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(This is the text of a speech I made this weekend at an event celebrating the composers from Karnataka. Throughout the article, the honorifics for all the composers and musicians are not mentioned. This is not to be treated as any mark of disrespect. A link to the speech is also provided at the end. I had to cut some parts while speaking because I was going over time! So the thought of sharing the complete script I made in preparation to the speech is posted here. Also, I have only mentioned a partial list of composers, due to the limitations on time, as well as my awareness)

Good afternoon rasikas.

It’s great feeling to be with the artists and the rasikas, celebrating the vaggeyakaras from Karnataka, here at the Livermore temple. I am sure you have all enjoyed the dance performances and are looking forward for the vocal and Veena performances. I am very pleased to share some of my observations with you all.

The term ‘vaggeyakara’ refers to someone who creates both the mAtu and dhatu, i.e. both the lyrical and musical content of a composition. It encompasses a larger meaning than the English word composer, which normally refers to the creation of the music part only. However, today I may use the word Vaggeyakara and composer somewhat interchangeably.

We can see indications of Indian classical music splitting into two streams by the 13th century.

The split probably started right after the time of Sharngadeva, who wrote his text Sangita Ratnakara. By the time of Pandarika Vithala, around 1600 CE, we can sense the split having been completed, making the two streams quite distinct and distinguishable from each other. The name Karnataka Sangeeta is a more recent entry though. One of the reasons that this stream was called Karnataka sangeeta seems to be the contribution of musicians,scholars and vaggeyakaras hailing from the Karnata samrajya or the Vijayanagara empire.

Throughout India’s history, there have been been different centers of music and culture. The contribution of musicians who hailed from current day Karnataka region is immense. The Vijayanagara kingdom, centered in current day Karnataka was a hub for arts and culture. Performing artists from various places made their way to Vijayanagara to get the royal support.

Sage Vidyaranya, who was instrumental in the establishment of the kingdom, was a musician himself and musicologist of merit. The first indications of classifications of Ragas in to melas (or groups) can be attributed to him. The latter day scholars and performers from Vijayanagara enhanced the textual framework of Vidyaranya. The Kalanidhi vyakhyana to Sangita Ratnakara by Kallinatha, the Swaramela Kalanidhi by his grandson Ramamatya give a good indication about the musical practices during the Vijayanagara times (14th to 16th century).

Music is a performance oriented art where shastra (i.e. theory) follows prayoga (or performance). New experiments happen all the time, and once they are accepted by rasikas, they get codified into texts and treatises. All these shastrakaras (i.e musicologists) could not have existed in vacuum. Those works became necessary to document what was going around them. While Indian classical music is manodharma or improvisation oriented, it is also true they need good compositions to anchor these improvisational ideas.

I wanted to clarify one thing — If the texts seem to come from royal patronage, it does not mean music was limited to royalty , but it only means that their patronage was necessary to write and preserve such works documenting the active music scene in the society of those times. The corpus of musical texts from the 15th/16th century Vijayanagara only confirms us that there was no dearth of performers or composers during this time, and it could not have been a limited royal engagement only.

Back in the 12th century, even before Vidyaranya, we have some indication that at least some vachans of shivasharanas of Karnatala were sung, from the internal evidence from vachanas of Akkamahadevi and Basavanna. But we absolutely have no idea about how they might have been sung. One or two centuries later, almost contemporary to Vidyaranya and Kallinatha, there were a host of Haridasas who revolutionized music as we know it. Unfortunately the original melodic structure of most Haridasa compositions is only known in their skeletal form, and the contemporary renditions of devaranamas are more modeled after much later compositions.

Haridasas introduced a lot of new types of compositions, including the Ugabhoga and Suladi.Starting off with Narahari tirtha, we later had Sripadaraya , Vyasaraya, Purandara dasa, Kanakadasa, Vijayadasa and a host of other haridasas who composed thousands of compositions from the 13th to the 19th century. Although we can’t say for sure, Sripadaraja was probably the first vaggeyakara who thought concepts like Ragamudre (raga signature), and sing a pada as a ragamalika. In a devarnama laali govinda laali, he has 3 charanas that indicate the rajamudra as devagandhara, ananda bhairavi and Kalyani.

The center of Karnataka sangeeta moved from Vijayananagara to Thanjavur after the fall of the empire. The beginning of the Thanjavur tradition can be traced back to Vijayanagara too. Thanjavur was given as a principality to Cevvappa Nayaka by Achyutaraya,the king of Vijayanagara. Ministers of The nayaks of Tanjavur such as Govinda dikshita and his son, the well known Venkatamakhi not only were able administrators but they were also expert musicians and musicologists.

We can easily say Venkatamakhi,who was also a Kannadiga, with his work Chaturdandi prakashika written around 1650 CE, sort of paved the way for new thinking in terms of the creation of new ragas in Karnataka sangeeta. In the 18th century, we know that haridasa compositions were very popular in Thanjavur. It’s well documented that Tyagaraja was very influenced by Purandara dasa’s devaranamas. Knowing that how the Karnataka Sangeeta trimurtis, Tyagaraja, Mudduswami Dikshita and Syama Shastry have influenced our music post 18th century, and the fact that the work of Venkatamakhi was instrumental in setting up them to do what they did with our music, tells a lot about the influence Venkatamakhi on Karnataka Sangeeta as we know it today.

With the taking over of Thanjavur by the British, the cultural hub again shifted to Mysuru. Now the Odeyars of Mysuru, similar to the Nayakas and Bhosales of Thanjavur, were not only patrons of music and arts, they were practitioners themselves. Mummadi Krishnaraja Odeyar himself was a compose of merit. Nalvadi Krishnaraja odeyar was trained in music too. And the last maharaja of mysore, Sri Jayachamaraja Odeyar could be called as the real jewel in the crown of this family. He has composed about a hundred kritis. Taking a cue from the style of Muthuswami Dikshitar in the usage of Samskrta as the medium for lyrics,use of madhyama kala sahitya etc, and on the other side following Tyagaraja in the choice of ragas, and also innovation in trying out unheard melodies, his compositions have become quite popular over the decades.

Of course the courts of Krishnaraja Odeyar and Jayachamaraja odeyar in the first half of 20th century encouraged and hosted a great many composers such as Mysore Vasudevacharya, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, Mysore Sadashivarayar & Veene sheshanna whose compositions are very well known and popular today.The influence of trinity is invariably seen in the compositions during Mysore court.

Even the composition type Javali, apparently came into vogue in the Mysore court post Tippu times. And,  although we normally associate Tyagaraja with the ‘invention’ of the new form of composition we call as kriti these days, almost 120 years before Tyagaraja, a poet called Govinda Vaidya, in one of his Kannada works talks about musicians singing kritis!

Veene Sheshanna (Image taken from Wikipedia)

Apart from them there were other composers like Veena Venkatagiriyappa,Veena Venkatasubbaiah , Veena Shamanna, Veena Subbanna, Bidaram Krishnappa , T Chowdayya, Veena Raja Rao, Belakavadi Srinivasa Iyengar and Veena Shivaramaiah. The last two are notable for having to have composed in all 72 raganga ragas.

By this time, it was the end of Royal Mysore but thankfully the vaggeyakara tradition has continued. N Channakeshvaiah and C Rangaiah, both disciples of Mysore Vasudevacharya composed many varnas, krtis, ragamalikas and tillanas. Sri D Subbaramaiah — and his disciples Smt Vasantha Madhavi and Sri Ramaratnam are both composers of their own merit. Ballari Sheshachar among the Ballari brothers also has many compositions to his credit.

Many current day performing artists hailing from Karnataka such as Nagamani Srinath, RN.Sreelatha and Padmacharan have composed many compositions. Other performers such as Tirumale Srinivas,R K Padmanabha and Nagavalli Nagaraj have set to music many haridasa and others songs. And Sri T K Govindarao, who has composed may of his own compositions as well as has set many haridasa compositions.

At this point we should also remember the Poet Pu Ti Na who was not a performing artist in the conventional sense but has composed many wonderful compositions in his musical plays such as Gokuka Nirgamana. Poet D V Gundappa also has suggested ragas to the poems in his work Antahpura geete, written about the various madanika sculptures in the Beluru temple. However, I am not sure if the complete melodic structure for the songs were suggested by him.

Thankfully, the trend is still continuing. Ashok Madhav, originally from Karnataka, and a long time Pittsburgh resident has composed several hundred compositions. Srikanth Murthy, from Karnataka, currently in UK has to his credit many compositions in Kannada, Tamizh, Samskrta and Sanketi languages. I am also very happy to say that with the encouragement of the artist community in the Bay Area, I have also had the fortune of composing about 40+ compositions, which include Varna, Swarajathi, Tillana, javali and ragamalikas.

When there are such great compositions of past masters, one may ask what’s the need for new compositions. In fact Sangeeta Kalanidhi Sri R K Srikanthan opined when there are hundreds of great compositions of the composers like Tyagaraja, which are not being sung, there was no need of new compositions as such. I am pretty sure many others would share that opinion too. However, I would like to counter that with this samskrta verse of Jagannath pathak.

कियद्वारं क्रौञ्चा इह न निहता व्याधविशिखैः

परं काव्यं रामायणमिदम् इहैक समुदितम् ।

स कर्ता कालोsसौ स च हृदयवान् सा च कविता

समेत्य द्द्योतन्ते यदि वलति वाणीविलसितम् ॥

Since the beginning of time

How many Krauncha birds have been felled by arrows?
But the Ramayana arose only once.

The concoction of time, a soulful poet and his words

With a touch of Vani’s grace

To brew the broth of heady poetry
(English translation by Suhas Mahesh)

What this verse tells about poetry is also true about a music compositions. We just don’t know when the right situations arise, along with the grace of Goddess Saraswathi. Just for a moment, consider what would have happened if Tyagaraja thought there were plenty of good compositions of Purandara Dasa, Ramadasa and Annamayya, and did not make any of his own! Think what would have happened if Balamuralikrishna and Lalgudi Jayaraman thought there were plenty of excellent compositions of the trinity and did not compose any of theirs! So it is all the more desirable to continue the quest for more and music.

I will conclude with a Kannada translation of the very Samskrta verse. I just replace the word KavitA with rachanA, to make it more generic.

ಕೊಂಚೆವಕ್ಕಿಗಳೆನಿತೊ ಸಿಲುಕಿವೆ ಬೇಡ ಹೊಡೆದಿಹ ಬಾಣಕೆ

ಮುಂಚೆ ರಾಮಾಯಣವು ಮಾತ್ರವು ಹುಟ್ಟಿತೊಂದೇ ಬಾರಿಗೆ

ಕೊಂಚ ಕಾಲವು ಒಳ್ಳೆ ಮನಸಿನ ಕವಿಯ ಪದಗಳ ಜೊತೆಯಲಿ

ಸಂಚುಮಾಡಲುಬೇಕು ಸರಸತಿಯೊಡನೆ ಸೊಬಗಿನ ರಚನೆಗೆ

I would like to thank the organizers for giving an opportunity to share a few things with you all. ಎಂದರೋ ಮಹಾನುಭಾವುಲು ಅಂದರಿಕಿ ವಂದನಮುಲು. ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ

You can also listen to the speech ( with a few sections missing from the text) if you prefer to do so:

Audio recording of the speech


Do you remember your history text books? I do. They were always a big bore, with random mentions of dates and events, never providing any insight about the historical times and the cultures. This was more so evident when it came to Indian history. The sections about Egypt and Roman civilizations seemed at least palatable compared to those about Indian civilization. I often asked myself why our history text books couldn’t be at least a bit interesting and insightful, and make the students inquisitive about our past.

So recently when I heard the text books for Karnataka state board were updated and available on the web, I was curious to see how the history books of today are, and if there was any improvement from my schooling days. To my horror, I found the updated high school texts very shoddily produced, full of factual, grammatical and typographic errors. I won’t bore you with all those – like those text books do – but will limit to one or two tidbits only. It suffices to state that if you open a random page, the probability of finding more than 3 errors (grammatical/ factual/ typographic) is almost 75%! And the probability of finding at least one error is very close to 100%. Very sad state of affairs in this time and age!

I started reading the 9th grade History text book. Just like you check one grain of rice to know if the entire pot is cooked or not, I will provide you with a sample ‘grain’ from this book. This short paragraph is about the new religious thinkers such as Mahavira and Gautama Buddha, their philosophical thoughts and the genesis of new cults/ religions (or whatever you want to call them).


According to this textbook, “new religions came in because there was a change in agriculture modes and what people ate. Buddhism and Jainism rose because eastern UP and Bihar came under new methods of agriculture not seen before, using iron ploughs. These ploughs needed oxen to pull them. There was a scarcity of oxen, because they were sacrificed in religious practices. Hence people were attracted to these new religions that opposed sacrifice of animals, and taught non-violence as a principle. This is why these religions became popular”.

I have read many a history book, but this was the first time I came across such an explanation. Of course, no citations for this conclusion are given in the book. The book is entirely devoid of any source citation. Neither does it make any distinction among fact, hypothesis, theory and inference. Everything is written as though it is crystal clear. I wonder what impression the teachers and students studying these ill-written text books will be getting about history in general, and of Indian history in particular.

When I shared the above section from the Karnataka text book on social media, I got a pointer from someone as to the source of such content in proof of its ‘supposed authenticity’ – A page from a book of 9th grade CBSE book written by R. S. Sharma. He is often cited as a source of reputable history by the secular circles in India.


Now, since this was presented as an authentic source, I read through that page. It can be readily inferred that the Kannada text book draws material from this text. This book too does not say how such conclusions were drawn. So not much help there. This book of R. S. Sharma is prescribed as a text for 11th grade students. Incidentally looks like the same book is being used from times long before I was in 11th grade! Nevertheless, I hoped there have been revisions in tune with current research. So I just thought of doing some additional fact checking, and took a random paragraph from the book – this one dealing with the coming of Aryans to India.


This short paragraph is verily overloaded with facts, semi-facts, pseudo-facts, white lies, masked-lies, and blatant lies as you will discover below:
  • Aryans came to India in several waves (May be true, may be not, but the text does not tell why or how that inference was made)
  • Earliest wave was Rigvedic people who came to India around 1500 BC (Again, no indication how this date was arrived at, if there is any tangible proof etc)
  • They came in contact with other tribes such as dasyus & dasas who were original inhabitants (Absolutely no evidence given about how/if these tribes were thought to be original inhabitants)
  • They were a also a branch of ancient Iranians since their literature also mentions dAsa (This is the statement somewhat close to truth and supported by facts – that Rig Vedic people and ancient Iranians had something in common). But again if dasas were native Indians, did Iranians go from India (after Rig Vedic people came to India) ? The text remains mum about this.
  • After stating They (Rig Vedic Aryans) came into conflict with the indigenous inhabitants called the dasyus, dasas, three sentences later the author says “Rig Veda mentions the defeat of Sambara by Divodasa, of the bharata clan” – Isn’t it logical Divodasa be a dasa?
  • Now the author states “Possibly the dasyus in the Rig Veda represent the original inhabitants of the country, and an Aryan chief who overpowered them was called Trasadasyu’ – So within three lines another shift of the presentation! My only question to the author:“What were you smoking when you wrote this paragraph?”
  • Next he says “The term dasyu-hatya, slaughter of the dasyus, is repeatedly mentioned in the Rig Veda.

When I saw the last bullet, I saw a good opportunity test it quantitatively. All the previous bullets were inferences, opinions, hearsay, and not quantitatively measurable. But talking about “repeated mention of a word or a phrase in a text” is a *very* measurable quantity.

Back when I was in high school there was no Internet, or no access to a Rig Vedic scholar. Or even if I had, I do not know if he knew the entire 1028 suktas (i.e. 10600 verses, 21200 lines to be very accurate), or if he would answer my questions about the Veda. Thankfully, now there is Internet, and the whole searchable Rig Veda is available at:

A search for the word ‘dasyu’ reveals that the word occurs exactly 51 times in all of the 21200 lines. Even assuming an average 5 words per line, this translates to 51 times in 106000 words. A whopping 480 parts per million! What an unbelievably high rate to be called a “repeated mention”!

Searching for the word ‘dasyu’ reveals that the word occurs exactly 51 times in all of the 21200 lines. Assuming an average 5 words per line, this translates to 51 times in 106000 words. A whopping 480 parts per million! What an unbelievably high rate to be called a “repeated mention”!


Oops. Sorry. Spoke too soon. What R. S. Sharma claims is that the phrase ‘dasyu-hatya’ is a frequent occurrence. Not the word dasyu. Let me look for it, for I want to stick with facts.


The term dasyu-hatya (or something related) occurs a total 7 times in the 21200 lines of Rig Veda. This translates to 66 parts per million. *VERY VERY HIGH OCCURRENCE*. Really!

Moral of the story: Text book writers may be under a rock for decades. We need not be. Not in today’s information age. This research was to be done by the text book writers. But surely they have not done it. If we care about the next generation of kids, I think we need to do our bit so that they don’t live under the rock forever.



ಭಾರತೀಯರಿಗೆ ಇತಿಹಾಸ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ ಕಡಿಮೆ ಎಂಬ ಒಂದು ಆರೋಪ ಆಗೀಗ ಕೇಳಿ ಬರುತ್ತದೆ. ಆದರೆ ಮಹಾಭಾರತದಂತಹ ಕಾವ್ಯವನ್ನು ಇತಿಹಾಸ ಎಂದು ಕರೆದಿರುವಾಗ, ಪುರಾಣಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ರಾಜರ ವಂಶಾವಳಿಗಳನ್ನು ಹೇಳಿರುವ ಸಂದರ್ಭಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದಾಗ, ಈ ಮಾತು ಪೂರ್ತಿ ಸರಿಯಲ್ಲ ಎಂಬುದು ಮನದಟ್ಟಾಗುತ್ತದೆ.   ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಗಮನಿಸಬೇಕಾದ ಒಂದು ವಿಶೇಷವೆಂದರೆ  ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕ ಸಂಗತಿಗಳು ಭಾರತೀಯ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೀ ಘಟನೆಗಳ ಸರಮಾಲೆಯಾಗಿರದೇ, ಕಥಾಸಂದರ್ಭಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊಂದಿಕೊಂಡು ಬರುವುದು. ಇದರ ಜೊತೆಗೆ, ಪೂರ್ತಿ ಕಾಲ್ಪನಿಕವಾದ ಕಥೆಯಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ ಕವಿಯ ಅನುಭವಗಳು, ಆತನ ಅಥವಾ ಆಕೆಯ ಬರವಣಿಗೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡು ಬರುವುದೂ ತಿಳಿದ ವಿಷಯವೇ. ಕಾಳಿದಾಸನ ಮೇಘದೂತದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ಉಜ್ಜಯನೀ ನಗರದ ವರ್ಣನೆ, ಮೃಚ್ಛಕಟಿಕ ನಾಟಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ಉಜ್ಜಯನೀ ವರ್ಣನೆಗಳನ್ನು ನಾವು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗೆ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದು. ಕಾಳಿದಾಸನ ರಘುವಂಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ದಿಗ್ವಿಜಯಗಳೂ ಕೂಡ ಆತನು ನೋಡಿದ್ದಿರಬಹುದಾದ (ಅಥವಾ ಅವನ ಸಮಯಕ್ಕೆ ಹತ್ತಿರವಾಗಿದ್ದ) ಸಮುದ್ರಗುಪ್ತನ ದಿಗ್ವಿಜಯದಿಂದ ಪ್ರೇರಿತವೆನ್ನಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಇನ್ನು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದವನೇ ಆದ ಬಿಲ್ಹಣನ ವಿಕ್ರಮಾಂಕದೇವಚರಿತ, ಕಲ್ಹಣನ ರಾಜತರಂಗಿಣಿ ಮೊದಲಾದುವುಗಳೂ  ಒಂದು ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ರಾಜರ ಇತಿಹಾಸದ ವಿವರಗಳನ್ನು ಕೊಡುವ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳೇ.

ಇವೆಲ್ಲ ರಾಜಮಹಾರಾಜರ ಕಥೆಗಳಾದುವು. ಆದರೆ, ಜನಸಾಮಾನ್ಯರ ಜೀವನ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನೂ ನಮಗೆ ತೋರುವಂತಹ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳೂ ಇರುವುದು ಒಂದು ಸಮಾಧಾನ ತರುವ ಸಂಗತಿ. ಇಂತಹ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಅಮರುಕ ಕವಿಯ ಅಮರುಶತಕ ಅಥವಾ ಅಮರುಕಶತಕ. ಇದು ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ಜನಗಳ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿರುವಂತಹ ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಪ್ರೇಮಗಳ ಹಲವು ಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಕೊಡುವಂತಹ ಒಂದು ಮುಕ್ತಕ ಕಾವ್ಯ.  ಮುಕ್ತಕ ಕಾವ್ಯವೆಂದರೆ ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಪದ್ಯವನ್ನೂ ತಂತಾನೇ ಸ್ವಯಂಪೂರ್ಣ. ಒಂದೇ ಪದ್ಯವನ್ನು ಓದಿದರೂ, ಅದು ಒಂದು ಪೂರ್ಣ ಅನುಭವವನ್ನು ಕೊಡುತ್ತದಾದ್ದರಿಂದ  ಈ ಹೆಸರು, ಮುತ್ತು ಒಂಟಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ, ಸರವಾಗಿ ಕೋದರೂ ಅದು ಸೊಗಸೇ ತಾನೇ? ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಇಂತಹ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳಿಗೆ ಈ ಹೆಸರು ಬಹಳ ಒಪ್ಪುತ್ತದೆ. ಅಮರುಕನ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಪದ್ಯವೂ ನೂರು ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳ ರಸಾನುಭವವನ್ನು ಕೊಡುತ್ತದೆಂದು ಅವನ ನಂತರದ ಲಾಕ್ಷಣಿಕರು ಹೇಳಿರುವುದುಂಟು. ಗಂಡು ಹೆಣ್ಣಿನ ನಡುವಿನ ನವಿರಾದ ಪ್ರೇಮ ವಿರಹ ದುಗುಡ ಮೊದಲಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಭಾವನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಚಿತ್ರಿಸುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮರುಕನಿಗೆ ಅವನೇ ಸಾಟಿ.

ಅಮರುಕನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಮಗೆ ತಿಳಿದಿರುವುದು ಕಡಿಮೆಯೇ. ಈತ ಎಂಟನೇ ಶತಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದನೆಂಬುದು ಖಚಿತವಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಬಹುದಾದ ವಿಷಯ. ಈಗ ಕಾಶ್ಮೀರದ ರಾಜನೆಂದೂ,  ಮಾಹಿಷ್ಮತಿಯ ರಾಜನೆಂದೂ ದಂತ ಕಥೆಗಳಿವೆ. ಇವನು ಅಮರುಶತಕ ವೆಂಬ ಹೆಸರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಖ್ಯಾತವಾಗಿರುವ ಒಂದು ನೂರು ಪದ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದಾನೆ. ಈ ಪದ್ಯಗಳ ವಿಷಯವೆಂದರೆ ಗಂಡು ಹೆಣ್ಣಿನ ನಡುವಿನ ಪ್ರೇಮ. ಅಮರುಕನ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಬಿಡಿಪದ್ಯವೇ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಕಾವ್ಯದಷ್ಟು  ರಸವತ್ತಾಗಿರುತ್ತದೆಂದು ನಂತರದ ಕವಿಗಳು, ವಿಮರ್ಶಕರು ಹೊಗಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ.  ಈಗ ದೊರಕಿರುವ ಬೇರೆ ಬೇರೆ ಅಮರುಕ ಶತಕದ ಟೀಕೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ಮತ್ತೆ ಇತರ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮರುಕನ ಹೆಸರಲ್ಲಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿರುವ ಪದ್ಯಗಳನ್ನೂ ಸೇರಿಸಿದರೆ, ಶತಕವೆಂದರೆ ನೂರು ಪದ್ಯವಿರಬೇಕಾದರೂ ಸುಮಾರು ೧೬೦ ಪದ್ಯಗಳು ಅಮರುಕನದ್ದೆಂದು ಬಳಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಅಮರುಕನ ಪದ್ಯಗಳು ಅವುಗಳ ಲಾಲಿತ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಹೆಸರುವಾಸಿ.
ಈತನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಕಥೆಯೂ ಇದೆ. ಮಂಡನಮಿಶ್ರರ ಹೆಂಡತಿ ಉಭಯಭಾರತಿಯ ಜೊತೆ  ಆದಿಶಂಕರರ ವಾದ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಗ ಆಕೆ ಸಾಂಸಾರಿಕ ಜೀವನದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಮಾಡಲು, ಬಾಲ ಸನ್ಯಾಸಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದ ಶಂಕರರು ತಮ್ಮ ಅನುಭವದಿಂದಲೇ ಆ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗೆ ಉತ್ತರಿಸಬೇಕೆಂದು, ಅಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಸತ್ತು ಹೋಗಿದ್ದ ಅಮರುಕ ರಾಜನ ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿ  ಪರಕಾಯ ಪ್ರವೇಶಮಾಡಿದ್ದರೆಂದೂ, ಆ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಅವರು ಬರೆದ ಪದ್ಯಗಳೇ ಈ ಅಮರುಶತಕವೆಂದೂ ಕೆಲವು ಶಂಕರ ವಿಜಯ ಕಾವ್ಯಗಳು ಹೇಳುತ್ತವೆ. ಇವುಗಳನ್ನು ಅತಿಶಯೋಕ್ತಿಯೆಂದೆನ್ನಬಹುದೇ ಹೊರತು, ಇವುಗಳಿಗೆ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಆರೋಪಿಸಬೇಕಾಗಿಲ್ಲ.

ಈ ಕಥೆ ಹಾಗಿರಲಿ. ಆದರೆ ಅಮರುಕ ಶತಕದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಪದ್ಯಗಳಿಂದ ಸುಮಾರು ೮ನೇ ಶತಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಜನಜೀವನವನ್ನು ನಾವು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಅರಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದು ಅನ್ನುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾವುದೇ ಅನುಮಾನವಿಲ್ಲ. ಆ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಪ್ರದೇಶದಿಂದ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಪ್ರದೇಶಕ್ಕೆ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಿಗಳ ತಂಡಗಳು “ಸಾರ್ಥ”ಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದು ದೇಶಾಂತರ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರವನ್ನು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ತಂಡಗಳು ಭಾರತದಿಂದ ಹೊರದೇಶಗಳಿಗೂ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದುಂಟು. ಇಂತಹ ಸಾರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋದವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಊರಿಗೆ ಮರಳುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಹಲವಾರು ತಿಂಗಳುಗಳಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು. ಇಂತಹ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಪತಿ ಪತ್ನಿಯರು ಒಬ್ಬರಿಂದೊಬ್ಬರು ದೂರವಾಗಿ, ಆ ವಿರಹದಿಂದ ಬಳಲುವ ಹಲವು ಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಅಮರುಕ ಶತಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಚಿತ್ರಿಸಿರುವುದನ್ನು ಕಾಣಬಹುದು. ನಾನು ಮಾಡಿರುವ ಅಮರುಕ ಶತಕದ ಅಂತಹ ಕೆಲವು ಪದ್ಯಗಳ ಅನುವಾದ, ಟಿಪ್ಪಣಿಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿದೆ:

ಮೊದಲು, ಸಾರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಊರಿಂದ ಹೊರಹೋಗಿರುವವನೊಬ್ಬನ ಹೆಂಡತಿಯ ಪಾಡು ನೋಡಿ.

ತೊಟ್ಟ ಬಳೆಗಳು ಕೈಯ ತೊರೆದಿವೆ ಕಣ್ಣ ನೀರದು ಸುರಿದಿದೆ
ಧೈರ್ಯ ಚಣದಲೆ ಮಾಯವಾದುದೆ ಮನಸು ದೂರಕೆ ಓಡಿದೆ
ಗಟ್ಟಿ ಮನದಲೆ ನಲ್ಲ ತೆರಳಿರೆ ಜೊತೆಯಲೇ ಇವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ
ಹೊರಟು ಹೋದರೆ ಜೀವ ಗುಂಪನ್ನುಳಿದು ಉಳಿದಿಹೆಯೇತಕೆ?

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮೂಲ:

ಪ್ರಸ್ಥಾನಂ ವಲಯೈಃ ಕೃತಂ ಪ್ರಿಯಸಖೈರಸ್ರೈರಜಸ್ರಂ ಗತಂ
ಧೃತ್ಯಾ ನ ಕ್ಷಣಮಾಸಿತಂ ವ್ಯವಸಿತಂ ಚಿತ್ತೇನ ಗಂತುಂ ಪುರಃ
ಗಂತುಂ ನಿಶ್ಚಿತಚೇತಸಿ ಪ್ರಿಯತಮೇ ಸರ್ವೇ ಸಮಂ ಪ್ರಸ್ಥಿತಾ
ಗಂತವ್ಯೇ ಸತಿ ಜೀವಿತಪ್ರಿಯ ಸುಹೃತ್ಸಾರ್ಥಃ ಕಿಮುತ್ಯಜ್ಯತೇ ॥

ಈ ನಾಯಕಿ ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರಿಯತಮ ಇನ್ನೂ ಊರಿಗೆ ಬಂದಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಎಷ್ಟು ಸೊರಗಿದ್ದಾಳೆಂದರೆ ಕೈಯಲ್ಲಿ ತೊಟ್ಟ ಬಳೆಗಳು ಜಾರಿಹೋಗಿವೆ. ಕಣ್ಣೀರು ಒಂದೇ ಸಮ ಸುರಿದಿದೆ. ಧೈರ್ಯವೂ ಮನಸ್ಸಿಂದ ದೂರವಾಗಿದೆ. ಇದನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದ ಆ ನಾಯಕಿ, “ಹೇ ಜೀವ, ನಿನ್ನ ಗೆಳೆಯರಾದ ಧೈರ್ಯ, ಕಣ್ಣೀರು ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ನನ್ನ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ದೂರ ಹೋದಮೇಲೆ, ಅವುಗಳ ’ಸಾರ್ಥ’ವನ್ನು ನೀನೇಕೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟೀಯ? ನೀನೂ ಹೊರಟುಹೋಗು ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಳೆ.

ಈಗ ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬಳ ಸ್ಥಿತಿ ನೋಡೋಣ. ಇನ್ನೇನು ಮಳೆಗಾಲ ಬರುತ್ತಿದೆ. ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಕ್ಕೆಂದು ಹೋದ ಗಂಡ ಇಂದೋ ನಾಳೆಯೋ ಬರುತ್ತಾನೆಂಬ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷೆ ಇವಳದು. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಇವಳಿಗೆ ಮನೆಯೊಳಗೆ ನಿಲ್ಲಲೂ ಮನಸ್ಸಿಲ್ಲ. ಹೊರಗೇ ದಾರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತು ಕಾಯುವಾಗ ರಾತ್ರಿಯಾದರೂ ಒಳಬರಲು ಮನಸ್ಸಿಲ್ಲ:

ಕಣ್ಣು ತೋರುವವರೆಗು ನಲ್ಲನಾ ಹಾದಿಯನೆ ಕಾಯ್ತು ಬೇಸತ್ತಾಗಲೆ
ದಾರಿಗರ ಸಪ್ಪಳವು ನಿಲ್ಲುತಿರೆ ಹೊರಗೆಲ್ಲ ಹಬ್ಬುತಿರೆ ಕಾರ್ಗತ್ತಲೆ
ಹೆಣ್ಣಿವಳು ಮನೆಯೆಡೆಗೆ ತಿರುಗುತ್ತ ಹಾಕಿರಲು ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಯೊಂದನ್ನಾಕಡೆ
ಕೂಡಲೆಯೆ ಬಂದನೇನೋಯೆನುತ ಕತ್ತನ್ನು ಮೆಲ್ಲ ಹೊರಳಿಸಿ ನೋಳ್ಪಳೆ

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮೂಲ:

ಆದೃಷ್ಟಿ ಪ್ರಸರಾತ್ ಪ್ರಿಯಸ್ಯ ಪದವೀಂ ಉದ್ವೀಕ್ಷ್ಯ ನಿರ್ವಿಣ್ಣಯಾ
ವಿಚ್ಛಿನ್ನೇಶು ಪಥಿಶ್ವಃ ಪರಿಣತೌ ಧ್ವಾಂತೇ ಸಮುತ್ಸರ್ಪತಿ |
ದತ್ತೈಕಂ ಸಶುಚಾ ಗೃಹಂ ಪ್ರತಿ ಪದಮ್ ಪಾಂಥಃ ಸ್ತ್ರಿಯಾಸ್ಮಿನ್ ಕ್ಷಣೇ
ಮಾ ಭೂದಾಗತ ಇತ್ಯಾಮಂದವಲಿತಗ್ರೀವಂ ಪುನರ್ವೀಕ್ಷಿತಂ ||

ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಕ್ಕೆಂದು ಪ್ರಯಾಣಕ ಹೋದ ಪತಿ ಇಂದು ಬಂದೇ ಬಿಡಬಹುದೆಂದು ಅವಳು ಹಾದಿಯಲ್ಲೇ ನಿಂತು ಕಾಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಳೆ. ಕತ್ತಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ರಸ್ತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಓಡಾಡುವರೂ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇವಳು ನಿರಾಸೆಯಿಂದ ಮನೆಯ ಕಡೆಗೆ ಒಂದು ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಹಾಕಿದ ಕೂಡಲೆ, ಮತ್ತೆ ಅದೇ ಕ್ಷಣದಲ್ಲೇ ಆತ ಬಂದೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟ ನೇನೋ ಎಂದು ಮತ್ತೆ ತಿರುಗಿ ನೋಡಿದಳಂತೆ!

ಈ ಮೊದಲಿನ ಇಬ್ಬರೂ ನಾಯಕಿಯರು, ಪ್ರೇಮಿ ದೂರ ಹೋದ ಮೇಲೆ ಸೊರಗಿದವರು. ಕೊರಗಿದವರು. ಆದರೆ ಈಗ ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬಳ ಕಥೆ ನೋಡಿ. ಇವಳು ಅದೆಷ್ಟು ಕೋಮಲೆಯೆಂದರೆ, ಗಂಡ ಊರಿಗೆ ಹೊರಟನೆಂದರೆ ತಾನು ಮುಂದೆ ಬದುಕುವುದೇ ಅವಳಿಗೆ ಅನುಮಾನ

ಪಯಣ ಹೋದರೆ ಮತ್ತೆ ಬಾರದೆ ಇರುವುದುಂಟೇ ಸುಂದರಿ?
ಎನ್ನ ಸಲುವಿಗೆ ಚಿಂತೆಯೇತಕೆ? ಏತಕೀಪರಿ ಸೊರಗಿಹೆ?
ಒದ್ದೆಗಣ್ಣಲಿ ನಾನು ಕೇಳಲು ನಾಚಿ ತುಂಬಿದ ಕಣ್ಗಳ
ನೀರ ತಡೆದಳು! ನೋಡಿ ನಕ್ಕಳು! ತೋರಿ ಸಾವಿಗೆ ಕಾತರ!

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮೂಲ:

ಯಾತಾಃ ಕಿಂ ನ ಮಿಲಂತಿ ಸುಂದರಿ ಪುನಶ್ಚಿಂತಾ ತ್ವಯೇ ಮತ್ಕೃತೇ
ನೋ ಕಾರ್ಯಾ ನಿತರಾಂ ಕೃಶಾಸಿ ಕಥಯತ್ಯೇವಂ ಸಬಾಷ್ಪೇ ಮಯಿ
ಲಜ್ಜಾಮಾಂಥರತಾರಕೇಣ ನಿಪತತ್ಪೀತಾಶ್ರುಣಾಂ ಚಕ್ಷುಷಾ
ದೃಷ್ಟ್ಚಾ ಮಾಂ ಹಸಿತೇನ ಭಾವಿಮರಣೋತ್ಸಾಹಸ್ತಯಾ ಸೂಚಿತಃ ||

ಇವಳು ತನ್ನ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಬಾಯಿ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಹೇಳಲಾರಳು. ಕಣ್ಣೀರನ್ನೂ ತೋರಿಸದೇ ಅದನ್ನು ಸುಳ್ಳು ನಗೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಚ್ಚಲು ಇವಳಿಂದಾದರೂ, ಅವಳ ಕಣ್ಣುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತಾನು ಬದುಕಲಾರೆನೆಂಬ ಭಾವವನ್ನು ಮಾತ್ರ ತಡೆಯದೇ ಹೋದಳಂತೆ.

ಈಗ ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬಳ ಕಥೆ ನೋಡೋಣ. ಇವಳ ಗಂಡ ಊರಿಗೆ ಹೊರಟಿದ್ದಾನೆ. ಅವನು ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊರಟಿರುವ ಊರೋ ನೂರು ದಿನದ ಪ್ರಯಾಣ. ಆದರೆ, ಈ ಹೆಣ್ಣು ಎಷ್ಟು ಮುಗ್ಧಳೆಂದರೆ, ಅವನನ್ನು ನೀನು ಬರುವುದು ಯಾವಾಗ?  ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನವಾಗುವುದೇ? ಸಂಜೆಯಾಗುವುದೇ? ಎಂದು ಕೇಳುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ಎಂತಹ ವಿಪರ್ಯಾಸ ?

ಗಂಟೆಹೊಡೆಯುವ ಮುನ್ನವೋ ನಡುಹಗಲಲೋ ತುಸುಬಳಿಕವೋ
ಅಲ್ಲದಿರಲಿಳಿಹೊತ್ತಿಗಲ್ಲವೆ ಇನಿಯ ನೀ ಬರುವುದೆನುತ
ನೂರು ದಿನಗಳ ದೂರ ಪಯಣಕೆ ಹೊರಟುನಿಂತಿಹ ನಲ್ಲನ
ಗಮನ ತಪ್ಪಿಸುತಿಹಳು ಹುಡುಗಿಯು ಬಿಕ್ಕುತಲಿ ಕಂಬನಿಯಲಿ

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮೂಲ:

ಪ್ರಹರವಿರತೌ ಮಧ್ಯೇ ವಾಹನಸ್ತತೋsಪಿ ಪರೇsತಥಾ
ಕಿಮುತ ಸಕಲೇ ಜಾತೇ ವಾಹ್ನಿಪ್ರಿಯ ತ್ವಮಿಷೈಹ್ಯಸಿ
ಇತಿ ದಿನಶತಪ್ರಾಪ್ಯಂ ದೇಶಂ ಪ್ರಿಯಸ್ಯ ಯಿಯಾಸತೋ
ಹರತಿ ಗಮನಂ ಬಾಲಾಲಾಪೈಃ ಸಬಾಷ್ಪಗಲಜ್ಜಲೈಃ

ಈ ಮೇಲಿನ ನಾಲ್ಕೂ ಪದ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೀ ಹೆಣ್ಣಿನ ಬೇಗೆಯಷ್ಟೇ ಚಿತ್ರಣವಾಗಿದೆ. ಹಾಗಿದ್ದರೆ, ವಿರಹವೆನ್ನುವುದು ಕೇವಲ ಹೆಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರವೇ ಉಂಟೇ? ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಹೆಣ್ಣಿಗೂ ಗಂಡಿಗೂ ಇರುವಾಗ ವಿರಹದ ಚಿತ್ರವನ್ನು ಗಂಡಿನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಯಾಕೆ ಕೊಡಬಾರದು ಎಂದಿರಾ?  ಅಮರುಕ  ಈ ಚಿತ್ರಣವನ್ನೂ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾನೆ!

ಈ ಪದ್ಯದ ನಾಯಕ ಒಬ್ಬ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಿ.  ನೂರಾರು ಹೊಳೆ ಕಾಡುಗಳನ್ನು ದಾಟಿ ದೂರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಹಾದಿಗ. ಆದರೂ, ತನ್ನ ನಲ್ಲೆಯ ನೆನಪಲ್ಲೇ , ತನ್ನ ಊರಿನ ಕಡೆಯೇ ತಿರುಗಿ ತಿರುಗಿ ನೋಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾನಂತೆ.


(ಚಿತ್ರ: ಅಜಂತಾದ ಹತ್ತನೇ ಗುಹೆಯೊಂದರ ಭಿತ್ತಿ ಚಿತ್ರ. ಛಾಯಾಗ್ರಾಹಕ: ಪ್ರಸಾದ್ ಪವಾರ್)

ದೂರದೇಶದಿ ಕಾಡುಮಲೆಹೊಳೆನೂರು ದಾಟಿಹ ದಾರಿಗ
ತನ್ನ ದಿಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ನಲ್ಲೆ ನಿಲುಕಳು ಎಂಬುದನು ತಾನರಿತರೂ
ಕೊರಳ ನಿಲುಕಿಸಿ ಮೆಟ್ಟುಗಾಲಲಿ ನೀರು ತುಂಬಿದ ಕಣ್ಣಲಿ
ಏನನೋ ನೆನೆಯುತ್ತಲಾಕಡೆಯಲ್ಲೆ ನೋಡುತಲಿರುವನು !

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮೂಲ:

ದೇಶೈರಂತರಿತಾ ಶತೈಶ್ಚ ಸರಿತಾಮುರ್ವೀಭೃತಾಂ ಕಾನನೈಃ
ಯತ್ನೇನಾಪಿ ನ ಯಾತಿ ಲೋಚನಪಥಂ ಕಾಂತೇತಿ ಜಾನನ್ನಪಿ |
ಉದ್ಗ್ರೀವಶ್ಚರಣಾರ್ಧರುದ್ಧವಸುಧಃ ಕೃತ್ಚಾಶ್ರುಪೂರ್ಣಂ ದೃಶಂ
ತಾಮಾಶಾಂ ಪಥಿಕಸ್ತಥಾಪಿ ಕಿಮಪಿಧ್ಯಾಯಶ್ಚಿರಂ ವೀಕ್ಷತೇ ||

ಹೀಗೆ ಅಮರುಕನು ಪ್ರತಿಪಾದಿಸಿರುವ ಪ್ರೇಮಿಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ಅಭಿನ್ನತೆಯೂ, ಆದಿಶಂಕರರು ಪ್ರತಿಪಾದಿಸಿದ ಜೀವಾತ್ಮ ಪರಮಾತ್ಮರ ನಡುವೆ ಅದ್ವೈತವೂ,  ಒಂದೇ ರೀತಿಯೆನಿಸಿ ಶಂಕರಾಚಾರ್ಯರೇ ಅಮರುಕನ ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿ ಪರಕಾಯ ಪ್ರವೇಶ ಮಾಡಿದನೆಂಬ ಕಥೆಗಳು ಹುಟ್ಟಿಕೊಂಡಿರಬಹುದೇನೋ ಎನ್ನಿಸದಿರದು.


(೨೦೧೫ ರ ಉತ್ತರ ಕ್ಯಾಲಿಫೋರ್ನಿಯಾ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕೂಟದ ವಾರ್ಷಿಕ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಸಂಚಿಕೆ – ಸ್ವರ್ಣಸೇತು ವಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಕಟವಾದ ಬರಹ )

The Murthy Classical Library of India initiative was in news recently with many scholars and non-scholars questioning the likes of Prof. Sheldon Pollock heading such an initiative. The crux of the matter was that such an important initiative must  be lead by  a scholar who is well versed in Indian classical traditions than Professor Pollock is.

True. Translating  is a tough art. Particularly so when it is from a language such as Samskrta with a long history,  and a tradition of advanced poetics which has lived for thousands of years. The fact that Samskrta does not remain  a commonly spoken language does not make the job any easier.  These facts have been accepted by scholars and translators such as Daniel H H Ingalls. If you are  interested,  you can read his essay, “Some Problems in the Translating of Sanskrit Poetry” here.

From the last several years, I have been doing stray translations of Samrkta verses to Kannada. While the difficulty of translation from Samskrta to Kannada may not be as challenging as from Samskrta to English, it is still not very easy. I agree that the brevity of Samskrta, the dual-meanings (shlEsha) it can convey enhancing the beauty of the verse are very hard to match. And as a translator, I believe that a translation has to be as close to the original to create the same mood, not introduce new concepts not found in the original and not miss out what is intended in the original as much as possible. While you can do a word-by-word translation, it is probably not the best in conveying the thought of the original. This is why a  translator has to know the language to which s/he is translating to a better extent than the language s/he is translating from. And also know the cultural baggage of both languages, so that the verse makes sense in translation.

In the past few years, I have translated about half of the well known work of Amaruka, known by the name Amaru Shatakam. You can find those translations on this Facebook page of AmaruShatakam.  Check it out if you read Kannada.

Although Amaru Shatakam  is supposed to contain 100 verses as the name suggests, there are about 160 verses when you consider all the available recensions. Amaru Shataka is considered as one of the finest specimens of Samsktta poetry about marital love. It is a collection of verses, and hence each verse tells a different story and can be read and enjoyed without reading the entire work.

Here is  a verse I translated from Amaru Shataka recently:

दम्पत्योर्निशि जल्पतोर्गृहशुकेनाकर्णितं यद्वचः
तत्प्रातर्गुरु सन्निधौ निगदतः श्रुत्वैव तारं वधूः
कर्णालंबित पद्मरागशकलं विन्यस्य चंच्वाः पुरो
व्रीडार्ता प्रकरोति दाडिमफलव्याज्येन वाग्बंधनम्

This verse, (#16 in the western recension of Amaru Shataka) is set in a meter called shArdUlavikrIDita. My translation in Kannada is set in mAtrA mallikAmAle but does not follow prAsa rules.

ಗಂಡಹೆಂಡಿರ ಇರುಳ ಸರಸದ ಮಾತ ಕೇಳಿದ ಮನೆಗಿಳಿ
ಅದನೆ ಹಗಲಲಿ ಹಿರಿಯರೆದುರಲಿ ಚೀರಿರಲು ನಾಚುತ್ತಲಿ
ಕಿವಿಯಲೋಲಾಡುತಿಹ ಕೆಂಪಿನ ಓಲೆಯಿರಿಸುತ ಕೊಕ್ಕಿಗೆ
ನೀಡಿಹಳು ದಾಳಿಂಬೆಯಿದು ಕೋಯೆನುತ ಬಾಯನು ಮುಚ್ಚಿಸೆ



For those of you who don’t understand Kannada, here is a summary of the verse in English:

The pet parrot heard the conversation of the couple ( the Samskrta word used is daMpati, indicating they’re  married) and kept repeating those conversations, in front of the other elders in the home the following morning. Blushing in embarrassment, the girl tried giving her ruby earrings to the pet,  trying to convince it was a pomegranate fruit so that the parrot would stop its high pitched chatter.

(Picture: An illustration from Tutinama, a work in Persian – Now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Picture taken from Wikimedia)

If you understand Kannada, you may notice that the translation is not word-by-word. For example, the phrase “कर्णालंबित पद्मरागशकलं” indicating an elaborate ruby ear hanging has been translated as “ಕಿವಿಯಲೋಲಾಡುತಿಹ ಕೆಂಪಿನ ಓಲೆ”. The word  “प्रातः” (early morning) has been changed as “ಹಗಲಲಿ” (during day time). The word “श्रुत्वा” (heard), does not appear in the translation but it is implied. In spite of these changes, I think the translation keeps true to the mood of the original verse.

Generally, before translating any of these verses from Amaru Shataka,  I do read them several times in the original commentaries in Samskrta ( Rasika Sanjeevini of Arujuna Varma dEva and Shrngara Deepika of Vema Bhupala) to understand any intricacies that I may not get easily when I read the Samskrta verse. I also have a prose translation of the work in Kannada, which comes in handy sometimes. And finally there are couple of English translations which I refer rarely – because I find the those translations somewhat contrived and convoluted in structure, not to belittle the efforts of those translators.  One of those is the translation by Prof Greg Bailey and published by the Clay Sanskrit Series 

Today was one of those rare occasions when I tried to read the English translation of the specific verse I quoted before. I am glad that I did refer to it *after* I wrote my Kannada version, and not before!

Here is how it is translated by Greg Bailey:


Of two lovers chattering in the night
A house parrot heard the conversation
Which, morning come, it utters too shrilly near the young bride’s parents
Hearing this,
She placed a piece of ruby – a semblance of a pomegranate fruit – from her ear before his beak.
For sick with shame
She contrives to block his speech.

While the original verse says “husband and wife”, in the translation they become “lovers” (not that a married couple can’t be lovers!). The “elders” referred in the original become “bride’s parents” in the English translation. For anyone knowing anything about Indian traditions, it would be clear that the elders are very likely the husband’s parents and not the wife’s.  Finally  while the original verse describes the embarrassment of the girl, and probably the blushing of her face to stop the parrot’s chatter,  in the English translation she is “sick with shame”!

What has all this to do with Prof Sheldon Pollock’s work ? Suffice to say that he is the General Editor of the Clay Sanskrit Library.

I respect Prof Pollock or anyone in the Western or Eastern world who have worked on ancient Indian works. But that does not mean I should stop calling a spade a spade! I am not even getting into the political overtones and misrepresentation of facts concerning early India in his other writings in this post, but as they say in Kannada, “ಅನ್ನ ಬೆಂದಿದೆಯೋ ಇಲ್ಲವೋ ಅಂತ ಹೇಳೋಕೆ, ಒಂದು ಅಗುಳು ನೋಡಿದರೆ ಸಾಕು” – You just have to check a single grain of rice to see if it’s cooked or not.

And so does stand my opinion against Prof Pollock or people like him heading the Murthy Classical Library or such other Indian cultural initiatives.




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:




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A Collection of  Samskrta Subhashitas, translated to Kannada

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ಅವಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೀಗಂದರು:

"ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ…ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದೆ ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ… ಎಂಬ ಘೋಷ ವಾಕ್ಯದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ಮಂಡಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಣಿಸಿಕೊಂಡವರು ನೀಲಾಂಜನ. ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ ಕನ್ನಡದ ಪರಿಮಳವನ್ನು ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಹರಡುತ್ತಾ ಇದೆ. ಕನ್ನಡದ ವಚನಗಳು, ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಸುಭಾಷಿತಗಳು ಜೊತೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಸಂಗೀತ ಹೀಗೆ ಹಲವು ಲೋಕವನ್ನು ಈ ಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ಪರಿಚಯಿಸಿದೆ." ಅವಧಿ, ಮೇ ೧೫, ೨೦೦೮
ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 2018
ಸೋಮ ಮಂಗಳ ಬುಧ ಗುರು ‍ಶು ಶನಿ ಭಾನು
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