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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mahabharata Redux. On Iraq and On EBAY.

Asian Age on January 24, 2008 reported: “Bush lied 259 times.”

“A study by two non-profit journalism organisations has found that President George W. Bush and top administration officials issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

President Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about WMDs in Iraq and 28 about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda, the study found. That was second only to then secretary of state Colin Powell’s 244 false statements about WMDs in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and Al Qaeda…”

This brought back Yudhisthira Dharmaraja to the mind. He too lied. He did it only once. But it was WMD kind of lie.


“…In the war, the Kuru commander Drona was killing hundreds of thousands of Pandava warriors. Krishna hatched a plan to tell Drona that his son Ashwathama had died, so that the invincible and destructive Kuru commander would give up his arms and thus could be killed.

The plan was set in motion when Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwathama, and loudly proclaimed that Ashwathama was dead. Drona, knowing that only Yudhisthira, with his firm adherence to the truth, could tell him for sure if his son had died, approached Yudhisthira for confirmation. Yudhisthira told him: "Ashwathama has died". However Yudhisthira could not make himself tell a lie, despite the fact that if Drona continued to fight, the Pandavas and the cause of dharma itself would have lost and he added: "naro va kunjaro va" which means he is not sure whether elephant or man had died.

Krishna knew that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie, and had all the warriors beat war-drums and cymbals to make as much noise as possible. The words "naro va kunjaro va .नरो वा कुंजरो वा" were lost in the tumult and the ruse worked. Drona was disheartened, and laid down his weapons. He was then killed by Dhristadyumna.

When he spoke his half-lie, Yudhisthira's feet and chariot descended to the ground…”

Talking of epics, in India, most of us know our Ramayana and Mahabharata but not many of us have read them as they are i.e. translated line by line from Sanskrit in their tongues.

For example, Durga Bhagwat दुर्गा भागवत is her classic Vyasparva व्यासपर्व 1962 writes about the song of Kunti when she abandons Karna, setting him afloat in a box in a river.



We all know the scene but very few perhaps know the beauty of this passage.

Following picture reminded me the episode of “The Game of Dice” from the epic where Yudhishtira gambles and loses his wife.


The Spectator January 12, 2008