Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open letter

Dear Classical Sanskrit Poets of yore,

 Would you PLEASE lay off these INTENSELY IRRITATING fixations:

1. Lotuses. Oh GOD. Someone should cleave out a special 'Padmopama' and 'Padmarupaka' alankArAs. They should then be summarily banned, and treatises should be written on how many centuries one would spend in Raurava hell if one employs them.

2. Cows

3. Said cows' (and sundry other) udders

4. The unimaginable enormousness, pinkishness, and full-of-milk-ness of said udders. "भ्रुवं कोष्णेन कुण्डोध्नी मेध्येनावभृतादपि, प्रस्नवेनाभिवर्षन्ती वत्सालोकप्रवर्तिना" "Having a pitcher-sized udder, showering the entire earth with a flow of lukewarm milk streaming forth at the sight of her calf, and more sanctifying than even a sacrificial ablation" - I mean, this is ridiculous!

5. While we are at it, could we please also take it easy with the elephant-trunk-like thighs and vanishingly narrow waists? The rest of us would like our heroines' midriffs to be at least simply connected, thank you very much.

6. Ah yes, Elephants

7. Said elephants' secretion of temporin during musth

8. All manner of obscure floral anatomy. It is hard enough in these bachelorly times to have a firm grasp of human anatomy, let alone worry about the sodding pistils of the blighted Crateva Religiosa.

9. In general, ALL elaborate descriptions of flowers and plants

10. CHAPTER LONG encomia on deer, rabbits and other wholly harmless and BONE-CRUSHINGLY BORING hermitage-animals and their god damned fluttering eyelashes and brows.

11. Birds, almost always some obscure species that can only be referred to now with Latin names. "Like the song of a Sylvia atricapilla" FFFFFFUUUUUUUU!

12. What the hell is this fetish of 'strictly abiding by scriptures' that is spoken of every other verse? WE GET IT, now will you PLEASE STOP REPEATING THE SAME THING A ZILLION TIMES?!!

6 comments:

Rohit Sarma said...

Must be that they (stock elements) were so much a part of literary lexicon that a mere mention would suffice in simplifying the expression or conveying it more precisely. But every time I come across a mention chataka/chakora, I'm remined of the appernt 'generation gap'. 1,500 years is afterall huge :) I can only begin to imagine how different the world must have been then!

Rohit Sarma said...

Must be that they (stock elements) were so much a part of literary lexicon that a mere mention would sufficed in simplifying the expression or conveying it more precisely. But every time I come across a mention chataka/chakora, I'm remined of the appernt 'generation gap'. 1,500 years is afterall huge :) I can only begin to imagine how different the world must have been then!

KVM said...

Hi Rohit, Thanks for dropping by and commenting, and sorry for the delay. I've come some distance from when I made this post, and while I think I understand why they do it better, I still stand by the post's essence :-)


Your point is absolutely right -- we cannot imagine enjoying English of 200 years ago with the ease that we comment about the Sanskrit of _2000_ years. Just imagine, the average life-span was about a third of what it is now, the average person probably never moved more than a few miles from where he was born, and the average scholar (few and far between) read as many books in his lifetime as we read articles in a _month_. And these are merely structural -- like now, there surely would have been waxing and waning styles, influences and tens of generations in a typical conversation about "Sanskrit"!


Perhaps I should write a follow up to this... btw, how did you bump into this obscure corner of the web? :)

Rohit Śarmā said...

Hi KVM,
Just a few minutes back I was looking at this image: http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/studypages/internal/dl/SouthAsia/Buddhist/pgs/u1/p3/DL0034l.htm

Notice the use of lotuses here. It overwhelming – her foot rests on lotus, she is seated on lotus, she is holding a lotus! (There are 2 more lotuses in background too :-)

------

I had the fortune of receiving some excellent tutorship in Sanskrit at school. We had a damn good teacher although his pedagogy may not qualify as modern. In any case the tragedy is that, I hardly tried to nurture the interest later. But now 10 years later, I find myself eager to start flirting with Sanskrit again. I must admit life was so much better with a teacher around – both to learn as well as discuss!

I knew about your blog while at IIT Madras (BT/ME/2006-10). I used to swing by and read few articles at times.

KVM said...

LOL, "padmanane padmini padmapatre padmapriye padmadalayataksi..." :D

Ah, wonderful to hear you're trying to rekindle your Sanskrit reading :-) I know, it can be quite hard without a teacher (or at least a group of interested people to discuss with). Perhaps you'll like this: A friend Shreevatsa and I started a ~weekly article-group called Sadaswada, where we discuss one work every week. There have been about two dozen postings so far, and the best way to start off is a couple of examples. #23: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/sadaswada/QR8vXVPqUco

Next, one from the Pancatantra, #21: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/sadaswada/hwF4RxCDi9A

Rohit Śarmā said...

"padmanane padmini padmapatre padmapriye padmadalayataksi..." - is EXCATLY what I wanted to quote! :-) lakhsmi ashtotram.. The bliss when the other completes the sentence. dhanyosmi aham.
(Padmapriyaam, padmahastaam, padmaskshim, padmasundarim,
padmodbhavaam, padmamukhim, padmanabhapriyaam ramaam, Padmamaala dharaam devim,
padminim, padmgandhinim)

Thanks a ton for the links. I joined the group. I'll try to follow up.