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."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oh, Just Hanging Out, Reading the Bhimrupi but not the Ramraksha

Today is Hanuman Jayanti- My Kumud-mavashi's birthday. At Miraj the day was always celebrated with some gusto at Bhanu talim.


"...The King James Bible has had an enormous impact on English for the very reason that it captures and preserves — and communicates down through the centuries — the unavoidable rhythms of good English. Its words are almost never Latinate, and its rhythms are never hampered by the literalism that afflicts other translations.

It would have been so easy to get that wrong, to let scholarship overwhelm common sense, to let theology engulf plainness. We owe an enormous debt to William Tyndale’s imaginary plowboy. All who speak this wonderful language still speak in the shadow of the King James Bible."

For a number of years, my brother and I recited shlokas every evening. A couple of times we were thrashed by our father for being frivolous doing it.

I regret that I stopped that practice long time ago. I am trying to revive it.

My father had made us a chart by pasting papers containing sholkas on both sides of a hard cardboard which came from a saree packaging.

The front page started with "Shubhamkaroti" (शुभंकरोती ) and the back page ended with 'Bheemrupee' (भीमरूपी).

After reciting these we recited 'Ramraksha' (रामरक्षा) which we knew by heart.

I never quite liked 'Ramraksha'.

Apart from the fact that it was the last thing standing bewteen us and dinner, it was tongue twisting and hard to understand although the booklet we referred to had its Marathi translation.
Also, I couldn't quite see its literary beauty even after I learnt Sanskrit starting 8th class.

On the other hand, it was a great pleasure reciting Bheemrupee.
It was like reading a great poem by Tukaram तुकाराम with a gaiety of a poem by Balkavi बालकवी or Keshavsut केशवसुत.

This was genius of Samarth Ramdas (समर्थ रामदास). I like his 'Manache Sholka' (मनाचे श्लोक) not for its moral preaching but its literary qualities. For instance "it captures and preserves — and communicates down through the centuries — the unavoidable rhythms of good Marathi."

Or as Adam Haslett says: "...(I am among those who) fell in love with literature not by becoming enthralled to books they couldn’t put down but by discovering individual sentences whose rhythm and rhetoric was so compelling they couldn’t help but repeat them to anyone who would listen,.."

There has been no poet of his class in Marathi since his death in CE 1682.

[I was stunned reading what Samartha's female-disciple Akka (अक्का) has said about life:

"स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले, पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

("By the grace of Swami it is understood that all this is mortal, but there is a lot of drama in this mortal.")

Apart from the profound thought, notice the beauty and brevity of 17th century Marathi there.]

Here is Bheemrupee in full. My apologies for the errors there. I have highlighted parts that really lifted my spirits. (Read D G Godse द ग गोडसे to learn about many fascinating aspects of Samarth Ramdas's art.)

||भीमरूपी स्तोत्र ||

भीमरूपी महारुद्रा वज्र हनुमान मारुती |
वनारी अन्जनीसूता रामदूता प्रभंजना ||१||

महाबळी प्राणदाता सकळां उठवी बळें |
सौख्यकारी दुःखहारी दूत वैष्णव गायका ||२||

दीननाथा हरीरूपा सुंदरा जगदंतरा |
पातालदेवताहंता भव्यसिंदूरलेपना ||३||

लोकनाथा जगन्नाथा प्राणनाथा पुरातना |
पुण्यवंता पुण्यशीला पावना परितोषका ||४||

ध्वजांगें उचली बाहो आवेशें लोटला पुढें |
काळाग्नि काळरुद्राग्नि देखतां कांपती भयें ||५||

ब्रह्मांडें माइलीं नेणों आंवाळे दंतपंगती |
नेत्राग्नी चालिल्या ज्वाळा भ्रुकुटी ताठिल्या बळें ||||

पुच्छ तें मुरडिलें माथां किरीटी कुंडलें बरीं |
सुवर्ण कटि कांसोटी घंटा किंकिणि नागरा ||७||

ठकारे पर्वता ऐसा नेटका सडपातळू |
चपळांग पाहतां मोठें महाविद्युल्लतेपरी ||८||

कोटिच्या कोटि उड्डाणें झेंपावे उत्तरेकडे |
मंदाद्रीसारखा द्रोणू क्रोधें उत्पाटिला बळें ||९||

आणिला मागुतीं नेला आला गेला मनोगती |
मनासी टाकिलें मागें गतीसी तूळणा नसे ||१०||

अणूपासोनि ब्रह्मांडाएवढा होत जातसे |
तयासी तुळणा कोठें मेरु- मांदार धाकुटे ||११||

ब्रह्मांडाभोंवते वेढे वज्रपुच्छें करूं शके |
तयासी तुळणा कैंची ब्रह्मांडीं पाहतां नसे ||१२||

आरक्त देखिले डोळां ग्रासिलें सूर्यमंडळा |
वाढतां वाढतां वाढे भेदिलें शून्यमंडळा ||१३||

धनधान्य पशुवृद्धि पुत्रपौत्र समग्रही (समस्तही)|
पावती रूपविद्यादि स्तोत्रपाठें करूनियां ||१४||

भूतप्रेतसमंधादि रोगव्याधि समस्तही |
नासती तुटती चिंता आनंदे भीमदर्शनें ||१५||

हे धरा पंधराश्लोकी लाभली शोभली भली (बरी).
दृढदेहो निःसंदेहो संख्या चंद्रकला गुणें ||१६||

रामदासीं अग्रगण्यू कपिकुळासि मंडणू |
रामरूपी अन्तरात्मा दर्शने दोष नासती ||१७||

||इति श्री रामदासकृतं संकटनिरसनं नाम श्री मारुतिस्तोत्रम् संपूर्णम् ||

Even later in life, Bheemrupee has come to my mind the way a good song does. Unannounced!

Artist: Victoria Roberts, The New Yorker, 12 November 1990

(p.s. If my father ever saw me reciting Bhimrupi reclining in sofa, I would be in lot of trouble!)