Monday, July 30, 2007

Lessons with a twist in Sanskrit

When people talk about Sanskrit, they usually attach a sense of grave seriousness to it. True, composition in Sanskrit is no child's play... you have take care all the meters, alankaras and what not!! Amidst all that poets have found way to get the lesson through with clever remarks to let it stay in your mind for long. Just look at the following verse from the beginning of Neeti Shataka from Bhartruhari.

As the story goes, Bhartruhari was a very wise king. One day a yogi came to his court and presented him with a fruit. He said whoever eats this, will become immortal. Perhaps, the real goal of the yogi was to enlighten the king about the realities of this mortal life. Bhartruhari, being a noble person thought - there is no use of me living for ever, if my wife is not going to be with me. So let her have the fruit. He gave it to the queen. The queen was secretly in love with some one else. She also thought on the same lines of the King and gave the fruit to her lover. He, on the other hand gave it to some other lady... finally it came back to Bhartruhari himself. That is when he seems to have composed this. He renounced his kingdom and became a yogi himself.

Bhartruhari could have explained the futility of the eternal cycles of desires and disappointments in plain words. However, when he gives such a twist, the lesson lasts longer in the minds of the reader.

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Update: references to humor removed... on second thoughts there is less humor and more grief in this.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well,I hardly see this as a comedy !!..
That was the event which made Bharthruhari to become Sanyasi. Right?.

kemu

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Shubha said...

you have a weird sense of humor dude... its actually bordering on sad... if only i could see the humor in this, i would be set

Prashanth said...

Kemu, Shubha,
Updated. yes, there is no humor in this... I don't know the exact reason, but the idea of a love polygon tickled me....

Well, its not humor if it needs explanation...

Thanks for your comments though.
Prashanth

Shubha said...

On second thoughts, I think you'd be able to laugh at it if you were removed from the polygon...