Ode To Sanskritam

Ode To Sanskritam

12 mins 16.1K 12 mins 16.1K

As they were coming out of the Dwarkadeesh temple, Shyamli noticed an aged South-Indian couple walking ahead of herself and her-partner. The old man fairly buxom but very smart, closely following at her better-half’s steps, very much content and composed.

“Worth-observing they are”, she soliloquized and at the same time a faint but subtle flash of smile, amusing expression appeared at the corners of her mouth for a split second.

The old lady, draped in an expensive Kanjivaram, adorning very conspicuous three horizontal marks of sandalwood-paste on her forehead, was continuously chanting Sanskrit verses with typical prosodic meters. Showing a characteristic gesture using her pretty mischievous eyes she conveyed to her partner, Proshant, to keep an eye on them.

While doing so at the back of her mind she playfully reserved her thoughts, “My dear hubby, follow this old-man with as much rapt attention as you can, assimilate the same for you’d have to do the same in the years to come.” She smiled inwardly. After all, she wholeheartedly believes nothing is as entertaining as meticulously observing other people around albeit very carefully and furtively.

Both the couples introduced each other. Soon Proshant and Shyamli got acquainted with the septuagenarian couple owing to the frank, loquacious and extrovert nature of Shyamli.

"Granny why do you put exactly three marks on your forehead?" Shyamli inquired flashing her witty facial gesture.

Gracefully she replied, “My dear child, these three marks are symbolic. One for the physical body, another for mental and the third is for spiritual. Truly, none of these belong to us, thus, they’re to be submitted wholeheartedly to the almighty.”

"Jokes apart, dear granny, usually you don’t see these marks on your own forehead but grandpa can’t escape seeing your face and therefore these marks and he gets reminded invariably. Isn’t it? " saying so, she smiled mischievously.

The old couple, both of them had a laugh to their heart’s content.

"Chanting of Sanskrit slokas following the appropriate rhythm is quite enchanting, isn’t it?" Saying this Proshant looked in his better-half’s eyes.

"Yeah … charming indeed …", she seconded.

"Have you heard? It is said that Sanskrit language is the most suitable for computer programming and applications."

"That’s a myth, not entirely an authentic fact …"

"Why do you say so?"

"Ask Google. There are many such myths taking rounds among us very much like the unsolicited WhatsApp-forwards."

"So, what do you say about our Sanskrit Literature?"

"Scholars of international repute strongly believe that Sanskrit Literature is the body of the writings created by the Aryan peoples. Their members, speaking an Indo-European language, entered the Indian subcontinent from the northwest possibly around second millennium BC.

Sanskrit literature was developed as the vehicle of expression for the scholarly people of the ancient Indian-society before the Muslim conquest. And that vast ‘school of thought’ gradually established itself as the main cultural-force since the beginning of 1500 BC with the advent of the Vedic-hymns. Out of the four Vedas, the most ancient Sanatan-Hindu-scriptures viz. the Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda, the Rig-Veda is the oldest. It is the world’s very first book ever written, which is a world-renowned fact."

"When exactly do you seem it developed?"

"Pundits discern that there are two main periods in the course of development of the Sanskrit literature, one being the Vedic period and the other one is identified as the classical period, which was approximately from 500 BC to 1000 AD."

They, Shyamli and Proshant, were walking hand in hand back to the main entrance. "Historical records mention that the main entrance of the then Dwarkapuri was magnificently grand. That ancient structure was entirely built by using fine quality sandalwood."

"Let’s collect our paraphernalia." Proshant suggested.

"Come, let’s move towards the locker-room."

They retrieved their electronic gadgets including the key of their car from the locker room. Noticing her pretty perfect communicating skill in the local dialect while her better-half’s haltingly spoken Hindi-phrases that too with a typical East-Indian accent, one of the men-on-duty inside the locker room observed both-of-them with furtive glances.

“It would be rather better if you speak in English not in Hindi.” Dragging her head he whispered close to his left shoulder.

"Why do you say so?"

"Your weird Hindi accent unnecessarily invites others’ unsolicited attention. Have you noticed that?"

" No, I didn’t …"

"You should have …"

"OK, I’ll do so in future. I’ll be cautious hereafter. Anyway, let’s resume our deliberations, what is very unique about our Sanskrit?"

"Sanskrit rather Samskrita means ‘prepared’, ‘cultivated’, ‘purified’ or ‘refined’. And the grammar of Sanskrit is similar to that of other older Indo-European languages, such as Latin and Greek."

"Aha, I see, thus, when we can’t make head or tail of anything, we say Greek and Latin. Isn’t it? And what about the writers of Sanskrit Literature …"

"Ask Google." Saying so, she smiled mischievously. Looking at her sparkling-eyes her partner too smiled.

It is very aptly said since time immemorial that Gestures mean a whole lot of tacit words and phrases.

In addition to the sacred texts and philosophical writings, Sanskrit literature contains such unusual genres as erotic compositions with subtle allegories and devotional lyrics with salutations along-with an urge to submit oneself to the almighty, court poetry, varieties of plays and narrative folktales too. Among the best-known example of erotic literature is the Kama-sutra composed by Vatsyayana from about the 5th century AD.

Rasa in Sanskrit Literature is a kind of contemplative abstraction in which the inwardness of human feelings suffuses the surrounding world of embodied forms.

"Are there poets too like the other contemporary literatures?" Her partner inquired.

"Yes of course, the great masters of Sanskrit literature in the Kavya form were Ashvaghoṣa, Kalidasa, Bana, Dandin, Magha, Bhavabhuti and Bharavi. Sri-Harsa, flourished in 12th century, was an author and epic poet, his Naiadhīyacarita, or Naiadha, is among the most popular mahakavyas in Sanskrit literature. Naiadhīyacarita, was composed in 22 cantos, and it is a retelling of the tale of Nala, the king of Niaha and Damayantī, the princess of Vidarbha, originally this is from the magnum epic Mahabharata. It is a story of love overcoming obstacles, ending happily in marriage.

In the 6th century, the poet Bharavi, probably hailed from the South during the reign of the Pallava dynasty. He took up a theme from the Mahabharata in his literary-work titled Kiratarjuna (i.e. “Arjuna and the Mountain Man”), recounting the Pandava prince Arjuna's encounter and ensuing combat with a wild mountaineer who in the end proves to be the Lord Shiva. Bharavi's language and style are more difficult than Kalidasa's, but the poem is highly regarded in Indian literary tradition.

Magha, composed Shishupalavadha (i.e. “The Slaying of King Shishupala”) in the 8th century, which is based on an episode of the Mahabharata in which the rival King Shishupala insults the Lord Krishna, who beheads him in the ensuing duel. Magha is a master of using the sense of luscious descriptions, intricate syntax, compounds how they are split and deliver quite different meanings.

Bhattikavya a poem composed by Bhaṭṭi probably in 6th or 7th century is a curious but entirely Sanskritic phenomenon, which interestingly deals with the story of Rama and Sita, but at the same time it illustrates in stanza after stanza, in exactly the proper sequence, the principal rules of Sanskrit grammar and poetics.

And here is the work of the 12th-century Bengali poet named Jayadeva, who wrote the Gitagovinda. The poet Jayadeva was attached to the court of Bengali King Lakshman Sena during the late 12th century. He recounts the youthful loves of the divine cowherd hero Krishna and his beloved Radha, The basic structure of this long poem is largely based on the story of the Bhagavata-Purana."

"Whom do you prefer to call the greatest of all the writers of Sanskrit Literature?" Proshant asked.

"Undoubtedly Kalidasa, the versatile Sanskrit poet and dramatist, was probably the greatest Indian writer of all time. The characters he portrayed and all the nuances of life around those distinctive-individuals are very much relevant even today."

"How do we place the chronological orders of all those immortal-compositions of Kalidasa?"

"The dating of the most literary-works of ancient India is utterly problematical for the difficulty is aggravated by the tendency of any writer to ascribe authorship to well-known-names or legendary-names.

However, considering the magnificent writing-style, the minutest details including use of rhetoric and prosody of Kalidasa, the superb composer, scholars indentified at least six great works as genuine writings of Kalidasa, those are essentially three dramas, Abhijnanashakuntala (i.e. “The Recognition of Shakuntala”), Vikramorvashi (i.e. “Urvashi Won by Valour”), and Malavikagnimitra (i.e. “Malavika and Agnimitra”), two epic poems Raghuvangsha (i.e. “Dynasty of Raghu”) and Kumarasambhava (i.e. “Birth of the War God”); and the lyric “Meghaduta” (i.e. “Cloud Messenger”) and one more as likely “Ritusamhara,” (i.e. the “Garland of the Seasons”) possibly a youthful work."

"What do we know about this marvelous writer?"

"Much is neither known about this great-soul in person nor his historical relationships. Through his immortal compositions he expressed himself body and soul, which emphasized his humbleness beyond dispute. Although his poems suggest but nowhere had he declared that he was a Brahmin, the highest hereditary classes of the hierarchical Hindu society.

Among all the legendary sayings the well-known and more persistent legend makes Kalidasa one of the ‘Nava-ratna’ or (nine-gems) at the court of the extraordinary king Vikramaditya of Ujjain. Unfortunately, there are several kings of the past with the same title ‘Vikramaditya’ or (i.e. Sun of Valour) which was incidentally a common royal appellation. Legend says that the wisdom of Vikramaditya has pleased all the citizens of his kingdom, his subjects, beyond measure. Surprisingly, as per actual historical records, the nine distinguished courtiers could not have been the contemporaries. Nevertheless, it is certain that the poet lived sometime between the reign of Agnimitra, the second king of Shunga dynasty (170 BC), and interestingly the hero of one of his dramas."

"Which composition do you believe the greatest of all the works of Kalidasa?"

"The drama titled Abhijnana Shakuntala is indeed the most famous and is usually judged the best Indian literary effort of any period. This exemplary literary work tells the readers about the intense love between the nymph Shakuntala and the King Dushyanta, subsequently king’s rejection of the girl and the child of Shakuntala and King Dushyanta himself. Thereafter the poetic meters depict the emotionally charged reunion of Shakuntala and King Dushyanta in the heaven. This mythical epic is very much important because of this very child, named Bharata, who is eponymous ancestor of our Indian nation that we proudly call Bharatavarsha, the “Subcontinent of Bharata”

His second drama, Vikramorvashi, perhaps a pun intended on the king Vikramaditya. No poet had ever taken such a courageous move for the theme of Vikramorvashi is the love of a mortal for a divine-maiden, which is simply unparalleled. This work is well known for the scene in which the grief-stricken king wanders through a lovely forest. Exactly here Kalidasa came closer to various flowers and trees as if they were his love. The scene was intended in part to be sung or danced. Isn’t it pretty modern concept?

His third drama, Malavikagnimitra, is definitely a different kind; it is a sort of harem intrigue. It’s comical and playful. But certainly it’s not less accomplished for lacking any high purpose. This play is unique in this respect that it contains certain datable references. Thus, its historical authenticity had been much discussed by many scholars.

Kalidasa’s lyrical poem, the “Meghaduta,” elucidates messages from a lover to his absent beloved requesting and taking the help of the clouds. It’s an extraordinary series of knowledgeable episodes, describing the famous mountains, sacred rivers, and pristine forests of Northern India."

While enjoying the lunch, Proshant inquired, “What do you think about sending messages taking the help of clouds? What a fantasy! It’s an idea with no basis in reality. So impractical it is!”

"Come on Proshant let’s not become so ‘prosaic’. I mean unromantic.", Shyamli stated vehemently.

She continued, "See, among the many themes that inspired the poets is the lament of separated lovers. The sufferings of the woman are portrayed and the grief of the man is depicted too. Kalidasa's Meghaduta is the best example of such separated lovers. Verses of such love lyrics suggest the mood of shringara, the physical love. Often such elucidation is extremely erotic but those are very rarely obscene."

After lunch they were planning to go for the sight-seeing around the pilgrim town of Dwarka. They took the tickets of the tourist-service named ‘Dwarka darshan’.

While returning from the divine island called Bet-Dwarka once again they met the same South-Indian couple. Occupying the side-seats close-by on the ferry-boat they got engrossed in their interesting conversations.

"Grandpa, what makes us, the Hindus, very unique and incomparable? Is it our vedas or the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata? Or is it our char-dham yatra? Or is it our Yoga and Ayurveda? Or is it our idol-worshiping? " Proshant inquired.

"None of these, my little friend, I believe..."

"Then … what’s it …"

"We shouldn’t absurdly boast about Pushpak-viman, plastic surgery or test-tube baby rather we should boast about our tolerance, our confidence, our complacence and our indomitable faith."

Grandpa continued, "We don’t need to exaggerate our past unnecessarily. Why should we? History & archaeological records remind the whole world that we remained very complacent since time immemorial. We knew that the supreme-being is one and the only one. Thus, we never engaged ourselves in the spree of converting others into the fold of Hinduism. Rather we welcomed others since eternity.

Several others got involved in that very conversion-spree world-over to make sure that their fellowship should progressively increase and only increase, which would ensure their so-called supremacy.

We never believed in the concept of koinonia, which is in fact a body of religious believers. Ours is never such a restricted body. Ours is the Sanatan way of life and so is our Sanskrit aka ‘Samskrita’ means ‘prepared’, ‘cultivated’, ‘purified’ or ‘refined’…"

Displaying her mischievous smile, Shyamli shot the following question to her new-found granny, “I’m sure, you both have successfully celebrated the golden jubilee of your marriage-anniversary. Okay, May we know the secret behind it?”

"Dear child, our traditional ritual of ‘marriage’ weds the two souls to complement each other not to indulge in any competition whatsoever."

Granny continued, "See, one and another one adds up to two but interestingly one into one equals to one only. So my dear child, both of you don’t forget to contribute or add all such extra features so as to enhance or improve this togetherness, I mean the marriage."

With a witty smile she conveyed, "Sanskrit has twenty-two different names to offer for the English-word we call ‘marriage’. Any one of these would keep you together forever. Nothing to worry my child, may God bless you both."

They, Shyamli and Proshant, touched the feet of the old couple before departing

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