Archive for May 10th, 2011

May 10, 2011

Confessions of bANabhaTTa

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

It would be far more convenient, would it not, to just let us say that this was not the name which our revered pitAshrI gave us and let the story behind our more famous name remain out of these annals? On our part we confess to having conscientiously let the embarrassing thing remain obscure and unknown, but as it seems not possible anymore, we deem it less disagreeable to be coming from us than speculated by the reckless one and a hundred exaggerating mouths. But mighty embarrassment indeed, for on the bright moon-like forehead of the renowned vAtsyAyana household in which we were fortunate to be born, our name appears to us like an accursed blot!

When we recall our ancestral agrahAra and the household where we grew up, what flashes first to our mind is the resounding sonorous vaidika uchchAra-s with which our pitAshrI’s abode was always abuzz, and then the swarm of his devoted countless students that came to study with him from afar. This should seem like an exaggeration to you as it does to us, that even the parroquets of his household used to perfectly repeat the recitations. An exaggeration that might well be, but we can safely vouch to you this, that it used to terrify the younger of our pitAshrI’s pupils who used to be perpetually wary of these birds for the fear of their monitoring the recitations and then reporting any of misdoings and errors to their venerable achArya, our pitAshrI!

It is not a hollow embellishment of a poet when we say that mahAdevI sarasvatI herself used to wipe the labour-sweat from the face of our father as we think mothers must do to their tots when they return from the playground. (This experience, of how it feels when your mother wipes your face, our fate did not permit us, having lost our jananI so early that we don’t even remember her face). When we said that upamA, what had come to our mind was the droplets of sweat flowing from the handsome and fair face of our pitAshrI, shining like a string of pearls, as he used to come out after having performed homa for some muhUrta-s since uShAkAla. And then he used to go straight to his kushAsana to teach vedAbhyAsa and other subjects to the bramhachArI-s; that was his rest, that was his break! Aho, such was indeed our pitAshrI, shrI chitrabhAnu bhaTTa, one of the most learned and venerated vaidika scholars and performers of sacrifices of his time. Hard to imagine that to such a father we were born! A boastful, aimless fickle-minded vagabond!

But we were going to reveal the origin of our popular name. When we ran away from the house of our pitAshrI, we must have been very young. And then we did not run away alone, we had with us a gang of other equally worthless idle lads from our village, though most of them did not survive with us for long and returned back to the familiar toils of our village life. And that running away had made us notorious among our folks. In our mAgadhI locale, a vR^iShabha without a tail is called a ‘baNDa’, and in that tongue there is also a popular vulgar adage that roughly means something like, ‘a baNDa ran away, and took away the leash too’. Thence we were called baNDa, the tail-less run-away bull, by everyone at our village and the ugly name stuck. We refined it with devavANI and made it into ‘bANa’, which name has now made us famous, but our heart only knows how we long to again hear once more the deep and sagacious voice of our revered pitAshrI summoning us — ‘dakSha bhaTTa, come at once…!’ We can remember that ring, that voice; the memory of our pitAshrI calling us by our proper name always gives us an unbearable pang.

(based on the immortal novel by AchArya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi)

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