Monday, May 23, 2011

DEIVATHIN KURAL #194 (Vol #4) Dated 24 May 2011

DEIVATHIN KURAL #194 (Vol #4) Dated 24 May 2011

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the second para on page number 1,095 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)
78. Kutty Saasthriyar having displayed his independence and fearlessness had an opportunity to clearly prove his love and loyalty to Srimant. Those were the days when the British were still in the process of establishing their hegemony over India, trying all sorts of mischief of creating cleavages within the local rulers exploiting their differences by hook or crook including open warfare. Srimant fought two major battles joining with other smaller leaders. Finally in 1818 he lost the battle to the Britishers irrevocably. With that the Peshwa dynasty was ended. They removed the title of Srimant. As a sop they gave the title of Maharaj that they gave to all and sundry. Giving them a pension they settled them far away from their places of power. In this case Pajirao was settled at far away Bithur near Kanpur in North India. Instead of keeping them in jail, they would virtually quarantine the person in some Bungalow located in a far away town of different language and local customs, keeping control through some locals of a different religion as guards! Instead of being branded as killers, they could get away with many devious ways of dealing with the situation!
79. When Kutty Saastri came to know that Pajirao has been arrested and that he was to be sent to some place near Kanpur. He rushed to meet him even as he was already under the custody of the British. He told him, “I thrived when you were well off. Now I am not going to give you up in your difficulties. I am coming with you to wherever they are sending you off. However much Pajirao tried to stop him, it was of no avail! En-route he begged for food the entire way to Kanpur. Finally he found some place to stay on the banks of river Ganges near where Pajirao was being kept. That was the level of love and loyalty.
80. Then after about a year, he came to Kaasi. Saraboji Maharaj was also visiting Kanpur those days to collect rare copies of palm-leaf manuscripts. When he met Kutty Saastri, he expressed much regret for his past behaviour and requested Kutty Saastri to come back to Tanjavur. Pajirao also did not like the idea of continued incarceration of Kutty Saastri because of his being attached with himself. So, he also sincerely begged the Saastri to go with Saraboji Maharaj. Finally before returning to Tanjavur however, he utilised the balance few days to learn Vedanta Saastras from one Ahobila Panditar living in Kaasi those days.
81. Then he undertook the journey back to his home via Maharashtra and Karnataka. On the way he was met by Krishna Raja Udaiyar, the King of Mysore, who wished that Kutty Saastri should be a part of his own Royal Assembly and honour him. Acceding to his request Kutty Saastri agreed to stay on in Mysore. The King also honoured him in many ways. Even in Mysore, there was an occasion for Saastri to establish and prove his independent mentality and attitude!
82. While in Mysore, Saastri conducted the Soma Yagna and became a ‘Yajwa’! Having come to know about the conduct of this Soma Yagna, the Udaiyar requested the Saastri that as per procedure, if he conducts a Vajpayee Yagnam, the King himself is supposed to hold the ceremonial umbrella for the person conducting the Yagnam. So, desirous of doing so, he requested the Saastri to conduct a Vajpayee Yagnam. But Kutty Saastri refused on the grounds that, in the conditions existing in the country when it is under foreign yoke, it is well neigh impossible to foresee as to what can go wrong in the strictness and severity of procedures required to be adopted. He said, “I am finding it difficult to even maintain the rules and regulations that I am supposed to follow as an individual Brahmin! Conduct of a Vaajpeyam can lead to many complications that cannot be foreseen and obviated! Only to make amends for my possible mistakes and errors in conduct of my duties as a Brahmin, with trepidation I undertook the conduct of Soma Yagna. So, Your Royal Highness may please be kind enough to bear with my reluctance to conduct a Vaajapeyam!” He neither felt the compulsion to obey to the King’s wishes nor did he feel greedy about the name and fame that accrues with the conduct of a Vaajapeyam!
82. Kutty Saastri is like a relative of ours since his father Nrisimha Saastri and his grand-father Madhava Saastri have been Vidwaans of this Matam sometime or the other in the past. Kutty Saastri, who refused the King’s holding of umbrella over his head, has sent many decorative and ceremonial umbrellas to this Matam.
83. I told the stories of two Maha Poets and two Kutty Laureates who among learned poets, valued and cherished the qualities of universal love of all living things, retention of independence and self respect; caring for other’s well being as well. There are many such greats who have been responsible for giving shape and substance to the value systems of this great Indian culture and Kalaa Aachaaram. As Thyagaraja SwaamigaL said, “entaro mahaanubhavulu anthariki vandanamu”, meaning, ‘I bow my head in respect to all those countless greats of the past’!
Beauty in Poets’ and Learned People’s Self Pride
84. Self respect can be bordering on pride and when we are not careful can seem like haughtiness! On such occasions one may end up talking disrespectfully to others with arrogance! It is on those occasions we may cause hurt to others’ sense of self respect. Well knowledgeable and normally well behaved people, who care for other’s feelings, rarely have misbehaved like that. There are some such stories about KaaLidaasa and Kambar. Since there is some literary value in these stories too, I am describing a few of them.
85. We should not be taking these stories too seriously and assess them by these. They are to be assessed if at all, by the quantity and quality of their literary output! These behaviours should be thought of only as aberrant and out of the ordinary. If they are reservoirs of excellent high qualities, there could be some dirty froth on the surface sidelined by the winds and waves like we find on a lake shore! If we are talking with pride about ourselves it is like a small utensil making noise. Because of the fact that these poet Laureates were conscious of their superior power of expression as though having a divine license, led to many anecdotes or snippets when they have spoken quite flippantly with other poets or patrons.
86. Normally it is wrong to have jealousy and competitiveness. But in the field of knowledge (Vidya) it helps in continued efforts towards greater refinement and excellence. Like in sports it helps in greater efforts. A student in education has to try and improve his rank in tests and examination. The best is to compete without hate and jealousy. In the case of great scholars and poets, competition without giving way to hate, certainly adds to the power of the poets imagination and expression. When they tend to cross the limits they have been imparted a light knock on their heads (kuttu) and subdued.
87. Do you know whom did KaaLidaasa talk insolently with? He did not speak insultingly with other poets or his patrons. He showed off his verbosity with AmbaaL, Para Sakti Herself! It is Her ‘uchchishta taamboolam’ (‘uchchishta’ means half bitten and stained by ones saliva), that gave him such wonderful command over the language, power of imagination and power of expression to match! He used to think of himself as a slave of AmbaaL. Out of all Stotras on AmbaaL the most famous is ‘Syamala Dandakam’; and that is from KaaLidaasa’s mind and mouth only.
(To be continued.)



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