Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Himalayan journey of a Raindrop

At this point of time, there are exactly 3 people whose very mention of the name gives me goosebumps. One of these is Kalidasa, the other two I will reserve for a later post.

The language is the vehicle of expression of human feelings. We often hear "I cannot express the feelings in words". Isnt it merely a limitation of the language? Suppose there is a language that would facilitate the expressions in a very precise and articulate manner. Would that be sufficient? Not necessarily. The human being who converses in that language must also be good enough to communicate it effectively.

Fortunately Panini 'established' a language called Samskrita which provides a medium to express pretty much everything a man could think of in terms of communication. But is that enough? Several playwrights, poets come along write great literature that enhances the language by their own small capacity. Several hundred years after Panini, comes Kalidasa and writes such a brilliant poetry which outshines all the other gems put together. Often Kalidasa is compared to Shakespeare. This is so wrong on several accounts. Kalidasa embellished what is only already a perfect language. Shakespeare had to deal with a less-than-so-perfect language like English and brings the beauty out of it. In that sense, Shakespeare's effort is like that of ant's ability to carry 700 times its own weight. (I am writing about Kalidasa, how can I not do similies!) But unlike Shakespeare, Kalidasa lived during the times of the giants of Samskrita literature, who unanimously recognized his greatness. Reminds of me a subhAshita: It is easy to find a great man, but it is hard to find a man who acknowledges the greatness of another man.

Here is a fantastic piece of poetry from kumArasambhava.

sthitA: kshaNam pakshmasu tADita adharA: payodhara utsedha nipAta chUrNitA: |
balIshu tasyA: skhalitA: prapedire chireNa nAbhim prathamoda bindava: ||

Lets rewrite this in prose order:

prathamoda bindava: kshaNam pakshmasu sthitA:
(ata:) tAditA: adharA:
(ata:) payodhara utsedha nipAta chUrNitA:
(ata:) tasyA: balIshu skhalitA:
(ata:) chireNa nAbhim prapedire |

prathama oda bindava: - The first drops of rainfall
kshaNam - for a while
pakshmasu - on eye-brows
sthitA: - rested (then)
tAditA: - lashed
adharA: - on the lips (then)
nipAta - fell
payodhara - on the breast
utsedha chUrNitA: - and pulverized into several droplets (then)
tasyA: - of her
balIshu - belly
skhalitA: - skidded down (then)
chireNa - after a long time
nAbhim - navel
prapedire - surrendered.

The description is about Parvati meditating in the Himalayas on Shiva to attain him as her husband.

See the verbs picked so appropriately for each action of the raindrop.

Rested on the eye-browse, lashed the lips, pulverized into droplets, skidded down the belly, surrendered to the navel.

Everytime I contemplate on this piece, it gives me goosebumps because of its unmatched precision in bringing out the beauty of the language. I just cant express my feelings in words :-)
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