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Classical Indic Music I: Saastriya Sangeeta Tradition

SaastriyaSangeeta

Music is quite possibly the most powerful medium to not only communicate sentiments and feelings, but even ideas and philosophies. The spirituality inherent in the music of India, from the august sangeeta sabhas of Chennai to the lively village songs of Braj, is fragrant with this spiritual sense. Whether it is in communicating the everyday emotions or the most transcendental bliss, music of all echelons is an important and even critical aspect of culture.

To properly understand one’s Culture, it becomes crucial to evaluate the significance and centrality of our music, and even what makes it ours in the first place. And yet, in the engagement of Civilizations today, even music, a sacred bond among artistes and singers of different backgrounds and nationalities, is not above breaching this brotherhood.

Music and Indic Civilization is as old as the Sama Veda, and yet authentic Indic Civilization is at a crossroads. As has been researched and discussed by a respected author, there is a concerted attempted to deprecate and even deconstruct our traditional culture, and replace it with imports from other part of the world.

Sadly, even the realm of music, which should ideally bring people together, has been used by foreign “Indologists”, and their men “friday”, as a means to question the very existence of an Indian identity and an Indic Civilization, leave aside the classical tradition. Those of us raised in the tradition, in tune with modern realities and exigencies, know this assertion is ridiculous.

Much younger civilizations such as Europe and Persia, both of whom acknowledge borrowing much that is Classically Indic in origin, are self-servingly placed ahead of India, while India’s own Classical Music tradition is deconstructed and denied. This is the approach of “the developed world’s” Ivory tower, and its courtier magazines.

That is why the time has come to put aside hesitance for assertiveness, and academically rebut these preposterous propositions. While there are many different strands in the diverse Indic tradition, as anybody who is familiar with the Natya Sastra knows, it is the Sastra of Bharata muni which serves as the foundation for our Classical Arts, Music, & Literature. Desi and Marga lived in traditional harmony, much like Regional Language and Civilizational Sanskrit.

Therefore, this Series will primarily view Classical Indic Music through the tradition of Carnatic, as it is the most authentic and reflective of the native Indic spirit. Though periodic discussion of  Hindustani and its Personalities, such as Bhimsen Joshi and  Hariprasad Chaurasia, will take place, it is nevertheless important for readers to understand the difference between the syncretic and the authentic.

Introduction

220px-Saraswati

Sama Vedaaditham geetham-sujagraha Pithamahah ||

Pitamaha(Brahma)collected music from Sama Veda [2]

The Goddess Sarasvati, consort of Brahma, is herself considered the presiding deity of Music. Indic Music in general is often referred to as Gandharva Veda. The Gandharva Veda is one of the four main Upavedas and is attached to the Sama Veda. Named after those semi-divine beings famed for their divine music (Gandharvas), this upaveda is considered the origin of our sangeeta.

Gandharvaah

Thus, Saastriya Sangeeta is a very ancient tradition—one that laid the foundation for both styles (Carnatic & Hindustani)  of what is referred to as Classical Indian Music. While Carnatic is generally dated to its Pitamaha Purandara Dasa of Karnataka, he himself in fact was merely the reviver of an older tradition of music that once connected both North & South. The matter of disjunction, however, is that  Hindustani revolves around catering to the tastes of medieval Turks with persianised inclinations. It has very likely been promoted for precisely such reasons (much like urdu in bollywood) by the Lutyens crowd, to the detriment of others. What’s more, for a long time, rather silly JNU style theories were floating around that foreigners had taken the Vedic Chant tradition and given native Indians “sangeet”. This is a laughable notion for anyone who has studied the authentic Saastriya Sangeeta tradition. Carnatic has directly preserved this lineage from the time of Bharata muni and Rishi Tamburu down to the present day.

The reality is, so-called “Ganga-jamuni tehzeeb” is mostly Ganga-Jamuna and very little tehzeeb. Merely renaming melakartha ragas, cutting the Mridangam in half, and tweaking the Veena, does not a true Classical Tradition make. Panache and flamboyant flair! are fine for neophytes, but real rasikas will appreciate the refinement that goes into technique and training.  Fusion styles are fine for artists and their sentimental leanings—the but the truly authentic is what is native.

As such, it is only natural that Carnatic will serve as the backbone for the rediscovery of the Authentic Indic Tradition, with due regard to key Northern performers, of course. And with that we begin.

Background

rp_basis1.png

In our country, originally there was only one form of music and that was Indian music. Only later the divisions came and South Indian music and North Indian music chartered a separate course [2, 13]

This is the background of Classical Indic Music. Contrary to contemporary proponents of “art music”, the tradition, both South and North of the Vindhyas, finds its common origin in Sastra.  Saastriya Sangeeta is traditionally credited to Sage Bharata , author of the celebrated Natya Sastra. Nevertheless, the hymns of the Sama Veda are liturgically sung, and thereby take the origins of Sangeeta back to the Vedas themselves. Bharata himself draws the connection:

His assertion that he is creating a fifth Veda which will be accessible to all castes and classes at the same time likening it to the Vedas (i.e. creating a fifth Veda and the analogy of a ritual) transcends the accepted boundaries of hierarchy as also norms of inclusion and exclusion. [4, 21]

Foreigners too recognise the the place of the Natya Sastra and its criticality to the Classical Tradition.

The Bharata Natyasatra is our earliest Indian authority on these three arts [drama, music and dancing] and shows that by this time India had a fully developed system of music, which differed little from that of present-day ‘classical’ music. Anyone who has heard performance on the vina by a good South Indian musician has probably heard music much as it was played over a thousand years ago. [3, 382]

This was written not by some recent Indian scholar, but by Indologist A.L. Basham, in 1967. He further writes that over thirty ragas are listed in Bharata muni’s magnum opus, but these have expanded to hundreds over the course of millennia. Furthermore, there is strong reason to believe that Bharata himself was building upon the existing foundation of Gandharva Veda [emphasis ours]:

“The fact that there was a flourishing tradition of poetry, dance and music, even of architecture, sculpture and painting, is evident from innumerable references in the Vedas and epics. Patanjali’s Mahabhaasya and Arthasastras, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata provide interesting details of theatre halls, recitals, social status and training, but of the works of writers, Acaryas or rsis of the arts we learn little. Bharata provides a list of his gurus (teachers) and contemporaries. Apart from Pitamaha Siva and Mahesa, he mentions Kohala, Dhurtila (Dattila), Salikarn, Baadaraayana (Badari) and others.”[4, 114]

In fact, while there are those who continue to reduce the antiquity of Indian history and culture (to aggrandise their own culture and civilization), there is reason to believe that Natya Sastra is in fact much older than the date assigned to its composition. As Kapila Vatsyayan writes:

Many believe prior to its written composition, the Natya Sastra was transmitted orally. [1,29]

As such, one immediately sees the reason why mere documentary evidence alone cannot suffice. This is not only because destructive forces can burn down libraries (as was done at Alexandria and Nalanda),  but also because some of the most ancient traditions and strongest memories are transmitted orally, whether it is the traditional four Vedas, or the metaphorical fifth.

In addition, contrary to current day self-proclaimed “secular” revisionists who decry Sastra as frozen and rigid, Basham wrote that

The Indian musician was, and still is, an improviser [3, 383]

But the notion that the “Classical Tradition” is something new, or regionally/temporally restricted, frozen, or limited to only Brahmins is patently false.

Works on Dance such as non-brahmin Jaya Senapati’s Nrtta Ratnavali in the Medieval era pay homage to Bharata muni’s treatise (and Matanga muni’s text) from the ancient era, which in turn pays homage to the Vedas themselves. Senapati also wrote in great detail about music instruments and musical accompaniment in chapter 7  (239 verses on everything from vocalists to orchestras). As such, one can see the continuity of tradition beginning with the Vedas and going on to Maharishi Bharata to dance & music commentators such as Jayasena from Andhra, and all this before Carnatic or Hindustani even came into their own.

Contrary to newly invented narratives, the classical tradition is a continuous one that has merely evolved new styles and schools of music, in response to changing conditions. Incidentally, Jaya Senapati also authored the Geeta Ratnavali, which is now lost due to the pillage of Warangal by Delhi Turks.  Here’s what one Delhi Turk hyperbolically credited with all of Hindustani music himself had to say:

KhusroIndiaMusic

Further, Jayasena himself predates Bharatanatyam, Sadir, and Kuchipudi dances, demonstrating the importance of not only Thandava, but even Dakshinatyam as an intermediate style between ancient Bharata muni and modern Bharatanatyam (or its precursor Sadir).  Similarly, Carnatic music may be credited to its Pitamaha Purandara Dasa of 16th Century Karnataka, but this style of Sangeeta itself was established amid changing conditions. He is also preceded by Annamayya of Andhra, who is nevertheless celebrated by Carnatic aficionados today.

This is why, contrary to foreign Indologists, it is not appropriate to refer to Classical as a time period, as though the musical or cultural tradition were dead like ancient Greece or Classical Rome. In fact, it is very much alive, and as widely respected scholars themselves have written, classical in regards to India culture, should have a different meaning:

As regards the recent use of the term sastra as adjective, sastriya nrtya or sangita, it suggests quality of performance, sometimes genre, with an implied translation of the term ‘classical’ in English, as a qualitative and not historical period category. [4, 43]

Furthermore, there are foundational characteristics of Indic music that can be found in all corners of Bharatavarsha.

The evidence of Bharata shows that, as at the present day, the Indian of two thousand years ago preferred the throaty…style of music which comes more naturally than that which Europe has learnt to appreciate. The singing voice was often treated as a musical instrument, the vocalist performing long impromptu variations on a simple melody, sung to a single phrase, often an invocation to a deity. ” [3, 385]

This latter part becomes all the more important when one understands the inherent importance of spirituality in Indic music.

Carnatic

PurandaraDasa
Purandara Dasa

Carnatic music is basically governed by an abiding faith in God [2, 1]

Carnatic takes its name, according to various theories, from Karnataka. Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha Purandara Dasa is from that state and composed his keerthanas in Kannada. Yet another theory stipulates that the word ‘carnatic’ is connected to the Tamil word ‘karnatakam’, which ostensibly means ancient. Whatever it is, Carnatic may be comparatively new, but Saastriya Sangeeta itself is very old.

After the foreign invasions commencing in the 12th century A.D. our savants in music were not only uprooted but many rare manuscripts were either lost or got thoroughly mutilated. In the [14th century A.D.] the rulers of the Vijayanagar kingdom with the help of vidwans and music lovers tried to trace these manuscripts. In this process, thanks to the great efforts of Vidyaranya who adorned the Sarada Sringeri Mutt as its Pontiff, some portions of the manuscripts were recovered but savants on music were not available. There were, however, a few great vidwans who could sing in the chaste traditional style.” [2, 14]

Furthermore, contrary to modern “Art Music” opinionistas, Carnatic music goes beyond Sacred music and already includes an Art Music (called Vinodham) and “Art Musical Forms”— Padam, Javali, and Thillana.  Others forms include, Kalakshepam (singing of epics/Harikatha), Dance musical form, Opera musical form (Yakshagana), Secular music (songs on Niti, such as those by Siddhars), Folk Music (Jaanapaadam), Martial Music, Kalpitha music and Manodharma music (no prior preparation). [2, 45]

Whether it is the 1500s of Purandara Dasa or the 2010s of the recently deceased Balamurali Krishna, Carnatic music is the successor of an ancient inheritance that remains ever-adaptable to changing times.

Hindustani

HariprasadChaurasia
Shri Hariprasad Chaurasia

Hindustani music’s origins remain somewhat controversial, irrespective of the “secular” consensus. Questions remain as to whether it owes its origins to a prejudiced Turk courtier in Slave Dynasty Delhi or the more venerable Tansen of the Mughal era. Either way, it too, like Carnatic, is the product of Saastriya Sangeeta, and was created (or re-packaged) on an earlier, authentically Indian foundation. In fact, this musician courtier himself is said to have brought Maharashtra musician Gopala Nayaka of Devagiri to Delhi.[9,27] This is said to have laid the actual foundation for what is known as the Hindustani School today.

As western Indologists themselves admit, Ancient India already had a fully developed system, with an orchestra of distinct instruments. The Sitar itself is a renamed and tweaked Tritantri Veena. [9, 31]

Therefore, irrespective of the various gharanas, or the Hindustani school itself, it is very much Classical Indic Music—just repackaged for foreign (and foreign-imposed) tastes. Despite how common (and cliche) it has become to talk of the contrasts and differences between Hindustani and Carnatic, there is far more in common than motivated scholars would like. But in order to recognise this, one must study the structure of Saastriya Sangeeta closely.

Having provided an introduction to the Saastriya Sangeeta Tradition, and some of the ongoing controversies regarding its epistemology, one can now more closely examine its Theoretical Structure and Musical aspects.

Structure

CarnaticTrinity

Sangeeta is historically classified according to four types. These are Marga, Suddha, Desiya and Salaka.

1.Marga Sangeeta—The Four Vedas, along with the Sapta Svaras, are called Marga and are considered to have come from Deva Loka.

2.Suddha Sangeeta—Singing withing the established framework of arohana (ascending notes) and avarahona (descending) according to the traditional manner.

3. Desiya Sangeeta—Regional (desa-pradesa) types of music according to the various provinces of India

4. Salaka Sangeeta—Singing without any traditional structure or guide, per one’s own inclination. [2,7]

Bharata muni wrote further on its classification and had this to say:

Geetham vaadyam thathaa Nruthyam-thrayam sangeetha mucchyathe ||

Sangeetham comprises Geetham, Vadyam and Nrutthyam. [2]

Interestingly, academic authority on the Natya Sastra, Kapila Vatsyayan, writes that

There is a theory that ‘Bharata’ is an acronym for the syllables Bha, Ra, and Ta (standing for Bhava, Raga, and Tala respectively). [4, 7]

Incidentally, all these three are all fundamental to Saastriya Sangeeta. Much of the terminology in Carnatic & Hindustani is either common or common conceptually:

Terminology

In the Natya Sastra, and beyond, one can find the “foundations of a distinctive system of music—its micro-intervals (sruti), notes (svara), scales (graama), modes (murcchana), melodic forms (jaatis), rhythm (taala) and much else.” [4, 92] Despite the motivated critique that Bharatiya Sangeeta does not have harmony, this is by design. It emphasises Melody instead.

Bhava refers to the emotional state that produces Rasa.

Raga refers to the melody produced by a sequence of notes.

Ragas are divided into Melakartha (parent)and Janya (derivative) Ragas.

Melakartha Ragas

Rama Amatya (Asthana Vidvan of the Vijayanagara Empire) refers to 19 melakartha ragas, Govinda Deeksitar mentions 20, and finally Venkatamakhi (second son of Govinda Deeksitar) mentions 72. The melakartha scheme equivalent in Hindustani is Thaat (which only has 10).

These 72 melakartha ragas are the modern standard. 36 are considered Suddhamadhyamam (or pure) and 36 are pratimadhyamam. The 5 svaras other than Ma and Pa are found in all 72.

1.Kanakambari 2.Rathangi 3. Ganamurthi 4. Vanaspati 5. Manavati 6. Tanarupi 7. Senavati 8. Hanumatodi/Janatodi 9. Dhenuka 10. Natakapriya 11. Kokilapriya 12. Roopavati 13. Gayakapriya 14. Vati Vasantha Bhairavi/Vakulapriya  15. Maya-malava Goula 16. Chakravakam17. Suryakantam 18 Hatakambhari/Jayasudda-malavi 19. Jhankarabrahmari/Jhankaradhvani 20. Natabhairavi/Narireetigoula 21. Keeravani 22.Sri/Kharaharapriya 23. Gaurimanohari 24. Varunapriya/Veeravasantam 25. Sarasvati/Mararanjani 26. Tarangini/Charukesi 27. Sourasena/Sarasangi 28.Harikambhoji/Harikedaragoula 29.Dheera-sankarabharanam 30.Nagabharanam/Naganandini 31. Kalavati/Yagapriya 32. Ragachoodamani/Ragavardhini 33. Gangatarangini/Gangeyabhushani 34. Bhogachayanata/Vagadheesvari 35. Sailadesakhi/Shulini

36. Chalanata 37 Sougandhini/Salagam 48 Jaganmohana/Jalarnavam 39. Jhalavarali 30. Nabhomani/Navaneetam 41. Kumbhini/Pavani 42. Ravikriya/Raghupriya 43. Girvani/Gavambhodi 44. Bhavani/Bhavapriya 45. Sivapantuvavali/Shubhapantu-varali 46. Stavarajam/Shadvidamargini 47. Souveeram/Suvarnangi 48. Jeevantika/Divyamani 49. Dhavalangam/Dhavalambari 50.Namadesi/Namanarayani 51. Kasiramakriya/Karnavardani 52. Ramamanohari/Ramapriya 53. Gamakakriya/Gamanashrama 54. Vamsavati/Vishvambari 55.Samla/Shamalangi 56. Chamaram/Shanmukhapriya 57. Sumadyuti/Simhendramadhyamam 58. Hemavati 59. Dharmavati 60. Nishadam/Neetimati 61. Kuntala/Kantamani 62. Ratipriya/Rishabapriya 63. Geetapriya/Latangi 64. Vachaspati 65. Santakalyani/Mechakalyani 66. Chaturangini/Chitrambari  67. Santanamanjari/Sucharitra 68. Jyotire/Jyotisvarupini 69. Dhatuvardani 70. Nasamani/Nasikabhushani  71. Kusumakara/Kosalam 72. Rasamanjari/Rasikapriya

Endaro Mahanu Bhavalu, composed in Sri Raagam

Janya Ragas

Janya ragas are those born from melakartha ragas. These are divided into different categories.

Sampoornam-contains all seven svaras, Shaadavam-contains six swaras, Audavam for five, Svaraantham for four, Saamigam for three, Ghaathigam for two, and Aarchigam for one. Nevertheless, it is generally considered that to get a sweet and well-developed ragam, at least 5 svaras are required.

Just to understanding the level of evolution of these melodies, each melakartha raga has 483 janya ragas. This brings the total to 34,776 janya ragas in Carnatic Music. [2, 23]

Just to further demonstrate the commonality of the Ragams in Carnatic and Hindustani, here is an equivalency:

Carnatic                                  Hindustani

Hanumathodi                                         Bhairavi

Natabhairavi                                           Asaveri

Kharaharapriya                                      Kapi

Harikambhoji                                         Kamaj

Subhapantuvaraali                             Thodi

Kamavardini                                           Poorvi

Gamanasrama                                       Marva

Mechakalyani                                        Kalyan/Yaman Kalyan [2, 90]

Tala (thaala) refers to the beat that tracks time (Kaala) and determines tempo (Gathi ) and rhythm (Laya). It is the backbone of any composition. There is a saying that Sruthi (pitch) is the mother of music and Thaala (beat) is the father. There are 7 basic thaalas: Dhruva, Matya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa (Adi), Ata, and Eka. When these are combined with the various jathis, were get 35 thaalas. When joined with gathis, the total reaches 175. Layam indicates the rhythm of the thaalam, and there are 3 kinds (Vilamba, Madhya, Duritha).

Laghu-finger movements. There are five kinds of jatis, and these form Lagu, which is the count of the finger movements. The counterpart to laghu is dhrutam (which is a one hand clap on the knee), of which there are five types as well.

Nada (naada), is the primordial sound that gives evocation to a musical note (Svara). It is the sound that is pleasing to the ear.

The fire that is burning in our stomach joins with the air that we breath[e] and goes upward through nav[e]l, heart, neck and finally the head. and comes out through our mouth in the form of a sound. This sound becomes Nadam. [2]

Nada is classified in to two types. There is Ahatha Nadam, which is the sound that is naturally formed but made sweet through man’s effort. When we sing or play an instrument in consonance with sruthi, this is called ahatha nadam.

The purely natural sounds called Anaahatha Nadam. Examples include the sound of raindrops on objects, or the notes of wind flowing through cut bamboo. Aum (Pranava) is considered the origin of both Ahatha and Anahatha nadam. [2, 9]

Perhaps nothing embodies Naada like the flute. Shri Hariprasad Chaurasia of the Hindustani school has become synonymous with the Bansuri. Here is a sample of his beautiful music.

Na Naadena vinaa geetham na naadena vina svarraha

Na naadena vina nruttham-thasmaath naadaathmakam jagath

Naada roopaha smrutho brahmaa naadaroopo janaardanaha

Nadaroopa Para Sakthihi-naadaroopo Mahesvaraha

Without Nadam, there is no Sruthi, Geetham or Nartthana. Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Parvathi and all the creations in the world are engaged in Nadam. [2]

Svara is the musical note containing pitch and tone. The Classical Indic system is Sapta Svara (7 notes), and heptatonic scale originates in our Sastras.

Sarva lokod bhavaath poorvam ye na vyaaptham charaa charam Naadaathmakam thadaakaasam bhoothaanaamapi kaaranam ||

The air that floated from the sky created the sound, S, which is the origin of Nadam. Along with this sound the akshara considered to be the earliest was added to create the sound Sa (S). [2]

Udaaththo nishaada gaandhaarow-anudaattha rishabha daivathow |

Svaritha prabha vaahyethe shadja madhyama panchamaha ||

With Sa as the base, the other six svaras RI-GA-MA-PA-DA-NI were created [2]

Svara literally means that which makes its own sweetness. The etymology is the combination of the two letters from the words svayam and ranjagam. There are seven svaras in total: Shadjam, Rishabham, Gandharam (or Gandharvam), Madhyamam, Panchamam, Daivatham and Nishadam. There is also a special symbolism to this number seven, as there are seven seas, seven rishis, seven days, etc. [2, 9]

The heptatonic scale finds its earliest form in Classical Indic Music.

Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni

These seven notes central to our tradition find their analogue in the West as follows

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti

It is no surprise, therefore, that many European Classical Composers appreciate Carnatic Music in particular (as it preserves the technical sophistication of traditional Saastriya Sangeeta).

Sthayi refers to Octave. Per Carnatic, there are five in number: Anumandra, Mandra, Madhya, Thaara, Athi.

The integral unity of the Saastriya Sangeeta System is therefore seen clearly here. Not only common terminology but also common concepts and common performance organisation. Perhaps nothing embodies this more than this common sloka.

Brahmaa thaala dharo-hariccha patahee

Veenaa kara bhaarathee ||

Vamsagnyow sasi bhaaskarow

Srrthi dhaaraha ||

Siddhaap Saraha kinnaraahaa

Nandee Bhrungiritaadi mardala dharaha ||

Sangeethako nardaha

Samboho nruttha karasya mangalathanoho ||

Naatyam sadaa paathunaha ||

With Brahma providing the beat, Vishnu playing on the mridangam, Sarasvathi playing the Veena, Surya and Chandra playing the flute, Devas and Apsaras providing the Sruthi, Nandi and Brungi playing other instruments, Narada singing melodiously, every one enjoyed the celestial dance of Siva. [2]

Nada is therefore connected to Svara and Sruthi, and Sangeeta to Gaana and Naatya. These connections are further embodied in the system of scales used in our sangeeta.

This is the centrality of not only the Saastriya Sangeeta Tradition to modern Indian music, but also the central importance of Bharata Muni and his Natya Sastra.

Bharata displays an extraordinary knowledge of material in the making of musical instruments (four types) and of the nature of sound, notes, consonance, assonance, dissonance and melodic forms. He establishes a system of correspondence between each category and its potential for arousing emotion; he develops it to establish patters of configuration of ‘notes’ in melodic forms and emotive states. He distinguishes between vocal and instrumental music.

He further divides vocal music into two types—one, consisting only of notes and the other, with words (varna and geya). He provides details of different types of instruments and their respective characteristics. He returns to an elaboration of the category of dhruva songs which he had mentioned in many earlier chapters. He identifies a category of music called gaandharva and distinguishes it from gaana. Bharata enumerates the different types of taala (time measures—rhythm, metrical cycles). In short, he lays down the foundation of a distinctly Indian syle of music with its scales and modal structure.” [4,92]

In fact, here again, in the use of instruments, we find commonality between North and South. Attodya or instruments of Saastriya Sangeeta are divided into four categories. These are Sushira (wind), Avanatta (leather percussion), Ghana (metal), and Thatha (string). While there were and are many string instruments…

The chief musical instrument was the vina, usually loosely trans-lated ‘lute’. [3, 384]

Veena is by all accounts the national instrument of India. It came in many varieties, one of which was the precursor to the Sitar. It was the instrument not only of the Goddess of Knowledge but of the Great Indic Emperors of yore.

220px-Samudracoin1800px-samudraguptacoin

Maharajadiraja Samudra Gupta with Veena and Vaana

In tandem with Sarasvati’s instrument, is the Tambura (now known as Tanpura in the North). It is primarily used to keep Sruthi and is most famously seen in that roaming celestial bard, Narada Muni. There is also the Mridangam, which in popular lore at least, was cut in half, and tweaked to create the percussion instrument Tabla. The bamboo Murali (also known as Venu, Vamsee or Bansuri) is the flautist’s delight and is also common to both North and South India. Finally, there is the Nadasvaram (Nagaswaram) of the South. This wind instument corresponds to the Shenai of the North. There are, of course, many other instruments to discuss, but these mainstays of the Indic orchestra (vaadyabrnda) demonstrate the Tradition of Saastriya Sangeeta in both schools.

Finally, there is the matter of various musical forms and composition types.

Krithis & Keerthanas

Pallavi, Charanam and Anupallavi are the key determinants of the compositions known as Krithis and Keerthanas. These are both the typical standards in Carnatic music.

Pallavi is the first line (or refrain) of the song, Anupallavi the following lines, and Charanam is a stanza. [5, ix]

A Keerthana will have only a Pallavi and Charanam. A Krithi will have all three.

Pallavi

This is considered the theme of any performance. The word Pallavi is itself derived from three words: Padam, Layam, and Vinyasam. “In Carnatic music, pallavi singing is the most important part. Here is an opportunity provided to the vidwan to exhibit his knowledge and mastery and imaginative power. It consists of three parts- Ragam, Thanam and Pallavi“. [2, 58] Thanam is where special emphasis is placed on one of the names of the Lord.

Padams

Padam is a term that has various meanings. It can refer to a line, a stanza, or a full composition. While Odisha’s Jayadeva referred to stanzas in his Astanaam Paadanaam Samhahaara (Ashtapadis), Andhra’s Annamacharya composed 32,000 padams (of which 14,328 are extant), which were compositions. While in some cases, such as Annamayya, these are purely devotional, the more commonly accepted definition is that padams are imbued with Sringara rasa (as evidenced by the Odisha’s Jayadeva).

In any event, Padam is a very ancient musical form. Bharata muni defines Padam in his Natya Sastra as follows:

Gaandharvam yan mayaa proktam svara taala padaatmakam

Padam tasya bhaved vastu svara taalanu bhavakam

Yat kincid akshara kritam tat sarwam pada sanjnitam

Nibaddham ca anibaddham ca tat padam swividham smrtam ||

Gandharva comprises of svara, taala and padam.

In this, padam is evocative of svara and taala.

Any meaningul syllabic composition can be called a padam.

It is of two kinds, Nibaddha (bound) and Anibaddha (unbound)

It can also be with taala or without taala. NS XXXII, 25-27 [5, vii]

Along with Padam, another musical form focused on Sringara rasa, is Javali. However, these are typically not given patronage as they are considered inauspicious and coarse. It is only in modern times that some have chosen to perform them at sangeeta salons. The object or subject of romance is not always maritally unattached, and thus, considered improper. Nevertheless, the existence of Padam (as defined by Bharata) and Javali is emblematic of how Carnatic music, and Saastriya Sangeeta in general, is not merely about devotional music. The current conservativism in the Katcheris of Coimbatore and Chennai may prefer the purely spiritual, but historically this was not the case, and along with the religious, more material and romantic topics also featured in performances, for the King or audience’s pleasure and relaxation.

Thillana

This is where there are various jathi combinations, but little or no saahithya. Here is an example of a Thillana.

Geethams/Gaanas

These are the most basic form of songs. There are Sanchari and Lakshana geethams. Sanchari is where the lyrics are simple, there is no pallavi, anupallavi, or charanam. Lakshana geetham is more complex, and may have alapana (exposition of the ragam). [2, 56]

A mukhari is an instrumentalist, and a Mukya-gayaka the main singer. A vaggeyakaara is one who authors a lyric and sets it to music. This word is a close analogue to but ultimately much wider than the english term ‘composer’. [5, vii]

There are of course other forms, such as the Dhrupad of Hindustani (which was originally called Dhruvapada). However, these are best dealt with elsewhere, in greater detail. The theory behind Saastriya Sangeeta is indeed very sophisticated, and will necessitate a separate post on the topic. Nevertheless, this overview summarises the basics for the casual reader, and should give a foundation for deeper studies in the future.

What does become obvious to the objective person, however, is that there is a common tradition across the Indian Subcontinent from which regional and local variations draw from. Whether it is spiritual, material, or folk, Saastriya Sangeeta is the common fountain providing identifiable patterns of musical structure from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

But don’t take our word for it. Again, here are the eminent experts in their studies.

We notice three trends, one of adherence to some key principles of the Naatyasaastra, another of introduction of new categories and, a third, specially in the second period of the eleventh century onwards, of descriptions of fully developed regional schools and styles. This is a pan-Indian phenomenon. [4, 119]

Personalities

Bharata Muni

Dattila

Matanga

Maharajadiraja Samudra Gupta

Maharaja Bhoja Paramara

Jayadeva

Abhinavagupta

Lochana

Sarngadeva

Gopala Nayaka

Jaya Senapati

Kshetragna

Annamacharya

Kallinatha

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Purandara Dasa

Maharana Kumbha

Meerabai

Tansen

Narayana Teertha

Thyagaraja

Syama Sastri

Muthuswami Deeksitar

Pandit Ahobila

Raja Shahaji

Raja Swati Thirunal

Important Texts

Natya Sastra, 400 BCE (or earlier) [2,8]

Dattilam, 400 BCE (or earlier)

Brihaddesi, 500 CE (or earlier)

Manasollasa by Somesvara III (Karnataka), 1000 CE

Abhinava Bharati (Kashmir), 1000CE

Ashtapadi by Jayadeva (Odisha), 1100 CE

Sangeeta Makaranda by Narada, 1100 CE

Sangeeta Samayasaara by Parsvadeva (Karnataka) 1100 CE

Sangeeta-Ratnakara 1200 CE

Nrtta Ratnavali (Andhra), 1200 CE

Geeta Ratnavali (Andhra), 1200 CE

Bharatabhaasya by Nanyadeva

Sangeetopanisat

Saaroddhara by Sudhaakalasa (Gujarat)

Sangeeta-Sudhakaram by Haribala, 1300 CE

Sangeeta-Saram by Swami Vidyaranya, 1300 CE

Ragatarangini by Lochanakavi, 1300 CE

Kshetragna Padams (Andhra)

Dasar Padams (Karnataka), 1400 CE

Sangeetaraja & Sangeet-krama-dipaka by Maharana Kumbha (Rajasthan), 1400 CE

Sangeeta Kaumudi (Odisha)

Svaramela-kalandhi by Rama Amatya, 1500 CE

Raaga Vibodam by Somanatha, 1500 CE

Sangeetha Sudha by Govinda Deeksitar, 1600 CE

Chaurdandi Prakaasikai by Venkatamakhi, 1600 CE

Sangeeta-paarijaata by Ahobila, 1600 CE

Krishna-leela-tarangini (Andhra), 1600 CE

Sangeetha Saaraamrutham by Tuloji Maharaj (Maharashtra/Tamil Nadu), 1700 CE

Sangeeta-narayana

Conclusion

From Matanga Muni to M.S.Subbulakshmi, Saastriya Sangeeta has an ancient heritage and an All-India influence (much like Adi Sankaracharya whose bhajan is being sung above). It is the Pan-Indic, genre-transcending nature of this music that has made it so central to our culture and civilization.

Correctly understanding Indian Music and its (true) origins, necessitates understanding the tradition of Saastriya Sangeeta. Sastra is the foundation from which spiritual, worldly, and folk music all draw from (to varying degrees). Ancient India, and even parts of medieval India (notably the South) preserved an indigenous musical system that is both continuous and civilizational in nature. From common origin to common texts to common terminology, the integral unity [6] of this variety of musicology is obvious to all earnest students and scholars.

For those who believe Bharata and his musicology as disconnected from the masses, here is some food for thought for “art music” advocates:

To return to the inheritance to the lineage of Bharata, as also those who inherited from him—we have already referred to Bharata’s indebtedness to the Vedas, the Upanisads and Brahmanical yajna practices. He incorporates the system of puja later codified in the aagamas, draws freely from contemporary practice, and considers loka, the ‘people’, as the final authority.” [4,113]

The people are the final authority to this tradition. They improvise, invent, and re-invent new styles and new modes of expression, but the source of inspiration finds expression through the unifying mechanism of Sastra. That is why it is so amusing to find juvenile foreign theories of foreigners bestowing music upon Indians (when the reverse is in fact far more likely).

“To say that they pertain to, or have been influenced by, the Arab or the Persian system shows a very superficial knowledge of the subject. These systems, originally mostly derived from Indian music, have become so reduced and impoverished in comparison with it that no one can seriously speak of their having had any influence on its development.”

(Alain Danielou in  Northern Indian Music. Praeger, 1969. volume I, p. 1-35)

In the name of promoting the syncretic, the authentic is being denigrated, demoted, and debased. Much like the modern Persian who laments at the arabisation of Pahlavi, the modern Indian finds himself wondering why foreigners are forever trying to persianise his own native tradition. Let Persia be Persia and let India be India. Tweaking our music to suit foreign tastes may be vaunted as syncretism, but persianisation and arabisation are not equivalent to sanskritisation. There is a difference not only based on nativity, but also due to inherent nature.

Syncretism vs Symbiosis

What the present narrative conveniently elides is that Sastra is the foundation for not only Carnatic but Hindustani as well. It is rather odd that the current discourse appears to imply that even music was brought from outside India, ironically by those who condemned music and banned it. Kapila Vatsyayan illuminates this point further:

The Ain-e-Akbari relies heavily on the Sangeetaratnaakara in its music and dance chapters. So does the later work—Risala-i-Raagadarpana. Both adherences and changes can be discerned in the later works, such as, Sangeeta Mallikaa of Mohammed Shah (seventeenth century) and Kitabe Nau Rasa of Adil Shah. [4, 120]

Sangeeta-ratnaakara, a work by Sarngadeva, a Kashmiri Pandit in a Maharashtrian King’s court, is credited as influencing all these exemplars of “Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb” & “Hindustani”. Even the alleged eminence grise of the Ganga-Jamuni brigade noted how native Classical Indic Music was beyond the grasp of persianised Central Asian invaders.  As Kapila ji notes “The basic foundations were laid by Bharata“. [1, 120]. Unlike the parasitic nature of so-called “syncretic” traditions that are colonial in etiology, symbiosis is endemic to the Sanskritic (traditionalists would in fact assert that it is not only symbiotic but organic, as Sanskrit is the mother of all these Indic cultures).

Sastra and Saastriya sangeeta rejected homogenisation and birthed a diversity of not only languages and traditions, but styles of dance and music. Sastra was the standard that all looked to, but all sought to express their own identity within the guidance of given standards. Urdu continues to kill off lovely dialects of Hindi such as Braj and Avadhi, and even robust languages like Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Punjabi. In contrast, Sanskrit has, with its grammar and vocabulary, enriched regional languages, whether North or South, while preserving the parlance of the people. Ask any Kashmiri  how many people speak his  mother tongue today, then compare with a Kannadiga.

Classical Indic Music is no different. The traditional high culture (marga) music birthed or preserved the regional (called desi) variations and enriched the (janapada) folk variations. This beginning is made apparent in the Natya Sastra itself. And for our caste-conscious casteists, even non-brahmin regional Natyacharyas such as Jaya Senapati  of medieval Andhra looked back to Bharata muni and maintained this tradition of Marga and Desi living side by side. And this tradition continued under such figures as modern Telangana’s Nataraja Ramakrishna. Folk performers throughout united Andhra Pradesh saluted him for his contribution to reviving their art forms, while he revived the classical Perini Thandava.

Further, the Pan-India connections rise beyond Sarngadeva, as Shahaji, the Maratha King of Thanjavur, patronised many Carnatic musicians at his Tamil Nadu Court and Tuloji himself authored a text.

What actually destroyed these folk and classical dances and styles of music however, our omniscient and infallible indologists (and their loyal native informants) will never tell you (hint: also medieval). Unlike the perso-turkic syncretic, the symbiotic sanskritic nourished, revived, and revives the full spectrum of musical voices,  whether desi or marga, male or female, mass or elite & regional or civilizational.

From the Dattilam of Dattila to  Sarngadeva and his Sangeeta-Ratnakara, Saastriya Sangeeta is a very ancient tradition that is very native in nature. The time has come to fully revive this cultural treasure not only in the South, but in the North as well, so the authentically Indic will get its due place again. Syncretism and Fusion are fine and dandy for “art music” dandies, but Classical Indic Music is the Core of our Musical Culture, and that is the relevance of Saastriya Sangeeta.

Ultimately, most of you “modern”, “progressive” types may be wondering, why any of this matters. After all “we are all global now“. Well, here was a “global” historian writing on why simply “getting degree” and “getting job” isn’t enough…

This was not the case in India’s greatest days, when a knowledge of music was looked on as an essential attribute of a gentleman.  [3, 384]

Those who wish to appear educated, sophisticated, and urbane would do well to understand what real culture is. Pop culture hits and bollywood beats may be all the rage today, but comprehension of the system of music and musicology that made them possible is the true sign of cultural refinement.

All in all, while many new regional, sub-regional schools and even individual styles developed, the basic foundation of a ‘modal’ system of music was not demolished. The living traditions of the several schools[,] the gharanas and the sampradaayas of Hindustan and Carnatic music bear testimony. The continuous flow of the tradition, as also the infinite number of possibilities of change and creativity is obvious. [4,121]

The tradition remains at the core, while the various schools and styles emerge from it. At a time when its originality (and even existence) are being challenged, perhaps its time to revisit what exactly makes the modes of Saastriya Sangeeta, truly Indic and truly Classical. This is something even Western Classical Composers have recognised:

[8, 48]
References:
  1. Appa Rao, P.S.R. A Monograph on Bharata’s Natya Sastra. Hyderabad: Natyakala Press.1967
  2. Iyer, A.S. Panchapakesa. Karnataka Sangeeta Sastra: Theory of Carnatic Music. Chennai: Ganamrutha Prachuram.2008
  3. Basham, A.L. The Wonder that was India.New Delhi: Rupa & Co. 1999
  4. Vatsyayan, Kapila. Natya Sastra. Bharata: The Natyasastra. Sahitya Akademi.2007
  5. Pappu, Venugopala Rao. Fragrance of Padams. Kakatiya Heritage Trust. 2014
  6. Malhotra, Rajiv. Sulekha. 2002. http://creative.sulekha.com/the-axis-of-neocolonialism_103313_blog
  7. Madhav, Ashok. http://www.carnaticcorner.com/articles/mukund_chart.htm
  8. Lavezolli, Peter. The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. New York: Continuum.2006
  9. Lata, Swarn. The Journey of the Sitar in Indian Classical Music. Bloomington: iUniverse.2010
  10. Bailly, John. Music of Afghanistan. Cambridge University Press. 1988

Book Discussion: Rasas in Bharatanatyam

RasasBook

Introduction & Book Summary

Bharatanatyam artist Prakruti Prativadi recently published a book ‘Rasas in Bharatanatyam’. ICP’s daughter portal shared an interesting introductory article written by the author. I got a copy of the book from Amazon.com a couple of weeks ago and ended up reading it multiple times. The work is an outcome of several years of research and a first-person experience of living the tradition. The book is intended to be the first of a series.

The author states that the book is aimed at the serious Bharatanatyam artist and connoisseur, and is also beneficial to those who want to learn more about Indic art traditions. An in-depth discussion of the different elements of Bharatanatyam including Abhinaya, Rasa, and Bhava is provided. The book also presents a brief and well-researched history of Bharatanatyam and related traditions in Hinduism, a topic which has endured much distortion and confusion in recent years. The author goes deep into the ancient roots of natya, and succinctly explains the concepts relying on primary sources in Sanskrit and Indic languages. The clarity and authority required to write in a crisp question-answer format, the shraddha, the attention to technical detail, and the reinforcement of key learning points give the book a stamp of authenticity that perhaps only a dedicated practitioner and teacher can produce.

Where to Buy

Readers can set up a discount code ($8.00 off) which is available only from the Createspace page (not the amazon.com page) by following these steps:

  1. Go to the book’s Createspace page:
  2. Add the Book to the Cart, this will take buyers to the checkout page
  3. Add this discount code: PYTKY7GV in the ‘Discount Code’ field and click ‘Apply Discount’ to get a discount, the price of the book will be $28.99.

Please note: Users will have to sign up for a Createspace account (if they don’t have one). Createspace is owned by Amazon.

Bharatanatyam: Embodied Learning & Direct Experience

Poet, Indic scholar, and computer scientist Prof. Subhash Kak has said that the best way to understand India is through its art [2], and the book reaffirms this point. Why art? India is the land of Vedas, so can’t one read Vedic text?

The author discusses the worldview underlying Bharatanatyam and notes that direct experience is central to Hinduism. Through sadhana and shraddha, potentially anyone can transcend their ordinary level of consciousness [1]. This is an amazing and powerful discovery by India’s ancient seers. The armchair-acharya (like the theoretical martial artist and air guitarist) tries to convince us otherwise, but Hinduism recognizes that textual knowledge is useful but it cannot fully delineate the scope of Dharma and Vedas, and we provide two independent explanations regarding this.

Prof. Kak quotes Yaaska [3], the author of the ancient Sanskrit treatise Nirukta: “One who reads the Veda but does not know its meaning is like a draught animal”, and explains that “the idea of knowing the Veda is not merely to read it, but to understand its meaning in one’s heart. This is paradoxical, since one cannot understand the text unless one has already had the experience of its deepest intuitions. The text of the Veda cannot in itself be used for instruction”. We have Bharata Muni’s Natya Sastra, revered as the fifth Veda, that has the wisdom of the four Vedas embedded within, which is available to all people, cutting through all barriers of social and economic status, gender, race, and geography.

In his book Indra’s Net [4], Rajiv Malhotra poses a related question: “How did the rishis ‘see’ the shruti in the first place? Unlike the Abrahamic religions, in which prophets hear from an external God, in the Vedas there is no external voice. There is no entity equivalent to Yahweh who speaks the Vedas to the rishis… Vedas are a-purusheya, i.e., beginningless and authorless. They existed before the rishis ‘saw’ them… Hinduism does not regard the rishis as inherently different in substance or essence from the rest of us…. each human has the same potential as the rishis, and that this potential is realized through disciplined sadhana (the inner sciences of adhyatma-vidya)”. In the Indian context, Rajiv Malhotra coined the term ‘embodied knowing’ to refer to adhyatma vidya, and Indic art forms that employ this inner science surely occupy a pride of place in India’s grand narrative [6]. The deepest authentic ‘ideas of India’ are embedded in Bharatanatyam. We owe a debt of gratitude to dedicated artists who tirelessly practice, promote, and preserve India’s sacred art forms.

Bharatanatyam as Yajna

The book has a brief but insightful discussion of Bharatanatyam as Yajna, which has been explained as a sacred process that establishes links (bandhus) between the inner and the outer world [6]. The material world is not considered separate and discarded but is harmoniously united with the spiritual within Bharatanatyam. Indic art forms are rooted in this Vedic view where consciousness is the basis of ultimate reality itself [3]. Such a Bharatanatyam is unacceptable to the enticing “sweet-speech” Charvaka School [5] that totally rejects Yajna, Puja, Bandhus, and the transcendental domain since they believe that consciousness emerges from neural matter [2]. Bharatanatyam is also incompatible with the irreconcilable duality of history-centric Abrahamic dogma that accepts the transcendental and the transactional domains but keeps their existence independent and infinitely apart [6].

Actively participating in Yajna leads to an internal transformation that is like undergoing a ‘rebirth’ [2]. This leads us to a second, and equally remarkable observation that any sensitive and attuned viewer (Sahridaya) immersed in a Bharatanatyam performance [1] can also potentially attain a higher state of consciousness and transcendental bliss, and this communication is possible due to Rasa. The book explains this process in-depth.

Rasa Ganita

Dharmic thought employs a finite and limited number of levels to manage quantities/qualities that may appear to be unlimited or huge in number, or even indivisible or continuous. How does it work?

On Rasa, Prof. Kak remarks [3]: “An aesthetic attitude is a combination, in varying measures, of the different essences (rasas) of it. It is one of the great insights of the Indian tradition that these essences are supposed to be discrete, and perhaps this idea emerged from the Vaisesika atomic doctrine as well as the idea of Nyaya that mind operates sequentially”. Like Panini and his rules of grammar, Bharata, using only a finite number of sutras, covered the profound topics of Rasa and Bhava and spanned the virtually unlimited expanse of dance and drama.

Paanini has been credited for a grand unified theory of language, and Bharata too can be credited for a similar theory of aesthetics thousands of years ago. The author notes how a danseuse can skillfully conjugate various dance elements such as movements, gestures, etc. mentioned in the Natya Sastra to generate innumerable permutations and combinations to artistically express the myriad emotions and situations that has occurred, or will occur in the future, and convey that meaning to the audience. Bharatanatyam does not limit but encourages unselfish self-expression.

Rasa Awakening in the Audience

In her book, Prakruti ji takes us on a fascinating journey through the Rasa awakening process in Bharatanatyam. The idea of Rasa is ancient and present in the Upanishads [1]. According to the author “Rasa is the supreme aesthetic experience and absolute aesthetic relish that the audience feels when witnessing an artistic performance… Rasa is a heightened state of consciousness and bliss… This experience is called Rasasvada, which is akin to Brahmasvada, a supreme knowledge… Rasa is a Sanskrit word that no equivalent word in English”. A simplified arrow-diagram view of the Rasa awakening sequence/combination given in the book can be described as follows (the interested reader should refer to the book to obtain a complete and correct picture).

Vibhava (cause/determinant): → Anubhavas (consequent reaction) → Vyabhichari Bhavas (temporary emotional states) → Sthayi Bhava (permanent emotional state) → Rasa

(Author dancing selected Paasurams from the Vaarinam Aayiram)

In Bharatanatyam, for example, the process can be triggered by witnessing the Abhinaya of the skillful artist, and given the right conditions, culminate in a heightened state of consciousness within a receptive audience. In an interview, Dr. Ramachandran Nagaswamy confirms this important point about Rasa while correcting the mistaken conclusion of a western Indologist.

Another crucial point made by the author is that the generation of Rasa in a performance is not guaranteed and it requires the harmonious integration of multiple inter-connected factors. The author likens it to a complex and rich recipe.  Rasa is not awakened by sensory stimuli such as personal sadness experienced in mundane life, or by artists using the stage to make purely political and social statements. And even if the performance is of the highest caliber, it still requires an attuned viewer (Sahridaya) [1] within whom the ‘aesthetic vibes’ of the performance can resonate. The author quotes Bharata “without Rasa, there can be no meaningful communication”.

Engineering Design Example

Natya Sastra ideas can find applications in diverse fields, including entertainment, advertising, public-service messaging, etc. Given its integral view, teaching Natya Sastra concepts authentically in schools and colleges will benefit not only young artists, but also engineers and scientists. As an analogy and example, modern highway design relies on the PIEV theory of driver response to visual stimuli:

Cause/determinant: → Perception → Intellection → Emotion → Volition

PIEV is used to measure the perception-reaction time of a driver. Triggered by observing an event, the driver first perceives (something happened), grasps the implications (danger to self/others), and this triggers one or more emotions (what to do?), before converging on a final, stable action (brake, steer, or accelerate). PIEV duration differs for a distracted versus fully conscious driver. When deciding where and how to install and calibrate a traffic light, one has to evaluate the combination of all inter-related factors – PIEV, visibility, topography, traffic conditions, etc., in order to maximize the percentage of drivers that will have sufficient time to go through PIEV and make the right decision. PIEV and Rasa may be two different things (although when in danger, even the most materialistic passenger and driver will invoke the divine transcendent charioteer to ensure fast PIEV so they can remain in their transactional world); however, there appear to be similarities – the importance of an integral perspective, a scientific approach, and understanding the roles of emotional states, cognition, and consciousness.

Bharatanatyam & Artificial Intelligence

Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems can generate cooking recipes, write mournful poetry, and has even started writing musical scores. Can machine-generated artistic performances evoke Rasa? Can it replicate the transcendental leap [3] that is possible through a Yajna? These are interesting questions to be answered by experts. Machines are not conscious because they cannot have Bandhus [3], and their art output appears to be generated by algorithms using preset rules distilled from prior art, which were created by highly skilled human artists, not machines. The book has clearly established that the Rasa awakening process and the dance elements of Bharatanatyam are not mechanical.

While machine art may match humans and eventually do better in terms of purely materialist aesthetics, the sacred Indic art-as-Yajna rooted in an integral unity via bandhus that bind the inner and outer worlds, will not only survive, but thrive and give humanity a sense of hope and a glimpse of divinity. This makes it all the more important that Bharatanatyam and classic Indian art be preserved and taught in their authentic form and context. Prakruti Prativadi’s book is a welcome step in this direction.

Click here to Buy this Book!

RasasBook

(This post was written by an aesthetically-challenged Ganita professional ‘armed’ with two right feet, and is an informal exploration of ideas inspired by Prakruti Prativadi’s book)

References

  1. Rasas in Bharatanatyam. Prakruti Prativadi. CreativeSpace. 2017.
  2. Art and Cosmology in India. Subhash Kak. Patanjali Lecture, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. 2006.
  3. The Pragna Sutra: Aphorisms of Intuition. Subhash Kak. 2006.
  4. Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins, 2014.
  5. Epistemology and Language in Indian Astronomy and Mathematics. Roddam Narasimha. Journal of Indian Philosophy. 2007.
  6. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins, 2011.

Classical Indic Literature V: Romantic Sanskrit Poetry

SringaraSanskritaKavya

Rebuilding the National Character involves not only understanding what we need to do, or even why we are doing it, but why it is worth preserving at all.

Civilization is more than the mere sum of its principles, precepts, philosophies, and pasts. It extends beyond even an ideal or reciprocal duties. At its uttermost height, it is in fact, a sentiment. Bharatiya Sanskriti is very much about Dharma, Rta, and Satya, but that Satya that is at its heart, is also the timeless Truth of Prema.

For Indic Civilization, for any Civilization, to Revive itself, it must not only think, dream, and converse in its own language, it must also love and romance in it. Sringara (Romance) is also Part of Our Culture. For far too long have its masses been misguided by foreign thoughts ennobled by Indian implementations, or foreign thinkers using local rustics to change the meaning of our words. And for far too long, have they reduced the Indian, the Indic, the Hindu Culture we know & love as only ascetic or erotic., when it is also Romantic. The very height of the Romantic in Classical India was the Sanskritic.

And which wordsmith could be more romantic than than that master of Simile, Mahakavi Kalidasa,and his eternal Kavya. For almost 2,000 years, this most perfect of poets has made even the most pedantic recognise that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  Long before Shakespeare asked “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day“, the Court Poet of King Vikramaditya had become the utmost paragon of Upama, with comparisons that were as fresh and unique as the flowers that garlanded the Gods.

Ours was, and is, a civilization and culture of not only great warriors and devout women, but also charming gentlemen and passionate princesses. But as all things in Dharma, it is time, place, and manner that takes a natural feeling and ennobles it to a timeless aesthetic. And what can be more aesthetic than the romantic?

Therefore, without further ado, we bring you the first in an Anthology (accompanied by commissioned artwork), a concept that was a decade in the making…

…and the next installment of our Continuing Series on Classical Indic Literature: 

Romantic Sanskrit Poetry.

Composition

Ancient India had many timeless love stories. Katha, Kavya, Purana, and Itihasa are replete with lovelorn lovers, hopeless romantics hoping against hope, and eternal soulmates reuniting with each other across times and lifetimes. True, Rukmini & Sri Krishna, Sita & Rama, and Siva-Parvati, are all famous Divine lovers. But even we mortals figured in our ancient tales, in love stories worthy of not only drama, and opera, but even cinema.

Quite possibly the most famous of such prema kathas comes from the Land of the Kurus. The sons of Bharata take their name from that Bharata born to this couple, who entwined the legendary with the historical. The ancestors of the great Emperors of Hastinapura were the great Chandravanshi King and Conqueror, Maharaja Dusyanta & his lady love Sakuntala.

Sakuntala&Dusyanta

Mentioned in the Mahabharata, this courting couple was forever immortalised by Mahakavi Kalidasa. His famed drama was called Abhijnana-Sakuntalam: The Recognition of Sakuntala. This paramount of romantic poets produced a timeless tale of love, separation, and reunification. The composition was artful, the verses were tasteful, and the numerous productions of this play wonderful, across the centuries. Such were the Kailasan heights that Sanskrit Drama ascended to, that many thousands of years later, the famed German poet-philosopher Goethe exclaimed:

Willst du die Blüthe des frühen, die Früchte des späteren Jahres,

Willst du, was reizt und entzückt, willst du was sättigt und nährt,
Willst du den Himmel, die Erde, mit Einem Namen begreifen;
Nenn’ ich, Sakuntala, Dich, und so ist Alles gesagt.

Wouldst thou the young year’s blossoms and the fruits of its decline

And all by which the soul is charmed, enraptured, feasted, fed,
Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole name combine?
I name thee, O Sakuntala! and all at once is said. [4]

So fascinated were foreigners by the Recognition of Sakuntala that there are 46 translations of this play in 12 European languages, going back to the first in 1789.  Indeed, in Europe, even a libretto was composed and Operas performed on it, at the height of the Colonial era. While it is nice to impress the videshi, however, it is better to take inspiration from the Bharatvasi. Sakuntala was forever ceremonialised by Raja Ravi Varma in his celebrated paintings. She is seen here with friends, artfully posing.

220px-Raja_Ravi_Varma_-_Mahabharata_-_Shakuntala
Shakuntala | Ravi Varma | Oil on Canvas |1870

Sakuntala has also been produced not only stage (a notable English language production in 1920) but on-screen many times starting with a silent film (also in 1920).  Yet so-called contemporary “national cinema” seems to have forgotten it (except back in 1947) for the time-worn recipes and veneers-of-lust masquerading as romance produced with parasika playwrights. Production values and marketing and black money may make it big at the box office, but it is the beating heart of a civilization and the sentiments and emotional verses it perfected, that make truly time-tested art.

The time has come for a new production of the great plays of Mahakavi Kalidasa, the foremost of which was the Recognition of Sakuntala. If compromised producers don’t have the fortitude, than the public at large should crowdsource a production with a talented director armed with artistic talent. This great Sanskrit drama could elegantly flow with Shuddh Hindi (or in my case, Telugu) dialogue that sets the stage for elegant Sanskrit verses, across scenes. Serenading with song may be well and good; charming with poetry is even better.

As Bollywood may not have the national interest at heart, perhaps it’s time for Tollywood to again step into the vacuum and inspire the nation. To do so, let would-be directors study the composition first.

Abhijnaana-Saakuntalam

A play in  7 acts, it begins with the traditional Prastaavana (Prologue) and Benediction (Nandi). Despite being a drama, Abhijnaanasaakuntalam is a veritable treasure trove of poetry with 34 slokas in the first act, 18 in the second, 26, in the third, 21 in the fourth, 31 in the fifth, 32 in the sixth, and 35 in the seventh…a grand total of 197 couplets.

This opus is interwoven with supple Sanskrit slokas, a multitude of characters, and the prominent theme of Sringara Rasa (Romantic sentiment).  “The drama ‘was meant for translating the whole subject from one world to another—to elevate love from the sphere of physical beauty to the eternal heaven of moral beauty’“. [1, xxiv]

The Nayaka (hero) is Dusyanta of the House of the Kurus and the Nayika is Sakuntala, daughter of Sage Viswamitra and the Apsara Menaka. She had been cared for by Saakuntas (birds) and was therefore called Sakuntala. She was later raised by Rishi Kanva, and grew up into a beautiful woman. The recognition of Sakuntala has in fact come down to us in two versions. The traditional one is found in the Mahabharata. Kalidasa gives us another, however, that brings us a brilliant battle in the Heavens with Dusyanta assisting the Devas in their war against the Asuras.

There are total of 4 recensions (a Devanagari, a Bengali, a Kashmiri, & an Andhra one) and two variations of the story. Nevertheless, both of these versions retell the birth of Bharata Dausanti, better known as Sakuntala-putra Bharata. Though the original Bharata who gave his name to our Land was the son of Rishabha of the Ikshvaku Dynasty, for a period of time, it was called Nabhi-varsha (after a king of the same House). But Sakuntala-putra was so famed for his world conquest and righteous rule, that the name Bharatavarsha came into fashion once more.

Whichever version you prefer, there is surely a blockbuster movie in the making here. If only the right director, with the right vision, and right talent (and right finances!) comes along. But financial matters are for the bean-counters. The aesthete is more concerned with the achievement of the author, and the talent that created this work.

Author
MahakaviKalidasa
Mahakavi Kalidasa

The biography of that best of Kavis, Kalidasa, is a tale in and of itself—indeed, it is worth of a book, an article, a cinema, or several. Correspondingly, the writer who intertwined legend with history and delightful fancy with moral principles, led a life of similar meeting points. By the present foreign paradigm, he is dated to the 4th century CE, but it is more likely that he belongs to the 1st Century BCE instead.

The foregoing discussion is enough to justify the truth and the vitality of the age-long tradition that the poet belongs to the days of the glorious King Vikramaditya of Ujjayini—the founder of the Samvat era (57 B.C.) [1, vi]

It is not for nothing that Jayadeva (of Gita Govinda fame) referred to Kalidasa as “Kavi kula guru” (master of poets). Famous for his love of Ujjayini (in modern Madhya Pradesh) and praise of Vikrama, Kalidasa was and is the undisputed King of Kavya. Blessed by the Goddess from whom he takes his name, this ‘Servant of Kali’ would go on to marry a princess and be considered one of the Navaratnas—Nine Gems of Avanti’s Court. “Ujjayini was the city of his heart and he is delighted to sing of her glories and the romantic loves of her maidens“. [1, vi] He would set standards of excellence in poetry for millennia.

 

Great Plays of Kalidasa

  • 7 works of his have come to us today.
  • 3 dramas, 2 epics, 1 lyrical poem, and 1 descriptive poem. [1]

Abhijnaana-Saakuntalam is arguably the most immortalised of all of Kalidasa’s compositions. While his other dramas (Malavika-Agnimitram & Vikramorvasiya) have also been celebrated on canvas, it was the story of the Signet ring that has captured  imagination throughout the centuries.

The weaving of beautiful poetry, in the form of slokas (Sanskrit couplets), into the rupaka (dramatic composition) gives the literary experience more resonance. With the exception of Meghadootha, Kalidasa’s other works of pure poetry don’t rise to the same love of pure romantic sentiment. Kumarasambhavam is one of his contributions to the Pancha-Mahakavyas (the other being the famous Raghuvamsa), but it is an epic work with a hint of the erotic. Sringara-tilakam is very much a freshman work, but one that nevertheless gives us periodic foreshadowing of future talent, even in his younger days. And Rtu-samhara is very much a celebration of the seasons in all their splendour. Though Sringara rasa predominates, it is more of a descriptive work.

But while it is important to prepare the palate before cultivated taste can be appreciated in the aesthetic arts, one should not linger too long. This exegesis on this play, this poet, and this poetry, was all for the purpose of better understanding Sringara-Sanskrita-Kavya: Romantic Sanskrit Poetry.

To better prepare for married life, it is important to not only learn how to become eligible, but also marriageable. The courtly aesthetic is important not only in kingly courts, but in the courtship of couples.

Bharatiya boys, you may want to take notes, and Bharatiya ladies…you’re welcome…

Selections
§

I.Sarvat aapsara sambhavaisha

Maanushishi katham va syaadrsya roopasya sambhava |

Na prabhaatha ralam, jyothi, roodhethi, vasudaata laath ||

Truly born from a heavenly apsara

For what woman could give birth to such a lovely form

 

After all, the sparkling light of tremulous beams, does not rise from the surface of the earth. [intimation: ‘but descends from the heavens’] A.1 s.26

SakuntalaRecogntion2§

II.Kaamam priyaa na sulabha manasthu tabdaava darshanaa-srvaasi |

Akrutaarthe api manasije rati mubhaya-praarthanaa kurute ||

True, my darling is not easily attainable; yet my heart assumes confidence from observing the manner in which she seems affected.

Even though our love has not hitherto prospered, our mutual longing, nevertheless, causes delight. A.2 sl.1

§

III. (smitam krutva) Evamaatmaa-bhipraya sambhaaviteshta-jana-chittavrutti praartha-

Yitaa vidambyate | tadhyatha

(smiling) Thus is the lover beguiled, who judges of the state of his beloved’s feeling by his own desires. It is thus

Snigdham veekshitam anyato’pi nayane yatpreyantyaa tayaa

Yaatham yach cha nithambayor guruthayaa mandham vilaasad iva |

Ma gaa ithyu-paruddhayaa yad api saa saasooyamuktaa sakhee

Sarvam Thathkila matparaayam aho kaamee svataam pashyati ||

The tender look she cast, even while she directed her eyes elsewhere; her slow movement caused by the heaviness of her hips, as if for grace’s sake; the angry words she spoke to her friend who detained her saying ‘Do not go; ‘ all this was, no doubt, on my account! Ah! How does a lover discover his own (everywhere!). A.2 s.2

§

IV. Chitre niveshye parikalpita sattva-yogaa

Roopa-uchchayena manasaa vidhinaa krutaa nu |

Stree-ratna srushtir-aparaa prathibhaathi saa me

Dhaatur-vibhutvam-anuchintya vapuscha tasyah ||

Was she conceived in a picture [painting] and then endowed with life?

Or was she moulded in the Creator’s mind from an assemblage of all lovely forms?

When I meditate on the power of Brahma, and my beloved’s lineaments, she appears to me a matchless creation of the most beautiful of women. A.2 sl.9

§

V. Anaaghraataṃ puṣpaṃ kisalayam aloonaṃ kara-ruhair

Anaaviddhaṃ ratnaṃ madhu navam anaasvaadita-rasam |

Akhaṇḍaṃ puṣyaanaaṃ phalam iva ca tad-roopam anaghaṃ

Na jaane bhoktaaraṃ kamiha samupa-sthaasyati vidhiḥ ||

She seems a flower whose fragrance is yet unsavoured,

A gem uncut by workman’s tool,

A branch no desecrating hands have wasted,

Fresh honey, untasted and cool.

 

No man on earth deserves her beauty,

Her blameless loveliness and worth,

Unless he has fulfilled man’s perfect duty—

And is there such a one on earth? A.2.sl.10

§

SakuntalaRecognition

VI. Priye

Smruthi bhinnamoha tamaso dhishtayaa pramukhe sthithaasi me sumukhi |

Uparaa gaante sasinaha samupa gathaa Rohini yogam ||

Oh Beloved,

By the kindness of heaven, O lovely-faced one, thou standest again before me, the darkness whose delusion has been dispelled by recollection.

The star Rohini, at the end of an eclipse, rejoins her (darling) moon. A.7 s.22

§

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  abhignanasakuntalam   shakuntala_hindi__1.1473417981DevadharKalidasa

                                                                            

References:
  1. Devadhar, C.R. Works of Kalidasa: Volume I. Delhi: MLBD. 2005
  2. Ryder, Arthur W. Kalidasa: Translations of Shakuntala, and Other Works.New York, E.P. Dutton & Co.1914
  3. Rajan, Chandra. The Complete Works of Kalidasa: Volume 1 (Poets). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 2005
  4. Goonetilleke, William. The Orientalist. Mumbai: Education Society Press.1985.p.101
  5. “Shakuntala”.IMDB. http ://www.imdb.com/find?ref_=nv_sr_fn&q=shakuntala&s=all
Ankitham: Dedicated to a Song Offering, who spent many a long & lonely night waiting to be sung and serenaded.

Acknowledgment: Gratitude to the amateur voice actor who brought these couplets to life & vibrant resonance—a Lothario in real life,no doubt.

Acknowledgment: My thanks to the Artist Archana,whose talent I'm sure, will blossom like the flowers she painted here.

Special Acknowledgment: My utmost appreciation for Nilambari. Her tireless work consulting on this effort and ever insightful counsel ensured this project finally materialised after years. Thank you.

*Minor Proofing for some translations

Minute on the Indic Aesthetic

schooling-the-world-mp4_000194694

It is the nature of ambition to make men liars and cheats, to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths, to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will.

—Sallust

It is often thought that the highest intelligence knows not only how to do something, but how and when to use it. Those most obsessed with being the ones to do something and gain fame and get credit, are the least qualified for the work, because their Ambition causes them to prioritise themselves rather than honour the burden they have taken on. Those who view our samskruthi and our aesthetics as a means of control are the ones who are least deserving and least qualified to revive them.

The exact wrong type of people are jealously seeking to control aesthetics for their benefit rather than the benefit of the culture and the people (whom they detest). The notion that classical literature is some indescribable sui generis, frozen in time, is asinine. It is almost as though they are willfully playing into the hands of those who seek to destroy our culture—one wonders what was their selling price. Classical Literature is sastra-derived, but even sastra (see dharmasastra) adjusts to time and space and circumstance, kala and desa and paristiti. Practices and aesthetics that appeal in one era may not appeal in another. The task is in taking timeless principles, and adjusting them in the present time and space, to re-ignite a respectable state, national, and civilizational culture.

No one argues that a foreign aesthetic isn’t being imposed upon us, of course it is . But what should be the response? One cannot simply dial back the clock to previous eras and to present an aesthetic that is frozen, that is unsuitable to current taste and context. Part of the problem is the fact that there is a belief of uniformity not only across regions but across time. Of course there were changes not only over Yugas but even within them. The style in Kashmir is different from Cochin, the style in Gujarat is different from Guwahati. It is only by respecting this variation that the authentic Indic aesthetic can be revitalised. This is the difference between synthetic unity and integral unity [1].

No one argues that the Kali Yuga isn’t a degraded age, with present pop culture at peak degradation and perversion, but the question is making our Classical (that is saastriya) Literature, Art, Music, etc. relevant for the present time. It is the difference between memorising the letter and understanding the spirit. These would-be exemplars have done an outstanding job of perverting Dharma with their misbegotten pedantry, so much so that such perverts were forced to readjust their woefully wrong definitions of Dharma, with some not-so clever bait and switch. Meanwhile Foreigners present native Indic culture as grotesque, while favouring more medieval and colonial qualities. Our native informers then serve up requisite material on the platter, or provide indirect assistance through their kupamanduka “opinions”. This again is the problem of knowing more and more about less and less.

No wonder their focus is aesthetics. When their definition of classical is “dead”…the culture and even the “aesthetics” they propound  are plain dead and plain wrong—and like them, plain unappealing. Perhaps that is why they are forever waxing eloquent on “NRI’s” and “inferiority complex”, they are keenly aware of their own…and resent it. Like the simulacra passing as their efforts, they too are stilted. For all the highfalutin talk of civility, their (mis)behavior is the embodiment of mean-spiritedness and meanness of manner and uncouth breeding.

No one argues that prekshakas (audience members) shouldn’t be taught how to enjoy classical culture, be it music or art or anything else. But what should be the manner? To drone on pedantically without consideration for the diverse audience to which one must cater? When it is not one-size fits all, instruction must be such that all can be brought along. That there is a difference between the mere rasika (aesthete) and the sahrdaya (person of taste/connoisseur) is obvious. But mass and elite alike have a right to our culture, and thus, multiple avenues and multiple standards must be presented for all sections, not just our own.

Just as there is marga and desi within the real tradition, as true cultural exemplars from Bharata muni down to Jaya Senapati have all asserted, literary culture runs from high culture to mass.  How ironic that those most obsessed with caste and varna vyavastha are those most keen to impose only their view and only their way of life on others. However, these fools forget that even the venerable rishi, Sage Shuka, had to give up his guna to attain moksha. As even avataras take on gunas as per need, so too, must we understand that while it’s important to grow from tamas to sattva, there is need for all three at varying points of time.   A society that emphasises solely sattva guna is a sitting duck. A society that only emphasises tamas is what we have now. As such, it is imperative to not only adjust our aesthetics to time and place, but to ensure different levels of aesthetics and culture to appeal to all sections of society—not just our own. Aesthetics is not a mere static set of implementations, but a spectrum, from principles to cultural effect.

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.

Unlike these pretenders, the great poet, rhetorician, and expert on aesthetics, Mahakavi Dandin, excoriated the need of pedants to over-complicate our language and culture in order to demonstrate their self-proclaimed “intelligence”. People who have to act smart usually aren’t that smart. Merely regurgitating what you were taught, without any original thinking or creativity, is what the great Ramana Maharishi remarked as being a “gramophone”. Time for these well-tuned, well-advertised, and well-aged gramophones to recognise their obsolescence.

The requisites for fine art are, therefore, imagination, understanding, soul, and taste [2,  597]

Aesthetics is not for parrots. Aesthetics is for those with imagination. It is for those who understand that the letter of the word is not frozen in time, but it is the principle that is timeless. Perpetually fitting a square peg into a round hole, these dinosaurs preposterously imagine their country bumpkin concept of aesthetics will gain currency in the modern materialist world. They do not know how to lead. Perhaps that is why they are forever mimicking and appropriating the work of others—they couldn’t critical think their way out of a paper bag. That is why they copy others.

true-sign-of-intelligence-imagination-einstein

The fact remains, even on the basics, there are problems. The correct translation for aesthetics is not rasa, as pure rasa is “sentiment”. Perhaps that is part of the problem, Indians are sentimentalists above everything, hence the much vaunted “rasika”. The corresponding word that conveys the full meaning of Aesthetics is Rasalankara. It is the union of sentiment with ornamentation, feeling with feature. That is how beauty is properly appreciated, and thus, the actual meaning of aesthetics. That saundarya is central to the cultural cataclysm that we are facing is well known to sahrdayas. The issue is whether or not those who wish to lead the response are competent to actually do so. As we have remarked elsewhere, competence is not merely knowledge or ability, but it is capacity confirmed by practice.

Yet there are some playing into the hands of Sheldon Pollock’s prekshaa of the aestheticisation of power, replete with “classical literature” that is ‘unchanging’ i.e “dead” —precisely the characterisation of Breaking India forces. That is precisely why Rajiv Malhotra asked whether self-promoting “adhikarins” greedy for fame/fortune actually understand Pollock’s positions and their implications. This is the danger of pedantry: it spouts off pablum while being unaccountable for results. It pays lip-service to polymathy while ignoring the practical.

paundraka

Paundraka too talked of being Krishna, and styled himself the “true Vasudeva”. But despite the outer trappings, and the poses, and the peacock feathers, he ultimately proved false. He lived an immoral life and led others into immorality. What made Krishna the real Vasudeva was that he led by example. He encouraged good character in others and rather than state “don’t judge by vices”, he  compassionately urged people to give up vices, to dust themselves off when they fell, and to keep trying.

While he married Rukmini for love, the 16,000 rescued women he married were to restore their reputation, not his pleasure. After all, countless women pray to God for a husband like Ram. Lord Vishnu had to grant their wishes in his next life as Krishna. But for Paundraka, women were objects of pleasure, not embodiments of Shakti. He said one thing and did another, while judging everyone else. Hypocrisy is not the Indic aesthetic.

And while he craved the sudarshana chakra, he ultimately proved incapable and incompetent to handle it.

The true Kshatriya, intellectual or otherwise, doesn’t spend his day condemning and ill-treating others. He recognises that all individuals begin as flawed, but walk on a path to perfecting themselves. Individuals fall, but like children learning to walk, they pick themselves up, and with the guidance of true acharyas, correct themselves and progress. That is why he doesn’t justify vices, but holds himself to a higher standard than others.

Image result for paundraka chakra

That is precisely why strategy is the realm of the kshatriya ( and intellectual kshatriya), because he (or she) is accountable for results.  A defeat has consequences. Not so much for silo’d sellouts and village bumpkins. Merely lecturing about kshatra having only read about it, but being impotent to actually practice it, is emblematic of the lifestyle of those for whom life is a “24/7 spectator sport”. Perhaps that is the reason for their superiority complex towards Malhotra. After all, a superiority complex is nothing but an overcompensation for an underlying inferiority complex.

They know they lack the sophistication and knowledge of world affairs required to tackle these issues, hence they hide behind irrelevant drivel in their attempt to usurp the traditional responsibility of real Acharyas in the Mathas and Devalayas. But our real acharyas don’t just pay lip-service; we follow our acharyas not just because they gather (achinoti) and give us laws , but because they show us Achara by example. They lead by example and show us through the example of their lives how to live with spirituality and dignity. They show those of us in the material world how to ultimately reject temptation and follow the spiritual path. That is why kshatriyas were and are honour-bound to protect real Acharyas.

That is why precisely why our response must be calibrated not by single area subject matter experts, or self-proclaimed polymaths, but generalists (of all castes) with a wide array of knowledge across disciplines, who can see beyond their own noses and interests, and think of the big picture…not when it suits them…but all the time. That is the difference between the person who talks of patriotism to advance personal interests and the person who sacrifices (or at least sets aside when necessary) personal interests in order to preserve the common narrative.

If “Culture is the New Politics”, the Cultural and Civilizational response must necessarily be crafted and led by those with political skill and savvy. Poets, Artists, Musicians, Singers, Dancers, Traditional Scholars, Regional Language Scholars, Sanskritists, Sporting enthusiasts, all have a role to play, as support, but Cultural Leadership will necessarily be driven by those with a proven track record of Leadership–the meeting point, the sangham of Brahma-Kshatra-Vaisya-Sudra. Without understanding all four, the spiritual/religious, the politico-strategic, the economic, and the logistic, how can a unified response, a unified aesthetic be presented?  This the difference, this is the need for grass-roots and bottom-up rather than top-down.

All this is ultimately why Ahankar and Ambition are the two most dangerous aspects of the “modern” Hindu. It is not that other people don’t have ahankar and ambition, it is that it has reached such a self-defeating concentration, that Hindus are prepared to sacrifice the absolute cause to increase their relative status—long before the cause is a gone case. This inability to bear any pain, this inability to lay anything on the line, is exactly why the Kshatriya ideal is needed at this time. Why a Culture of Kreeda, Team Kreeda, is needed at this time.

From Brennus to Pyrrhus to Hannibal to Attila, Rome weathered many a foreign storm. Rome even had traitors like Coriolanus, but Romans ultimately were willing to sacrifice everything but self-respect. Their leaders were generals who led by example. Where is the self-respect of our people today? No, the country’s current political credo is “lick the one who kicks and you kick the one who licks!”. Until this is firmly kicked from the country it will be more of the same. This is the not the mantra of Rishis and Rajas, but the slogan of poodles. Rishis did Tapas and Rajas endured terrible pain; this lot knows only how to avoid pain and feed their faces. Rather than the individual skill of the gyaani, it was the unit cohesion of the legion that made Rome effective. The dog licks its master who thrashes, but growls at innocent passersby. The wolf hunts in a pack and wins as a team. Incidentally, the lupus was Rome’s emblem.

Lupa_Romulus_and_Remus
Lupa Capitolina

But this lot is more likely to have lupus than to embody one. These poodles would rather become foreign slaves or pathetically call foreign elites their brothers rather than seeing their own countrymen as one of their own. Rather than having ludicrous popinjays and milquetoast over-sophisticates give irrelevant gyaan from their sinfully hypocritical redoubts, the aesthetic response must come from those who can not only relate to all four/five sections of society, but know how to unify them. Unification, not under unaccountable tyranny, through textual misquote and misinterpretation, but through common accountability under a common dharma, a practical Dharma.

If foreign usurpers are ignored on account of not presenting a “pramana”, then its quite obvious such scholars are better off in their silos rather than attempting to anoint themselves “acharyas”, giving “upanyasas”. There is a difference between a poet and a pradhan mantri. If you don’t have the requisite knowledge of global affairs, and the backbone to bear pain, it is time to vacate the kshetra. Drona too talked tough & was an acharya, but ended up dead on the Kurukshetra for his misdeeds.

It is one thing to argue “everyone has flaws” or “all are on a difficult path to perfect themselves” and quite another to demand others meekly submit to the addiction to vice of certain tyrants-in waiting. These ahankari-shikandis hypocritically argue “judge us by our inner worth”. But character is the determination of inner worth, and character is nothing but habits (whether driven by virtue or vice). Habits become first cobwebs then cables. More than cables, it appears someone has this lot in chains. So if you have some sinful background, if you have some terrible vice that you refuse to control, then better to exit the field. The true brahmana is known by character and conduct. This what our real Acharyas teach. Not that great ones from Maharishi Vishwamitra on haven’t fallen. Rather it’s that once they have fallen, they get back up and dust themselves off, rather than roll around in the muck saying “don’t judge us”, or “do as I say, not as I do”. That is no ethic, and certainly no Indic aesthetic.

Teaching is not just about knowledge, it’s how you interpret what you know and present it to others.

That is why we must reject the bumpkin aesthetic. That is why it is imperative that we build upon an integral unity based on Satya, rather than a synthetic unity based on Rna. This is the era of not only Gross Domestic Product, and Foreign Direct Investment, but also Foreign-owned Debt. For all the talk of upayas, it’s clear their only policy is samshraya…under videshis. But a sellout in mundu-veshti is still a sellout. Whether Macaulay’s Children or Wendy’s Children or Pollock’s Children, drohis are still drohis. In the end, it is only the ambitious ahankari, the unscrupulous politician, the greedy gyaani who seeks a position for which he is unqualified, and sabotages the cause to preserve position. The true statesman sacrifices personal aspiration for common aspiration and civilizational destination.

Better one of my brothers or native rivals wear the crown than our common foreign enemy. When will Bharatvasis learn this lesson?

References:

  1. http://rajivmalhotra.com/big-ideas-2/miscellaneous/
  2. Kant, Immanuel.Kant’s Critiques. Radford.Wilder: Radford, VA. 2008

Discretion Part Drei

vishnu-sudarshan-chakra-durvasa-ambarish

Many of you may be wondering why the recent articles on the importance of Satya and Rta. After all, isn’t there a reawakening in Hindu community about the need for Dharma? What is the necessity to so stridently and trenchantly assert what the tradition actually says and what our Real Acharyas in Agraharas, Mathas, and Devalayas say?

The truth of the matter is that Bharatiyas need to start understanding that the path to Civilizational Security and Personal Spiritual growth are, ironically, one and the same. The dangers facing Indic Civilization today, at least if you believe in our traditional scriptures, are in fact meant to remind us of what true Dharma actually is. When the letter becomes more important than the spirit, when individual Rna becomes more important than absolute Satya, when the words of our Ancient Rishis are twisted for personal one-upsmanship, or worse, adharmic Ambition, then mankind is reminded of its lesser place in the greater scheme of things. When atheists, charvaka or otherwise, gleefully declare that “God is Dead”, why do they pray when it is their plane that is falling or their house that is on fire? The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves.

Truth be Told, those of us who contribute to this site are quite frankly much more interested in quietly and contently writing articles (or printing those by others…who are team-oriented) to help spread awareness of our High Culture. But as we wrote in our article on Culture: the Cure for Stupidity, Arts are the Alankara of culture, not culture itself. It is the values and morals and high-minded principles of our forebears that drives not only what to view as tasteful, refined, and cultured, but also what is good, decent, and proper. It is Dharma that is the soul of our Culture.

And yet, despite all the high-minded talk, we still have far too many ambitious and parochial people, who are putting their own private gain ahead of public good. Despite the growth of the “Indic Intellectual Ecosystem”, there remains far too much backbiting, copying, and petty politicking to make any of this Civilizationally beneficial. After all, if you treat your own countrymen no different than you treat your foreigners, if you still stupidly repeat the same mistakes as our ancestors and allow de nobilis into our ranks, if you still cut side deals with national enemies to gain one over your local rivals, then why is your society any more worthy of saving than it was a thousand years ago?

Ours is the civilization not only of Vasistha and Vikramaditya or Ram and Guru Ram Das, but also Saints like Annamacharya and Basavanna who took on those who misused our inheritance and twisted it for personal material gain. That is why we spoke out so fervently in favour of the absolute Truth, of Satya-Param, in our previous article. Without the truth, all we have is tyranny. It is the truth that truly does set us free.

Tradition without Truth is robotics. But Tradition with Truth is meaningful living. It is the Truth which destroys Ego, which reminds us of our minuscule place in the scheme of things, which teaches us that false pride comes not only from adharma but even Dharma. That is why we are asked to surrender to God in the finality of things (atma-nivedhana), or at the very least surrender to truth (if you are agnostic). Solipsism and narcissism can emerge even from those who have historically done good, like the Haihaya Karthaveerya.

kartavirya

Even the Parashurama who defeated him was in turn punished by Rama for pride.

That is the danger of Ego, that is the danger of Ahankar. Over time, it breeds the false sense that you are so good, whatever you do is beyond reproach, whatever you do cannot be judged. Pride in caste, pride in scholarship, pride in intellect, pride in strength, all can lead to terrible falls and even punishment, and so too can pride in doing past good.

As seen in the preceding article in our series, the amassment of wealth and power of the Bhargavas and their adharmic selfishness in the wake of societal famine was one of the reasons for their chastisement. Their ingrate behaviour towards their patrons, the Haihayas (supported by the Atreyas), is also significant. The later misdeeds of the Haihayas, who went overboard, were rightly punished by Parashurama, but the misdeeds of the Bhargavas were the root.

Society is one of balance. When there is an imbalance, when kshatriyas become tyrannical, or when brahmanas attempt to accrue wealth, power, and women, Dharma causes a restoration. Parashurama’s antipathy towards kshatriyas was well-known, his instruction of Bhishma being only on account of the latter being the divine son of Ganga. Parashurama’s cursing of Karna once he discovered the latter was actually a kshatriya, is emblematic of this. But a society needs both Brahmanas and Kshatriyas. He served as the conduit for Krishna to take his Sudarshana chakra, as the purpose of Krishna’s birth was to destroy sinful Kshatriyas, but Parashurama’s punishment at the hands of Rama is also well-known, again due to the sin of Ego. This egotism of the Bhargavas originated in Bhrigu himself.

Once upon a time, the rishis were performing a great yagna and wished to determine to whom they should dedicate it to. When it was decided to dedicate it to the Supreme God, Bhrigu decided to test the Trimurthi. He refused to pay obeisance to Brahma or embrace Shiva, and both were angered. In fact it was only when the wives of Brahma and Shiva begged them to spare Bhrigu that he managed to escape with his life, despite both of them preparing to burn him to ashes or slay him with Trishul. His encounter with Vishnu is even more illustrative.

The story of Lord Venkateshwara (Balaji) is well known in Andhra and other parts of the South (as this Kannada film demonstrates).

The impudent Bhrigu then made his way over to Lord Vishnu, who was asleep. Bhrigu struck Vishnu on the chest, awakening him. Despite the behaviour of this son of Brahma, he spared Bhrigu due to his nominal status as his father-in-law. True to his nature, however, Vishnu also removed the origin of Bhrigu’s pride, the eye in his foot that was the source of his great Ego.

Bhrigu Aksapada, as such, was punished by Lord Vishnu who removed of that eye in Bhrigu’s foot of which he was so proud.    After all, whatever legal title the oceans may be in, the entire cosmos belongs to the One who created it. What is a mere rishi before the preserver of the universe itself? This is the danger of self-glorification. Rishis too must know their place before God. Bhrigu and the Bhargavas soon learned theirs.

Maha Lakshmi herself was furious and cursed Bhrigu and all Brahmanas that she would never visit them. Rishis themselves scolded Bhrigu for his arrogance. After all, who was he to test the Trimurthi, who could burn him to ashes with a mere glance (Brahma almost did). That Lakshmi was born to him is considered a boon to Bhrigu, not the other way around. The Trimurti and their Divine other halves are beyond all materiality.

All this is precisely why time and again humility is of the utmost importance because False Ego leads to the temptation towards pride, which leads to greed, and untruth to justify that greed. The ancient brahmanas were known for truth because they foreswore from wealth and power, and were rightly respected for it. That some of their descendants greedily chase after it even at the cost of their country, is well known too: One, Two, Three.

One such has been writing abysmal nonsense, ostensibly for the benefit of a foreign patron. While he curiously criticised the kshatriya who spoke out against this videshi scholar, he has been inactive in actually defending our society from such videshi depredations.  This is precisely why avadhanis do not replace our Acharyas, who live in poverty and are attached to the truth, whatever the personal cost. But here is what one such public performer has been writing all while making pretense to giving “spiritual discourses”.

For all his obsession with his own caste, he had the gall to insult Maharishi Vasistha by stating he was the son of a prostitute. Per our orthodox Tradition, Vasishta is considered on of Brahma’s manasaputras (directly mind-born son)…How could he be called the son of an apsara? Whether you are atheist or not, that is the tradition, you are free to deny the rationality of it, but that is the traditional reality.Even if one accepts some later account of Vasishta being reborn to Urvashi and Varuna, that only demonstrates the danger that half knowledge accomplishes.  Urvashi as an apsara is no more a prostitute/courtesan than devadasis originally were. Apsaras were simply independent unattached women who chose their own lovers and had no interest in marriage. Ravana styled Rambha as one such prostitute, and he payed the price through the curse of her family. These ravanas will very well find out the same. All this is precisely why half knowledge  or knowledge in general, is not wisdom.

Another example was misdefining Dharma. That Dharma is defined as the upholding of Rta expressed by the Absolute Truth Satya as clarified by our Traditional Acharyas was established in our Post on Rta vs Rna. So why the effort to define it as such? Defining Dharma as inferior and motivated by Rna is, especially in the present time, very dangerous to our debt-burdened society. Whether it is unscrupulous moneylenders in Mother India or modern bankers, the perils of finance especially to the indebted illiterate are great.

earthlyspiritualrna

As once can see, spiritual rnas are far too easily conflated for material & financial rnas. In our debt-burdened society, the implications of this are terrible. That is why rna is necessarily inferior to Dharma, so that Rta is not offended. But why such artificial re-defining of Dharma? Whose purpose does it serve to first change Dharma from Rta and Rna, then in subsequent articles, subordinate Satya to Rta. These are wrong definitions, which we were forced to counter in our articles on Satya and Rta. That one of them used to call Rajiv Malhotra his “guru” only to later attack him, only shows how much they themselves don’t practice what they preach. So much for guru-rna. What an ingrate.

Next are the recent definitions of Classical Literature as something frozen, beyond time and space, i.e. dead. This is straight out of Sheldon Pollock’s view of Sanskrit as dead. No wonder a review was written by them against Rajiv Malhotra’s Battle for Sanskrit. It’s obvious they are indirectly assisting Pollock’s prekshaa. Even if one gives the benefit of the doubt, it is highly telling that they were far more vitriolic and spent more time trying to take down Rajiv Malhotra than rebut the claims of this western Indologist.

Finally, the most egregious of all, their supporting the theory of “Beef in Vedas”.  This was in turn used by such noted pseudo-scholars as a particular Wendy Doniger acolyte. This is the cost of pseudo-scholarship and why avadhanis are not acharyas. As we can see, even in the tradition, whether it was Ravana or the greedy and overproud Bhargavas, or Duryodhana and the sinful Kauravas, just as there are good kshatriyas and evil kshatriyas, there are good brahmanas an evil brahmanas. Hence, the issue that faces us today is not caste versus caste, but Dharma vs adharma. It is upto to good brahmanas to speak up and call out these dushta-brahmanas for the fraudacharyas they are. These are bahishkar-able offenses. Remember, that too is part of Varnashrama Dharma.

These are not mere indiscretions, but a pattern of perverting Veda, Purana, and Dharma to suit the needs of videshi “indologists”. The list in fact goes on to even referring to varna (caste) as being based on “aptitudes” instead of guna (per) the tradition. Is casteism any more obvious than in asserting only 1 caste has valour or only 1 caste has intelligence? This is the definition of it. This is the casteism and determinism that had bred fatalism. This is the casteism that furthers division.

When one teaches, it must be out of a sense of responsibility, out of a sense of duty not just to makes sure students are taught correctly but also in a manner that is comprehensible to them. One should not teach or write for the purpose of looking or sounding smart, but for the purpose of communicating knowledge, wisdom, and understanding effectively. A teacher does not teach for his own ego, or self-glorification, but out of a sense of obligation to society.

Worst of all, the obvious subtextual attempts to deify this charlatan self-styling himself as a “polymath”, is apparent not only through the references to Swami Vidyaranya as a “polymath” but even Sri Krishna himself.

Let it be known to this Ravana, and his resident Paundraka, that not only is he no Sri Krishna or Vasistha, he is no Vidyaranya either. Despite traditional knowledge and achievement, both Ravana and Dronacharya were punished for doing wrong and lusting for women in one case and power in the other. They should consider themselves duly notified of their walking the same path as these predecessors.

At this stage, many of you may believe this critique to be too harsh, or too focused on one community. Please understand, this is in fact out of great reluctance, as infighting, whether inter-caste or even intra-caste runs many risks as well. Nevertheless, it is imperative that correct interpretation of our tradition be passed on to the next generation, that correctly teaches not only correct culture, and correct Dharma, but even correct Varnashrama Dharma. Some seem to have forgotten this, as we have not been alone in similar criticism.

Even those who were once aware of such problems can become blind to them when faced with material temptation. All this is precisely why our true Acharyas are in the Agraharas or Mathas (Sringeri in this case), not in the material world, pursuing a material living. It is they who preserve the tradition of true Brahmanas and they who teach correct Varnashrama Dharma. Our writings must be in consonance with the spirit if not letter of what they teach. Traditional Brahmanas living the traditional way were and are respected. If you are not one such, do not expect the same treatment and authority commanded by an Acharya.

As we said above (and as we can see above) those who have a past store of good deeds can also fall on account of their pride in them. That is the danger of ahankar, which leads to greed, which leads to untruth, and ultimately untold sin. When the store of merit expires, from whence can they expect succour from the cost of their transgressions?

Relevant to the matter at hand, is K.A. Nilakantha Sastri’s recounting of a Buddhist perspective on ancient Brahmanas, that gives us insight into why some sections continue this “Beef in Vedas” sacrilege:

Buddhist account of gohatya

“The Ancient Rsis were ascetics (tapassino) and practiced self-control and avoided the five pleasures of the senses…They spent 48 years of their life as brahmacarins in quiet of knowledge and good conduct. Even after their marriage they lived a life of restraint. They held austerity, rectitude, tenderness, love and forebearances in high esteem. They performed sacrifices with rice, beds, clothes, ghee or oil, which they could collect by begging and never killed cows in sacrifices. They possessed a noble stature and a tender and bright mien and remained always engaged in their own pursuits. In course of time, however, they began to cove[t] a king’s riches and splendour and objects of pleasure such as women with ornaments, chariots yoked with stately horses…Coveting more and more they again persuaded him (King Okkaku, that is Ikshvaku) to celebrate sacrifices by offering of cows, which they said, constituted also the wealth of men…The slaughter of cows enraged the gods Brahma, Indra and even the Asuras and Rakshasas and multiplied the diseases which were originally three, viz. desires, hunger and decrepitude, to ninety-eight and further caused to appear discord among the people and within the household, and acts improper and impious among the various classes of men.”[2, 291]

The true Brahmins are distinguished from the false ones by Buddha and are well spoken of by him. Such Brahmins were expected to observe the five dhammas: truthfulness (saccam), austerity (tapam), continence (brahmacariyam), study (ajjhenam) and gifts (cagam). (sutta-Nipata p.85).”[2, 293]

buddha

That is the danger of perpetuating this calumny that Beef can be justified by the Vedas. Go-hatya is considered a mahapataka (a terrible sin). This in turn has been rebutted many times. Such actions of this clique not only put our society at risk (at least per the Vedic tradition), but also put at risk our venerable Acharyas.

It is widely known how Brahmins (traditional or otherwise) are specifically and bigotedly targeted for violence. The tragic violence in Tamil Nadu is one such example. Many of our own family-friends were directly affected decades ago and were forced to migrate. The continued murders of brahmin priests in Bangladesh and elsewhere is another. Protection of priests and others can only be achieved by unity in our society and correct interpretation and correct practice of Dharma. As the Paramacharya is reputed to have said above, the best way to ensure the safety of brahmanas (which many of us have a personal stake in) is their own good conduct.Supporting such colonial theories that have no support in scripture (like AIT, which others have done) only gives fuel for this Breaking India fire and artificially separates Brahmanas from the other castes (the express goal of colonialists). An intellectual sepoy is still a sepoy, and betrays his fellow hindu and fellow brahmin alike.

That is why we repeatedly state that in order to ensure their own nation, their own Civilization becomes stronger, such stalwarts of samskruthi must themselves become better people first, and correct their wrong notions and wrong opinion and wrong-headedness.  Such wrong definitions of Varnashrama Dharma only drive lower castes away. Such wrong “scholarly” support to Beef in Vedas only puts Hindus on the backfoot and encourages more go-hatya. And these are only some such examples. Recent attempts to even justify their own private vices on the basis of some alleged and subjective “inner worth” is another.

brahminbyconduct

Of course we are judged by our vices. Habits are first cobwebs then cables. An author, artist, musician, or even poet may not be judged by his vices, but a Pandit, Purohit, or Acharya certainly is. That is the mark of a true Brahmana. National honour is safeguarded by National morality. Whether you are born into a brahmin family or not, it is your conduct that makes you a true Brahmana.

But like Durvasa & Drona, those who in their pride or ambition or desire for wealth perpetuate these falsehoods, may in turn find that pride goeth before the fall.

ambarisha

 

References:

  1. Shree Balaji Mandir http://shreebalajimandir.org/lord-venkateshwara%20%E2%80%93%20the-story.aspx
  2. Kane, P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.3.P.2. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 1973.
  3. Sastri, Nilakantha K.A. Age of the Nandas & Mauryas. MLBD.1996
  4. Nagaswamy, R. Tamil Nadu-Land of the Vedas. Tamil Arts Academy. 2016

Aryan Invasion Theory Violates Vedic Tradition

AITAVAIDIKA

For writers, editors, and scholars alike, it is critical to be honest not only about what the tradition says, but what they are competent to do. Per our tradition, there is a sharp division between Adhyatmika and Laukika. Those of us from Andhra know the division between Vaidiki and Niyogi for example. As such, it is imperative that those of us from the Laukika sphere, whatever may be our birth varna/jati, refrain from interfering (let alone corrupting) the Adhyatmika sphere. For far too long have self-appointed armchair acharyas attempted to play the role of Vedic seer, pushing as Shivoham has written, concocted model-based theories based purely on imagination.

The Vedas are apaurusheya, and thus, not the realm for “original thinking”, statistical and cliometric analysis, leave aside creative interpretation or reinterpretation. Only traditional Brahmanas who specifically lead the traditional way of life in agraharas and mathas have the authority to interpret what the Vedas actually say. Increasingly, Bharatiya Sanaatanis of all Varnas (all castes) have been granted Veda Adyapana and some have become Brahmanas not by birth but by Guna and Dharma, and this too is accepted in our era, provided they follow the traditional lifestyle and guidelines laid before them.

But foreign “indologists” and their native sepoys and their sycophants do not have such authority. Merely bearing a yajnopavita and performing rituals robotically does not make a Brahmana.Those are mere accoutrements.Preservation of the truth makes a Brahmana.

Brahmin or not, Initiate or not, Indian or not, those earning their living in foreign employ do not have authority to assert let alone pervert what is in the Vedas. Only degree-factory fools seek them out as some sort of “rishi”. Therefore, rather than presenting myself as some sort of authority, I too will follow this rule and simply report what an actual and public Adhyatmika Brahmana, Pandit Sri Kota Venkatachalam, has himself written.

PortraitChelam

Pandit Chelam was uniquely qualified, not only being born and brought up in an agrahara, but being competent in both traditional Vedic learning and Western history—particularly Indology. Pandit Chelam has categorically rejected & refuted the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) and diligently catalogued all the high crimes and misdemeanors of British Colonial Indologists and their sepoys—many of those comprador lineages exist among our ranks today.

Over the course of a lifetime until his retirement at age 72, this true Brahmana did his Dharma by preserving the truth when Bharat itself was prostrate and powerless under foreign colonial rule. The time has now come for his life’s work to be vindicated, and the Vedic Truth in all our hearts to be asserted, not through my scholarship, but his. My pranams to him. Here is what he has written [Emphasis and Proofing Ours]:

The following Excerpts are from various Books by Pandit Chelam


§

In the beginning, there was only one race, the Aaryan race. In the ancient times, when the Aaryans were spreading all over the continent of Bharat, the different regions and parts were named after the Kings that ruled over them. The people too were named by the names of these regions and came to be considered different races.

In those remote times in Eastern Bharat was known as ‘Praachyaka Desa’ and ruled by a king named Bali. After his death, several of his sons divided his kingdom, and each named his part after himself, one of them being Aandhra. The kingdom of prince Aandhra being known as Aandhra Desa and the Aaryans (of the four castes) inhabiting the region were called Aandhras.  Thus only one group or division of the Aaryans came to be known as Aandhras. The Aandhras were not a separate race from the Aaryans.

It is all one race known as Aaryans in the beginning, some of them later coming to be known as Aandhras from the name of the region inhabited by them. It is the same case with the Aaryans inhabiting the other different parts of Bharat, all of them of the same Aaryan stock but developing into various branches and coming to be considered different peoples and named after the different regions occupied by them.

Andhra-Kerala-Chola-Bharata

But all of the Aaryans of Bharat from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin [Kanyakumari] belong to the same racial (Aaryan) stock. This axiom should be kept steadily in mind in the study of the history of the Aandhras from the beginning of creation, attempted in this volume.

The Process of Creation

In the beginning the five elements evolved naturally [f]rom primordial nature or Prakriti, and from earth, of the five, living matter and living beings of all kinds. The first among the living creatures was Prajapathi. He is the first Aaryan. Rigveda 4 26 2-2, 2-11-18. He resolved on the creation of the human race and first created the ten Praja-pathis (the Devarishis). Then he himself residing in the region enclosed by the rivers Saraswati and Drishadvati, and cohabiting with his wife Sataruupa gave birth to two sons ‘sons Priyavrata and Utaana paada and three daughters Aakuuti, Devahuuti and Prasuuti. The region he first lived in came to be known as “Brahmavarta“.

The human race first appeared in Bharat only. To the west of the present Jamuna in North India there flowed in ancient times Sara-swati and to its west a tributary by name of Dru-shadvati. The region between these rivers Saraswati and Dri-shadvati was known as ‘Brahmavarta’ from time immmo-rial [immemorial]. The name indicates that the Swayambhuva Prajapati named Brahma resided there in gross physical form to cre-ate the human race on the earth.

At the beginning of every cycle of creation, this place where Swayambhuva Prajapati, the first man resides on the earth in his gross physical body, to create the human race is known as Brahmavartam’. In Rigveda-3-33-4 we hear ‘Yonim Deva Kritam’ and ‘Tam Deva Nirmitam Desam’ in Manu 2-17. This region is bound by the river Sara-swati on the east the junction of Sarasvati and Drushad-vati on the South, Drishadvati on the West and the Hima-layas on the North.

dakshinapatha

The First MigrationBrahmarshi Desa.

The Aaryans thus born in Brahmavarta left the place of their origin and inhabiting the region to the west of it gave it the name ‘Brahmarshi Desa’ (Manu 2-19). These migrations and colonisations were led by Brahmarshis of established spiritual eminence who settled down in the new regions with their disciples and hence it was called ‘Brahmarshi Desa.’In later times this region came to comprise the kingdoms of Kuru, Matsya, Panchala, Surasena & Uttara Madhura.

The Second MigrationMadhya Desa.

According to Manu, the region bounded by the Vindhyas in the South the Himalayas in the north, Allahabad [Prayag] in the east and the river Saraswathi in the West, was called Madhya Desa. (Manu 2-21). This was the region colonised by the second migration of Aaryans after the Brahmarishi Desa was fully occupied.

Aryavarta (The Third Migration)

Thereafter the Aryans, on the advice of the sages and under the leadership of the kings, started on the third migration and spread all over the plains between the Hima-layas and the Vindhyas and settled down in permanent homelands. At that time almost  all the surface of the earth was uninhabited and even in Bharat there were no people  other than the Aryans.

Fourth and Fifth Migrations.

Thereafter, a king by name of Videha Madhava, on the advice of his teacher Gautama Rahuguna, accompanied by the Aaryans who were rapidly increasing in numbers, orga-nised a great migration from the Brahmavarta and neigh-bouring regions and proceeded “to the east of Saraswati upto the river Ganges and established Aaryans settlements at several places. But confronted by the river Sadanira, the progress was halted and villages and towns were constructed all along the march up to the river Kubha or Kabul, and extended their settlements so far. These details of the migration are available  in the Satapatha Brahmana, the Rigveda and in the Manu Smriti

The land in which the Aaryans are born, grow and die  and are  born again is known as ‘Aaryavarta’. Thus it is clear the Aaryans were living in this region from the beginning of creation, according to the Manu Smriti.

The sixth migration “Dakshinapatha”

In those days this part of the country was uninhabited. After rendering habitable and fit for colonisation, the neighbourhood of the river Sadanira and proceeding through the regions to the east of it, Viz. Vanga, etc, they spread to the south along the coast. The south eastern coast lands of Bharat, which were thus occupied by the Aaryans gradually  down to modern Madras and below, were then known as ‘Prachyaka Desa’ and this region beyond further south to the sea ‘Dakshina Desa’ and the west coast and adjoining tracts ‘Paschima Desa’. Thus the Aaryans spread in course of time over the whole of the Southern peninsula and the Aryans who came  to occupy the whole of Bharat from the Himalayas in the north to the Indian ocean in the south were the followers of the Vedic culture and the social order of the fourfold division of society) which formed an integral part of it.

 

§

Many, may naturally, aver that while the Vedic Tradition asserts that humanity was born in the Brahmavarta (Sarasvati-Indus Valley) modern Science states that Africa is the origin. My response to that would be, that is fine. Let Science be Science and let Tradition be Tradition, rather than mix and mess up the two. The problem is when Science becomes Traditional Culture and Traditional Culture becomes Sciencethe result is Scientism.

Traditional culture provides values & historical memory that give guidance to a people. Science helps humanity understand the material world. Current Scientific Evidence does show the preponderant weight behind The Theory of Evolution, and the origin of humanity in Africa. But Science cannot dictate what our Tradition actually said.  There was only Aryan. Dravida was a subgroup of Arya.

Dravida

In fact, the Genetic Evidence for AIT is severely questioned, the Archaeological evidence for AIT non-existent, and the Vedic Tradition outright contradictory. Pandit Chelam’s own charges against the British for fabricating evidence to concoct the current Chronology (including outright destruction of evidence) only injure AIT even more. In fact, other than the compromised Academy, only a clique of casteists and their clueless sycophants (as well as a few naive, but well-meaning people) seek to preserve it. On what basis? Some blog ramblings? This article is not based on my work, but the scholarship of an actual and authentic Brahmin Pandit, Sri Kota Venkatachalam, who is also a western educated historian. His word on the Vedic Corpus of Texts, and the Puranas in particular, carries preponderantly more weight than social media personalities and cliques. Enough!

Aryan Invasion Theory is AVAIDIKA. The Aryan Invasion Theory violates Vedic Tradition. Those asking “what if”, the answer is “it’s not”. Those saying, “but I learned from such and such”, the answer is guru-moha is still moha. And those fools with a smattering of Vedic Sanskrit attempting to engage in “original thinking” putting forth noxious nonsense theories, and all and sundry, should be well-advised of the severe, multi-lifetime penalties of Smriti-vibhrama. Certainly, all true Brahmanas are apprised. No ritual will protect you from this paap.

That it has gained any credence at all is testament to the sad state of what passes for “intelligence” in ‘modern’ Hindus, who are spoiled Brats. As we’ve written before, the highest form of material intelligence is not some asinine, poodle pedantry or analysis-to-paralysis that offers no viable solutions. The highest form of material intelligence is strategic intelligence, because it understands how to efficiently and effectively deploy all other intelligences, even the over-emphasised quantitative intelligence. Quantitative intelligence and even good memory are important and have their applications, but memory tricks and math problems do not save civilizations, strategic intelligence and societal coherence does. The Vedic Tradition gave us such coherence through Dharma—do not violate it. All this is why time and again we have given example after example of why  Wisdom is more Important than mere Knowledge. But some are children in adult bodies, so they childishly and stubbornly refuse to get the message, because for all their book clippings, they are in fact like the very masses they condescend to, following only what is “popular”. Principle comes before Popularity.

Sanaatana Dharmikas have enough to deal with regarding foreign disinformation, misinformation, and inculturation. It is bad enough ridiculous things are said about Brahma and Sarasvati. Any real Hindu familiar with Ardha-Nareeshvara knows that that just as Shiva-Shakti are equal halves of Para-Brahman so too are Brahma and Sarasvati equal halves of the same soul. Thus Svaymbhuva Manu’s wife Satarupa is not his daughter but his other half, just as each human husband refers to his wife as his ‘other half’. This is not just an expression, but a statement of Dharmik philosophical reality. Monogamy is advocated for this precise reason.  But rather than making themselves useful, these fake acharyas and dushta brahmanas specialise in pedantry, which fools only rascals or rubes. The latter can be forgiven for foolishness, but the former must be punished. Murkha-panditas can be forgiven, dushta-brahmanas must be punished. If bahishkar (outcasting) existed, it is because of these dushta-brahmanas and their chamchas.

“Aryan Invasion Theory”, “Beef in Vedas”, “Dharmasastra is ok with Same-gender love”, “Rna determines Dharma” all these are the work of genuine casteists (courtesy their videshi paymasters to whom they are “rnis”), as these nincom poops are prepared to pay any price to fulfill their adharmic ambitions and assume videshi “rna”. True Brahmanas know that whatever their personal rivalries (inter-caste or intra-caste), it is mahapaapa to corrupt the Vedas, and therefore, they keep their Egos in check, in order to preserve the integrity of the inheritance bestowed upon them by their forefathers for intellectual guardianship.

Materialistic  fools and casteist frauds who defile sacred threads, do some ritual as show, and haughtily drop their gotras at the first opportunity, cannot hide behind their janeus when real adhyatmika Brahmin Pandits of authentic lineage have asserted what is actually in the Vedas.  Here is what one wrote about AIT, directly:

AITshahmat-hhi

Pandit Kota Venkatachalam, is an actual Acharya, and has spoken. Let there be no more confusion. AIT RIP…

Aryan Invasion Theory violates Vedic Tradition.

References:

  1. Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaaji (Pandit). Chronology of Ancient Hindu History Part I. Vijayawada: AVG.  p.121-133

“An appeal to Young Indologists”

PKVCthePIIC

As we wrote previously, the Importance of History cannot be minimised in this era, let alone any other. A person, a people, a culture, a civilization, all derive their identity from history, sacred or otherwise. The critical lessons of history help politicians and military thinkers alike shape the course of their country’s destiny. But with a topic as powerful and as crucial as history, objectivity and dispassionate thinking are required. Scientific temper does not mean scientism. Ours is a spiritual civilization and our Vedas, a spiritual tradition. Therefore, before beginning to catalogue and disseminate True History, it is important to understand “True Indology”.

Instead today, mere regurgitations from social media and blog trivia are what pass for serious research and serious thinking. But serious people are driven by strategic thinking, not serial sycophancy and regurgitation of knowledge from self-appointed “acharyas”. They recognise that any nation that has been colonised must carefully review whether and how their society was tampered with. This is because…

What greater proof was there of this than British-colonised India?

Those wedded to scientism forget the true place of tradition, and how science exists to confirm tradition, rather than define or even pre-determine tradition. Fortunately, the modern and traditional are not always antipodal. There was one such true Pandit, indeed, a veritable “Bharata Charitra Bhaskara” who was learned not only in “western learning”, but our traditional Vedic and Pauranic learning as well. For those [b]raying for “true pandityam”, fine, let us then learn from a real Pandit, Sri Kota Venkatachalam.

Traditionally trained, but modern educated, he is the precise antidote to sage-imitating sepoys selling their knowledge to the highest bidder, while hiding behind sacred threads. Here is one actual Acharya of authentic lineage who actually deserved his yagnopavitham. And my pranams to him.

He wrote in the very era when Bharat’s history was being tampered with and painstakingly catalogued how our history was purposefully misrepresented, and archaeological evidenced destroyed. Here is what he had to say [emphasis ours]:

The following Post appeared on True Indian History on April 21, 2009


 

The history of India, particularly of the ancient period, as it is found in the Text Books of schools and colleges and in the writings of research scholars of Indology, requires thorough revision. European scholars, who attempted to construct our history, seriously erred in chronology.

  1. The false assumption that the Aryans came from outside India and the wrong identification of Chandra-Gupta-Maurya of 1534 B.C, with another Chandra-Gupta, the contemporary of Alexander(326 B.C.), led to several errors in chronology and other aspects of our history.
  2. The Puranas, which are a storehouse of historical information, were discredited as mere fiction. Several facts from the Puranas that do credit to our history and culture are entirely omitted in the historical writings of Europeans and their Indian followers.
  3. Some Indologists went to the length of interpolating in and otherwise tampering with the writings of ancient foreign visitors of India and with the Buddhist literature
  4. Many ancient inscriptions like the Kumbhalghar Inscription (V.S.1537) were destroyed.
  5. The genuine Inscription of Janamejaya ( Indian Antiquity pp333,334) dated Kali 89 or 3012 B.C. has been rejected as being spurious. Several other important ancient inscriptions between 4148 B>C. And 300 B.C., were destroyed.
  6. Some coins and inscriptions have been misread, mis-interpreted, misapplied and misrepresented and some are forged so as to be used for supporting the modern theories.
  7. The Aihole inscription and others that establish correctly the date of the Mahabharata War, 3138 B.C., have been neglected.
  8. Some important dates which are supposed to be the Anchor Sheets of Ancient Indian chronology have been arbitrarily determined, with no regard for or reference to ancient literature.

All this was to show that the historical literature of Bharat was unreliable as a document of history.

Although later researches by Indian Savants have brought to light several facts, the writings of these savants are not accepted by prominent Indologists for the simple reason that these writings do not fall in line with their modern theories. It is strange to expect that scholars that are bent upon showing the errors in the modern historians in the field should fall in line with the same writers. The interests of truth will heavily suffer if this attitude towards fresh research scholars of Indian history continues.

For about forty years I have been working in the field of historical research studying both Indigenous and modern histories and inscriptions etc., and during the last 9 years I have published genuine Historical facts in 24 books, some in Telugu and some in English running into 3000 pages. I have been sending my publications to research scholars and other prominent persons interested in the subject. Although the bulk of the scholars are too conservative even to examine my writings, some of them have accepted that my writings give a lead to the attempts for constructing a genuine history of Bharat. I am happy to note that there is a wide-spread desire in our country today, that our history should be rewritten so as to be nearer the truth.

I have done, through my writings, what I could towards the achievement of the legitimate wish of our people. I appeal to the younger generation to pursue the subject and do justice to the great culture and history of our country.

I have labored, long enough and am retiring in my 72nd year. I assure my young friends that as they proceed with the subject they will find in our ancient literature, inscriptions and coins, wonderful material that will enable them to construct history of our mother-land from 3138 B.C.. Beware of forged inscriptions etc.

This Ancient Hindu History consisting of two parts is the last of my works. In the first part of this book I have traced the dynasties of kings from 3138 B.C., the date of the Mahabharata War, to 1193 A.D., and I have also given historical accounts of these dynasties. This information is quite in accordance with the puranic accounts and genuine inscriptions. In this second part, I have proved that the genuine history of Bharat is to be found in the vast Sanscrit literature, that the so-called archaeological evidence cited by modern historians is full of misleadings, misrepresentations and misapplications and that this evidence besides being so very faulty has failed to help a correct reconstruction of ancient Hindu Chronology and has always tended to horribly curtail it.

My good wishes to all those interested in bringing the genuine history of our Bharat.

Kota Venkata Chelam

Author,

1-1-1957


Rajiv Malhotra has been shedding light on exactly how Western Indology is being used to Break India. Pandit Chelam showed precisely how history was and is still being used by Colonialists to confuse and disorient India. That is the danger of scientism–it fails to ask, cui bono?

bono

In the coming days and weeks, we will examine closely Pandit Chelam’s work. Many have heard of him, some are familiar with him, but it is time we study him. But study him we shall in his own example, and critically examine his statements to see exactly why the essential story, the core chronology, the true sheet anchor of history is in fact correct. Details here and there may be lost to time or uncertainty or require verification, but determining the correct chronology and place of origin properly defines the place of history and a people’s place in it.

Above all, someone of his calibre with knowledge of both realms clarifies precisely what our Vedic tradition actually says.

Emblem_of_India.svg


Our sincere thanks to G.D. Prasad garu, who is the grandson of Pandit Chelam for graciously granting permission to reprint this article, which reprints sections from Sri Venkatachalam’s work.

Discretion Part Deux

durvasa

In our previous essay, we discussed how Discretion is the Better Part of Valour. Without having the discretion to know when to fight and when not to fight, what to say and what not to say, when to speak it and when not to speak it, defeat is guaranteed. Those whining about why there isn’t a Civilizational Renaissance yet would do well to implement corrective action first. That is why, the merits of a rote-memorisation education extend only to communicating knowledge, not communicating wisdom. Wisdom means having the judgment to know when to apply and when not to apply. It means having the discretion to know how to apply and how much to apply. All this comes from Niti. In fact, Discretion is often translated as Suniti, meaning “Good policy”.

Discretion means attempting to understand not only your needs and your svadharma, but society’s needs and the situation around you. That was why we used the example from the Puranas about Durvasa. Filled with caste pride, Maharishi Durvasa berated the Kshatriya King Ambarisha who was doing a fast (upavaas) for society to end a famine. When Durvasa attempted to curse Ambarisha, Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra appeared and chased Durvasa. It was only after Durvasa begged for pardon from Ambarisha that Lord Vishnu called back the Chakra. The Puranas do not exist to contradict the Vedas, but rather, contextualise them so we understand how the rules and the Dharma that emanates from the Breath of Brahman are to be applied. The Moral of the Story is, none are above Dharma, not even Maharishis, and Discretion helps us understand this.

ambarisha

Discretion even extends to not only what to speak but how to speak it—a perennial ailment for Indians.When everything is communicated in hyperbole (exaggeration/over the top language) who will take you seriously? “ohhh, they deshtroyyed us. Oh they are the beautiest. Oh vee always losted”. Have a freaking sense of proportion! Moderate your language and explain your position; otherwise, no one will ever take you seriously let alone respect you. Above all, this is required to ensure self-respect.

When there is failure to prioritise, there is failure to be proportionate. Paleo-puritan, ultra-conservatives staunchly against inter-caste marriage continue to fail to differentiate between inter-caste and inter-religious. If both are viewed as “equally immoral” then clearly there is something wrong with your priorities. Ask yourself if some aspect of your understanding of Dharma might be better preserved under one versus the other. It is one thing to say you are against varna samkara, another to say inter-caste is the same as inter-religious or inter-national. Determine which contravenes your society more.

Similarly, idiots on the Left who claim that right to equality extends to “non-Indians as much as Indians”, clearly have a problem understanding the difference between those with millennia of connection to Indic Civilization, and those who just happen to hold Indian passports (when it was required by law on account of their spouse’s prime ministership).

When discourse becomes mere competing hyperbolics, argumentative atisayokti takes us to the bottom of the barrel.

This tendency to hyperbole has even resulted in needless self-flagellation where none is required—in part due to ignorance, but in part due to stupidity. While all other cultures tend to interpret ambiguity in history in their own favour, we’re the only people who consistently convert/interpret victories as defeats. An odd, masochistic pleasure is taken to reduce our own accomplishments. Victorious kings are themselves made to look the opposite, precisely to satisfy some inner sanctimonious need for “Fairness.”, “Give them a chance.”, “They should win sometimes too.” “A mother gives extra love to her youngest”.

Such nonsensical nostrums over logic are what pave the way to self-destruction. Bharatiyas are the only people who consistently mediate between their enemies and their own people—setting themselves as holier than thou arbiters, rather than advocates for their own just causes. Perhaps that is precisely why no other people on the planet stupidly advocate for causes of foreigners who treat their own people like trash: “Gaza! Syria! Italian marines!”. Such sanctimonious charlatans claim to follow their conscience, but they are merely following fashionability. If charity begins at home, so does justice.

How many times have perfectly rational tweets been ruined by the Indian inability to avoid hyperbole by missing out on le mot juste? Education and information distribution is not merely vomiting of knowledge in the most exaggerative manner. It is also about phrasing it correctly so that people will not only comprehend it, but apprehend it in the right frame of mind. This proclivity is of course complemented by the corresponding fixation on the smallest, most irrelevant detail. Rather than focus on the big picture, they have an obsession with the small picture. Being spoiled brats, even the information has to be communicated exactly how and when they want it—otherwise they reject it, whatever the importance. “My mummy made it for me like this only” is the driving consideration for our Mummy-approved egos.

Someone once said,”most people think with their brains, Indians think with their hearts”. Now we know why Bharatiyas lack discretion. If you think with your heart/sentiment/emotion, how can you ever make a sound judgment or good decision? If you don’t have the sense to keep team unity, how will you ever defeat your united enemy? What is the point of reading the Panchatantra if you don’t apply its Niti?

This is directly from Acharya Vishnusarman’s Mitra-Sampraapti (The Gaining of Friends [and value of collaboration]).

panchatantracover

Furthermore, those obsessed with tradition forget teleology. Tradition for its own sake leads to hidebound and recalcitrant thinking. Tradition wedded to the Truth, however, is focused on the practical—that is why our real Acharyas in Agraharas and Mathas practice their traditions and rituals. No tradition can survive that does not first ask what the truth is—even if it contravenes tradition. The next question should be how do we protect our society and restore Dharma? What are the specific teams, strategies, tactics, etc. that are required to achieve these objectives? Who is competent to achieve these? It is only at the very end does the question of caste even come up, if at all. For the casteist, however, every line of inquiry begins with “What is your caste?

Many, both young and old have taken to thinking that being an “Argumentative Indian” is a badge of pride. Stubbornness and debate as entertainment have become ideals and pastimes.

Traditional Brahmanas are forbidden from power, but may serve as advisors or bureaucrats. Kshatriyas are prevented from appropriating priestly power to prevent tyrannies. Merchants are barred from ruling in order to prevent what we have now. Dharma prohibits centralisation of power—so why do we have upper castes today aspiring towards Plutocracy or Papacy?

Austerity is not the price for political power. Austerity is the test for MORAL power. It is not “philognosis” that forged our society (even in Vedic times) but philosophy— the love of wisdom. It is why visiting Ancient Greeks would remark that Indians were the wisest of all races, due to the wisdom of their philosophers (read: Brahmanas). Where is such wisdom today? Our “founding fathers” weren’t poodles performing mental tricks in maths and memory while pretending to be chankian experts in “strategery”.  It is love of wisdom and love of Truth, not love of mere knowledge or mere learning or mere science that defined our society. Discretion ultimately comes from judgment. And both of these ultimately lead to wisdom.

In our article on the Origins of Stupidity we provided the famous quote “Deficiency in Judgment is properly that which is called Stupidity”. If that is indeed the case, then we offer the corollary: Proficiency in Judgment is properly that which is called Buddhi. One who is proficient in judgment has wisdom. Those who have not yet mastered the Panchatantra, have no business citing the Arthasastra and Hitopadesa.

Panchatantra, T.1, s.136: “An act is not so well-accomplished by means of weapons, elephants, horses or infantry…as when done by means of wisdom” [3, 53]

Make no mistake, Bharatiyas and Hindus in particular, are not cowards. They will fight to the bitter end when obvious, immediate, and declared threats to life, limb, livelihood, and family are involved. But they have become moral cowards, and are rightly criticised for being unable to see beyond their own noses. Rather than resolving to correct or even punish the instigator, they blame the person defending himself. “Why do you fight? He is like this only. You must have done something too. Well he says the same about you. Truth is somewhere in the middle”, and a laundry list of other clownish cliches are emitted from the self-same supercilious and blubbering baboos.

This takes another dimension when family or even caste is involved. Rather than justice for my friends and full extent of the law for my enemies it is: “No, he is one of ours, he can do no wrong”. Why, you ask? Because the protections of a racketeering outfit will then be extended when he’s in the bind. Perhaps, therefore, it is unsurprising that we live in an age where godfathers, mobsters, and dalals of all shades are celebrated, after all, do they not operate the same way?

That is why Yuyutsu and Vibhishana are honoured. They were not “traitors” as our post-modern pill poppers assert, but in fact, recognised that their own brother was in the wrong, and were trying to save their people from harm. Each did everything he could to convince his brother to do the right thing, and when he recognised that their “enemy” was no foreign invader but the very epitome of Dharma, that was when he switched sides. That is why Satya and Rta matter infinitely more than Rna ever could.

Our previous Post also discussed the dangers of casteism from ALL castes. Whether it is non-brahmin against Brahmin or Brahmin on non-brahmin—casteism is casteism. While the specific example of Sri Annamacharya’s struggle was used, another example from a different caste was provided to demonstrate that the correct way to fight casteism is not to cowardly sit on the sidelines and watch for the winner…or worse, chastise the fellow who is merely defending himself. Rather, it is for true patriots and true dharmikas and true rashtra-rakshakas to publicly criticise and shut down own side casteists.

That is how casteism is defeated. Not through a one time, one-line, emotional outburst, but through consistent education on what real Dharma is, what real Varnashrama Dharma is, or at the very least what real desa-bhakti and rashtra-bhakti is. Naturally the example I used came from Andhra, where an entire caste was demonised by the atrocity literature of, per Rajiv Malhotra’s studies, Breaking India forces. But instead of all the castes coming together to swear blood vengeance against those who demonised a fellow Telugu, or a fellow Indian, they all only continue to play into the hands of those foreigners who seek to destroy them all, one by one.

If you can’t correct your prejudices, at least have the sense to shut up and stop poisoning the discourse. If you don’t have the sense to shut up and stop poisoning the discourse, then stop participating where you only damage your state, your community, and your own individual interests. People like you are rashtra and desa-drohis, no matter what vaunted lineage of Rishis or Rajas or Nayakas you may come from.

Let me reiterate that no community that has ever wielded any power can boast of its nose being squeaky clean. Frankly, credible allegations can be made against all parties if one goes far enough back in history. But the point isn’t to use history to tear each other down, but rather, to bring ourselves up and inspire us to come together to tackle common enemies. Here is an entire foreign produced piece of Orwellian drivel that ironically demonises both the same Brahmins and the same descendants of the Nayak communities.

Therefore, get this into your allegedly high iq, yet so obviously thick, head: It is not “foreign saab will help me tackle my local enemy” it is “foreign saab wishes to tackle both me and my fellow vidyarthi“. So who then is the real enemy? The local rival or the foreign imperialist who will not only enslave you both but also destroy your common culture?

The response to the outsider shouldn’t be “thank you for showing us the mentality, and taking our side”. Rather, it should be “who the bloody hell are you to meddle?”. But what can be expected from a nation that stupidly accepted an uneducated european bar-maid as de facto ruler for 10 years, less than 60 years after formal Independence from Europe? I’m not here to weigh whether the allegations against a certain now-regional party are true. I’m only here to say that if you think they are true, what should be the answer? Seek foreign intervention to break your state into tiny pieces so each caste can have a piddly fiefdom to exploit under common European or Middle Eastern slavery? Or is the answer to take power like real men and win the election. For all the morons who like to quote the puranas in public while laughing at their inapplicability in private, here’s what Bhishma himself said on the field of the Kurus, thousands of years ago:

In a democracy, wars are won by election. So fight and win the election if you have the manhood, rather than whine and demonise a caste and destroy a state. Remember, not so long ago, another caste was demonised in south India, with tragic results in Andhra’s neighbouring state to the direct South. So if the target is whatever the leading community of a state or country is at the moment, why do you stupidly play into the hands of the slanderer? Andhra Pradesh was saddled with disproportionate debt after bifurcation. Who was it that said “at all costs?”, was it a member of this currently leading community or a foreigner? Isn’t it even more idiotic when an alleged nationalist supra-party institutions continue to play boastfully “chankian” but blatantly obvious and underhanded politics in fanning movements to further split a state?

This leads to the next point. When individual communities are idiotically raised to believe their well-being comes from kicking communities below them, isn’t it only natural that motivated foreigners (like the British East India Company) will use this to play one against the other? Aren’t good relations more important than public superiority complexes? Are you so stupid that you hate your brother more than you love your own freedom? Our Kali Yuga ancestors were…are you any different?

There is an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. How many times will stupidly and stubbornly selfish Indians play into the hands of those who wish to destroy them? That is the value of “shut up”. Shut up and avoid making a celebrity out of the first foreigner who says something pleasant to you. This doesn’t mean xenophobia, as there are some genuine well-wishers of India in foreign lands, but prudence and discretion dictates that charity begins at home and patriotism protects the home. Clownish Adarsh Liberals may mouth the mealy-mouthed cliché “Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel”. But if that if that is the case, “globalism is the last resort of the stupid”. Be a good global citizen by being a good local citizen. Be a good national citizen by being a good state citizen. And be a good family person, by being a good individual person. This is done not only by rejecting selfishness and stupidity, and casteism and casuistry, but by using the practical dharma, the common dharma, the saamaanaya dharma to fix your common problems and maintain good and just relations between castes and communities.

The viciousness casteists demonstrate to their intra-dharma rivals puts to shame their cowardly opposition of the genuine shatrus of Satya. Hypocrites to the core, they wring their hands at the heavens asking for Divine succour, while doing everything they can to intimidate, sideline, and oppose those are doing what they can to revive Culture and Dharma. They pick fights with teammates and befriend subversionist enemies, taking their dubious counsel, even anointing them “Acharya”. Instead of working as teams, they form cliques designed to self-congratulatorily tom-tom their alleged knowledge, all while assisting the cause of adharmikas, like useful idiots. This is the cost of Ego.

They will even attack good, conscientious members of their own caste who propound correct dharma and expose their hypocrisy. When faced with evidence of misbehaviour, rather than accepting that all societies have done good and bad, the casteist himself decries opposition to him as “casteism”, all while absolving his own caste of any past misbehavior due to “no true Scotsman” fallacies. Allegiance to the supra-party institution or political ideology of his choice becomes more important than Dharma (whatever he may say or publish in public).

Despite these (and prior) entreaties, I know there is a dedicated group of gyaanis who will go to any length to contest what I have said in my previous article, and will continue to twist not only Varnashrama Dharma, but Vaidika Dharma and Itihaasa itself in order to gain influence, fame, and power. So, rather than respond directly, here is my response:

Let me begin by first distinguishing between traditional astika Brahmanas (many of whom dutifully live in mathas and agraharas and who should be respected) from a band of casteists who happened to be born as “Brahmins”. Traditionalists are not casteists; they simply follow ancient varnashrama dharma. But those living material lives in the modern world have some Brahmanas who genuinely have the interests of all sections of society at heart, and some “Brahmins” by accident who abuse the privilege of birth to further their prejudiced caste agenda and defend their private misbehaviour. They advance asinine and avaidika theories like Aryan Invasion Theory in direct contradiction of actual Vedic Acharyas who live the traditional way and actually have valid traditional knowledge.

However, many Dharmic Brahmanas have been keeping quiet. We too have avoided this minefield. But as some Dharmic Kshatriyas have been rightfully criticising the adharmic nature of these views emanating from scientism and casteism, the line of the casteists (& their useful idiots) is “Parashurama”. But as usual,half-knowledge leads to full harm.Such knaves further Adharma, knowing only partially the tale of Kartaveerya Arjuna.

kartavirya

Per the Puranas, it was the behaviour of the Bhargavas themselves that brought about this calamity. Yes, the Kshatriyas shattered the limits of justice through their later behaviour and committed unjustifiable atrocities. But then why hide the full story unless you have an agenda?

Brahmanas have no right to wealth and lavish living, yet the Bhargavas amassed it due to the generosity of the Haihaya kings (who were allied with the Atreya Brahmanas). These descendants of Bhrigu refused to return the grants for the common need of a society undergoing a devastating famine.[1] When Brahmanas fail to think of the rest of society and allow non-Brahmins to starve to death, this is Adharma. And such individuals will be punished. Common brahmins are not Maharishis and are punishable even by Smriti. Brahmins are not above Dharma.

Dharma does not exist to serve Brahmins.Brahmanas exist to serve Dharma.

When the Haihayas attempted to justifiably reclaim the wealth necessary to feed the rest of society, the Bhargavas took up arms, and were slaughtered by superior Kshatriya valour and strategy.  The Haihayas were right to fight, defeat, and punish the Bhargavas. Those who take up arms, cannot claim traditional protections and privileges, as the Ramayana itself validates. However, having lost control of their senses, the Haihayas began slaughtering innocents and in a sanguinary state, crossed limits. Therefore, they too had to be punished.

That was why the jeevatman Parashurama was merely born with Vishnu’s shaktyavesa (power and grace), though he himself was not Vishnu. This was what permitted him to defeat the otherwise invincible Haihaya Kartaveerya Arjuna, also known as Sahasrabahu (1000-armed), who was an amsa (partial) incarnation of Vishnu, meaning a smaller portion of Vishnu’s actual soul incarnating for a time. [4] Kartaveerya was a Dharmic King who took power after the Bhargava-Haihaya War, who did not misbehave like Parikshit, who put a snake on a Rishi. His desire for the wishgiving cow to feed his kingdom was well-intentioned but wrong, and his ego led to the unfortunate clash with the proud Maharishi Jamadagni. The sameJamadagni who had the head of his wife Renuka cut off had his head cut off when he resisted giving the cow. Some claim it was Kartaveerya’s sons who did this to take back the cow; others, say Sahasrabahu himself.

Irrespective, the point is that when Brahmanas misbehaved, Kshatriyas were permitted to punish them. But when Kshatriyas misbehaved and exceeded their limits, a Parashurama was born as a Brahmana to punish Kshatriyas and restore the balance. And when the jeevatman Parashurama became blinded by pride in his religious merit, Bhagavan Rama, the Poorna avatara (the epitome of the full soul of Vishnu, along with his brothers) took back the shaktyavesa and punished Parashurama for ahankar.

Kshatriya Rama ultimately punished the Brahmana Ravana for his tyranny, also due to the latter’s pride in learning and merit, which was the origin of this.

And finally in the late Dvapara, Krishna was born to punish the Kamsas, Jarasandhas, and Duryodhanas who came to characterise the majority of Kshatriyas in the end of that era. He did this by having them punish themselves in the Kurukshetra War as the cost of oppressing Brahmanas, Women, and other vulnerable sections of society.

So none of this is a matter of covering up to further discrete caste agendas, but discussion of everything to understand real Dharma. That is true Discretion.

The moral of the story is: Adharma breeds greater Adharma and no one, no matter what their caste, is above Dharma. The interesting thing is that in both the Durvasa and Bhargava episodes, Maharishi Vasishta was on the side of Ambarisha and the Atreyas were allies of the Haihayas. And when Parashurama crossed his limits, Maharishi Vishwamitra was on the side of Rama.

It is Ego that is the enemy of all, that undid Kartaveerya, that punished Parashurama, and that humbled Durvasa, and that destroyed the Kauravas.  Thus,  it is not caste vs caste, but Dharma vs Adharma. Until Dharmic Brahmanas begin challenging and defeating Adharmic Brahmanas, until Dharmic Kshatriyas begin challenging and defeating Adharmic Kshatriyas (and so on), expect more of the same. Oh, and if you just sit on the sidelines waiting and watching to side with the winner…you have no right to expect anything at all.

So remember, there is Dharma, there is Adharma. There is no third category for neutral spectators or self-appointed judges or opportunistic casteists. Despite demonisation by those who hate all Brahmins, not all Brahmins are false or bad—use Discretion to separate them from the chaff. Even in this late Kali Yuga, there are still some true and good Brahmanas left. [And some true Kshatriyas, Nayakas, and so on, left.] But they must work together, act in teams, and do their part for society.

I have done my part. Will you?

vishnu-sudarshan-chakra-durvasa-ambarishReferences:

  1. Mittal, J.P. History Of Ancient India. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers. 2006.p.296
  2. Patil, Devendrakumar Rajaram.Cultural History from the Vāyu Purāna. Varanasi: MLBD. 1946.
  3. Jha, Naveen Kumar & Anjana. Srivisnusarmans’ Pancatantram. Delhi: J.P.Publishing House. 2016
  4. Swami Tapasyananda. Bhakti Ratnavali – An Anthology from Srimad Bhagavata. Chennai: Ramakrishna Math. 2009.

Classical Indic Literature II: Poetics

A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on June 12, 2015


Kalpa Sutra Manuscript-Auspicious Dreams of Jina's Mother (wikipedia)

Continuing our Series on Classical Indic Literature is Part II: Poetics. Long time readers may recall our previous post on Literary Theory. This piece will very briefly recap some of the related concepts before quickly moving on to expand upon our discussion of our traditional art of poesy.

ACP’s coverage of Andhra literature begins at its origin point, in Classical (sastra-based) Indic Literary Theory and Poetics. Andhra’s all India auteurs like Mallinatha and Princess Gangadevi were properly schooled and cultivated in the great tradition, in order to permit their own future works.  In fact, the rajkumari of Vijayanagara herself mentions the main figure of today’s discussion as an highly accomplished poet, and noted authority on poetics.

Poetics (A reintroduction)

Literary theory in general and Poetics in particular were highly developed and sophisticated in ancient India. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a peer culture or civilization in this regard. This is apparent not only in the cultivation of the world famous Ancient Indic Nava Rasa theory, but also in the explication and categorization of works of fiction and drama, romance and comedy, poetry and prose, elite and common.

In fact, despite attempts to criticize, or failing that, digest it into the tradition of parvenus by poseurs, Classical Indic Literary Theory managed to incorporate both the elite and common worlds. As written previously, Sanskrit and Prakrit were used alongside each other, not only by the same author, but in the same dramatic compositions! In our preceding posts we discussed the theory of rasa at great length, and by association, rasavat, that which provokes sentiment. These dramatic concepts and alankara (art of rhetoric) are critical to poetics. Few demonstrated this as well as Dandin, famed for his way with words.

Upama Kalidasasya, Bharaverartha gauravam ! Dandinah padalalityam, Maghe santi trayogunah !!

The simile of Kalidasa, the depth of meaning of Bharavi, the word-play of Dandin, in Magha all three qualities are found! [3]

While Mahakavi Magha and his Sisupalavadha may be dealt with at another time, it is Acharya Dandin and his masterly art of wordplay that is our topic of today.

Dasakumaracarita

Click here to buy the book today!!!

Having already discussed the Dasakumaracarita at length in the last piece, we will merely place it in context here, vis-a-vis Dandin and Poetics.

The Dasakumaracarita is considered an Akhyayika. An Akhyayika should include a genealogical account of the poet’s family and also of other poets; its verses may occur in it at intervals. Its chapters are called Asvaasas, which should contain introductory verses suggestive of episodes in the story. While the Dasakumaracarita does not strictly conform with this definition of the Akhayayika, it is nevertheless considered one.

Regarding the differences between the Akhyayika and the Katha, Visvanatha of the 15th century wrote in his SahithyadarpanaIn a Katha a charming plot is composed in prose, which is interspersed with stanzas in the Arya, Vaktra, and Aparavaktra metres; in the beginning there should be a salutation to a deity, a description of the nature of villains,etc. “[2, xii].

While most non-religious stories of Ancient India tend to claim descent from the Brihat-katha of Gunadya, the Dasakumaracarita of Dandin appears to be wholly original. If Kalidasa’s couplets read like supple vines, Dandin’s verses read like a rolling brook, pleasantly bubbling in our eyes and ears. The passage below illustrates this:

There, in the course of conversation with regard to her lover, she, coming to know his family and name from Balachandrika, was overcome with intense love (with the fall of Cupid’s arrows), and began to grow emaciated day by day, like the crescent of the moon in the dark half of the month, from the pangs of separation. She gave up taking food and her other daily pursuits, and in her secret chamber restlessly rolled her creeper-like (slender) frame on a bed formed of (tender) leaves and flowers wetted with sandal-juice. Her female friends, seeing the delicate princess in that state withering with the fire of love, and feeling very sad, tried to cool her body, with materials for relief from the torment, such as water prepared for her bath, mixed with sandal, usira and camphor and kept in gold vessels, garments of lotus-fibres, and fans of lotus-leaves. Even that application of cooling reeds simply [causes] fire to appear on all sides in her body like water dropped in heated oil…(the princess) of delicate limbs was affected by the highest stage of the feverish condition of love” [1, 250-1]

 The Dasakumaracarita is a must read for any lover of great literature, particularly the Classical and  Indic. To understand the poetics and art of rhetoric that helped craft such perfect prose-poetry, Acharya Dandin’s own treatise must be read.

The Kavyadarsa

kavyadarsaThe Kavyadarsa promulgates and expounds many canons of poetic composition which show that its author had refined notions about style and its functions [1, xv]

Dandin’s work on poetics is itself poetic. Literally meaning ‘Mirror of Poetry’, the Kavyadarsa imbues us with knowledge of kavya and alankara-sastra (rhetoric) in a language redolent with the art of poesy Dandin himself extols. It is one of the earliest works on Alankara [2,ix].  Rather than being a boring list of categories and a lexicon of terms, it is fluidly composed and easy to read and digest even for the unschooled. A work of poetics that is itself poetry, it commences in appropriate fashion.  It is tradition in Sanskrit literature to begin with a benediction.

Pariccheda I

Chaturmukha mukhaambhojavana hamsavadhur mama

Maanase ramataam nityam sarvasuklaa Sarasvati P.I,S.1

May the lovely lady swan that sports among the lotus-mouths of Brahma, the all-white Sarasvati roam for ever in delight in the lotus-pool of my heart. [2,1]

Goddess Sarasvati is particularly praised by poets of all ranks, as she is the fountain of knowledge, truth, and speech. As for the work itself, it is divided into three Paricchedas, or sections. First and foremost in the first Pariccheda, where he stresses grammar, and how it is critical to understanding and evaluating poetry.

He then moves on to discuss the body of a poetic composition.

This (body) is classified threefold, as Padya, as Gadya as Misra (i.e. as verse, as prose and as a mixture of prose and verse). Verse has four feet; and (again) it is divided into two classes Vrttam and Jati (according to Varna and Matra respectively).” [2, 6]

Types of verse include Muktata, Kulaka, and Sanghaata, and are dealt with collectively as part of the Sarga-bandha. The truly great work of Poetry is the Mahakavya (Great Poem). A type of this is the Sarga-bandha, which is” a Mahakavya that has a beginning with a benediction or indication of contents, it deals with purusharthas and has one of the four types of heroes. It describes the various phases of romance between great lovers, their journeys, trials and tribulations, uses rasa and bhava, has reasonable size chapters and will survive several kalpas. [2, 8-10]

In contrast to poetry is prose, which is a sequence of words not constructed in metrical feet. Prose is divided into Akhyayika and Katha. The former, according to Dandin, is told only in the first person (from the mouth of the hero), while the latter may be told by all. The last type of literary body is Misra, which is a mix of prose and verse, usually in Nataka (dramatic) form and in Campu verse. Literature was further divided into four linguistic classes. [2,16]

“Samskrtam is the name of the celestial language which has been used by great sages; Prakrtam is divided into many ways as Tadbhava, Tasama and Desi.

In such language is the ocean of gemlike saying Setubhanda and other works.” [2,17]

In Poems, languages, like the Abhira and the like are considered as Apabhramsa; but in the sastras … any language other than Samskrtam is considered Apabhramsical. “[2, 18]

Sarga-bandha and other types of similar verses are Samskritam, Skanda and similar types are considered Prakritam, Aasara and others are Apabhramsa, and Nataka and others are considered Misrakam (due to their mixed linguistic nature).

Dandin then continues,  explicating the path of word being twofold, the path of Vidarbha and the path of Gauda.

He describes the Vidarbha as having the characateristics of “Slesa (compact), prasada (charity), Samata (evenness), Madhuryam (sweetness), Sukumarata (elegance), Arthavyakti (expressiveness), Udaratvam (excellence), Ojas (vigour), Kanti and Samadhi (structure)”[2,21]

Gauda is referred to the as the opposite of these. Slistam is when the letters are not loose and not of small breath-value while Sithilam is loose. The latter is a key part of the Gauda and adds dignity to the composition. For the uninitiated, Gauda may be deemed cumbersome, compound (sandhi), and consonant, while Vidarbha is light, short-syllabled, and easy to grasp. Evenness of composition, or samatam, is divided into Mrdu, Sphuta and Madhyamam (soft, hard and medium).

He criticizes easterners as effecting a want of evenness in literature stating “unnevenness and desiring the display of pompous embellishments, the series of Kavyas of the Paurasyas (easterners) have developed.” I guess some reputations haven’t changed! It is the general poetry of his poetic work, and witty remarks like this, that truly make Dandin a delight to read. Indeed, he moves on by extolling sweetness (Madhurya) as the flavour in words and in sentiment. The wise, he says, are like bees in that both are intoxicated with honey. The related concept is Anuprasa, which is word sequences that conveys flavour or sentiment (rasa) through evenness with prior words. [2, 29]

Examples of Anuprasa in words and metrical feet are then given, followed by descriptions of Sruti and Saithilya. Sruti here is sequences of similar sounds and saithilya is want of coherence of sounds rugged in build. The recurrence of the same sequence of sounds in uneven fashion is called Yamaka (alliteration, i.e. consonance and assonance). Daksinatyas (Southerners) did not like incoherence of sounds. It appears the South’s reputation for stricture and conservatism was intact back then as well!

Perhaps the most critical sloka on poetics for our era of vulgar parvenu poetry is the following:

Granting that all arts of speech (Alankara), and delectableness to the idea (conveyed) it is the absence of vulgarity of expression alone that is mostly responsible for delectableness” [2, 33]

Gramya is vulgarity in expression examples of this are given, as well as the opposite. The Acharya is very critical of vulgarity but also of unnecessary and overly complicated constructions to appear intelligent.

There has been a tendency, which Dandin appears to attribute to pretentious easterners, to preference difficult to pronounce compound words (sandhi) under the impression that they constitute grandeur.  He exhorts that it is only by Sukumarata, tenderness (i.e. use of non-harsh letters) rather than over-embellishment that we get approval in the minds of the good. [2,39]

Moving on, he describes Udara as when all sequence of words find their excellence when the word sequence’s excellence is clear, while “Ojas [vigour] is in abundance of compound words. This is the soul of Gadya (prose;) in verse Padya also for the non-Southerners this alone is the goal” [2, 43]

While kantam (not straying from standard meanings) is mentioned, most important, according to Dandin, is the concept of Samadhi. It is structural embellishment or the simultaneous application of many characteristics.

The guna or characteristic of poetry called Samadhi is the very treasure-house and constitutes the entire wealth of poetry. The entire group of poets follows (and uses) this characteristic.”[2, 53]

Pariccheda II

dhwani-theory-and-alamkara-9-638

The Second Pariccheda focuses on Alankaras proper. This is the critical aspect of poetry that makes embellishment possible and sets it apart as an high art. But why explain what an old master does better:

They give the names of Alankaras to the characteristics, which render kavyas attractive. These characteristics are even to-day diversified anew; who then can treat of them exhaustively?” [2, 57]

The old masters have shown the following alankaras (figures of speech: -Realistic expression, simile, metaphor, light, repetition, objection, illustrative citation, differentiation, cause terseness, hyperbole, conceit, reason, subtlety, minuteness, sequence, felicity, provoking sentiment, vigour, paraphrase, unison, sublimity, denial, paronomasia, specialty, equation, direct praise, concealed praise, conjunctive expression, exchange, benediction, confusion and expressiveness. Realistic expression also called Jati or group description is the first alankara and describes the actual forms of different conditions of objects.” [2, 59]

Dandin moves on to discuss realistic expression of species (Jati), of action (Kriya), of characteristic (Guna) and of substance (Dravya). He then provides an entire section on the various and numerous types of upama, that is simile. This is delightfully done with poetic examples of this essential aspect of poetics. As it is too long to reprint here, we will merely list the different types of simile:

There is the simile of quality (Dharmopama), the simile of object (Vastupama),the transposed simile (Viparyasopama), the simile of mutuality (Anyonyopama), the simile of exclusive determination (Niyamopama), the simile of indetermination (Aniyamopama), the multiple simile (Sauccayopama), the hyperbolic simile (Atisayopama), the simile of conceit (Utpreksopama), the simile of wonder (Adhbutopama), the simile of delusion (Mohopama), the simile of doubt (Samsayopama), the simile of certainty (Nirnayopama), the paronomasiac simile (Slesopama), the simile of exactness (Samaanopama), the simile of contempt (Nindopama), the simile involving praise (Prasamsopama), simile involving the desire to express (Acikhyaasopama), the simile involving opposition (Virodhopama), the simile involving exclusion (Pratisedhopama), the simile of truthful expression (Asaadhaaranopama), the simile of impossibility (Adbhutopama), the simile involving statements contrary to nature (Asambhaavitopama), the simile of super-excellence (Vikriyopama), the simile in a series (Maalopama), the simile of sentences (Vaakyarthopama),  the simile stating the object (Prativastupama), the simile of equalising (Tulyayogopama), and finally the simile involving a statement of the reasons (Hetupama). [2, 62-82].

While many figures of speech may seem similar to the simile, there is a rule in Sanskrit poesy that a simile cannot be in verbs. This is the word of the Aaptas (or authoritative writers). [2, 148]

As one can see, the exhaustive and methodical classification of the simile, so elementarily treated in english, reaches a near-impossible level of sophistication. Perhaps it is not for nothing Alankara, like the sastras, are ultimately credited to divine beings in the Classical Indic Tradition.

Next, Dandin describes the Metaphor. Simile itself where the difference is implicity is called the metaphor, for example, arm-creeper, palm-lotus, foot-tendril” [2, 84]. There are 66 types of compound metaphors, which for reasons of brevity, won’t list here. The sanskrit word for metaphor is rupakam. The numerous varieties are so copious, there is even a rupaka-rupakam or metaphor on metaphor. [2, 94]

We move on from the two major concepts to other types of Alankara. The concept of Dipakam (or light) is unique as it is the notion of a word helping the entire sentence through jati (genus), kriya (action), guna (quality) or dravya, which is the subject-matter.[2,96] Avrtti, or repetition, is then discussed along with its assorted types and uses both in word and meaning. Aaksepa, which is objection and has a variety of classes. Interestingly, of the different types of objection includes anujnaksepa, that is objection in the form of apparent permission–a phenomenon with which married men the world over are all too familiar! Indeed, the section on Aaksepa is a veritable playbook for a woman in a relationship to influence her beloved!

Then there is illustrative citation (arthantara-nyaasa). Assorted figures of speech are used to express ideas by citing other objects such as those that are universally applicable (visvavyaapi), special (visesastha), panoro-masiac (slesa-viddha), having opposition (virodhavaan), incongruous (ayuktakaari ), fitting (yuktatma), partly incongruous and partly fitting), and contrary (viparyaya). [2, 123]

Acharya Dandin asserts that “Reason (hetu) and subtlety and minuteness (suksma and lesa) constitute the best alankaras of words” .[2,151] This is because a slight reference to a thing discloses (lesa) both indicates and excites the imagination.Correspondingly, Ingita and Aakaara are mentioned as facial gesture and condition of the body respectively. [2,163] Paryayoktham is the paraphrase .[2,178] Drstantam is defined as illustration.

Udaattam (sublimity) is the alankara used to express the pre-eminent greatness of a person, both his qualities and his riches. Apahnuti is denial and is used to great effect in order to enhance the description. [2,184]. Slistam is paronomasia, or words with a single form but many meanings [2,187]. Indeed, there is an entire sub-section on specialty, which again, for brevity’s sake, we will leave at here.

Among other interesting concepts include variations of ninda (insult/deprecation) and praise, stuti. There are numerous categories of stuti, such as Aprastuta-prasamsa (indirect praise) and Vyaajastuti (concealed praise). Concealed praise is where it is in the form of despise and virtues are described through mention of vices.

With all these alankaras, or embellishments, Dandin uses examples to not only illustrate, but to very frequently entertain. What could easily have been an exhausting effort because engagingly educative.

Pariccheda III

In the third pariccheda, Dandin moves on to the more structural aspects of poetics. He discusses recurrences of letters (Yamaka) and various types of feet (pada), one through four. Types of recurrences are discusses such as Vyapeta-Yamaka (mediate recurrence) and Avyapeta (mixed recurrence of mediate and immediate). [2, 228]. This is described with great complexity with all the permutations and combinations of letter recurrences.

Finally, this magnum opus of poetics concludes with a veritable lesson in linguistics. From the listing of vowels to the various consonant types, it is highly detailed and worth a review. He also discusses Prahelikas (or Amusing Riddles). These are described as “useful in the entertainment of sportive assemblies; and by those who know them for the purpose of secret consultation in a crowd and for setting riddles to others” [2,262]. Once more, he goes into the technical aspects of riddles, and the various components and component types. In fact, there were as many as 16 types of Prahelikas.

Ten faults of artless poets are also discussed: Apaartham (or meaninglessness), Vyartham (or contrary meaning), Ekaartham (or identical in meaning), Samsayam (or doubtful meaning), Apakaaramam (or want of sequence), Sabdahinam (or wanting in word), Yatibhrastam (or absence of pause), Bhinnavrttam (or metrical defect). Visandhikam (absence of Sandhi, or pause) and impropriety in place, time, in branch of learning, etc.” (desadhi-virodhi,kala-virodha, nyaya-virodha, etc) [2, 276-7].  He nevertheless mentions how a clever poet can use any and all of the improprieties to lift up from the region of fault to the good qualities of poetry.

He concludes with concepts associated with love. Laya is the blending of tunes. Harmonious laya is said to promote Raaga or Love while”Utka and Unmanayantya both convey the longing of the beloved“. [2, 281]

Thus, with an exhaustive but easy-to-read treatise, Acharya Dandin explicates his educative exegisis on kavya and alankara-sastra. Fittingly, he ends with the following advice for would-be poets:

With his intellect, trained by this Path of guna and dosa (Excellences and Faults) shown according to the rules, the blessed person sports like a youth attracted by Words, who have loving eyes and who remain in his control; and he also obtains fame. [2, 305]

References:

  1. Kale, M.R. Dasakumaracarita of Dandin. New Delhi: MLBD. 2009
  2. Sastrulu, V.V., and Ed. Rabindra K. Panda. Kavyadarsah of Dandin. Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. 2008
  3. Das, Sisir Kumar. A History of Indian Literature, 500-1399: From Courtly to the Popular. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 2005. p.75

Nilambari’s Kutcheri: A Primer on Carnatic Music

A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on January 31, 2015


Carnatic Trinity: Muthuswamy Deekshitar,Thyagaraja & Syama Shastri

This is a post on the structure of a Carnatic music Kutcheri (a traditional musical performance gathering) accompanied by a virtual kutcheri that I have put together.

The Kutcheri format as we know it today is said to have started out in the 1920s. That is not to say that it didn’t exist before that.

Traditionally, a kutcheri starts with a varnam. A varnam is a composition which basically tells you the swaras (notes: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni–> Shadjam, Rishabham, Gandharam, Madhyamam, Panchamam, Dhaivatham, Nishadam) that are present in that particular ragam both in the arohana (ascending scale) as well as avarohana (descending scale). It lays down the rules of how the various swaras can be combined in both the scales. It is split into specific parts and is a rather technical piece which lays out the rules for the development of a particular ragam. Thus the varnam is a composition which a student of carnatic music learns as a primer before going on to explore more elaborate nuances of ragas through kritis.

At this point let’s do a little more study of classical music. Carnatic music is made up of 72 fundamental ragas called the melakarta ragas or the janaka (giving birth) ragas or the parent ragas. All other ragas, and there are literally hundreds of them are derived (janya or given birth to) from these 72 janaka ragas. It just means that there are 7 swaras with  12 semi-tones in one octave. They are both in the ascending and descending scales combined in different ways to form these primary 72 ragas, i.e, these 72 ragas have the entire scale (Sa-Ni with their semi-tones) both in the ascending and descending scales. Hence they are called sampurna (complete) ragas. Janya ragas however are derived from these 72, meaning that they have have swaras left out from the parent. The number of swaras left out from the parent janaka raga can vary.

The list of the swaras and their semi-tones are like this: S, R1, R2=G1, R3=G2, G3, M1, M2, P, D1, D2=N1, D3=N2 and N3. Of these S and P do not have semi-tones.

In conjunction with swara is tala, which refers to the number and type of beats within a cycle. This is similar to the concept of meter and helps track the pace and time in a composition. There are 7 basic talams (Adi, Dhruva, Rupaka, etc), and 108 total talas, due to combinations with other factors known as angas and jathis.

I admit I have a fondness for the 28th Melakarta Raga called Harikambhoji. Many of the songs from the janyas of this raga are a favorite with me.

So, here’s my choice of varnam to start this personal kutcheri. I would love my kutcheri to start with this beautiful varnam called “Mathe Malayadhwaja”. Its not a traditional varnam nor an easy one, but its beautiful and captivating for me. So, here is Sudha Raghunathan singing “Mathe”, in raga Khamas, janya raga of the 28th melakarta raga Harikhamboji set to Adi talam.

Raga: Khamas

Arohanam: S M1 G3 M1 P D2 N2 S                                                  Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Following this, the kutcheri format prescribes one or two compositions of the trinity in Ghana ragams. We will have only one.

Who are the trinity?

The Trinity is a group of three composers who are known as the creators of almost all the compositions that are sung today. They are Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri, and  Thyagaraja. While the latter two are Telugu origin, Muthuswamigal is Tamizh. Though our common Bharatiya Saastriya Sangeeta is obviously very ancient, the Carnatic School is traced to Karnataka’s Purandara Dasa in the 1500s, during the Vijayanagara Empire. This title is highly deserved, but honorary as he is predated by a number of other composers. Northern and Southern Indian Schools diverged in the medieval period, and Carnatic remained essentially unaffected by foreign influences. North or South, Classical Indic Music originated in the Natya Sastra of Bharata Muni.

What are Ghana ragams?

First, there are eight Ghana ragams in Carnatic music. They are Nattai, Goula, Bouli, Reetigowla, Malavasri, Arabhi, Varali and Sri. They are so called because they are said to be able to effectively portray masculine emotions like shouryam (ferocity), veeryam (bravery), roudram (anger) and so on.

So with this information, here is my second offering in the kutcheri. This is in Raga Nattai, janya raga of the 36th melakarta ragam Chalanattai and sung once again by the supremely talented Sudha Raghunathan. The song is “Swaminatha paripalaya” set to Adi Talam. The composition is by Muthuswami Dikshitar.

Raga: Nattai

Arohanam: S R3 G3 M1 P D3 N3 S                                                   Avarohanam: S N3 P M1 G3 M1 R3 S

After this now we must have a composition in the shuddha madhyamam scale. Let us see what this is. This essentially means that the melakartas are divided into two types, the ragas which have shuddha madhyamam i.e, the first semi-tone of the swara M, M1 and those which have prati madhyamam or M2. So, now we have to select a raga that has shuddha madhyamam from one of the melakarta ragas. Let me choose my favorite melakarta raga Harikhamboji itself. It is after all my favorite one.

Here is the next offering from Balamurali Krishna in Harikhamboji. The song is called “Rama nannu brovara”, a Thyagaraja gem set to rupaka talam.

Raga: Harikhamboji

Arohanam: S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N2 S                                                   Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Moving on to a composition in the prati madhyamam scale, let us see what this means. As I stated earlier, the melakarta ragas are divided into two: the shuddha and the pratimadhyamam scales. In fact, the first 36 ragas in the melakarta are in the shuddha madhyamam scale and the second 36 in the prati madhyamam scale. The most common one is Kalyani, also called the Mechakalyani. This is the composition “Nidhichaala Sukhama” by Thyagaraja rendered by the peerless and timeless M.S. Subbalakshmi in adi talam. Do enjoy.

Raga: Kalyani

Arohanam: S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N3 S                                                   Avarohanam: S N3 D2 P M2 G3 R2 S

I cannot go on to the main composition without having my favorite raga in my kutcheri, can I? So, I will have a Dwijavanthi in my repertoire. This raga is a janya raga of the 28th melakarta raga Harikhamboji. The composition is “Akhilandeshwari” by Muthuswamy Dikshitar sung by the Trichur brothers. The composition is in adi talam.

Raga: Dwijavanthi

Arohanam: S R2 G3 M1 P D2 S                                     Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G3 M1 R2 G2 R2 S

Now we come to the main piece of the concert where the kutcheri format says that the composition should be a rakti/naya raga.

A rakti  or naya raga is called a feminine ragam. In fact, the entire set of ragams are classified as ghana ragams, rakti/naya ragams and desiya ragams.As we discussed earlier, ghana ragams are said to be masculine ragams. Desiya ragams are those that have been imported into the Carnatic school of music from either Folk music or the Hindustani school. Hence the rakti/naya ragams are those which are said to be feminine. This means that the large majority of ragams are feminine ragams which are said to be capable of portraying feminine emotions like karunam (compassion), sringaram (romance), vatsalyam (parental love) and so on. This is not to say that ghana ragams cannot portray feminine emotions or vice versa. For more on this, please refer to this excellent lecdem by Sri. R Visweshwaran.

This main piece is the one where the vocalist, the violinist and the percussionists all get to display their talents and can sometimes go for an hour. It is called the ragam-tanam-pallavi where the raga is first explored in all its nuances through the alapana (where the swaras comprising the raga are sung in a melodic form to set the mood of the raga). This is then followed by the tanam or the main part of the composition.

Tanam was first developed for the veena but began to be practiced by vocalists too, and it means expanding the raga rhythmically with the use of syllables like ta, nam, tom, aa and so on. In the tanam phase an extremely versatile and accomplished singer can also incorporate a few other ragas than the one s/he originally started out with. Then, in the pallavi section, the singer sings a single line and then explores it in different speeds. Finally, the percussionists are given the time to explore the rhythms in their turn and the whole can take about an hour or more. For more on this very complicated form of singing, please refer here.

Now, I present for your listening pleasure, a superbly crafted Ragam-tanam-pallavi by Sanjay Subramaniam. This comes with a warning however: The piece takes over an hour to listen to but I assure you its well worth the trouble 😉 . The composition is “Sabapathiku veru deivam” in raga Abhogi and rupaka talam. Raga Abhogi is a janya raga of the 22nd melakarta raga Kharharapriya. Gopalakrishna Bharati has composed this song.

Raga: Abhogi

Arohanam: S R2 G2 M1 D2 S                                                                   Avarohanam: S D2 M1 G2 R2 S

Before we end the kutcheri, after such an intense encounter with ragam-tanam-pallavi (RTP), we have to unwind and lighten the knots that we had got into. Its now time for some lighter yet melodious and easier pieces called tukkadas. Let us listen to two of them.

Sit back and enjoy a soothing, gentle and lilting “Hey Govind, hey Gopala” in raga Desakshi and rupaka talam. Suddha Desi is a janya raga of by now you know which melakarta!…yes, it is a janya raga of the 28th melakarta raga Harikhamboji. This divine song is rendered by the sister duo Ranjani-Gayatri and is composed by Surdas.

Raga: Suddha Desi

Arohanam: S R2 M1 P N2 S                                                                Avarohanam:  S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

Second to last in the kutcheri is another gem from the evergreen and ever remembered M.S Subbalakshmi. This time it is a ragamalika, meaning that the song is composed of multiple ragas. This one “Kurai ondrum illai”, is composed in three ragas Shivaranjani, Kapi and Sindhu Bhairavi. Shivaranjani and Kapi are janya ragas of the 22nd melakarta raga Kharaharapriya and Sindhubhairavi is a janya raga of the 10th melakarta raga Natakapriya. The composer of this song is the famous Indian politician and freedom fighter C.Rajagopalachari.

Ragamalika: Shivaranjani, Kapi and Sindhubhairavi

Raga: Shivaranjani

Arohanam: S R2 M1 P N3 S                                                                Avarohanam:  S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Raga: Kapi

Arohanam: S R2 M1 P N3 S                                                         Avarohanam:  S N2 D2 N2 P M1 G2 R2 S

Raga: Sindhubhairavi

Arohanam: S R2 G2 M1 G2 P D1 N2 S                                    Avarohanam:  N2 D1 P M1 G2 R1 S N2 S

Finally, we round off this kutcheri with the standard sign off raga which is Sowrashtram. The signature song is “Pavamana suthudu battu and here it is rendered by K. J Yesudas. Sowrashtram is a janya raga of the 17th melakarta raga Sooryakantam. It is a composition by Thyagaraja set in adi talam.

Raga: Sowrashtram

Arohanam: S R1 G3 M1 P M1 D2 N3 S                             Avarohanam:  S N3 D2 N2 D2 P M1 G3 R1 S

I hope you enjoyed the kutcheri as much as I did putting it together for you!!

References:

  1. http://www.ragasurabhi.com/carnatic-music/raga-comparisons.html
  2. http://www.shabda.co.in/?q=node/65
  3. Concert Format Sequence – Carnatic Music
  4. http://www.chennaionline.com/musicnew/CarnaticMusic/174th.asp
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melakarta
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janya
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_of_Carnatic_music
  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harikambhoji