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."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Annus Mirabilis of Marathi: Year 1608

On April 14, 2008, we will observe 400th birth anniversary of Saint Samarth Ramdas समर्थ रामदास (1608-1681).

Marathi could be the only major language where two- Ramdas and Tukaram तुकाराम- of its five greatest writers were borne in the same year: 1608.

We have already observed 400th birth anniversary of Tukaram here.

Ramdas has been widely credited to have instilled values of freedom in Marathi speaking people.

In recent years however Hindu fundamentalists have tried to claim his legacy saying that he justified war and violence, particularly against Muslims.

According to T S Shejwalkar त्र्यंबक शंकर शेजवलकर (1895 - 1963) this is very unfair to Ramdas.

Shejwalkar quotes from Ramdas’s book Dasbodh दासबोध where he clearly condemns violence and war:



("निवडक लेखसंग्रह" त्र्यंबक शंकर शेजवलकर; "Selected Articles-collection" by Tryambak Shankar Shejwalkar 1977)

Ramdas’s fight (and also Shivaji’s) was for freedom. It so happened that most tyrant rulers of his day were Muslims. If they were Christians (British or Portuguese or Americans), he would have fought them with the same vigour.

If V K Rajwade वि का राजवाडे is to be believed Ramdas is a greater philosopher than Hegel (1770 – 1831) but for me he is a writer first.

They say Ramdas is the greatest Indian influence on poet B S Mardhekar बा सी मर्ढेकर (1909-1956).

Every time I read Ramdas, I am stunned by beauty, simplicity and brevity of his language. (Read D G Godse’s Shakti Saushthava द ग गोडसे शक्ती सौष्ठव Popular Prakashan 1972 which tries to explain some of the ‘magic’ of 17th century Maharashtra).

Sadly there has been no one who has wielded a Marathi pen the same way since Ramdas’s death.

By the way- this calendar there is not a word on either Tukaram or Ramdas in any American or British newspaper I follow.