Archive for ‘नाना’

October 30, 2013

Modi’s quotatation from Mawlana Hali

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Hearing the speech that lAT naresha delivered from pATaliputra in the campaign to snatch the rAjadaNDa of bhAratavarSha from the dasyus of chAchA’s party, we were struck by his usage of a farsi-laden urdu couplet which he had meant to apply in praise of how India and in particular the plains of Ganga had bravely halted the victory march of the invaders. 

Hardly anybody has understood the couplet if we are to go by the commentaries that have been produced for or against the sense of history demonstrated by NaMo; most have ignorantly taken the couplet to be pointing towards the campaign of Alexander the Great, not realizing the true context of the lines. 

Therefore this short note on this once well-known couplet from an urdu tome written in 1879 by a comrade of Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan by latter’s inspiration.

vo dIn-e hijAzI kA be-bAk beDA
nishAn jis kA aqsA-e Alam me pahunchA
mazAhim hu-A ko-I khatrA na jis kA
nA ummAn me ThiThakA na qulzum me jhijhka
ki-e pai sipar jisne sAton samandar
vo DUbA dahAne me Ganga ke A kar

Above lines make for the 113th musaddas in the diwan written by Mawlana Khwaja Altaf Husain ‘Hali’, entitled Madd-o-Jazr-i-Islam (“The Flow and Ebb of Islam”), more commonly known as Musaddas-i-Hali.  A musaddas is a monorhymed 6-legged persian meter often employed for reading mersiya, the verses of ritualistic lamentation of the Shi’a-s on Muharram.

The above quoted lines represent a lamentation of the poet over what became of that victorious march of Islam against which no obstacle could withstand anywhere in the world but which simply fizzled out as it reached the shores of India:

That audacious armada of the religion of Hijaz –
Whose insignia reached every corner of the world
Which learnt no obstruction from any fear
Which felt no hesitation in Persian Gulf or faltered in the Red Sea
Which valiantly crossed all the seven oceans
Oh, drwoned was that armada (of Islam), when it reached the mouth of Ganga!

This is the context and literal translation of the lines quoted by the lAT naresha.

May 23, 2011

Confessions of bANabhaTTa 3

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Continues from

ambe bhAratI!  sarasvatI!!  Do thou nourish forever all that is worthy and noble and do thou squelch always the ignorance and poverty from the minds of those that knowest thee not as surely as from the minds of those that seekest thee!  May thy swift channels flow on forever, O Mother, with hundreds of ever-fresh spills and glacial streams guided by varuNa running to thy clasp, and may these banks continue to provide in abundance and till eternities, as they have since hoary past, the courage and inspiration for higher quests that set one free from the three bondages mundane!  All the four varNa-s are but thy santati entreating thee alone for blessings O Mother most magnanimous!  For, thy one bountiful glance might turn, if thou will, like petty pebbles into chintA-maNi, the ordinary minds into a kAlidAsa or a kAtyAyana, a pANini or a pata~njali, a dvaipAyana or a saumilla, a vAlmIki or a bR^ihaspati, a kauTilya or a kaNAd, a jaiminI or a janaka; then do thou bless ambe, bless all thy children!

In the first muhUrta of uShA we performed our sandhyA on the stepped banks of sarasvatI, which flows through the outskirts of sthANvIshvara, though she is here called ‘oghA’ by the local folks.  (It is later that we learnt, going through the great itihAsa, that this name was not uncommon even in the long bygone days.)

We had spent the night, not an uneventful one, at one of the Ashraya-s in the vicinity.  The place was overcrowded, bustling mostly with the pilgrims who had come hither from faraway janapada-s en route to the celebrated mahA-pITha of kArttikeya at rohitaka, or to the famed shrine of Aditya at mUlasthAna, and some to the siddha pITha of vaiShNavI.  Most pilgrims stop over to perform their devotions on the banks of sarasvatI at sthANvIshvara, a pilgim center in its own right.

Then there was also a party of the mukta-kachcHa-s transiting from, as we learnt, the frontier chaitya-s of kubhA-gandhAra to the vihAra-s of kushInagara.  Some of these muNDaka-s were also chIna-s who spoke in otherwise chaste saMskR^ita, albeit to our amusement, with a strange boisterous nasal accent.

We had retired to the corner bed under the covered wooden yard that the one-eyed elderly gurjara boniface of the inn had given us.  No sooner had the hustle of the sweet-sellers and milkmen settled down, neither our contemplations about the future course nor the atrocious mosquitoes could prevent us from quickly slipping into slumber, exhausted and spent as we were.

But hardly a prahara must have passed that we were roused from our sleep by uncertain hushed voices which sounded like sobs and gasps.  We sat up and straining our eyes in the dimly shade of the corner lamp, looked at the secluded beds to our right, and found that a man was sitting up with the head of another in his lap, the latter babbling in sunken voice.  Going towards them we asked whether there was any matter.

But the matter was evident to us as we went closer.  Even in the dim light, we could see the face of the young man lit up with a burning jvara, his pale eyes turned upwards.  We asked the older man whether we might take a look, and not waiting for the answer, reached out for the oil lamp bringing it closer to the man.

During our endless toils of wandering life, we had also spent over a year at kA~nchIpura in the draviDa country, serving under a rasa-vaidya and training with him.  While we could not pursue that line and had to leave kA~nchIpura due to certain embarrassing reasons that are better left out of these leafs, we had learnt enough of basics and always carried a small peTikA of OShadhi-s for own use.

The menacingly high santApa with trembling shivers, delirious speech and shrinking nADI-gati, blackening lips and turning pale eyes, and as we opened the leather vest of the patient, reddish koTha patches all over his chest and abdominal desha: this surely was no ordinary prAkR^ita jvara nor doShaja jvara, we suspected this seemed like a gambhIra caused by some toxin.  Unless he was quickly attended by an Agad-pravINa vaidya, the patient had little hopes, we candidly told the companion of the suffering man.  But whence could a vaidya be fetched at this midnight hour in an unknown country?

Not until the morning, grimly told the one-eyed gurjara innkeeper who was now at the bedside.  Though, after another prahara he could arrange to take the patient to chAruSheNa sharman, a renowned chikitsaka.  If the patient survived the night, that was, which to us seemed uncertain looking at his sinking breaths.

We hesitated, and then reluctantly told the older man that while we were no practicing expert, we were still trained in medicine and knew the OShadhi-s that might help the patient a bit, and if he so consented we could attempt at reviving the patient until the care of a proper chikitsaka was arranged.  kiM-kartavya-vimUDha, the man looked at us helplessly, then slowly nodded.

We asked the elderly gurjara to fetch some curd, dhR^ita, and saktU preferably of barley, and then for a brief moment remembering the AchArya who had taught us, set out to prepare a yavAgu with suitable OShadhi-s: pR^iShNiparNI, bilvamUla, trAyamANa-phalAdi that we had in our possession, while sorely missing the others that we knew were required but we had not.  For a moment we considered whether emesis through vamana should be first attempted, but then remembered the counter-indication in the saMhitA in case the toxins had gone beyond the stomach, and decided against it.  With an atharvan mantra on our lips we administered the first oral dose to the patient, and applied paippalAdi mixed with dhR^ita on his upper limbs, uttering a kaumAra mantra that we had received from our teacher.

After a few ghaDI-s of thus treating, by the grace of our learned AchArya, and certainly because the patient had more life destined to him, he showed improvement.  While the fever was still high, we observed perspiration of sveda, stabilising breathing and improving nADI-gati.  We then administered another dose and now had to wait until the gurjara could arrange the patient to be taken to the vaidya at the dawn.

The grateful older gentleman opened up to us, and as we sat observing the patient, he told us that they were sons of a merchant from kAshI, and had led a sArtha of a five-hundred shakaTa-s laden with various merchandise to bAlkha and pArasIka countries.  Having done their business there, they had gone further west towards the metropolis of bhagadAda to buy merchandise for import, as they had done several times in the past.  But not this time.  This time they returned plundered and desolate, thankful for their lives.  There was some devilry in the making, told the merchant.  “How could the pArasIka armies be defeated in their own backyard, not by the yavana-romakau but barbara desert-dwelling aravaka-s!”

“And why not?”, joined the gurjara, “have you forgotten the invasion of the hUNa-s only two decades back at our own frontiers?  Had it not been for mahArAjAdhirAja prabhAkara vardhana’s visionary policy, the barbara hUNa-s would have overrun even sthANvIshvara!”

The gurjara had in his youth, we learnt, served the different armies as a soldier, sometimes under the uttara-gupta-s, the other times under the vardhana or maukharI-s, and had seen action when the joint armies of different mahAsAmanta-s  had marched under the generalissimo of prabhAkara vardhana, the father of harShadeva, to flush out white hUNa-s some years back.  We did remember those events from what we used to hear in our childhood.

“And now”, continued the gurjara, “you would not even imagine the different desha-s under now independent mahA-sAmanta-s, ever joining forces to replulse an external invasion leaving that duty to be faced only by those on the front!”, then spitting the tAmbUla, “Why, see the treachery of gauDa-naresha narendra gupta, who now takes the title of shashA~Nka!  See the treachery of maukhAri mAlava-naresha, who has stabbed the vardhana-s in the back!  Can you even imagine these petty minded mahAsAmanta-s ever rising above their selfish ends!  May shiva only protect us from any barbara invasions at the moment!”, then lowering his voice, “Why, let me tell you, I am even suspicious of all these chIna-s now making rounds to our country here”, throwing a glance in the general direction of the chIna muNDaka-s, “who could say how many of these are spies!”

The gurjara was referring to a recent stratagem by which the va~Nga naresha shashA~Nka had deceptively gotten rAjyavardhana, the elder brother of harShadeva, assassinated only a few months back.  The prince whose nAmakaraNa was celebrated yesterday, was a posthumous son of rAjyavardhana.

Our mind was not in the talk, as our attention was focused on the patient, who was now showing definite improvement.  We were relieved as the sky began becoming gradually illuminated and the gurjara rose to arrange for a shakaTa to take the patient to the professional.  As we took leave from the merchant to bathe and perform our sandhyA, the grateful man thurst something in our palms.

From the river, we were now retreating back towards the rAjapatha with sluggish steps, not sure where we should now go.  We intuitively began following a group of brAhmaNa-s dressed in bright shuklavarNI-s, with bright chandana lepa on their foreheads, which so reminded us of our pitAshrI.

We had hardly proceeded a few paces in the vIthikA that led towards the rAjapatha when we heard a female voice tentatively calling out, ‘bhaTTa?, bhaTTa??’

At first we thought that the lady was perhaps calling someone from the group ahead of us.  But we turned.  Or shall we say that it was our fate that really turned sucking us into a whirlwind of events?

It was nipuNikA who stood before us!

The same mocking smile, the same rebellious pair of eyes, the same defiant posture with the left arm confidently resting at her slim waist.  Had she changed not a bit since we had seen her last in ujjayinI, maybe six or was it seven years back, on the stage in the play of mR^ichChakaTikA, finally playing the part of vasantasenA that night?

[Guess this is where we must stop the atrocity.  With apologies to AchArya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi]

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May 12, 2011

Confessions of bANabhaTTa 2

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Continues from

Not without a reason do we enumerate each chapter of these pages as an uchcHvAsa, a warm breath let out reluctantly when it became unbearable.  But then who has not his own parcel of misfortunes and baggage of sorrows to bear upon his shoulders as we have on ours?  We entertain no desire of letting the sympathetic reader carry any of our load for us and get encumbered with even a tiny portion of our tragedies; indeed only some pleasing, some wondrous, maybe some curious memories of ours we intend to invite him for partaking from the otherwise worthless story of our life; and in this if we occasionally slip, the reader of these leafs must be generous in pardoning his narrator.

The memory of that fortunate day is still quite vivid in our now otherwise hazy mind, when wandering all over bhAratavarSha without any planned itinerary or constant fellow travellers, from one wonderful country to the next, yesterday in that janapada and today in this, picking a trick or two here or learning a trade there, at one time serving trifles of a tyrant danseuse and at other time assisting a kind-hearted merchant, now painted in face like a wandering kAlamukha from karNATa country and now dressed for pretending to be a paurANika reteller from va~Nga, thus in summary flying like a fallen leaf whither the wind of fate might carry it, we had found ourselves on the outskirts of the famed metropolis of sthANvIshvara, also called thAnesara in prAkR^ita tongue.

And no mean welcome waited upon us!  As we climbed up the sprawling rAjapatha which seemed from a distance raised like the back of the massive turtles that we had seen on the sea shores of the utkala country, the city seemed to us to be bustling with some celebration, the pleasing hum of, as it seemed, hundreds of mR^ida~Nga-s and bherI-s coming to us from afar but steadily growing with our hypnotic eager pace.

A grand procession it was, and colourful.  As far as one’s glance could reach from behind the shoulders of the tall onlookers, (we must say that the men of this country are quite tall), one’s eyes only met as if a tide of beautifully clad pretty ladies slowly marching, dancingly and playfully.   So large was the entourage itself of these women that surrounded the tall royal shivikA-s carrying the royal family, that you could not get even a distant glance at the royals.  From far if the beats of mR^ida~Nga-s and bherI-s incited you, here they were subdued by the rhythmic and teasing symphony that their peers made: paTaha, kAhala, veNu, shaMkha, vINA and who knows how many other instruments which I would not even be able to name!

The colourfully dressed women marching, would raise their arms and in perfect synchrony make them subtly fall, and as they did that their bejewelled bangles and  heavy anklets with countless tiny bells would raise such a magical rattle that stood out even in that riot of sounds!  The movement of their palms coming down was so delicate as if they seemed to be plucking some AkAsha-kusuma-s from a galaxy!  Nay, to us they themselves seemed like some divine flowers fallen down from the suraloka, for they would laughingly also throw in air, now and then, sweet smelling colours, which mixed with their perspiration had so painted their faces and bodies!  The locks of their hair had all become pink and yellow and green!

Then there was in the front a large troupe of dancers, ever smiling through their beautiful faces and singing in their melodious voice.  When they turned and paused on beats in striking graceful poses, we still remember how their tall kesha-latA would curl up to embrace them and gently stroke past their breasts like an expert lover!  To the then young heart of ours these martyaloka-apsarA-s seemed like skillful and confident generals of an invading army marching under madanadeva himself who had set out on conquering some distant lands!

But we later learnt from a fellow onlooker, a curd seller, that the procession was to go towards the mArttaNDa temple.   mahArAjAdhirAja shrI harShavardhana deva had been blessed with a nephew, and on that day was to be held the nAmakaraNa saMskAra of the infant.

Ah! blessed be the prince, we prayed in our heart!  At least there was someone whose birth was so celebrated with delight.  We were reminded of our own childhood, spent without the love and care of a mother and as a burden to our karmavIra father, who had heavier duties to detain him from smiling at his boy, smelling his hair or kissing his forehead.  And still, we did not complain, nor do we today, for whatever little was noble or good in us, it is because of the kR^ititva and blessings of our aged pitAshrI, who left us alone and orphaned when we were thirteen or fourteen.

Even in this Ananda-kolAhala, our heart shed a tear silently.  We looked skywards, and thought our pitR^i-pitAmaha-gaNa were also crying with us: where our ‘yashoMshu-shuklI-kR^ita-saptaviShTara’ vaMsha, and where this tail-less, run-away, unfortunate baNDa, whose worth was less than that even of the leash with which he was tied!  O dhariNIdevI, our heart ached, would you not give us escape and let this unfortunate child of yours hide in your bosom?

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

Continues to

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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)

Continues to

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