Archive for ‘Literature’

April 25, 2010


by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Wandering in the ancient jeta vihAra of koshala where tathAgata spent a considerable part of his life, we came across a group of four muNDaka-s under an arjuna tree whiling the warm afternoon discussing amongst themselves the fragments of collective memories of old.  Besides the other amusing stuff, their talk had a clear strain of aversion towards the hindU itihAsa-s, in particular towards the great bhArata, laughing at its events and ridiculing its Heroes.

We were later reminded of the following ridicule of mahAbhArata written by dhanapAla, the 11th century jainist nAstika from gujarAta country, which thus went:

कानीनस्य मुनेः स्व बान्धववधू वैधव्यविन्ध्वंसिनो
नेतारः किल पंचगोलकसुताः कुण्डाः स्वयं पाण्डवाः
तेमी पंच समानयोनिनिरताः ख्यातास्तदुरकीर्तनं
पुण्यं स्वस्त्ययनं भवेद्यदि नृणां पापस्य कान्यागतिः?

Roughly: Whose sage-writer is himself born from an (unmarried) girl’s womb and who later blemished the widowhood of his younger half-brothers’ wives, (natural it must be to have for) its heroes the pANDava-s, not only whose father pANDu was conceived after the demise of his own father, but also who are themselves result of the vIrya of someone other than their father even when he was alive;  and even further, who all five collectively enjoy the rati with a single woman; If such be the book reading which gives so much merit, one wonders what would be the path to sins.

mahAbhArata has been consistent in causing, as it seems, much udarashUla to all hindU-dviTa parties just as it does today. It is just a continuity that the hostile mlechcHa-s and svadeshI-drohins alike finds it necessary to ridicule or trivialize this grandest itihAsa, like done by the bahupuMsachAlI of kraunchadvIpa in her recent vaikalpika hindU itihAsa.

Knowing one’s attitude towards the hindU itihAsa-s, and in particular towards the Great bhArata, is we think an effective though crude way to tell one’s overall memetic stand towards the hindU-s. 

That reminds us of the great turuShka’s fascination for the Hindu itihAsa-s during the kAfir phase of his life, so much so that he got bhArata translated into persian, under the title of razm-nAmah (‘the History of the Great War’), and which, for over a decade, his associates used to daily read out to him before he retired for the night.  He seems to have been most impressed by the character of yudhiShThira who occupies most copious space among the hundreds of illustrations he got made on bhArata’s themes.  Knowing the great turuShka’s mind it seems likely that he looked at himself as the present-day-dharmarAja, if the likeness in the illustrations of the appearance of the eldest pANdava to his own appearance is any indication!

January 12, 2010

Some legends of bhojadeva

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Many legends of rAjan bhojadeva pramAra allude to widespread erudition of the common man of his reign; many tales portray carpenters, potters, ironsmiths, tailors, field-labourers and even thieves having stunning knowledge of saMskR^ita and poetic talent.

Once, goes one such legend, a criminal condemned with capital punishment by the nyAyAdhyakSha was brought before bhoja for final hearing. Having heard the case bhoja asked the convict whether he had any plea before he delivered his verdict.  The criminal, as is anticipated in the bhoja legends, responded with:

भट्टिर्नष्टो भारविश्चापि नष्टो भिक्षुर्नष्टो भीमसेनश्च नष्टः
भुक्कुण्डोहम् भुपतिस्त्वम् च राजन भानां पंक्तावंतकः सम्प्रविष्टः

bhaTTi has died, so has bhAravi; bhikShu is dead, so also bhImasena;
(Now watch out) O rAjan, yamarAja seems bent on consuming away the “bha-” vya~njana sequence (by the svara order a-A-i-I-u-U- etc), and with bhukkuNDa, that is me, about to be executed, you, bhUpati bhojadeva, might be the next one on his list! 

Poetic audacity ensured clemency to the saMskR^ita-speaking convict.

Once his tailor taking measurements for making a waistcoat, uttererd this prAkR^ita pada:  “bho.a.ehu gali kaNThula.u bhaNa keha.u paDihA.i / ura lachcHihi muha sarasati sIma nibaddhi kA.i”  [O bhojadeva, (shall I) say how I see your neck? As if a boundary drawn between the realms of lakShamI residing in your heart and of sarasvatI in your mouth!]

prabandha chintAmaNi mentions that once traveling bhoja passed by an inn in his kingdom, and desirous of knowing how it was kept by the innkeepers, he went inside.  It was managed by a lady named sItA and her daughter vijayA.  The senior innkeeper impressed bhoja with her erudite poetry and was welcomed to join his retinue of the learned poets, and vijayA who was as splendid at poetry as striking she was in her looks, eventually won bhoja’s heart and became her favourite.  One conversation is given:  bhoja uttered, “suratAya namastasmai jagadAnanda-dAyine” [Bow to lovemaking, giver of pleasure to the worlds] to which she replied, “AnuSha~Ngika-phalaM yasya bhojarAja bhavAdR^ishAH” [which brings the births of the likes of bhojadeva.]  This is similar to the conversation of samasyA-pUrti between bhoja and another young poetess in appreaciation of whose looks bhoja remarked, “asAre khalu saMsAre sAram sAra~NgalochanA” [Of this baseless world the only essence is those with the bow-like-eyes (women like you)], to which pat came the reply, “yasyAM kukShau samutpanno bhojarAja bhavAdR^ishaH” [whose wombs give birth to the likes of bhojarAja] 

Once, says PC, bhoja taught his parrot to repeat ‘eko na bhavyaH’ [Only this one is not good], and asked his favourite vararuchi (the author of metrical vikramacharita and others) to go compose a convincing reply before the end of the day, on completion of which a great reward awaited.  As the fate would have it he just could not find the right words and he was sitting by uttering these words near a field where the cows of an elderly shepherd were grazing.  The shepherd approached him and asked what the matter was.  vararuchi told him.  Now the old man said that he could provide the best answer to this and let vararuchi have the reward, only if varachuti took him to the king, and carry his pet dog on his shoulders as the shepherd was too old to carry it himself.  vararuchi did as told, and before bhojadeva the shepherd recited a pada that meant that, “Causing even a learned brAhmaNa to carry on his own shoulders the dog of a shepherd, the greed for money and fame is the one thing that is no good!”

In another legend, bhoja was once riding his horse when he saw an elderly timber-seller carrying an apparently heavy burden on his shoulders, so he asked him, in “broken” saMskR^ita, whether the burden was not too heavy for the old man.  To this, the man sadly replied with a hemstitch in immaculate saMskR^ita, “Not anymore O moon-like bhojadeva, now that I have an even heavier burden on my heart!  That our beloved rAjan either himself speaks ashuddha bhAShA or likely thinks that we do.”  After apologies from bhoja, the man was greatly rewarded.

The great mammaTa of kashmIra country said about bhoja:  “Scattered at night from the strings during kAmakeli from the bedrooms of the learned / pearls from being swept in the morning by the careless housemaids used to reach the streets/ where in reflection of the redness of AlatA from the feet of the young girls playfully walking / used to delude the parrots who chewed on them thinking to be pomegranate seeds / such was dhArA, and such its king bhojadeva whose generosity and scholarship created such happy days.” (kAvyaprakAsha 10.505)

December 25, 2009

vayaM pArasIkaM; We the pArasI-s

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

सुर्यँ ध्यायंति ये वै हुतवहमनिलं भुमिमाकाशमाद्यं
तोयो सम्पंचतत्वं त्रिभुवनसदनं न्यासमंत्रैस्त्रिसन्ध्यं
श्री होरमिज्दं बहुगुणगरिमाणं तमेवम् कृपालुं
गौराः धीराः सुवीरा बहुबलनिलयास्ते वयं पारसीकं 1

[Those who meditate on the Sun, and make offerings to the Fire, Wind, Earth, Space and Water,
that is, to the five elements of the three-Worlds, through the nyAsa sandhyA-s thrice a day;
Who adore the merciful shrI ahuramAzdAh, the Lord of the Gods, of many virtues;
Those, (O rAjan,) we are, the pArasIka-s, bold, valiant, strong, and fair]

प्रायश्चित्तम् पवित्रं पशुमपि सहसा हंति चेत्पंचगव्यम्
गोमूत्रं स्नानपूर्वं घनतरदिवसैः शुद्धिरेवं मनोज्ञा
नित्यंनित्यं गुरुणां सुवचनकरणं कल्मषक्षालनार्थं
येषामाचार एवं प्रतिदिनमुदितास्ते वयं पारसीकं 15

[Those, who if happen to even accidentally hurt a creature, undertake penances and adulations with pa~ncha-gavya-s , i.e. the five products of the cow;
Apply gomUtra before bathing for many days to get purified
from the sin; who always strive to keep the wonderful traditions of our masters and ancestors;
Such are whose conducts and who rejoice in following such our ways (O rAjan), are we the pArasIka-s]

Between the above two shloka-s written in shragdharA metre are thirteen more, that constitute the appeal written by a jaruthastrian scholar addressing the rANA of kAThiyAvADa. Not willing to sacrifice their sacred religion at any cost, but unable any more to bear the persecutions and humiliation at the hands of the fanatical desert marauders and their own converted coethnics, the surviving pArasIka-s had painfully decided to finally flee from their motherland and seek refuge in their sisterly Hindu Nation.

Having rapidly loaded their ships with their women and children and the bare necessities of voyage that could be found, they sailed through the eastern winds for over a week before laying anchors at the port of diu. The high priest sent a representation to the rANA with these 15 stanza-s, which speak about pArasIka religion and customs and highlight the hoary concordance of pArasIka and hindU religions and shared legacy of yore, written in an interesting saMskR^ita which harmoniously uses pehalavI words such as ‘dIna’ for religion!

As is well known, the rANA welcomed them to his domain, and his reply sent through his own chief priest became the sixteenth stanza of this composition which is reverently remembered and used by the pArasIka-s to this day.

श्री होरमिज़्दमुखम् सकलविजयकृत्पुत्रपौत्रादिवृध्यै
दाता श्री आतशोयं स भवतु भवतां पाप नाशाय नित्यं
श्री सूर्यः स्वानुकूलो बहुतरफलदा न्यासजाप्याय पंच
हे सर्वे पारसीका असुरविजयिनो यांतु मान्यं च नित्यं

[O pArasIka-s, May shrI ahuramAzdah grant you victory always, and may your children and grandchildren multiply;
Let your Sacred Fire be destroyer of the sins, and burn forever;
Verily, Let Lord Sun and the Five Elements, the givers of boons, always receive your nyAsa offerings and jApa-s;
And (fear not), O All you pArasIka-s, you shall be victorious over (these) demons and (re)gain the honour of yours]

Little did the rANA know! But, where will the Hindus go and to whom will they send their appeals?

October 30, 2009

bhUShaNa: sivAjI na hoto tau sunnati hota sabakI

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

देवल गिरावते फिरावते निसान अली ऐसे डूबे राव राने सबी गये लबकी
गौरागनपति आप औरन को देत ताप आप के मकान सब मारि गये दबकी
पीरा पयगम्बरा दिगम्बरा दिखाई देत सिद्ध की सिधाई गई रही बात रबकी
कासिहू ते कला जाती मथुरा मसीद होती सिवाजी न होतो तौ सुनति होत सबकी

सांच को न मानै देवीदेवता न जानै अरु ऐसी उर आनै मैं कहत बात जबकी
और पातसाहन के हुती चाह हिन्दुन की अकबर साहजहां कहै साखि तबकी
बब्बर के तिब्बर हुमायूं हद्द बान्धि गये दो मैं एक करीना कुरान बेद ढबकी
कासिहू की कला जाती मथुरा मसीद होती सिवाजी न होतो तौ सुनति होत सबकी

कुम्भकर्न असुर औतारी अवरंगज़ेब कीन्ही कत्ल मथुरा दोहाई फेरी रबकी
खोदि डारे देवी देव सहर मोहल्ला बांके लाखन तुरुक कीन्हे छूट गई तबकी
भूषण भनत भाग्यो कासीपति बिस्वनाथ और कौन गिनती मै भूली गति भव की
चारौ वर्ण धर्म छोडि कलमा नेवाज पढि सिवाजी न होतो तौ सुनति होत सबकी

When temples were demolished by those marching under nishAn-i-alI [1], rAvals-rANA-s had been tamed and every Hindu intimidated
When foresaken by gaura-gaNapatau themselves, the Hindus becoming timid were afraid even to come out from their homes
When renouncing their siddhi, siddha-s and digambara-s were happy to become pIra and paigambara, and talk was heard only of ‘raba’
kAshI was losing its kalA, mathurA becoming a masjid, and everyone was about to lose his foreskin, had shivAjI not been born!

All hearts were deluded, and faith in deities evaporated, such were the days that I speak of
Akbar the earlier pAtisAh had shown regard for the Hindus, even shAhajahAn will bear witness to it
The grandson of bAbur[2], and also humAyUn, had follwed the policy of not allowing the creed of Qoran to consume up the sacred religion of the veda-s
But now? kAshI was losing its kalA, mathurA becoming a masjid, and all were about to lose their foreskin, had shivAjI not happened!

Awrangzib, the very devil incarnated, the perpetrator of the genocide of mathurA in name of ‘Rab’
When he was uprooting abodes of devI-s and deva-s, and converting millions upon millions to mahomedanism across the cities and mohalla-s, have you forgotten that day?
bhUShana had thought that even mahAdeva, the Lord of kAshI, had fled away renouncing the world to its own, counts who else!
All four varNa-s were about to renounce dharma to read kalamA and do namAz and everyone was ready to lose his foreskin, had shivAjI not happened right then, that is!

[1]nishAn-i-alI, also known as the nishAn-i-haydar, is today the highest award of military honour in terrorist country.
[2]bhUShaNa uses the epithet ‘babbara ke tibbara’, we think for Akbar. ‘tibbar’ can be from trivara, and might be used for ‘third one’, ‘third time’, ‘third generation’, or grandson.

August 11, 2009

Jaina footprints on kannaDa; motivation for jaina vernacular scholarship

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

It is a fact that chandragupta the mauryan, the most genius military leader recorded by the Indian History, had conquered all of dakShiNApatha including whole of karNATaka, the testimony of which is furnished by the bilingual saMskR^ita-prAkR^ita mauryan inscriptions from the region. This is also of considerable credence that he had, along with a large population from his capital, of which jaina-s were a part, taken a lengthy retreat in this province at some point in time, faced with a prolonged draught in North.  It is by this means that the region seems to have come in close contact with jaina-s, if not introduced altogether for the first time to the jinadharma.

By this time, the language of kannaDa, along with its numerous dialects, must have already emerged with a distinct identity, from the household of the draviDan grand-aunt, although we know little of her older forms except for through the much later inscriptions. (Still the data is much clearer in this case than we get to see about the past of the most North Indian vernaculars).

In later centuries, many kannaDa works were produced including its grammar, especially during the ga~NgA period, although except for the names and themes of some of these early works, the manuscripts themselves have not been found.

This is where, to our rescue, enter the jaina-s, and it is interesting to note that the oldest work of kannaDa available so far to us, comes from nobody but a jaina scholar.

Many sources mention the 10th century pampA as the oldest kannaDa poet, the Adikavi, and his translation of the great bhArata, titled samastabhArata, as the oldest kannaDa poetry, besides AdipurANa the kannaDa narrative about the founder of jina-mata.   However pampA’s being first in the field of kannaDa will only be accurate so far as we speak of mahAkAvya.

One full century before the times of pampA, was written kavirAjamArga, which in reality is the oldest extant work in kannaDa that is available. kavirAjamArga, a handbook of poetics, was a contribution of another jaina scholar, under patronage of king nR^ipatu~Nga. Impressed by the stalwarts of saMskR^ita poetics, daNDI and bhAmaha, it lays down, using as a template the famed kAvyadarsha of the former, all the fine points about producing poetry in kannaDa vernacular.   (Interestingly, while paying tributes to saMskR^ita giants, it forbids the aspiring kannaDa poets from mixing the words of saMskR^ita and kannaDa, warning them that it would be akin to ‘mixing buttermilk with boiling milk’!)

Even before this time, we read that another jaina scholar tumbulUrAchArya wrote in the 7th century, a kannaDa work named chUDAmaNi, while during the same period prAbhR^ita was produced by another jaina scholar by name shyAmakuNDAchArya. Unfortunately neither of these works is available.

Produced a little later but still of quite antiquity is yet another old kannaDa work of jaina origin, vaDDArAdhane, which is a collection of nineteen jaina tales, quite of the nature of what we find produced at the same time in prAkR^ita and apabhaMsha from the jaina pens in the north, like entertaining kuvalayamAlA. ‘vaDDA’ in the title of this work even comes from apabhraMsha, and quite corresponds with its modern daughter, Hindi, in ‘baDA’, meaning ‘big’ / ‘elder’.

So, jaina contribution to kannaDa is in line with their contribution to many vernacular languages of many parts of India, be it gujerAtI, maharaTTI or maithilI. They were very particular about not only mastering the vernaculars but standardizing their literature, codifying the grammars, producing dictionaries, and preparing the manuals of poetics. Indeed most of the prAkR^ita and apabhraMsha grammars and dictionaries come to us intact, written by jaina AchArya-s and carefully preserved in jaina bhANDAra-s.

Having acknowledged jaina contribution to Indic languages, we were curious about what could have motivated them to go out of the way and master so many vernaculars beyond prAkR^ita and apabhraMsha, their chosen languages of knowledge.

We got the answer, internally from within the jaina literature, that too, no less than from the celebrated jaina master AchArya kunda kunda the ShreShTha.

In his great treatise of philosophy, samayasAra, which is held in a comparable esteem by jainAvalambins, as the bhagavad-gItA is by the Astika-s, AchArya kunda kunda hands us this lead in chaste prAkR^ita: “jaha Navi sakkamaDajjo aNajjabhAbhAsaM viNA u gAheduM… (samayasAra 1.8)” It’s saMskR^ita rendering would be “yathA na shakyatonAryyo anAryabhAShA vina tu grAhayitum…”, meaning, ‘(like) anArya-s can not be taught unless non-AryabhAShA-s are employed…’.

Which quite explains what might have motivated jaina scholarship in mastering different vernaculars: they were, unlike Astika-s, quite active in propagation of their mata, and mastering the vernaculars was a natural and essential pre-requisite for it.

Just one last comment about valluvar being claimed as jaina. Anyone with familiarity to both kuraL and jaina texts, wouldn’t claim this, besides we have yet to come across any jaina treatise of note that ever remembers valluvar as jaina, and jaina chroniclers are extremely particular about mentioning their masters. When some jaina hagiographies go so far as to claim kuTilya and rAmachandra as jaina-s, why would they leave out valluvar is hard to explain.

July 9, 2009

A Homosexual turned Bhakta

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

kahA kahUM ratiyA kI kathA batiyA kahi Avata hai na kacHU rI
Ayi gopAla liyo bhari a~Nka kiyo mana bhAya piyo rasa kU rI
tAhI dinA soM gaDI aMkhiyAM rasakhAni mere a~Nga a~Nga me pUrI
pai na dikhA.i parai aba bAvari dai ke biyoga bithA kI majUrI

{How do I describe that night dear, for words are escaping my tongue;
gopAla came, took me in his embrace, did what he liked, and we tasted the nectar;
And since that day, as if every pore of rasakhAn’s body has become eyes, waiting for him –
As he has not returned since, and I am left with this gift of his, this madness, this pain, this agony…}

The recent discussions on homosexuality brought to our mind that great poet of braja-bhAShA, Syed Ibrahim Piyani turned vaiShNava sAdhu rasakhAna, for whom his homosexuality itself had become the vehicle to reach kR^iShNa-devotion.

There are of course many unknown things about rasakhAna, including his parentage and early life, and we have no intentions to go into much of those details, in brief what stands almost certain from internal evidence of his own writings is that he was a homosexual, was a paThAna, used to live in dillI, and most scholars of Hindi history consider him a contemporary of Akbar. We however feel that he was an old man by the time of Akbar, and must have rather seen those times when himU had suppressed the last of Afghans and was crowned in dillI. (We have seen some hints of its mention in a couple of his lines, but that will require more analysis.)

The vaiShNava hagiography by gokuladAsa called ‘dosaibAvana vaiShNavan kI vArtA’ (Discussion on 252 vaiShNava-s) recounts the life of rasakhAna, and provides some details about rasakhAna’s homosexual beginning and how through it he turned to devotion. Reproduced below is the relevant part of the prose (#218):

“so vA dillI me eka sAhUkAra rahato hato | so vA sAhUkAra ko beTo baDo sundara hato vA cHoro so rasakhAna ko mana laga gayo | vAhI ke pIcHe phiryA karai vAko jhUTo khAve ATha pahara vAhI kI naukarI karai |… eka dina chAra vaishnava milaki bhagvadvArtA karate hate | karate karate aisI bAta nikasI jo prabhu me aisa lagAvanA jaise chitta sAhUkAra ke beta me lagyo hai…”

In summary, he used to live in dillI and been in homosexual relationship with a certain vaishya’s son, with whom he used to spend day and night and the story of their scandalous affaire was well known in the town. Once he was passing by a group of vaishnava sAdhu-s and got curious overhearing their discussion. (One sAdhu said that one must develop love for the Lord like this paThAna loves that vaishya boy). His curiosity drew him to them and when he asked he was shown a picture of kR^iShNa in shrI-nAtha form (some other descriptions mention it in muralI-manohara form, although little difference it makes). The image was so attractive that rasakhAna’s heart was immediately struck by its beauty, and he fell in love, as rasakhAna himself says in one of the dohA-s recorded in prema-vATikA: ‘prema-deva kI cHabi lakhi, bhaye miyA rasakhAna’ – one glance at the image of the Lord of Love, and miyA became rasakhAna.

He then visited vR^indAvana, and started roaming around in the company of vaiShNava vairAgI-s, eventually taking dIkShA in puShTi mata from the son of famous vallabhAchArya, composing and singing love songs for his new love, and eventually becoming the famous rasakhAna. His poems are mostly in the savaiyyA meter, and present an entirely unique strain of devotion. Above all, one can find such expressions in his work that would easily remind one of his homosexual beginnings.

It seems Moslems did not take kindly to his conversion, and some complained against him with the emperor (Akbar?), although there is no mention of any persecution of rasakhAna except for this line that he wrote: “kahA karai rasakhAna ko ko.U chugala-labAra | jo pai rAkhana-hAra hai mAkhana-chAkhana-hAra” (What harm can these petitioners bring to rasakhAna, for his protector is now none lesser than kR^iShNa himself.)

According to janaShRuti, towards the end of his life he once heard a recitation of rAma-charita-mAnasa (which must have been composed just recently by young tulasIdAsa), and took to its reading and hearing very lovingly.

His immortal, famous last-wish:

mAnusa hauM tau vahI rasakhAna basauM mili gokula gaoM ke gvArana
jo pasu hauM tau kahA basu mero charauM nita nanda kI dhenu majhArana
pAhana hauM tau vahI giri kau jo dharyo kara cHatra purandara kArana
jo khaga hauM tau basero karauM mili kAlindI kUla kadamba kI DArana

(If reborn as a human, then wish to be reborn as rasakhAna, living among those shepherds of gokula;
And if I have to be reborn as an animal, for what control do I have in it, then wish to be born as a cow that would graze together with the cows of nanda;
And if I be sent as a stone, then let me be on that hill, which my Lord picked up due to the wrath of purandara;
And if I become a bird, then I wish I shall make home on the branches of those kadamba trees that grow on the banks of holy yamunA)

bhAratendu records about rasakhAna in his uttara-bhaktamAla, and counting him among other moslem-turned-Hindu devotees, he ecstatically concludes: “ina musalmAna harijanan pai koTina hinduna vAriye”: (the gain of such hari-jana musalmAns makes cheaper to me the loss of a million Hindus.)

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