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."

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