Sunday, December 27, 2020

Biography of a pot-sun

Biography of a pot-sun
A big earthen pot
was filled with water
in the open space
with the wind blowing
around and into the pot
and on the space
above the water filled
Sun came on top
to peep into the pot
slowly stepped into
by its ray-legs
and lo! fell into the water
immersed in water
the sun was in panic
of course pan ic
no no panic panic
oh why whats hap
The sun fell into the water
filled in the pot
dried by the wind
kept in a spot;
oh it is karma it is karma
the sun got caught
in the pot
into the water
why it was so careless
may be just a slip
nay nay all the old karma
to exhaust to exhaust
due to karma it fell
the sun into the pot
the sun in the pot
was raising hue and cry
scolded the Sun above
you are so cruel
no mercy on me poor soul
you are laughing high above
me in this pot
drowned in this pool
up and down
round about
going to pieces
by a whiff of wind
still you are amused
by me confused
The Sun above was just shining
shunning darkness and cold
shedding light
spanning space
drawing water to the sky
yet it knew not
any of these but to shine
The sun in the pot
in a miserable spot
was panting for liberation
praying for consideration
swaying here swaying there
letting wind out
getting wind in
sometimes still
with no wind to frill
putting a dnd card
the sun in the pot
was in meditation
kindly don't disturb.
Srirangam Mohanarangan 


Cinching confusion

Is it the time-spirit?
Or is it any deviate run
or any demiurge?
spiritual exterior need not
necessarily have spiritual mind
spiritual attire housing materialist mind
banal domestic ordinary appearance
may sometimes contain spiritual thirst
that that exterior
containing that that interior
makes it quite clear
but odd combinations confuse
but that is how it goes
once upon a time things were perhaps clear
but nowadays it is confusing
not that correspondence is compulsory
but still it is confusing
the preference and the professing
not matching
may be cinching in the long run
you may say it is interesting
may be that helps in cinching
but still confusing
going with the time
we go nowhere
going where
we cross over time
but it is confusing
or is it just fusing?
interior and exterior
should they ride together?
if not then why they lie each to other
cinching or not
but still confusing.
Srirangam Mohanarangan 


Nammalwar's Tiruvaimozhi - are these two songs in the I.1 and I.7 intertextual?

Nammalwar's Tiruvaimozhi starts with 'uyarvaRa'. Then the beginnings of next two lines are 'mayarvaRa', 'ayarvaRu'. The 'edugai' pattern is 'uyarvaRa - mayarvaRa - ayarvaRu'. There is another song in the 7th decad in the same First Ten which has these three beginning words in another sequence as 'mayarvaRa - uyarvinai - ayarvil'. This is just a verbal feature but the poem never overlooks any feature whether it be structural or hermeneutical. The song runs as follows: 

'mayarvaRa enmanatthE manninAn tannai
uyarvinaiyE tarum oNsudark kaRRaiyai
ayarvil amararkaL Adik kozhundai en
isaivinai ensolli yAnvidu vEnO' 

(He has come to stay in my mind
removing ignorance and
any chance of it affecting again
He gives me all greatness rising high
and He is a mass of light
becoming more and more bright
He is the root and core
sustaining a world of involved
and relentless devoted immortals
He stands as my own accepting and yielding
Him, how can I give up or leave
telling what pretext!) 

Outwardly the poem has the tone of searching for a pretext to leave or give up. It is not the intention. Any discerning reader should be sensitive enough not to interpret just the letter. The intention is thankfulness and wondering at the divine agency leaving no chance to the human soul to destroy its own chances. The soul is very adept in collapsing at the very moment when it should be all cooperative. Even in worldly affairs the human being behaves quite foolishly and in a self-destructive fit. In transcendental matters how to rely on this poor soul? That is why, Sri Vaishnavism says that only Tirumal can stand as both the path and also the goal. Nammalwar drives home this all absolute and unexpecting agency of the Divine in doing good to the human soul. The Divine forces itself against any possible excuses. He becomes even the mental acceptance of the human soul. So nothing is left to human predilection or human choice. It is this unique aspect of the Divine that Nammalwar communicates very effectively and dramatically. It is to make clear this drama that the Arumpadam commentorial note narrates a story, a social folklore may be. A bridegroom visits his father-in-law's house. The father-in-law is very poor and he has to draw water from the well which was very deep. So he needs an assistance and he finds the chance coming of his bridegroom timely and he wants to make use of the man fully. After assisting in one or two buckets, the bridegroom begins to understand that he is caught in a fix. To escape from the situation he uses some pretext. Suddenly he spits on the face of the host mouthful of water. So that the host will become angry and drive him away and he can be free of this ordeal. But the host is more smart. He says, 'oh how cool is your mouth! It is so chill!'. The bridegroom got vexed and in a fit of anger he converted even that compliment into an occasion of hurt and gave up his work at the well saying, 'if you want a man to spit hot water go and search somewhere' Leave me.' The story may look very domestic and colourless. But is not the human soul's predicament equally banal and colourless? It is the Divine that is all the meaning and worth of human life and that worth has to be brought into human realisation only in spite of the human soul and not in its collateral support. It is not that the human beings cannot take efforts but miserably they are geniuses in self-destructive way. It is this shocking realisation on the part of the human soul that makes it wonder at the superb handling of the Divine leaving nothing to human vagary.
Srirangam Mohanarangan 


On Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi

The whole festival of Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi is exclusively centering on the celebration of Pramanas, i.e., the reference texts for the faith and path of Sri Vaishnavism. The texts are comprehensive of Ubhaya Vedas. Vedas in Sanskrit and Tamil. The purport and essence of these twin Vedas is what is indicated by the term Ubhaya Vedanta. What is this term Ubhaya Vedanta, what does this mean? Ubhaya is a word meaning a twin, that is a twofold entity each necessitating, dependent and expectant of another. It is not just counting as two. Suppose you have two apples, you cannot use this term ubhaya in that case. It is just two with no interrelationship between the two counted. There should be an intrinsic and mutual dependent relating with each other. A good example is something which can move both in water and land. It is called ubhyachara. A knife has two edges. There again it is ubhaya. That is one thing in two aspects, in two ways. It is not one distinct thing from another. But the twoness should be conjoined by a single substratum. Sakshus or eyes act as ubhaya. That is one eye complimenting another. In Ubhaya Vedanta, there are two fold Vedanta indicated by Upanishads~Brahma Sutras and Tiruvaimozhi and other Divya Prabandams, elaborated by commentaries and treatises on the essence and purport of Divya Prabandams like Rahasya Grantas. 

So in a way the whole festival of Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi lasting for about three weeks, divided by schedule of Day Ten days and Night Ten days, Pagal Patthu and Iraappatthu, is really a celebration of this Ubhaya Vedanta. And especially it is celebrating Divya Prabanda and centering around Tiruvaimozhi of Nammalwar. It is Nammalwar's dreams come true. After Thirumangai Alwar, Nathamunigal was the prime master who took upon himself the responsibility of making Satakopan's dreams a reality. Sri Ramanuja fulfilled the great mission trail-blazed by Nathamunigal. And it is this many-generations long mission that is signified by the glorious term of Ubhaya Vedanta. It is the mission come true starting from Seven Rishis blossoming in Satajit Rishi brought to completion by Lakshmana Muni that was accounted before Sri Ranganatha for one full long year by Periya Jeer called as SriSri Manavala Mamunigal. 

And in this celebration, which was also called Mokshotsavam, the whole spiritual progress and attainment of a Mukta is being demonstratively brought home to the participants and viewers. Sri Stanikam Parthasarathy Iyengar in his book Srirangam Koil Tattvam explains Nacchiyar Tirukkolam as Mohini Alankaram, I do not think it is simply that. Otherwise Parasara Bhattar would not have commented like that comparing the benign looks of Perumal with Pirattiyar. It should be I think Sri Ranganatha is acting the role of Nayaki Bhava, which is an important stage signifying high maturity and a high level of Parama Bhakti in the journey of a Mukta towards Bhagavan. The name Nacchiyar Tirukkolam seems more suitable to the occasion.
Srirangam Mohanarangan 


Ranga appearing for an exam!

Is Ranga appearing for an exam? 

Some of you may get the hint and know what I am about to say. For others no problem. We will go into that. First of all, thanks Ranga! for this morning tea in a wonderful daybreak. Sleeping teaches me that you are there even when I go absent from myself. Daybreak and waking up teach me that this is your world and for a second I do seem to realise that I also am yours but the long habit overtakes me with a vengeance. Who else but you can be so compassionate and patient towards such a dirty and nonchalant child as myself! Thanks for everything you have been doing me right from the start, even before the start. But to tell you a secret, don't mistake me! what secret can be there with you, You are the secret of secrets. Yet, many times I used to come straight to your doors and perhaps you may be expecting me to cross Aryabhataal gate but in the milling crowd I just slip sideways to Mother's sannidhi. You might have wondered many times where this rascal has gone. But to go to Mother is my weakness you may call it so. She also reprimands me many times that I give you a slip. But what to do? You are irresistible. But Mother makes it extremely homely with you. And you know, I am a sulking little brat. So I hide myself behind her saree and peep over to steal a look at you. So don't be angry towards me. I am such a faltering little fool that I really shudder when I think of appearing in your august presence. But Mother is kindness-incarnate that she removes all my apprehensions and with extreme care makes me see that you are more loving than your immeasurable greatness. Then I see you in your real nature of extreme agony of love, TIRUMAL. Love for the lost beings of this world! And I weep. I curse myself for all the days I distanced myself from you, for all the days I forgot you and ventured even to say that there was nothing like God. At that moment I feel myself so dirty and become so shameful to appear before you. But Mother is Mother you know! I know one of your secrets. You really are beyond birth. So to feel what it will be to have a mother you were born more than once, just for the sake of it, just to have a mother and receive motherly love. So you may understand me when I say why I am unable to resist running to Mother. So no more complaints on that, ok? 

But Parasara Bhattar also commented on this Motherly love and Motherly look once to you, is it not? Yea, I do remember it was on a Mohini Tirukkolam day. Nacchiyar Tirukkolam, yea. You will be appearing in the garb and apparel of Mother. So beautiful! and so very like. But did you pass that exam in bestowing the exact look which my Mother alone can bestow? The exam result is not yet out. How can it be? For, you are not separate from Mother and both of you are one whole Supreme Existence Consciousness Bliss. 

Happy Nacchiyar Tirukkolam Day! see you then.
Srirangam Mohanarangan 


On Fernando Pessoa or Alberto Caeiro

No. They are not pseudonyms but heteronyms, as he wished to call them. More than seventy such pseudo... sorry.. heteronyms were used by Fernando Pessoa, a Portugese writer and poet, born in Lisbon in 1888. Three such heteronyms are famous, Alberto Caeiro, Alvaro de Campos, Ricardo Reis. Of these one group of poems by Alberto Caeiro was translated by David Scanlon and published by The Foolish Poet Press in 1918. It was a happy shock to me to see a poem like this:

"The amazing reality of things
Is my discovery every single day.
Every single thing is what it is,
And it is difficult to explain to anyone how much it delights me,
And how much this is enough for me.
Just exist to be complete..."

These are the opening lines of his poem, The Amazing Reality of Things. Another super shocker from Alberto Caeiro -

'Live, you say, in the present;
Live only in the present.
But I do not want the present, I want the reality;
I want the things that exist, not the time that measures them.'

Really the personality which wrote these lines should be extraordinary or is it the 'really ordinary'? He was deep into many subjects. Schooled early in Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Wordsworth and others, he was also interested in French symbolism and also influenced by modernists like W B Yeats, James Joyce, T S Eliot and others. In politics he used to style himself as liberal within conservatism and anti-reactionary. And he used to call his type of nationalism as 'mystic, cosmopolitan, liberal and anti-catholic. And he was openly against communism, socialism, fascism and Catholicism. He was ardent in astrology and wanted to write about the system of astrology under a heteronym. He has even analyzed many great men's natal charts. Last but not least, he even predicted the time of his own death. He alone could have penned these lines -

"I have no ambitions or desires.
To be a poet is not an ambition.
It is my way to stand alone"

Fernando Pessoa passed away in 1935 leaving behind a big trunk of manuscripts. Unusual and fresh to read are his lines, so do I feel.
Srirangam Mohanarangan


Die-hard habits of thought

Certain habits of thought do not disappear quickly from a frame of mind used to western perspective for long. Monotheism, God's wrath over any lack of exclusive devotion of human beings and a linear concept of one-time living are perhaps traces which are die-hard. I was reading a poem by Aldous Huxley, which talks about the doors of the Temple. Very similar and most possibly inspired by Sri Ramakrishna's teachings AH writes beautifully 

"Many are the doors of the spirit that lead
Into the inmost shrine:
And I count the gates of the temple divine,
Since the god of the place is God indeed.
And these are the gates that God decreed
Should lead to his house"
But in the end, see this spurting out! -
"But he that worships the gates alone,
Forgetting the shrine beyond, shall see
The great valves open suddenly,
Revealing, not God's radiant throne,
But the fires of wrath and agony." 

The concept of the world distanced from Divinity and the concept of Divinity always sitting in furious judgement over human choices and distractions are habits of thought slow to disappear it seems.
But when we come to Sri Krishna in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, he says: 

"Whatever devotee seeks to worship whatsoever form with śraddhā, that same śraddhā of his do I make unflinching.
Endued with that śraddhā, he engages in the worship of that, and from it, gains his desires - these being verily dispensed by Me alone." (slokas 21, 22 Adhyaya VII, tr Sri C V Ramachandra Iyer, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sri Sankara's Gita Bhashya, 1988) 

Hindu consciousness has been imbued with salient thoughts of Divine transcendence and immanence with regard to the world. The universal attitude of HInduism is born out of this consciousness.
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Borrowed viewing

It is interesting, how any thought or system or a book by any author comes to be viewed through another author or thinker, who happens to hold the attention and emulation of readers or hearers at a given period of time. That is, when we begin to subscribe quite emotionally to a thinker, then what that person opines, what that person considers becomes the lens through which as enthusiastic readers we tend to see 'purvapaksha' (prima facie or opponent) ideas or authors. You may later add on by your homework further direct studies about the 'other' authors. But some sense of 'us' will be dominating still in your grasp and stance regarding the 'other' author's thoughts and arguments. But of course you can by great efforts absolve yourself from any colours of your 'preferred author' and do justice to your own understanding. But for that you have to come to a neutral territory in your mind, which would have been exactly the thing condemned in the first instance by the preceding preferred author of your own choice. So to say, our own mind acts like a magic prism, in that it allows you to see only what you decide to see as you have been subtly programmed to decide by your very act of immersive participation in any author, without which you will not be able to do justice in understanding any author in the first instance. That is we are weak and imperfect, gullible to all kinds of influences, by the very nature of our psyche. I think it is better to 'see' this consciously rather than being carried by our own assumptions of our own standpoint and state of mind. One lazy fallout of this 'sane realistic' is gyrating relativism, which becomes heavily coded by bromides of external vested interests. These thoughts come to my mind when I read Stanislaw Eile's book Modernist Trends in Twentieth-Century Polish Fiction. In that the author talks about how the polish authors of fiction have not been accorded due attention in the literary world and how the Eastern and Central European literary writings are generally viewed with regard to their political positions. "Apart from a few academic books, such as Daniel Gerould’s on S.I. Witkiewicz (1981) or Russell E. Brown’s on Schulz (1991), little attention has been paid to the position of Polish fiction within the history of the twentieth-century novel, or to its contribution to the modern plurality of vision. Habitually regarded as belonging to a somewhat provincial culture, it has often been considered important only insofar as certain political points can be made." (pp 1, Modernist Trends in Twentieth-Century Polish Fiction, Stanislaw Eile, 1996).
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Seeing One

There is nothing absolute essence in man.
The human being is interpreted out across relations and relative positions.
Never. There is some unchanging essence deep.
Just a flux of passing, relative scenes can never be made a thought
If no essence is witnessing the passing.
Relative is just a mirage till you ground yourself in the essence.
so goes the talk two way
till now and on and on.
but it is an inseparable this-in-that-in-this;
not even ying-yang but something more integral;
janus-faced? but no. It is one complete whole
resisting all your dissections
If you talk of absolutism you are smuggling in relative flux
If you stress relative flux and net of relations
you presume something absolute to mean
and get what you mean
what you want to drive home.
You can call it a quantum whole.
see whichever you like
you only take your side
but it remains ever the complete whole
relative refers to absolute which refers to relative
which refers to absolute and ....
We are beings of partial view.
Can we ever become beholders of the whole?
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Morning voices

Morning voices. Queer.. and sometimes jarring but interesting.. these voices one can hear from nowhere if you care to come out before the dawnish darkness evaporates into morn. Perhaps one man from some high above flat across the street thinks that he is in a sound-proof studio and is yelling at his dependents. He starts in a low key and the crescendo suddenly picks up, perhaps he suddenly becomes vexed 'how many times he has to repeat over and over' or perhaps 'why this peculiar drudgery to him alone of all the world, with no escape'. He is not articulating all these but the sudden voltage in the shout gossips many tips to the ears. Perhaps we in turn may be doing the same opera to others' listening, sometime or other. But the self sufficiency of reason is so blinding or deafening rather, that all of us think that our each individual case is an exception. Generalised exceptions are what constitute the common crowd.

Or again, one hefty voice is heard in the dark of night that travels down the streets punctured by neons here and there. You think that definitely the voice-owner should be a hefty fella, out there striding in the boxing style. The voice is a very faulty brush for the canvass of impressions. You come to realise that in a rare sunlight, when suddenly a little mouse-like human being crosses you making the very same decibels and you have caught the voice-owner right there but he is a poor creature! How this voice is sticking to him you wonder! But such is the wonder domestic that you have to let go of your cherished mystery of the dark neon.
We are all living in impressions and if you are an advaiti, you will say that even reality is one big impression at last. The elephant is walking slowly, jingling its bells indulgingly. But the dog is terrified. It is reading emergency and the impression is too much on its barking.

Monday, December 14, 2020

On poetry

Thinking about Poetry, can poetry be justified? That is, is it ever possible to sell poetry across in the utilitarian world? When the world is becoming more and more utilitarian, when even the field of spirituality begins to justify itself by the tangible and intangible benefits that may accrue to the votary and subscriber, what place will be there for poetry? You can say, 'poetry is useful in this way, poetry is applied here towards this purpose, poetry is effective towards achieving this end' and so on. But if you think deeply and truly about poetry, I think poetry is 'useless' in a utilitarian or pragmatic context. Poetry is not a commodity and can never be made into one. No packaging is possible with regard to poetry. Poetry can never be made into a saleable product. That is anthropologically, sociologically, economics-wise, commercially poetry can be never viable. In the name of poetry much sale can happen, much attention trading can be carried on, but in the true spirit, poetry is of no use in the daily, domestic, market world of values and goods that cater to tangible or distant uses. A poet, worth the name, always realises this and never forgets. You cannot take poetry to the people but only the human beings must choose to come to poetry, in whomsoever the sensibility awakens, perhaps when an individual soul becomes tradeless.
Srirangam Mohanarangan

A cat-skirmish

This is the second occasion. A month back similar thing happened. Milk packets usually the man puts in the bag and immediately or sometime afterwards I take it. But a month back, I found one packet near-fully leaked down and made a puddle of milk at the entrance. Other packets were safe. It was some work in the morning, half sleepy, half awake, resembling perhaps my poor spiritual state of mind. After cleaning all out I took a decision never to let that happen again. The milk vendor and the people around were telling me it should have been the work of a cat that was strolling around in the early morn. Never mind a creature like cat sharing my milk, perhaps too presumptuous without my permission. Ok I can take it as a lesson in my ahankara-mamakara tyaga. But the messy work in the morning, oh.., perhaps there is some meaning to it also. Who knows? But why me as if chosen pointedly? 

First time it was so unnerving. Now I have become graduated and I take it with a wink. But my surprise, both on the first occasion and also now is the deft way in which, if it is the cat, pricks a hole in the packet without disturbing any other set up. The bag is not torn. Not the packet handled in a nasty tear. Just a neat small invisible hole put from the underside does the trick and the milk drips soaking the bag's underside and falls dropping. The cat is irresponsible enough to leave the rest of milk pooled down and goes away perhaps. I feel amused with the cat and am thinking just what it tries to teach me? Is it my own irresponsibility in not being mindful and earnest enough towards Atma-Jnanam? Just like another animal I am mindful of only my eating, sleeping and whiling away the time, without any real progress towards self-realisation? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But my reactions are to this effect. Yea the morning tea was delayed and slow just like my understanding and adhyatmic progress. What to do? Willy-nilly one has to live one's own life, in the way one happens to find it or miss finding it. But tea is good for all that.
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Paravastu and Avatar

Paravastu is called in Tamil as Paramporul. Para is transcendent. In Tamil 'Param'. Vastu is substance. In Tamil 'porul'. Paravastu or Paramporul is the Transcendent Absolute. Avatar is the 'coming down of Paravastu or Paramporul being born as a being and assuming a body, so as to help the embodied beings to get free of this quagmire, samsara. By developing relationships with the Avatar, human beings mainly, get benefited by bhakti towards the Supreme. 

Why is it called Paravastu or Paramporul? Now we will come to that. A 'vastu' or 'porul' i.e., a substance has three limitations. Substance, any substance is limited in three ways. What are those three ways? By way of space, by way of time and by way of being a particular thing. A substance occupies a space. It is not everywhere. It is in a circumscribed space, limited by length, breadth and height and matter as content which occupies the space within this limit. When a substance is here it is not there. When it is there it is not here. This limitation is called space limitation or 'desa paricchedam'.
A substance may be there at one time and at another time. It may be now here and may not be present here in a later time. This limitation is called time limitation or 'kaala paricchedam'. 

A substance is one particular thing at a given time. It cannot be another substance or thing at the same time or it cannot be any other substance than itself. So it is limited by being one particular thing and this is called thing limitation or 'vastu paricchedam'. Paricchedam means just limitation. So any vastu in the world will be limited by space. time and identity of its being a thing. Any substance will be having three limitations or paricchedams, i.e., desa paricchedam, kaala paricchedam and vastu paricchedam. Is there any substance which is free of these three limitations? If at all such a substance is there it cannot be in the world and it can be only transcendent, beyond this samsara. That absolute substance which is free of three limitations is called 'Transcendent Substance' or Paravastu. 

If Paravastu is beyond samsara what is it to us? In what way is it going to help us out of this misery? But that Paravastu is also 'krupa' through and through. So the Paravastu of its own grace and karuna to help the beings here takes a birth in this world. That is called 'Avatara'. But it is in no way changed in its nature of being free of three limitations, even when it is born down here. How can it be? If it is beyond and free of all three limitations, how in reality can it be born as an avatar? If born, how can it be at all still free of all the limitations? It is beyond nature. Yea. That is why in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the chapter which talks about this mystery of Avatar of the Paravastu, is called Rajavidya and also Rajaguhyam. It is the science most royal and again the mystery most royal. Why royal? Because it is so and no question can be asked or any answer expected, just like the free-will of kings in monarchy. Sri Ramakrishna in a teaching says that the Supreme Atman is coming down as avatar not out of karma but out of karuna. It is comparable to a King going to visit his son in prison, who is arrested due to some crime. His son is there out of his activity as a punishment. But the KIng goes to the prison not due to any punishment but out of love for his son. In the same way, Paramatman comes to this world as avatar out of his karuna to help this jiva, His child. 

Now again, Sri Pillai Lokachariyar Swami, one of the Purvacharyas of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, talks about a parallel avatar that is happening whenever Paravastu is coming as avatar. When Paravastu is there in his transcendent state, the Veda is the pramanam which enlightens us about Paravastu. Pramanam is the epistemological method which causes knowledge about reality. What is made known by pramanam is called prameyam. So just like prameyam which is taking avatar, pramanam also takes avatar correspondingly. When Paravastu is in transcendent state pramanam is Veda. When He is born as Vyuhamurti, pramanam is also born as agamas, to inform about Him. When He is born as human beings like Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, pramanam is also taking avatar as Itihasam. When He is taking the avatar of Archa in the temples, the same pramanam is taking avatar as Divya Prabandam. What a wonderful concept, this parallel avatar of pramanam alaong with prameyam! Veda along with Vedavedya! Epistemology along with Ontology!
Srirangam Mohanarangan

On Indian English

Of course I am earnest about Indian English. But Indian English has traveled a long way these hundred years. Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy and many recent books of essays and novels are very much different in style from the early authors. Certain authors in literature, philosophy and religion have attained permanent status, appealing as ever to succeeding generations, like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, Dr Radhakrishnan, Swami Chinmayananda, and Sri R K Narayan, and many others. But if we read some of the early works, like Altar-Stairs of Rao Sahib Dr Ramakrishna Rao, 1936, we see the difference in style and expressions. In many places in Altar Stairs the author is trying to translate literally his thoughts and feelings set in domestic customs and style. When he writes about Dewan Bahadur R Venkat Ratnam, his mentor, he writes like this - 

"It must suffice by itself as a proper source of pride and pleasure that the most distinguished son of Andhra now at the helm of higher education in the Presidency is, to this Magazine as also to the present writer, a fellow-‘native* of dear old Masulipatam" 

"The ‘boy orator' of the seminary then acquired in the regimental ranks the appellation of ‘the little prodigy with four hands* in recognition of the additional limbs conferred by the strange academic gown. One year of journalistic activity amid the vital formative forces of the metropolis; and, once for all, the noblest of professions claimed for its own the divinely-appointed candidate with the presage and the benediction, ‘This is my beloved son in whom I shall be well pleased.*" 

And it is also true that Indian English is always developing and is becoming more sharp and stylish in reflecting our ethos.
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Human beings are also nature's creatures

It is intriguing to see how some opinions just crop up as self-evident truths. One such opinion is about other living beings and us, human beings. Whenever some talk is there about human society being troubled by animals or birds or other creatures and steps to be taken to tackle the situation, immediately you can see somebody voicing an opinion, 'you see! we have occupied its place and we don't have any right, moral right to feel offended by the rightful owners' i.e., the other beings whatever it is in the context. 'Oh bird menace' - immediately this opinion, 'it is their place you know!' you can't blame; why you have grabbed from them?'. Emotions apart let us see whether there is any credibility in such opinions. All those opinions, whether voiced on the streets or in the forums, all such opinions have this note 'against the human species, viewed as intruders into nature and favourable towards all other creatures whether wild or domestic. 

Now let us take the basic thing. What do we mean by nature? Based on science we can only mean evolution, in which the creatures have come before us in the series or sequence. The human being is not at all an intruder like the opinion-holders seem to believe implicitly. We have not come from somewhere external. But we are quite as authentic as any other creature and we are part of this evolutionary process. All creatures which have come before us have been fighting for their survival or serving the needs by instincts in mutual contexts. Each species was having some survival skills and tool-kits to help their existence. Lives of the foregone shaping the choices and skills of the following. The human being should be understood in this dynamic chain of existence and the human being is as much a rightful member of nature as any other species or creature. So when we talk, 'this world belongs to that creature or this creature', we should not forget that this world equally belongs to human beings. Human beings are as natural as any singing bird or swimming fish or roaring wild animal or moving reptile. Just like all those creatures have their own survival skills like massive body, or strong physique or extra coat of skins or capacity to fly or be in water for endless periods, human beings who were deprived by nature of all those similar skills and in its stead the human beings began to develop the mental faculty, permitted by nature. Note well the clause 'permitted by nature'! It was nature which put compulsions on the homo sapiens to develop the brain and the mind, as survival skills to further the human living. So the human beings need not feel guilty about themselves and by no stretch of imagination need they yield their status as equally authentic beings of nature, having all the rights of living and the duty to preserve the human life, just as any other creature is deemed to be having preemptively. 

The point is not any fight with the animals as such. The animals don't blabber bromides like 'this is ours; you are all intruders'. It is only human beings who are capable of using their own capacity for concept-formation in a self-destructive way. How people use their rhetoric to preemptively subvert the natural place of human living is the question. There is no second thought about caring for animals, whether commonplace or rare. It is the manifestation of being fully human. But the logic should never be perverted so as to convert our very existence as a cause of guilt. That the human being understands other beings and their existence and actively promotes coexistence with them, bespeak of the human being's mentally self-generated process of evolving spiritually, perhaps replacing the laborious process of evolution of nature which was the modus operandi in the foregone periods. And it is only perversion of the same human faculty of mind, to convert the natural activity of the human being into a cause of guilt. Whereas it is only the human being who is trying to make this planet convenient for all types of beings, reclaiming them from the blind processes of nature that have been controlling their fates so far. So next time, when you are tempted to spurt out the opinion, 'why.. this world belongs to them. ' just remember that you as a human being of nature and evolution, is one of that 'them'.

Summer heat for the soul

We do know scorching summer heat in our tropical weather. Sometimes in heat waves people swoon and get dehydrated. This burning of summer heat affects the body and drains all our energy. In the same way there is a scorching heat, heat waves for the soul. It is worldliness, losing oneself in the worldly things and losing sight of values. Generally we all place our body safely in air-conditioned atmospheres. Body should be in a convenient place, where it is not bothered. But we do not so much worry about keeping our soul in cool shades or convenient cabins. We generally put our soul in too much 'summer heat', i.e., too much worldliness, care of money, pleasures, comforts and things. We even tend to measure our soul and that of others only by these external things. But our soul is all the more internally weeping and panting and suffering this over-heat and our utter negligence about it. It does plead with us in all subtle ways but we are stone deaf to all its fine tones and tears. And Tirumangaiyalwar was one such person who put his soul in the scorching heat of worldliness and his body in cool shades of comfort. But the reasonless grace of Ranga won him over from the side of worldliness to divine sensibilities. That is how the commentary of Sri Periyavachanpillai beautifully introduces the subject of Alwar while commenting upon Periya Thirumozhi. 

But the Divine grace to operate upon the human soul requires some qualities, some attitudes at least on the part of the human being. Here in the case of Tirumangal Alwar, Sri Ranganatha could find some such qualities and attitudes. One was the no-compromise attitude of Kaliyan (Tirumangai Alwar) towards anything he chose to enjoy. If Kaliyan decides upon something to enjoy it will be the best of its kind or value. Anything less than the very best cannot attract Kaliyan. Another aspect of Kaliyan was his attitude of receptivity. When something very best was being shown to Kaliyan, or something very best thoughts being said to Kaliyan, he would never be slackening in receiving that or appreciating that.
These aspects and qualities were enough for Sri Ranganatha to win him over to the adhyatmic side. When the first word, the divine name was heard, Kaliyan reached the acme of realisation. The worldly life was gone and what remained was life in Tirumal. This sudden transformation, one moment this, the next moment totally changed, what kind of power, energy should have been at play.! Such is the power of mantra and the efficacy of divine names. Tondaradippodi Alwar says that in the hell when somebody by chance utter the divine name of Sri Ranganatha, the very hell is totally changed to swarga. But in the life of Bilwamangal, is it not the same thing that happened?
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Atma Vidya is simple

So simple this knowledge of Atman ! Bhagavan Sri Ramana sings a song to this effect. It is called 'appalap paattu' or 'pappad song'. While kneading flour for pappad some song will be used as sing-along', a melody to relieve tediousness. But Maharishi composed a song for the regular chores which teaches the Atma-vidya also along with singing. The song runs like this - 

Hey it is easy this art
Atma vidya is very easy.
This muscles packed body
'this is me' to think so indeed
is just many thoughts tied to form
and if you go deep
to see what is 'I seat'
thoughts will go vanish
and that which is ringing
'I' 'I' in the heart's cave
by itself in itself
that is wisdom of atman
that is all silent
that is one space
and that is real bliss
(trn mine) 

And there have been many who sang Vedanta in simple melodies, in the common people's terms. Avudaiyakka is one such sage who has composed simple songs. And there have been sages who have taught people this greatest wisdom, Atma-Vidya in very many ways. Each way is beautiful and effective. But howsoever you express it the singular wisdom is inexhaustible. Is it not?
And the way Tiripura Rahasya teaches the same Atma-Vidya is another beauty in its own way. Sages are really artists of Atma-Vidya, so to say! Parasurama is in search of wisdom of Atman. He happens to meet Samvartha, another sage. Samvartha teaches him. 

'It is better to ask regarding the basic reality of our ego, this Atman not where is it? but better still is to ask where is it not?. Before anything appears to you in meaning in reality, this has gone before into that reality and happens in priority in understanding. The core cognition basic to all cognitions about things is this Atman. It is wrong to take this body as one's self. Because the self is always the knower and remains strictly that. Body is always that which is perceived and remains an object of knowledge. It is basically an outright delusion to mistake that which is known and can always remain as a thing known only as the very knower, which it can never become. And the aspirant should give up imagining and believing himself as this body, which is always something known. And that aspirant should wake up to his reality of being a knower always and remain so by practice. What is the indication that that aspirant has become established in this right wisdom of Atman? It is this: dispassion towards worldliness will be very natural in him. That aspirant will never consider any worldly object as of any value, the worldly ways will be having no interest to that person, that person will be so devoid of any attraction towards Samsara, the worldly contexts. This is the good way. And a person who has come to stand firm in this good way will attain the highest bliss. No doubt in this." 

But the beauty of the narration is yet to come. Parasuram did not understand the teaching fully and in full import - so says the narration. How ably it has impressed on our minds the mysterious nature of this wisdom! It is an open secret. It is an easy tough concept to understand. Great sages may fail to understand. Some simple persons may happen to catch it strong. Also there is another mystery. What you don't understand when told by one person, you may understand the very same thing when told by another one! Perhaps that person is decided to be your master to teach you or bring home to you.
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Carelessness about the future

'Let us take care of today. Why bother about what is going to come and all that?' This mentality is found not only in individuals but also in institutions and associations. Too much future planning is also mistaken to be calculative. To calculate is not same as to be calculative. To calculate is part of the mental functions as a human being. But to be calculative is taking one tool out of the toolkit too far and too chronic. It is counting the things as possession and ignoring values as irrelevant. Very easily it slides towards 'range of the moment' attitude. But the sanity starts from the moment you think 'that which I do now what will be the effect of it in future'. What action in my past has resulted as my present state of things? If what I want is overall happiness in life how can I prioritize my preferences and actions. What can I give up and what can I not? - all these thoughts gave rise to the concept of 'karma' in the past ages. 'Karma' is nothing but the deep thinking of wakeful human society conceptualized. It can be misused as 'all karma; so no responsibility on my part; whatever I do is karma, don't blame me'. The misuse of a concept shows human predilection towards self-destructiveness and can serve as a warning to pull ourselves back in time. But rightly understood, 'karma' clarifies on various levels and paves way towards a sustained constructive social living. It does not require great thinking to realise the blindness of the attitude 'exploit now; no bother for the next day'. Not only is it blind but nature punishes us frequently on that count. 

'To obey is the first step towards conquering nature' is an old adage but all the more relevant. If we understand this adage rightly, we will give attention to nature, give attention to us as parts of nature, to the society as the best possible context for meaningful living. We will feel shy to behave irresponsibly towards nature, surroundings, human beings and our history. Irresponsibility will never parade as independence of thought or being individualistic. The worst enemy for any responsible human living is self-aggrandizement that comes out of blind egoism. These two, blind egoism and self-aggrandizement together can do more havocs than missiles to humanity.
Srirangam Mohanarangan

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

The world of Bhajans

 Bhajans are a quite different world in themselves. 'Dakudin' 'Dakudin' so the mrdangas resound to keep the beats. And a voice soaked in anguish sings 'Hari Hari Vittala' Jai Govinda Hari Jai Gopala Hari... Radha Madava Mukunda MurarE... and the assembled hearts shedding their thousands of cares and worries and bickering all melt along to the one Govinda.

Is there Govinda? A picture or an idol is there but the emotions are very much real and throbbing. Bhajans was the weapon in the hands of Sri Krishna Chaitanya. And Sri Ramakrishna was losing himself chanting and singing about Ma, Bhagavan. He was lost in ecstasy but made Narendra into Vivekananda to save us from being lost in worldliness.
Usually Bhajans are attractive to me. They say that there are more than one paddhati in bhajans. I wanted to ask my Periyappa's daughter who is an expert in Bhajan systems about all these things. But she did not believe me so easily, She said ' you are a dry Vedantin. how come you are interested in bhajans?' I have heard there are many hurdles to Vedanta but that was the first time I realised Vedanta can be a hurdle in turn. But somehow, probing here and there and doing some studies I managed to update myself regarding the paddhatis and all that. What interesting fields have been going on in our land in different parts! But one thing we must give the credit. Many groups have been involved in bhajan traditions. And no difference anything was preventing anybody to contribute their part to bhajans. If anything has been near to the Hindu celebration of the Divine as a unified society I will say it is bhajans. In that area the contribution of the devotees of Sri Adisankara is phenomenal and continuous.
In Bhajans when we concretize our emotions and elations on the forms, what we are doing is really towards Paramatman but are we not approximating our ideal, may be, but even our thinking about the Supreme is only approximating and bhajans allow us to transcend easily all fragmentations of the concrete world. It is a melting impasse that is felt by the blend of music and emotions. Devotion becomes a very palpable power in uniting us before the Divine and magnetize our hearts towards the Transcendent. Whoever discovered Bhajans that person has done enormous good by that one action.
Sri Sudarsana Bhattar, who wrote the extraordinary metacommentary viz., Srutaprakasika over Sri Bhashya of Sri Ramanuja, in a sloka says this;
The Paramatman is something heard in the essences of srutis
It is mentally pondered over in detail in the Bhashya
In the heart-lotus it remains the object of meditation
But in Sriranga Daama He becomes visible to these eyes
As the very LakshmiPathi ! To that Divine Couple I surrender.
srutyantEshu srutam
bhAshyE matam
dyAtam hrudambhujE |
lakshmIpatim prapadyEham
drushtam sriranga dhamani ||
And Bhajans make eyes out of emotions and the hearts become retina to behold the Transcendent.

Can God be called a net?

 Can God be called a net? A net prevents you from escaping but does not prevent your seeing the beyond. It is not a gunny bag or a holdall. It makes visible your captivity; it makes the free space visible to you but not available. It allows light and wind but prevents your movement out. A net need not be necessarily negative. It can be positive like the beloved's net for a lover. A running man is chased and a net is thrown around. He is captured. But the falling man is saved by the net thrown under. Sometimes you are too smart for the net. Sometimes the net is too smart for you. And sometimes too much smartness itself becomes the net.

God is always a good net says Sri Vishnu Sahasranama; sutantu: is one of the names. And the divine net is always growing, becoming plenty, developing into more nuances. It is always incremental in goodness. Tantuvardhana: And freedom, rightly understood, is a net of responsiblities; self-willed initiatives. There is a net called Vasudevan - so says Nammalwar. How to illustrate by abinaya in dancing this portion of 5th Ten, 3rd Tiruvaymozhi, 6th pasuram.? Azhwar Thiruvarangapperumal Araiyar illustrated while dancing by actions like throwing a net and collecting it by strings and all that. 'akappattEn Vasudevan valaiyuLE' 'caught in the net called Vaasudevan'. But Emberumanar who was seeing that suggested by alternative abinaya, the beauty of eyes and demeanor. Vasudeva's net is his enchanting grace-pouring eyes; His charming demeanor. Just a look across ThirumaNatthooN is sufficient to tie you for ever. If you have doubts you can ask the Malla. But why that great Bhagavan allowed himself to be tied by petty, short shreds of thread by Yasoda? Who knows? And when He was bound at last by kaNNi nuN siRu thAmbu, He was so joyful as if He had won in a contest. By being tied He has bound all the hearts in devotion.

Learning a treasure to be cherished

 There is one line in 'inidu nARpadu', an old Tamil book of maxims and ethical advices. The book was written by the son of Madurai Tamizhaasiriyar, called Bootam Sendanar. There one line is coming like 'andaNar Otthudaimai ARRa miga inidu'. It is pleasant to see Brahmins studiously learning or chanting the Vedas. Paripadal says that in those days Madurai was waking up in the early morning with the Vedic chanting resounding. When I was studying in the college, one friend was there by name Ramabadran, of course a little younger than me. He was related to Sri U Ve Madurantagam Veeraraghavachariyar. Perhaps his grandson. I used to go to Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, Tirupparaitthurai frequently to meet Swamis and Brahmacharis there and sometimes I used to stay overnight, if it was a holiday the next day. During Sivaratri, it was happy time for me, so that I used to sit along with Brahmacharis and Swamis in the groves, in midnight, doing homam and japam. In a later jamam we would go to the temple and have darsan. Swami Chidbhavananda was there. To sit before him and chant the divine names was so thrilling. Kaveri on one side, trains going on the other side, intense groves and rustic weather all made my days then ethereal. I was talking about Ramabadran. He wanted to come along with me one day. So when I was about to start, I poked him. And he joined. When we were talking to Swamis there, this Ramabadran suddenly asked the Swami who was talking to us, 'I want your help in one thing. Can I ask?'. All were a bit curious. You see a small boy, then I was also not much bigger than the small, suddenly in all proper etiquette asking permission to ask a doubt! The Swami was jovial and said 'why not?'. Ramabadran told him his plight (see! plight of a small boy!) : I am learning Vedas under a teacher. He is not teaching me full quantums of the vidya. He is partial about another boy. What I can do?'. Of course the Swami was a little taken aback and he said something soothing to my friend and that changed to other matters and so on. But that incident comes to my mind along with the morning tea, (I told you you know there is some connection between the taste buds and archival memory) when I was reading this line from 'inidu nARpadu' - 'andaNar Otthudaimai ARRa miga inidu'. It is pleasant to see Brahmins studiously learning or chanting the Vedas - He was so literally worried about his lessons in Vedas. He was not complaining about money, play things, eatables, new shirts or cinema-ticket kaasu. He was genuinly worried that he should be given full quantums of his lessons. One important lesson for our youth is this: they must consider their learning when they are studying and even afterwards as their most cherished treasure. That is what the old literatures and the instance of my friend seem to tell me.

Consciousness - a state or a faculty? Science and Alwars

 Consciousness can be a state of existence and not merely a faculty of human being. The question arises if it can be a state of existence will it be subsisting in itself without any substance to form its base? If such a thing is possible how will it mean to itself independent of any neuronic bytes of computation or microtubules to talk the current language. If it is not material-dependent then any question of quantum characterization will not be arising. But the question will remain where will it be localised. Non-localisation to be understood as at present requires some material frame of reference even to talk about it. If it is only higher mathematics, then also some should be doing the maths and some should be there to whom it 'means' or 'is calculable'.

But in the poem of Thirumangaiyalwar, this particular question of whether consciousness is a state of existence or just a faculty of existent thing is raised in a peculiar manner. But the point raised is in the technical rigour even though the context is devotional-poetical. Either we can enjoy the poetry and devotion or we can delve into the technical metaphysical point put forth through theology or we can do both.
Now to the poem.:
'I was suffering sorrow.
shriveled by sorrow
mentally paining
born into this big havoc of sorrow
enjoying in the company of young ladies
always mindful of joining with them
I was running running and at last
by the saving providence
I came to know the great state of awareness
and then panged and panged for
at last I came to realise the Name
( my trans of 'VaadinEn vaadi varundinEn' of Periya Thirumozhi)
'I came to know the great state of awareness' - uNarvenum perumpadam terindu'. In this can iuNarvu be called 'a state'.? The commentator has elaborated this point in an excellent fashion and along with the foot-notes called 'arumpadam' the point is clearly brought to full focus. What does the commentator say? What further the 'arumpadam' footnotes elaborate? This is what we are going to consider here.
The commentator, Sri Periyavacchanpillai, comments on this clause viz., 'uNarvenum perumpadam terindu', 'came to know the great state of awareness '- by just giving one quotation and one comment. The quotation is from JitantE stotram - 'vijnanam yaditam prAptam'; the comment is 'kitakkaip pAyilE veLLam kotthArp polE'. The arumpadam-author weaves out the full explanation with the help of these two notes.
The quotation means 'which awareness that should occur and be experienced'. It comes in jitantE stotram. The fuller line where this quoted part comes is the line 'vijnAnam yadidam prAptam, yadidam stAnam arjitam'. The commentator's immediate purpose is to show a pramanam, a reference-authority, to illustrate that 'uNaarvu' can be called 'a state'. For that his attention is on vijnAnam and stAnam. vijnAnam which is uNarvu in the poem, is called 'stAnam' in the quote. There his purpose is over and he has shown the reference for calling awareness to be a state of existence.
But in the quote vijnAnam is also described as prAptam. What is meant by prAptam? PrAptam is that which is attained without effort occurring of its own accord. Some example must be given so that we can understand what is meant by 'attained without effort occurring of its own accord'. That example is given by the commentator as 'kidakkaip pAyilE veLLam kotthArp polE'. It means 'like floods that come out from the place where beddings are laid in the ground and the water soaks the mattress.' The commentator has not openly written that to explain what is prAptam he is supplying the note 'kidakkaip pAyilE veLLam kotthArp polE'. He has just given the two notes one by one. It is only the arumpadam which helps us to unveal the connection between the two notes.
Now to explain what is meant by the second note which means 'just like floods rising from where the bedding mattress is laid'. Here no one has gone in search of the river or sea to bathe in. But water has of its own accord come out of the ground, where a person is lying in his bed and soaked his mattress. This case of the person attaining the water is due to no efforts of that person and it has occurred of its own accord. Say, imagine the person has gone to bathe himself in Ganga and thereby incur great punyam. But the person is unable to move out due to illness or some other reason. But the river Ganga suddenly in a flood gushes across the whole locality and rises up from the ground where the person is lying. In that case the person cannot claim to have taken efforts to reach the river and bathe. The river itself has come to him of its own accord and bestowed on him the punyam also in spite of his inability to move. All this go to explain the word 'prAptam'.
In the arumpadam 'pRaptam' is explained as 'ayatna labdam'. 'attained without any effort'. Why the arumpada-author chooses to explain prAptam, the word that comes in the quote (jitantE stotram) as 'ayatna labdam' as 'attained without any effort'? Because the commentator has given in his commentary 'kidakkaippAyile veLLam kottharp polE' - 'just like floods rising from where the bedding mattress is laid'
Now there is a silent dialogue going between the commentary and the arumpadam. The commentator wants to explain why 'awareness' uNarvu can be called a state of existence. How can it be called a 'padam'? For that he quotes 'jitantE stotram. 'vijnanam yaditam prAptam yaditam stAnam Arjitam'. In the referential quote that is pramana, vijnanam is termed as stAnam, as state of exitence. So there is a pramanam already which makes this expression 'uNarvenum perumpadam' as something in line with the pramanams that are available. But the commentator while making use of the word stAnam, he also wants to explain the description given in the jitantE stotram as yad idam prAptam. So to explain the adjective 'prAptam' he has given just a clue-note like 'flood in the bed soaking'. So we are able to understand the mind of the commentator fully only with the help of the arumpadam-author. He only connects the clues by being more expressive and giving the meaning of prAptam as 'ayatna labdam', which thereby explains the second note given by the commentator regarding the flood.
Just to illustrate how the manipravala commentaries are doing minute exegesis while bringing out the aesthetics of the poem, I have in some detail explained this. Our original question is - consciousness is it a faculty or a state of existence? And the approaches of science and vedantic theology may differ but the concern is nothing less serious in either.

On Kaviyogi Suddhananda Bharathi as an excellent translator

 'தமிழ்நாட்டின் இலக்கிய, ஆன்மீகவாதிகள் என்ற இரு சாராருமே சுத்தானந்த பாரதியாரையும் அவரது படைப்புகளையும் மறந்து விட்டனர் என்று தோன்றுகிறது.' -

Jataayu B'luru

The truth is not far from what is expressed with anguish by Sri Jataayu . Somehow we allow really great people to slip away so negligently from the collective memory. Another such catastrophe is Kotthamangalam Subbu. But the list is long and here I do not want to elaborate this list as a topic. But coming to Kaviyogi Suddhananda Bharati, my bench mark list of ideal translators was having only his name and the poet Thiruloga Sitaram until recently. But after reading 'anbu vazhi' the translation of Barabbas by Par Lagerkvist by Sri K N S (ka naa su) my list has become open and waiting. Sri K N S is excellent in this book as a translator.
Why I estimate Kaviyogi as a translator excellent is from books like 'Ezhai padum paadu', 'ILiccha Vaaayan' and books like that. He brings in the original ethos of the primary author so naturally into the target language. What is his magic should constitute our study of him as part of translation studies. But I think the translation studies in Tamil are quite happily ignorant of him.
I will illustrate the strength of Kaviyogi as a translator by quoting a piece from 'The Laughing Man' by Victor Hugo and the translation of that portion by Kaviyogi in his 'Illiccha Vaayan'.
"Ursus and Homo were fast friends. Ursus was a man, Homo a wolf. Their dispositions tallied. It was the man who had christened the wolf: probably he had also chosen his own name. Having found Ursus fit for himself, he had foundHomo fit for the beast. Man and wolf turned their partnership to account at fairs, at village fêtes, at the corners of streets where passers-by throng, and out of the need which people seem to feel everywhere to listen to idle gossip and to buy quack medicine. The wolf, gentle and courteously subordinate, diverted the crowd. It is a pleasant thing to behold the tameness of animals. Our greatest delight is to see all the varieties of domestication parade before us. This it is which collects so many folks on the road of royal processions.
Ursus and Homo went about from cross-road to cross-road, from the High Street of Aberystwith to the High Street of Jedburgh, from country-side to country-side, from shire to shire, from town to town. One market exhausted, they went on to another. Ursus lived in a small van upon wheels, which Homo was civilized enough to draw by day and guard by night. On bad roads, up hills, and where there were too many ruts, or there was too much mud, the man buckled the trace round his neck and pulled fraternally, side by side with the wolf. They had thus grown old together. They encamped at haphazard on a common, in the glade of a wood, on the waste patch of grass where roads intersect, at the outskirts of villages, at the gates of towns, in market-places, in public walks, on the borders of parks, before the entrances of churches. When the cart drew up on a fair green, when the gossips ran up open-mouthed and the curious made a circle round the pair, Ursus harangued and Homo approved. Homo, with a bowl in his mouth, politely made a collection among the audience. They gained their livelihood. The wolf was lettered, likewise the man. The wolf had been trained by the man, or had trained himself unassisted, to divers wolfish arts, which swelled the receipts. "Above all things, do not degenerate into a man," his friend would say to him.
Never did the wolf bite: the man did now and then. At least, to bite was the intent of Ursus. He was a misanthrope, and to italicize his misanthropy he had made himself a juggler. To live, also; for the stomach has to be consulted. Moreover, this juggler-misanthrope, whether to add to the complexity of his being or to perfect it, was a doctor. To be a doctor is little: Ursus was a ventriloquist. You heard him speak without his moving his lips. He counterfeited, so as to deceive you, any one's accent or pronunciation. He imitated voices so exactly that you believed you heard the people themselves. All alone he simulated the murmur of a crowd, and this gave him a right to the title of Engastrimythos, which he took. He reproduced all sorts of cries of birds, as of the thrush, the wren, the pipit lark, otherwise called the gray cheeper, and the ring ousel, all travellers like himself: so that at times when the fancy struck him, he made you aware either of a public thoroughfare filled with the uproar of men, or of a meadow loud with the voices of beasts—at one time stormy as a multitude, at another fresh and serene as the dawn. Such gifts, although rare, exist. In the last century a man called Touzel, who imitated the mingled utterances of men and animals, and who counterfeited all the cries of beasts, was attached to the person of Buffon—to serve as a menagerie.
Ursus was sagacious, contradictory, odd, and inclined to the singular expositions which we term fables. He had the appearance of believing in them, and this impudence was a part of his humour. He read people's hands, opened books at random and drew conclusions, told fortunes, taught that it is perilous to meet a black mare, still more perilous, as you start for a journey, to hear yourself accosted by one who knows not whither you are going; and he called himself a dealer in superstitions. He used to say: "There is one difference between me and the Archbishop of Canterbury: I avow what I am." Hence it was that the archbishop, justly indignant, had him one day before him; but Ursus cleverly disarmed his grace by reciting a sermon he had composed upon Christmas Day, which the delighted archbishop learnt by heart, and delivered from the pulpit as his own. In consideration thereof the archbishop pardoned Ursus "
Kaviyogi Suddhananda Bharati's translation :
”உர்ஸுஸ், ஓமோ -- இருவரும் இணைபிரியாத நண்பர். உர்ஸுஸ் மனிதன், ஓமோ ஓநாய். அவன் அதையே விரும்புவான்; அது அவனையே விரும்பும். இருவருக்கும் மெத்தப் பிடித்தம். இருவரும் ஒருவர் இயல்பில் இன்னொருவர் கடன்வாங்கிக் கொண்டனர். ஓமோ, பழகிய வீட்டு நாய் போன்று சாதுவாய் இருக்கும். தனது மனித நண்பன் குறிப்பறிந்து நடக்கும்.
உர்ஸுஸ் தனிமையிலே வாழ்ந்து, முதிர்ந்து, முடிவில் இந்த ஒரே நண்பனைக் கண்டுபிடித்துப் பழக்கினான். இருவருக்கும் உயிர் நட்பு ஏற்பட்டது. ”நான் இறந்த பிறகு என்னைப்பற்றி அறிய விரும்புவோர் ஓமோவைப் பாருங்கள்” என்பான் உர்ஸுஸ்.
உர்ஸுஸ் காட்டுத் தனிமையை விரும்புவான்; தனக்குத்தானே பேசுவான்; வேறொருவருடனும் கலக்க மாட்டான். “மஹாத்மா ஸோக்ரதரும் தனிமையில் தனக்குத்தானே பேசுவார். லூதரும் அவ்வாறே. அப்படியே நானும்” என்பான் உர்ஸுஸ்.
உர்ஸுஸ் உலகம் ஒரு பெட்டி வண்டிதான்; அவ்வண்டியை இழுப்பது ஓமோ; பாதை கடினமாயிருந்தால் இருவரும் சேர்ந்தே இழுப்பர்.
வண்டிக்குள் அவனது சிற்றுலகம் அடங்கியிருந்தது. அதில் ஒரு நீளப்பெட்டி யிருந்தது. அதில் அவன் புத்தகம், சட்டைத் துணி, லொட்டு லொஸ்குகளெல்லாம் அடக்கம். அவன் அதன் மேல் ஜமக்காளம் விரித்துப் புத்தகத்தைத் தலைக்கு வைத்துக்கொண்டு ஹாயாகப் படுப்பான். “எனக்கு இரண்டு தோல்கள் - இதுதான் உண்மைத் தோல்” என்று ஒரு பழைய கரடித் தோல் போர்த்துக் கொள்வான். அதனுடன் கரடித் தொண்டையும் கூடினால் கேட்க வேண்டுமா! அசல் ஜாம்பவான்தான்.!
உர்ஸுஸ் உலகை வெறுப்பான்; உலகோர் நடையைக் கண்டு சிரிப்பான். “நீ படைத்த உலகின் லட்சணத்தைப் பார்; தேனுண்ணும் உதட்டில் தேனீ கொட்டுகிறது. ரோஜாவுக்கடியில் முள் அடர்ந்திருக்கிறது; பொதுப் பணத்தைக் கொண்டு பிரபுக்கள் இடம்பக் கூத்தாடுகிறார்கள்; ஏழைகள் அனாதைகளாக வருந்துகிறார்கள்; பார் உலகின் அழிநாடகத்தை” என்று கடவுளை அவன் அடிக்கடி இடித்துரைப்பான்.”
(பக் 62 --69, இளிச்ச வாயன், (மொழிபெயர்ப்பு The Man who Laughs by Victor Hugo) கவியோகி சுத்தாநந்த பாரதி, அன்பு நிலையத்தார் இராமச்சந்திரபுரம், பிரமாதி, மார்கழி)
I hope I am driving my point home by putting in parallel the original and target language narration.

On Bharata Sakthi Mahakavyam of Kaviyogi Suddhananda Bharathi

 Bharata Sakthi Mahakavyam is a unique work of epic proportions in Tamil verses composed by KaviYogi Suddhananda Bharathi (my ref was 1969 edition of Suddhananda Noolagam, Yoga Samajam). The work is 1015 printed pages and the verse-lines are nearly 50,000. People who have praised this book form a long list of illustrious people. Mahakavi Bharathi, Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagavan Sri Ramana, Mahamahopadhyaya Sri Saminathaiyyar, Rt Hon Sri Srinivasa Sastry, Sri V O C Pillai, Sri V V S Iyer, Sri Rajaji, Sri Vaiyapuri Pillai, Thiru Vi Ka, Sri T K C and so on.

'A true poet is born with a vision and mission. You are such a poet. Your words spark out of the inner flame. Bharata Shakti is indeed a grand epic'. - so said Sri Rabindranath Tagore.
'We saw Bharata Sakthi. Wonderful. So deep and majestic! Iyer appreciated. We also extoll it. Iyer said that it is Mahakavya. It is a rare treasure of art and letters for Tamil. A fund of Adhyatmic reserve!' (trn mine) - so said Mahakavi Bharathi.
('பாரத சக்தியைப் பார்த்தோம்; அற்புதமாயிருக்கிறது; கம்பீரமாயிருக்கிறது; ஐயர் மெச்சினார்; நாமும் மெச்சுகிறோம். மஹாகாவியம் என்றார் ஐயர். அது தமிழுக்கு அரிய கலைச் செல்வமாகும்; அத்யாத்ம நிதியாகும்')
KaviYogi has dedicated his book to Sri Aurobindo Mother in this fashion. -
'You are my heart; you are my brain
Hail Auro--Mere supreme divine
This epic inspired by your grace
Is the story of your super race
Bharata Shakti is the voice
Of the New world of your choice;'
Annie Besant says - 'I gave you a Milton that day; I find a Milton today, In your epic of Godmen - Bharata Shakti.'
Mahatma Gandhi says - 'I appreciate your grand epic of Godmen. It seems a new Maha Bharatam'
KaviYogi translates the title of his own epic into English in this fashion - 'The Epic of God-men". And elaborating this further he is bracketing this further like - The Epic of one God, One World, and one Humanity'. He calls it 'Samayoga Vedam' in Tamil, meaning perhaps 'Veda which talks about intergrated yogas'.
There are totally five Kaandams. - 1 Siddhi Kandam, 2. Gauri Kandam, 3. Sadana Kandam, 4. Danava Kandam, 5. Suddha Sakthi Kaandam. There are in total 25+37+32+31+21 padalams, which are subdivisions.
KaviYogi says at the outset how he got the vision of Bharata Sakthi.
'In the cool hours of morning
when the early rays of the Sun
embrace the stream of Kaveri
when the flute-notes of the new age
resonate with the Pranava
Of breezes laden with new blossoms' aroma
when under the umbrella of sky
the greenish gold of nature
exudes a graceful ambrosial smile
when the bird of meditation rises high
and realises the dream of distant beyond
I saw the vision of Bharata sakthi.'
(translation mine)
And also he tells in details about the structure of the epic.
'The root is the Atma Tattva
Offshoot in the hearts of Great men
Blossomed as Yoga fruitful like Bhoga
Having the life-poorna as meaning
I sang this epic patala by patala
staying in hills, rivers, forests
temples, pond-banks and ashrams
sat I in meditative silence
and in awareness of the inner world;
revised this four times;
narrated this all in Atma Sodanai
siddhi, gauri, sadana, danava
suddha sakthi all these indicate five great stages.'
(translation mine0
His songs are resonating with sweet musics of meditation. Here some examples -
'He dances in the pleasant and ever-good hearts
just like Tillai and his dance is glorious;
He resides even in the hearts of those who deny
Let him enthuse my word and victory to Him.'
'Tune Thee my life-veena with the note
enrich with the heightening joy of art
show thee the way for the whole world
Your fame for ever Thee Tamil Vani !'
'In the philanthropic sky, in the scenes of hills and woods
in the jiggling rivers, in the encircling nature
you are pouring and pouring your poetry aloud
kindly pour it safe in my poetic heart also.'
(all three translation mine)
How from the primal 'Paazh' or entropy the creation has come about? KaviYogi's poem says -
'spiralling gyration before the beginning in the Paazh
Like the note from Yaazh the A sound wakes up the space
Living sound U makes manifest the atoms to grow
The circling M sound makes them speed up and spread.'
(trans mine)
Let us see his poems which talk about the ethos while in meditation
'Birds chirping, the breeze from the hill slopes
rejoicing fondling the tunes of falling streams
in the morning silence bloomed the sound of conch
Rare souls of inner journey assemble in meditation
and chant in unison Suddhoham in circle.'
(trans mine)
It is a rare gift to Tamil literature and it is up to us to cherish it.