Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 198 (Vol #3) Dated 16 Mar 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 198 (Vol #3) Dated 16 Mar 2010.

(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. To day we are proceeding from page No 907 of Vol 3 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitam. blogspot. com constantly updated.)

PaNpaadu i.e., Culture

1. Poet's Play on Words. Poets use the same words that we use every day in our conversations and writings. But there is some special beauty and intelligence that comes into play in their writings, that is not to be seen in our speech and writing. This is similar to what happens when we pick up a brush to paint and an artist does or when we wield a violin and bow and Lalkudi Jayaraman does! Without seeming to make much efforts, they are able to lift us to the ethereal heights of aesthetics in a jiffy. They have this capacity to thrill and decorate the ordinary to make it extra ordinary!

2. The ideas and concepts in the bland words of ours instantly become attractive and fetching in their words with inner meanings with frills such as comparisons and rhymes. Like decorating a simple looking girl with facials, jewels, flowers and nice clothes and making her look very beautiful, simple words become poetry and literature by their artistry! This decoration is known as 'alankar' in Sanskrit and 'aNi' in Tamil. This decorative art in poetry is known as 'alankara saastra'. In Tamil we have 'uvamai aNi, siledai aNi' and such. In Tamil the literature on the subject is known as 'Tandiyalankaram' . There was one Thandi in Kanchipuram some 1,300 years back. He was a poet of renown of that time. He had written a book on the intricacies of poesy, called 'kavyadarsam'. This was the basis on which 'Thandi Alankaram' was written in Tamil some 900 years back.

3. There are two types of decorative writing in classic poetry. One is to thrill the readers mind and heart by the very nobility of their ideas by which they touch the very core of your heart and make us shed tears, not necessarily out of sadness! The other is to thrill the intellect by the novelty of their expression, perspective and presentation! This second may not melt your heart and may not add to your knowledge base. Still they will make a deep impression on our minds! It has the power to make you forget your worries and monotony like a magic show.

4. So, even great classic writers also have at times resorted to what can be called as, 'word play'. What sounds like some meaningless blabbering, when interpreted in a novel way and given deeper meanings, we cannot help appreciating such art. This is known as 'Chitra Kavita'. In this too there are two varieties. One is play on words with double meanings giving different meanings known as, 'artha chitram' and play on rhymes and similar sounding words with slight nuances of meanings known as 'sabda chitram'!

5. Kanna - Pinna. When somebody talks nonsense irrelevantly, we say in Tamil, that, "He is saying something kanna-pinna'! The double word group does not have a dictionary meaning. But, a poet has given some new meaning to this and beautified it! He was a well known poet in the King's gathering. The King used to shower his poets with largesse. There was an unread poor man, who asked the poet, to give him some poem which he will present to the King as his own and win some prizes. Many poets who are normally people with big hearts are said to have helped many poor people like this. Even Kavi Kalidasa is said to have helped poor people like that.

6. This poet is also similarly a big hearted fellow. Instead of composing a poem, he told this rustic, "You just go to the King and say anything that comes to your mind. It does not mater even if you were to say something, 'kanna Pinna'! I will be there in the King's court when you do this, is it not so? I will explain as to how whatever you say has a lot of meaning and that you deserve to be honoured!"

7. Then the man came to the King's court and his name was announced by the royal gate keeper. The man was quite impressed with the august assembly. As it is, he was not a man of words. In this situation his tongue was tied, like a school child that forgets its lines on stage. He just blurted out, "kanna"! There was a pause. Then gathering courage he said, "pinna"! Another pregnant pause! Then he said all in one breath, virtually shouting at the top of his voice, "kanna, pinna, manna, thenna!"

8. No body knew what he meant. The royal assembly was non-plussed! The King was almost annoyed! But the Asthaana Vidwan, our big hearted poet stood up clapping, "How wonderful, Great, Great!" and kept clapping. Everybody looked up to him! He addressed the King thus, "He is a great poet sir! You know what he has said? He calls you 'Kanna', that is to mean that, you are as great as Karna of ever lasting fame for generosity Then he calls you 'Pinna', as the one who came after Karna. That is Dharma Putra, the eldest of the Pandava-s famous as the man of peace and the man of balanced temperament at al times! You are as good as that Dharma Putra!", he explained!

9. "Then he called you Manna, the King of all Kings and finally Thenna, the King of South India!". The whole audience burst into a mighty roar of appreciation. The King was mighty pleased and gave that poor rustic, 'akshara laksham!' Now, I will not ask you, if you understood that word, 'akshara laksham'! It means that the King gave him a Lac of rupees per letter of his poem! Instead of containing any high and noble idea, the story above is an example of instant wit and play on words only! However doing so has an attraction of its own to the poets and writers!
10. That is the reason why, not only poets like Kalidasa, Kalamegham and Mahan have used such tricks extensively in their creations, but also, others who were Maha Rishi-s known for their erudition, devotion and divine disposition, such as, Vyasa, Achaarya Adi Sankara, Appayya Deekshidar, Thiru Gnana Sambandar et al.

11. Let me start with one of the 'Bharatha Kuttu'! I think that I have told you about this story as to how, Vyasa added some such puzzles while narrating Maha Bharatam. Vyasa was composing and dictating, while Maha Ganapathy was acting as the steno-grapher, writing it on the Meru mountain rocks, with his pen of ivory, which he had broken from one of his tusks! Ganapathy had put one condition that Vyasa's dictation should remain ahead of his writing. To counter this, Vyasa had said that Ganesha should understand the meaning of what is being dictated, before writing it! Hence the need for Vyasa to add a puzzle every now and then!

12. As they started with such a mutual challenge, Vyasa continued like a river in spates. Ganesha matched his speed in writing. Much earlier, In a running race with his younger brother, Ganesha had matched his physical capability with sheer brain power. When the requirement was to go around the three worlds three times, he had just ambled around his parents three times and claimed the first prize, while Subrahmanya was still speeding across the worlds seated on his carrier peacock!

13. In this race too, Ganesha's speed was the superior one. So what Vyasa did was, to add a deliberately difficult sloka whose meaning had complicated inner twists. In Sanskrit words could be in any order, in a sentence. Take this previous sentence as an example. This sentence could be written as, "words in Sanskrit could any order be in a sentence in"! So whenever Vyasa needed a break, he would add a sloka, whose words would be so cleverly spun around that, the correct interpretation could be quite difficult! Further in Sanskrit, there are rules about how words can and should be joined together! These are known as rules of, 'sandhi'! If you go against the rules of 'sandhi', you may end up making blunders in understanding the meaning! So apparently, the sloka will convey one meaning, while rearranging the order of words could convey a different meaning. Within the combined words slight changes in 'sandhi' could give yet another slant to the meaning altogether!

14. Maha Bharatham had a Lac sloka-s (that is, hundred thousand)! Vyasa introduced a complicated 'Bharatha Kuttu' every hundred sloka-s. Thus, there are a hundred such puzzles in the whole of Maha Bharatha. Ganesha may be, paused slightly to grasp the meaning of such ‘kuttu-s‘, before writing. That possibly gave enough breathing time and space for Vyasa and the process carried on! In the next mail, we will consider in detail one such 'Bharatha Kuttu'.

(To be continued.)




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