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, October 20, 2012

Gajendra Moksha by Mohiuddin Khan मौजुद्दीनखां...हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन ।।

Greetings of Dasara (Oct 24)  and Bakr-Id (Oct 26) !

One of the best  ever sung bhajans 'man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj'-  from Hindi film 'Baiju Bawra', 1952- is written by Shakeel Badayuni, composed by Naushad and sung by Mohammed Rafi.

 "सोऽन्तःसरस्युरुबलेन गृहीत आर्तो
दृष्ट्वा गरुत्मति हरिं ख उपात्तचक्रम
उत्क्षिप्य साम्बुजकरं गिरमाह कृच्छ्रान
नारायणाखिलगुरो भगवन्नमस्ते ||"

[ He (Gajendra) in the water with great force who was captured (by the crocodile) severely suffering on seeing Lord Vishnu on the back of Garuda with his discus ready  raising  his trunk along with a lotus flower  uttered the words with great difficulty  O Lord Narayana  O Universal Lord O Supreme person salutations to you.]

'Gajendra Moksha' by Artist: Unknown, Period: mid 18th century,

Medium: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Courtesy: Collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins and Wikimedia Commons

As a kid when I first read the story of Gajendra Moksha from  Bhagavata Purana in Marathi, I  felt very anxious and then relieved...for me elephant then was 'good' and crocodile was 'bad'. I kept seeing its occasional depiction in Ganesh Chaturthi pandals. Probably I also saw the story in 'Chandoba' (चांदोबा).

Later in life, I would watch on TV channels crocodiles catching many hapless animals at watering holes of Africa. No Lord Vishnu came to their rescue!

I came to admire both caught animals and crocs.

For a long time, I did not know that the story of Gajendra Moksha was a metaphor. And even when I came to know little more about it, its spiritual beauty eluded me until I read Govindrao Tembe's (गोविंदराव टेंबे) book "माझा संगीत व्यासंग" (Majha Sangeet Vyasang), first published in 1939.

Tembe describes how Hindustani classical singer  Mohiuddin Khan (मौजुद्दीनखां)  (c1870- 1921) treated Gajendra Moksha. 

Mohiuddin Khan  once sang this Hindi Bhajan (by Surdas)  when Tembe was in the audience:

"अब तो जीवन हारे, हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन  ।। ध्रु।।
नीर भरन हेत गए सिन्धुके किनारे ।
सिन्धु बीच बसत नक्र चरण धर पसारे ।। हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन ।।"

(This is a not-so-good scan of a portion of the page from Tembe's book. I am not going to attempt translation of it.)

Tembe says how  poignantly Mohiuddin Khan expressed prayer, grief, frustration and helpless anger of the elephant in repeatedly singing 'हे गोविन्द !'. He sang the bhajan for 45 minutes. 

Surdas's written bhajan is great but that day, my guess is, it became even greater! And how lucky we are that because of Tembe we can partly receive it even today.