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Sattva and Bharatanāṭyaṃ

The following Post was composed by Prakruti Prativadi. You can follow her on TCP.


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Abhinaya

Bharatanāṭyaṃ performances often standout for the striking and realistic portrayals of characters and their stories which are powerful and moving and live in the memory of the audience. Audience members even share their experience with the dancer, often telling how the dance made them teary-eyed, or get goose-bumps. The technique and theory of emoting and embodying characters is referred to as Abhinaya in Bharatanāṭyaṃ and Indian classical dances. The word ‘Abhinaya’ literally means carrying the meaning of the art to the audience. In Indian classical dances like Bharatanāṭyaṃ, the means by which this is done is significant, since the dancer must have expert knowledge of the Abhinaya techniques and nuances in order to genuinely embody and communicate the essence of the song to the onlooker and, most significantly, to awaken the Rasa experience in the spectator.

The general understanding of Abhinaya is that it is the emotive and expressive aspect of classical Indian dance. However, Abhinaya consists of more than just the enactment facet of Bharatanāṭyaṃ; Abhinaya consists of four major types. But before going into the technical aspects of Abhinaya and its varied uses, we must first understand the purpose of Abhinaya. The point of Abhinaya is not just to tell a story or play a role. Abhinaya is how the dancer awakens the Rasa experience in the audience. In Indian Aesthetics, Rasa is a supreme aesthetic experience and is the paramount aim in any classical dance performance and is described as a conscious-uplifting experience, in which the spectator feels a bliss-state that is similar to the bliss of Brahman knowledge.

“The experience of Rasa is similar to the experience of Brahman” – Abhinavagupta

Per the Natyashastra, a dance, drama, or music performance that does not generate Rasas and is not offered to the Gods is not really art and is Nīca (vulgar). This kind of performance will not benefit either the audience or the performers. According to Bharata, no meaningful communication can exist without producing Rasa.

Rasa is not limited to the stage or court; Rasa comes from a set of conditions the dancer creates. Rasa is born after the generation of many and varied Bhāvas (mental and emotional states) that differ based on the character and circumstance. Rasa is awakened in the spectator as result of:  Vibhāvas (determinants), Anubhāvas (consequent reactions), Vyabhicāri (impermanent mental states), Sāttvika (with Sattva) and Sthāyi (permanent mental state) Bhāvas emerging first. According to Bharata, Abhinavagupta, Śārṅgadeva, and other scholars, the Rasa experience is the ultimate purpose of Nāṭya (dance, drama and music). Without Rasa, the performance does not bring a benefiting and lasting effect to the onlooker. Rasa experience is filled with joy and is akin to the knowledge of Brahman.

The Rasa experience stays with the audience for some time even after the performance has concluded; the audience wants to experience it again. During the Rasa experience, the very consciousness is transformed to reflect the true inner Self. The concept of Rasa is ancient and found in the Vedas and Upanishads. For example, the Taittriya Upanishad declares that: Raso vai Saha: Rasa (is) Him (Brahman).

Rasa is not isolated to dance, but also exists in poetry, music and drama. The dances of temples, performed by Devadāsis and in some cases even temple priests also have the same goal of generating Rasa in the onlooker because these dances are not just rituals, they generate Bhāvas which result in Rasa; the Devadāsis also offered their dances to the Divine Gods, which is the same motive of the dance performed on the Raṅga (stage) described in the Nāṭyaśāstra. There is no difference in purpose between the dance described in the Nāṭyaśāstra and the dance of the temples.

Abhinaya consists of four types:

Āṅgika Abhinaya: Using the body, including the arms, hands, feet, legs, torso, face, and head in dramatic representation.

Vācika Abhinaya: Dramatic portrayal through the use of speech, in Bharatanāṭyaṃ Vācika Abhinaya consists of the songs and compositions that are danced.

Āhārya Abhinaya: Consists of make-up, jewelry, flowers, props and accessories used by the dancer to aid in dramatic portrayal.

Sāttvika Abhinaya: Emoting and portrayal of characters and situations through Sattva.

All these types of Abhinaya are essential to generate the Bhāvas and awaken Rasa in the audience. Amongst these, however, the more intangible and indefinable type is undoubtedly Sāttvika Abhinaya. Sāttvika Abhinaya is portrayal that is full of Sattva. This is a crucial ingredient, because it is required to genuinely embody the Bhāvas that will generate Rasas.

Bharata states that a successful performance is not one in which the dancers win awards or gain materially but one in which the Rasa experience was powerful and experienced by the audience. This is the measure of Siddhi (success) that Bharata emphasizes.

Sattva

“One must take particular care of Sattva… for Abhinaya resides in Sattva” -Nāṭyaśāstra 

Sāttvika Abhinaya, as the Nāṭyaśāstra states is an intangible but vital element in generating the Bhāvas and Rasas. Generating Rasa in the audience is not a simple task. The dancer must possess the technical skill, imagination, intellect and a certain state of mind to be able to embody the characters, stories, and movements that evoke Bhāvas and Rasa. According to the Nāṭyaśāstra and other dance treatises, like Saṅgīta Ratnākara, in order to evoke Rasa in the audience, the dancer’s mind and consciousness must be in a state of Sattva.

“Sattva can only be accomplished by a tranquil, peaceful and concentrated mind” -Nāṭyaśāstra

Bharata and Abhinavagupta emphasize that a performance without Sattva will not move the audience and will not produce Bhāvas and Rasas, and thus, will be unsuccessful and meaningless.

Sattva is a Sanskrit word that has no direct translation in English or non-Indian languages. Interestingly, even Indologists like A.B. Keith, agreed that Sattva has no translation. So, what does Sattva mean?   Sattva is a concept that is present in other ancient Hindu philosophical and sacred works like the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and is important in the Hindu worldview and in Hindu practices. Sattva is one of the three Guṇas (attributes, qualities, threads, tendencies); the other two are Rajas and Tamas.

Sattva Guṇa is one that is bright, pure, luminous, buoyant, happy and stainless. Under the influence of Sattva, the mind is calm, unagitated, filled with Śraddha, steady, and reflects the Self (Brahman). A person with a Sāttvic mind renounces the results of his or her actions; in other words, actions motivated by Sattva are offered to the Supreme. As the Nāṭyaśāstra makes clear in the very first chapters, Nāṭya, which consists of Indian classical dance, drama and music, whether performed on a stage or in a temple must be an offering to the Divine Gods.

Rajas is agitation, activity, pain, egotistic, seeking sense-pleasures, and Tamas, is dark, inert, lazy, indifferent and exhibits low passions and tendencies. Our actions are controlled and directed by the mind exhibiting a combination of these three Guṇas.

Sattva also means Rajas and Tamas are not present. When the mind is purified, it is Sāttvic and in a state of Śānti and Ānanda and is able to reflect the Self (Brahman). The Rasa experience itself, is likened to the bliss of Brahman knowledge. Sattva modifies the consciousness to bring out Rasa.

In the Nāṭyaśāstra, Bharata describes eight Sāttvika Bhāvas which are:  paralysis, sweating, goose-bumps, change in voice, trembling, pallor, weeping and fainting. According to Bharata, these Sāttvika Bhāvas give genuineness and realism to the dance and make the audience to become one with the performance, hence generating Bhāvas and Rasa. Bharata states that in order to embody the Sāttvika Bhāvas, the dancer’s mind must be in a state of Sattva – purified of the Rajasic and Tamasic attributes.

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Thus, a prerequisite to an outstanding dance performance is that the dancer must accomplish a state of Sattva before the performance and maintain this state of mind during the performance to generate Rasa. How does the dancer go about preparing the mind to be Sāttvic? It is not just a matter of motivating oneself through pep talks or having a few minutes of quiet solitude before the performance. These, of course, can help and all Bharatanāṭyaṃ dancers, to some extent, will use these techniques. But to have the mind in a state of Sattva prior to and during the performance, the dancer would need more than just motivational techniques, and this observation did not escape the perceptive Bharata.

Yajña

So how does a dancer get into the state of mind that has Sattva? The third chapter of the Nāṭyaśāstra is dedicated to explaining, in detail, a series of Pūjās and a Homa that the dancer and musicians should perform. In these instructions, Bharata clearly states that these Pūjās and Homa are the equivalent of performing a Yajña and will help the dancer achieve a calm mental and conscious state necessary for a successful performance. Siddhi or success in a performance, per Abhinavagupta and Bharata, does not mean winning banners (prizes) or material objects, but Siddhi of the performance occurs if the audience witness compelling Bhāvas and experience the different Rasas.

Therefore, these Pūjās and Homa are not robotic superstitious ritualistic acts; they are a science of connecting one’s own consciousness to the Supreme consciousness. They are an offering and a means for the artists to transform and purify their inner-selves to be Sāttvic.

In these pre-performance sacred activities, Bharata details how the Raṅga (stage) must be constructed according precise measurements depending on the type of Nāṭya to be performed. Significantly, the Vedi (altar) of a Yajña must also be constructed in a precise shape with exact measurements depending on the type of Yajña performed. Bharata then specifies how the dancer must sanctify this stage, and even the entire theatre where that audience will be seated, the dancer should then do a Pratiśṭāpana (sacred installation) of the Gods on the stage, and do a Pūjā to each one of these Deities in a certain order and with particular sacred Mantras. The dancer must sprinkle sanctified water on each limb to purify the body and must partake of the Pūjā and Homa with the utmost Śraddha (belief, Bhakti, and diligence) in order to bring his or her mind into a state of Sattva.

These actions along with their subtle effects will give Siddhi (success) by preparing the dancer to be capable of a performance that is rich in Bhāvas and Rasas. These performances are a few hours long and in some classical dances, like Katakaḷi and Yakśagāna, last through the night, so the dancer needs to muster tremendous energy, enthusiasm and concentration. The musicians too must do a Pūjā to their instruments. In effect, the stage and entire theater (where the audience are seated) become a temple, with the consecration of Deities and Pūjās and finally with the performance of the Homa. Bharata instructs that the point of doing the Pūjās and Homa are to offer the performance (dance) itself to the Devatās. This, advises Bharata, will bring Siddhi (success) to the performance.

Among these preliminary activities, the Homa (similar to a Yajña) is of distinct interest and serves a special purpose. Yajñas are ancient Vedic practices that are transformative and have subtle effects on the consciousness of the performer. Homa derives from and is an adaptation of a Yajña, but a Homa is performed in Pūjās to specific Gods. Both feature a specifically constructed altar, sacred fire and sacred materials. Yajña comes from the root word Yaj which means offering, reverence, adoration and bestowing. A Yajña and Homa, are Tyāga (offering) of Dravya (special sacred material) to the Devatās (Gods). They are complex activities that have subtle and powerful effects. Every offering during the Yajña and Homa results in Apūrva Śakti, which is a subtle effect and hidden power of an action (Karma) on the person who is the beneficiary of the offering. Thus, Yajñas and Homas have an effect on the one who performed it in a subtle manner, by affecting the Śaktis (energies, powers) of that person. Every action produces a Śakti which will produce a result. The dancer and musicians are transformed by the Homa; they exhibit Sattva and subtle energies as a result.

VedicYajnaIt is no coincidence that the Nāṭyaveda (classical dance, drama and music codified in the Nāṭyaśāstra) directly derive from the four primary Vedas contain Vedic ceremonies. Furthermore, Bharata states that performing these Pūjās and Homa is the same as performing a Yajña and the same benefits will be received. Here we see the beautiful connection between the preliminary activities of the performance and the performance itself because the Bharatanāṭyaṃ performance is also a Yajña. The Yajña conducted prior to the performance is a transformative experience for the dancer and musicians, and the Yajña of the dance performance itself is a transformative experience for the audience because they will experience Rasa bliss. Thus, Indian classical dances are themselves an offering, a Yajña conducted by the dancer on a specially built Raṅga (stage) and offered (Tyāga) to the Gods with love, Śraddha and Bhakti. In this case, the Dravya, or sacred material, is the dance which is offered to the Devatās. The ones who enjoy the fruits (Rasa bliss) of the Yajña are the attuned and receptive spectators (called Sahṛidaya).

HomaSome of the above Pūjās are done even to this day. Today’s dancers sanctify the stage and consecrate Mūrtis on the stage and perform a Pūjā offering the performance to the Gods. The Pūjās are offered to Ganapati and Nataraja and Saraswati and Vishnu. The Ārati is done, the sacred dance anklets (Gejje or Śalangai) are worshipped, the musicians also worship their instruments. This is not a mere ritual, but is the time when the dancer, Naṭavanār and musicians come together to conduct the Pūjā with Śraddha and Bhakti and offer the performance to the Gods. Dancers look forward to performing this Pūjā, taking it seriously, performing it with the utmost Śraddha and reverence because it brings them inner Śānti, happiness, and connects them to the Gods. In effect – it makes their mind Sāttvic, which is then reflected in the dance. After the Pūjā, the artists remain in this state of mind, now fully immersed in the art, centered, calm and ready for a rigorous and demanding Bharatanāṭyaṃ performance.

 Bhakti

Therefore, Bharatanāṭyaṃ (and other Indian classical dances) are not practiced by merely perfecting techniques and movements, facial expressions or time and rhythm. Traditional practitioners of Bharatanāṭyaṃ know that they require total immersion into the art and its philosophy, must have Bhakti and humility and reverence to dance successfully. A person who may know the technical movements of Bharatanāṭyaṃ but lacks these Sāttvic attributes such as Śraddha and Bhakti is not qualified to do the dance. Śārṅgadeva states that only one who is pure in mind (Sattvic) can be a dancer. The Devadāsis had this intrinsic Śraddha, and they certainly understood Rasas and Bhāvas. Theirs was not a mechanical ritualistic dance devoid of Rasa. The great exponent dancer Bala Saraswati, a Devadāsi, emphasized the importance of Bhakti as an integral requirement for Bharatanāṭyaṃ:

Bharatanāṭyaṃ is grounded in bhakthi…. In fact bhakthi is at the center of all arts of India. Our music and dance are two offerings to God…This experience may only occur once in a while but when it does for that little duration, its grandeur enters the soul not transiently but with a sense of eternity. As one gets involved in the art, with greater and greater dedication, one can continuously experience throughout the few hours of the dance, the unending joy, this complete well-being, especially when music and dance mingle indistinguishably.” – Bala Saraswati

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Shree Bala Saraswati. Eminent danseuse.

The ancient dance treatises have noted that a person best fit to dance is one who learns with Śraddha and Bhakti. Many expert Bharatanāṭyaṃ dancers and Nāṭyācāryas have observed that if a student does not have Bhakti, their dance is not genuine and has a mundane quality to it and few, if any, Bhāvas are produced. For example, if the dancer does not have Bhakti for Śri Kṛṣṇa, how can they embody the episode in which Yaśoda saw the entire universe in his mouth, and was overcome with awe and emotion? How will the non-believing dancer produce the Bhāvas that are required to generate the Rasa in the audience?Abhinaya is not a mere enactment, it is an exalted, lofty, glorified reenactment that will produce Bhāvas and the Rasa experience.

If the dancer interjects her personal opinions and portrays characters such as Sītā and Rāma through a non-Dharmic lens, the result will not be Sāttvic but a pale imitation, a counterfeit, and will not have any lasting effect on the onlooker and the Yajña of Bharatanāṭyaṃ will be a failure. The dancer must be in total sympathy with the character’s viewpoint and beliefs to embody that character authentically. This does not imply that these dances are somber and boring. Quite the contrary, Bharata states that a successful performance brings about happiness, entertainment, diversion, and knowledge to the onlooker and should generate all of the Rasas (Śṛṅgāra, Hāsya, Karuna, Vīra, Bhayānaka, Bībhatsa, Raudhra, Adbhuta and Śānta).

Philosophy, Language and Tradition

To do justice to the complex songs and poems that are danced, the dancer should do a serious study of the different philosophies of Hinduism. This understanding needs to be deeper than a superficial knowledge of the main features of Hinduism. Knowing the composer’s philosophical leanings to will help the dancer understand the significance of their compositions. As an example, many are familiar with Vaiṣṇavaism, however, there are different schools of Vaiṣṇavaism and their core philosophies have subtle variations that are significant nonetheless. For instance, the Vaishnavism of Sri Vaishnavism, Gauḍiya Vaiṣṇavaism, and the Brahma Sampradāya of Madhvācārya may seem the same, but in fact, they have significant differences and comprehending these will aid the dancer to authentically embody the compositions of those respective philosophies.

For example, the sacred poems of Ānḍāl follow the Śri Vaiṣṇava school whereas Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Purandara Dāsa reflect the Gauḍiya and Madhva schools of Vaiṣṇavaism respectively. Not fully comprehending these subtle differences will lead to missing the beautiful meanings and themes of the songs and even blatantly misinterpreting them in the dance. Ānḍāl’s Tirupāvai has profound meaning as does Gīta Govindaṃ of Jayadeva; however, the refined nuances in these compositions cannot be missed if the dancer wishes to bring about the right Bhāvas and Rasas. The same is true of Śaivism and Smārtism. How can a dancer embody Nirguṇa Brahman without understanding what this profound concept is and the difference between Nirguṇa and Saguṇa Brahman?

Hand-in-hand with this philosophical comprehension, is the practice of the customs and rituals that embody these philosophies. Hindu philosophy is embodied in Hindu practices and customs; they are not just rituals. Just like the Yajña, they are transformative experiences and have effects on the consciousness of the doer. An academic study or an observation of Hindu rituals or interviews with practitioners is woefully inadequate to understand them. These customs and traditions can be understood by experienced and performing them with Śraddha and Bhakti. Therefore, practitioners of these customs are best suited to portray them, because they are not conscious-less ceremonial activities.

CompositionsAndal

This brings us to a vital requirement to dance Bharatanāṭyaṃ and Indian classical dances. Since, as stated by Bharata and other scholars, the dancer’s mind should be Sāttvic and in total understanding with the characters, philosophies and customs and traditions of Hinduism, knowledge of the language in which the compositions are written is crucial. The traditional practitioners of Bharatanāṭyaṃ, Naṭavanārs and Devadāsis, were fluent in several languages and well-versed in our philosophy and traditions. The classical compositions are complex and difficult to comprehend even for a person fluent in the language in which they were composed. However, trying to understand the meaning of a composition by translations, especially from an Indic language to English (or other non-Indic language) will not be sufficient. Knowing another Indic language is helpful, but a dignified study is required with the aid of an expert in that language. Understanding the colloquialisms of the language and a detailed explanation of the philosophy and narrative is critical.

Even dancers who know the language often must do a diligent and serious study of the composition. English translations fall short in conveying the composer’s viewpoint and themes that are embedded in the cultural mores which the native language naturally communicates. These compositions are lofty and refined, and contain much symbolism which will otherwise be missed. Understanding the song through the Dharmic viewpoint, from the composer’s perspective and the times in which they lived is essential to bring out the Rasa of these works. For instance, the composition ‘Yār Āḍinar, ina yevar Āḍuva?’ in Tamizh tells of the great Cosmic Dance of Nataraja. Another composition “Ānanda Kūtāḍinar” is also about Nataraja and His celestial dance. So, are these compositions essentially the same? Well, a closer study of the above two songs shows they are similar on a topical level but convey different themes and evoke different Bhāvas. Similarly, two famous songs of Purandara Dāsa, Jagadoddhāraṇa and O’ḍi Bāraiyya are about Sri Krishna as the Divine child. A sensitive study of these songs reveals they are dissimilar and portray two distinctly refined themes with powerful meanings. The great composer Tyāgarāja is renowned for his beautiful songs devoted to Sri Rāma, but one should not make the mistake in thinking that all these compositions are the same.

Bharatanāṭyaṃ dance, and all Indian classical dance, is a complex rich transformative knowledge system. Bharata has codified the foundations and details of the sacred Indian dances. These codes are purposeful and not optional. They contain a profound philosophical aesthetic that is manifested physically in our ancient dances. The dancer’s mind (Manas) should be transformed into a state of Sattva and remain so during the performance so that the audience experiences the Rasas, which is the ultimate aim of these dances. Bharatanāṭyaṃ and other Indian dances are Yajñas that have a deep lasting impact on the consciousness of the dancer and the Sahṛidaya audience. Understanding these core fundamentals is the foremost prerequisite in the journey to be an accomplished and successful dancer.

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About the Author: Prakruti Prativadi is a Bharatanāṭyaṃ dancer and Founder Director of Kalā Saurabhi Dance School in the US; she actively performs in the US and India. She has spent seven years researching the Nāṭyaśāstra and other Sanskrit texts on Indian aesthetics. She has written a book based on her research, Rasas in Bharatanāṭyaṃ, available on amazon.com


References:
  1. Ghosh, M.M. 2006. P. Kumar (Ed.) Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni. (Vols. 1-4). Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation.
  2. Prativadi, Prakruti. 2017. Rasas in Bharatanāṭyaṃ. South Charleston: Createspace.
  3. Sarangadeva, Sangītaratnākara. Adyar Library Series.
  4. Srinivas, P. N. 2000. Mathugalu [Talks on Kannada Literary Criticism, in Kannada]. Bangalore: Purogami Sahitya Sangha.
  5. Subrahmanyam, Padma. 1979. Bharata’s Art Then and Now. Bombay: Bhulabhai Memorial Institute. Madras: Nrithyodaya.
  6. Swami Harshananda. 2001. Vedic Sacrifices. Bangalore: Ramakrishna Math.

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Indic Civilizational Portal. The Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.

Copyright: Prakruti Prativadi. All rights reserved.

Classical Indic Literature V: Romantic Sanskrit Poetry 2

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In honour of Madan Utsav, Bharat’s true Festival of Romance, we bring you the second installment in our special set of articles from our Continuing Series on Classical Indic Literature.

Today we present to you our long planned Romantic Sanskrit Poetry 2.

This post features the famous Kavya of Mahakavi Kalidasa called Meghaduta.

Those of you following ICP would recall our inaugural Post on Romantic Sanskrit Poetry featuring Abhijnaanasaakuntalam. While the ‘Recognition of Sakuntala’ was a drama featuring beautiful poetry, Meghaduta is a lovely, lyrical poem that is pure romantic reverie. Perhaps no padya captures the longing of a husband for his wife like the ‘Cloud Messenger’. Indeed, if there were ever any question of Kalidasa’s poetic greatness, Meghaduta put it all to rest.

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Mahakavi Kalidasa

What is there to be said about Kalidasa that has not already been said? Quite a bit actually.

Kalidasa is a courtly poet, but his knowledge of the human heart and his understanding of the complex play of human motivation, are profound. A keen observer of nature in all its varied aspects—he sees with a painter’s eye and speaks with a poet’s tongue—he is at the same time a learned writer who wears his enormous learning lightly and with grace. [2]

Clearly there is a lesson in this legendary poet’s own approach. As alankara-sastra expert Acharya Dandin frequently decried, there is a proclivity toward pedantry, particularly in those subscribing to the school of Gauda. Mere show of learning is no real accomplishment. It is in the application of learning, to craft useful things which improve human life or via lucidly lyrical literature that lights up the soul. Along with learning, there is grace.

Kavi kula guru Kalidasa may have delighted us with his delightful dramas and romantic rupakas to remember. Abhijnanasaakuntalam, Vikramorvaseeyam, and Malavikaagnimitram may entertain us with their splendid stories. But if there is a piece that showcases the true genius of Ujjain’s most ardent devotee, it the one dedicated to a cumulus amicus. Meghaduta is that kavita that not only captures our heart but captivates our imagination.

“Kalidasa’s accomplishment is distinguished not only by the excellence of the individual works, but by the many-sided talent which the whole achievement displays. He is a dramatist, a writer of epic and a lyrical poet of extraordinary scope. In his hands the language attained a remarkable flexibility, becoming an instrument capable of sounding many moods and nuances of feeling; a language limpid and flowing, musical, uncluttered by the verbal virtuosities indulged in by many writers who followed him; yet, remaining a language loaded in every rift with the rich ores of the literary and mythical allusiveness of his cultural heritage. By welding different elements to create new genres, his importance as an innovator in the history of Sanskrit literature is clearly established.” [2,1]

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]

 

Great Plays of Kalidasa

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

Kalidasa would set standards of excellence in poetry for millennia. He imbues with life:

“Men of great stature, power and valour, and women of uncommon beauty and grace met by the heroes of epics and romances are often asked with admiring wonder if they are beings of divine origin: yaksas, gandharvas, apsaras. Apsaras, ‘born of the Waters’—the waters of creation (see note 8), are, like yaksa-yaksees, associated with life and fertility and seen as beneficent powers” [2,29]

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. It is here that our hero of poesy truly excelled. He inspired generations of not only litterateurs and litterateuses, who frequently referred to him, but women and men of the elite, princesses and princes, wives and husbands,  to great romantic deeds in the itihaas of shringaar. But why take my word for it, hear from another great poet of antiquity.

Bana author of the Kadambari exclaimed:

Who is not delighted when Kalidasa’s perfect verses spring forth in their sweetness, like honey-filled clusters of flowers?”[1]

Indeed, who is not delighted. But if you have yet to dip your tongue in the madhu-madya of Mahakavi’s poetry, then start with Meghaduta.

Composition
kalidasa-s-meghdutam-the-cloud-messenger
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Sringara (Romance) is also Part of our Culture. Perhaps no Poem says Sringara like Meghaduta. From its dazzling descriptions of the Indian Subcontinent to its pleasing poetry recounting its people to its captivating kavya capturing sentiment, it is truly the poem for the true Romantic.

Describing the separation of a semi-divine Yaksha from his wife, we learn of this heavenly being’s banishment to Earth for 1 year. With no friend or beverage in which to drown his sorrows, this servant of Kubera turns to a gracious Cloud whom he beseeches to be his messenger. Duta-kavya can be considered a genre of poetry in and of itself, dating back to the Ramayana, and Rama’s anointment of Hanuman to be his messenger to Sita. In fact, the Meghaduta itself alludes to Valmiki’s great epic with frequent mentions of its characters and place names. The nayaka (hero), like Rama, is not resentful of the originator of his banishment, and bears his exile with heroic forbearance. It is certainly inspired by the Adi-kavya, and possibly an outright homage to it. And it certainly aspires to its himalayan heights of resonant rasa.

“The chief goal of drama is to produce rasa, the aesthetic emotion, evoked by the appropriate mood built cumulatively through not only words, but also by mime and gesture, music and dance, costume and jewellery” [2,7]…and oh, does Kalidasa evoke it, not only in his dramas, but in this descriptive poem.

The Court Poet of Vikramaditya and the first poet among Romantic kavis not only sources scintillating Sringara rasa but stylises soka as the sthayibhava.

He uses the “stately” mandaakraanta metre in his messenger poem. With its 17-syllabled lines, it is considered the archetypal chanda for love-poetry and longing. Indeed, through its cadence, it conveys the loneliness and yearning of the yaksha. If that is the mood, then the ambience is dream-like, like the very cloud with which it is eponymous.

The Meghaduta is divided into the Purvamegha (earlier cloud, as in the cloud’s journey to Alaka puri) and Uttaramegha (latter cloud, the narrative when the journey to Alaka ends).

The Purvamegha has 63 slokas and the Uttaramegha has 52 for a total of 115.

While this article will concentrate on the Uttaramegha, which most superbly captures the vipralambha sringara (love-in-separation) of the a-namika yaksha and yakshi as well as the exhilaration of Alakaa-puri,  outstanding descriptions of the Indian Subcontinent’s landscape is given in the poem’s earlier half, the Purvamegha.

In the Poorvamegha the poet reveals the Yaksa facing a cloud, clasping a towering peak of Himaalayas, whom he thinks of making the bearer of a message to his lorn wife; for he was cursed by Kuvera his Lord, to be severed from his wife for dereliction of duty. He makes an offering of Kutaja flowers and water to the cloud.” [1, iii]

It is a sophisticated work of an veteran poet and arguably ranks with Kumarasambhavam in its maturity. Connections with the Ramayana aside, it stands out for the originality of approach and the breadth of geographic treatment. Indeed, this descriptive poem provides a veritable  tour of Bharatavarsha and connects the sacred and super-human with the everyday and historical.

In this poem, Kaalidaasa gives us a glimpse of Kailaasa, and the Himaalayan regions. His eye in a fine frenzy rolls over the ridges, cliffs, scarps, valleys, dales, glades and the gritty upland of that mountain. He delineates the story of a bereaved Yaksa in crystal-clear vignettes that are remarkable for their precision and romantic charm.” [1,iii]

Mountains, rivers, valleys & cities, all are veritably painted by his padya for our manasa. Although apsaric Alakaa is the abode of the hour, Avantika’s favourite penman is loath to lose an opportunity to dedicate his penmanship to it.

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]

Kalidasa’s reference to Ujjain in Meghadutam

 “to Ujjayinee glowing in splendor like a brilliant piece of Paradise

Come down to earth with traces of merits of dwellers in Paradise returning, the fruit of their good deeds almost spent.” [2,5]

For pedantic grammar-gyaanis and assorted Panchatantra murkha-panditas, an appropriate note regarding translation courtesy Chandra Rajan:

“Kalidasa’s poetry like much of Indian art is stylized. The Stylization is not a rhetorical procedure but part of the self-awareness with which the verse shapes itself. The translation therefore, has to be faithful, has to somehow contrive to be stylized and readable; to steer clear of a literalness of rendering as well as an identification of readability with contemporaneity.” [2,xvii]

In our time of jaded ennui and de rigeur poseurs, the Mahakavi revives the romantic with this refreshing tale of a lovelorn lover. Rather than the woman pining over the man, we find the husband pining over his wife.

The [cloud’s] message must be delivered at midnight, for the Yaksa’s fair and chaste wife passes sleepless nights, leaves her bed, sits in the highest window in the palace until the long to come daybreak comes. She is in no mood to enjoy the moonlight since she is neither fully awake nor asleep. Her lips go parch-dry, her hair grows coarse from want of oil; and her sleep is disturbed by tears so that she cannot dream of reunion. Such is the pitiful sight of the disheveled pining wife of the Yaksa that even the cloud would not fail to grow tender…The cloud is requested to bring back on his return a message from his beloved wife”  [1, xii]

C.R.Devadhar muses how interesting a sequel to Meghaduta would be, and what the return message from the Yaksa’s wife would be—perhaps there is a poem there to be composed by a skilled poetess yet to write…

And here, our journey into the author and his composition ends, and the selections from his celebrated poem begin. We now step into the heavenly realm of Himalayan Alakaa.

 Alakaa is a world created by our dreams and desires where time stands still and whose ways are untrodden by the unimaginative; where ‘sensual music’ fills the nights to overflowing under the moonlight (Megh.66,68). [2,26]

Selections
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meghaduta2
Artwork by Artist Nana Joshi

I. Tanvee syaamaa sikhari dasanaa pakva bimbaa daroshtee

Madhye kshaamaa chakita harirgipre kshargaa nimma naabhah |

Srorgee-bhaaraa-dalasa-gamanaa sthoka-nabhra sthanaabyaam

Ya tatra syaadhya vathivishaye srushtiraadhyova dhaathuh || UM.Sl.19

There resides my wife, the Creator’s prototype of a luscious woman, slender and youthful, with pointed teeth and lips red like bimba fruit, a thin waist and a glance like that of a startled deer; she has a deep navel, with a measured gait owing to the weight of the hips, and she is slightly stooping from the weight of her bosom. [1, 31]

§

 

II. Thaam jaaneethaah parimitha-kathaam jeevitam me dvitheeyam

Dooreebhoothe mayi sahachare chakravaaki-mivaikaam |

Gaadotkashtaam gurushu diva-seshveshu gacchatsu baalaam

Jaathaam manye sisira mathhithaam padhmineem vaanya-roopaam || UM.sl.20

In her recognize my very life, sparing in her speech and cut off from me like a chakravaaka [bird] from the spouse. Her heart overflows with longing as days pass heavily; I think she droops like a younger creeper in Winter’s rigour. [1, 31]

§

meghaduta1 Artwork by Artist Nana Joshi

 

III. Noonam yasyaah prabala-rudeetochoo nanetram priyaayaa

Nihsvaasaa-naama-sisiratayaa bhinna-varga- dharoshtam |

Hasta-nyastam mukha-masakalvyakti lambaala-katvaa

Dindor-dainyam tvadanu-sararga-klishta-kaante -bimbatim|| UM.sl.21

My darling’s eyes are swollen red by constant tears, the color of her lips fades by her burning sighs; her face rests upon her palms, hid by her long tresses. Indeed, she looks like the waning Moon enwrapped in the night’s folds. [1, 32]

§

MeetingInTheDream

Artwork by Artist Nana Joshi

IV. Nih-svaasenaadhara-kisalaya-klesinaa vikshipantheem

Suddha-snaanaat parushamalakam noonamaa-ganda-lambam |

Matsambhogah kathamapi bhavet-svapnajo’peethi nidraa

Maakaankshantheem nayanasa-lilot-peeda-ruddhaa-vakaasaam || UM.sl.28

Her delicate lips are scared by her fervid sighs. She spills her hair, grown rough and dry since she washes them in pure water without oil or scent. She longs for my embrace even though it be in a dream. But tears well up and destroy the relief which sleep could afford. [1, 34]

§

The message:

V. Srangenaangam-suthanu tanunaa gaada-taptena taptam

Saasrergaa-sradrutama-viratot-kanta-mutkantithena

Dheergocch-vaasam samadhi-katarocch-vaasinaa dooravartheem

Sankalpai-stair-visaati vidhinaa vairirgaa ruddha maargah || UM.sl.39

Obstructed by an angry and inexorable Fate, the distant one [your husband] seeks to unite with you, to mingle tears with tears, arms with arms, pining bodies, anxious heart to heart, sigh with sigh—such are his wishes. [1,38]

§
meghaduta4
Artwork by Artist Nana Joshi

VI. Syamaasvanga chakhita-hareergipre-ksharge drshtipaatham

Vaktrachaayaam sasini sikhinaam bahambaareshu keshaan

Utpasyaami prathanushu nadheevee-chishu bhroovilaasaan

Hanthai-kasmin kvachidhapi na te chandi syaadrsya masthi || UM.sl.41

I can detect a little of your form in supple vines

Your glances in the eyes of a startled doe, your face in the moon

Your tresses vie with peacock’s plumage

Your eyebrow’s graceful curve in the stream’s small waves [2, 38]

But do not frown…for in no object, is there full likeness, of you [1,39]

§

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DevadharKalidasameghadutaofkalidasa meghdoothindi


References:
  1. Devadhar, C.R. Works of Kalidasa: Volume II. Delhi: MLBD. 2010
  2. Rajan, Chandra. The Complete Works of Kalidasa: Volume 1 (Poets). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 2005
  3. Wilson, H.H. The Megha-Duta: The Cloud Messenger. London: Thurner & Co. 1867
Acknowledgement: My thanks again to the young voice actor for enacting this poetry recitation on short notice. 

Acknowledgment: The outstanding artwork by artist Nana Joshi can be found on this website. The poem was verily brought to life by these chitras.

*Minor Proofing for some translations

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

§

           Buy this Book Today!                     Buy this Book Today                         Buy this Book Today!

  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.