति ll

Even the Sun itself (रविरपि) does not burn ( न दहति) (us) as much (तादृग्) as (यादृक्) a pile of sand (वालुकानिकरहः) ( which has been heated by the Sun) burns us (संदहति).

A mean person (नीचः) who has gained importance because of (his association with) another (अन्यस्माल्लब्धपदो ) (important person), frequently becomes intolerable (प्रायेण दुःसहो भवति).

We often see this characteristic of a mean person, who has obtained a position of some authority, because of his association with a person of importance.

The office boy who stands outside the door of the office of a minister or important government official, is rude to the people waiting to see his boss. He frequently demands some 'consideration', in return for persuading his boss to see them.

Children of high-ranking police officials often throw their weight around, and use their parents' position of authority to compel people to do what they say.

The Moon has no light of its own, but reflects that of the Sun, to bathe the earth in moonlight at night time and alleviate darkness.

These mean people, having connections with influential officials, do not follow the example of the gentle Moon.

In contrast, like the pile of sand, which is even more scorching hot than the rays of the sun from which it derives its heat, these associates of important people become unbearable for those they come into contact with.

They use the power they wield, not to help, but to intimidate others.