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(Found this text of a speech I gave at my Toastmasters club (named “Innovators”, sometime in 2011, when I was organizing folders on my PC. Posting as is)
I come from India. If you did not know already, India is a land where you’ll find people speak hundreds of language and there are at least 30 languages with more than a million speakers. It is not hard to find people who can speak more than one Indian language. Typical of many urban Indians, I can speak in several of Indian languages too.
But there is one language that I can’t claim to speak, but I can understand quite well. This language is Samskrta. It is the oldest known language of India, and possibly one of the oldest surviving languages of the world. This language has influenced every other language in India to a varying extents, and has a literature that spans over four millennia. Even though it is not claimed as a mother tongue by any, due to the antiquity, and the influence it has on the vocabulary on Indian languages, it is still one of the 22 official languages of the country. Till the time of the colonization of India by the British in the 18th century, it was in fact the pan-Indian language for communication among the educated class. A great number of texts about yoga, Ayurveda (or the science of medicine), Jyotisha (or astronomy) and Ganita (Mathematics) etc are written in this language.
When I was in my elementary school, my parents enrolled me to Samskrta classes. I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to go to those classes, and I don’t know if I had any other opinion, it would have mattered! It was not a language that was taught in my grade school. These classes were held throughout the year, without even a summer break! What this meant was that I had to wake up early, take a shower, go to the class, come back home and then head out for my school. Sometimes, there were additional classes in the evening too. Going to these classes were the routine for me from the time I was in my kindergarten to about my junior year in high school. Since I lived in a small town, I could walk or bike to the classes quickly, so that was not a big problem. But I had to be always aware of these extra two hours needed in my day, when it came to preparing for tests or other work at my school, because I could never use the last couple hours before school to finish up anything!
Over the years, I passed through several levels in these Samskrta language classes. The classes were grouped based on the level, and not on the age. Since I started out early, I was almost always the youngest student in my class! Since Samskrta is not really a widely spoken language, there wasn’t much thrust in learning to speak the language, but the emphasis was on understanding the structure of the language, grammar and and appreciating literary texts. Some texts, specifically poetry had to be memorized too. As we all know, things that are committed to memory at a young age generally remain with us till much later in my life. Although I stopped going to my Samskrta classes during mid-high school, I still remember those verses memorized years ago.
Luckily, my interest in this language did not wane even after I stopped going to those classes. About five or six years ago, I tried to translate some poetry from Samskrta, to Kannada, my mother tongue; generally I started out by those poems that I knew by heart, from my age old classes! I started a blog to post these translations, and the positive comments from readers encouraged me to try out more. Then I had to look for other poems that I did not know before. Now that I am not that young anymore, and and can not commit these verses to memory, it was indeed a good idea for me to try translating whenever I found a new verse that sounded good to me!
To make a long story short, sometime back I was asked if I would like to publish a collection of my selected translations, and a book was published this year! The book is titled “Hamsanaada” and it is in Kannada. It got some favorable reviews in the press too.
As the verse on the opening page of my book says, needless to say translated from an age old Sanskrtit saying – “Start your kids on good things, when they are really young. The pictures etched on a wet mud pot will stay even after you use it for cooking for a long time!”
Dear Innovators, start off your kids to some good things – be it sports,or arts like music and dance, or learning a new language, or whatever else that they can grow up with, and take into their adulthood. With the current life styles, it may be a hard choice to put kids into many activities, and the kids may even resent them now. But I am sure you can find one or two activities apart from the regular schooling, that they’ll like or at least lean to not hate! I’m sure they will be thankful for what you did for them, later in their adult life, because the pictures etched on a wet mud pot, indeed stay forever!
In my post a few months ago, I had written about why Indus Valley Civilization be better termed as Saraswathi-Sindhu Civilization, and it’s relation with the people who composed the Vedas.
Recently, I listened to a lecture of Dr R Ganesh on the topic of the Myth of Aryan Invasion – A myth that was the brainchild of colonialists of the 19th century to best suit their beliefs of those times – but unfortunately carried down even to this day, when all the scientific evidence shows otherwise.
This lecture was held at Rasadhwani Kalakendra, Benagluru, and I thank the organizers for agreeing to share the recording. The lecture is in Kannada and runs for about two hours.
Here is a link to to download the lecture for your listening pleasure. : The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India by Shataavadhani Dr R Ganesh
If you have Google Chrome Apps such as DriveTunes or TwistedWave, you can listen to the lecture online as well from the same link.
You can get in touch with the people at Rasadhwani Kalakendra at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by going to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/rasadhwani.kalakendra) for information about their future events and lectures.
A few years ago, when I wrote about Samasya Pooranam here, and here, I had no clue one day I could try these word games too. But over the last year, thanks to the wonderful lessons and posters on Padyapaana, I did make some effort in this direction. And I thought of presenting a few of those in this post.
Samasysa Pooranam refers to the art of completing a verse in a specified meter when one line of the verse is given. The given line in isolation may often border on being meaningless or ridiculous. It is up to you to solve the puzzle, and bring sense into the senseless line in an effective way.
The open nature of the problem can result scores of interesting solutions. Here are some of my recent trials at Samasya Poorana:
Question: “ರಾಮಗಾಗದ ಕಾರ್ಯ ಕಪಿಗಳಗುಂಪಿಗತಿ ಸುಲಭ ” - “The task easy for a bunch of monkeys is impossible for Rama”
This is the 3/6 line of a verse in written in Bhamini shatpadi meter. How can the almighty Rama be inferior to a bunch of monkeys? Oh Well, hold on. Didn’t a bunch of monkeys build the bridge across the ocean during Ramayana? True, but then how about solving the question a little differently?
ನೇಮದಲಿ ಹಂಬಲಿಸೆ ಸೀತೆಯು
ಕಾಮ ವೈರಿಯ ಮಡದಿ ಮಂಗಳ
ಧಾಮೆ ಗೌರಿಯ ಲಕ್ಷ ಪೂಜೆಗೆ ವಾನರರ ಸೈನ್ಯ
ರಾಮದಲಿ ಹೂಗಳನು ಬಿಡಿಸಿರೆ
ರಾಮಗಾಗದ ಕಾರ್ಯ ಕಪಿಗಳಗುಂಪಿಗತಿ ಸುಲಭ!
When Seeta wanted to perform the Laksha Pooje for Mangala Gouri, who else but the monkey army could climb up trees and bushes and pick all those flowers? Certainly Rama could not have done it so fast. Right?
Since we’re on the topic of Ramayana, here is a related samasya poorana – this one in mattebhavikreedita meter:
ಪತಿಗಳ್ ಸೀತೆಗದೆಷ್ಟು ಮಂದಿ ಗಣಿಸಲ್ಕೇನೊರ್ವರೇ? ಇರ್ವರೇ?
Sounds on the border of being offensive – Right? This kind of talk definitely not befit Seeta, who is considered the epitome of virtue!
I had to send Seeta to her Physics classroom to solve this
ಹಿತದೊಳ್ ತೋರ್ಪೆನು ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಪಾಠಗಳ ನಾಂ ನೀ ಬೇಗಬಾರೆಂದೆನ-
ಲ್ಕತಿಸಂತೋಷದಿ ಬಂದ ಸೀತೆ ಮುದದೊಳ್ ಕಣ್ಣಲ್ಲೆ ಕಣ್ಣಾಗಿ ಜಾ-
ಗೃತಿಯಿಂ ಪಟ್ಟಕಮಂ ತಳೆರ್ದಿರೆ ಮೊದಲ್ ಬಾನಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡರ್ ದಿವ-
ಸ್ಪತಿಗಳ್ ಸೀತೆಗದೆಷ್ಟು ಮಂದಿ! ಗಣಿಸಲ್ಕೇನೊರ್ವರೇಯಿರ್ವರೇ ?
What did Seeta see in her Physics class when she turned the kaleidoscope towards the sky? A hundred (or more) Suns! Definitely qualifies for the adjective “uncountable”!
(ಪಟ್ಟಕ = prism, but used here to mean a kaleidoscope ದಿವಸ್ಪತಿ = literally, the “lord of the day”, or the Sun)
OK, now let me move from Ramayana to Bharata, that is to India, more specifically today’s India. One of the samasya poorana lines given during the Shatavadhana in Dec 2012 was “ಭಾರತದಿ ದುಶ್ಯಾಸನನೆ ದ್ರೌಪದಿಯ ಸಖನಲ್ತೆ!” – “Truly, Dushyasana is a friend of Draupadi”.
Here is my solution, which unfortunately, is based on what happened in Delhi during Dec 2012:
ಲಾರು ಕೇಡಿಗ ದುರುಳರು ಬಲಾ-
ತ್ಕಾರಗೈದಿರೆ ಗೈದಿರೆ ಯಾರು ಕಾಯ್ದರು ರಾಜಧಾನಿಯಲಿ ?
ಭಾರತದಿ ದುಶ್ಯಾಸನನೆ ದ್ರೌಪದಿಯ ಸಖನಲ್ತೆ !
In one of my earlier posts on this subject here, I’d sort of mixed up two distinctly different puzzlers: Dattapadi and Samasya poorana. Let me not dwell into that, but suffice it to say that while Samasya Poorana refers to completing a verse when one of the lines is given, Dattapadi refers to composing a verse that includes set of given words are given, on a specified topic – Not unexpectedly, often the words totally unrelated to the topic are given.
Here is one such example - How would an experienced politician advice an upcoming politician to take the right ways to success ? Since this is the internet era, the solution must contain the words: e-mail, chat, phone and gram!
Here are two different solutions I came up with in the Bhamini shatpadi meter:
ಗ್ರಾಮ ಪಂಚಾಯ್ತಿಯಲಿ ಕಾಲಿ-
ಟ್ಟಾಮೆಯಂತೆಯೆ ಬೆಳೆಸು ಚರ್ಮವ!
ಸಾಮದಲ್ಲಿಯೆ ಗಳಿಸಿ ಫೋನಲಿ ಸೋನಿಯಳ ಕೃಪೆಯ!
ರಾಮನೇ ನೀ? ಬೇಡ ಸೇವೆಯ ಗೀಳು! ಹುಚ್ಚಾಟ!
ರಾಮರಾಜ್ಯದ ನೆಪದಿ ನೀಕು-
ಗ್ರಾಮದಲೆ ಮುಂದಾಳುವಾಗು! ನೋಡೈ
ನಾಮಹಾಕುತ ಜನಕೆ ಮಾಡುತಲಷ್ಟು ಕಿರುಚಾಟ!
ನೇಮವಿಡೆ ಮೇಲ್ನವರ ಫೋನಾ-
ರಾಮದಲ್ಲೇ ಹುದ್ದೆ ತರುವುದು!
ಗೇಮೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಮೇಲಕೇರ್ವುದು ದಿಟದಿ ಬಲುಕಷ್ಟ!
And now, how about describing an outdated mode of transportation – such as a bird using some modern vehicles? The question here is to describe the well known story of Gajendra Moksha, using the words “Cycle”, “Van”,”Lorry” and “Car”.
Here is my attempt at answering the question in a pancha mAtrA choupadi – a traditional 4 lined meter:
ಅಸುವು ಹೋಗುತಲಿಹವು ವ್ಯಾನಾದಿ ಪಂಚಕವು
ತುಸು ನೀನು ಕರುಣಿಸೈ ಕಲ್ಲಾಗಿಸದೆ ಮನವ
ಎಸೆವ ಕಾರ್ಮುಗಿಲಿಂದ ಗರುಡವಾಹನ ಬಂದ!
Here is another small variation of the same question to describe Gajendra Moksha episode, using the words “Auto”, “Rickshaw”, “Volvo” and “Lorry”.
ಅಸುವ ಕಾಯೆಂಬ ಮೊರೆಗೆಲ್ಲಾರಿಗೂ ಮೊದಲು
ನಸುನಗುತ ಹರಿಯಂತರಿಕ್ಷದಲೆ ಪೊರೆದ!
But to really enjoy Samasya Poorna, Dattapadi and many more interesting poetic puzzles in Kannada, I must urge you to visit Padyapaana, a great resource of fun in learning prosody. I’m sure you’ll definitely be astounded by the variety of answers to each such puzzle on Padyapaana. I strongly encourage you to go and checkout a few posts here.
(Picture courtesy: Wikipedia; Gajendra Moksha sculpture on the walls of Dashaavataara temple, Deoghar)
Here is an article about Stellarium, that appeared on today’s issue of Kannada daily Samyukta Karnataka (9/27/2012). Click on the image for a enlarged view. My article is at the bottom of the page:
If the full page view is hard to read, you may choose to click on the following image, for a better resolution, but without the graphical elements:
(I wrote this article last year for ಅರಿವಿನ ಅಲೆಗಳು by Sanchaya).
By the way, I did not even notice another year has gone by for my blog. Surely, this has been the most inactive year for me on ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ!
Today’s issue of the Kannada daily Prajavani has an article about my Kannada blog “Hamsa Naada” in it’s weekly section covering Kannada bloggers
Prajavani-article-about-my-blog (PDF version)
Much water has flown through Kaveri and Hemavati in the last two decades when I’ve lived mostly outside Karnataka – but still Prajavani has an emotional attachment, being the daily I grew up with, and of course it feels good to see this article there!