G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Languages that are understood all over the Country

U.R. Ananthamurthy says (India Today, August 20, 2007): “The only two languages that are understood all over the country are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.”

He could as well have added one more- Ganga (Ganges) because he himself touchingly says:
“My grandfather, deeply religious and orthodox, would never have said something like “I am an Indian” in his whole life. Yet India was still an idea, a concept derived mostly from her rivers. When he drew water from our well and poured it over his head he recited a mantra which prayed that the waters of the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada and Kaveri be present in the well-water of our home and sanctify him… Both globalised, rootless modernity and ferocious, fundamentalist communalism will weaken the Puranic sense of unity that is present among the people of India.”

My son, my wife and I might have stopped chanting names of rivers while bathing but I remember my mother doing it. I think it’s a beautiful tradition.

Business Standard September 04, 2007 says: “The Ganges figures on the list of the world's ten most endangered rivers, according to a report of the World Wide Fund for Nature. But the Ministry of Environment and Forests has claimed in Parliament that the quality of water has improved since 1985, when the first Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was launched… The World Health Organisation says that an estimated 114 towns release waste into the Ganges. The Centre for Science and Environment, which brought out a report on polluted rivers last year, has said the claim does not hold ground because the hardware created under the GAP is inadequate.”

Let us hope the government is right.

Julian Crandall Hollick has recently written a book “Ganga”. Business Standard has reviewed it.
“……how come Indians venerate the Ganga so much and yet seem bent on destroying it with such vigour with their pollution, dams and other acts of the most frightening vandalism?
Hollick has also taken the trouble to speak to many scientists whose views would not otherwise become known to the lay public. They appear to confirm what the godmen have been saying about the Ganga — that, thanks to the amount of dissolved oxygen in it, not to mention other things like its high rate of aeration and its amazing ability to retain dissolved oxygen, it is something of a scientific marvel.”

Do you want to read Hollick’s book?

Artist: Helen E. Hokinson The New Yorker 22 Feb 1947