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For the last few years, I have been translating individual verses from Amaru Shataka randomly. Amaruka Shataka is a Samskrta work from the 8th century.
Although there are some stories about Amaruka, we know pretty little historically about him except for that he must have lived before ~800 AD. However there is no doubt that his verses are considered top-class by the best exponents of Rasa theory.
For those of you interested, her is a recording of a talk I gave recently, about Amaruka’s poetry. Also, I have tried to classify the heroes and the heroines of these verses based on the categorization seen in Bharata’s nAtya ShAstra.
I have used the original verses, and my own Kannada translations in this talk – The talk is in a mish-mash of English and Kannada, and so even if you do not understand Kannada, you might find something interesting in the talk:
ನನ್ನಿ is an interesting short Kannada novel (179 pages), written by novelist Karanam Pavan Prasad, that I read recently.
The characters from the story come quite alive. The story spans about 3 decades (from around 1977-78 to around 2005), and mainly takes place in Kolkata and the outskirts of Bengaluru ( Or what was considered to be “outskirts” during the 80s).The novel runs in two parallel tracks: The life of a Catholic Nun in Kolkata, and the life of a few families belonging to different faiths in a small closely knit community in the outskirts of Bengaluru in the late 70s and early 80s. These two tracks merge into a single track later on in the novel and run together. The characters in the novel are full of life that they seem very real. Many of the incidents in the novel are based in real incidents but the time and space relations have been changed. I was in fact looking for some of the place names in the novel, only to realize the very authentic sounding names were fictitious, but located in a very familiar setting.
The story is told from the view of a Roman Catholic nun. The good, bad and the ugly that goes on in a charitable mission organization, the forced conversions, conversions for monetary benefits, money laundering, property fights that turn into communal riots, and people with different faiths, but with universal human values – all find a place in this story. To the credit of the author, none of this appears forced and the author does not preach an agenda. I don’t want to divulge much more about the story – but I can’t stop from saying one of the characters in the story is “Mother Elisa” who goes on to win a “Peace” award.
The narration switches between first person and third person, but at some places the transitions are not very clear. This may cause some confusion in reading for some readers. There are a large number of typos (which must have resulted because of a last minute change in fonts) that could have been avoided. Given that many of the characters would be speaking in English or Bengali (No, there aren’t any English lines in the book) , some parts appear a bit unnatural in the structure.
Previously, I’d read the earlier novel of Pavan Prasad (ಕರ್ಮ), and I felt the characters in this novel are more truer to life and multi-dimensional than in Karma. The title ‘ನನ್ನಿ’ (truth) is quite apt. The author does not appear judgemental anywhere about any of the characters but would want the readers to make a truthful impression for themselves.
I highly recommend all Kannada novel loving people to read ನನ್ನಿ. It’s very good to see a new generation of novelists coming in Kannada with the likes of Karanam Pavan Prasad and Dattathri M Ramanna (I had written about his ಮುಸುಕು ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ದಾರಿ a few months earlier).
When I saw the book Indus Civilization by Andrew Robinson reviewed and recommended by the good folks at www.harappa.com, I ordered the book immediately to add to few other books which I have on this topic in my bookshelf.
While the reviewers on harappa.com were truthful about this book being the most recent and most comprehensive in giving a good overview of the topic, I was quite disappointed in the end for several reasons that I will explain a bit later.Having read many other books about Indus, I must say that I was expecting a better product!
But I do agree that the book is quite readable for anyone who has no introduction to the subject, and does not drag into too many details for a first time reader (which first time readers on any subject hard to deal with).
Now coming to my major reasons for being dissatisfied with the book:
* Given so much new data is available compared to what was available for Mortimer Wheeler, the white and black pictures in the book are unpardonable in 2016!
* The author completely assumes that the Aryan Invasion or migration (or whatever theory they call it these days) theory as a fact
* The author completely downplays the number of Indus sites, unearthed on the Sarawathi river bed in the 20th century and casually mentions that the shifting of Saraswati river could have had some effect in the downfall of the civilization
* While sticking firmly to the dating of Rig Veda to be post 1500 BC as proposed by Max Muller and Co, the author offers no explanation why the river Saraswati which had already disappeared by 1500BC is mentioned and glorified in Rg Veda, and does not even think twice about the occurence so many “Saraswati” sites
* Other casual errors such as name of Shiva not occurring in the Vedas have crept up in the book
- Well, one may argue the name Shiva is not found Rig Veda, but the word Shiva does show up in Yajurveda as anyone who knows the Rudraprashna can attest
* The author totally dismisses S R Rao’s theory of alphabetical Indus script, without batting an eyelid – Actually he gives it as an example of four deciphering hypothesis totally gone astray
- While I’m with the author if he said the final word about the Indus script is not out, I find it strange that he jumps in with the min-meen equation, and identifying the fish sign as a star
- S R Rao’s hypothesis was that the Indus script was alphabetic and it did assign the phonetic values similar to those for the Semetic script. Let’s for the moment leave aside whether Indus script influenced Semetic script or vice versa. Andrew Robinson says that one can’t apply the phonetic values of an unrelated script/language to a totally different language (such as whatever would have been spoken in the Indus valley), and debunks S R Rao’s hypothesis
- However, we have evidence of the very same thing happening in India! The Brahmi script, (which was used for prAkrtas) was used with the same phonetic (or very similar) values for writing early Tamizh, Kannada etc around 2000 years ago
While this is not a comprehensive review, but hope this is good enough for anyone interested in the topic to read more on this very interesting civilization from India. Sorry folks, it is not South Asia by any means🙂
If you have come this far, you may be interested to read this old posts of mine:
This week, on the occasion of Shivratri, padyapaana asked it’s readers to write verses about the following picture of Raja Ravi Varma.
If you did not know already, the folks running Padayapaana, encourage versification in Kananda and Samskrta using traditional meters by posting a challenge every week. There are also lessons that help newbies understand the concept of versification and writing in such traditional style.
Here are my two attempts for this picture of Ganggavatarana by Raja Ravi varma:
In Bhamini shatpadi:
ನೀನು ದಯೆತೋರುತಲಿ ಮುಡಿಯನು ಹರಡಿ ಲೋಕವನು
ಮಾನಿಸರು ಪೇಳಿಹರು ರುದ್ರನು
ನೀನು ಹೇಗಾದೀಯೆ? ಶಂಕರ ಶಿವನೆ ನೀನೆಂದು!
In mattEbhavikrIDita meter:
ದಿಗಿಲೊಳ್ ಬೇಡಿರಲಾ ಭಗೀರಥ ಮುದಲ್ ಶ್ರೀವಿಷ್ಣು ಪಾದಂಗಳಿಂ
ಭರದೊಳ್ ಬಿರ್ದಿಹ ಗಂಗೆಯಾರ್ಭಟಮನುಂ ಪರ್ಬುತ್ತೆ ನೀಳ್ಗೂದಲಂ
ಹಿತದೊಳ್ ಮಾಣಿಸುತಾಕೆಯಂ ನಲುಮೆಯಿಂ ಕಾಪಿಟ್ಟೆ ಮೂಲೋಕಮಂ
ದಿಟದೊಳ್ ಶಂಕರ ರೂಪಿ ನೀನೆನಿಸಿರಲ್ ನೀ ರುದ್ರನೆಂದೆಂಬರೇ?
The meaning of both the verses is approximately same: When Bhagiratha through his penance, brought the divine river Ganga to the Earth, to save the mankind from the deluge that may be caused by this mighty river, Lord Shiva stopped her and confined her in his long locks of hair. Hence it is befitting to call him Shiva or Shankara (doer of good deeds, blissfull) rather than Rudra (terrible).
Happy Shivaratri to all readers of ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ!
In an earlier post in this space, I had shared some well known samasya pooranam examples from samskrta and some more examples from Kannada poetry. Later, I had also shared some of my own solutions for samasya pooranam questions posted on Padyapaana. Since there were a few more such verses since the last post, I thought rounding them up here.
The next samasyapooranam is about the five arrows of the Love God, Manmatha. It is said that Manmatha carries a bow made of sugarcane, and has five arrows made of flowers. But the problem given here says that Manmatha carries 10 arrows, and not five.
ಮನಸಿಜನ ಬಳಿ ಹತ್ತು ಬಾಣಗಳಿರುವುದೇ ನಿಜವೈ!
Samasya pooranam involves lot of word play. So it is quite possible to turn one thing into another! I used a fact from Saint Tyagarja’s life to complete this verse. Composer Tyagaraja was an ardent devotee of Rama, but married twice in his life unlike Rama. If such a devotee should marry again after his first wife passed away, it should indeed be because the lord of Love should have had another set of arrows, thus making it ten in total!
ವಿನಯದಲಿ ಜಾನಕಿಯ ಪತಿಯನೆ
ಕನವರಿಕೆಯಲು ಭಕ್ತಿವೈರಾಗ್ಯದಲಿ ನೆನೆದಾತ;
ಕೊನೆಯುಸಿರೆಳೆಯೆ ಮಡದಿ ಪಾರ್ವತಿ
ಮನಸಿಜನ ಬಳಿ ಹತ್ತುಬಾಣಗಳಿರುವುದೇ ನಿಜವೈ!
It is quite possible to write multiple solutions to the same problem in Samasya Poornam. So here is one more solution to the same problem,where I changed the last line a bit keeping the same meaning.
The Love God Manmatha is said to visit Earth during the spring season , but as we know the spring occurs in different times in the northern and southern hemispheres, he then should have two sets of five arrows- and the following verse is written about these ten arrows of Manmatha.
ಚಿತ್ತಚೋರ ವಸಂತ ಕಾಲದ
ಲತ್ತ ಹೂಡುವನೈದು ಹೂವಿನ ಶರವ ಮುದದಿಂದ
ಮತ್ತೆ ಪೋಗುವ ದಕ್ಷಿಣದ ಕಡೆ
ಗತ್ತ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಸೊದೆಯ ಹಂಚಲು!
ಹತ್ತುಬಾಣಗಳಿಹುದೆ ಸೈ ಮನ್ಮಥನ ಚೀಲದಲಿ !
After having spent arrows made of lotus, ashoka, mango, blue lily and jasmine flowers during the spring in the northern hemisphere, if Manmatha has to go to the southern hemisphere he must indeed have a second set of these love arrows!
Another problem given on Padyapaana was to complete a verse that ends in the phrase ಮಳೆಯು ಮುದವಾಯ್ತು. By the time I saw the problem, there were already a bunch of solutions. So I had to look for a different type of shower, a meteor shower in this case:
ಚಳಿಯ ತಡೆಯಲು ತೊಟ್ಟು ಟೊಪ್ಪಿಯಿ-
ರುಳಿನ ಮೂರನೆ ಜಾವಕೆನ್ನುತ ಕಾದು ಕುಳಿತಾಯ್ತು
ಇಳೆಯ ಹಾದಿಯ ಬಾಲಚಿಕ್ಕೆಯ
ಹೊಳೆಯುತಾಗಸ ತುಂಬಿ ಲಿಯೊನಿಡ್ಸ್ ಮಳೆಯು ಮುದವಾಯ್ತು!
Leonids meteor shower is seen during mid November every year, and the solution describes how waiting for the meteor shower in a chilly winter night was fruitful with a fabulous display of the meteors in the sky.
I will end with another samasya pooranam, set in Bhamini shatpadi. This was a question given to the audience in an Ashtavadhana in Puttur a few years ago. The line given was
ಹರುಷದಿಂದರ್ಜುನನು ಸಾರಥಿಯಾದ ಕೃಷ್ಣನಿಗೆ
We all know that Krishna was the charioteer for Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. However this line is stating otherwise – ” Happily, Arjuna became the charioteer for Krishna”. Quite interesting indeed.
I ended up writing more than 30 solutions to this question – some of them relating to the final battle of Karna and Arjuna are posted in this link, but will post a couple of lighthearted ones here:
ತುರಿದು ಕಾಯನು ಘಮಘಮೆನ್ನುತ
ಹುರಿದ ರವೆಯುಪ್ಪಿಟ್ಟು ಮಾಡುವೆ
ತರುವ ಸಮಯವು ಬಾಲಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಶಾಲೆಯಿಂದೆನಲು
ಹೊರಟನರ್ಜುನ ಪುಟ್ಟ ಮಗನನು
ಕರೆದು ಮಾರುತಿಯೊಳಗೆ ಕೂರಿಸಿ
ಹರುಷದಿ೦ದರ್ಜುನನು ಸಾರಥಿಯಾದ ಕೃಷ್ಣನಿಗೆ॥
ವಿರಸ ಬೇಡೆಲೆ ಮಾನಿನೀ ನಾ-
ಕರೆಯಬೇಡವೆ ಮಾಲಿಗೇ ಶಾಪಿಂಗ ನಾ ಮಾಣೆ ।
ಹೊರಡಬೇಕಿದೆ ಮಗನು ಟ್ಯೂಷನ್
ತರಗತಿಗೆ ತುಸು ಹೊತ್ತಿನಲೆನುತ
ಹರುಷದಿ೦ದರ್ಜುನನು ಸಾರಥಿಯಾದ ಕೃಷ್ಣನಿಗೆ॥
In the above contemporary solutions, Arjuna is the dad of a lad named Krishna, and drives the boy in his car. In the second one, he is also trying to avoid going shopping in the pretext of taking the child to a class. :)
Image courtesy: Manmatha Vijaya, on the ceiling of Virupaksha temple, Hampi; taken from http://iiacd.org/murals-south-india/#/hampi-virupaksha-temple-ceiling-paintings-interactive-plan