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."

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.