Tag Archives: High Culture

Classical Indic Literature V: Romantic Sanskrit Poetry

SringaraSanskritaKavya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romantic Sanskrit Poetry.

Composition

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

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

Sakuntala&Dusyanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abhijnaana-Saakuntalam

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

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

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

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

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

Author
MahakaviKalidasa
Mahakavi Kalidasa

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

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

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

 

Great Plays of Kalidasa

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selections
§

I.Sarvat aapsara sambhavaisha

Maanushishi katham va syaadrsya roopasya sambhava |

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

Truly born from a heavenly apsara

For what woman could give birth to such a lovely form

 

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

SakuntalaRecogntion2§

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

Akrutaarthe api manasije rati mubhaya-praarthanaa kurute ||

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

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

§

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

Yitaa vidambyate | tadhyatha

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

Snigdham veekshitam anyato’pi nayane yatpreyantyaa tayaa

Yaatham yach cha nithambayor guruthayaa mandham vilaasad iva |

Ma gaa ithyu-paruddhayaa yad api saa saasooyamuktaa sakhee

Sarvam Thathkila matparaayam aho kaamee svataam pashyati ||

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

§

IV. Chitre niveshye parikalpita sattva-yogaa

Roopa-uchchayena manasaa vidhinaa krutaa nu |

Stree-ratna srushtir-aparaa prathibhaathi saa me

Dhaatur-vibhutvam-anuchintya vapuscha tasyah ||

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

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

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

§

V. Anaaghraataṃ puṣpaṃ kisalayam aloonaṃ kara-ruhair

Anaaviddhaṃ ratnaṃ madhu navam anaasvaadita-rasam |

Akhaṇḍaṃ puṣyaanaaṃ phalam iva ca tad-roopam anaghaṃ

Na jaane bhoktaaraṃ kamiha samupa-sthaasyati vidhiḥ ||

She seems a flower whose fragrance is yet unsavoured,

A gem uncut by workman’s tool,

A branch no desecrating hands have wasted,

Fresh honey, untasted and cool.

 

No man on earth deserves her beauty,

Her blameless loveliness and worth,

Unless he has fulfilled man’s perfect duty—

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

§

SakuntalaRecognition

VI. Priye

Smruthi bhinnamoha tamaso dhishtayaa pramukhe sthithaasi me sumukhi |

Uparaa gaante sasinaha samupa gathaa Rohini yogam ||

Oh Beloved,

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

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

§

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  abhignanasakuntalam   shakuntala_hindi__1.1473417981DevadharKalidasa

                                                                            

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

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

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

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

*Minor Proofing for some translations

Minute on the Indic Aesthetic

schooling-the-world-mp4_000194694

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

—Sallust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

true-sign-of-intelligence-imagination-einstein

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

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

paundraka

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

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

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

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

Image result for paundraka chakra

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lupa_Romulus_and_Remus
Lupa Capitolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

Discretion Part Drei

vishnu-sudarshan-chakra-durvasa-ambarish

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

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

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

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

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

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

kartavirya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

earthlyspiritualrna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buddhist account of gohatya

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

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

buddha

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

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

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

brahminbyconduct

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

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

ambarisha

 

References:

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

Aryan Invasion Theory Violates Vedic Tradition

AITAVAIDIKA

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

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

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

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

PortraitChelam

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

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

The following Excerpts are from various Books by Pandit Chelam


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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.

 

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

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

Dravida

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

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

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

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

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

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

AITshahmat-hhi

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

Aryan Invasion Theory violates Vedic Tradition.

References:

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

“An appeal to Young Indologists”

PKVCthePIIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kota Venkata Chelam

Author,

1-1-1957


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

bono

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

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

Emblem_of_India.svg


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

Discretion Part Deux

durvasa

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

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

ambarisha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

panchatantracover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kartavirya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have done my part. Will you?

vishnu-sudarshan-chakra-durvasa-ambarishReferences:

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

Classical Indic Literature II: Poetics

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


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

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

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

Poetics (A reintroduction)

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

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

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

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

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

Dasakumaracarita

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kavyadarsa

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

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

Pariccheda I

Chaturmukha mukhaambhojavana hamsavadhur mama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pariccheda II

dhwani-theory-and-alamkara-9-638

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pariccheda III

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

Nilambari’s Kutcheri: A Primer on Carnatic Music

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


Carnatic Trinity: Muthuswamy Deekshitar,Thyagaraja & Syama Shastri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raga: Khamas

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

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

Who are the trinity?

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

What are Ghana ragams?

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

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

Raga: Nattai

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

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

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

Raga: Harikhamboji

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

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

Raga: Kalyani

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

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

Raga: Dwijavanthi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raga: Abhogi

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

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

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

Raga: Suddha Desi

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

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

Ragamalika: Shivaranjani, Kapi and Sindhubhairavi

Raga: Shivaranjani

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

Raga: Kapi

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

Raga: Sindhubhairavi

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

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

Raga: Sowrashtram

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

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

References:

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

[Guest Post] Decoding the Intellectual Kurukshetra

The following Post was composed by Shivoham. You can follow him here on Twitter.


battlefield-of-kurukshetra

This blog is about contemporary India, but we start with a bit of European history.

Part-1: 20th Century Europe

Alan Turing 

In 1939, ace computer scientist, mathematician, and cryptanalyst Alan Turning decided to solve the challenging problem of cracking the German Navy version of the Enigma code. Why? In his own words: “because no one else was doing anything about it and I could have it to myself“. Thus, the great Alan Turing and his intrepid team at Bletchley Park, through hard work, intelligence, and ingenuity were able to crack the Enigma code, and helped turn the tide of World War 2. The story is well known today. At first, they were resource-strained, and by the time the intercepted messages were decoded and sent up the chain of command, the relevant events had already passed into history. However, thanks to an increase in human and computing resources, and equally important, by upgrading their own game, the cryptographers were able to eventually decipher the messages fast enough to reliably predict what would happen in the future. They had turned information on enemy movements into actionable intelligence. Pure gold dust. By closing this gap between interception and decoding, they were able to have a significant impact on the course of the war between the Allies and the Axis powers. So precious was their operation, their work was rated ‘Ultra’, even above ‘Most’ secret. Some of Alan Turing’s research findings were hidden from public view for 70 years and only published recently. Even beyond WW2, it appears that Enigma machines were sold to 3rd world countries that were unaware that their information could be tracked by the west.

enigma

The Nazi analysts themselves believed their Enigma encryption to be fool-proof, and it is acknowledged that in principle, they indeed were. However, overconfidence, and bad operational practices gave away enough clues to Bletchley Park, who were smart enough to take advantage of these lapses. Turing’s team was able to make risky predictions that turned out to be right. The allied command subsequently bet the lives of thousands of soldiers on their predictions. Theirs was a solid scientific approach supported by rigorous math and empirical testing, which allowed them to be confident in their predictions. However, if their predictions were wrong, many lives would have been in jeopardy due to faulty intelligence and their work would’ve been dismissed as pseudo-science.

What distinguishes Science from Pseudo-science?

Around 1919, Karl Popper, a western philosopher, began to actively ponder this demarcation. He narrowed down the distinction to one of testability. According to Popper, a scientific theory must be able to make somewhat risky predictions about the future. Others would try to falsify this theory, and if this falsification failed, the theory would gain credence. If the events did not happen as predicted, the theory would be weakened, and efforts would be made to either rectify the theory and re-test, or abandon it entirely. 97 years ago, Popper applied his principles to identify at least two theories popular in the West during that time as pseudo-science: the Marxist theory of history, and the Freudian psychoanalysis. Why? These theories simply did not fail! They could explain everything in the past with 100% accuracy, and were irrefutable. First-time viewers, to this day, find this ability to confirm quite irresistible. However, within a few decades of Marx’s theory, it failed the risky predictability test not once, but several times. Freudian analysis met the same fate. From this western perspective, it was classic pseudo-science (although, apparently Marx was confident enough to crown himself as ‘the Isaac Newton of Social Sciences‘). Arguably, Marxist theory or Freudian theory did not become obsolete over time, but were born blind. By brushing away these glaring failures to predict, scientist Karl became prophet Karl. As contemporary events show, ‘propheteering’ is much more lucrative and unimpeachable (compared to the scientific alternative of forecasting, where a 5% increase in error in predicting product sales may have your client pulling the plug on your project). Well, what on earth has all this to do with India? We discuss this in the next section.

Part-2: 21st Century India

Indology

Welcome to western Indology (India study). The major theoretical foundations of western Indology over the last few decades are, as you may have guessed, Marxist theory of history, and Freudian psychoanalysis! Completely unchallenged, totally unhindered by any need to test predictions, many (but not all, there a few good ones) Indologists have combined to build up an entire body of Indology literature based on these pseudo-sciences. Let us examine the nature of this literature constructed.

chakravyuha

The western approach to knowledge-building via math models employs rigorous theorem proving starting from a bunch of ‘self-evident’ statements called axioms. A ‘purva paksha’ of the way mathematics historically developed in the West would reveal, at least at a very high level, the contrast between the Euclidean western way of theorem-proving versus the Paninian Indian approach of rule-generation (refer to the talk and work by M. D. Srinivas and others). Infallible Western mathematics versus the explicitly fallible Indic Ganita (science of computations) is an interesting topic in its own right, which we will explore in-depth in this space later. The theorem-proving approach allows us to reliably extend existing results, without having to start from scratch each time. By maintaining rigor and by subjecting new ideas to rigorous predictive testing, one can minimize the fallibility of the entire system. Of course, if one of those axioms or proofs were to be found wanting in some future scenario, it can open up a can of worms.

This incremental approach of knowledge generation used in the hard sciences has been borrowed and applied by the west to social sciences as well, which as we have seen from the time of Prophet Karl, are pseudo-sciences. So we have journal papers quoting and extending the work of previous papers, results building on prior result, producing an incestuous body of Indology writing that can plausibly confirm any and all prior data about India, but is largely useless as far as reliably predicting ‘risky’ future events. Therefore, not only has this body of work not been useful, but these highly innovative, imaginative and intellectually engaging models have been harmful when used outside academia as a predictor to develop solutions in a real world. If, by chance, a future event does conform to a theory, they can claim credit; if it failed, then of course, “the cow and goddess worshiping, caste obsessed, curry munching Hindus” weren’t smart enough to understand Marxism properly. At its core such social sciences are largely a ‘Heads I win, Tails you lose’ proposition. Thus, when decades of Marxist-inspired methods of planning in post-1947 India inevitably failed to yield results, it was explained away as the “Hindu rate of growth”. This also justified the need to continue inflicting Marxism on Indians until they fully understood it, i.e., when enough successive ‘Heads’ were observed!

Indology Theory versus Hindu Practice

Recently, I visited Columbia University in New York City to attend a science conference. The STEM departments in such universities are top-notch. Genuinely curious and good scientists and wonderful human beings. I have learned from them, and my interactions have been beneficial. Only in the last decade did I learn that in these same campuses, in their humanities and social sciences departments, there are other smart professors who are invested in Western Indology and Hindu studies. From nine thousand miles away, they were and are doing a whole lot of theoretical model fitting using materialist Marxist and Freudian interpretations of Sanskrit texts that would appear utterly nonsensical to actual practitioners in India. The dharmic content of Hinduism that actually guides its practice is summarily rejected!

On the other hand, some Western thinkers outside the ivory tower who internalized Hinduism’s ideas were able to practically adapt it to solve some of the biggest challenges of the 20th century. For example, the approaches of both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, borrowed from the Satyagraha of Gandhi that is fundamentally rooted in Sanatana Dharma. The positive and pervasive influence of Swami Vivekananda on Western thought is stunning to read, and has never really been acknowledged either.

The Indology Enigma Machine

In an earlier era, there were the ‘orientalists’ from a Europe that had colonized and ruined India, who studied India from the perspective of a superior ‘teacher’ race. These earlier Indologists have been thoroughly exposed and the new generations of Indologists that are based in the United States are much smarter. They are trained in Sanskrit, have learned from the mistakes of the Orientalists, and have proceeded to cleverly write lengthy papers and analyses using extremely convoluted English (search for example, the pomo generator). Their writings virtually became a code that only their peers, who were part of a mutual back-scratching network, could review, read, understand, and build upon. Alternative new approaches to Hindu studies in the US would be branded as “communal” and “Hindu extremism” by their gatekeepers and shut down. If you, as a graduate scholar, wanted to study Hinduism and get funding, you would have to learn their code language, and thereby also adopt the encoded views about India.

impostor2
Comic XKCD

Simply put, these Indologists had succeeded in creating their own virtual Enigma machine. This Indology enigma machine is then shipped to third-world India, safe in the knowledge that only the encoders in the US, and their elite disciples in India, would truly know what the messages meant. It became their ultimate inside joke on India. This Indology Enigma in principle is also a fool-proof system like the earlier WW2 model and cracking this code would require sustained, single-minded effort, enormous resources, and a high degree of intelligence to break. They progressed, unhindered for decades, until the breakthrough came in the form of a trained physicist named Rajiv Malhotra.

American Orientalism Decoded

Rajiv Malhotra has lived in the US for more than 40 years and his is another successful Indian immigrant story – he studied physics, but got into IT and Telecom and eventually became the multi-millionaire owner of 20 companies. However, it is what happened afterward that is quite extraordinary. He gave it all up (for one dollar) at the age of 44 to devote his life, full time, to Hindu and Indian studies from an insider perspective. He used his personal funds to set up a research foundation and has over the last few decades, given grants, built up a dedicated home team, and done a deep and thorough study of the Indology landscape from an Indic perspective (and this is really key). While others too have attempted such studies earlier, there is really no one else who approached this problem in a single-minded manner, applying scholarly rigor, comprehensive research, and thoroughness. Rajiv Malhotra decided that he would take this up as part of his sva-dharma. He became the perfect storm that was required to crack this Indology Enigma code. Based on more than 20 years of painstaking research, and at a high personal cost, Rajiv Malhotra has authored five epic books on related topics, and we will briefly examine a specific trilogy among them, noting that the very first book, ‘Invading the Sacred‘ demolishes the Freudian psychoanalysis applied to Hindu studies in America.

The first book in the three we examine here is ‘Breaking India’, which analyzed the prior Indologists, mostly from Europe, whose theories from the 19th century have devastated Indian politics and sections of society (including in my own home state) for more than a century now. Thus, the initial decoding of Indology by Rajiv ji, while being amazing and successful, is associated with a large time lag between when these virulent messages were encoded and when they were fully decoded. However, his next book ‘Indra’s Net’ that focused on newer but equally diabolical Indology theories reduced this time lag. Here, he was able to expertly decipher the more recent discourse around the spurious idea of ‘Neo-Hinduism’ being propagated in India over the last few decades. Finally, his latest book, ‘The Battle For Sanskrit was released in India a couple of weeks ago. While this book is yet to release in the US, I have studied several video overviews of its content to realize that it has exposed the ugly face of an  ‘American Orientalism’, a new form of Orientalism.

bfs
Click here to Pre-Order the Book today!

It is clear that today, Rajiv Malhotra’s systematic approach has been able to decipher the output of American Orientalism as it is happening in the US right now. In this desperate intellectual and civilizational Kurukshetra, for the first time ever, practicing Hindus will have actionable intelligence that will enable them to proactively mount a defense before these destructive theories fully percolate into the Indian discourse that is controlled by sepoys – the paid native intellectual gunmen of these western masters.

A new generation of dedicated Intellectual Kshatriyas are needed to carry this work forward. Who will join this Battle for our Sanskriti?

References

  1. beingdifferentbook.com
  2. thebattleforsanskrit.com

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.

Classical Indic Literature I: Literary Theory

The following Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on November 20, 2014


At long last, we touch on Literature proper here at the Andhra Cultural Portal.

The importance and impact of this aspect of Indian Civilization and Andhra Culture cannot be minimized. After all, the stories, heroes & heroines, great romances, beautiful places, and wondrous accomplishments of yore are all preserved in and passed on via the literature of a people.  It is this, the documentation of the sum total of a civilization’s life, society, and above all, values that connects the young with the old, and for those yearning for star-crossed sringara, connects lover with lover as well. However, to properly appreciate the nuances of a sophisticated culture’s Literary Accomplishments, one must first understand the structural theory it is founded upon.

Those of you following us on Twitter may have seen our recent tweets about videos and articles educating layreaders on the logic and principles of Classical Indian Music and Artistic systems. In that light we continue today with the first in a series on Classical Indic Literature: Literary Theory.

Intro to Classical Indic Literature

Scene from the Kurukshetra in the World’s Longest Epic Poem: Mahabharata

India’s Classical Literature Traditions indubitably begins with its unmatched Sanskrit Literary Heritage. By some counts of Indologists, there are some 30 million Sanskrit Texts on various subjects: some political, some religious, some scientific, some literary, some romantic, some historical, and many not even properly catalogued.

In the recent past, the study of Sanskrit has been highly and unfairly politicised. It was not just the language of Brahmins nor was it limited only to Vedic rite. In fact, Sanskrit was the language of high culture, and the speech of the elite and refined. Although most of the credentialed-but-ignorant think its poetry was merely limited to the epic Ramayana and Mahabharata; the reality, however, is that there is a galaxy of romantic poetry and comedic prose in this most elegant of tongues. Poets and Dramatists ran the spectrum and included such literary jewels as Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Bhasa, and Dandin. Poems such as Meghadootam and Uttaramacarita captivated our forbears with their sentiments of passionate love. Plays such as AbhignanaSakuntala (Recognition of Sakuntala) and Malavikagnimitra (The Romance of Malavika & Agnimitra)made their heroic and comedic marks as far as Germany and beyond, with the former even developed into an Opera during the Enlightenment era.

Tragically, due to the vicissitudes of history and the travesty of politics, Classical Indic Literature was neglected, much like the Classical Indian Education. Therefore, to properly appreciate the literary accomplishments of Ancient India, one must first be properly acquainted with its literary theory  and creative logic. Much like aesthetics is taught to artists, and music theory to musicians, so to is it with the civilized written word.

While our tradition maintains that Dharmic Civilization’s musical and theatrical canons originate with the Saama Veda (the fourth of the Vedas–the other three being the Rig, Yajur, and Atharva), India’s first great treatise specifically on these canons is the Natya Sastra of Sage Bharata.

Classical Indic Literary Theory

Natyasastra of Bharata Muni in Four Volumes

Classical Indic Literary Theory [Saahithyalochana] was highly developed, with a host of treatises expounding its structure and a constellation of commentaries applying its critical theory. Works such as Ghantapatha (commentary on Kiratarjuneeya) and Saahithyadarpana  along with names such as Jaggaadhara, Bhaamaha (a rhetorician), and Andhra’s own Mallinatha respectively provide expository on detailed structural theory and incisive analysis. Unlike today, many of these critics and commentators were successful litterateurs in their own right.

The origin of Classical Indian literary theory is traced to the Sanskrit treatise of Rishi Bharata, Natya Sastra. Natya translates to the performance arts (histrionics). Conservatively dated to 200 B.C.E, but very likely much earlier,”[i]ts comprehensive treatment of artistic experience, expression and communication, content and form emerges from an integral vision which flowers as a many-branched tree of all the Indian arts”.

This mighty work runs the gamut from literature, music, and dance to painting, sculpture, and architecture. While a discussion of this seminal opus of genius could take a series of blog posts or a book itself, the relevant aspect for our post today is the originality of Bharata Muni’s rasa theory, and its pervasiveness in not only dance and music, but literature as well.

The Rasa

Nava Rasa: The Nine Emotions of Natya

Rasa theory is the outstanding contribution of Classical India to World music, dance, and above all literature. This sentiment is the lasting impression or feeling of the author that he/she aims to impress upon the audience. These are nine in number (hence the term Nava Rasa): Sringara (Romantic), Veerya (Heroic), Haasya (Comedic), Karuna (Pathos), Raudra (Furious), Bhayaanika (Frightful), Bibhatsa (Loathsome), Adhbuta (Marvelous), and finally Shaantha (Calming).

The Sthayibhaava is the leitmotif or permanent sentiment of a composition. There are generally eight in number, based on eight of the nine rasas. They are as follows: rati (erotic), haasa (comic), shoka (sorrowful), krodha(angering), utsaha (enlivening), bhaya (frightening), jugupsa (disgusting), and vismaya (amazing). A ninth, sama (tranquility), is associated with Shaantha

Bhaava is the complete affecting of the heart by any emotion. Vibhaava is the Excitant which builds up the main sentiment and is divided into Aalambana, the subject (i.e. hero, heroine) of the Rasa  and Uddeepana or the object that excites (i.e. the moon, beauty, seasons, etc). Anubhaava means the Ensuant. This is the “outward manifestation of internal feelings, through the eyes, face, etc.”

There are other literary elements such as metre (chandah); however, such an expository on the Natya Sastra is best dealt with another day, the present focus being literary theory in general.

Dramatics

A Drama on Political Intrigue

The Literary structure of Classical India chiefly aggregates into Dramatics and Poetics.

Literature (saahithya) in Sanskrit has typically been divided into drusya (what can be seen or exhibited on stage) and sravya (what can only be heard or read).

Dramatics falls into the first category. Nataka is the word for a play, while rupaka is the term applied to dramatic compositions. Minor or short dramas, such as the Ratnavali of Sri Harsa Deva (Emperor Harsha Vardhana of Kanyakubjya (Kannauj)), are called Natikas. While there are 17 other classes, they needn’t be examined for our purposes.

The 3 main aspects of a Rupaka are (1) The Plot (Vasthu) (2) The Hero (Neta) (3) The Sentiment (Rasa). There are two main kinds of Vasthu: Principal (Adhikaarika ) and Accessory (Prasangika ). The Principal Plot is that which concerns the main characters of the piece and the central storyline. The Accessory Plot is that which deals with the supporting characters, and may in fact further the Principal Plot. There are two kinds of Prasangikas: Pataka and Prakari. The Pataka (meaning : “Banner”) “is an episode by which the progress of the plot is illustrated, furthered or hindered”. This further piques the audience’s interest in the story. It frequently spans the entire play to the very end. In contrast, the Prakari is only a short and minor episode of limited importance. The principal characters do not play any role here.

The other main plot devices in the classical Indic drama are the bija (seed), bindu (drop), and karya (the final issue or object of the plot). Together with the above two, these five dramatic constructs are called ArthaprakritisVasthus may borrow from history (Natakas) or may be wholly or partly fictitious (Prakarana).

The five stages of a play are called Avastha (conditions): (1) Aarambha(Beginning) (2) Yatna (Efforts ) (3) Praaptyaasa (Prospects of Success) (4)  Nityataapti (Obstacle Removal) and  (5) Phalaagama ( Attainment of Object). Links to connect them and other parts of the main action are called Samdhis, of which there are five kinds (mukha, pratimukha, garbha, avamarsa, and nirvahana). Mukha is where the seed is sown (including the various rasas), pratimukha is where the chief end is revealed, the garbha establishes the attainment or non-attainment of the object, avarmarsa is where the seeds attain growth and the attainment sprouts, and finally, the nirvahana is the consummation of the all of the preceding, in the story’s denouement.

The Hero of the Play (Neta) is expected to be “modest, decorous, comely, munificent, civil, of sweet address, eloquent, [and]…from a noble family” or a ministerial family. There are four kinds of hero: Dhirodaatta, Dhiralalita, Dhirashaantha, and most importantly, the Dhirodatta.

The Dhirodatta  is the hero of sublime qualities. He is known for his magnanimity, patience, modesty, self-possession, resolve, concealed high spirit, valor, and keeping of promises.

Heroic Rama defeating Ravana

Rama is the best example of this as well as Veerya rasa (heroism/manliness). This quality of his is best seen in the drama Mahaviracharita by Bhavabhuti. Rama’s romantic (sringara) qualities are highlighted in the same dramatist’s follow up work, Uttararamacharita.

The Hero’s principal assistants are the Peetamarda (key figure in the accessory plot/episodes), who is clever in speech, loyal to the Neta, and only slightly lesser to him in his manly qualities. Next is the famous Vidusaka, or comic relief. He is known for his wit and for assisting the hero in his romances. Finally, there is the Vita, who is skilled in one art (of the traditional 64).

Sita-Rama

The Nayika is the heroine, and must generally be the equal of the hero in his various virtues, as Sita is to Rama. She may be the wife of the hero, a woman who already is obligated to another, or a common woman. The helpers of the heroine are the sakhi (friend), daasi (servant), dhaatreyi (nurse or mother), and patikesika (neighbor).

The hero’s rival, or villain, is called the Pratinaayaka, and is generally “avaricious, bold, impetuous, criminal and of evil conduct”.

The Nataka is typically conducted by commencing with a benediction (svastivachana), followed by a prastaavana (prologue) introduced by the Nandi (the introductory portion which suggests the plot). All this is conducted by the Sutradhara (stage-manager). Typically divided into Scenes and Acts (which may be as many as five to ten in number), the Classical Nataka of Ancient India had long-standing rules on structure and even subject-matter. There was a historical rule against tragedies, since the rasas themselves are thought to imbue a spiritual quality in the audience. However, at least 1 play, Nagananda by Sri Harsa, is known to have broken this custom.

The most intriguing aspect of the classical drama is the diversity of languages. The aristocracy and other elites are seen conversing in Sanskrit, with the more common folk relying on various types of Prakrit for dialogue.

Poetics

meghdutamPoetry is divided into Prose (gadhya), Verse (padhya), and Mixed (misra). The vast majority of our classical literature has been in padhya.

Gadhya is further divided into katha and aakhyaayika. The distinction between the two is generally considered to be minimal. The modern understanding is that the aakhyaayika gives a detailed prose narration of the litterateur’s family history and background (i.e. auto-biographical), while the katha does the same in a short verse, and therefore, is seemingly less formal. This is because the latter is rarely divided into chapters, and there are no embedded stanzas suggestive of future events.

Aakhyaayika is also strictly narrated by the hero, which is not the case in katha. There are other distinctions as well, such as names of chapters in Aakhyaayika being called ucchvaasa, but they are not important for our discussion today. The key takeaway is that, according to the treatise Alamkaarasamgraha, the Aakyaayika is based on historical facts and events, whereas a katha is considered purely fictional.

We end this post with a brief sample of a famous Aakhyaayika by a famous poet and scholar of Poetics: The Dasakumaracarita of Dandin.

Dasakumaracarita

One of four known historical prose romances, the Dasakumaracarita of Dandin is a remarkable work. Literally meaning History of the Ten Princes, it is a composition of prose par excellence. The author Dandin is celebrated for his word play (pada-lalityam) in a famous sanskrit sloka (couplet).

Since the author himself will be discussed in detail another time, the work will be the object of brief focus. A truly delightful story, Dasakumaracarita has it all, from political conflict and war to action/adventure to feverish romances. It is centered around the escapades of ten princes and young ministers as they all seek to gain the necessary allies and strength to defeat their King’s enemy. It nevertheless is set in a background that gives a vivid picture of common life and is a detailed rendition of Indian Society during that period.It is divided into three parts: the Purvapithaka (Prologue), Dasakumaracarita proper, and the Uttarapithaka (Epilogue).

This piece of prose is dated to the 6th-7th centuries C.E., although tradition holds that the author was a contemporaneous rival of Kalidasa himself, which would date him to the 1st-4th centuries C.E. While Dandin is also famous for his incisive and erudite work on Poetics, it is his lyrical command of language (apparent even in translation) that truly defines him and this magnum opus of literature.

Frustratingly, due to the baggage of history, only an incomplete portion of the original text was discovered. Thus, it effectively begins in medias res and two of the ten narratives are missing/incomplete. One of the foremost scholars of Sanskrit literature, the late Moreshwar Ramchandra Kale, wrote that the Dasakumaracarita is officially classified as an Aakhyaayika, though it doesn’t appear to carry the main markers of one. Therefore, he designates it a gadhya kaavya (prose-poem or prose romance). Whether or not it is based on historical events, the Dasakumaracarita gives us a panoramic view of classical Bharat.

The Ten young noblemen in the story have various run ins with kings from throughout India, including Andhra, further demonstrating Bharat’s historical civilizational unity. While it is particularly famous for making delightful and frequently scintillating reading, we will end this post with a short passage that emphasizes its wisdom more than its word-play.

Foolish, indeed, are the worldly people that place Artha (wealth) and Kama (pleasure) on an equal footing with Dharma (virtue)…To be sure, Artha and Kama cannot come into being without Dharma; but even without regard to them, Dharma alone is the creative cause of final beatitude, and is attainable only by the concentration of the mind. It does not (like Artha and Kama) much depend on external means. Supported (i.e. held up) by the knowledge of the reality, it is not affected by Artha and Kama, howsoever pursued; and, even if affected, it is set right by a little exertion, and redaicating that defect also, it conduces the highest bliss.

References:

  1. Kale, M.R. Dasakumaracarita of Dandin. New Delhi: MLBD. 2009
  2. Malhotra, Rajiv. Sulekha. 2002. http://creative.sulekha.com/the-axis-of-neocolonialism_103313_blog
  3. http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/bharata-natyasastra-IDD947/